And so I sit… and try to figure this out!

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Cold Weather Makes You Crazy!

And by “crazy” I mean it makes you update your blog in like… forever. It’s been so long I’ve forgotten how long it’s been. Definitely months. How cold is it here in Northern Minnesota you ask? Try -30 and that’s without the wind-chill. I feel bad for my dogs that have to suffer through this. Poor things with their cold feet. Bella, my little Chihuahua mix, will just give up and sit  and wait for me to rush over and pick her up after only a few seconds. She runs out of time looking for a place to poop. Rusty is a bit more husky but he still gives up after only a few minutes. I hate having to pick him up and carry him across the yard, being how he is so undeniably over weight; like carrying a #50 sack of potatoes.

Things have been going okay. I’ve been working a lot (hence the lack of attention to the blog), that and the fact that I don’t get many comments makes me pay less attention to it than I probably should. The bees are settled in for the winter- I checked on them last month and gave them a whole bag of granular sugar just incase they run out of stocked honey. With the temperatures we have, it will be a miracle if they survive. I’m torn by two separate teachings- one says they will be fine, the other says they will perish. I don’t know who to believe. I guess I just wait till spring to find out. I’d like to think that they will survive. I mean how do the wild bees do it? We do have wild honey bees in Northern MN don’t cha know!

The garden never got planted last spring because I was dealing with some health issues. I’m already thinking about what to do with it come this spring. Come hell or high water it will get planted. I still don’t have any chickens. My Father is dead set against any chickens being on the property because they will, “shit everywhere.” He does have a valid point but he never walks in the yard anyway so what’s the big deal? If I do get chickens they will have to be penned up and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The greatest thing about raising chickens is free-ranging them. They don’t want to be penned up digging in the same shit pile all day long. They need to roam and find/eatall the bugs and wild plants- that’s what makes the eggs taste so much better than the store bought.

The tiny house is still the bomb! I love living in it. I don’t pinch myself when I wake up anymore but it still feels like a dream come true. A few minor things I decided were not a great idea and would change include: a shower; a carpeted loft (I have a rug); a pellet stove instead of a wood stove; power supply.

(1) A shower. I chose not to have a working shower because I wanted to be all rugged and outdoorsmen like and take my showers outside, or just sponge bath in the winter months like the old timers. I wanted to be as off-grid and rugged as I could get. Well, I didn’t plan on going back to work and needing showers daily. It’s just impractical now. I wind up running to my parents house and using theirs. I have closet space that is 4×3 that I can turn into a shower if I move my bookcase and put my dresser in the loft. I’m considering this renovation for next summer.

(2) Carpeted loft. I have a nifty rug left over from the tipi that I have on the loft floor. The problem is that it’s too stiff. You spend a lot of time on your knees in the loft and it would be nice to have some plush carpet to soften the blow.

(3) Pellet stove. Cutting your own wood is a pain in the ass. Buying it is costly. Keeping the fire going all night is also a pain in the ass. I currently have to run power from my parents house to run a small electric heater when I’m gone to work so I don’t freeze out. The wood stove takes up a lot of space- about 1/4 of the living room. I found a nice pellet stove that mounts on the wall for about $1,500 that would let me run heat for 12 hours straight at a very minimal cost. Pellets are more convenient than wood and burn just as efficiently as natural gas.

(4) Power supply. Yeah. Big bummer here. There is no way I can run my electric off of my system with out a huge investment in solar panels and batteries. This technology still has a loooooooong way to go before it can even compete to the normal power grid. I have a fridge; microwave; lights; heater; computer; fan; stereo and clock all trying to run on my system and it doesn’t keep up. I’ve been supplementing my power usage from my parents. I should have just bypassed all the solar and hooked everything up like a motor home.

These things are all every day complaints. My tiny house was designed with the off-grid lifestyle in mind and most things I mentioned are comfort features. I started wanting comfort features after I began working again because that in itself, kicks my ass. It’s hard to keep a fire going and do anything physical when you work a 9-5. Look at it this way. If shit hits the fan… I’m set up golden.

