An Overview

I thought I would provide a brief overview of how we do  the day to day things here.

Housing:  216 square foot cabin

  • Slab foundation
  • Metal siding
  • 4 windows on the north, south and east
  • Interior finished with osb and  2×6 pine

Heating:  primarily wood

  • M1941 tent stove
  • Lanterns provide extra heat or just a little for mild days
  • Propane space heater used every now and then to knock the chill off

Cooling :  no A/C

  • Insulated window coverings
  • Minimization of coming and going in and out of the house during the hottest days
  • Windows are opened in the evening when the in-house and outside temperatures equalize, closed in the morning when it starts to heat up
  • Solar powered attic fan used as house fan during the day
  • 12v clip-on car fans night

Power:  Primarily solar

  • 215 watt solar panel array
  • Rare inverter use, mostly 12v
  • 3 deep cycle 125 amp hour marine batteries wired parallel
  • Morningstar charge controller
  • Black and Decker smart charger for generator charging during periods of extended clouds
  • 10,000 watt welder used for back-up power generation and to run power tools
  • LED lights in summer
  • Kerosene, propane and/or Coleman Dual-Fuel lanterns in winter
  • Electric items used routinely – computer, dvd player, cell phone charger, vacuum cleaner (weekly or less)

Food preservation:

  • No refrigerator
  • Canning, dehydrating
  • Fresh foods from the garden
  • Some use of ice chests in the summer

Water:  year round spring

  • Gasoline Pacer pump to move water from the spring approximately 100 yards to the cabin
  • 1500 and 150 gallon covered tanks
  • 750 gallon open tank
  • Slow sand filter
  • Gravity fed, solar heated shower in summer
  • Water for winter bathing and dishes heated on the propane apartment sized stove in the cabin
  • Poly stock tank can be easily brought in the cabin for winter baths
  • Drinking water stored in 2 – 7.5 gallon water jugs
  • Sink waste collected in 5 gallon bucket and used on garden or compost pile

Waste disposal:

  • Non-shiny paper is composted
  • Burn barrel for other burnables
  • Non-burnables collected by garbage service
  • All vegetable waste composted
  • Any other food waste used to feed dogs or chickens
  • Human solid waste composted using John Jeavon’s humanure principles
  • Nighttime urine collected and used as fertilizer


  • Wireless internet card
  • Cell phones

3 thoughts on “An Overview

  1. Very interesting! We are slowly moving to an off-grid agrarian life, though not quite as simple as yours seems to be. I am interested in trying the “humanure” methods, how have you found the compost to be?

  2. Boy reading this wore me out, but sounds exciting. It sounds the right steps to become self-sufficient where you can control your own environment. Now if only I can find out how to work out side and not become blow away in the process.

  3. Ryan, I’ve got some pics coming in the next post of finished compost and the bins. It’s, well, compost :). After a year it’s brown, crumbly and smells like earth. The whole process is really not much different than dealing with cloth diapers on a baby.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

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