Clothes wringer

After I bathe in my basin, I often use the water to wash out a piece of clothing.    I throw it in, let it soak over night, wring it out, and hang it up to dry by the wood stove.

To wring out the piece of clothing, I throw it over a tree branch that hangs over my deck and wring it out by twisting it like the illustration shows.

The illustration is from a book called Living on the Earth.   I’ve had this book since I was twelve.    From baking bread to building a home, nothing takes more than a page to explain.

That’s the way things should be—if something takes more than a page or two to explain you’re probably making it too complicated.

Water—as much as I want!

It snowed all day yesterday. But it’s supposed to warm up today so it might turn in to a big slushy mess. I better act fast if I want to harvest all that water.

Yesterday while I was out snowshoeing I saw a guy plowing his road with a big wooden V that he drags behind his pickup. He has a full size pickup but it’s not four-wheel drive. He puts a bunch of weight in the back of his pickup. First he drags the big wooden V going down hill and then drags it back up. It does a good job. It’s a cheap way to plow a road.

So far my road isn’t plowed which is the way I like it. Eventually the guy that lives furthest up the road and has to go to work will pay someone to plow it and I’ll contribute to be neighborly not because I want the road plowed.

Maybe when that guy retires we can stop plowing the road. I doubt it because most people can’t stand staying home.

Running my laptop directly from a battery.

This is how I run my laptop directly off my DC battery power. I connect a 12 volt cord to a battery. For my solar system I have gel batteries but when I go up to my other cabin I bring a deep cell battery. Red clamp on positive/ black clamp on negative.

Then I plug my DC power adapter for my computer into the socket.

There is a different DC power adapter for every laptop.

If you don’t have a DC power adapter for your computer you can plug a little inverter into the socket and it will run your AC laptop off of DC. They have an annoying little fan that eventually stops working so I don’t like using them.

My generator and the stuff that makes it go

generatorMy generator is a Honda EU2000i

There are many cheaper ones out there but they aren’t small, quiet, or fuel efficient.  When I see how much gas people with the cheap generators use, I’m so thankful I bought this one. It think it’s supposed to run up to 20 hours on one gallon of gas.

I’ve had it for  5 years.  I use it to charge my batteries on my solar system when the sun doesn’t shine.

For a while now, when it’s cold, it has been starting and then as soon as I go inside it dies.  I have to start it like four times before it stays running.

I always add stabilizer to my fuel because my fuel sits for so long.

Last year I  tried adding some Heat to it.  That improved things a little but not much.

This year I bought some octane booster and added it to the fuel.    I don’t remember what kind but I think it said “barely legal!” on the bottle.     The generator runs perfect now. Problem solved.

Shelter vs House

Last night I was sitting in my darkening cabin thinking how lucky I am live the way I do.  It’s hard to explain but just sitting there watching it get dark is the best feeling.

That’s the great thing about cabin life, it doesn’t cut you off and protect you from the world like a house.   It more enhances life than cut you off from it.

When it’s dark, you know it’s dark.  When it’s cold outside, you know it’s cold.

If you want heat, you go chop wood.  If you want water, you need to melt some snow.

If the cabin burns down, you need to figure out a new shelter.    But that’s all it is—shelter.

Some people think my life is harder than for people who live in a house.   I can tell you, from my house sitting experiences, that I have far more time and far less chores to do than a house dweller.

It takes me like 40 seconds to clear the snow off my porch.

When I house sat for my sister, I had a long walk to shovel, many decks to shovel, and a long driveway to plow.

My toilet is a bucket.   I have two of them.   Once a week I dump them under a big pine tree, rinse them out with my saved gray water, and rake some pine needles over the top. It takes 10 minutes a week at the most.   They work flawlessly, don’t use water, and they make top soil.

At my sisters, not one of her three toilets worked flawlessly.   A half of day was spent cleaning up after one of them overflowed.

Though my cabin is cold in the mornings, some night it’s probably close to 80 degrees.   To be that warm when it’s cold outside feels delicious.

I make a nest on the floor with blankets and pillows and in the dark cabin, stretch out in front of the wood stove and the propane heater, drink tea,  look out at the stars, and think, “There is no where I would rather be.”

At my sisters house she has inlay hot water coils that heat the floor of her large house.   You set it and the house  stays that same temperature all the time.  So it’s too hot when you’re sleeping and too cold when you’re awake.

The one thing I thought that her 3500 sq ft. house would have over my 200 sq. ft. cabin was space.   In my cabin, I carefully lay myself out to do some yoga postures so I have enough room.

The shocker was that because she had filled all her space with stuff, I had the same problem at her house as in my cabin.  She had no more room to stretch out and do yoga as I did.

If I need a new roof—500 dollars.  If she needs a new roof—10,000 dollars.

I can wash all my windows, inside and out in under an hour.  She needs scaffolding to wash her windows.

My shelter serves me; she serves her’s.

I could go on and on but my point is cabin life is easier, more comfortable, more beautiful, and much more sustainable than big house living.

Getting rid of stuff

I have always liked getting rid of stuff.  Even when I was really little, when my parents would yell at me to clean up my room, I would grab a Good Will bag and throw all my stuff into it.

When I had a house it was full of stuff.  It made me tired.   So, I made a rule.  Everyday I had to get rid of at least 10 things.   I did that for months.   Everything I got rid of increased my energy.

Then one day I couldn’t think of anything else to get rid of.   I started feeling so tired.   I told my son and he posted on his geek board that I had beer making supplies to give away for free.  Within hours there were a couple of geeks taking away my brewery and my energy surged.

After my big purge, I was robbed and then I had even less stuff.

Then I sold my house and  I had to get rid of almost everything.   There was no room for sentimentality.

