Thursday, December 14, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Gifts For Those Going Off Grid

When I say off grid I do not mean I live so far back into the woods I have to pump in sunlight, I mean I live 10 minutes from town and I will still get off the grid one day, sooner than later. 

Seeing as I have most things already and I really do not want a bunch of gifts that would call for power but there are some gifts that a homesteader can use or would love to have. Especially if they are like me and learning as I go before I jump all the way off the grid, plus I want to be more self sufficient and make or gather what I can for free.

Learning is the key, its hard to learn a lesson of no heat in the winter or no food after the garden dies.

So, there are some things that would be appreciated by people like me that do not live like others.

1 - Learn to be a sugar maker

I call it making Maple syrup but others call it sugar making. First you need to read about this amazing way of getting free maple syrup! Go from there and buy the needed items to tap the trees.

2 - Vegetable seeds

Its hard at first because you do not have seed to grow your food, after the first or second year things are easier because we learn how to harvest and save seed for the next growing season. All seed are appreciated!

3 - Soap Making

I like to use every single part of an animal, while I am more a vegetarian some in the family eat meat.  And while there is tallow ( grease) that comes from ALL animals, I need to do something with it and making soap is the best way to utilize the tallow. 

Learning is not hard but sometimes the little things I do not know help, plus a mold would be great so that I maybe can sell the soap if I am in need of cash or for a trade/ barter.

4 - Trees!

Yes I said trees. There is nothing like planting a tree and getting fruits and nuts right out of your own yard or field. While I prefer nuts for the protein some would rather have fruit.

5 - Anything Warm

While most people have a wood burning heater or fireplace some of us are not quiet there yet ( I just learned a valuable lesson last weekend, click here to read :  Off the grid ) So I suggest stocking up on warm clothes and long johns.

Well there you go!  A small list of things a homesteader would love as gifts that most can afford.

The list is long of things one would love to have on the homestead but I think it would be rude to ask for a backhoe or tractor :)

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Off The Grid For 2 Days

I was off the power grid for a couple days, Absolutely no power and only a few batteries that did die.

We got an unexpected snow storm, where some predicted an inch and a melt off by evening, we got a foot out here in the woods and most of it is still on the ground. I woke to snow last Friday and it snowed all day.

We lost power early Friday morning and the temps stayed cold enough all day for the snow to continuously fall, the night was down into the 20`s and we had no power and no heat and still snowing.

I am thankful God gave me some sense, I did have plenty of blankets and comforters so sleeping was not a problem but I was lacking because I was not prepared to face a night without any type of heat, Me! Miss get off the grid and live free! Preparing for the worst. 

I have 4 solar powered lights so we were not in the dark and I used all the candles to warm one area, But.......

I do have a fireplace "but" it had not been checked out by a professional, "But" when it got cold enough, on Saturday morning and still no answer about when I would have power back, Tony looked it over, gave it the okay and we built a fire in the fireplace. It warmed Us and the house.

Around 2:45 Saturday evening, with the temps barely at 40 degrees the power came back on. I think God heard me up in heaven screaming "thank you!"

So what now?

Actually I am glad this happened because no matter how prepared I am for other things I was not prepared for a power outage in the winter because of a freak snow storm, if we get anything its usually in February.

The plan :

Tony will coat the inside of this fireplace to make sure there are no cracks or I will replace the unit. Finish cutting down the tree that was struck by lightening and stack the wood in the shed where it stays dry. I have three acres of woods and I can clean up what had fallen and use this for heat. This will be the number one back up while I am still on the grid.

I will buy a small propane tank and a two burner heater, This will be number two back up while I am still on the grid. 

The Plan For 2018 :

I have had enough of being on the power grid, Calling and begging them when it shuts down to restore it just for us to have heat. I will buy some type of solar power system in the year of 2018 for the house and something more for the greenhouse, plants cannot live like this either. 

I have to live and learn sometimes, Kind of felt Gods finger poking me in the shoulder, telling me get busy girl cause you are not there yet.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Win Some Lose Some

It had been over 10 days since I wrote about my journey and in 10 days a lot can happen or not much.

