Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a day in the life off grid part 1

A DAY IN THE LIFE OFF GRID PART 1
I’ve probably covered each and every one of these off grid solutions, but rather piecemeal and over many years.  Hopefully this short version all together will highlight how darn easy it is to live off grid.  While true that I pulled a travel trailer up to a parcel of raw land somewhat facilitating the process ( built in 12v and propane appliances ), it isn’t too much worse in a tent or a shack as far as a turn key move off into the wild. 
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Waking up in the morning, you use a travel clock.  This is a small digital clock that uses one AA battery and costs under $8.  I’ve gone three and four months on the same battery, the alarm going off five days out of seven each week ( the alarm probably uses more battery power than the display ).  Even then I changed the battery before it went dead.  Since I’m using dollar store batteries I assume they are near total crap and hold less juice than the more expensive brands.  So I’ve gotten in the habit of just changing the batteries every other month so as never to worry about the alarm not going off.  Most people might wish to use their cell phone alarm, but I like to use a standard inexpensive battery ( which cell phone batteries ain’t ).  You will find that almost everything you use is best bought new, rather than trying to adopt wall plug in electronics.  A special purpose battery or 12v anything is well worth the money since you need so much less alternate energy generation.  I bought a brand new netbook computer because it used 30 watts rather than the standard laptop 60 watts. 
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After I wake up, more often than not I’m standing in a very cold room.  Rather than worry about running a heater all night, I only run heat from evening dusk to bedtime ( except during periods without sun and very cold.  But usually I can stay alive just by solar gain if I’m also bundled up ).  Have several wool blankets under a feather comforter.  You can buy a comforter for under $100 and you can comfortably sleep as the inside temperature goes below freezing.  Have your clothes waiting at the foot of the bed in the order you put them on.  I never bathe in the morning since it is so cold.  I use some baby wet wipes ( you can just use a washcloth barely wet if you are saving money.  The wet wipes are a convenience ) to wash my face and head as I am gurgling mouthwash prior to brushing my teeth.  To save yet more water, I get a mouthful of water and spit it out over the toothbrush to both clean the brush and wash down the spit in the sink ( you start out with paste and a dry brush- no need to wet it ).  To save money on deodorant, buy a squirt bottle of gender correct cologne at the dollar store.  Two sprays and you have good smelly stuff in your pits all day ( I started doing this is Florida unloading semi trucks- it works ).  Grab your work crap and head out the door.
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If it is a workday, coffee can wait until I get to the office.  I’m making minimum wage, so I figure coffee and Internet access is part of my compensation.  If it was the weekend, I’d make thermos coffee.   I think the best tasting coffee is from a percolator, but if you don’t have a woodstove for heat this form of coffee prep takes too much extra fuel.  Next best is a French Press.  I stopped using that as the mornings in winter usually see twenty degrees inside before the sun comes up ( just park your trailer with the most windows facing south.  Cover all north windows with quilts.  Your solar gain will be incredible except under the coldest conditions ).  The plastic parts of my French Press kept breaking from getting brittle.  So, I make thermos coffee.  Coffee grounds to taste in your stainless steel vacuum thermos ( this also provides another way to cook.  Most things, rice and potatoes and noodles, are boiled for five minutes then dumped in the thermos and capped and placed on its side and left for several hours and emerge fully cooked.  Good energy saver if you don’t have a pressure cooker ), pour in boiling water and wait ten minutes.  Pour out through a filter held in a discarded drip coffee maker basket.  A bit chewy the last swallow, but very decent coffee with very little energy used.
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If I am at work I make microwave bread.  I call this creation nuke bread and I am inordinately proud of it.  Flour and water ( I use half whole wheat and half white flour.  All whole wheat is healthier, but when your customers are homeless, you don’t want to share the toilet with them.  Most of their hearts are pure but their personal hygiene habits leave a lot to be desired.  When I used all whole wheat I was getting way too much fiber ) mixed to the consistency of very thick waffle batter.  If you don’t have to spread it out with a folk it is too thin.  And too thin makes it taste like a pancake rather than bread.  Put on a greased ceramic ( not plastic- it sticks ) plate and microwave each side three to four minutes.  Done.  This bread is breakfast.  It is also lunch, but I add butter then for variety and protein.  Dinner is never bread, but meat and another starch.  I haven’t grown weary of whole wheat bread for both breakfast and lunch for the ten years I’ve been doing this.  And I will be more than ready to survive off mainly wheat kernels after the apocalypse.  If I was home off grid I’d make some kind of cast iron skillet bread.  Biscuits or pancakes or whatnot.  Or, you can use a microwave without a generator.  But more tomorrow.
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8 comments:

  1. "And I will be more than ready to survive off mainly wheat kernels after the apocalypse."

    You will absolutely, positively, develop scurvy. Read James Michener's novel 'Journey' (about a small group crossing Canada to get to the Alaskan gold rush fields) to find out exactly what will happen to you on that diet.


    BTW, Michener's 'Journey' is a great survival novel that rarely gets any mention in the survival-sphere

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  2. Not if you sprout some of the wheat. All the veggies you need. Much more nutricious than canned or frozen or freeze dried veggies and much, much cheaper. If you can't tell by now, I really love myself. I would never but myself in danger with an inadequate diet. Protein on the other hand is an issue with mostly wheat.

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  3. 12volt anything, darn strait. When shopping for electronics I try to find ones which use 12v. The AC adapter or the socket on the device will say if the AC adapter makes 12v, if it does you can cut off the adapter portion and hook right up to a battery.

    How do you take a shower, do you use the bleach bottle method you mentioned in the past or do you have some sort of solar warmed camp shower? The bleach bottle has water in it with some holes poked in the cap? Paint it black and leave in the sun to warm up so it's ready when you get home?

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  4. This was only part one. Showers are in another part. I'm trying to stretch this thing out a bit.

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  5. Anon 1:22 nailed it. You really will get scurvy. Michener's research was even better than that of most "historians" (he had more money). I read 'Journey', and believe it. If there are no 'greens' or 'fruits' available, you WILL MOST DEFINETLY DEVELOP SCURVY.

    Sprouting will help vis-a-vis advancing toward a 'complete' protein, but you need the vitamin C and others.

    But your perseverence with this blog tells me that you will, most likely, be one of the survivors. I wouldn't doubt that you will find a way. That is made most obvious with your 'attitude', and 'attitude' is why most of us read your blog.

    At any rate, read 'Journey'. Michener at his best.

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  6. This is a great start to a series Jim - keep it up! Us wannabes who live in artificial environments need to learn the methods of coping with living conditions who choose to go without. A Winter / Summer series would also be beneficial as well.

    Thanks.

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  7. OK, I'm going to concede that sprouts only might not be sufficient. Have several years of Vitamin C pills as well. Then, by the time those run out you should be planting stuff and eating raw meat from game.

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  8. Rose hips are high in vitamin C. Part of my pantry includes herbs. Hibiscus flower, rose hips and dehydrated orange peel are 3 ingrediets I really like in tea. Tea is so much nicer than swallowing a pill. Bee balm is a wildflower in my neck of the woods and makes a wonderful tea also.

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