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.

 

 

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

Anyone want to buy a tipi?

Well spring is here and things are moving along. I’m currently having coffee with my “builder” and discussing the construction of my new tiny home. The way things are going, I should have my new home built and ready to move into by June. WOW I can’t believe this is finally happening. Exciting times!

Stay tuned!!!!

The long winter begins

Ahhhhhh. Winter is finally here. I’ve managed to get all my wood cut for the season and at the rate I’m burning… I should wind up with more than enough to get me through the winter. Right now we just have a few inches of snow covering everything and are expected to have fairly warm weather these next few days (mid 30’s to 40’s). We had a few days where the mercury level was in the negative. Yes, I expect it will get much worse.

The rabbits and chickens are doing fine in the new coop I built, staying fairly warm with just one 250W heat lamp. I still have to change out frozen water bottles everyday. The dogs and I are staying very warm in the cabin with just the woodstove. It took some time but I’ve finally figured out how to get maximum heat and an extended burn out of it… it was a learning experience.

My biggest complaint right now is boredom. It gets a little “cabin feverish” up here. I’ve been keeping busy reading, knitting, riding the 4-wheeler, hunting (NO I did not get my deer this year, but the neighbor did! I had my first venison loin and I even ate heart for the first time!), ice fishing, trapping raccoons, visiting with neighbors and family and eating. I’m going to attempt to learn a few things this winter including how to knit socks with a loom and how to make nets. Keeping busy is the key.

I can let the cat out of the bag now as far as next summer is concerned. I will be moving onto my parents property which is located on a lake in Northern Minnesota. My Mom is extremely excited and can’t wait to start gardening with her son. My Dad is also happy, as he now has someone to mow the lawn and help out with other projects. I will be setting up the tipi on the property and living in it while I construct a tiny home (just google “tiny home” if you are unfamiliar), which will eventually become my permanent residence. I hope to have the tiny home finished by fall so I can move in before winter, otherwise I will just move to the house as I’ve pretty much given up on staying in the tipi over the winter- I’m too old for the cold LOL. It’s going to be quite the adventure and there will be A LOT to accomplish. I am very excited. This is eventually where I wanted to end up, I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly. I have stability here and I know that the time I put into these projects will not be in vain. It’s time for me to work on some long term plans and goals. Expect to see this blog very active beginning in spring 🙂

tinyhouse

Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone got their fill of turkey and has a wonderful Holliday season. Stay warm!

Day in the Life

I just went out and checked on the hive. The bee colony is strong and the queen has started laying new brood. I topped off the syrup feeder and Rusty has learned what electric fencing is! Sorry, buddy… now he knows to stay away! Follow my twitter feed @emo_eater for your daily dose of updates, or stay tuned here for more “in-depth” discussion. Ask questions or for photos and I will do my best to provide. Thanks again for following my adventure!!!

 

-Aaron

You Can See it Down the Road!

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

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Henry David Thoreau

Well… I’m a bit late in blogging this (as usual; been busy) but the TIPI IS UP! Gene and I employed the help of one of our neighbors, Chuck, who came over last Saturday and helped set the tipi. It took about 3 hours to get the poles and outside cover in place and up. Most of that time was me- frantically taking measurements and trying to figure out how to tie knots. Knots are important things, and tying them correctly is of the utmost importance, unless you want the whole thing coming down on you. I had to remind Gene that this design is very old; perfected over the years. It’s important to follow the instructions and place each pole in the right order for everything to “lock-in” and bare the correct loads.

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When you set the tipi, you tie a tripod with three of your biggest poles. Once they are tied, you lift them and swing the third pole out and away, thus creating the tripod. Next, the remaining poles are lifted and nestled into the appropriate “crotch” on the tripod. The poles were relatively easy to lift by ones self, with another person standing on the butt end and making sure it doesn’t move while you lift it. The poles that move the smoke flaps are not as light as I was hoping. I’m going to have some guns next summer after attempting to swing them around all the time.

