Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Construction resumes...

Yesterday saw a return to construction out here in the sticks. We've decided to turn an unused (other than for storage) room into a master bed and bath. While we haven't decided to build a traditional house out here yet, we have come to the conclusion that living in a parkmodel trailer is just not cost effective. Besides being a bit on the small side, the lack of insulation makes for more challenges than what we really need.
The new room will have R-19 insulation and drywall throughout, and will be connected to the new winter room which will also be insulated. While we won't be gaining much square footage, the increase of insulation should make things a bit more comfortable for us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Off grid factoid....

I've lost count... how many am I up to?
Tonights lesson is on propane. When it's colder than 40° all day you don't have enough vapor to run all the stuff you need to make life comfortable. Found that out the hard way today. Generator was running fine, but after awhile the house started to get a bit cold. A quick check of the pilots prove the problem, the demand from the generator out paced the bottles ability to produce vapor. Resulting in a drop of pressure beyond the generator. So after shutting down the generator, a relight of the essential pilots and we should be good. Question is, how cold before there isn't enough pressure to run the essentials?
I guess there is only one way to find out.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas...


An off grid, Merry Christmas to all of you, from the hearth of our stove, and light from our lamps, to all you friends and family.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the snow starts to fall...

I really wish there was a way for me to take a pic and post it right now. The snow has been falling for about two hrs so far. It really is looking like a winter wonderland out there!

It really amazes me on how quiet it is when it snows. It's like the entire country side is holding it's breath...

Dreaming of a white Christmas...

Nice rainy day...

Been raining all day, just a bit of hail, and a snow flake or two... No more major leaks, we've been in the winter room all day, with a fire in the stove, been a nice day... And we are really in the Christmas spirit....

The excitment of rural living

Had a few visiters the past few days. Coyotes are getting over their fear of the changes we've made, and have come within a few yards of our fence. Driving our dogs nuts, and making our little one nervous. They seem to come over every other morning at 7, just to be neighborly and say hi.
The local ranchers have also dropped a new herd of cattle in our area, which have taken a liking to our dogs barking, and stroll by every now and then.
I guess that is just the joys of living out in the sticks...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nothing comes easy off grid

Spent our Saturday finding, cutting, and hualing wood. Have enough for at least two weeks. When we finished, and started to get cleaned up and make dinner, wouldn't you know it... No power.
So the next three hours was the strangest hrs of the day. With 12v of power at every point in the system, but not a working light????
Turns out to be a faulty main switch...

Oh the fun of off grid living!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A great day followed by an even greater night.

Yesterday was great and last night continued the greatness... While the wife finished up makeing the Christmas gifts, we had a chance to do a deep 8hr charge on the batteries and I am happy to report that they are holding a charge. Last night was yet another cold night, dipping into the high 20's. The furnance worked great and we had plenty of heat throughout the night. Even have juice left over!
Its amazing how the simple things in life amuze me!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All in all a good productive day...

Had sometime to get a few things done. Put some new tires on the gray suzuk, new alternator (don't have to use a solar panel anymore... Redneck hybred). After the work was done, we started the quads, letting little one drive around for an hour. Also got the trailer out and working for the ATC, we'll use it to gather firewood in hard to reach areas. So I wanted to test it make sure it would work... So I got a test dummy... I mean driver to try it out!

It could have happened anytime....

It wasn't the coldest night, just cold enough, for us to have a complete battery failure this morning. Woke up around 6am to the furnace making a "funky" noise. That noise was the death of our batteries. I teasted them and don't get a single volt... I'll wait till I get a chance to give them a good charge before making the official call of DOA.
On another note, we reached dew point last night, which laid a blanket of frost over everything. Almost gave it an apperance of a white Christmas! Thankfully no pipes froze, and it really didn't get that cold in the house. Only 44° which is warm compaired to the 24° outside.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Enjoying an Arizonian December day

While we didn't get much in the way of snow, the local mountains got a fair amount. So off to go have some fun!

Monday, December 7, 2009

First winter storm....

Found out the winter rm, needs a little more work on water management. We have a few leaks. Jeeps did an awsome job on the slick, muddy dirt roads, and the icy snow covered fwy. Been raining at the ranch for 18 hrs. I hear the rain will be truning into snow later tonight!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Always a fun time at the ranch...

Or I could say, off grid living lesson... I think I'm up to 104?


Living off the grid, it's the attention to details that really count... Like to check the bolt that connects your trailer (loaded down with gas cans) to the hitch... Failure to do so could cause the trailer to take flying lessons... I know from experiance.

But all is well... and the trailer isn't too damaged, only needs to be rewired (and I can't blame those damn dogs for it) and a new rim, one was bent pretty bad....

On another note, been doing a lot of research on solar power, and I think we will have more reliable power source by feb next year. Which I say fingers crossed...

I'll keep you all posted.

The look of 20 degrees at 6am...

On the good side, no frozen pipes!

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My insanity on display! http://www.pioneeringaz.blogspot.com

Much better night!

It was colder tonight than yesterday, awoke to 20 ° outside, but a nice 50 ° inside... Very warm for out here. The extra battery maintance was just what the Dr. ordered...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No major damage

None of our pipes broke last night, but they did freeze. On another note our dogs water troft were completely frozen 2in thick!

