Off Grid...Chapter 105
Back from working in Florida for the winter:)
Hello everyone. We have been back in TN almost 3 weeks.....let me tell you about our trip back and our first week back
Mike, Niki and I left Florida on March 11....3 weeks before we planned on leaving. We were all just too excited to get back home Mike spent 2 days loading up the motorhome with as much stuff as he could while I worked on cleaning and closing up the house. We needed to bring back most of the tools we used for remodeling while we were in FL. Wow....what a load it was. We were packed to the gills I am amazed at how much "stuff" we have accumulated since we stopped RVing. Wow....that was a simple life, lol. Mike actually had thoughts of opening and running a secondhand store on our other piece of property. We'll see. Mike always has "ideas"
OK, back to the trip. Our plan was to drive until it got dark and then stay overnight somewhere along the way. Then we would arrive home during the daylight. This was a good plan because after the winter we had no idea how our roads would be and we might not make it to the top. Our motorhome doesn't have 4-wheel drive so it would be good to see what was in store for us. Well...you know I am dealing with crazy man Mike and he wants to get home...no matter what. So yup..our plans changed We arrived at our right of way at 9:00 at night..nice and dark. We heard some stories about the "wall" on our right of way...like the "Great Wall Of China"...and the "Berlin Wall". Well, Mike and I were pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't so bad. The new fencing goes all the way down our right of way but we Mike had no trouble getting the motorhome in
We got up to our gate...and I am back to being the gate lady Mike drove us slowly inside on our gravel driveway. Howard's son has been using our tractor over the winter to maintain the worst of our drive We only drove over a few smaller ruts and one big one before we got to the pavement. Ahh...it was so nice to finally hit the pavement, smooth riding to the top. Gravel is too much to maintain on mountain land...and too much money. Each year you have to add more gravel to replace what has gone into the ground and also what has washed out from the rain and snow.
Since it is pitch dark outside we will have to inspect everything when it is light out. Our main goal tonight is to get inside the house and get the heat on. We will have to wait until morning to get the water on. Good thing I brought home jugs of water
I let Niki out of the MH and we all went down to the house. Mike opened up our door and Niki was a crazy girl....running through the house and running in circles. Wow, I have never seen her so excited. I guess she is happy to be home The house looks good inside except for some spiders and some flies. We left fly traps hanging but apparently the flies knew better While Mike worked on turning on the propane and getting the heat going, Niki and I started unloading the MH. What a workout, lol. Nothing like trekking up and down our driveway.
Mike has trouble getting the pilot to stay lit, which we have since found out is common It's Friday night and we have no choice but to try and get it running and it is very cold out. The ironic part is the heater in the MH kicked "on" and I couldn't get it off. I told Mike we could always sleep in the M until morning. Nope...not gonna happen. Stubborn Mike will keep working on it....and I'm glad he did He gets some tools and proceeds to take our heater apart....man I hope he can put it back together, lol. I go outside and cover our air vent with a towel to try and help the pilot stay lit.
After quite some time, Mike finally gets the pilot lit and it stays lit. Woo hoo. Time for bed. It's been a very long day.
Ahh...today we need to get out water tank cleaned out and get the water running in the house.
Niki has settled in nicely, lol.
Thankfully it is a sunny day. Mike has to get inside our 1000 gallon buried water tank and get it cleaned out. Last year when we left we ran most of the water down except for a small amount. Now Mike has to pump the remainder of the water out and get all the debris out. Wells can leave a lot of debris like silt in your water. Our tank also works as a filter since all the debris goes to the bottom of the tank and we only pump the good water into the house. Mike starts out by hooking up the generator and the water pump. He drains out most of the water. Then I go up to help. Mike has to get inside the tank with the pump and the house. First he will pump out all the water in each chamber, hose down the walls, pump out again, and then wipe it all down with the towels. I stay up top t help with the hoses and the towels. After about an hours the tank is cleaned and ready to be filled
Mike gets out and turns the well on to start filling our tank. While the tank is filling, we run into Howard. He and Ivalee, his wife, are looking for a missing cow. A lot of times cows will go off on their own when they are ready to have a baby...same thing with goats. I didn't see Ivalee so I asked Howard where she was. He pointed up...and up I saw a little figure walking along the top of the ridge. Howard and Ivalee are in incredible shape. To be able to trek up and down our mountains is amazing. I know I couldn't make it to the top right now While we were gone they had to get rid of Mr. Bull He lost an eye last year from some kind of infection and if was to lose his other eye he might have become uncontrollable...so they had to sell him off. I am not thinking about what happened to him even though I know. We have some new cows on our land but no bull. At least Mr. Bull left his legacy behind. We have 2 new calves of is and a couple of more on the way.
