Posts from — December 2007

A few pix
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 31, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

I have some pictures (finally!), sorry the quality is not that great, it is from my cell phone, and it takes OK pictures, this will give you an idea of what I get to look at every day. :)

The first 2 are my cabin, it’s a work in progress, we work on it everyday.

This is a beautiful sunset, the pictures do not do it justice.

Bob and Pekoe looking at some deer.

Winds, winds & more winds
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 31, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA


Winds, they are big around here, last night we had the strongest winds yet, it made the first night’s weather seem like a walk in the park. A couple of gusts must have been 70-80 mph, it really made the cabin feel like it was going to blow over. Fortunately Bob had strengthened the cabin up a bit more, he put in a few more cross braces and the biggest improvement was a heavy cable that he strung up from the windward side. The winds seem to come mostly from the west to east, so he placed this cable from the top of the southwest corner of the cabin going to two different trees, that really made a big difference, the cabin didn’t shake nearly as much as it had before. I spent several hours last night in prayer, praying for the wind to calm down and praying that the cabin would hold up. Both prayers were answered, the wind died down around 2 in the morning, and the cabin held up just fine.

Today we found one of our fans, we placed in next to the wood stove, it really helps circulate the heat around the cabin. So far we are running 2 lights (low voltage), a fan, recharging my cell phone and laptop, and a portable radio on a 45 watt solar panel and one of our golf cart batteries. We don’t have all of our electrical systems set up yet, we have 4 more solar panels to hook up and the other 3 golf cart batteries. The only time we ran the single battery down to the point that the inverter started fussing about it was when we tried to recharge 3 of Bob’s 18 volt rechargeable batteries for his tools, we were also running the 2 lights and my laptop at the same time. Actually I stayed up late and watched a couple of movies on my laptop, and it was enough to run the golf cart battery down. I don’t know at what point the inverter starts fussing, but it will not allow the battery to run down completely, that is a good thing.

Paper Isn’t Just For Decorating Your Walls
by KELLY MEAD on DECEMBER 28, 2007 - 0 Comments in LAND

Paper cannot only beautify your walls but also make it cozier in your home as well. With cellulose insulation you get added warmth and noise reduction.

Cellulose insulation is a great way to insulate your entire home. It has a R value on par and exceeding common fiberglass insulation and it remains consistent at a greater temperature range. Which keeps the heat out in the summer, but in in the winter. Loose-fill fiberglass can lose up to half its R-value at 20°F below zero, cellulose insulation performs at a higher R-value at 20°F below than it does at 70°F. According to the findings of tests conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. So that when your insulation needs are highest you get the best performance.

Added benefits of cellulose insulation is it’s increased fire resistance, 22-55%, life of the product, usually life of home, non-toxic, look for salt additives only, and increased noise reduction. Noise reduction is at 90% absorbed, that made the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approve it for sound control material for homes located near airports and flight paths.

Since cellulose insulation is so tightly packed and if cured naturally , like boric acid, it is resistant to moisture, pests, and mildew. Cellulose insulation is also made from recycled paper, such as newspaper, so is friendly to the environment by keeping it out of landfills and leaving the trees to help clean our air.

Since cellulose is sprayed into the walls it allows for a tighter air control, unlike other insulations which need to be cut around pipes and wires. This improved air control and density is also one of the reasons for the increased fire retardation. Since the cellulose is not only slow to burn but dampens air flow through it less air means less fire. Unlike fiberglass which jut melts and helps spread fire.

To get the best health benefits when choosing your cellulose insulation look for natural curative, such as salts, and make sure it does not contain formaldehyde, asbestos, fiberglass, mineral wool, or ammonium sulfate. Salts will not leave trace odors, low to impossible toxicity to humans and pets, or any other chemical reactions that may lead to health problems.

The Land
by NICK ROSEN on DECEMBER 26, 2007 - 0 Comments in OFF-GRID 101, SPIRIT
Woody Guthrie and his facist killing guitar
Come on back, Woody

As the off-grid movement battles for recognition of this way of life, it all comes back to land ownership, and the empty building land held by speculators and developers with no thought to the good of society as a whole. As house prices collapse back to where they should have been all along, and the banks look for new ways to take our money, its timely to remember the words of Woody Guthrie’s immortal song This Land Is Your Land. Wikipedia says Guthrie was a “first-hand observer of the economic and environmental hardships of the Dust Bowl era, and became known as the Dust Bowl Troubadour”.

The Dust Bowl may be coming back very soon.

This Land Is Your Land

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me. (more…)

Merry Christmas
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 25, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Well, our first Christmas on our property, the day has really been just like all the other days, we have just been working on everything. We got the compost system set up, I spent several hours gathering grass and leaves for the base, if you want to learn more about composting toilets, go here: it’s pretty eye opening, and it WORKS! Nothing smells, believe me, I would know it in our small 16×16 cabin! It’s just as sanitary and works great as any other system, especially considering we don’t have running water.