It was so freeing to dump all the pictures of my past into the garbage.  I don’t need pictures; I lived my life; I was there.

Now, I have less stuff but I still try to  get rid of one thing a day.

It’s a good goal to set: by the end of everyday— less stuff.

What’s an uncluttered life worth.   Certainly more than any of the clutter is worth.

The delightful benefits of a sleeping loft.

Plenty cold here. It was supposed to have got to -4 F (-20 C) overnight. But it’s really sunny this morning.

I think I went in to hibernation mode. I fell asleep on the couch at dark(about 5:30pm). Sometime in the night I woke, the fire had gone out and it was cold. I climbed up to the sleeping loft and slept till after 8:30am.. I never sleep in that late. I’m usually up by 5 am. sleeping loft

I really appreciate the sleeping loft when it gets this cold. It’s about 20 degrees warmer up there and not as drafty as the rest of the cabin.

If you are thinking of building a cabin, I would recommend a sleeping loft with an operatable window. On nights, when it is not in the negatives, it is often so warm up there that I sleep with the window open. Even with the window closed it’s drafty enough to give me fresh air while I sleep.

When it is really cold, I keep my clothes in bed with me so they will be warm and I can put them all on before going down to light a fire.

I appreciate all the windows down in the main floor when on cold mornings the sun pours in and heats up the cabin.

Final trip to town…I hope.

carrying water up hillSince there wasn’t  any snow to melt for water,   I headed out to town for one final load of water.    By the time I got back it was snowing.  If I had put my chains on, maybe I could have made it up to my cabin, but instead I decided to park  my truck at the bottom of my hill and  carry the water jugs up on my backboard.

Times like these, I wish I had bought the 5 gallon jugs instead of the 7 gallon jugs.

It’s cold and dark out there, but I have two more to go…..

Cheap cabin lighting

7 day candleThis candle is called a 7 day candle because it burns for 7 days continuously.  It comes in a glass jar so it doesn’t drip wax.   They cost about 1.50 in the Mexican food aisle at the grocery store or in the candle aisle at Walmart.   Sometimes they have pictures of Jesus and other saints on them.

If I have a guest, I  keep one going all night so they have a night light.

Most nights I don’t even light a candle.   I’m either reading on my laptop or reading a book with my LED headlamp.   Sometimes though,  it’s nice to sit around at night drinking tea, looking at a candle.

Related post: A new era begins—The Age of Light

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Wood splitting tools

maul and wedgeThese are my wood chopping tools: a twisty wedge and a 8 lb splitting maul.    The splitting maul is made by Ludell and has a  fiberglass handle so if you miss the log and hit the handle it doesn’t break.  I’ve whacked it many times.     You can split logs with one side and whack the wedge with the other.

The twisty wedge is made by Leborgne and will spit almost anything.   It  a good hard wedge that doesn’t mushroom.   It’s very hard to find.   The only ones online, I can find, ship from Europe.   I bought mine from a chainsaw store in Canada.    Here is a different brand shipped from the UK:   BAHCO SPLITTING WEDGE TWISTED STEEL 8 1/2IN Once I found a more cheaply made twisted wedge at Harbor Freight tools but it doesn’t look they sell them anymore.

Most of my wood this year is Tamarack.  Tamarack is so easy to split an ax would work fine,  but alas,  I whacked the wooden handle of my ax, one to many times and now the handle is broken.

Perpetual Camping

Home workI have an inspiring, fun to look at book called Home work—Handbuilt shelter. It has lots of pictures and diagrams of  little, beautiful, and cheap homemade homes.

One of the articles in it, I thought might be of particular interest to some readers, is called “Perpetual Camping.”    It’s about a  newsletter called  Dwelling Portably. Dwelling Portably is written by  people who find some unused land and dwell there for awhile or otherwise dwell portably.  Doers report on what works and doesn’t, ask questions, and offer advice.

The people  who produce it say:

While quite young, Bert and I decided (separately, before we even met) that buying property was foolish.  You can’t really own land;the government owns it and can kick you off any time you do something that any of dozens of government agencies disapprove of .

We also noticed that much land, especially in the west was not used or was used infrequently.  That inspired us to become perpetual campers: living in a place while it was desirable; moving on when conditions changed.

Issues vary: some have much about vehicular dwellings and little about backpacables or wickiups.  Or vice versa.  So, for a broad sampling, order several back issues.

Bert and I have built portable dwellings that are as comfortable as houses.  In some ways they are more convenient,  because they are small and well insulated, our body heat keeps them warm during winters—avoiding the labor, mess, pollution, and hazard of a heating stove.

Dwelling Portably is $1 dollar an issue.  add .50 if sending check or M.O.  for less then 6 dollars. (Their prices encourage you to order many back issues) 1/$1; 6/$5; 13/$10; 30/$20 Dwelling Portably, POB 190-hwk, Philomath, OR 97370

Or order online from Microcosm Publishing (Thanks, Pig Monkey, for the link)

$20 dollar shelter

Cabin wash basin

wash basin This is my wash basin.  It’s  enamel and holds about about 2 liters.   I put  1 liter in it and wash my hands all day with the same water.    When it’s bath time I add another liter of hot water and take a bath with it.   When I’m through bathing, I empty it into my gray water bucket and save the water for washing out my composting toilet buckets.  Then I  put another 1 liter in the basin and start all over.

In my Grandmother’s primitive cabin, she used two basins: one for washing with soap and then another one for rinsing your hands.   After the soapy water  became too dirty it was thrown out and the rinse basin became the new wash basin. The new rinse water came from the old rinse water we used for rinsing the dishes.

I use an enamel one because it came with the cabin.    But in this mother earth news article the writer suggests using stainless steel because it won’t chip.   Either way it’s nice to have it made of metal so if it gets icy overnight you can heat it up.