Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow-pocolypse, & my bad!

I have had nothing to say.
Which is new for me. One of the reasons I write here (usually) every single day is because I want to share all the cool ass shit we can do while living sustainably, off grid, eco, primitive or whatevs label you enojoy giving it.
I havent been saying anything on here, because I have been in a sort of limbo that may not end till Spring time - when decisions must be made. I like to only write about good stuff, positive feelings, i like it to motivate, be happy --- none of which I could do the last few weeks in all the snow storms because everything I did to prepare here, kinda.... well.... started falling apart.
The plumbing does something new every single day. I told ya'll about the filter-splosion in the cabin that flooded it, but there has also been intermitten times of no water, then water, then no water in the outside pump even, only water up the side of the mountain, then water again, then drain pipes freezing so i had to stop dripping water (aka no water again) - drain pipes de-frosting and coming apart, flooding the floor again, no running water?
I DONT fucking get it anymore?!!!
And i can tell you it's not sustainable water anymore (even though gravity fed) cause unless i put "heat tape" on the pipes (which uses bunches of electricity) they will stay frozen all winter long.
So i was talking on the phone with a friend who was ready for me to stop complaining and buck up - she said something to the effect "you wanted to be off grid" ---->
but these problems are not related to being Off Grid. They are problems of location, lack of immediate help, and did i mention NO SUNSHINE whatsoever during the winter months.
Yep, i found out the hard way that my cabin is between two ridges and during the winter the sun is behind a ridge and i get none. Even cutting back trees wont do enough good, and i would have to cut back hundreds of them, ones not even on my land.
My Mistake :::::::::::
not knowing the sun pattern before buying the Luck Cabin.
I thought it got enough sun, even though it doesnt get tons... i had no idea the winter would mean utter darkness. And the reason I have said nothing for quite a while now is because i have been sitting in my rocking chair in front the wood stove comtemplating whether I can spend the rest of my life half a year in darkness. This prospect, after all i have put into being here at the Luck Cabin, and it's utter perfection at all other times of the year make me feel heartbroken in a way there have been and still are no words for.
I don't know many or really any people who could live without sunshine half a year.
------ the other part of this, is just right down my driveway is another climate. I literally am just a few hundred feet from a warmer climate. My driveway marks some kind of elevation change, where the tempature drops a significant amount, and i got twice as much snow & cold as people just a lil' ways below me. Yesterday I took my Jimmy truck dangerously down the road, only to see that I really was in some kind of isolated world, one that had a storm much worse then those just hop, skips, and jumps away - and this was a bit of a shock.
Two things I can NOT fix :::::::::::
the sun
the micro climate at the Luck Cabin
For many weeks I could not put my finger on it, I could not put into words how i was feeling. I only knew I was getting no sunshine here and was feeling really depressed. I had no intention of ever revealing this dirty little secret, my big sustainability mistake.... but eventually i began crying (thanks PMS) and had to confess to the first person that rang my phone in the middle of the nervous breakdown.
I think living this way alone is quite hard, but do-able. But if you choose to live off grid in a harsh winter climate alone, you are either brave, crazy or the uni-bomber!!! It's grueling. There is no question about it.
I now have a greater understanding of why re-wilders like Urban Scout are preaching community. Everything is much easier with a lil bit o' help. Especially in any climate that may have harsh storms during the winter.
Western North Carolina used to not have this kind of weather, not the last ten years I have lived here until last winter. I hear from locals it's been over 20 years since they have seen storms like this. So although I am kicking myself, at the same time how was i to know about the micro-climate PLUS the strange climate changes?
What would you do, if you were me?


Anonymous said...

Babe, I am so sorry. I know you are really struggling. If I were you, as hard as it may be, I would change my situation so that I could have a recipe for happiness at least 90% of the time. Then at least the building blocks are there and it is up to you to put them together in the most satisfying way. If the most basic means to make it happen aren't present (sunshine, water) then there is no amount of self motivation, stamina, chutzpa, mind over matter WHATEVER to make it work. Be good to yourself by admitting what you need to be happy and seek out change to get those things. love you. xo Corrie

