Journal: February 21, 2011

The last couple of days have been fairly uneventful. The weather wasn’t great yesterday, so I spent most of the day on my computer working on my software project. I finally got out for a bit around dusk and went for a little walk. Today, I went for a walk in the afternoon, and came upon a cluster of nice (dead, but mostly still upright so free of snow) mountain mahogany trees, so I went back to camp, picked up my saw and a pack to go collect some firewood. As I was heading back to the trees, a startled jackrabbit ran off from a nearby bush. I instinctively reached for my gun, but quickly realized that what I had cradled in my arms was my cordless reciprocating saw — hardly the right tool for hunting rabbits.

I noticed that half a bag of potatoes I’d left in Hut 1.0 overnight for one night had started to go bad. I guess they froze during that one night spent in Hut 1.0, then thawed after I moved them to Hut 2.1 and started to rot. I boiled some of the worst ones over the stove last night, and fried them up for breakfast this morning. They tasted a little dry, but were otherwise edible. I’m currently making potato and leek soup with the rest of the potatoes that might’ve gone bad. I still have the other half of the bag that I’d stored in Hut 2.1 to start with, which are fine and should last a while. I also have a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes, so I’m pretty good in the potato department. Otherwise in the food department, the pot of curry I made last week lasted me 4 dinners, and I had the last of it last night. I’ve also discovered that making pancake batter in a ziplock bag works great. It spares me the trouble (and water) of cleaning a bowl, and I can throw the unused portions in the cooler.

My electricity supply is being constrained somewhat by the overcast weather. I used a lot of power yesterday when I spent the better part of the afternoon and evening on my computer, which, combined with the overcast weather today, put me in a slight energy deficit (i.e. I’ve used more power than I’ve generated). My battery array is still above 12 Volts so I’ve got plenty of power, but I decided to spend the evening with the lights off today to conserve power. I’m still just using the single 100W panel, and haven’t set up the new 45W panels yet. I figure if I could get by with less, I might as well.

It looks like more snow and colder temperatures are predicted for later this week. I’ll probably go gather some more firewood tomorrow, just to shore up my stockpile, even though I think I have enough to last me at least another 2-3 weeks. I’m actually quite happy about the snow. In my ideal world, it’s either snowy or sunny, but never rainy. Now that I think of it, that’s kinda how it’s been up here.

Overall, things are going surprisingly well. I haven’t yet faced any major issues as I enter my second week of my continuous stay here, and I’m enjoying each day, even if I’m not being as productive as I perhaps could be… My floor is still half unfinished, but I’m sure I’ll work up the motivation to finish it one of these days. After all, I’m not in any particular hurry. But, other than that, I’ve got plenty of food, plenty of water, and so far, plenty of firewood to stay warm. So, basically all my needs are met, and I have no concerns there.

I guess the one thing that’s worth noting is that I’m still adjusting to having internet access up here. It’s certainly a mixed blessing, though it hasn’t been as detrimental to my life here as I feared it may be. Though, I still spend more time on the computer, and less time reading or simply pondering than I used to. It’s not necessarily bad, but different. But then, a lot of things have changed in the year and half that I’ve been on this property. I used to live in a tent, without decent electrical lighting, without internet, without cell phone access, without heating. It’s hard to say that things are worse, but it seems that something is lost every time I add a new convenience or comfort. But, that’s what this journey is about. It’s about finding that right balance for myself, and it’s an on-going process.

10 thoughts on “Journal: February 21, 2011

  1. you dont want your brilliance lost with you, do you. I, personally, am trusting in your more collectivist culture/background? so your fan base doesnt drive you off your project, but still you are not isolated. I imagined you crocheting :), I dont know computers very well, tho I can crochet, I prefer knitting. hey, I’ve got meetings to go to, people to see ha ha ha ha, survival is everywhere

  2. I know my first winter out in the bush was rough because I failed to collect enough firewood before snow fall. By mid-winter I was cutting down standing dead Birch trees. Bucked the logs, hauled them home on my little “kids” sled and split and stacked it. I was so happy with my wood pile, every piece split so well, nice solid glassy sound as they bounced off each other. Each satisfying chop filled my wood shed a little more with what turned into mush the moment it thawed out! I learned two important lessons that winter (actually three); one, still standing doesn’t equal burnable; two, start collecting all of your wood for the winter as soon as the snow melts, split and stack it as you cut it; three, my wood stove can also burn coal and it saved my butt!

    You seem to have a good head on your shoulders, you’ll do fine. Stick to it and keep living the good life (even though its never easy–just rewarding).

  3. try pics. your posts really would pop with them, otherwise rather dull. your are communing with nature – try to convey that with word = dull; use pics = fun. funemployed? work, dude!

  4. Is your software project contracting work or a personal project? Just curious… seems like an ideal setup for off grid live/work with that little wireless hub up and running (minus the balance issues you mentioned).

    • It’s a personal project, but in some ways, it’s an experiment to see whether I’d want to do paid programming work up here, and I’m generally assessing this whole “internet” thang.

  5. Ryo—
    I don’t find what you are writing about dull. It is subtle but the action is there. Keep up the good work. Self awareness is hard work. Thank you.

  6. You should bury your potatoes and other root vegetables. Not a big root celler just a hole in the ground. You can put the potatoes, carrots and rutabagas in seperate burlap sacks in a hole and put a foot of straw/hay in on top of them and cover with a few inches to a foot of dirt. That way you can leave them for a week or a month when you aren’t there or even when you are. Break into the stash as needed but take out a few days supply to minimize your effort to once or twice a week. If you have ground digging rodents/pests put a five gallon bucket in the hole and put the lid loosely in place with a large rock or other weight on top before putting the straw over it.

  7. It’s very interesting to read your blog. Up here (Eastern Canada) we don’t exactly associate “California” with wood-stoves and snow, so it’s nice to be able to drill down to a local scale without leaving home, so to speak 🙂 Have you considered those dehydrated hash-browns as a backup potato source? See They likely have a better shelf life, and don’t take up much space.

    • I did consider a wind turbine, but decided that they aren’t cost effective. The cheaper ones need 25mph+ winds, which I only get once in a long while. More expensive ones work with less wind, but the same cost solar panels would generate more power more consistently.

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