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misteraven

The Off Grid living thread (Dropping out the rat race)

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That's wild. I remember when she left our parking lot to the north she was headed to Wyoming to do the off the grid/farm life thing. Maine, geez. Those Canucks can't stand being away from subzero temperatures.

 

Maybe I'll get my boy to reach out to them. Would be wild if they stopped back through.

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Maybe I'll get my boy to reach out to them. Would be wild if they stopped back through.

 

Please do. That would be wild.

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Since usually pictures are more compelling than written narratives, I figured I'd share some photos across a couple posts that might help paint the picture a little more of what life is like out this way. Many of these were posted to my personal Instagram (@allenbenedikt) but figure I'd share them here as well. If you guys dig them, I'll post more. Also happy to answer more questions.

 

Last Spring...

 

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Here's a couple of the chicken coop I built...

 

Paid to have a cement foundation poured as it helps predator proof and also makes it way easier to keep clean once it's been sealed. I finished it off in rough cedar fence pickets since its the cheapest cedar you can buy. Looks good, smells nice and is naturally pest and weather resistant. Windows came from Craigs List and were like $20. They're 100+ year old farmhouse sash windows. Still finishing the interior as I was planning to run some electrical and possibly plumbing into it to help automate some of the chores like opening / closing the coop door and keeping their water dish filled. It's designed to accommodate up to 60 birds, but presently I have 13 chicken hens, 1 drake and 4 duck hens. Plan is to start considering meat birds come spring since this is a laying flock and also planning to start selling eggs to the neighborhood despite many already have their own birds. Reason for it if I generate $1200+ a year in documented agriculture income, my property taxes are reduced 50% due to the AG zoning out here.

 

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Also put in some raised beds and though we lost our first round of seedlings (family did a shit job watering when I was away fro two weeks), I think we did okay with it. I built two 4 x 12 x 1.5' raised beds. We got way more leafy greens than we can eat and did okay with the tomatos and really well with cucumbers and some other stuff. Its not hard, but does take some learning in regards to soil acidity, organic pest control and what to plant next to what. Even basic shit like learning that most leafy greens are only good when young, so you need to stagger your planting was something I had no idea about. I knew that at the supermarket, it often says "young greens" on lettuce and spring mixes, but never thought about it. Come to find out that as leafy greens mature, they grow tall and the plant starts developing a milky sap that tastes bitter. Even though you can keep picking leaves and eating them while the weather holds out, after about 6 weeks it goes from tasting amazingly fresh and rich to mostly bitter. Birds live them anyways so they got a bunch of old greens at the end of the season. Also learned that some plants can function stack. Like beets for example... The green leaves actually taste really great as salad and then you can also harvest the beet itself.

 

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Some of the flock... We bought our birds locally as the local breeds are better acclimated to the weather. Chickens do best at temperatures between 40 and 75 degrees F. They actually deal with cold far better than heat and have no trouble at temps down to about -20 below so long as they can stay completely dry and out of the wind. On the other hand, temps up to 95+ get pretty dangerous. Ducks are even better suited and if I break the ice up on the kiddie pool, they're happy to jump in even when its 10 degrees outside. No idea how they do that, but they in fact complain if they don't have water to play in. Ducks are far smarter than chickens and have a personality similar to dogs. Chickens are just blank all the time and though they can be very friendly if handled regularly are literally dumb as rocks. The chickens lay very regularly and we get about 12 eggs a day when the whether is decent and there's plenty of sun. The ducks lay maybe 2 - 3 eggs a day and only when the weather is nice and the days are long. (Birds lay according to light so in the short days of winter, they lay far less).

 

Duck eggs are super amazing and I suggest you guys go seek out a whole foods or whatever and try it. Like a better tasting, richer chicken egg thats also a bit bigger. Also, farm fresh eggs from organic free range birds are next level.

 

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Some general shots from summer... My daughter helping handle my friends working dog pups and some other stuff...

 

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Here's what homestead type meals look like, including the aforementioned duck eggs. According to Paleo (and my doctor, health issues relating cholesterol have to do with LDL and the mechanism (size) of the vehicle that encapsulates cholesterol and not with how much of it you consume). As such, we eat eggs almost every day and so far blood tests have proven out that there's been zero negative impact (contradicting the shit they teach you in school about not eating eggs more than twice a week). Eggs are actually a very nutrient dense food. The dutch baby shown below.... Not so much, but very tasty.

 

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Here's what winter out here is like... Negative temps, 300"+ of snow. Our home has a AAA energy rating due to triple planed glass, double thick insulation and the way it was designed. Our energy bill is a quarter of what it used to be, despite our being 4x the size of our old place. Mostly we heat with a single wood stove and if you take the time top process your own wood, just takes time and sweat. Its actually pretty fun, since the last few times I go out with my K9 trainer friend and we just hang out and talk shit while culling standing dead trees. We've come to see that it takes about 5 cords to make it through winter (it snows about 5 months out of the year) and a cord (for those that don't know) is a split, tightly organized stack about 4 x 4 x 8 ft. Because my wife likes to keep our home Haiti hot despite arctic temps outside, we probably need more like 7 cords to get through the winter. Got my chainsaw late in the season, but plan is to try and stack up 15+ cords come summer.