We were invited to our new friend’s house for Christmas dinner, everyone here is so nice! We assumed that we would move out here and pretty much keep to ourselves, we didn’t expect to meet such nice people, we are truly blessed! Sorry if I keep referring to people without using their names, I am trying to maintain our privacy as well as our neighbor’s & friend’s privacy, I just feel it is better that way for everyone.

Woo hoo! I took a shower today, it’s amazing how good that feels after not getting one for a few days, we still don’t have our water systems installed, that will take some time, but our neighbor has graciously allowed us to use his water as much as we need.

Today I was tending some of my plants that I brought from Irving, I have 2 containers of garlic flavored chives, a rosemary plant, and a few other plants, they weren’t very happy with the trip, then change of altitude & weather, but I believe they will survive ok, I was watering the plants with a 5 gallon water container, the kind that goes on a water despenser found in offices and such, the water was left over from our last trip out here, I found a dead mouse in the bottom of the container (eeewwww!!!), poor thing, I hope it didn’t suffer too much, it was well preserved in the icy water, I guess I will not be using that container for drinking water! :)

Well, merry Christmas everyone, and have a safe and happy New Year!

Lots to report
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 25, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Finally, we made it, we left Irving TX for the last time. We had everything ready to go, our 28 foot trailer was packed, the bug was hooked up to a tow bar, the bug was full of boxes, the wiring on the trailer and the bug (for the tail lights) were hooked up (and working properly). All we had to do was get in the vehicles and go, it was a some time after 1 pm and we heard a crash, I went outside to see what had happened, my husband’s son had a car accident right outside, wow, we were minutes from leaving when this happened, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but fortunately everyone involved was OK, though both cars were totaled, the other person involved had to go to the hospital, but the officers and the fire personnel there told me she would be OK. Anyhoo, when we pulled out of the driveway, I looked at my watch and it said 4:30 pm.

The trip was fairly uneventful, after the first few miles, we realized that the trailer would hold up, the tires would hold up (on all the vehicles) and the load would hold up just fine. We had to stop to adjust the tarps once, that took about an hour, we couldn’t just move one thing, it was like a big 3D puzzle, if you touched one thing, you had to move 3 other things, we finally got it straightened up and we were back on the road.

We arrived on my property at about 3:30 in the morning, the moon was all but full, we could see everything, including our breath, it was cold, COLD COLD! And the wind was blowing, I estimate around 15-20 MPH, gusting to 40 on occasion. Our cabin is not completed, it is, for the most part in the dry, meaning that our stuff inside doesn’t get wet when it rains, but some of the walls are basically heavy builder’s plastic and hog wire. We are sitting about 8 feet off the ground. I was really tired when we got in, once we got inside the cabin, I zonked out, even with all the rocking and rolling of the cabin, I told my husband that the cabin would fall whether I was awake or asleep, according to what our neighbor had told us, there had been heavier winds before and the cabin held up just fine, so I had confidence it would stay in one piece for one more night… fortunately I was right.


I found out the the wind gusts the first night were really close to 60-70 mph, and I believe it, but the cabin held up pretty well, nothing fell or blew off, even though it sounded and felt like something was about to give away a couple of times. Fortunately it has been calm each night since then, calm but cold. This morning it was 14 degrees F, that’s COLD! Especially with no heat in the cabin.

Yesterday we completed our first big task, we installed the wood stove, it’s a small one, can’t put much more than twigs inside it, I’d say up to 3 maybe 4 inches in diameter, and maybe up to a foot and a half long. My brother in law made this wood stove, there are many talented people in my husband’s family. This wood stove is really perfect for our little cabin, the only real drawback is since it’s so small, you have to feed it sticks more often than we’d like to, my husband says he will probably install the big wood burning stove later on, but for now, the small one is working like a charm. We decided to celebrate by having our first movie night. Before I left Irving, I spent weeks downloading movies, tonight we decided to watch Eight Below, it’s a great family movie, I recommend it, it was perfect, a few tears, a lot of laughs, we gave it 2 thumbs up.

We ate dinner at our neighbor’s house, he has been such a great friend, we consider ourselves very lucky to have such a great neighbor and friend. He gave us a very nice Christmas card and gift, we really weren’t expecting anything from him. I just don’t know how we would have made it without him, though we would have made it, planned on making it just fine, but with his very generous hospitality, it’s been so much smoother and nicer, they just don’t get any better than he does!

We found out today that one of the people who is considered a cornerstone of this small community passed away, we only met him once, but knew the impact he had on this community, he will be greatly missed. Goodbye BugMan, I’m sorry we didn’t get to know you better, but we know you are in a better place.

Invention Nation A Show To Catch

Christmas Eve the Science Channel ran an all nighter on their new show Invention Nation. With only six episodes so far it is definitely a statement to the innovative spirit of Americans.