Wild Canary said... don't seem to be the type of person to live without sunshine...which is streaming in my windows after days of deep darkness. I am a sunlover and was known for my photos of sunrise and sunset!
However, moving out of my toxic state, the WHOLE state, and into a community where sometimes there are maybe four hours of real sun, even though the MCS improved...I have found myself wanting an island where I don't have to fence the goats, chickens and donkey...where the dogs and I can go barefoot and the sunshines most of the time. I hate the parasites that come with most of those climates cause with the pests come the cides...Heidi (the story) told of coming down the mountain in the the dark, dreary, windy slopes to warmer, snuggier climate. We canna grow many things here between two ridges and elevation 1700'. Over the hill and around the bend there is a wonderful off grid farm where the woman grows all sorts of veggies, really great ones..yum...Alambria Springs...look it grid..heavenly. I thought you were home free in NC...even a little bit wondering...I am really sorry and hope you figure something out for you and the critters. So many of us have to move several times before we get it right. I LOVE your cabin...but do not envy the darkness. Let there be light for you...soon.

Kim said...

I recently found your blog and love and respect your positive attitude, but everyone has lows too. I think this article is helpful:

If I were in your shoes, I would really try to get out of the house and see some sunshine every day, maybe to visit some friends or just take a short walk in the sun. I would also seriously look into getting a special light for the cabin to help with S.A.D.

I would try to keep in mind, like you have said, that this is a really bad winter, the cabin isn't insulated, the pipes need some work, it's your first winter in the cabin...basically, this is probably the worst it's going to get. No place is perfect - ours is in full sun, which is great in the winter but hot as hell in the summer, and even with our swamp cooler we sometimes need AC. Once the weather/snow permits, I would try to tackle some of the infrastructure issues (with the insulation and pipes). And I would try my best to stick it out for the next winter to see if it's better, before making a final decision.

But, that's easy for me to say because I'm not living it. You have to make the decision that's right for you. I would just want to make sure that it's the actual location that was making me miserable, and not some other stuff that maybe could improve.

Sending positive thoughts!!

Ike said...

Perhaps you could just take a trip somewhere a little warmer - and then come back in the early spring. But then, I have no idea where you could go, or who you know, or how you could get there.

All I do know is, you can do it!!

Joe said...

You are a damn fool. All your problems are fixable. First get wood heating working as in a wood stove with plenty of wood. Next tackle every problem 1 at a time. have enough food during this time. Get it dome.

Jose said...

Tackle every problem one at a time. You will make it. Do not give up.

Bort said...

you are not a fool.
follow kims advice she is the all knower.get outside and follow the sunshine,if even for a lil while.

Susie Collins said...

Like Kim said.

I think the main reason you are having such a hard time is because you're alone. I'm in warm Hawaii, and when my husband is gone for more than a month for work or whatever, I am in deep trouble with being able to get everything done. When a big problem comes up, I'm screwed until I can get someone to come help. Over the years, I've survived fires, earthquakes and floods without him, but each event was a scary experience. I can't imagine what it must be like for you in the situation you're in with the cold, the snow and the frozen water-- AND with animals to take care of.

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. If you can find solutions for some of these basic problems-- the dark, the cold, the frozen water-- you may find that the advantages of the Luck Cabin outweigh the disadvantages.

And I think we've talked about this before: I think you need a dog!

Thinking of you ALL the time. Stay safe.


Peace, Quiet, Joy said...

First things first - your health. Also the health of your animals. Stress is no good regardless of whatever plans we made. I think you need to put JuJu and the chickens in a safe, warm place with neighbors and you need to spend the winter in a clean, warm environment with people who will support you and close to whatever you need - food, medical whatever. Come spring, return with supplies and start fixing what you need to fix for next winter. It's only for 3 months. No biggie. Take what you need and leave the rest. The cabin will still be there when you return. Chalk it down to learning and DO NOT blame yourself. You're still learning about this stuff and you will be wiser and stronger from it. - Joy

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

A few things people have addressed about this post, I want to get out of the way right away ::::

1. All my pipes are insulated, some with many layers and now have heat tape on them.
The drain pipes are large, but for a grey water system I could not finish in time before winter while trying to prepare all the other things.

2. The cabin got storm windows and a new roof - it HAS insulation in the cieling but not the walls.
I did not have it done because i did not have the $$$ for it yet.
Chemical free, safe for my health insulation is not cheap.

