It has been a bit of a difficult period for us now with a week with 40 degrees of fever and the fatigue that comes after. The weather has also played a bit with us and we have had plus degrees and wind, which resulted in beautiful ice streets along all our trails. Fortunately, we are now on the road of improvement and have returned to school and work, even though we still get tired quite quickly. There has now also come a lot of snow again.
With the plus degrees, the birds began to sing their spring-songs and I feel how much I long for the spring now, even though the winter is really a resting period for us, I want to get started and get things done again. My purchased seeds are waiting and I am thinking a lot about how I can expand my small plantations, build more cultivation boxes and get more soil. I have been thinking about ordering a load of soil instead of buying bags, it takes a lot of bags and it gets quite expensive.
Mathias lives in his backpack and goes off to school and internship every week, both he and I start to get tired of that concept, he wants to be home and is tired of traveling and I want to have him home and not to have to say goodbye all the time. Its healthy to be apart but there are limits!
The lambing season has begun and two of our ewes have got their little ones. This year Edelweiss got a ram that we have named Holger. Flicka, one of our first-time mothers, got two rams that we have named Åke and Sivert. It has gone well so far and I am very grateful for that. The sheep house starts to get a bit crowded, we started to build a special sheepfold in the barn, but we never finished the gate and we filled that space with wood. We hope that everything goes well and that they can co-ordinate the space. Its fun with more lambs at the same time so we might be able to experience some lamb races.
Now we have lived at Talasbuan for almost 7 years and we have knotted together a list of 14 things that can be good to think about if you would like to stay Off-Grid. There are certainly things we have forgotten, but we start with this and can develop it later on.
14 Things to think about when one wants to move off-Grid:
A modern house with ingrained electricity, sewage and so on can be more difficult to turn into an off-grid accommodation, an older cottage, for example the log cabin we live in is a perfect accommodation. One might think that before, all the houses were "off-grid" and therefore adapted for such a life, for example with wood stoves.
In cabins without, for example, retracted sewage, one does not have to worry that something should freeze, here we can empty the water buckets, lock the door and go away without worrying. This is called resilience ("the ability to recover or resist various disorders.")
The size of the house also plays a role, the larger the house or cottage the more wood and energy is required to heat the space. The height of the ceiling also plays a role, the heat always rises upwards and if you have a high ceiling, it obviously means that it will be cold down by the floor, so lower ceilings may be preferable. A log cabin can also keep the heat better because the timber stores heat.
The fact that we quickly get cold in the cottage when the fire burns down is because the cottage is adapted for summer conditions, it is not really the intention to stay here in the winter. It is not so good insulated and the floor is draughty. We also have no opportunity to store heat (except in the timber walls) because we only have a chimney pipe out, no bricks. Therefore, in the new cottage we should have a solid brick wall with kitchen stove, fireplace and tiled stove.
There are a lot of stoves to choose from, from the start we had a larger stove with oven, but it also had a very small burning hole. It took a long time to warm up the cottage so we switched to a simpler model, a single large burning hole and a single hob. We warm up the little cottage in half an hour. Once we move to the larger cabin, we will invest in a new kitchen stove with oven and better warm-keeping capacity.
The wood is, of course, a big and important issue in our life, if we do not have enough wood we may freeze. It is something you get to see from year to year, how much you use and need. You also have to make sure that you make the firewood in time so that it can dry, to make a fire with wet wood is difficult.
Water is, of course, one of the most important points, we need water to live. A functional well, a lake or running water. Here in northern Sweden we are lucky and can drink the "wild water" without major problems. We get our water with buckets but you can also experiment with self-pressure, if you have the water higher than the cottage, or a pump of some kind and can lead the water to where you want it.
4. Washing, Washing Clothes, Hygiene
It is much easier to wash our dishes during the summer than winter, in the summer we can stick to the outdoor kitchen where we can easily heat water and have a proper sink. In the winter, we keep indoors in buckets and tubs because we do not have a sink inside. This makes us think some extra when we cook and do not use extra and unnecessary gadgets. We wash our dishes about one or two times a week in winter.
We haven't started the sauna yet, which means that in the winter we shower up in the village, in the summer it is easier and we can swim in the river or the lake, bath in the bathtub or fix a "summer shower" with buckets. It will be nice when the sauna is finished and you have all of the "everyday gadgets" in place where you live.
