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?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gumby Holiday - Santa Witch

So, lately things at the Luck Cabin have been... what some might describe as bad, stressful, when the shit hits the fan, when the going gets tough and downright UNlucky....
I am escaping into the world of GUmbY and PokEy for comfort from this hell-a-cious winter. With no running water for almost a month and one chicken dead, I am ready for a one way ticket to the island of BALI.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

RIP Ms Buttersworth the Chicken, I Love You!

I brought Ms.Butterworth back in my cabin before the last few bad storms. She was not doing well. She no longer perched.
Tonight though, i knew she had stopped eating or drinking. She slept all day and I waited for it to come and when the time seemed near I picked her up and put her in my lap next to the warm wood stove. She would open her eyes to look me in the eye, the kindest look a chicken could ever give was reflected in the blackness. A thank you. Then she would close them again.
She always was happy, she never showed any sign of pain or suffering just the steps it takes to leave this world when you are done.
At the very end her head moved round and round, like she was in some kind of voodoo ritual, her wings opening up and her head then moving inward to point straight up into sky. A crucified pose, an opening, and flight of the spirit from the body.
She then layed her head down in my lap and was gone.
MS. BUTTERSWORTH YOU ROCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


This morning I woke up to the sound of rain! Loud pouring rain that almost soothed me back to sleep, but then I was so excited to see that the snow may be melting I had to sit up in the bed I made in my loft, to look down to the windows. Only....
there was no rain!
I started my way down the ladder, with even more excitement thinking, OH YES my pipes have defrosted and I have running water again for the first time in 2 weeks!!!!!!!
when I got down the ladder to my horror my cabin was flooding, with all the water I had wished for everyday. I had my wish, but it was pouring out with force by the gallon onto the floor from underneath the sink somewhere. I pulled out my stove as fast as i could to get a better look only to see the stupid sediment filter had cracked to pieces! Because it has been so COLD in my cabin (without having insulation yet) that not only did my plants melt and die, the water had froze in my tub to ice, but now my filter had cracked and was spewing all over.
I ran outside, slip sliding through slushy snow, scampering under my house to find the shut off valve - which i assumed would be right at the water source before it comes into the cabin... but...
it wasn't there. No. Shut. Off. Valve!
I began ripping plastic vapor barrier off the under side of the cabin only to be deluged in waterfalls of water that had been filling up in the plastic, water down my sleeves and on my face, wetting my hair - while cramped under the cabin. No. shut. off. valve.
I ran back inside, tried dumping buckets, but it would fill faster then I could ever dump. I ran my hands along the pipe lines feelings for something, anything that could save me.
I went back under the house to poke holes in the vapor barrier only to slip and hit my hand on a rock and cut myself. Open cut, bleeding. Grrrrrrrrr!
it's times like this i realize, i am alone out here. Water is pouring everywhere, coming right through the siding of my cabin, dripping out the outside wall. Just the day before I was punching icicles off the Luck Cabin and cursing the bad winter, begging the universe that be to PLZ melt this shit. OK, so i didn't mean quite like that!
I went inside to look at the pouring filter, to write down what size & type it was, since it was obvious a new filter case would be a possible answer to this bullshit moment (not a good solution, just A solution). I have to say I never really liked the idea of a filter, I find that EVERYTHING that is more advanced, everything that is dependent on the system, everything similar to things like filters causes more problems in the end. I cursed the filter, and decided my gall bladder can be my water filter.
while getting soaked under there, i put my hand underneath the sediment filter and.. FELT THE SHUT OFF VALVE!!!!!!!!! hiding!!!!!!!!
Turned off the water.
Lessons :
  • Pex piping still didnt break or come apart in the bad sub zero weather and was good! Pex RULES!
  • Cabin needs insulation or this is totally insane
  • Filters mean more money, more problems, more environmental waste and break easily in the cold (AKA, i am removing the filter.)
  • Gravity fed spring water.... needs proper shut off valve somewhere OUTSIDE cause you can't stop the water flow. Also,the water keeps on flowing during sub zero weather which is good. I think the shut off should always be right at the very beginning of the pipes that are going to the house, right where the water comes up out the ground.
  • No matter how much you prepare, shit happens. It is life.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DAnce OFF, Under Pressure!!!

Come and Join in ya'll!!!!!!!!! DANCE OFF!
I really lose it on this one... i blame it on cabin fever, and snow hate, and broken hearts from around the world.

dance off #5 - pressure relief from Militia Chick on Vimeo.


