January 1, 2017


Twenty seventeen


I am not believing it’s 2017 already, in just 3 short years, it’s going to be the year 2020, now that will take some getting used to! People traditionally pick the New Year day to make their resolutions, I’ve never been one to stand on ceremony, I don’t do resolutions. I prefer setting goals, big and small. I will admit that I haven’t been setting goals for a while and I need to start doing that again. I think one thing I need to do is save more money, since we live very much on the cheap it should be easy, right? Well not so much but it’s something that has to be done.

I also want to, need to, start working on upgrading and replacing my solar system. I will keep my old stuff and use it in other locations around the Sky Castle, I really want to have my refrigerator (chest freezer to fridge conversion) on its own system, separate from everything else, I’ll most likely use my current setup for that and have the new hardware for everything else.

The reason I like separate systems is as a backup in case something should fail, having redundant systems is something I recognized as very important from the very beginning. Speaking of redundant systems, I have 2 separate on demand water heaters, one in my kitchen over the sink, the other in the shower. A few months ago, the one in the kitchen started acting strangely, when you turn on the hot tap, the tank clicks a piezo starter and ignites the propane, I noticed that when the water coming through was warmer (from the water tank), it worked just fine. But if the water coming through was really cold, the piezo clicker would continue clicking after the fire was lit, then it would shut off the entire thing. I thought something was failing on the system. We went the whole summer like this because it would work while the water coming through was warmish, not a problem in the summer. But once winter started in earnest, I knew we had to figure out what part needed to be fixed or replaced.

On a whim, I changed out the batteries for the piezo clicker and voila! It worked again, well duh! It was needing fresh batteries, what threw me was the fact that it worked when the water was warmer, then it would stop working if the water was icy cold, it would work in the daytime when the temps were mild, but once it began to get cold at night, it would stop working right. So now I have both of my water heaters working again.

As I said above, I don’t “do” resolutions, especially not ones based on an arbitrary date, I set goals, big ones, small one, and even achieve many of them, we all need …

Read More »

Living in the Future

An ongoing documentary series celebrating sustainable communities and ecovillages around the world is promoting the off-grid way of life. Living in the Future hosts a free online series, a regular blog and a set of three feature documentaries – Ecovillage Pioneers, Lammas and Deep Listening – which follow the development of ecovillages, and communities, around the world.

Ecovillage Pioneers follows filmmaker Helen Iles’s search to find various sustainable, affordable, alternatives to our modern, consumptive way of life. Her journey takes her to a permaculture village in Australia, small communities in Ireland, Somerset and the Gower Peninsula, the more established Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, and the Centre for Alternative Technology in mid-Wales – all projects that inspired Lammas, the UK’s first legal low-impact settlement.

The second film, Lammas: How To build An Ecovillage, shares the highs and lows of the nine trailblazing families who embarked on the pioneering venture to create their homes and a community while dealing with the nightmares of planning applications. After more than six years of planning and construction, Lammas is now a successful off-grid community, spanning almost 50 acres of depleted pasture land in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Living in the Future’s online series celebrates the innovative and creative individuals who are finding new ways to build self-sustainable houses, including Rachel Shiamh, who won a Grand Designs Award for her two-storey load-bearing straw-bale home in Wales – the first two-storey load-bearing house in the UK, and only the second in Europe.

Read More »

Tiny House Nation

Omaha, Nebraska Jan 1st – The TIny house movement is closely related to the off-grid movement.  IT makes sense to have a tiny home if you live off the grid – it means less building cost, less maintenance, less heating and lighting.  But there are still endless battles with local government dictators and with budgets.

So series like TIny House Nation provide a valuable service, and the next episode is no exception.

For the six-member Mike family, living in their pair of tiny houses felt just right. But everything else that comes along with owning a tiny house – construction costs and the bureaucracy of finding land – wasn’t so cozy.

Since the family sold its house this summer, moved into an RV and built its collective 688-square-foot tiny houses west of Ceresco, they’ve faced a rocky road to find a permanent, legal home for their new way of life. They’ve been kicked off properties several times, and despite filming a reality TV show about the construction of their tiny houses, aren’t living in them at the moment.

The construction of the two houses was filmed for an episode of “Tiny House Nation: Family Edition” set to air Thursday evening on Lifetime.

“We want to live in them,” Melody Mike said. “It’s breaking our hearts right now that we can’t.”

The Mikes – parents Melody and Darren; Darren’s teenage son Carter; the couple’s young daughters McKenzie, Trinity and Joey; and their dog – all moved into twin tiny houses in November. The World-Herald detailed the family’s plans in a July article.

Before filming, the family sold its house and moved into a retrofitted RV parked at The Gathering Place, their church in Valley. Shortly after, a neighbor complained, and the city told the Mikes that they had to move. So they moved into a two-bedroom apartment above the church.

Filming went well and was mostly fun for the family, Darren said, but the price quickly outgrew their budget, eventually by about $17,000, even after trade-outs from the TV show.

After construction, the family lived the tiny life for six weeks. They lived off the grid, drawing water from a well and power from solar panels. Darren shot his first deer, and cooked steaks and stew for the family. The kids played outside in the woods, and they made nightly campfires, staring up at the Milky Way.

“We absolutely loved it,” Darren said. “It was a lot of work repairing and fixing, but the lifestyle, it’s totally us. We’re somewhat desperate to get back into that.”

A month and a half in, connections to the underground cistern came loose. Then, the family was told that it had to vacate the land. Zoning problems are a common obstacle for tiny house owners. It’s something the Mikes hope will change soon, and they plan on appealing to nearby counties to find a …

Read More »


Join the global off-grid community

Register for a better experiencE on this site!