One problem we have not yet solved is to wash our clothes, of course we could use pods and wash by hand but we have not done so. We have looked at different solutions with washing machines that you weave, peddle or go on battery, we have also been thinking of getting an old machine that we can drive with hydro power. Until we have come up with something good, we wash our clothes in the village.
We prefer to choose clothes made from natural materials such as wool, linen and cotton, plastic clothing goes away as much as possible with regard to toxins and hormone disrupting chemicals. We also choose something that is a bit stronger and more sustainable. Wool is good in the way that it does not have to be washed so often, it is enough to hang them outside occasionally. The wool also warms well which we need here when it's cold. I would think we have our wool base on us from October to May.
6. Food Storage
A ground cellar of some kind is a must to keep the food good. We haven't built ours yet, but in the summer our "holes in the ground" work well, even if it gets crowded at times. In winter, we have our non isolated entrance as a freezer and we have a cupboard inside the cabin that holds about 8 degrees Celsius during the winter and serves as a refrigerator. One finds solutions, but a ground cellar that keeps the same temperature all year round is gold. Something else I wanted was that we should build the ground cellar so that one could walk from inside the house and directly into the basement, now it will not be so but it really is a thing I like.
Being able to cook in a good way is a must, in the summer we have our wonderful outdoor kitchen and in the winter we stay inside. Before we had the outdoor kitchen we cooked our food over the open fire in the summer ..
There is always something that needs to be repaired, fixed or built. A good set of Basic tools is good to have.
9. Loading gadgets
That is, if you have something that needs to be loaded, we who are working on our vlogs and cameras must be able to load batteries occasionally. We have a battery that we drive up to the village for charging in the winter, in the summer we have a small solar panel that we can connect with the battery. When we get to the larger cottage we will surely get a small panel that can sit on the house. Our problem with solar panel in the winter is that we live in a valley surrounded by trees, the sun does not often look at the farm itself. For the battery we have an inverter so we can charge our computers and then we have 12 volt charger for smaller gadgets.
The cat is not only good company but it also chases mice, had we not had a cat we would probably have big problems with mice. They eat everything, if you have other animals such as chickens, the mice will invade their food stores or roam freely inside the chicken coop where leftover seeds are often present.
We all have to go and an outdoor toilet is the perfect solution. There are certainly other solutions as well, such as some kind of indoor simple toilet without the plumbing, but I don't know anything about it and they also cost money. We have done so that we separate the urine and the shit, the urine ends up in a gutter and runs away and the shit ends up in a container that we empty about 2 times a year. Either dig the contents of the barrel down or you can use it as fertiliser in the crops, provided you eat well and do not eat any medications that can accompany.
12. The loneliness
If one wants to stay off-Grid, one often does it away from everything, which means that one's social life can end up on the edge. Depending on which person ypu are is, the loneliness can take more or less hard on you and it is an important thing to think about. Mathias had some difficulties with this at the beginning when he came here, he came from a larger social circle. I have almost always lived in this place and are a little bit like a lone wolf so I have never known of it so far.
But you always have the cat!
13. Skills that can be good to have
Be able to refine food, cheese, meat, vegetables
If you have animals, be able to slaughter
If you have animals it can be fun to be able to prepare the skins
Have some basic knowledge of carpentry
Knowledge of animals
Knowledge of gardening
Knowledge in sewing
It may be good to have some knowledge about various things, but much of what we do here we have learned on the road, so do not be afraid to try new and unknown things. Learning by doing!
It is easy to romanticise things, but you should not hide from that it can sometimes feel tough and be laborious.
To go outside to the outdoor toilet in minus 30 and be constipated
Gardening and processing
Carpentry and construction
Hunt animals that has run away
Animals taken by wild animals
If you get sick and you still have all the responsibility and work.
Much of the daily work here is enjoyable and satisfying in itself, the scent of hay and freshly chopped wood, rippling water in the river and see the plants you planted grow. The most difficult thing is if one also has a wage work at the same time, its mostly then all of this can become stressful and difficult, if you work a lower percentage the tasks at home will be easier to manage.
A lot of work but still rewarding, we live a life that is different every day. It is exciting, we learn new things all the time and we are challenging ourselves constantly. There are peaks and valleys, it is just a matter of trying to look beyond the hardships and have all the nice things in the corner of the eye.
This post is translated from Swedish with G**gle translate, I have tried to read through it but surely there are bound to be some wierd grammar or words to it, Sorry for that!
All the best /Tova