 

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Fantastic pics!

 

Have you eaten Moose yet?

 

Thanks man. Just shit I took with my iPhone. Have a bunch of nice studio cameras but they're either too expensive or too big to lug around and havent gotten around to getting a nice EDC point and shoot yet.

 

Nope, but I've had elk, which is really great. I was too busy during hunting season to participate and dont have enough experience to not go with someone anyways so will need to wait until next season. Moose is a hard tag to get, but deer is just handed out and elk tags aren't too hard. Its not unusual to see a herd almost a 100 deep of deer in our yard at certain times a year. Also been seeing mink around, but beyond that we have coyote, wolves, brown and black bears, elk, moose, otter and all kinds of other stuff.

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@lord_casek Just noticed your avatar... That a legit MP5 or a clone? Nice either way. Fun gun to shoot for sure, especially if it still has a giggle switch on it.

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I've never had Moose or Elk, but I hear that both make an excellent stew. If you haven't had battered and fried deer steaks yet I seriously suggest you try some.

Legit MP5. That's not me in the pic, btw. I look similar to that guy, though.

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I've never had Moose or Elk, but I hear that both make an excellent stew. If you haven't had battered and fried deer steaks yet I seriously suggest you try some.

Legit MP5. That's not me in the pic, btw. I look similar to that guy, though.

 

Elk and moose tenderloin is supposed to be better than filet mignon. I've had elk medallions and those are freakin awesome. Definitely on par with the best steaks I've had. Yeah, have a chest freezer and planning an optic for my 308, so its definitely on next season as far as deer goes.

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Nice pics Raven. Looks awesome out there.

 

Yeah man, best place on earth as far as I'm concerned. These photos really do it no justice.

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Elk is hands down my favorite meat (nh). Ostrich is up there, too, surprisingly.

 

I'll try to add a bit to this thread this weekend. The core of this is absolutely where my heart and head are at and last fall I moved away from a suburban Denver cookie-cutter house to 13.5 acres in Western North Carolina. By no means are we off-grid, but we definitely feel out of the rat race.

 

I'm super anxious/ready for spring for the gardening aspect of my place.

 

My brother has recently gotten into milling logs and has been talking to me about it as well. I've got a ton of killer hardwoods (nh again) on my land that are potentially $20k+ trees that could help pay for a lot of upgrades and projects.

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@Fist 666 Nice, looking forward to your photos.

 

Spring is definitely cool, but I actually really enjoy winters out here. There's definitely some challenges, but its so beautiful and also cozy. Plus I have a season pass at the local resort so have been snowboarding a ton. That said, I definitely wasn't as prepared as I should have been. Granted I wasn't raising birds last winter, so definitely learning a lot about what I should be doing to make maintenance a lot easier come spring when I can do it. Definitely need to finish off my coop, get some lights and electricity out there, as well as get the auto feeders and a method to keep water out there without freezing and without having to refill every day, let alone several times a day.

 

Also, got my chainsaw and started cutting wood way too late, so for sure going to put real effort into it when the weather is good. In fact, thinking of buying a dump trailer down in Florida where my parents are and bringing it up here where they seem to cost 3x as much. This winter a cord of wood is going for about $220 delivered and that's no more than an hour or two if you have two guys and and an easy way to haul it.

 

Will likely increase my flock in the spring and if I have the time and extra cash, wanted to put in another 4 - 6 raised beds (surprisingly expensive since its all redwood and has organic dirt filled. Costs me about $800 each to put in). Also need to redo part of the orchard I put in since the deer decimated it last fall while I was still working on the game fence. (Deer can dump an 8 - 10 foot fence if they can see whats on the other side and feel safe about clearing it, especially if they're being pursued).

 

Would love to mill some logs myself. Was thinking of setting up an Alaskan Mill just to see if I could rough out some planks for some of what I'm doing out with the animals. Though about a quarter of my property is heavily forested, its all super mature trees and also tough to pull out since a lot of it at a much lower grade. Tradeoff was I managed to score a bunch of river frontage and also have about 15 acres of pasture (currently planted with alfalfa).

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@misteraven re: the cost of a dumptruck, imo just own a good pick up (kind of assume you already do) and get a splitter if you're looking to get a serious volume of wood. fuck paying by the cord if you own a saw. In every state I've lived in (CO and west) you can harvest fallen trees in national parks, of which your state has a shit ton of land to choose from. You can easily harvest a couple cords in a day if you're motivated (and utilizing child labor wouldn't hurt the productivity either).

