Homesteaders, Off-gridders and Preppers- Welcome!

Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness

Aerial View of our Homestead on Hockley Lake

Our Remote Off-Grid Wilderness Homestead

 

To homesteaders, off-gridders and preppers everywhere- Greetings from the Canadian wilderness! Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness!

Imagine if you can, living so remote that access is only by float plane. You won’t see another person for 6 months at a time.

Twin Otter landing on Hockley Lake

Twin Otter Landing at Hockley Lake

No daily mail delivery, no commute to a mundane 9 to 5 job, no easy access to malls and supermarkets, and none of civilization’s chaos and noise. Nothing but the silence of the forest encompasses you. Continue reading

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Final Wrap Up on the Basics of ICF Construction

This is the final wrap up on the basics of ICF construction we used on our new off grid home.

In my last post, I shared a ha ha sign “Somewhat Precise Home Builders” which is my tongue in cheek name for the contractor who has built our home, namely Johanna and me.

Top Plate Perfectly Level

Top Plate Perfectly Level

But the carpenter’s level that I have resting on the very top course (double top plate,10th course, 15 feet up) angled across a corner, tells a different story. That bubble is dead on between the lines. It’s visual proof that if we start level, take our time as we work off that base to finish the top course, we remain level. In a previous post, I conveyed to you just how important the foundation was for everything being built upon it and here’s proof of that. I’ve put the level on top of all sides and on the floor in different locations. If we aren’t dead on level, the bubble is still within the lines. That’s as good as I can possibly hope to get. Continue reading

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Christmas Update on Our Nova Scotia Homestead

With the approach of Christmas and Holidays, I figured I’d give everybody a quick update and then resume normal posts after the first of the year. Here’s our Christmas update on our Nova Scotia homestead.

Somewhat Precise Homebuilders Sign

Somewhat Precise Homebuilders Sign

We made a valiant effort but fell short of being able to get into the house by Christmas. Although the weather had been warmer than normal, that warmth came with copious quantities of rain. Several 2 inch drenchings in December and then the cold finally arrived.

Temperatures have gone down to about 10F (-12C) and highs are in the teens and 20’s Fahrenheit. This has definitely slowed us down. Cold temperatures in conjunction with the shortest days of the year and our progress is painfully slow. Continue reading

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Let’s Talk ICF For New Off-Grid Home- Part 2

In my last post “Let’s talk ICF For Our New Off-Grid Home- Part 1”, we discussed what this ICF material was about and how easy it was to build with. Although ICF is an easy, straight forward method of building, there’s a lot to it if one is going to do it properly. We had 6 courses of forms up at the time of my last post so let’s continue on with the building process. Winter is coming and we are longing to move out of the tent. Let’s talk ICF For New Off-Grid Home- Part 2

Roof Trusses Delivery

Roof Trusses Delivery

We Utilized a Detailed Floor Plan

A detailed floor plan is a must in order to properly lay out the house. We knew we wanted a couple of doors and lots of windows. Some windows may have some leeway in location while others will need to be located dead on. The kitchen window is an example where a window location needs to be dead on. Johanna has a kitchen cabinet that will be hung on one side of the window and a refrigerator on the other side. We had to know exactly where that window would be placed before cutting any block or pouring concrete. Continue reading

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Let’s Talk ICF For Our New Off-Grid Home – Part 1

There are any number of construction materials and methods a person can use to build their new home. The traditional method is stick frame using conventional framing lumber. That’s the method we chose for our last 2 off-grid homes. As many of you already know, we opted for a different method this time. Let’s talk ICF for our new off-grid home.

Lugging Buckets of Rocks Out

Lugging Buckets of Rocks Out

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)

ICF is short for Insulated Concrete Forms. Although the concept is not new, it has taken some time for this construction method to really catch on. I knew absolutely nothing about ICF until someone mentioned it in passing. It sounded interesting but working with concrete is not one of my strong points. I’ve done very little with it other than mix some stuff by hand a few times. Continue reading

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Nova Scotia Fall Update

As expected, Nova Scotia weather is like the tropics compared to where we once lived. It’s all relative of course. We would generally have our first dusting of snow around this time of year back in northern Saskatchewan. (In fact, it was snowing on Monday, October 9th when I checked the weather while we, here in Nova Scotia, were at 74F, 23C.) And temperatures would certainly be on the brisk side. The last remnants of the garden would be going down to the root cellar; buckets of potatoes and carrots. Johanna would have transplanted cabbage, Brussel sprouts, leeks and celery into a cold frame in our greenhouse for the best storage and we’d be getting ready for the long winter ahead. Any warm days would be relished and we’d consider them a bonus. By contrast, Nova Scotia certainly has a more moderate climate. Here’s a Nova Scotia fall update on our off-grid home building efforts and other fun stuff.

