Another day working the day job, another night at the cabin. I’ve been sleeping here for almost 90 days straight, or one season. There’s still much left to be done, but time seems to be always against me.
Fortune may have taken me for a pet. Chronos might not like me though. I just finished ordering the new solar panels. Some of the equipment will ship direct to my PO box and a friend’s business, the panels I’ll have to pick up on a trailer.
It was a rainy day, following my first real planting of seed potatoes yesterday, which incidentally don’t like being super wet at this phase. But on sitting here, at now nine o’clock, I’m left wondering what I did with my day.
Time seems to speed up out here, or perhaps I slow down. I cooked some food, washed some clothes, and took a nice hot shower. It’s definitely not too rough at the moment, but as I look around, there’s tons to do still.
My floor is basically a masonite-covered subfloor, still waiting on planks. My gardens need fencing around them, though the posts are in. I still have a few ceiling panels to put up, and there’s some drywall and painting that remains to be done. It’s a lot of work.
I was hoping to get some water transferred tonight so there would be room to catch rain in the morning, but I didn’t get to it. My laptop is taunting me from its corner near the battery room, urging me to get on with my writing time, so here I find myself, writing about my efforts.
The panel order has totally drained me, but maybe I should start there. What have I put into this place so far? Here’s a breakdown.
The property was around $100,000, but I purchased while I had the fancy job in the oilfield. After selling my house in Louisiana, I was able to pay off the remaining mortgage. It’s mine free and clear. It’s 78 acres, of which my current homestead footprint is around 1 acre. Plenty of room to grow when needed.
And the house. The new panels and mounts ran about $1850, the inverter and MPPT solar charger about $1550, and the batteries were right at $2000. Add in wiring, breaker boxes, and fiddly bits, and I’m looking at 6000 installed for the power system. The generator was another $1000.
The house itself, as it stands, was about $12000 dollars. The water system was about another $1000-$2000. So not counting many hours of work, I’m right at $20,000 for the whole homestead. I’m sure it’s a bit higher than that, but that’s what’s on my little parts breakdown, including screws and other stuff. Lucky for me, I plan on salvaging most of the interior design stuff, but there will be some other purchases. Little more than I planned on.
The Hardest Part
So far, the hardest thing about getting everything out here off the ground has been my spending habits. I’ve gone from a pretty regular on-grid standard of living to bare-bones. And I’m still adjusting to that. I keep reminding myself that I’m no longer able to afford all the stuff I used to do.
Meals: I walked out of the grocery store yesterday with enough food for 3-4 days for a price of about $5. That’s the zone I need to stay in. And it’s good healthy stuff. That was a produce day. I have tons of flour (actually around 40lbs of wheat berries) to make bread and crackers. I just needed some calories.
The upshot of a cheapie diet is the value of materials. Root veggies keep for a few days on the counter without issues, and they cost almost nothing for the dose of minerals and vitamins gained, even if they don’t add so many calories. (Yes, I need calories so that I can work. That may sound strange to some of you, but for me, more calories is more better)
I have managed to drop my energy drink intake down a bit, but we’ll see if that lasts in the long-term. I need to quit smoking too, but I think I have enough on my plate at the moment. I’ll tackle that one later.
I could easily go on eating take-out pizza and drinking with friends, but in the most recent weeks, I’ve been seriously arresting these urges. They’re costly, and I’m not making the money I once was. Meanwhile I can fix a hearty soup with fresh groceries for a couple bucks. I’ve been frying potatoes and eating more deli meats and cheeses. I still eat at the store one morning a week and converse with local friends over coffee, but I’m no longer stopping in for dinner there every night.
To sharpen the point, there’s a million reasons I chose an off-grid environment for my home, and lowering my cost of living was high on the list. There are many life changes that come from actually doing it.
The Easy Part
I’m free. I can go out at night, sit on my porch, and stare at the stars. My “normal bills” consist of a cell phone and a storage locker that still needs emptying. The only monetary worries are food, and my entertainment impulses. Most of my money is spent on stuff for the house or my plants.
This was the plan. It’s always been the plan. By reducing spending to a low enough level, the ability to make a career out of my art comes closer within my grasp. A day job for now, but with a little luck, my books and my homestead products can someday become an income stream that will afford me all the things I want.
That may not happen, of course, but it’s where the compass points at the moment. As I stated though, I need to cut the ancillary costs out of the equation as well. Bills aren’t the only things we need to pay for in this life, and I still need to make time for my creative projects. Nobody said it would be easy, not even me. But here I am, and I’m here for the long term.
Three months, and I wouldn’t trade this place for a little apartment in town or a big house I never see because I’m working too much to enjoy it, no matter how many little stumbling blocks I come across. I’ve staked my claim; now to see if I have the resolve to stick it out.