Posts from — June 2008

by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 29, 2008 - 2 Comments in WRETHA

The monsoon season has finally started, we get some rain once or twice a day, I haven’t had to water my garden in about 4 days (woo hoo!). Today has been mostly cloudy, but it hasn’t rained yet. The only drawback to the rainy days is we don’t get as much solar power… it means we have to really watch how much electricity we use, can’t run the computer all day, or run the refrigerator.

The hottest part of the summer has passed, the nights are cooling down, the days are still fairly warm/hot, but once the sun starts going down, I start looking for something to cover my arms, this morning it got down to 59 degrees F, I’m even starting to think about firewood for this winter, only have a couple of months of warm days & nights.

The garden is doing pretty well, but there has been some insect eating some of my plants, chewing the stems and killing the leaves, I’m pretty sure it’s cut worms. I know about using collars and such, I am looking for BT, that has always worked good for me in the past. I ordered some diatomaceous earth and a duster to apply it. I also ordered a hose end sprayer, I’m going to use an organic mix to spray for fertilizer.

We have been seeing lightening bugs, just a few at a time, but more and more each night. I’ve been told that before the summer is over, it will look like Christmas trees all lit up, I can’t wait to see that. :)

I have been cleaning a lady’s house out here, it’s much more fun cleaning someone else’s house for some reason. She thinks my house must be super clean because I do such a good job on hers… I hope she never sees my house! Living in a small, barely 2 room cabin/house, yeah, it’s clean, NOT! Hehehe, I tried to tell her that, but she doesn’t believe me… oh well.

This lady wants to sell her house and she wanted me to detail clean it, from the ceiling fans to the corners of the rooms, it’s been quite interesting… she is an artist and a very nice lady. The first day I worked over there, about 3 hours in, she asked me if I wanted to go into town, I said sure, we went to the bigger town nearby, then she took me to another town where I hadn’t been yet, we went shopping and I took advantage of being in town to stock up on foods and goods, I don’t think she was expecting me to get as much as I did, but I went as fast as I could, and she had plenty of room in her vehicle, it was quite the fun day. She has offered to take me into town any time she is going, like I said, a very nice lady.

I finally broke down and turned off my cell phone, it was a hard thing to do, I have had this same phone number and service going on 8 years… I got it when I worked for Best Buy, I had an employee deal and I’ll not be able to get such a good deal again, but since it really didn’t work for me out here, it was money spent that I could use on something else, like my internet service! I called Sprint and told them I wanted to stop service, of course they tried to get me to sign up for another service, but I explained that I didn’t work for Best Buy any more, and my phone didn’t get a signal out here, or at least it barely gets one when I am on my mountain, it does not get a signal at all when I am out on the roads, well Sprint understood and was willing to let me go. My phone will work until the 10th, then it will be turned off… bummer. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, it was a good 8 years. The biggest drawback is I will not be able to do pictures for the blog until I either find my digital camera or get another one, I had been using my cell phone to take pix, it may be a while before I am able to post pix again.

That’s about it for now, except for one thing,




Anonymous seth said…

wretha…..was wondering if you ever got the email i sent you about where my property in west texas is located, was just wondering it’s any where near you guys?

June 30, 2008 10:27 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Got it, just replied, hmmm, close is relative… probably closer than most of the other people who read my blog (grin).


July 1, 2008 5:04 PM

Grow your own food, make your own fuel
by VEG-HEAD on JUNE 27, 2008 - 1 Comment in LAND

Dervaes:poster girls

Imagine all the money you’d save if you did not buy your food at the market, in fact did not buy your food at all! Here’s one family doing just that.

Thelma Gutierrez of CNN spent a day with a family that is self-sufficient, well, self-sufficientish.

The Dervaes family are quite possibly one of the few households in America where rising food prices are not an issue. “You just stay at home and you grow your own food in your backyard,” says URBAN HOMESTEADER, Justin Dervaes. His daughter Anais adds: “We try to cook outdoors using the sun and free energy.”

It takes vegetable oil, heat and some chemicals and makes biodiesel. The Dervaes family of four live off their land, but they do not have a big spread – just a modest three bedroom in Pasadena, California. (more…)

New UK power plans but no help off-grid
by NICK ROSEN on JUNE 26, 2008 - 0 Comments in ENERGY, OFF-GRID 101

Hutton: disappointment

UK householders were warned to expect years of higher home energy bills to pay for a green power revolution. But nobody told them there could be another way. The sly government news machine announced a massive 90% increase in ground source heating – but forgot to mention this takes the installed base from hardly any to not very much.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, outlined plans for a massive shift away from fossil fuels to wind, solar and tidal power, but added that “We think there will be a cost.”