3. The water problems were unpredictable, because all the pipes leading to the house are buried - the ones under the house insulated, the unusual cold weather and freezing up here is something no amount of lil insulation on a pipe can stop. The lack of sun to warm the air to de-frost them is a big problem.

4. I have a wood stove and wood... and a very good wood stove at that. The cabin is also quite small, and when i can BUY insulation for the outside walls, it will be very warm. It only gets painfully cold when below 10 degrees here.

5. yes, our ancestors all did this lifestyle, and did it well. They also had family and community living with them, our ancestors did not do it alone. Sometimes people dont have much of a choice whether they do it alone or not.

4. I have neighbors who have sun - but when I am snowed in, walking there is not easy. (it's quite far to the nearest sun from a friednly neighbor). I am not just sitting around being lazy - i am avoiding other worse problems. Also, i dont drive easily (aka i had seizures for 5 years and could not drive and dont always feel it's safe for me to drive, and certainly can't drive when snowed in).

5. I have enough food.

6.Note to asshole Joe::: the sun and the climate are not fixable. If you think you can control the sun's placement in the sky,then you are the "damn fool".


thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement. xoxoxoxo
I really appreciate all the kind words!!!!!
I think "whatever makes you happy" is a good way to go.

Learning to live sustainably takes quite a curve - for me, I was not raised this way, I grew up in the city dependent on everything. So there is alot to learn as I go.

Anonymous said...

Dear Leslie,
This reader has been lovin all the "cool ass shit" you share with us. I am so sorry you have been hit by such an overwhelming number of circumstances.
Although this suggestion will not help immediately, if you put a "donate to the insulation fund" button on your blog, I would certainly donate something to your cause and perhaps others would feel the same. You are a most amazing woman who has shown great strength, determination and creativity in previously challenging situations. I pray you soon feel strong and intuitive again, but I also hope your friends and family will rally round you. I only wish you weren't states away, or my fragrance free husband and I would be four wheeling to your doorstep to help you with anything and everything. YOU ROCK!
With deep respect and admiration,
PS I also agree with Kim and Susie

Anonymous said...

The Strong and Awake will survive by making preparations to live alone in the environment they choose. The Weak and Dreamers will dance and play as if there is no tomorrow.

Gratuitous said...

When the first words in a dialog between two persons are "you are a damn fool," it indicates that the author is the fool for not knowing that - humans being gregarious by nature - instigating adversarial relationships almost always destroys opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, friendships, and... a decent shot at serenity in our lives. Oh and by the way "damn" is a verb. "Damned" would have been correct, but one would have to be less of a fool to understand that. There's nothing wrong with being unintelligent; there's something wrong with being stupid and accusing others of the being the same.

Leslie, GTF outta there. You can't shine without sunshine. You did amazingly well, and we all have been impressed and inspired by your courageous feats. And we have all been grateful for your willingness to share so much. But you need more people.

The one time in my life when I almost fell apart (believe me, I'm tough) happened to be the one time in my life when I was isolated. No neighbors, far from town, and fewer and fewer visits from friends willing to travel the distance. I nearly drank myself to death that summer, all bored and lonely. And I had plenty of sunshine! The nation with the highest rate of suicide in the world is Finland. It's also the nation with the lowest amount of sunlight per year.

Your illness has improved, has it not? Maybe join an intentional community? Yeah, I'm skeptical of many of them, but there are also many that mean well and do well, and could even benefit greatly by your skills and your presence.

Joe said...

Read your post hours ago. Now coming back to comment. You have got to get this fixed. Draw out the system on paper and identify the vulnerable spots in the water line. Come up with a plan to fix each spot. Heavily insulating pipes will prevent them from freezing. I have confirmed this with an engineer tonight. Take your time. baby steps.

kirk said...

Years ago I lived on the west side of Wa state and the lack of sun half the year really got to me too. It sounds like you have put alot of energy into your place but I would start looking to sell and find what you what you really want--you will know it when you see it. I spent 3 years looking before I found my property but I knew it once I did. You have beautiful spirit and I have no doubt that the life you are creating for yourself will happen as you envision it.

Ken said...

Where the water pipes are buried, make sure they are buried at least two feet underground. I remember once that you said they were buried six feet. Somehow I think someone may have 'exaggerated' that depth to you. Where they enter your house, you can wrap and insulate with the latest technology. Of course, if the spring itself freezes, you may need to consider a well.