Bad night at the ranch...

Last night was the coldest night this year. Dropping to 24 degrees. Between the cold and clouds our batteries failed us, no batties mean no heat. No heat means froozen pipes! This could signal a very rocky winter for us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some random shots of the house...

It never really warmed up today... But life goes on, had to reinstall the front drive shaft on the YJ, Help the neighbor lady with a broken pipe, and change the oil in the generator, were I found a rat had made his home for the winter. Damn rats, can't wait to ask God why those were ever created in the first place.

An off grid way to judge how cold it got the night before

Living off grid we rely on 12v battery power and right now we are only using 2 deep cell marine batteries. While they work great, we are really limited on power usage. (only around 300 watts available) We do have a small solar panel to handle battery maintance, any type of a draw will bring those batteries down quickly. To recharge them we rely on generators which need to be manually started. All that to say, our heater is forced air running on 12v and at night it has been running on average two to three times an hr. Last night it must have been on every five min! I checked our batteries this morning and they are almost 40 % discharged! (in 7 hrs!) Yep it was a cold one last night.
On the good side, clear skies and the solar panels are making quick work of replinishing the power used last night.
Just another reminder that life, off grid, is very different than life on!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tonights already gonna be better...

Stopped by and bout some hardwood fire wood befor heading out. What a difference! So far it's burned longer, I also picked up a box of fire starters in case the fire does go out, should make life nicer in the wee hrs of the morning!
It's also getting overcast, expecting some weather in the next few days. But for now, the clouds are keeping the temp above 40!

What a night...

Stayed in the winter rm last night... Great night sleep until the fire died, woke up freezing... Ever try and start a fire @ 3am? Not a fun experiance. Gonna give it a try again tonight, but I'm gonna make a point of getting up a few times to add wood. So, off to work after a three hr nap!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

First fire in the stove...

It's a cool one, so I started the first fire in our stove, what can I say, just what we needed! Nice and warm, and no smoke leaks! This is just one more thing for us to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moving in to the winter rm.

Set up the desk, and brought in the couch from storage tonight. With luck we'll have the stove set up in the morning

Monday, November 23, 2009

Entertainment off-grid style

Best way to pass the time off grid? Sit by the oil lamp and read the newest field and stream...

Update

Been working on the room... Here is the first coat...

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My insanity on display! http://www.pioneeringaz.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Doing a little work around the ranch.

We were able to get the winter rm completely sealed today, and was able to get the floor sanded and primed. Tomarrow the floor will get painted and we mignt get the walls insulated.

We also had to take an emergency trip to So. Cal to pick up three car hoists and another trailer... Nice 18hr day... And had to transfer them from one trailer to another today.

All in all a productive weekend to say the least.

Friday, November 20, 2009

So many projects so little time

We have had a lot of things on our plate the last few weeks. With trying to get the winter room done before it gets to cold, we also have family coming out for the holiday, and projects that have to be completed in So. California this weekend. I just haven't had the time to write much. So as soon as I can, I will sit down and lay it all down :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only one thing better than an Az sunset...

An Az sunrise...


The weather has been great out here the past few weeks. Consturction has been coming along. We almost have our "winter room" completed. In less than a week the weather is going to turn. We've been in the mid 40° at night, with 80° during the day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who said we don't do fall in Az

Here it is

It's always a challenge.

We ran out of propane last night. After I got home from work had to change tanks and relight the pilots on the hot water heater, and fridge. The water heater was a snap. The fridge is a chore. It weighs about a 100#'s! but we managed, had to lift it off it's stand, to light the pilot in the back. Oh it was full also!

On another note, the weather has been awsome the past week. Cool in the mornings (around 60° and no colder than high 40's) life out here has been good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sorry for the delay in posting.

It's been a mad house around here. We've had a sick child, cold temperatures, Job losses, and all the other wonderful life that happens. I've also had a problem with Sprints Data Services, and can no longer post from my phone (on a consistent basis at least, it seems to only work when it wants too) I will work through all this and still keep everyone posted to our adventures.
For now a quick update. The winter room (aka school room, office, living room) is coming along nicely as you can see from the photos I posted earlier. We are also working on getting our Jeeps up and running. When the weather makes that final turn for the worse, we won't have to worry about not being able to get into town. We have also started to go out and gather the fire wood we'll need for this winter. I recently bought a nice chain saw to make that chore go a bit quicker.

That's our life for now.

Been working on the winter rm.

Finished the roof today, and our custom built door is on. The stove has also been installed. Just need to do the finish work.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick weather update.

There were reports yesterday of snow in Dolan Springs, yep snow in northwest Arizona, in October. Us... Well we didn't get any snow, but we did wake up to a nice brisk 32° outside this morning. And a very warm 39° inside. Welcome to Arizona.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday projects.

Worked on the school/ office/ winter rm. Finished the siding, and installed a few extra windows. Will be installing the storm door next week sometime.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Worked on the ranch...

Continued construction on our school/office/winter residence. Today we closed in the gap between the floor of the room and the trailer next to it. With luck, come Sunday we'll have the roof finished.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Construction resumes

Been working around the ranch for a couple of days and made some headway.