Since wrapping presents lasted well into the morning hours, okay the show got our attention so wrapping didn’t go that fast, we were able to see the episodes from the beginning. Though we do admit that after midnight retention of what we learned definitely went down. Even with that we still had some interesting things stick in our tired brains. (Did we mention that the children woke us up before 7am). So please forgive us if this if it’s a little jumpy we just wanted to let you know about the show and the great ideas that stuck.

Chicago Department of the Environment was highlighted not only for it’s use of a green roof but it’s programs to educate the public about the advantages to building green and using alternative energy. The benefits of having a green roof were also highlighted and the hosts decided to even add one to their bus. One of the highlighted benefits was the improved insulation it provides, as well as improved use of the space. Since it is no longer a dark magnet for the suns’ heat and energy it also adds more plants to help clean the air.

Along with the thought of improving roof conditions in a city environment is a reflective roof. The people at Green Products has taken this a step further by using only natural ingredients to make their coating for the roof. So not only do you get the increased energy efficiency that a white roof gives, but can do so without the guilt of using synthetic products. Just think if we coated all the black topped roofs in American cities with this reflective material we could make a dent in the amount of energy the earth absorbs from the sun. since we are losing the reflective ice caps maybe we need to look more at this emerging roofing trend. This could help, not to the extent of the ice caps of course.

The show had many more Americans highlighted about how they are working to make their environment better not only for themselves but for us all. The only problem we really saw with this show was how little information was given about each person, project, or home highlighted. Also their web presence didn’t then fill in the gaps. So when looking for something specific we had to rely on memory and our old friend Google. Though if this show is intended to just get our imaginations revving then we have to say it did that. Seeing others working to improve their lifestyles, can be just the thing you need.

The show airs Monday nights at 10pm on the Science Channel. Also on December 30 a marathon is scheduled to start at 1pm.

Cheap power for all
by TECHSTAR on DECEMBER 24, 2007 - 2 Comments in PEOPLE
Nuclear mutants
Galena,Alaska, 2012?

Sony invented the personal stereo, but Toshiba (under its Westinghouse division) appears to have gone one better – the personal nuclear reactor. The first is likely to be installed in Galena, Alaska in 2008. Instead of a very small number of very large nuclear power stations, the new 200 kilowatt invention ushers in the age of a very large number of very small nuclear reactors.

And that might be a good thing. Or it might be a disaster waiting to strike. (more…)

Help Focus The Nation
by KELLY MEAD on DECEMBER 23, 2007 - 0 Comments in COMMUNITY

Focus The Nation is a movement that wants to find global warming solutions for America and they want to do it with the help of all Americans. They currently have four programs they are promoting to help America: National Teach-In, Green Democracy, 2% Solution, and Choose Your Future.

The National Teach-In is set for January 31, 2008 and is hoping to engage students and citizens alike with their political and decision makers in a dialogue about global warming studies. It is designed to be inclusive of all educational types from K-12 to universities/colleges, also civic organizations, as well as faith organizations. You can get involved by either going to an event or if none available helping to host one.

Green Democracy is a program to help get lawmakers involved in the National Teach-In by having events invite their elected officials to their event to have a round table discussion about global warming and it’s effects on their communities. This is a designed to be a true grass roots effort. They even supply step by step instructions to help getting through to Congressional representative’s offices. Since getting anything done there has to follow protocol. Focus The Nation is trying to set up virtual round tables for those Congressmen and women who are unable to get back to their districts to participate also.

The 2% Solution is a free, live, interactive webcast set for January 30, 2008 at 8pm eastern. Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climate scientist, Hunter Lovins, a sustainability expert, and Van Jones, a green jobs pioneer, plus various youth climate leaders will host this discussion of global warming solutions. This webcast is being encouraged to be shown in school auditoriums and gyms, be assigned as homework, host a show in your church, clubhouse or even your living room.

Choose Your Future is a forum based initiative that hopes to open discussion and use the top five into priorities for action to be held up as a citizen endorsed agenda for political leaders in Washington DC and capitals across the country. Current threads for this forum are “Invest in the Clean Energy Revolution“, “Create Green Jobs, Save Energy“, “No New Coal Plants without “Capture and Sequestration“”, “Cap Pollution & Cut Checks (to All Americans)“, “Build Green: Carbon Neutral by 2030“, “Jumpstart Low Polluting Biofuel“, “Support Stronger Forests“, “Tax Global Warming Pollution“, “Cleaner Cars, California-Style“, “Get Efficient — Cut Energy, Save Money“.

We here at The Off Grid Home encourage you to become involved even if it’s just watching the webcast or putting you two cents in on the forum. We are all part of this Earth so we must each decide whether we are going to be part of the problem or solution. We hope if you are reading us then you have chosen to be the later, as we have.

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