Leslie's Gone Oko said...

About the water pipes ---

The ones buried, I was here when it was done, I planned out the entire water system with professionals...
they are buried between 4-6 feet from the spring, all the way to the house (BEFORE they come up out the ground and go under the house.) It was dug with a Bobcat machine, not shovels.
The buried pipes and the ones at the spring never froze and are fine.
The spring tank however at one point was either frize or clogged and wouldnt let water down for two days.
The pipes under the house, to bring water into the house ARE insulated, and still freeze.
No amount of wrapping a pipe is going to stop a freeze when a wind chill is -20 degrees.
The only reason these pipes are not cracked is because i did everything in Pex plumbing.
the only spot that was not pex exposed to outside was some pieces leading to the OUTDOORS shower - which cracked and exploded with water - i had shut on and shut off valves put on them so they can be drained, since no one wants to shower outside in the winter.
Anyone who has followed this blog for some time knows i have worked my ass off here, making everything as prepared and safe as one human can do!
There are things we can not predict or would not know to predict unless we learned the hard way. This cabin was built in 1970 and no one has lived here year round....
this is why!
The fresh air, hard work and healthy chemical free living has improved my health tons here - so i know i need to continue those things in my life to stay healthy.
but no sun ----------
that is not something i can solve in this location. And that is what i find heartbreaking.

Janette said...

Hi Leslie, I read your blog regularly and thoroughly enjoy it!

I really feel for your current situation and I have experienced similar circumstances during freakishly snowy/cold winters up here in Canada - no running water, storms, barely able to get firewood, all my fire wood is soaking wet which means my fires aren't hot and they're friggin hard to start, my vehicle doesn't work, i don't have enough food, no insulation, 3 feet of snow, no electricity, etc. it's really friggin hard and frustrating and can totally induce panic and fear when your basic needs are not being met. I've totally been there.

The winter it was really bad I chose to leave (just for a week or two) and stay with friends/family. This gave me time to get better perspective on my situation, and I returned with renewed interest in making it work and changing what needed to change.

It sounds like all hope is not lost for the luck cabin, because there are some tangible ways to improve the situation.. and it sounds like this winter has been pretty extreme! Sometimes there isn't much we can do except weather the storm and pick up the pieces afterwards. And, well, sometimes water won't run and maybe we just need to accept that.. or not. I think it really comes down to perspective and willingness to accept a reality.. which sometimes we aren't able to do (like when i had to go on 'vacation'), and that's fine, too.

I hope your situation improves, and if you're able to at all, I thoroughly support the idea of having a mini winter vacation and coming back home with a fresh outlook!

Ηλέκτρα said...

As I was reading your post I remembered the bad winter we had about 5 years ago. I live in small village on the side of a mountain of Lesvos (450 m) and most of the time here in winter we don't have sun. My son was 2 years old then and not only we did not have water for weeks... but even electricity and believe me that sucks. I couldn't find ways to keep my child warm. I could of easily moved to another place to live but I don't want to because despite the bad winter there are a million things that make me want to stay here.

My opinion is that it's not time to focus on all the negative things that are happening in your life where you live. I know that it is very difficult because of the many problems that you have to face every day... but if you must make decisions whether to stay there or not, I think it's not the right time now.

I am sure that you can find plenty of clean snow close to your house. If I were you I would fill a barrel with that snow and keep it somewhere in your house. It will last for weeks.

When you will start having water again, make sure you always keep you tap a little bit open (always). This helps so it doesn't get frozen. It works here when it is until -10 degrees.

Put plenty of wood in the stove and do things that make you happy or make a list of the things that you like to do in the coming months. Focus on the good things. Even if you get lazy these days it doesn't matter... it's winter. I know all this sounds like bullshit now that you are facing problems in the cabin but I will tell you something that the people of my homeland say: "Try to see the glass of wine half-filled and not half empty".

When spring will come and the sun comes out, then it is time for you to make your decisions.

Stephanie Rogers said...