So now we know – politicians would rather brave announcing an energy price rise, rather than asking voters to reduce their energy consumption.

The new energy policy contains no incentive for off-grid living, even though that is just as good a way of reducing carbon emissions. (more…)

Six ways to save the planet
by SALLY BUCHAN on JUNE 26, 2008 - 1 Comment in EVENTS

Stern: relaxed

British academic Nicholas Stern shocked the world last year with his simple statement that we have to pay now for the pollution already done to the planet, or else we will pay a lot more soon. Since then, the bill has already doubled he says. And now he is back with a six point plan.

“The plan is not ambitious in relation to the problem,” he told Prospect Magazine. “It is ambitious in relation to world politics. It has been out for only a few weeks, but has already been picked up by people in ministries around the world.

The proposed deal has six basic elements. “First, we need to cut total world carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, with rich countries committing at Copenhagen to cut by 80 per cent by 2050. (more…)

Mountain Man Bob
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 24, 2008 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

You might be a mountain man if you look like this:

Rather handsome I’d say, and pretty handy around the house too! :)

Tide comes in
by SUPERJOE on JUNE 24, 2008 - 0 Comments in ENERGY, FOOD

Tide production facility
The Tide Turns

An Indian alternative energy company has been crowned energy champion of the world by a British environmental organisation for its ultra-efficient wood burning stove which will reduce fuel use by 30 per cent.

Bangalore-based Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (Tide) was awarded the title along with a prize of 40,000 pounds by Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Mathai at a ceremony in London.

Another Indian group, the Aryavart Gramin Bank, was among six other international bodies whose schemes were awarded 20,000 pounds each Thursday night by the Britain-based Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy – the so-called Green Oscars.

Many of southern India’s small businesses rely on wood as their main source of fuel, causing pollution, deforestation and uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions when boilers and stoves are badly designed. (more…)

Inexpensive (Cheap) Solar Panel Kits ala Harbor Freight
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 23, 2008 - 5 Comments in WRETHA

UPDATE 6-24-08
One of my very informed readers passed this site to me:

They have solar panels for as little as $2.98 per watt, as long as you buy in quantity.

FYI, Harbor Freight is selling their 45 watt solar panel kit for $179.99 again! Here is the link:

This expires : 07/07/2008

I’ve heard that you might even be able to use one of their 15% off coupons with it, though I haven’t seen any coupons lately, if you have one, (lucky you!) USE IT! :)

I have one set and will soon have 2 of 3 more, this is a real bargain, they normally run about $250, $199 on sale, this price is well worth checking out.


Anonymous Anonymous said…

These panels have a limited lifespan, usually MUCH less than the other types of panels. If you have the $ to buy 760 watts, they can be had for $2.98 per watt and are kick butt panels.

If you want to learn LOTS about solar electric stuff go hang out on the forum at

The bottom line is the the HF panels are ASI silicone that do not last very many years. I do have a 20% coupon for HF if you are interested email me at:

Take care,


June 23, 2008 11:36 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Hi Skip, thanks for the info, I included the link in the message. If I had a spare 2 grand, I would probably order a pallet of solar panels from that company…

Email me directly about the coupon.

wretha @ gmail . com (just remove the spaces)

June 24, 2008 4:22 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Oops Skip, I didn’t see your email address until after I posted my reply, I’ll email you.


June 24, 2008 4:23 PM


Anonymous seth said…

If you check with Steve Spence @, he had mentioned on one of the yahoo groups about having the HF panels for a number of years already and they are still working fine.

June 30, 2008 10:25 PM

Buying Food On Line
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 19, 2008 - 14 Comments in FOOD

I’ve been thinking a lot about food, the availability of it now, and in the future. While I am able to get it relatively easy right now, that may not be the case in the future. And as much as I’d like to think I am prepared for food shortages, in reality, I am really not as prepared as I’d like to be… I have been stocking up on canned foods, anything that doesn’t require refrigeration, the problem is meat, sure you can get canned chicken and canned hams, but real, wholesome, tasty meats, including beef are not so easy to come by. I checked out the internet grocer, and guess what? They have canned meats, beef, chicken, turkey and pork. They also carry canned butter and canned cheese. I am ordering their smallest sample pack of meats, it includes one can of butter and one can of cheese.

I ordered the meat sample pack, and the no rinse body cleaner and no rinse shampoo, I am trying the smaller size of these to see if I like them, the total with shipping (UPS) came to just under $60.00 (YIKES), the shipping was nearly $20.00! Oh well, it costs me more to drive to town now days, and I can’t even get these items in town, not even in the bigger towns that are farther away.