Last week the cold set in for my part of the state of Alabama, Warm days and cold nights. With that being said I am learning as I go where the greenhouse is concerned.

I did the barrels as I understood and things were looking good till the night of the first hard freeze at 29 degrees . What I did not know about was the humidity in the greenhouse and that it will freeze the plants, or blister their leaves. I went down to check on the plants and I seen many of the dead! I was in shock so I did what I would usually do and research the problem. 

I found out that I need to let my heated greenhouse air out daily, even if it is cold outside. The heat needs to "dry" out so there is no condensation inside.

With that being learned I am now at the greenhouse daily, twice a day to be exact.

But it, the freezing of the condensation did not kill all the plants, some are beginning to sprout back out, I also find it amazing I can open the greenhouse daily, even when cold and it not lose all of its heat needed for the night. 

Progress Around The Homestead :

I got a load of pots taken down to the greenhouse and a couple bags of the compost/ manure/ potting soil that was stored under the deck.

I filled six of the recycled cottage cheese plastic containers with potting soil and brought them back to the house with me. I planted three of those with bell pepper seed and three with tomato seed. I can watch them better in my house and I can take them out later to live in the greenhouse.

The dogs are now in part of the backyard and free to run freely but under the guidance of the electric fence. Roscoe is not happy but Harley is. I am hoping this coming week we can get the rest of the back yard finished with the electric fencing so they will have more room and Roscoe will be happy.

Sunday I took a few hours and removed more of the brush, I think one more days work and I will have that section cleared, I would like the entire backyard cleaned before I put the rest of the electric fence up. I am sure Roscoe will be happier when he can see the back door. 

From the Garden :

All I have growing is the greens and that is all I picked.

The Stockpile : 

I did pick greens a few times. After I washed them I would freeze them till I got enough to home can. I got six pints this time and maybe the next time I will filled the canner full with seven pints.

Learning :

I am always learning and do research about how to live as free as possible. I want to know as many tricks of th trade as possible.

I recycle items like butter bowls and mushroom carton, even mayo and peanut butter jars, to reuse growing plants in or storing seeds.

I discovered one valuable thing to know, to Treat AFIB with vitamin C, I began to give Tony vitamin C and he had not had another episode of AFIB since. I have always thought that todays illnesses were related to vitamin deficiency.

Life is strange but I have always know that God has provided us with everything we need, we just have to figure it out and apply it to life.

Now that I am gardening, maybe year round, now that I have learned to pressure can foods for a shelf life, now that I know I can build anything I need, Its time to look at solar power, even if the first step is small. We all have to start somewhere. 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Working In The Winter

November 16, 2017

When Winter comes around most people think about gardening time being over completely and they buy what fresh produce they want at the grocery store but when the goal is to be off the grid there is no grocery store and you keep growing food year round. 

It has taken me much longer that I have anticipated to get the green house together and with things living and growing. 

Progress Around The Homestead :

When I got the white plastic barrels home I still had to paint them and I knew it would take a lot of spray paint and at $1 per can.  I could estimate that I would be spending to much for such a small amount of paint, I also looked at the quarts of black paint and once again $9 seems liked to much plus it was enamel so I opted for a gallon of black paint, while is still is costly at $18 per gallon I have so much left over for other up coming projects.

 I finally got a day off, Wednesday, and I used this day to work on the greenhouse needs only, since I knew colder weather is headed in next week I wanted to get a heat source in place.

First I got the barrels painted, I gave them two coats, and got them inside and filled with water. I placed three in the back so that the morning sun hits those and one by the front so the evening sun hits that one.

Next I placed the table I will use right now inside and I potted up my first greenhouse project, Confederate Jasmine cuttings. This will be a way to make money in the Spring. I already have Confederate Roses rooted and they have new leaves. 

From the Garden / Greenhouse :

I have not harvested anything this past week but a mess of greens for a meal. But I can see the Swiss chard / Beets growing and I am excited because this is my first time growing these. 