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Once you have your tripod and poles up you tie the canvas tipi cover to the last pole. This is the lifting pole and you swing this pole into place like the others. It was damn heavy… over 100lbs. I think. We couldn’t see where we were going with this thing so we needed to be guided as we lifted it.

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Here’s a quick video if my description was too vague.

Garden update: I tried using a tiller that I borrowed from the resort… no luck. The ground was so tough and full of stones that it was pretty useless. Thankfully, people help each other out around here! The neighbor across the street came over with his tractor and plow and tilled up the sod for me. He’s going to teach me how to drive the tractor over the summer and I will be helping him bale hay in his fields. It was pretty funny. He asked me, “you want to learn how to drive this thing?” I had the biggest smile on my face when I blurted out, “FUCK YEAH!” Sorry for the profanity, but I couldn’t contain my excitement. The garden will have to be “disked” before I plant anything and that can’t happen with all this rain, or it will just be a mud pit. May 20th. is the average last frost in my area. Things will need to happen with furry if I want to be able to grow anything this year. If the winter doesn’t kill me in the tipi this year, next year won’t be so hectic.

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Hive update: The bees are doing wonderful. I was able to figure out how to put up an electrical fence around the area that should keep any potential predators at bay. The hive is also secured by to ground anchors and a strap so it can not be tipped over. I was in the hive the other day to fill up the sugar-water feeder (they need a supplemental food source until the nectar starts flowing. They have begun to build comb on the frames and the queen is laying new brood. I even saw some pollen stores in a few cells. Beautiful grains of orange and yellow-reds. The bees are very docile and I’ve been able to work without using gloves… NO, I haven’t been stung yet. The key is to move slow and deliberate, giving them a chance to get out of your way. If you don’t squish them, they won’t sting you. The “buzzing” noise when you lift off the top cover will however, scare the wits out of you. I immediately have flashbacks of poor Thomas J. in “MY GIRL.”

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Rabbit update: The rabbits are doing wonderful. Gene and I make an outdoor lean-to that we atttached the cages to. We even put shingles on it. I hooked up the automatic gravity fed watering system, so there is no longer a need to constantly change water bottles. I just fill up a 5gal. pail once a week. The first spring litter is doing well- I had one dead baby about 3 days after it was born… it was a runt (sometimes nature is cruel). One of the other does should be kindling tonight and then another in two more weeks. I’m spreading out the pregnancies so that I don’t have to cull 24-30 rabbits in one day. That still takes a toll on me- mental wise. When you have to grow or kill what you eat… there is less chance of being a glutton! Overweight people should have to kill their own food… then maybe they wouldn’t be so greedy!

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Chick update: The chicks are growing like crazy. I forgot how much fun it is to hear the “peep-peep” of little chicks. I believe I talked about purchasing 15 more about a month ago. I’m adding 6 to the flock (3 Buff Orpington, 3 Ameraucana- green/blue egg layers), and the rest are meat birds. I’m not sadistic… I’m a naturalist. You may think that picking up meat at the grocery store absolves you of their slaughter… who is a “zombie” now?

So basically it’s been busy. Gene’s back is better and we are both waking up earlier than we did over the winter. The rain has been constant, but that’s what makes you appreciate the sunny days. I will finish up getting the tipi ready- I’m laying sand and paver stones inside for my floor- Chuck, the guy who helped us raise the tipi suggested this. It’s a cheap alternative to building a wood deck. I’m looking forward to friends and family coming to visit. You can see the tipi all the way down the road! Hopefully this summer, the sight will cause a few to stop and talk… about life in a tipi, GMO’s, leaving the city life, my adventure. Maybe they will also be inclined to buy some eggs, or some rabbit, or perhaps a few organic edibles from the garden.

Thank you for reading my ramblings and being a part of this adventure with me. You keep me grounded and keep me inspired to live life and share what I’m experiencing. If you are in the area, stop by for a chat and a look… life is best lived to it’s fullest!

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

~ Henry David Thoreau Quotes