There's not much I can add that hasn't already been said. I would hate to see you leave Luck Cabin behind, especially with all the work you've put in, so I hope you can find a way to solve/work around these issues, but if not, you have lots of support to help you start again in a new place... like so many people seeking a sustainable lifestyle you have come up against some daunting obstacles but the problems you've had are not failures on your part. Feel proud of what you have accomplished. I hope some sun peeks into your garden soon.

Everett said...

Amen on the community thing Leslie. We're going to be selling our place next year and buying land with a group of like-minded friends here in Southwest Virginia (not too terribly far from you) in Floyd county.

We just found, even with another person (married couple) to share this journey with, it's too hard to do it all yourself. It's nice to have a community. Since we can't find a community in which we want to live (we're not into the commune thing; don't want people all up in our shit all the time) we're going to join together with friends and make our own Gaddam community!

I feel for you. We get the winter doldrums here too, and the pipes freeze, and the sun doesn't hit the house more than an hour or two a day, but at least me and my wife have each other to share the burden with - even if it means we're getting on each other's nerves after being cooped up so long.

Hang in there. Come spring you'll figure it all out. Just don't let the flowers make you forget what's in store the following winter.

And stop over at some time to say hi!

PS: Any interest in blogging with us? Our blog is now a community too.

Vicky said...

Stupid climate change!

I hope writing it all out and reading the comments have helped you to get your thoughts together and see the solution to the problem.

Maybe you can find a lodger or roommate of some kind? Or even just a visitor? I know it's hard trying to do everything yourself. You can't take a vacation from the animals, but maybe you could invite your mom or someone to come and stay with you for a while.

Then you could set up an ingenious system of mirrors to make the sun shine on the Luck Cabin! (are flights of fantasy allowed in the comments?) I hope next winter is better.

Vicky said...

Oh, I just re-read my comment and realized that it sounds kind of pompous. I just meant that when I have a problem, explaining it to someone else or writing it down usually helps me to lay it all out and see what I should do. I didn't mean to imply that my suggestion IS the solution.

Joe Terry said...

You hang in there girl. I've been impressed with what you accomplished so far and no one has the right to tell you not to be depressed over this. I give you permission (as if you needed any from me) to scream, yell, rant, rave, or cry about this. I'm sure many of us would have given up long before now so we can't give any justified condemnation.

I won't tell you to leave the luck cabin or to stay. That is far too personal for me to have any worthwhile insight, except that I wouldn't judge you either way.

So for solutions, the person who mentioned leaving the tap open was awesome. Moving water doesn't freeze. Since you don't have to actually pay for the water you just have to make sure that your waste water can handle the constant flow. For an imediate fix this may be the best idea.

The next idea is much more conceptuial, and should be taken as such. I wonder though if you could move your wood stove over to where your water flows from the ground to your cabin. This should be the warmest part of the cabin and might keep that part of the pipes freezing. Of course it might be a disaster in the making since you would have to deal with chinney issues and if the floor is safe to put a wood stove on. But my dreaming mind thinks of having the wood stove there and running a pipe around it so you can have hot water while the stove is running. Maybe even run it through the floor boards have have central heating. Off grid even. Though that is definitely dreaming.


Chris said...

May sound like something really stupid, but is there anyway to put up mirrors to reflect some sunlight your way? We lived in Norway for three years and the sun never even rose above the horizon for months on end. A few things that kept me from going bonkers, lots of candles, a happy light( full spectrum light box), and the reflected light off of the snow.
But no sunlight all Winter seems cruel for you and your animals.

Joe said...

Your comment about "no amount of insulation" is nonsense. the same way people can sleep and live in an igloo needs to be applied here. enough spray-on form insulation like good stuff or regular will work. Also, consider doing something like a beer tap system but hot instead of cold, hot. Closed loop of antifreeze runs along the water line powered by a tiny solar motor. half the loop runs in the warm home, then distributes heat to line. This would work super. Do not need direct sun.

Anonymous said...

Joe, insulation in the absence of a heat source only works to a point. Igloo's are heated with body heat and small fires.

Your comment(s) is/are condescending and disrespectful.

Mokihana and Pete said...

Dear Leslie,

Winter is being tough for lots of folk. Your comment thread is full of opinions that might help with the details, and support your soul as you get through this first winter in your Lucky Cabin.