While surfing their site, I ran across this, dehydrated squirrel, yes, I said squirrel, apparently there is a farm that raises squirrel for human consumption, FDA approved and everything. LOL! I just thought of them like fluffy long tailed rats, something you could get right outside your front or back door. It is said that during processing, the squirrel carcases are checked twice to make sure there is no hair in the meat, nothing like a bit of squirrel hair in your squirrel stew. :)

I’ll post another message about how well I like the meats from the internet grocer, I have high hopes. Anyone else try them?

If these are as good as they look, I might talk to a few people out here and see if some of them want to go in on full cases and split them, that’s where the best price is, but at over $100.00 a case (plus shipping), it would take me forever to be able to build up a a good stockpile of a variety of canned meats, this way splitting the cost between one of two other families out here, we can all benefit.


Anonymous seth said…

will ups deliver to your “doorstep”?

June 19, 2008 6:11 AM


Blogger Wretha said…

If they could GET to my doorstep, yes, but since they can’t get to my doorstep, Bobby (my UPS delivery driver) will deliver it to the country store, that’s usually what he does for the deliveries to the places where his truck cannot go (many roads out here are 4×4 only) and for people like us whose house is not right next to the road.


June 19, 2008 8:21 AM


Anonymous seth said…

wretha….check the Diatomaceous earth that internet grocer has. is food grade, but also works as an insectacide, might help with the ant problem you mentioned earlier.

June 21, 2008 7:31 AM


Blogger vlad said…

should be easy to dry meat this time of year

June 21, 2008 7:47 AM


OpenID lornkanaga said…

My favorite canned beef is Yoder’s beef, which I get from Survival Enterprises. The only problem with that is that the beef comes in such large cans, although sometimes they have the smaller cans in stock. Oh, and the Yoder’s Turkey isn’t bad at all, but I wasn’t too terribly impressed with the chicken (YMMV). Surival Enterprises also has the Red Feather canned butter–really good stuff, if you don’t mind the high cholestrerol/fat content. I haven’t tried their canned cheese.

Other foodstuffs I order online are from–I love their organic dried fruit. I also get their roasted garlic and green onions (they don’t have those in organic, yet).

I buy Manuka Honey from–I’ve tried the UMF 16+ and UMF 20+. I have pretty bad stomach acid problems, and thanks to the Manuka Honey I *very* rarely take antacids anymore!

Another one of my favorite places to order specialized supplements from is Vitamin Shoppe. I highly recommend their 100% organic Goji Juice, and I buy George’s Aloe Vera Juice by the gallon (g).


June 21, 2008 11:19 AM


Anonymous seth said…

i ordered the sample pack like you wretha, am curious to try it out. i may not be offgrid yet, but sure am looking to be prepared.

June 23, 2008 5:51 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and comments!

Seth, let me know how you like it! I just received my delivery confirmation, I hope to have it in a few days, I can’t wait to try it! :) Oh, and I know about diatomaceous earth, I wished I had ordered it with my order now… :( I’ll get some soon.

TheMajor’sLady, what a great list of things! I know about Vitamin Shoppe, I used to shop there in my previous (city) life.

Vlad, very interesting link, I’ll investigate it more, I scanned a little of it, what a wealth of information! :)


June 23, 2008 5:59 PM


Blogger Selous Scout said…

Hi Wretha.

I have purchased the canned cheese and butter form the internet grocer. I haven’t tried it yet because i’m saving it for when times get really bad and you need a treat. I too am going to order a sampler pack of their meats (with the cheese and butter) to try out. it looks reallyu good.

June 24, 2008 11:36 PM


Anonymous seth said…

should have my sample order friday….woo hoo, can’t wait

June 25, 2008 6:46 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said…

I lived on a sailboat for over a decade. Some “off grid” things I learned”

(1) Can your own meats. Because we lived on a boat, I didn’t want all those glass jars aboard, but in a land based home, that shouldn’t be a problem. There are places where you can can into metal tins, plan to do a LOT at once if you book time at one of these places.
(2) We liked the canned butter – it was better than Ghee because the canned butter had the milk solids, which the Ghee doesn’t.
(3) The canned cheese was “ok” but for me, a ‘sharper is better’ kind of girl, it was always a last choice thing. But then, I don’t mind cutting mold off my cheese. Buy the biggest wheels you can, wrap them in vinegar soaked cheese cloth and then dip them in melted paraffin.
(4) Dry (dehydrate) as much as you can, takes up less space and saves lots of the vitamins.