Well, that’s enough for now. I’m tired and I have to work again in the morning. Thanks for taking the time to check our my blog. Please feel free to ask questions or leave a comment. And as always… Live simply and follow your dreams!

-Supertramp

 

My first Youtube Video!

Supertramps Tinyhouse Tour!

Please add, like and subscribe. And as always, ask questions. I’m interested in hearing what you guys would like to see me make videos about. Blogging on here has always been fun and I will continue to do so on an irregular basis. Spring is just around the corner and  that means the fun is going to begin, so expect more blog posts. Thanks for your continued support!

Live Simply and follow your dreams!

-Supertramp

 

 

 

 

Getting Established

Well, the reason I haven’t updated for so long is quite simple. It’s been rather “boring,” so to speak. I feel like most of the time I’m doing things that aren’t that interesting, or I’ve already discussed them in previous posts.

I got some wood cut. Not all of it, but enough for now. I’m going to be running a small infrared electric heater in combination with my wood stove. There are going to be times when I will be gone for prolonged periods of time and it’s just not cool to let the place freeze. If I’m not there to put wood on the stove I will need a backup. Other than electric there is no other choice but propane… and somehow that doesn’t seem safe when I’m not around. So, despite my eagerness to be off-grid, this means I will have to pull some power from the main house. I just don’t have enough solar panels and batteries to run an electric heater at the moment. This is a great example of why I classify my self as a “self-sustaining enthusiast.” I strive to be as self-sustaining as possible; each day a new learning experience and way of doing things that brings me ever closer to self-sustainability, but still not “hard core” yet. I was telling someone the other day how hard this is… It’s a struggle to give up our modern conveniences, especially when they are 250ft. away. So an enthusiast I shall be, and I’m fine with that.

I’ve started settling myself in around “town.” It’s a 45 min trip from where I’m at and I don’t like going there. I’ve been taking care of some physical and mental health issues… both of which, had been put on the back burner because of the move. I’ve got a local Doctor and Dentist now. A therapist for all the things that still stress me out. The dogs have a groomer and Vet. I went today and got my eyes checked… turns out glasses are not an “option,” but a “requirement” now. I knew they were getting bad, I can’t read the on-screen guide or street signs anymore. Hopefully next week I will have a Chiropractor, stooping in the loft is hard on this creaky spine… and I’m only 39.

I’m all set for Mr. Frost and Mr. Snow. The lawnmower and boat are stored away with all those special things we do here02598655555555 in Minnesota to prep for winter. Seafoam is a must! The snowmobile needs an oil change, but that’s Dad’s job. The shovels and plows are ready at a moments notice, and the snow shoes have been dusted off. Snow suit is washed waterproofed. It’s that “lull time” on the lake, can’t get a boat out and the ice hasn’t set at all yet. The fish are safe for the moment.

I feel like I’m finally getting things caught up and taken care of. It’s time to start dreaming of spring. The garden, the bees, the chickens, the hammock. I hope it’s a mild winter, but all one can do is hope. Established.

 

 

Living Tiny & The First Fire (ooohhhh, aaaahhhh)

So I’ve been doing this “tinyhouse” thing for awhile now. I feel like I’m educated enough at this point to have some viable input on what it’s like to live in a tinyouse. So here is my take thus far.

First, it’s small. If you don’t like small spaces you’re better off somewhere else. Try living in one room of your house for two months and you will soon see. Every time I turn around the dog is in the way. I’m constantly moving object A,B,C,D to get to object E, then realize I need object A but, objects B,C and D have now just been put in front of it. It’s like a Circus of discord. But… you do get used to it. I’ve learned over these past few months how to deal with these frustrations.

Second, lofts suck. Up, down, up, down. Rusty, my dog, needs to be carried up at night and carried down in the morning. He’s fat (well husky at least). Myles was a one hand lift. Rusty needs to be “fireman” carried up and down from the loft. My upper arms are getting a workout and so are my legs. And here’s a kicker- middle of the night bathroom breaks! Do you understand how frustrating it is getting out of the cozy bed in the brisk midnight air and have to climb down from the loft so you can piss? Even worse, Rusty needs to piss too! It didn’t take me long doing this routine until I had the bright idea of getting a urinal. Problem solved. Except for Rusty.

