|Feeding the birds was one of Zeke's favorite chores.|
Of course that may be because it was an egress to a
couple hours of playing outside!
The addition of two adults and a toddler has prompted a few more upgrades around the property. Below is a list of some of our various resources and how they fared during the visit:
Our solar system actually kept up with the increased usage quite well, better than we had expected actually. Our daughter was doing some free-lance work on her computer while she was here and we soon learned her computer had a voracious appetite compared to ours and we needed to have it plugged into the 120V inverter whenever she was working. Despite that, plus her husband's computer, two extra cell phones and extra lights on in the house, we only needed to start the generator once and that was after three rainy, overcast days in a row.
|Zeke and Grandpa working on|
some of the water chores.
However, we did not realize how much water we would need. I was guessing we would use about 175% more water - 50% more for each of the two adults and a generous 75% on top of that for Zeke. We had three 5 gallon water cubes that we take down to the park for water, and even when Alan and I were using that water on a regular basis for cooking and drinking, we would only fill them up about once a week at most. When our guests arrived, we soon were making the water run almost every other day. Fortunately, on one of our sight-seeing outings we stopped at an interesting shopping center we wanted to show them and Alan found a great deal on new 5 gallon water cubes and we picked up 4 more. The additional volume and the fact that Eryn and Grayson were quickly becoming proficient in off-grid water conservation meant less frequent trips to buy water.
We also discovered our 100 gallon rain water trough used to fill the toilet was not quite adequate and there were times we had to carry buckets of water into the bathroom. So, time for another upgrade. A while back, I had sen an add on Craig's list for large food grade plastic containers that were selling for $50 to $60 depending on which size you chose. There were 275 gallon cylindrical tanks and 250 gallon square tanks. We had saved the contact information, so Alan called to see if they were still available and he and Gray went to pick up one of the square tanks. Now we were going to be true Ozark mountain people, with our 250 gallon water tank in the back of the pick-up truck that we would take and fill at the spring.
|Our new platform and water tank for|
our gravity feed toilet system. Also not
the new soffit at the top of the photo.
As we were filling the toilet trough, Gray commented that he could build a stand outside the bathroom where we could put a second tank to replace the trough. The tank would triple our capacity, we could still catch rain water from the roof in it like we did the trough, and with having it raised up on a platform, higher than the toilet, we could now flush and the tank would be gravity fed - no more hand pumping to refill the toilet tank. So, we made a trip to get another tank. This time it was one of the round ones and the interesting thing is that it had been used to store 275 gallons of honey. There was still a residue of dried honey along with a few dozen dead bees in the bottom of the tank so I dumped in a few gallons of hot water and used a lot of brute force to swish it around to melt the honey and loosen the bees. Note that our honey pot is on the clean water side of the toilet.
|White hose to transfer water in.|
Green hose to feed the toilet
Clear hose as a water level gauge
We had some colder than normal temperatures back in December and that was when we realized we would probably be upgrading the woodburner before next winter. We were warm enough for now, but we would plan on an upgrade for some extra heat next year. We had seen a larger stove that we liked at the local Tractor Supply and decided we would by it in the spring if they put it on clearance. Well, about a week after the kids arrived, we went to Tractor Supply for more bird seed (Zeke was taking his job seriously!) and we saw they had already marked the stove down to its clearance price. So, we paid for it and the next day Alan and Gray picked it up and brought it home.
|Eryn and I could not lift the stove pipe high enough for the|
men to perform the switch, so a little ingenuity was needed.
|We could fit a lot more than we expected|
in our little propane refrigerator.
With our very limited refrigerator space I was worried about how we would store all the extra food I thought we might need. Eryn writes a blog on healthy eating plus there was Zeke's milk, juice, cheese and other items that would all need refrigerated, not to mention fresh meats if they did not like our staples that include powder milk for cooking and canned meats for many of our meals. Well, we had to play Jenga a bit to get everything to fit in the fridge, and during the cold weather some items went out on the deck, but everyone seemed to enjoy the various meals made from our normal pantry items here on the property. In fact, Eryn even used a jar of my pressure canned chicken in one of her meals she prepared for us. In fact, here is link to a food blog entry she made while here: fromfaminetofoodie
What Else Is New?
|Grayson, Zeke and Maja on our|
new front deck.
While working on these projects, Grayson came up with a list of other things he would be able to do if we wanted, so maybe there is another extended stay to be planned for next year.
|Some of the more popular off-grid toys:|
Canning jar rings, cardboard tubes and
short lengths of t-shirt yarn.
All of these recent projects have added more items to our to-do lists: painting lots of drywall, staining a HUGE deck and restocking my canned foods just to name a few. And spring is just around the corner down here. Although we are in the middle of a massive snow storm as I am writing this - they are predicting up to three inches- I had daffodils blooming in the yard yesterday and we heard frogs a few nights ago so I will also be starting more gardening projects soon.
One of the first items on the list is washing and dusting drywall dust off of everything in the house, but Alan pointed out one dirty spot in the office that I think will stick around for a while:
|Zeke left a little handprint on the sliding glass door.|