June 29, 2008 3:38 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks Pam, I have been researching and learning about canning my own meat, but until I have a better kitchen set up, that is pretty much out of the question, so until then, I will have to rely on buying my canned meats. I do want to dehydrate foods, here in the desert, it’s the perfect climate to do that. I don’t mind cutting mold off cheese either (grin). I have high hopes for the canned cheese (and the meats & butter too), we do like sharp cheese, but for cooking, we like a mild easily melted cheese, so hopefully this canned cheese will fit the bill.

When you get your cheese wheel, do you cut them up into smaller pieces before you wrap them and wax them?

Did you get your cans yet? If so, how good is it? Mine aren’t here yet, a mix up in the shipping, it got shipped to my Dad’s house (billing address) instead of the shipping address… bummer, at this rate, it will be the middle of next week before it shows up.


June 29, 2008 4:14 PM


Anonymous seth said…

Hey Wretha, got my order on friday, but haven’t tried any as of yet, was finishing up left overs. Probably try the beef chunks first…was thinking of making beef and noodles. will let ya know how it is.

June 30, 2008 10:21 PM


Anonymous seth said…

OMG….the canned beef chucks… like mom cooked them all day. just what the can says, beef, salt, pepper. the only thing for me was the about of actual meat. six nice size chunks and broth. would say 70% meat, the rest meat juice and stuff. Might have been that particular can. any way…..very tasty!!!!

July 1, 2008 5:17 PM


Blogger Wretha said…

Wow Seth! I really can’t wait now… I’ll let you know how I like it when I get it. Let me know how you like the rest of it.

Thanks for the report.


July 1, 2008 10:33 PM

Cheap Water Filter for Everyone
by KELLY MEAD on JUNE 19, 2008 - 10 Comments in WATER

The Australian National University (ANU) scientist Tony Flynn has developed a process to create water filters from commonly available materials. The materials need to also be fired, which can be done without a kiln or other western technology, by using common manure.

An estimated 80% of all sickness in this world can be attributed to unsafe water and sanitation according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That can be seen in the annual 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea in children under the age of 5, with about four million of those being fatal.

Since historically water filters have had to be imported to developing nations, which means increased cost and reduced availability for the populace. With the new filter design made from common place materials available in even the most remote places.

“These filters are a hollow ceramic vessel filled with charcoal. They are intended to filter out suspended silt and bacteria. However, at around $US5 each, they’re too expensive for individuals in many developing communities to consider purchasing,” stated Mr Flynn. “They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere. They don’t require any Western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, some used coffee grounds or tea leaves, a compliant cow and a match,” Mr Flynn continued “Everyone has a right to clean water, these filters have the potential to enable anyone in the world to drink water safely.”

Filter production is simple:

  • A handful of crushed dry clay
  • A handful of common organic material, such as coffee grounds, rice hulls, or used tea leaves
  • Add water, just enough to make a stiff biscuit dough like mixture
  • Shape into a cylinder shaped pot closed on one end
  • Dry it in sun
  • Place dried filter on a layer of dry manure, a little straw, dead leaves or shredded bark
  • Add two more layers of manure mixture on top
  • Light the straw, dead leaves, or shredder bark
  • Keep fire going until pot is completely cured (less than an hour in most cases, as different materials will mean different times)

Since using a potters kiln can take up to eight to nine hours to achieve the temperatures needed, which can be achieved using this method in a hour or less. Also with the expensive of such a kiln being prohibitive to most people, this is an excellent method anyone can make use of. Especially since no additional technology, or added insulation is needed being able to drink safe, filtered water water in almost any location on the planet. As long as water, manure, red/yellow clay and human organic debris you can make a filter that traps pathogens.

This design is purposely not being patented in a hope that it can be freely used around the world. Their belief that even third world countries should have the ability to have clean safe drinking water.

When the organic material is burned away inside the clay during the firing process it will leave cavities that can trap pathogens in the water. It is based on the basic principal that these cavities are big enough for water to pass through while being too narrow for the dangerous pathogens and the fine materials that make water muddy and unpleasant. Testing was done with E-coli bacterium and saw the filter remove 96.4% to 99.8% of the pathogen, which is well within the recommended safe levels.

This invention came from the a World Vision project that involved the community of Manatuto, in East Timor. This project was to rehabilitate a small community of potters that was devastated in the East Timor’s civil war for Independence. It was hoped that by helping the potters to produce filters would help in two ways; one give the community clean drinking water and two provide a means of revenue for the community by producing and selling them.

Using one filter it was found to produce a liter of clean water in two hours.

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