Third, it can get b-o-a-r-I-n-g. Living in such a tiny space FORCES you to get out and do “something.” I’d like to tell you how outdoorsy I’ve become but, alas. Don’t get me wrong I do fish, ride the 4-wheeler, garden and hike. Just not as much as I should. Mostly because of the weather being too hot or too cold. I have a television in the tinyhouse but there is no cable or antenna yet so it’s a useless “wall ornament.” I get a weak internet signal in the loft where I can twitter or watch Netflix but, in the summer the loft is scorching during the day even with the windows open and the fans going. I need air conditioning! So most of the time I spend my days in the big house with Ma and Pa where the internet is strong, the television gets channels and the air is cooled.

Fourth, daily chores. Small spaces get dirty QUICK. Everyday I vacuum the loft and sweep the main floor. Next I have to empty the urinal and composting toilet “liquids” bottle. This is a nasty job and quite stinky too. If you don’t do it everyday the whole damn house will smell like piss. Then I do any dishes and empty the catch bucket under the sink. A light dusting. Then back up to the loft to make the bed. Normally this isn’t such a chore, but when your celling is only 4ft. high it’s a nightmare on your back and knees. It’s not much but, having to do these things daily gets to be a pain… literally.

Those are my biggest complaints. Yep, that’s it. Everything else is BEAUTIFUL. I pretty much knew about the things above before I signed up, having read blogs and spoken to so many people before going this route. I am living my dream and everyday I DO pinch myself to make sure I’m in reality. It’s quiet, peaceful and best of all… PAID FOR. Tinyhouse living allows me time to do the things in life that I choose to do. I will get a job this winter to keep busy and to build my savings back up. I won’t be constrained to my job like I was before, working only part time and doing things that I find enjoyable. I wont be worrying about creditors and debt collectors and I wont be busting my ass trying to stay afloat and ahead of the “game.”

I’ve been getting along splendidly with my parents. I’ve taken over all the yard duties for my Dad and help my Mom with house chores. It’s kind of cool actually- we’ve become quite the “tribe.” I look at other cultures and see this type of lifestyle a lot. The family unit all living together and helping each other out. I get land to live on and in return they get help keeping the place up. And it’s a big place. 32 acres of lakeshore property and a house with 4 bedrooms 3 bathrooms plus an upstairs and downstairs living area. That’s a lot of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting. So it’s not like I sit on my ass and watch t.v. and play on the internet all day.

I lit my first fire in the woodstove this morning. Which means that yes, I did finally get the stove hooked up. Everything worked the way it should, meaning I didn’t burn the place down. I’m surprised how little wood I had to use to warm it up. A few sticks the size of my thumb and a 12″ piece about the thickness of my wrist. This lasted almost 4 hours. I’m hoping I can get away with not having to use more than a few cords of wood this winter, which would be good being as how I’ve yet to split any. That’s next weeks project along with pulling the boats and dock out for the season. I didn’t build a deck yet but, I did fashion a fancier set of stairs that will get me by until spring. I added a few shutters to “fancy” up the façade and I put in a new table and some new décor. It has an amazing felling inside, very tranquil especially at night.

After spending some time grieving the loss of Myles, I’ve decided to take in another dog. I’m traveling to the cities on Monday to pick up a three year old rat terrier named Bella who is in need of a good home. She is tan and white in color and is supposed to be a “cuddler” and gets along well with other dogs. Hopefully everything works out and I’ll be posting pics of her next week.

Rusty and I took a walk along the beach this morning and he somehow lost his collar? Todays task is to try to find it. I may cut some wood (probably not… I’m a procrastinator ya know). I’m already working on my other “get er done” for the day (this update). I think maybe I will take out the camera and snap a few shots of the changing leaves. Other than that… it’s wide open. I’m living the tiny life. And man, life is good!

