Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chapter 91...Back Home From Florida.....March 2010

Off Grid...Chapter 91

Mike and I spent the winter in Florida remodeling a house.  I will post that story and those pictures after I get caught up in Tennessee.

Hello Tennessee and welcome back to the Mike and Lisa World. Also starring Niki the wonder dog. We have been away for 6 long months in Florida flipping houses. You can DM for the link to that story.

We are so happy to be back on our mountain top. We drove all day and into the night on Monday to get back home. On Tuesday morning we drove onto out property at 6:00am

And the story continues:

Tuesday 3-29
Mike and I have been a little worried about the house while we have been away. At least we didn't get any bad news calls from Howard, the owner of the cows on our land, and he went in everyday to feed the cows. We never left for this long before and to make matters worse, this is the worst winter we have had in many many years. Our grader, Jimmy, also told us about 80MPH winds. Oh no now I am really worried about our shipping container with the solar panels on top. Last year we tried to find rock anchors to strap the building down but we couldn't find any anchors that would go through the rock and into the ground. We will have to do a search this year and find some.

Our entrance to our property begins. Ah, home sweet home, I am back to being the gate lady It's dark out so we can't really look around but the road seems to have help up extremely well. We make it right to the top gate with our mini motor home(van). Woo hoo.

Now we have to move the Jeep that is in front of our gate. I am crossing my fingers while Mike gets out to start it. He gets in and the little Jeep starts right away. Wow I am impressed and very happy.

We get the van parked and head down into the house and we open the door. Yay, no surprises. It looks just like it did when we left. There is no odor and no dampness. We left coffee containers filled with charcoal and placed inside big bowls all around the house. Mike had a friend who used to do this when he left his NY home for the winter. The charcoal is supposed to draw out any moisture and keep things fresh. Well our bowls didn't have any water in them but the house was fresh and dry The only thing we can see wrong was some dead flies. If that's our only problem I am not complaining

Next we all get settled in to go back to sleep. It's been a long couple of days and today is going to be rough just to get the house ruining and operational.

It's time to get working but before I bore you with more words I will take you on a tour of our land to show you what we found.

Our concrete patio outside our house has a bog crack in it. Jimmy said there was a lot of cracking this year in concrete and in pavement due to the extreme temperatures. Mike and I will see if anything can be done about the crack. 

Our trees in front of the house look pitiful. It looks like something was nibbling on them. It could have been deer. Howard said it was a very rough year for them and there have been a lot of dead deer around.

Walking up our side drive, we have only one small spot by the wall that sunk a little. That's an easy fix.

And the clover on our on the same hill. Well I'm not sure if it looks good or bad. We'll see how it grows in this month.

Walking p to the back "parking lot". We have a long crack that runs the length of the drive. We'll have to patch that so it doesn't spread. 

The roof looks great and we had no leaks. It looks like that Kool Seal did a great job.

Our jeep has a cracked windshield which we will have to get replaced soon.

The shipping containers are in the same spot and the solar panels are good. Whew, that was my biggest worry.

Walking down the driveway to check on the ditch lines. Yuck..they do not look good. We bailed on that job last year so now we will pay for it. Here is the top portion with all the rocks filled in.

And going down the steep part of the drive. The curlex and seed did not make it. I have o idea how we are going to get something to grow o that bank and hold it. Do you think they make some kind of roll that has seeds embedded in it?

On a good note, the culvert is clear. Woo hoo.

The driveway is clean, we have no fencing down, and the grass that was planted the first year looks good

Ok, back to what we had to do to get set up and operational. After our nap, Mike and I went up top to get things started. He turned on the other half of our solar panels. We left half(6 panels) or one system shut down while we were gone. Then the dreaded getting water into the house. First I help Mike get the old water pumped out of our big tank. Then he gets inside to clean it out. After it is clean we start filling our water tank.

While the tank is filling, we go down to the house to start working. Mike hooked up our water pump and reconnected the water lines under the sinks. He turned the propane back on and started the refrigerator, the fireplace, and the water heater.

Woo hoo...the house is now operational.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning and unloading the van.

Wednesday 3-31
It's a beautiful sunny day. Time to go out and get supplies. First we stop off at David's, the farm supply, to see if he has any wood stoves. This was one of the mistakes we made when planning the house. We put in a vent free fireplace and it puts too much moisture into our airtight house so we are selling it. We Caught up with the family and they said it was a horrible winter. They only had one stove so we are still looking.

Later, back at the farm I take Niki for a walk down to the barn and then we had to turn around and get back to the top Ok we are both seriously out of shape. Nike and I were both huffing and puffing by the time we got to the top, lol.