Hell Froze Over, A Snowball Has A Chance

When I woke up this morning I had this horrible vision in my head that my animals would all be dead and frozen despite all I have done to make this storm OK for them...
Maybe cause the other day when I drove to town for supplies I saw a horse somewhere in Leicester laying on the ground in a big field, appearing to be dead, after the last snow storm. And I thought, PLEASE gawd don't let that happen to JuJu Bean.
The last ten years here in western north carolina had really been pleasant during the winter (on a hot sauce scale it was the bland, mild, without spices) - until last year's hell-a-cious snow frenzy. It seems this season has picked up right where last year left off it's white fluffy drama (on the hot sauce scale it's now spicy, tongue burning, tear jerking, nose running, red HOT).
Except, it's FrOcking cold.
So frigid in fact, the water i filled up in my tub INSIDE my cabin is now frozen solid.
The spring water for the animals to drink finally froze over too. A thick layer of ice formed which i crushed hard by kicking it in with my boots then lifted pieces up outta the way. Unfortunately, not much water was underneath, and I had to smoosh the pot into the cold mud to gather anything. I also had to smash/slam the hell out of the pot against a tree trunk to get the frozen water out. (A rebel yell or grunt makes it easier when swinging!)
JuJu the donkey is now limping also. Which worries me, i kept scraping snow off the favored hoof and breathing warmth onto her ears. As I pushed my feet through a foot of snow back to the Luck Cabin I was thinking about tropical islands( yes, mmmmm), i was finally 'getting' why people are obsessive about moving to costa rica and some such places. I was longing for my hometown of New Orleans, if only for a lil warmth and sunshine. I was also thinking... building a sustainable place to live, all alone, in a frigid cold harsh winter'ed location is NOT a good idea. (Note to self: Dont ask if you made a mistake cause it's too late!) Too hard, unless you have a partner who is there to help each day and minute with the unforeseen trials and tribulations of this kind of lifestyle.
Until then I can go between laughing and crying when i fall down in the snow over and over, and beg all powers in the universe to spare my animals.
Not much is making me feel better....
but Billy Idol helps. Thanks BaBY JEzuz for keeping Our ELECtricty On! ;)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Screwed Blued and Tattoo'ed (or just snowed in again)

Terrible no good very bad SNOW STORM PREP ::::
  • drove truck to state road that gets plowed and hiked back up a mile to the cabin
  • filled the tub with water (pot by pot cause the water pipes under my cabin froze a week ago)
  • fill pots and jars with water
  • cook food ahead of time
  • clean house, change cat litter, feed animals
  • cleaned out composting toilet (frozen urine would be just TOO frOckin' much for me at this point!!!!)
  • carried in STACKS of logs into the cabin and onto the porch
  • hand washed comfort clothes and hung to dry above wood stove
  • move all my bedding into my loft, where it's warm & I will be sleeping when it get down to -20 degrees
  • charge up my crank lantern
  • fall down in snow a bunch and not cry
And this is not even the beginning of what is to come...
the last storm never bothered to melt, my pipes under the house never defrosted (even though my gravity fed spring is still running just fine. It was supposed to rain today but instead of nice melty rain it snowed a few more inches. And well the icing on that snow cake is coming tonight and tomorrow thru the night.... feet of snow icing I am guessing.
What can i say? I dont like this part.... whatever this is a part of. But the feeling of accomplishing so much in one day to prepare for the worst feels damn good.
I need a girl scout uniform... but one that is long sleeve and made of alpaca wool, comes with matching wool gloves, hat, scarf, coat and leggings. With logo snow boots. Thanks Universe!
BTW- I hope i don't lose power, internet or phone... but I dont know what is coming, and after last year I except the worst. Will miss ya'll if I do go M.I.A!!!! SMOOCHes!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dance (ya ass) Off!

This is a video I did for my Dance Off website.... ya'll don't be shy and come join in. Dancing and smiling are good for your health. And happy people are nice people, and nice people are giving people... and gawd knows our world could use some giving happy people out there. :))))))))

dance off #4 Boooogiieee from Militia Chick on Vimeo.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Run Leslie Run (What I do When Car Sick)

I have gotten brave in the last 8 months... or maybe just more healthy. Sometimes it's hard to say what makes what happen in a universe full of so much circumstance - but I tried driving my Jimmy truck to downtown Hot Springs (remember when i could not drive at all for a gazzillion years?). It's a town I have never been to before because the roads to get there make about as much sense as a plate of spaghetti, regurgitated. And trust me, there are many stops on the side of the road to do just that.
I thought I was doing well, in spite of the many fast driving rednecks daring head on collisions on blind curves... but eventually the road waves got to me (BaD nausea), and I had to get out the car, give up my original plan and just... run around.
  • You pull over and see the beautiful details of life you would never see blazing by in the car
  • Time to play
  • There are no other benefits i can think of cause actually car sickness sucks
I saw things I really love... giant icicles, awesome mountain views....
BIG rocks!
.... GRAffiti!
and the most brilliant sunset I have seen in a long time. All these things made it worth it. Of course I drove about 5 mph all the way home and never did make it to the town of Hot Springs. ;)

(for those who dare to wanna puke, I have a 6 minute video forthcoming tonight, of the roads I traveled...)


