Status Of Off Grid Homestead After Winter Trip
We left our off grid homestead for a few days just after the first of January. Leaving your home in winter is always worrisome but when off the grid you have a lot more to take care of before you leave. And you never know what you will find when you return.
January is cold out here in our area so when we leave the homestead we have to make sure that all the animals will be properly cared for first of all. The tiny house on wheels must be heated to prevent freezing. Since we heat primarily with a wood stove this means that we need some sort of standby heat. We have a thermostat controlled propane heater which keeps the tiny home warm when we are gone.
The cats are easy to take care of. Fresh water, food and litter is all they need and they are fine up to a week away. When we are gone though we must put out an extra litter box and extra water and food. A friend was checking on the animals every second day though to be sure that all was well with them.
The chickens and goats require more care though. You have to be sure that they get food and water daily. But the water freezes all the time. So either you have someone who can watch over them or you just do not leave in winter.
Our friend kept rotating fresh water out to the animals. As one container froze, he swapped it out for fresh water and thawed out the first.
There has not been much sunlight on the solar panels when we were away but that is not really a problem since we did not use anything. We just have a couple items that are always powered up when we are gone. Otherwise the batteries are just fine.
We had prepared for this trip in advance by disconnecting all of our rain water collection system and opening the valves to the water pump, water heater and the plumbing. This lets out the water so that the lines do not freeze. Our rain water storage tanks are in a shed beside the tiny house and is heated by a wood stove when we are home. We do not yet have a standby heater for the shed so for now we had to let the water supply go when we left.
The greenhouse is heated by both the sun and a wood stove water boiler system which I recently built. The wood stove heats up two tanks of water which give off heat through the night. When the wood stove is run for a few hours in a day all is well and the greenhouse has not yet frozen on even the coldest of nights. There is also a small propane heater for extreme cold situations which helps during the night when the wood stove goes out.
When we got back to the off grid homestead the first thing I checked were the animals. They were all fine. Next was the solar panels and battery bank. Also good. Then I went out to the greenhouse to see the status of our food, fish and herbs. All dead. The greenhouse was left to freeze during the cold nights when we were gone.
Our friend was supposed to maintain the wood stove at least a few hours a day to prevent the lines from freezing. The propane heater helps during the night. Its a total loss. It was all left to freeze over. The plants are all dead and the fish are mostly all dead with about an inch of ice on the top of the water tank. There was some fish food which had been tossed onto the top of the ice, which did not help anything.
I am very sad. The greenhouse was a huge experiment to see if we could keep food growing all winter out here. So far I had it going well. We had salad, some vegetables and many herbs growing happily out there. Even peas were giving us some food. Now its all dead. We had a fish tank with many fish for an aquaponics system which are also dead and under thick ice.
The heating system was frozen over as well. But fortunately nothing seems to be damaged from the freeze yet.
I immediately put the propane heater on the wood stove boiler to prevent damage to the antique wood stove due to freezing the boiler tank.
Inside the off grid tiny house on wheels I got the wood stove going again and slowly started to heat the place back up. Since we had the stove burning hotter than normal, I put on a dutch oven with some chicken and vegetables. I had picked up a whole chicken in the morning while grocery shopping and wanted to cook it for my wife Melanie over the wood stove.
I put in some rice on the bottom. Some potatoes from our own garden. Some carrots, onions and garlic went into the pot. Then the whole chicken went in with some Italian seasoning rub. We also put in some fresh herbs which we grow ourselves in the kitchen window.
Six hours later we had a very fine meal which Melanie truly loved.
We received a package in the mail today containing a book about making things using pallet wood. This is perfect for us since we are starting a business making recycled pallet wood products. We are constantly looking for more ideas for recycling pallet wood. You can find our website here:Recycled Pallet Products.com
You can watch the video of today's work here: Return To The Off Grid Homestead ~ Sadness ~ Wood Stove Cooking
While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.
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