In the new greenhouse I have a baby tomato and one turned red already, soon more will be re-potted so they will grow better.

The Stockpile :

I was lucky to get a couple of cabbages from Aldi grocery store for .69 each, I sliced them up and froze those, I will have cabbage when I want it, I also bought 20 pounds of Irish potatoes for .19 per pounds and that is cheap taters around here! I plan to put them into jars, just potatoes and also in soup. I have ate all the soup stock and now I need to take a day and make more.

Learning :

I am at it again with the books, as I get older I need the books, the real in my hand paper books, so I bought how to deal with diabetes off grid. Now I know I can cure myself, the Doctor even told me how, with food. I am often thinking about, if I don`t know my numbers how would I deal with it?  I am not so sure there is an answer for that question. So now I am learning more about vitamins and what I need to eat to keep up those vitamin in my system so that my blood sugar will stay level.

I am also waiting on another DIY homestead book. What can I say? I like to build things :)

Do you have plans for your homestead this Winter? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

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Monday, November 13, 2017

8 Tips To Save Money On Heat This Winter

Its that time of the year again when we have to think about turning the heat on and what most of us hate to see, the rising cost of keeping warm. But there are a few things we can do that will help the blow of opening that bill and seeing the amount owed each month.

No matter how we heat out homes, electric or gas these tips will help keep you warmer.

1 - Insulation is the best way to keep the hot in and the cold out.  If you have an attic or basement make sure both or either are insulated. 

The heat goes up! and we do not want it going into a space that is not used.

Make sure that crawl space holes, under the house, are covered with something, a board or piece of tin to keep the cold air out, cold circulation under the house will make the floors very cold and could cause pipes to freeze and burst

2-  Stop air coming from windows.

Check all your windows and make sure that they still have all the putty in them, check around the entire window frame and make sure the calk is still in place. If its a no, then this is a simple job anyone can do. Buy a tube of calk for windows and doors, with a utility knife cit the top at a slanted angle so that as you apply it, its going where you want it with minimal lost.

If you live in an older home do not hesitate to put up plastic over the windows to keep the heat in!

3- Close those Plug In`s and dryer vents

Have you ever put a candle by a plug in? Do that and see is air flow is coming in, if so then buy a pack of safety plug in covers, that will stop that air.

Check the dryer vent pipe, does it have an opening? If so buy a can of the stuff, its a foam spray insulation, use it minimally because it tends to swell and that should stop that air.

4 - Use the heat in the ceiling

Push the heat in the ceiling back down with a ceiling fan, all heat rises so flip the setting to counter clockwise to push the heat back down, you will fell the difference.

5- Use free heat!

In the day open the blind and curtains. The natural heat from the sun will warm your house more than you imagine. Using the south side of your home as a natural heater by simply opening the curtains and blinds and allow nature to give back, free.

7 - Dress for Winter

I am sure that most people don`t have to be told to wear clothes to be warm, but there are a few items that some may not own and should. 

If you stay at home invest in several pairs of sweat pants, these are extra thick and comfortable, stay warmer and invest in the tops also.

When you go outside and you love your jeans but still get cold fast, buy a few pairs of insulated underwear, or as we call them " long Johns" these will help keep the cold off your skin and the heat in. The best part is they will fit under your pants and not look bulky.

Most people stopped wearing hats but I am one that will wear a hat, not so much inside but outside? its a yes. Nowadays we can look pretty with hats or beenies, they come in so many styles and colors. From casual to dressy but the hats and beenies will keep you warmer because you lose most of the body heat through the head. 

8 - Sleeping 

Most people know that when the temps are just right we tend to sleep better and that is usually when the air is cooler.

Sleep like a baby by turning down the nighttime heat and pile on the blankets and quilts. You can add to if you get cold or toss back when to hot but you will find that just right warmth and sleep well. 

I am sure everyone has the common sense to :

Keep the doors closed 

Have your heating device serviced

Close fireplace dampers when not in use

Wrap the electric water heater with an insulating blanket

Use glass screen doors if possible

I am sure these tips will help save you money on heating, stay warm and enjoy the coming winter with a cheaper heating bill.