 

The Alaskan saw mill is what I'm looking at as well. My only concern is that with a 3/8 kerf from a chainsaw I'd end up potentially losing a full plank per log, which with hardwoods can be thousands of dollars. I also need to buy a bigger saw as my 20" bar isn't enough for most of the trees I'm eyeballing. My property is 95% wooded, so I have to really prioritize my areas that get a good amount of direct sun, but it sounds like you've got enough space that you could build a solar kiln really easily. I have a 30x40 steel building (basically a barn) that I'd like to build a full scale milling set up inside and build custom tables and such.

 

Does anyone have contact with Cool Hand Luke (I think that was his SN), dude had toyotas and lived in BC, I bet he'd have a lot to add to this conversation.

 

I am not a winter person, part of the reason we moved south instead of north was for that reason. Ironically, my first winter in NC has been harsher than most of my Colorado winters ever were.

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@Fist 666 I hear that about leaving Colorado, I lived in the front range (Downtown Denver) for 5 years and we'd consistently get 70 degree weather in winter, sometimes even in January. This year has been especially harsh in NY, my cousins up by lake placid were at 50 below fahrenheit for quite some time in December. They all swear by pellet stoves up there, as opposed to wood burning tu supplement the furnace.

 

@misteraven Dope flicks, please keep them coming. If you come across seed money get a bunch of horses, or a fleet of ATV's & Snowmobiles. You could have a nice tourist destination especially being that close to a ski resort. That's kind of me projecting my own dream.

 

I see Otis up there chilling, he's got to be loving it out there compared to the pissing on trash bags lifestyle in Soho. I was wondering if any of those dutch shepherds are yours? That breed is normally very expensive if you want to buy one, and super smart. I honestly think they're smarter in many ways than most of the humans I know, especially in a tactical, or situational awareness sense.

 

We've got an all black dutch shepherd my soon to be wife found wild. They found him starving, severely traumatised, and roaming the woods along the westside highway up in the heights. Took a week or two to finally catch him he was so wary of humans. Best dog I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. He's actually no longer scared of men anymore, doesn't flinch if anyone raises their hand, and turning into a bit of a cream puff. By nature, I don't think they're a very obedient breed. They're driven to dominate as the default and requires more of a partnership from humans they work with. That's actually helped work on my own patients, and other weaknesses more than he'll ever know. Cliche the dog rescued me type situation.

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I wonder who here has a HAM radio license. I was working on mine for a little while. You reminded me of that when you said mountains block signals. With a few extra lunch monies you could probably find someone that would let you put a radio tower on one of their mountains. It's all line of site for communication and doesn't rely on any network outside of the people that are licensed with handsets using them.

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@misteraven re: the cost of a dumptruck, imo just own a good pick up (kind of assume you already do) and get a splitter if you're looking to get a serious volume of wood. fuck paying by the cord if you own a saw. In every state I've lived in (CO and west) you can harvest fallen trees in national parks, of which your state has a shit ton of land to choose from. You can easily harvest a couple cords in a day if you're motivated (and utilizing child labor wouldn't hurt the productivity either).

 

The Alaskan saw mill is what I'm looking at as well. My only concern is that with a 3/8 kerf from a chainsaw I'd end up potentially losing a full plank per log, which with hardwoods can be thousands of dollars. I also need to buy a bigger saw as my 20" bar isn't enough for most of the trees I'm eyeballing. My property is 95% wooded, so I have to really prioritize my areas that get a good amount of direct sun, but it sounds like you've got enough space that you could build a solar kiln really easily. I have a 30x40 steel building (basically a barn) that I'd like to build a full scale milling set up inside and build custom tables and such.

 

Does anyone have contact with Cool Hand Luke (I think that was his SN), dude had toyotas and lived in BC, I bet he'd have a lot to add to this conversation.

 

I am not a winter person, part of the reason we moved south instead of north was for that reason. Ironically, my first winter in NC has been harsher than most of my Colorado winters ever were.

 

Yeah, you can harvest here on state lands with a permit, which is $20 for 4 cords and nobody ever signs off on them so they last a while. I was referring to a dumb trailer, not dump truck. Yes, I have a fairly new F150 which piled above the bed can haul just shy of a cord to a cord. I'd like to try and haul more than that... Ideally 2 - 3 cords so I think a 8 x 14 ft dump trailer with 3 foot sides that can be expanded to 6 ft would do nicely. I dont mind splitting the rounds... In fact, its my favorite part so I doubt I'd bother with a splitter. That said, the least favorite part is emptying the wood and stacking it so thats why I'm interested in the dump trailer. Also, if I start thinking of selling cords, I'd rather just pull up and dump then spend 30 minutes manhandling it out of a trailer or truck bed.

 

As far as the mill, sounds like you're in a different situation. If you really plan to turn it into a gig, then yeah I'd be looking at an old time belt driven mill setup. Something that you can look at and understand, even if some of the parts might be hard to come by. Figure it could cost that much for something like that.

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