Pete and I are living through our first winter setting roots, slowly. We have had two episodes of frozen pipes, and no matter how much we PREpared, and like you, we have worked hard and long; like it or not 'SUSTAINABLE' is a process that is slow, steady sometimes and unpredictable often. JOTS our kitty pal is on my lap because she doesn't like cold feet. Like Suzie commented, I am not alone in the vardo or the quonset kitchen. Pete carried the load of all matter of challenges (MCS doesn't go away and under stress escalation of symptoms is a real thing).

Dear One, I am a Hawaiian living without much sun most of the time. I know the grief, and tell you all my best efforts as a Hawaiian on Ice (not the synthetic kuki) is foreign territory to the genetics.

What helps Us:
1. organic Vitamin D drops daily, in monitored doses.
2. Hawaiian (sunshiny) music
3. we do have electricity since wood smoking is a no go for me.
4. playing my ukulele and whistling
5. calling my Hawaiian relatives to hear their pidgin-lilt.
6. rocks heated in water and tucked under my feet or in the sheets.
7. Prayer. I am getting very, VERY GOOD at it.

You have created a real life for yourself Leslie. Take that to your bank, and know it all the way through the winter. Aloha, Mokihana

Amanda said...

I have to say that I have always admired that way you live, that is why I read your posts. I have been dreaming now of life off grid for a while now but have been doing lots of much needed research on how to survive such a lifestyle in the Canadian prairies before I do so. The no sunshine part would be utterly hard to deal with, I already feel that way every year in my cold winter city.

From reading your posts you seem just as stubborn and set in your beliefs as I am. So, when you asked what I would do in your position I would do both of the following until the right situation presented itself: a) keep an eye out for other cabins at a reasonable price with better weather and b) research ways to bring in more water or light into the cabin in a sustainable way. I am sure you have probably done both of these already but there must be a way; humans have got this far, right? I know that you will figure something out, you seem like such a bright and determined person. Wishing you the best of luck no matter what happens or what you choose to do.

(P.S. You could also always go visit friends and family for the worst couple of months a year if it works with your work or other of life's variables...)

Anonymous said...

Hi Les: Anonymous (with out a fancy pants name)neighbor here again.
Saw the news tonight, looks like zero temps and more snow 8"-10" this week. Better git ready. Sounds like your cabin has the same problems as my shack has. To combat the dark winter blues, I invested in some good north face stuff, and spend at least 2 hours a day walking. I have been looking and trying to figure out a way to make me sum snow shoes out of Hemlock. Well good "Luck" to ya, hunker down, the daffidils will be blooming before ya know it.
Later Tater.

Anonymous said...

It may not be common knowledge to some folks who are newbies living in cabins. If your inside house temperature is cold enough to freeze water, you are going to have big problems! Small radiant heaters aimed at the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom would do wonders for you. And as others have said, you definitely have to keep all the taps running. And maybe your wood burning stove isn't doing enough. There are brands of wood stoves made back in the 1970's that run most people out of their houses because they generate so much heat. Literally, folks would have to leave windows open in winter time! Lastly, get some thick, thick, thick insulation around those pipes under your house!
Gear up!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

I appreciate people's suggestions....
and support! and love and thoughts!

--- as prompted by the very last comment, i would like to say i was dripping water as much as i could without running my spring tank empty, and it still froze. I have insulation on the pipes plus most are covered in heating tape, and they STILL froze when it gets under 15 degrees especially - and most people's wells around here freeze long before my spring.
My cabin's wood stove is not shitty, it's one of the best I have ever had, the cabin itself isnt thick enough to hold to heat.
Also, i am not new to this. I have been living rural and in the woods in every kind of house and cabin imaginable for the last TEN years.... i have lived in places with no heat and an outhouse. Each place and each terrain has it's own life, it's own weather, and problems to learn. My plans here were to make my life easier and better, not harder, but without sunshine honestly it's too hard to do much of anything I personally would like to do sustainably and comfortably. The sunshine raises tempatures - even if not directly on the house.... but i dont have it anywhere around my house at all enough to raise temps, plus i am on the cusp of an elevation change where i am alot colder then just down the road.
I am not into torturing myself just to be extreme or prove anything, i want a good life not a rough one ----
so I may make choices different from what one person or another would do, cause we each see into a different future.
All that being said...
tonight i have 1 1/2 feet of snow and a blizzard is on it's way tonight, which will dump a few more feet...
i may or may not have power....
but i have my spring water pump outside still and a fire going.

