90 – Q&A

Would you be interested in offering a onsite (not right next to your house) camping/farmer/rancher for a day set up?

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I’m not sure how much unused space you have on your property. But after reading this entire thread and following along, I think your life style and daily work is something that could seriously be a destination type location. I would gladly drag my trailer out there for a couple days just to get the experience for the kids. I’m in if you ever decide to do that type of thing.

This thread has to be one of the all time best threads on this site. Good work to you and your family.

Merry Christmas!

We’ve entertained all sorts of scenarios. We pulled our listing for the campsite from Hipcamp this year as the scheduling was interfering with our travel schedule. Camp site is still there for visitors of course. So many, “firsts” we wanted to be there for with the granddaughter. The travel schedule is likely to settle down the next couple years and we’ll get back to hosting more folks again. We’ve met some very cool people this way, one guy even proposed to his girlfriend on our bluff and we got great pictures of the whole thing.

Amazing work Joel.

I was watching a movie this weekend, and thought of you. Mostly about a homestead in Australia and in the movie a huge brush fire almost took it out.

Do you have the ability to plug in at various places to fight a fire back? Some sort of fire sprinkler system by the house?

Nearest fire department is about 40 miles away so the community takes fire prep pretty serious.

All land is cleared 50 to 80′ from structures with multiple 1.5″ fire hydrants around the property with hoses ready to go. 20,000 gallons of storage with the new ability to pump 18,000 in a 24 hour period between sun and generator covers our water needs. Our pasture irrigation is mobile and can be set up as a perimeter around the house in about 20 minutes and we’ve got enough pressure/volume to run 8 sprinklers at a time, each using 220gph. I could literally run the sprinklers wide open, non-stop for 22 hours.

Past all that, I’m up to date on my fire coverage insurance. Still, when Mother Nature sets her sights on you- she’s pretty hard to beat.

Question about dry food storage…. living in an area where it gets pretty hot… what do you do for long term dry food storage? (canned foods, rice / beans etc) I have read that if these things are stored in temps over 80, it really shortens up the shelf life.

We store that stuff under the house in food grade 5 gallon buckets. The temps stay pretty constant down there. One of the keys to keeping food on hand is to get a handle on what you actually use daily, buy that in bulk and take the time to rotate it out. Each year, we produce more food than the previous year which has helped with the storage issues. We are fortunate enough to have fresh food growing out just about year round. Now, with the high tunnel, we’re taking that to the next level.

Joel….. curious if your exterior/ perimeter fencing has been to your satisfaction regarding keeping any unwanted guest from digging under and gaining access to the gardens or livestock? I appreciated the 8′ height. Impressive.

Ground squirrels, rabbits and skunks still make their way in but are manageable. Deer, elk, and javalina have been deterred indefinitely between the fence and the dogs- those critters can do some quick damage. Yes, we are very happy with our 8′ fence!

Have you guys ever thought of getting into harvesting rabbits ? Great meat and fast = good eating , as kids we ate more rabbit than chicken and looks like you have grass send rabbits in then chickens.

We have a neighbor that does rabbits. We process her chickens at the end of one of our own butcher days in exchange for rabbit meat. Having a poultry process center is a neat pet to have with regards to bartering. If the kids were at home still, we’d have them doing rabbits again. Our youngest daughter enjoyed it years ago. Our plates are full enough as it is right now but it’s not off the list for the future!

I tried to search and follow where you ended up with your solar system? Can you throw out the basics? I see 2 – 48v 129 amp lithium batteries for about 12000 watt hours of storage. I see 2 inverters but can’t tell what they are? I assume a parallel set for split phase 240?…. and how big in watts is your solar array?

I am doing my first off grid solar to run my RV in Southern Utah and I am starting with 3-48V 124 ah batteries. 6000 split phase inverter and 4000watts of PV. I hope I am close, but its able to scale up on all 3 components….

Single 7000 watt inverter, 13300 watt hour storage and solar array is just under 4000 watts. The lithium batteries charge fast so size your array with that in mind.

I am ignorant of what that dashboard is telling me? If you have 13300 storage, did you put 38% or 5054 watts back into it in 1.5 hours? Any idea what your daily use is in watts that your system is serving?

I agonized over the numbers during the design process, much like you are now. Don’t.

The outline of your system is pretty legit with the ability to expand. That’s enough.

Truth is, you have no way of knowing what your usage will be from day to day. And, you have no idea what the weather will do either.

Amy does meal planning for the week on Sundays, based on the weather forecast. Rainy, cloudy, overcast, snowy weather= meals cooked in the propane oven or a stew in the dutch oven on top of the woodstove all day or something on the grill. Typical sunny Arizona weather= crock pot, insta-pot or air fryer. Can we change that up if needed? Yes, there’s enough battery storage to not worry but you just get in Mother Natures groove after awhile.