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Just a quick tip for you herb gardeners out there. Instead of using twine and tying a bunch of knots to bundle your herbs for drying. Tie a bunch of clothes pins on a piece of string spaced about 8 inches apart. Clip your herbs into these and hang to dry. Now you aren’t tying knots constantly and wasting your twine 🙂

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Myles

At 12:00p.m. today my dog Myles passed away in my arms. He is greatly missed. Myles has been there with me through some of the best and worst times in my life. He was always so happy and loving. He was always by my side. He loved to sit on my lap when we rode the 4-wheeler. When I was sick, he would spend the entire day in bed with me, even skipping his own meals. He always looked me in the eyes and cocked his head whenever I spoke. He was a good listener. He loved to chase and be chased. If I had a dollar for every person who threatened to “steal him in their purse,” I’d be a very rich man. I feel so lucky that he came into my life and was able to share with me all these great adventures. Our souls will always be joined. We had one hell of a good ride together buddy! I love you and miss you.

Myles leaves behind a doggy brother, Rusty and a doggy Uncle, Tucker. My parents, who referred to him as their “granddog” & many others who were blessed enough to have known him.

Special thanks to all my family and friends who are helping me through this very difficult time in my life.

-Aaron

It’s Official! The Tiny House is OFF THE GRID!

There has been quite a bit going on with the tiny house lately. I added the bump-out and got the propane and water hooked up. And as of 10:00 this morning I’m powered by nothing but the sun! That’s right… the off-grid dream is a reality! As I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post, the wind generator was just not cutting it. I feel a bit misled  by the company that talked me into buying the wind generator. They failed to tell me that I’d need some serious wind (like about 20mph or stronger to get the 400 watts it was reported to put out), and we just don’t have that around here… it’s more on the side of 2mph and sometimes we see 10mph; rarely 20mph. So needless to say, it was good at keeping a few lights going, but forget about a refrigerator. Now my problems generating enough power have been solved with the addition of three 100 watt solar panels. Keeping the lights, refrigerator, fan and computer charged is now possible. Free power from the Sun, how cool is that?

I’ve been looking at a few blogs lately and have seen some pretty cool things people have done with their tiny homes. It would be cool to add a system to heat my water with the Suns rays instead of propane. I’d also like to put a small hydroponic garden in one of my windows where I can grow some lettuce. I’ve even seen someone who had a chicken coop built on the front of their tiny house- although I champion the idea, chickens are stinky and having them that close to my windows wouldn’t be smart.

I’m down to just a few last details now. First, putting on a deck and second, finishing the tile around/under the fireplace. I plan on installing the deck in the coming week or so, the tiling can wait a bit… a man has to have time to fish ya know!

Speaking of fishing, I’ve been learning to fly fish with the help of my Uncle Robert. We both found it odd that a passing boat saw us fly fishing (from my boat) and commented “I thought they only fly fished in rivers in Colorado.” HAHA 🙂 You can absolutely fly fish from a BOAT in MINNESOTA. Panfish, bass, walleye, pike and every other fish in the lake has no problem swallowing a fly lure. And thinking the way to fly fish is how they did it in the movie “A River Runs Through It,” would be disadvantageous.

I did have a bit of drama last week. If you follow my Twitter account you probably caught it. We had some seriously strong winds (yep, those 20mph kind that would power my refrigerator) and my boat swamped. We had another boat on our dock and I wasn’t able to tie it with the bow facing forward and water splashed up over the stern. After a few plowing waves it was doomed. Thankfully it was tied well to the dock, otherwise it would be big loss. It took a few hours of bailing and pumping to get her all dried out. To make matters worse it was also filled with seaweed, snails, muck and the various other vegetation found in lakes. YUCK!

Well… I got a steak to grill 🙂 Till next time.

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The bump-out

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bump-out. On demand hot water heater.

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Bump-out. Propane storage.

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300 watt solar panel array.

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Power hub and solar power charge controller.

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A little cruise on the lake!

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#plutotime on the lake

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#plutotime on the lake!