Niki is quite happy to be surveying her "domain" She is the queen of the hill, lol.
The next couple of days, Mike and I spend cleaning up and organizing. For the most part our place looks good. The deer did get some of our "deer resistant" plants We are very happy that our awing survived the winter. We didn't know how it would do with the wind and snow loads. I guess we have enough screws in it
This week we want to install the pipes for our new wood stove. We bought a very basic wood stove from Lowe's last year that we never got the chance to hook up. Now it's time. First Mike calls around to get prices on the parts that we will need. We need double wall pipe which comes in 8 foot sections, a cap, and flashing. On Tuesday, Mike called the wood stove store for prices. They told him it was $165.00 for each black pipe, $190.00 for each stainless steel pipe, and $90.00 for the cap. Wow...time to call David at the Farm Supply and see if he can do better. Sure enough David can beat the prices by $340.00 We got the stainless steel pipes for $84.95 each, Mike will have to use stove paint to spray paint the pipes that will be inside the house, and the cap was only $40.00. You know where we bought our pipes from While we were at the store we caught up with some of the local gossip and David's family.
We also picked up some more soil mix for my garden. I really thought this year I would only have to add compost...but no...it looks like some of my good soil blew away After the season this year I will have to cover my garden. On our way out we saw a brand new baby....with a pink nose.
Mike was also very happy to see his turkeys. We counted 29 of them. Yay...I'm glad they made it through the winter. Here are some of them.
Mike has painted the pipes for the wood stove and the are dry. Now it's time to cut a hole in our roof and install the pipes.
The wood stove is centered on our tile and there is a heat shield on the back. The back is 10" from the wall which is whatis recommended. We used a chalk line and the handle to determine where the center of the pipe will come through the roof and into the stove. Mike stood on the ladder with the chalk line held up to the inside of the roof on the inside of our house. I helped him guide the handle until it was in the center of the wood stove(where the pipe will come out). Mike drilled a hole through the roof in the center to the outside. Now we know where the hole needs to be...I hope, lol.
Here is the ceiling tile taken out and a blanket out inside to keep the debris to a minimum when Mike starts cutting.
Time to get on the roof and cut the hole
First Mike unscrews some of our roof panels so he will be able to install the flashing. Then he uses the flashing as a template to draw a circle so he can cut it out.
Mike uses the cut off wheel to cut the metal roof panel.
And then the saws all to cut the plywood from the roof.
What a nice hole...hopefully the pipe fits perfectly.
And the hole from the inside...almost like a skylight
Back up on the roof, Mike slides the flashing under the metal panel and caulks it using roofing caulk.
Then he screws the roof panels back down using new grommets and screws.
Back inside to do the hook up.
We lay the two painted 4 foot sections of pipe on the floor and push them together until they are secure.
I help Mike lift the new 8 foot section of pipe and place it into the top of the wood stove. I stay inside with the pipe while Mike goes back on the roof with the stainless steel section. He is going to feed his pipe through the flashing and we are going to push it together to connect all the pipes. It's a little tricky but not bad. We get it Our pipes are connected and it all fits through our hole
From the inside.
Mike installing the pipe into the flashing
Putting the cap on to keep the critters out.
He puts the collar on and the pipe is done.
Mike goes down to the house to play with the stove.
While he is doing that Niki and I work on my garden. I need to get all the bags out of the green building and make my special soil mix...wich means no weeds Since I fell in the MH on our way back home I am using the hand truck to help me out I get all of my bags out and ready to go.
Niki helping me with the mixing, lol.
I am done..and tired It's been awhile since we have done any physical work.
Howard is up on the hill feeding the crew.
Our plants behind the house...pitiful. We will need to find a better replacement this year.
Woo hoo...I see some smoke coming out of the chimney.
Mike comes up and says he doesn't have any wood. He wants to go up to our back hill and cut up some of the dead tress that are down. We have a ton of dead trees all around the property. I think we could use that wood for the rest of our lives without having to cut a live tree down.
So we head up the back hill. Mike starts cutting, with the chainsaw, and I start throwing the wood down the back hill so it is closer to our fence. Once it is close to the fence, I throw it into our back yard.
The view from the back hill.
Yes....we do have a plan for the ugly building this year
Once the wood is thrown over the fence, Mike and I load it onto the 4-wheeler. I can't imagine the work involved for our ancestors to just "live" off their land. They were a hardy bunch.
Mike taking the wood down to the house. We will keep it under the awning for now...until we start cutting more and figure out a long term storage place.
Well that's all for this week. I hope you all enjoyed this story and I will write again soon.
Have a great day.