Our 10 day forecast is rain and snow everyday. I’ll clear panels as needed but life will go on as normal. The change is in the prep. Amy wrapped up laundry this past week and we cleaned the house (lots of vacuuming) during sunny days.

An engineer at Arizona Wind and Sun designed our system with our input and he nailed it. “My” design was about $9000 more than his on paper which was a pretty good reason to put my faith in him (knowing I could add on later if needed). 800-383-0195, ask for James and have him review your plan. Or better yet, tell him what your goals are and have him design a system then compare it with yours then go from there.

 I was browsing through your thread here and saw a picture and post about pressing sunflowers for oil.

Is it worth it?

And what contraption do you use to do this?

My wife is interested.

It’s a seed press, available online from several suppliers. It was neat to learn but olive oil is much healthier. Part of being self sufficient is knowing how to do this stuff. If things in the world went sideways, yes we’d do it if necessary.

So you are pretty much in a co-op at this point with your various neighbors?

You provide beef/chicken/fresh produce and they provide butter/rabbit/etc?

Must feel pretty damn nice to be far removed from dependency on society! Well, other than electronics and those tech items that make this all work.

At the end of it all even if everything quits, you still can run your genni and run everything right?

Sums it up pretty well! After the Covid exercise we filled the holes in our program and could comfortably not leave our fence for a bit over 4 months in worst case situations.
Our solar system is far more reliable than grid tied power though. Number of times power has been down for people on the grid in our area since we fired up our system=9 (that we know of). Number of times we’ve been down=0. But yes, if any part of our system goes down the entire house can be run off the generator while we address the issue. These high end inverters and charge controllers are built to withstand remote mounting with no climate control and high humidity situations. The fact that we went so far as to mount indoors, completely protected and climate controlled adds quite a bit of life to something that’s already designed for 20+ years operation.

Says: Lives off grid. Posts pics online

Man, there’s always that one guy. 😂  Here’s a copy and paste from 2015 when I did my best to clear this up. Sorry if we’re not Pa Ingalls enough for you:

There is a misconception about “off grid” living. Some immediately picture the crotchety old hermit that wants to be left alone or the guy that drops out of society because people didn’t find his tin foil hat to be fashionable.

For us and many others, off grid simply means that we are not dependent on anyone but ourselves for power, heat, water or food. TV? It’s been years since we’ve had it, I can’t imagine that changing. I’m a never say never guy. If Amy suddenly came to me and said she wanted satellite TV you can bet I’d make sure she had it. We really don’t miss it and rarely have time to sit in front of one so it’s pretty unlikely.

My internet will be limited to whatever my Verizon hot spot can provide along with a 12 volt Wilson booster. Some days it is very fast, some days it’s like dial up. For me, to live this lifestyle to its full potential, the internet will be vital. We don’t live in a world where skills like these are passed on from generation to generation anymore. With exception of some of the old timers here, many of our parents and grand parents were pretty far removed from growing or raising our own food and the knowledge that comes with food preparation in changing seasons. For me, the internet has helped overcome that gap to a point that I am teaching some of these skills to my folks.

Over the last few years I have scoured garage sales and thrift stores for old cookbooks, farm and garden books (pre-1950), gunsmithing or anything related to basic homesteading skills. I really like the way an old book feels and smells but it also serves to bridge this weird disconnect from the generations that would hand down important skills. It’s a sizable reference collection at this point which is comforting but it can’t beat the speed and efficiency of the internet.

Fence construction? Setting well pumps? Building solar systems? Making compost? Repairing or maintaining equipment? The internet has helped me to be self reliant in all these areas and more.

Our long standing dream has been to raise and direct market beef, pork and chicken in a beyond organic fashion. Last week I pre-sold 7 steers in 30 hours just from a picture of a hamburger- on a internet boating forum. To ignore the power of the internet and how it can help my family live the life we want at the end of a dirt road would just be silly.”

I actually celebrate how the internet has made this dream for many of us possible. We accomplished all of the above PLUS built a business that allows to thrive without having jobs in town. I’m guessing the part you don’t see is when I close this computer, my connection to the outside world is gone until I choose to join it.  

Where did you get your green house?

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Cats, Cats… you’ve got friggin cats up there surviving? Sounds like they’re indoor/ outdoor dudes… they must be savvy as all hell not being snapped up … perhaps they sail over that high fencing when coyotes are after em?

100% outdoor cats, little murderers. Fast, agile- with so many trees within a short run, my money is on them. They live with Gus and Maggie, they all typically sleep together too. We’ve had a handful of coyotes try to come in, that we know of. We find the yard littered with their remains in the morning. It’s quite impressive how the dogs can make one 60lb coyote 12 to 14′ long.

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