Andria Perry

Photos by Andria Perry

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Bad Case Of.....

November  9, 2017

After a week of cold we got the normal temperatures back that is the 70`s as highs and the upper 50`s at night. My kind of weather! But at this time of the year we bounce back and forth with the cold and hot, like a slow smooth tango.

 I know I cannot live in Alabama and hope for tropical weather so I will have to go with whatever mother nature brings, as old man Winter comes a knocking.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

Saturday was a free day so we went down to the place to buy a few of the plastic drums and see what else this old guy has sitting around we might use around here. I could not believe that the place was closed on a Saturday around 2 pm! If I were a betting woman I bet it had something to do with college football.

When Monday came around I made sure that I went by there but first I also made sure I only took $50, I would get what I needed for $50 or go elsewhere. Of coarse this guy wanted more but he let go of $10 and gave me four barrels for the $50.

 I will paint them black, place them inside the greenhouse, fill with water. As the days gets hot they will absorb heat and at night they will radiate the heat out into the space to keep it warm.

From The Garden : 

I have kale. I have turnip greens and turnips. 

I have Swiss Chard (aka beets) Other than that I have nothing. 

But..... I have tomato plants in the greenhouse ready to be re-potted into large containers, maybe have some ripe tomatoes in January? 

The Stockpile :

This week I did not shop for much of nothing. But I did pick a huge sack of kale and I home canned four pints, not much but a start for re-stocking. 

Learning :

I have ordered yet another book, this one is specifically on foraging in my area of the USA.

The more I walk around my woods the more I learn, Sunday I noticed several types of wild mushrooms. 

The red mushroom I know is a big no no, the photo does not do this red mushroom justice, it is bright.

Next I seen clusters of mushrooms, they all had a hint of purple on top.

I am not sure why one was upturned but I got the underside of it.

And last I seen one brown mushroom, after I had left the camera back at the house.

I am certain that all of these are NOT edible but its a learning experience each and every time I study a mushroom. 


I also received my new book on foraging and I am disappointed at how little this book shows. I need a book that shows what I can eat here in Alabama, not Northeast! But that is how we all get stuck buying the books, they NEVER tell us where they are foraging. Another live and learn experience. 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Freeze Came

November 1,2017

No this freeze was not predicted, sure they said 38 degrees for October 27th. but not a freeze, it is a little early this year.  I no longer have any thing but cold weather foods growing in the garden. It all melted.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

Dead and melted plants 2017 Vegetable garden

October 31st.

Since everything was dead I got the riding mower out and I cleaned off the garden area. 

First I gathered all the tomato cages, stacked them into three sections and took those up to the shed for storage, I made this investment this year so that I can use them for many years to come, so I will take care of my cages.

There was a few paper plates that had blown into the garden that I picked up and one I did not see got chewed up.

I did do thirty minutes out in th back grown up field, I almost got it mowed down, all five feet tall.

We spent one afternoon working on the dogs area in the back yard, the electric fence project and got so much accomplished. I also got something I did not want, poison oak, my arms are covered in those tiny itching blisters. :(

So, I asked Tony if he could handle doing the back yard electric fence while I mowed the garden to get double the work done, he said "yes." Life is much easier when I have help, this year I have not had much at all.

From The Garden : 

I have not picked anything but I did get all the bell peppers before the freeze, thank God. I had left a baby and it melted.

I do plan to gather a mess of kale to can one day this week.

The Stockpile :

Since I do not have anything but greens to can I bought more meat, a whole pork tenderloin, it was on sale and I got nearly five pounds for around $7.00 I got five pint jars and two meals so that is around $1.00 per Pint and it can and will be made into meals like pork and rice that can feed two people.

I also made extremely hot and spicy pickled sausages for this man that is allowing Tony to deer hunt on his land, I made five pints. He asked for hot and that is what I made.

You might also like : Cooking from the stockpile  

Learning :

I do not think I did any learning the past few days, I have for the most part been working and not much thinking about new stuff.

How is life on your home stead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry