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

 

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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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Tiny House Construction Update. Days 2-10

It’s been pretty hectic these past few weeks. Things are going amazing and surprisingly very fast. I see no reason that we can’t have this project completed and moved to the property by June 19th.

Here is a recap of the following weeks with some pictures. Pay no mind to the date & time on the photos… I didn’t have it set right LOL.

Day #2 Subfloor insulation and sheeting.

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Day #3 Framing the side walls.

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Day#4 Installing the rafters and framing the end wall (tongue side).

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Day#5 Framing end wall (tail end), sheeting and tar papering the roof.

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Day#6 Tyvek installation, electrical, roof gables, installing end window.

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Day #7 Installing remaining windows and end wall sheeting (tongue side).

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Day #8 (Rain Day) Staining wall sheeting.

 

Day#9 Sheeting remaining walls.

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Day #10 Spraying interior with insulation.

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As you can see… we’ve been busy. I can’t wait to start on the interior.

Construction Begins!

After a one month delay waiting for the trailer arrive from the manufacturer, construction has finally started. Yesterday I went with my builder Doug Dobson, to pick up the trailer. It was the first time I’ve ever pulled anything besides a boat behind my truck and it took a bit of getting used to. The trailer actually added a bit more stability to my pickup and I suggest Ford starts adding trailers to all their vehicles. If you recall from the previous post, the tiny home was scheduled to be completed by the end of next week. I’m still optimistic that we will be able to have things caught up and I will be able to move to my new place in mid June. Everyone cross their fingers!

Last week Doug and I took a trip to town to procure most of the materials. It was fun picking out the cedar tongue and groove boards for the interior, the wood flooring, windows and my front door. So many choices, colors, textures, shapes, patterns, sizes so many different options… my head is spinning. I’m beside myself just thinking about what I’m going to do for curtains. There have been many a sleepless night laying in bed… dreaming. It’s finally here and time to get to work!

Bright and early today I took the 4-wheeler and camera over to Doug’s and he was already out and getting things set up. I was impressed at his enthusiasm on our little project. Within a matter of hours we had already completed most of the subfloor. Doug had to run to the lumber yard to get the oak boards for the loft floor, so I decided to take the opportunity to update the blog. I know, it took long enough. I finally have something worth merit to start writing about… are you excited? I am.

Tomorrow I’m driving to my parents property and will decide on the final resting place of my tiny home. Hopefully everyone can come to an agreement on it’s placement. I need a nice clear view of the sun to power my solar panels and a clearing big enough, so as not interfere with the wind that will power the wind generator. I also need to be close enough to the house to run a hose for my water supply. All this and yet not impede on my parents. It’s not going to be tucked away in the woods like I’d hoped, but rater on the side lot overlooking the lake.

If you are considering building a tiny home in the future, or live in one now please don’t hesitate to contact me. Doug is hoping that by building this tiny home for me, more opportunities for this type of construction will come his way. His information and other useful resources for those that are interested can be found here: https://returntothewild.net/tiny-home-resources.

As a side note: I’ recovering from a broken elbow at the moment and have “a gimp arm” as Doug calls it. I’m NOT in a cast and can use my arm in a limited fashion so long as I don’t bump it. Isn’t it funny how these things happen when it’s most inopportune? And to all you smart asses out there who know me… YES I’m accident prone. Enjoy the pictures 🙂

Day #1 of construction. Pulled trailer in garage so we weren’t in the sun. We began by removing every other board on the bed of the trailer to help lighten the end weight and because they aren’t needed for support. The sub floor is then built on top of the remaining boards in 3 separate sections that will be joined together once we install a layer of metal flashing (under the sub floor and on top of the existing trailer bed boards) to protect the subfloor from beneath. Next we will cut insulation to fit between the 2×4’s and finish by laying down plywood sheeting. The trailer is a 8×20 straight deck “Buggy Hauler”, custom built for tiny homes by PJ Trailers in Sumner, TX. DSC_1069 . DSC_1071 DSC_1074 DSC_1075 DSC_1076 DSC_1077 DSC_1078 DSC_1079DSC_1085