Gratefulness on Our Off-Grid Homestead

Trying to unload the "beast"

One blessing about starting with nothing and building our little homestead from the ground up is the excitement felt with every step forward.  How energy-giving to hear the children’s grateful comments about their new cozy beds, or about a repaired outside light on a dark night, or warm water in cold weather. 

In the land of plenty it can be easy to just expect our needs to be met, not even considering being thankful for basics.  What a handicap!  Some of the happiest and most contented children I’ve met lived in Haiti or South America with almost nothing.  Easily acquiring the necessities and extras of life can rob us of gratefulness.  So a grateful heart is one bonus that comes with homesteading.

Silver Oak was mostly gone this week doing landscaping.  We hope someday he can stay home and make enough here, but for now this is how the bills are paid. 

One day he got the decking for our tiny house that we still hadn’t brought home.  This extremely heavy load was all on his landscaping trailer, with the largest piece of decking (8’ x10’) sitting up on end in the middle.  Silver Oak’s cousin had kindly used his track loader to load everything, but the unloading at our house had to be done by hand since we don’t have such equipment.

All was well till we had to handle the big piece.  What a beast!  It is solidly built with many PT 4x4s and other heavy lumber, weighing a ton!

Getting the deck into place

Silver Oak fastened a cable winch to a fence post and tried to carefully pull it off the trailer with me bracing it to keep it from falling over.  That was a laugh!  When the first corner touched the ground it made a mighty lurch, fortunately away from me.  There was a lot of hollering as the mighty beast went crashing on its side, falling into the fence surrounding our “castle.”  It broke the wire and a fence post, but thank the Lord no one was hurt!

The roughly finished deck acting as a sorting place for boxes. Notice our 11-yr-old cat Marble inspecting the job.

Try as we might, even with the two older girls helping we couldn’t begin to stand that beast back up on end to push through the gate to its final resting place.  So we removed most of the floor boards and big corner posts.  It was still very heavy but we somehow (with a little more hollering) managed to get it back up and flipped end over end into the correct position to attach to our tiny house.

Once reassembled we had a nice little deck and some real steps roughly installed to replace the makeshift concrete block steps and hay-covered dirt.  This is only a start.  We hope to add the rest of the decking with a roof and screen before too long.  But even this little bit of deck is such a blessing.  The next day I sorted through quite a few boxes of belongings, putting that deck to good use!  And already there is a greatly reduced amount of hay being tracked into our tiny house.

One of my projects this week was installing an 18’ rope of LED lights under the kitchen cabinets to save on power usage.  The overhead lights are too energy consuming, so this LED rope, which was given to us, allows for alternative indirect lighting.  I hate the cold blue LED look, but this rope gives a softer, warmer-looking light.

I’m still not a pro at drilling pilot holes and screwing things together, so I had trials installing these lights.  Once I made the screws too tight and sheared off both screw heads on a bracket.  Blah!  Then I broke the drill bit making a pilot hole.  Arg!

I finally got it all up except the last several feet because I ran out of brackets, so right now there is a “tail” curled around the end of one kitchen shelf till we can get more.  But we love the soft glowing effect, and the light is ample enough except for serious night-time cooking or dishwashing.

The new lights on one side of the kitchen area

Another view

Silver Oak and I tacked up a shorter string of warm-colored LED Christmas lights under the shelves on the other side of the kitchen as well.  They give a nice glow of light to the countertop below.  I would have added a picture of these but the counter was too messy with lunch preparations, drill bits, screws, and other riff-raff.  So that side will have to wait.

On Saturday we had another garage sale at my Grandpa’s house in town, with great success.  We are now down to several boxes of things that still need to be consigned, sold on Craig’s list or eBay, or given to someone who needs it.  Of course as I unpack boxes in the shed, I find more that we can live without, so it is a seemingly never-ending saga.  But it continues to feel like relief to simplify and shed unnecessary things that clutter our lives.

Saturday night our beautiful Burmese (or Seal-point) cat Misty brought us a treasure.  She caught a mouse and was she ever proud!  She even ate it, except for the head and feet which she left for us under the canopy.  I’ve heard that well-fed pets don[t make good mousers, for they will be too lazy and unmotivated to catch mice.  But so far both of our well-fed cats have disproved that theory.  They’ve kept the mice and rat population at bay for years, protecting our animal feed.  Another thing to be thankful for.

Mouser Misty

Blessings,

Cold Weather, Bunk Beds, and China Dishes

Linked w/Frugally Sustainable , Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, and Farmgirl Friday!

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16 thoughts on “Gratefulness on Our Off-Grid Homestead

  1. Well good for Misty! I was “found” by a cat a bit over a year ago. He also loves to mouse (in the house and I have a few due to burning corn).

    He strides into the living room with a mouse clenched in his jaw. Stops right in front of me and spits it out. Alive. And then proceeds to play cat & mouse until I can whack it with a broom.

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  2. Our well fed cat is also a mouser. We do have one problem . She sometimes brings them into the house to play with, before eating them. We have had several talks with her about it. But she never seems to listen.

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  3. You’ll love your deck even more once you get it roofed and screened in! My front porch is another room for me and one that I spend a lot of time in during our beautiful spring and fall months here in Florida! It also allows me to leave the front door open saving on AC costs during those months.

    Hunter, one of my very well-fed cats, loves to hunt and bring Mommy presents! Before we got him, he did have to hunt for his food which is how he got his name. But now, I think he just enjoys the challenge. He has brought several mice (a few were dead the others were not) into the house, along with a bird and a rabbit (which were both alive, thankfully). I did have a ‘chat’ with him about killing unnecessarily and so far, he has obeyed as it’s been a while since he’s brought us any presents!

    Isn’t creating your own homestead hard but very satisfying work?

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  4. I love reading of your adventures and am so envious of the life you are living. I hope to one day get back to the basics. I am working my way towards that goal. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I don’t know of a way to start living sustainably all at once, but working steadily step by step toward that goal is doable. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you’re there.

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  5. You guys have been busy. I’ve been watching and reading since October and WOW, you are making incredible progress. Your kitchen looks fantastic and I LOVE what the LED rope lights do for the room. That new deck, the kids new bunk beds. I almost can’t even keep up. You folks are so productive, you are an inspiration to me. Thank you.

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    • Oh Heidi, you are so kind. Thank you for the encouragement and the “outside” view. To us it feels like we are just creeping along sometimes, and we are NEVER going to get our greenhouse set up and trees planted to start growing food, which feels like an urgent need. But I guess we have only been here about three months now, and there has been an overwhelming amount of things to do. Thank you for giving us another perspective.

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  6. My hubby had once put those LED strands up in the basement of the old house, but I got rid of them when we moved. Now I wish I hadn’t! My little boy sometimes has nightmares and has to have a small lamp on all night. Maybe I could save power if I got a short strand of these and put them in his room instead. I wonder how much power they really save….

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    • I’ll have to ask my techie electrician brother exactly what the difference is, but I know he said it takes only a fraction of power to run one of these strips when comparing to the flourescent bulbs currently in our kitchen ceiling. And now that they are making warmer colors of LED lights I think they’re great!

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