A Somewhat Bountiful Harvest

A Somewhat Bountiful Harvest

I unfairly characterized our garden as pathetic in an earlier summer post. I have to take that back. Although Johanna would chime in that she is responsible for the success of our first garden out here, she doesn’t realize the role I play as “plant whisperer.” We have gotten far more out of this garden than we ever expected. It is by far better than our first garden in Saskatchewan. As you recall, we converted forest land to garden in both locations. It is obvious we have much better soil fertility here in Nova Scotia. And the climate is more favorable for a garden. Nevertheless, we will still use our bag of tricks to extend the season in both spring and fall. A greenhouse is a year or more out though. Continue reading

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Campfire Cooking

Living in a wall tent as a temporary residence presents many challenges, one of which is meal preparation.

Apple Crisp in Dutch Oven

Apple Crisp in Dutch Oven

Yet anyone who thinks camp meals are limited to burgers and hot dogs is in for a surprise. The possibilities are endless, limited only by the cook’s imagination, initiative and time. Campfire cooking can be as simple as a one pot meal or as elaborate as a full course dinner. If Ron’s lucky, I might even bake him a pan of Brownies in my Dutch Oven.

Cooking Over a Campfire

I have 2 options when it comes to how I will cook meals. One is an outdoor campfire, which I try to use as much as possible, and the other is an old Coleman camp stove powered by pressurized gas. The camp stove is certainly the easiest, fastest and the most similar to cooking on a household range, but the camp stove has its limitations. Fuel is expensive for one thing. And roasting that Thanksgiving turkey would be quite the chore. But the range of possibilities open to a cook who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and explore campfire cooking is astounding Continue reading

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Is a foundation really that important?

Is a foundation really that important? The answer to the question is yes! As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most important part of a building to ensure its long term survival. If the foundation crumbles, shifts or isn’t square and level, the poor building set upon the inadequate foundation is headed for a lifetime of misery. Surely you’ve seen pictures of the leaning tower of pizza. 🙂 I mean Pisa. Is a foundation really that important? It is paramount!

We’ve built 2 of our off-grid homes and are currently working on our third. Each home has had a different foundation. Let me briefly describe the first 2 and then we’ll delve into the specifics of our current foundation construction.

Finished Footing

Finished Footing

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Hacking Our Way to Garden Prosperity

 

In our 37 year offgrid homesteading adventure, we’ve had the tough chore of taking woodland and converting it to gardens. We’ve never had the luxury of driving into a new homestead that had cleared land with an established garden. We are establishing our third homestead and I’ll share what I’ve learned about creating a garden where one didn’t exist. Let’s hack our way to garden prosperity!

One Colossal Mistake!

Readers of my book know I made one colossal mistake when I first started my homesteading adventure. I was young and a complete novice with offgrid living, homesteading and gardening. I was in my early 20’s when I made the big transition from electronics tech to homesteader. I purchased a 120 acre woodlot in Maine that had an old overgrown potato field in the middle of it. A young forest was growing in this field with spruce, fir, poplar and alder.

Piled Up Brush and Topsoil in Maine

Piled Up Brush and Topsoil in Maine

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Mid-Summer Homestead Update.

We wanted to take a little time to show you what we have accomplished since our last update. We’ve made some real progress. I especially, am results driven and things don’t always look like they’re progressing fast enough. But when I take a reality check and consider this was nothing but young forest and thick brush and wasn’t even accessible by road until sometime in May, I’m pleased with what has transpired thus far. I’ll elaborate and write specific posts to provide more information on all this stuff but this gives you a good sense of our progress. We feel considerable pressure to keep pushing since winter is fast approaching. Here’s our mid-summer homestead update.

The Beginning

The Beginning

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Squeeze a House into a Tent

Most of us live in some form of traditional home complete with the typical layout. We probably have a living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen and utility area. Unless a person is a tiny home enthusiast, most homes are of modest size and comfy. Because we are living in an expedition wall tent while we build our home, we were faced with a bit of interior design when it came time to make our living space as efficient as possible. This would be home for the foreseeable future and it needed to be thoughtfully laid out. In my last post, I explained how we built a tent platform and frame, then erected our temporary home. Come on in, make yourself at home and we’ll talk about how we squeeze a house into a tent.

We were fully aware of potentially having to use a tent for a year while we built our new home. The tent would serve as our shelter for many months and would need to protect us through summer heat and winter cold. Throw in gale force winds at a minimum on occasion and we were asking our tent to do a lot. With this tent we have a roof over our heads and with the added rain fly, we have zero concern about rain and snow.

Easy Tent Access

Wood Front Door

Wood Front Door

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