Mike wants to get the tractor and bring it up to the top. He misses his tractor We go down to get it but the battery is dead and one of the cows ate his handle. Back up to the top to get the Jeep for a jump start. Niki comes with us and Mike gets the tractor started. Mike goes to the barn and I bring the Jeep back up top. Niki and I walk down to the bottom but this time we hitch a ride back up to the top with Mike

It's time to get serious and do some major cleaning up. Mike also as to make sure all he can get all of our equipment started. The big lawn mower has a flat tire and won't start. Since that blocks everything else in the building, Mike works on that first. He gets that done and the starts on the 4-wheeler which has a dead battery. Ok, that gets rolled pout of the building. Now we can start cleaning and organizing.

Working on the building.

Wow, we have a lot of stuff. Time to start selling. I will be working on ads in all the freebie sites and papers for the next few least

Later on, we do a small burn pile behind our fence. Usually we do it down by the bathtub and the spring. I told mike to be careful because I just started to grow grass on this last ear and it needs more work So Mike starts the fire and it starts traveling up the back hill burning my grass along the way We get the house out to spray it all down.

Friday 4-2
First thing this morning we head out to the dump. We need to bring all of the stuff we couldn't burn.

Then we stopped at our other property to check on things. It all looks good. One clean up round and we will be back in start mowing and weed eating.

We also picked up a battery for the 4-wheeler and got gas for everything. Wow that was an expensive trip out. It may cost us next to nothing to live here but the gas we go through is crazy.

Once back at home, Mike works on the 4-wheeler and organizing while I work on ads...this is going to take me forever.

Saturday 4-3
Mike and I start working on my gardens. Woo hoo. Last year I had one 4x4 and one 3x10 square foot garden. This year we are taking the old beds apart and making one 4x10 and one 4x14

Mike drives the tractor over to my small 4x4 garden so I can start digging out the "special soil" mix. Then he lifts up my old garden to take the wood.

We get the new 4x14 garden made and dug into the ground to make it level.

I dog out the old soil wile Niki ignores me, lol, until I call her, lol.

Next I put down the weed cloth in my new garden and then Mike dumps the soil mix into my new big garden

We spent the rest of the day cleaning. We washed the van and the jeep. Then Mike got on the roof of the shipping container and washed our solar panels.

Sunday 4-4
Happy Birthday to Niki girl. She is 7 and she has had quite the adventurous life, lol.

I spent most of the day working on ads while Mike continued with organizing his building.

He checked the water levels in our batteries and they need to be filled. Here he is filling them with distilled water(and no he didn't use dish soap, lol,)

BTW, the cows had 2 calves this year. The babies don't seem very curious yet but I'll keep taking to them

Our patio area is starting to look like home. 

Soon everything will be green

Mike was a good guy and took apart my old 3x10 garden and made it into a 4x10 garden. Here I am putting the weed cloth down. Now that's a garden. I can't wait to start planting.

Some of you asked what we did to winterize the home so I will give you the list. Mike did most of it while I emptied the food and cleaned everything. My stepdaughter scored with all the food she got, lol.

1. We turned off half of the solar panels. There was no reason to leave the whole system running.
2. Drained the line from the water tank to inside the house.
3. Drained all lines inside the house.
4. Drained the water heater.
5. Drained and unhooked the water pump inside the house.
6. Filled all drains and the toilet with RV anti freeze.
7. Turned off the propane to the house.
8. Took off the screens on the doors. Took down the awnings and put the grill and the umbrella away.
9. Put charcoal in containers and put them around the house.

Well, we are back and it looks like we are going full steam ahead. It's been a busy busy week and we still haven't caught up on our sleep. It's just too exciting to be back home Niki is also loving it. I think she really missed being here.

I hope you all enjoyed this week's story. 



  1. What kind of charcoal did you use in the house. Is it something that could be used in an RV when not in use for periods of time?? I also have the Class B Mercedes Sprinter RV.

    1. We used regular charcoal, the kind you buy to use for a BBQ.

      How do you like your Sprinter?

  2. I like the Class B. Just wish I knew more before I got the one I have. I've seem some nice floor plans on the some the newer models that I like better. Maybe I'll have to drive down and have Mike do some renos for me. LOL

    BTW ... I have to get my second microwave replaced. First one was under warranty this one will be on my wallet. Darn cheap things are made in China and just seem to quit for no reason.

  3. Glad to read that there were no major problems after that much time away! That charcoal idea is new to me! Might try that in the basement, see if we can cut down on the musty order down there...

    1. We were pleasantly surprised and happy when we got home and had no real problems.