It Feels Like A Home! 1st Night in Tiny Home

Unpacking and getting things “just right” has been a week-long process and I’m still going. Friday was the first night sleeping in the tiny home and it was wonderful! The house takes on a whole new feeling at night with the soft glow from the candles and oil lamps (yes I have real lights too, but they don’t impart the same “feel”). It was a bit stuffy and warm in the loft the other night because I don’t have a fan going yet. The space feels so cozy, not unlike the feeling I had sleeping in the tipi. I was able to purchase and install some cabinets in the kitchen and get the sink put in. I don’t have water yet because I’m still waiting for Doug to finish up the bump-out for the propane and water heater. I pick that up on Tuesday. I’m pretty much all decorated up, there are a few things in boxes that I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep or not.

Here is the current “TO DO” list:

  • Hook up propane and water
  • Order and install solar panels
  • Build custom couch for living room
  • Hook up wood stove
  • purchase and hang drapes
  • Build deck
  • Install some type of paneling around outside to hide trailer/wheels
  • Hook up television and stereo

That’s pretty much the list. Then it’s time to start splitting wood and getting ready for winter. LOL

Here are some pictures of what’s been done thus far. I hope everyone had a fun 4th and your puppies were not too shook-up from the loud booms!

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View from the front door

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Living room

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Living room

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Kitchen (check out that awesome countertop)

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Kitchen

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Bath

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Bath

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Pantry on right side

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closet

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Loft

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Kitchen

 

Tiny Home. Big Move.

Yippee! I’ve been waiting to say this for the longest time now: the tiny house is finished and was moved on Tuesday. After an extra few days on trim work, we finally wrapped things up and got that sucker hooked to my truck. After only 6 miles down the road my truck overheated and I had to call my Dad to finish the pulling. I guess Fords do suck and Chevys are much better at handling such tasks. There I said it. Hopefully this doesn’t start a war! LOL. To my trucks credit it pulled my boat with the 4-wheeler in the bed just fine. Thank God for awesome and understanding Fathers who are willing to lend a hand (or truck).

I still have to finish the countertop in the kitchen and tile under and around the fire place and hook up the water and propane. Doug is finishing the bump-out that will hold the propane tanks and water heater… hopefully it’s done soon because I’m getting tired of driving back-n-forth from the old cabin to my new location. I’m going to poly the interior this weekend. I should be spending my first night in my new home sometime early this week.

Moving has been hell to say the least. I didn’t have any help and it took me 6 hours to take down the tipi. I may have downsized from my earlier move, but it’s clear that there is still to much “stuff” to fit into my tiny home and another downsizing is in order. That’s okay though, I like garage sales! I have one more trip to the cabin to get the last of my belongings: my plants and my food. Then I’m DONE! What a relief… I can finally settle down and do some fishing.

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Trimming the windows

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Wood floor installed

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Building the interior walls (bathroom and closet)

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The “crapper.” Composting toilet by Natures Head- the same one I used in the tipi.

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All settled in at the new location

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The living room

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The loft

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Kitchen. No countertops or shelves yet.

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View from kitchen. Closet is on the right and food pantry is on the left.

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Solar and wind power convertor. I’m building a bench w/table over it. And Myles!!!!

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Living room ceiling. It really adds to the space and makes the room feel so much larger.

Tiny House Update: Nearing Completion!

Things are still going strong on the tiny house build. The roof is on, the loft window is in, some of the cedar shake has been completed on the outside, the door was installed and trimmed out and we’ve started tackling the cedar tongue and groove on the interior walls. We are hoping we can have this puppy on the road this coming Wednesday.

Doug spent today working on some of the interior while I hauled some things to my parents. Today I also installed a break controller in my pickup… I sure hope I’m able to pull this thing! Worse case scenario: call in backup.

Not tiny house related: went to the show with Mom and saw Jurassic World in 3D. I thought it was pretty good, Mom was bored. Figures.

Hopefully by this time next week I will have some “finished” photos for you to see. For now here is the recap of last week!

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