Monday, February 25, 2013

Chapter 122...Back Home and So Excited For 2012 Projects

Off Grid...Chapter 122

This is our first story for 2012. Mike and I planned on spending the winter in FL in our last house. Well...we ended up selling that house on December 1 and we got bored staying at a campground. By Friday January 6 we were back home.

Saturday January 7-

It feels so good to be back home. Niki once again was thrilled to be back home. I think it must be all the smells here that she likes The house is in great shape and we found no problems. Whew!! That's always a good thing. Since we didn't plan on coming back until March, there were some things we had to deal with right away. First...I did laundry and hung the clothes outside...then they froze I told Mike, we better get the old dryer back out of the barn and into the house. That was job number one. I was really trying to get away from the dryer and that may work from March until November or so but it doesn't work very well right now.

Next on the list. My wonderful real electric refrigerator is not going to make it through the winter months without some help. Since we wanted to be as self sufficient as we can we thought we could go all electric. That worked fine for the spring through fall months but not now. Back to the drawing board, lol. We thought we could add more panels and batteries and we would be fine but without the hours of sunlight it doesn't work. So we had to order another refrigerator. This time we ordered and RV refrigerator which can run on both propane and electric. We will run it on propane in the winter and electric the rest of the year. Hopefully this is the best of both worlds. Aren't you glad you have us to test things out first?

And finally. Mike has been researching windmills again. Although they don't give us a lot of power he found one that might work to give us a boost. He ordered that.

Monday 1-16
It's time for a trip to town. It snowed all weekend and I told Mike we should only go if the driveway is clear. We have been so busy with other things that he didn't plow the driveway. Mike said it doesn't look bad. There are some snow drifts on the drive but we can get out. OK...let's try it. So in the Jeep we go. We get around the first and steepest part of the drive. OK so far so good. We get to the section that is shaded and we hit ice under the snow. Mike says "hold on" Oh we go and we haven't even been home a week. We blew right through the electric fence. Thankfully we stayed on the driveway I told Mike we need to stay in town as long as we can so the snow has time to melt.

We ran into the UPS driver in town and he gave us our new windmill

OK..time to go back home. It looks like a lot of the snow has melted so we start up the driveway. So far so good. We got past the place where we slid with no problem. Mike keeps driving and we start up the worst part of our drive and he says "we hit more ice." There is nothing we can do but hang on as we started to slide backwards faster than we were driving up We bounced off the drive at one point but Mike got us back on and in between the curbs. Then he lost it and we spun. We finally stopped sideways in the ditch. Whew....heart slow down. We are safe and the Jeep is still upright This was all our fault and we knew better. We haven't spent a winter in the mountains in quite some time. We will have to get back into the swing of things. Many of our neighbors have to leave their vehicles at the bottom of their drives and take their 4-wheeler back and forth. You have to adjust to mountain living. It is different than most other places

The curve where we slid backwards.

And the Jeep is stuck.

We grabbed as much out of the car as we could and walked back up to the house. Later that day, after the snow melted, Mike and I went back down to the Jeep with the tractor. He plowed and I shoveled some of the icy edges on the driveway. I got in the car and Mike attached the chains. He pulled me out and back onto the driveway. There was no damage to the Jeep but we do have to clean up the ditch line that we destroyed. Ugh!! the dreaded ditch line It is not something that has to be fixed right now but that will be one of our nice weather projects.

Today is rainy and dreary but at least there is no more snow on our driveway We got a call from the freight company and they are delivering our refrigerator today. Woo hoo. We had it delivered to the Farm Supply just to make it easier. We caught up with our friends at the Farm Supply...and it seems like we all have ice stories and sliding in the mountains. Good to know we are not alone, lol.

We got the refrigerator loaded up onto our trailer and got it home. This one is smaller than both our propane refrigerator and our electric one.

Here is Mike taking it down on the hand truck.

We got that into the house and that is on our list of things to work on. Since it is an RV refrigerator it can't be hooked up right away. Mike will have to do some thinking and figure out how to make a box for it and get it installed.

So onto our next project. Mike want to move our water pump from the back closet outside. This way we will have more storage space inside the house. That is always a good things. I help him work on getting the pump outside.