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Snow Freak Out and My Snow Luv...

It's been snowing for days. The first day was novel, not so cold I could see my own breath inside my cabin (yet), I crocheted, I hung out with Bort, I even went for a short drive down to the Trust Store (i have never driven in snow before, even though I have lived here for 10 years!)....
But dang it... 3 days and still snowing the temperature dropped, and dropped. Finally my spring water froze in spite of pipe dripping & obsessive precautions, the wind chills hit -15 degrees in my county, and I worried for my animals!
I brought ms. Butterworth inside because she was the only chicken shivering and not mentally capable of seeking out water & things to fulfill her needs. She's very happy by the wood stove again...
When I went out this morning to check on everyone else, someone was missing and I noticed right away. Beep Beep the baby chicken. I freaked. Under pressure I stay quite calm, I don't lose my mind but I do get very upset and cry and when I called for Beep Beep for 10 mins and she never showed up I thought the worst. All the other chickens were staying warm in their coop and nesting boxes, Beep Beep was nowhere in sight. I kept seeing R.I.P BEEP BEEP in my head, like it had already been tattoo'ed distastefully to my shoulder. With all the snow, and her being mostly white I felt like I was looking for the impossible to try tramping around in the snow- it had piled up enough inches overnight to have buried a small chicken.
I was about to give up and was walking out the gate, when instincts had me slam it back shut and quickly walk through the wooded area in the fence, across the spring and into the trees. My eyes felt like animal eyes, the ones that spot things better then normal... and that is when I saw her... poor lil' Beep Beep sitting on a small tree branch, freezing cold all alone, out in the open.
I grabbed her and hugged her to keep her body warm, as she shivered. I brought her right to the barn for warmth, food and water - all of which she was frantic about getting. I had never seen frozen poop on a chicken's ass till this moment. That's how cold it was. Poop-cicles.
JuJu the donkey is getting much more feed then normal so she can create more body heat.
She also wanted to send out a reminder:::
Do Not Eat Yellow Snow. It's Not Lemon Flavuh. ;)
The cold is painful to me. Maybe cause I am so small, maybe cause my DNA is that of cajuns who lived in the hot tropical swamps- never the less, I hate the cold but love the beauty, the way it re-sculpts the landscape.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Liked When Ms. Buttersworth Lived With Me

I had put Ms. Buttersworth the chicken back out with the other chickens........
but not really. She's been staying in the feed section of my mini-barn where the rooster and most the other chickens never go. Anytime I tried putting her back with the others they immediately picked on her, pulling out her feathers, the rooster mounting her so violently I could tell that this was why i had found her in a corner shivering in the first place. After bringing her in the cabin for a week, we got to know each other. We spent many long hours sitting with my cat Toots by the warm fire.
I never imagined a chicken would love me, but Ms. Buttersworth now loves me in a chicken love kinda way. She wants me to hold her, she coo's when she's warm in my arms, she perches on my arm, and nests in my lap. I miss her being in the Luck Cabin with me.
I don't know if chickens are really smart creatures, but they are definitely sensitive with a range of feelings - even if those feelings never form into thoughts as we humans know it.
( Side Note: i am not meaning to make any statements on whether we should eat them or not, I eat what I can eat AKA what I am not allergic to... these observations are just how i see nature.)
Of course... JuJu the donkey wishes she could live with me too. Why can't all my babies be potty trained? Or maybe I should move into my barn instead! ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eco DIY: Crochet Scarf with Banana Silk Yarn

Ten days and counting till the Craft Fair my mom got me a table at!!! And so I am busting my imagination for a variety of eco friendly & useful diddies. Since the new natural fiber yarns I got are sooooooooo amazing to touch and to look at I hardly need to get crazy with it... i decided some simple crochet scarves that would show off the beauty of the yarn fiber would be fun to make!
Making a long scarf can take quite a few hours for me, but long skinny scarves are still in style (it looks way cute plus you get extra warmth wrapping it around your neck bunches of times)...
Here is the scarf pattern I made up, in case ya'll would like to make one too :::::
1. (ch) chain stitch --- Make a chain the length you want the scarf, mine is approx. 7 feet long
2. (d) double crochet --- turn the work and do a double crochet stitch into the chain, for the entire length
3. REPEAT the double crochet in step #2 four times, till you reach your desired width
4. THE TRIM --- I took thinner soy yarn and (d) double crocheted across the edge, and then made a lace effect by .... (ch) chain stitch 6, then single crochet, then repeat across till the end of the width. Do this on both sides.