I took this picture after installing the main lighting fixtures for the front of the house. They’re simple things embedded in the king posts of the trusses, so mostly hidden from view. Six LED lights draw 27 Watts and put out 3000 lumens of overhead lighting.
Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for so long, and thanks to those of you who were concerned enough to check in with me via email. Most of my “blogging” lately has been either on instagram with photos of my house progress and Rubik’s Cube tinkering, or through my private email list (all you have to do to get on it is shoot me an email asking to be included).
November was kind of rough on me. Aside from the novel draft that I still haven’t finished (I’m now over 80,000 words in though) I’ve been working on the house. My scheduling has normalized a bit, so I have three days off in a row each week to come out here, and for the last two weeks I’ve been living out here.
You might notice that the place is a mess. The insulation still isn’t finished, and I have to divert a lot of energy to keeping warm (splitting firewood) and making batches of purified water to drink. I’m cheating on the eating, getting most of my calories from a local place where I have breakfast and dinner. It’s not far once I’m back on the black top roads.
Aside from that, I try to get a little insulation up every day, and I’ve been screwing around with the rough wiring and electrical stuff at night. The new generator is hooked up outside to charge my batteries (so, the battery bank is installed too), and my inverter/charger is hooked up to the house panel to service my meager electrical needs. Totally off-grid setup. No shore line, no city water, none of that bull crap, I make it all right here.
As for internet, my new phone service is acting as my primary internet line. I had to swap service companies to get a phone that works in the wilderness, and now that it’s all hooked up, I don’t even think I’ll bother with a satellite dish, modem, wi-fi router, or anything else. I carry all of it around in my pocket now.
The new stove is working great, and it’s been keeping me from freezing at night. That and my sleeping bag, which is rated for down to 10 degrees F if I recall correctly, that’d be about -9 C, I think. It’s super comfortable on my current slab bed, which I robbed from the shabbin last week. My smaller outbuilding where I was mostly living like a cave man is slowly being converted to a little tool shed, which means adding a lot of clean-up to the long list of other stuff.
Living out here, even if it’s only a few days per week adds another dimension to the build. On one hand, I’m here to keep a close eye on my stuff, especially the battery bank and connected electronics. I can ensure that everything stays within operating tolerances, and I can manage the stove to keep things ticking along at night without stuff freezing. On the other, it adds a lot more work. I’m like half cave-man style, half modern off-grid, and building out the space on top of that. It’s a lot of time and effort to get things done. I literally have to remind myself daily that I can’t get everything done in a day or a week, or else I’ll get mad that I’m not moving fast enough.
I’ve gotten into my rhythm though, and I’m lucky enough that the winter (or pre-winter, I suppose) has been mild so far. Everyone else around might be whining about cold temps, but I’m happy that we’re only dipping into the freezing range in the very early morning. That means less things I need to worry about if I’m not here.
The space might look tiny, but compared to the 80 square-foot shabbin next door, it’s quite comfortable while still being cozy. I don’t even notice the giant hearth pad most days, as it’s rarely ever in my way (only when I need to be working almost directly above the stove). I like it. It stays pretty warm all night, and that’s with only half the fiberglass insulation up. Once I start putting up foam boards, the temp in here should be super easy to manage, despite being slightly less than the recommended amount for the roof in this climate zone.
If we’re being totally honest, I’m not even sure this place is big enough to qualify as a dwelling, but luckily I’m in an area where there are a lot of odd-ball types like myself who moved out to the country to get away from stringent city codes and requirements. Most of us are quite friendly as a result. We all know that we’re weird, so there’s no point comparing each other’s quirks. One guy might raise bees in an odd way, another might crap in a bucket, another might have an underground SHTF bunker. We’re all nuts, and we respect that other people can be weird too, and that’s okay. I think I’m the only idiot around building his dwelling by himself. … I think.
The only real negative is needing to wake up super early to keep myself out here. If I need to be in West Plains for work at 8AM, then I need time to shower off the “woods” smell before I go in, and I’m a little past washing myself outside in freezing temps. Been there, done it, got the t-shirt. I can wash off pretty good with a tiny amount of water and a rag, but I don’t like dripping on bare subfloor, and my hair gets little more than a brushing. Once I get the tub hooked up (I found a tub/shower think for CHEAP the suits me perfect, lots of little shelves inside) then it’ll be easier to use a little more water and get totally cleaned up, but the early morning issue remains. So I’ve been training myself to turn in earlier and wake as close to 5AM as possible.
Why is it that I can get up at one to stoke the fire, but actually getting up to do something takes me forever? I dunno. Psychosis. In any case. I can’t see a time from this point out that I won’t need to be up early. Animals means more stuff to do in the morning. Garden means more stuff to do. Everything takes time, need checking, needs maintenance, etc. So I guess I’ll start getting my butt up. I went to breakfast this morning around 6:30, and that was after warming up the car and raising the room temp to weather the brisk morning.
In any case, at some point very soon, I’m going to try transitioning to living out here full time. I might hang on to the apartment in town until spring, but that’s a big expense that needs to be cut. Out here in the woods is my freedom. Very few bills, very little expense, and with any luck, I’ll be able to survive on the most humble of salaries, so that I can focus on my writing without most of the distractions of modern life. I’ll know when I’m committed, because the first thing I’m getting is a couple of barn cats. Even if they choose to subsist on rodents and birds, they’ll still get a food bowl in the morning and evening, and I’ll build them a little insulated hut. Then a flock of guineas, then chickens.
Hope you all have a blessed night and sleep comfortably.