Next he will work on building an insulated box for it. For now we will keep it covered with blankets until he box can be built.

Next I decide to do laundry and I learned something new which I will share with all of you I learned about negative air pressure. As you know, our house is pretty air tight....which does have it's own set of new problems. We have been using the wood stove everyday and it is working great...although we do need to cut more wood...but that is another story, lol. Anyway back to the laundry. I put the clothes in the gas dryer and turned it on. Within seconds the whole front of the house smoked up. Uh oh. What would cause that. So I turned off the dryer and opened the doors. I looked up what might cause it. And it is negative air pressure caused by the vent from our dryer sucking out the smoke from our wood stove. The solution is more air. So now when I turn the dryer on and the wood stove is on I have to open the front door. Most people don't have to worry about this because there are usually drafts in houses but not in ours. Ok..lesson learned.

It is a very cold day so we drove into town to pick up a pantry cabinet. We are going to use it for one of the sides for our refrigerator. On top of that I got 30% off because of some damage to the door which I think I can fix

It's time for some pictures....finally Mike and I are about to start working on the new wind generator. I will give you the pictures and then explain why we did what we did

Here I am sanding the 4x4 post so I can paint it.

After I sand it, we bring the pole into the house and set it on buckets to work on it.

Mike is drilling a hole in the pole adapter.

We needed this piece to attach the new windmill to the square post.

Fitting the pole adapter onto the post.

Mike screwing the metal rod onto the pole adapter.

Mike working on the wires.

Mike sliding the wires into a long pipe which will be attached to the post. He also uses rubber tubing to protect the wiress as they come out of the pole.

Mike drilling a hole in the pipe for to make room for the wires.

Mike putting the wires through.

Wires are in. 

In between all of Mike's work, I painted the post green to match the house.

Attaching the wind generator to the post.

Screwing down the pipe holding the wires to the post.

She is ready to go. Hopefully Mike got the wires right

Next we go up top to dig the hole to install the pipe. While Mike gets his tools together I start digging. Mike finishes up the hole.

Both of us carry up the new wind generator and place it in the hole. Then we pack the dirt and some gravel around the post. Mike screws the post into the house.

And it is done

Another job done. Now let me explain about the changes and what we did with the wind generator. Our first wind generator was about the same size as far as blades go but it was only 200 watts and it needed a consistent 13.4 MPH to make electric. Our next wind generator had a much bigger blade size and put out 900 watts of power but it needed 28 MPH of consistent wind to turn the blades and produce power. We also installed that with the help of the backhoe and two taller poles which were connected in the middle. We never cared for that set up. We also don't want to have to call in "anyone" for any help if things need to be fixed or changed. So we decided to give this one a try. The blades are about the same size as our original one but it is 500 watts instead of the 200. It also only needs 8MPH of wind to produce electric.

I know many people use towers and that is great if you want to rely on on other people to help you when things go wrong. Mike and I want to try and do it all on our own. We are slowly getting there and trying to improve as we hit our glitches. It takes time and learning to get it all right. Someday we all get there

And for our final picture for this story.

We had a pretty sunset that night.

That's all for this week. I hope you all enjoyed our story and learned some things Have a wonderful week and I will write again soon.


  1. Welcome back home!! I suppose you could dig up your driveway and install electric heating wires and then repave ... that would solve the snow and ice issue. LOL :) Wouldn't want to see the electric bill though. :)

    1. LOL...we have learned. Mike has gotten better about plowing the driveway as needed. We now have a plow blade for the 4-wheeler which is a little safer.

  2. How can you go through a fence and not scratch the Jeep??! You two are Irish or something, as lucky as you get! Kidding. Glad you wern't hurt...

    How are you getting the power produced by the turbine into your storage batteries out in the building? I probably missed that step... it's almost midnight... Did you folks know you are addictive?? Somebody shoulda told me!!!

    The plow blade for the Jeep - that's cool!

    1. Yeah...lots of Irish and Italian blood here. Very stubborn, lol.

      That wind turbine feeds into a 12 volt line that's in the house and goes to the metal building where the battery bank is.