Anonymous said...

Leslie: happened across your blog while looking for firefly gathering pics - think what you're doing at the Luck Cabin is both cool & plucky. hope ya stay warm & safe during the weather.

Val said...

I hope you don't leave Luck Cabin behind-- you've put so much into it! Just think how strong you will be once you have this winter under your belt-- you will be able to get through anything! And the next winter? Maybe have anyone who wants to visit you plan on coming during those dark months to bring a little sun in. Nothing like long talks and hot cocoa in front of the wood stove.

KrisPKritter said...

If I may, check out and look at a rocket mass heater as a project for warmer weather. When used with a thermal mass they provide excellent heat retention and use very little wood. You can use these for heating water(pipe coils), cooking, etc. and for your outdoor environments too(animals or greenhouse). Compost heat is another solution for outdoor areas. And Joe is right(if a little blunt), if properly designed and insulated your pipes do NOT have to freeze(people do live in Siberia and Alaska after all). Look up Watersource frost-proof hydrants (start at $35) and wall hydrants (Sears)for outside the house($15). For your line coming into the house you need to insulate from the frost line(assum. 5-6') all the way up. If you have a 1-2" line, cover it with a 4-6" pvc pipe, seal the bottom and fill with spray foam or eco insulation like vermiculite all the way into the house level and seal the top. Put a shutoff on top of that(with a drain off) and a drain valve at the lowest point in your system that can drain your house plumbing so if you expect a frigid night or have to leave, you can drain the house completely(if you have a WH you must turn it off before draining!). Pex has some advantages but eventually freeze/thaw cycles will damage it. Look into micro-hydro for power that can help with warming your water source and tank and a filter like a eq-300(off eBay) for a wrapped filter that will not readily freeze. And Mokihana has a point, vit. D is mfg'd by sunshine in the body, supplement it in winter, take walks, and get some 'daylight' fluorescents at a big-box store for $7.50 and read in front of them(next to your herb garden) in shorts and t-shirt for an hour or two a day...all that said I'll really tick you off by saying that I'd side with Everett in that you can't do it all alone, not well anyways, and to be 'grueling'? Life's too short. And you seem to lack one major thing that would make you self-sufficient; food. Without sunshine, without adequate growing space, or unlimited energy, you'll always be dependent on someone else to support you and your animals. Luck Cabin should be your summer playground and academy, not your year-round residence(maybe a reason for it's previous use). I bought land in FL for a reason, winters are fun to play in but suck to work/live in. Location, location, location!..keep your chin up otherwise. Ant Philosophy: think Winter all Summer(and vice-versa). My .02, or .012 after taxes...

Ryan said...

Hi Leslie,You can do it!
I have a few ideas for you in your situation.
How about a straw bale/cob retro fit around the cabin.This will insulate very well and is non toxic.I would also plan on storing a bunch of water near your wood stove when it is very cold and drain your water system in the house so it won't freeze any more till you figure out the pipes and insulation. Also a grow light for you and your plants so you can garden year round and give you and your plants warmth and a head start for spring.A heat lamp might work for your chicks to.One thing I have done almost every year in the winter is go some where warm for a while.I have to really save my money for this but it sure does help me through the winter season.One last thing excercise daily and go find sun,it really helps us earthlings.I have gone threw all of this living by myself in a small cabin and still am.I hated these problems at first but now I have learned there is always a answer to the problem at hand and try to focus on the bright side of life. Enjoy your solitude and peace you our a amazing person that will over come these problems.
I hope things get better for you and thanks for sharing your blog with all of us,even ahole Joe.
Ryan in the rain forest of Mt Baker.Wa

Jodie said...

This is such a tough thing to think about, I understand where you're coming from, you have to wonder if being so uncomfortable & so unhappy every winter is gonna be worth not moving though, plus there's the risk to your animals...
I think in the long run, it would be better to re-locate, because you have such harsh winters there you really REALLY need that winter sun.
I know you know all about sustainable living (& I know you love old buildings) but could you consider shifting & building your own passive solar house out of cob or straw bales perhaps?... Something that would be natural, non-toxic, cheap, DIY & comfortable year-round...
Best of luck.