Archive for December, 2015
I am now living on 56 acres of land surrounded by untouched forest on three sides and beautiful meadows on the other. I am about a mile from the last paved road. I have purchased this land with no banks, no credit checks, no interest and no money down. This is possible though a Land Contract.
It all started about four years ago when I was running an antique shop. I was working for a house cleanout business in New York City for free and got to keep all the antiques I could carry. I had an antique shop where I sold the stuff. I was living in a beautiful Colonial home shared with 4 other people. It was a good life.
Hurricane Irene changed my life forever. The hurricane buried the antique shop under 5 feet of flood waters. Not only this but it was mixed in with raw sewage from the town. There was nothing salvageable at all. The flooding even damaged the house I was staying in, causing mold and mildew damage. This caused us all health problems. I could no longer afford the place anyway so I packed my belongings.
I was looking for a place to park my slide in truck camper to live in for a while until I got back on my feet again. I was also looking for a trailer to haul my stuff with.
I found a trailer and went to see it. This is when I found the land that I love so much. It was a beautiful chunk of land with a total of 96 acres from two combined properties. I asked if I could stay there in my camper but they said they had a room in the house I could rent so I moved in.
The Off Grid Homestead
I stayed in the house for quite a while while I got a new job and got back on my feet again. I also got a free 32 foot camper which was in bad shape but I was repairing it for The Off Grid Project. This was going to be a series of projects and experiments in off grid living, survival and self sufficiency.
A friend of mine convinced me to move into his apartment on another nice property with fishing ponds and much hunting land. I moved in. This lasted about six months though before I lost my job. I was making videos out back in the camper and my landlord figured I was going to be rich on that so he doubled my rent. He said pay or get out.
I moved my camper back to the 56 acre property which was empty and unused. I moved into the camper in the middle of a blizzard and started making videos full time. This was now my job. I was not going back on the grid and not going to work for others anymore. I was tired of working to pay for gas in the car to go to work.
It has been three years now and as of a few months ago I am a land owner. It took us about a year to work out the terms of the land contract. I could not go through banks because I had no credit and no credit cards. I grew up believing cash was king and showed that you were responsible. Things changed since then.
We used a lawyer to work out the legal details of the Land Contract to ensure it was binding and safe for both parties.
When we finally had the contract worked out to the satisfaction of everyone, we took it into a Notary to be signed in front of them and stamped and notarized. This made it an official and binding contract.
I make monthly payments for the land now just as you would pay a mortgage. But I have no banks or interest to deal with. According to New York State law, I have all the rights of a home owner on this land.
If you are looking for a place to move your tiny house or wanting to start a homestead, here is my advice:
Look for older couples with land and ask around. Many older families have lots of unused land and could use the extra funds. You can either rent some land long term, short term or buy. I rented for a while until I could afford to buy the land
But once you find a place to live, first check with the local town hall to make sure that everything you have planned is legal. Many towns have ordinances to regulate how and where you can life.
When you have that cleared up then you can live safely on your new homestead.
You may even be able to trade work or food from your homestead for payments. I was able to work off part of my rent for an hourly wage when I first started out.
You can watch my full video here: How I Got My Off Grid Land With No Credit & No Banks
While you are there, please Subscribe and follow my daily videos on YouTube.
I have been trying a lot of different freeze dried foods in the last couple years trying to find the best long term shelf life food for emergency and survival. What I have learned for one thing is that there is a lot of confusion out there about what is the best food and who has the best deal out there.
I have found that Valley Food Storage has natural food with no GMO ingredients, no preservatives, and no chemicals or fillers. They even use sea salt in their food instead of the cheap stuff. Their food has nothing but food in the packages. I am happy and impressed with this. I have always had a bad feeling about eating all the chemical filled junk out there that is packaged as shelf stable survival food.
One more thing I like about the company is that they have a monthly food plan. You select either $50 or $99 a month and each month they send you a package of shelf stable but natural food for you to put away for emergency. There is no thinking involved and you never forget to get your monthly rations. I am strongly considering going on the $50 monthly food plan myself in order to stock up on survival foods for the future.
Stocking up is like an insurance plan for your family. Most families have home owners insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and many other forms of insurance. But not many people consider protection for their family in case of loss of home, natural disaster or loss of income. Having lost my job a few times through the years, I am happy that I always had food put away for the hard times.
Going through a couple hurricanes and being snowed in during multiple blizzards each year also teaches one to be prepared for anything at any time. If you ever go through one of these situations, you will certainly consider stocking up for the future. Each time there is a blizzard, I enjoy getting out just to see the people swamping the stores and stripping the shelves bare just before the storm hits.
The meals from Valley Food Storage are not only healthy in comparison to most freeze dried shelf stable meals but they also taste good. I have been sampling their products for a while now in order to get a good idea about the quality of the food. I have to say that I also feel good about eating their food. I do not get that guilty feeling when eating one of their meals because there are no chemicals in them.
I will be fully reviewing their products in detail soon but I wanted to get the word out there for now. Winter is upon us and the blizzard season is here. Storms hit and disaster can strike. I hope to spread the word and see that people are stocking up on food and being prepared for emergency.
You can watch the video here: Insurance For Your Family ~ Healthy Long Term Food Storage
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Well, the big day is finally here, and I am beginning demolition on my camper so that I can use it as the frame for my tiny house on wheels. I have been looking forward to this project for a while now, so it feels so good to have started. Before I know it, I will be the proud owner of a tiny house, and even better, it will be on wheels so that I can move it around if I want to! How many people can say that about their homes?
I started by removing all the windows, doors and fixtures. I will sort the metals, and I am pulling out the windows whole. Although it would be easier to just knock them out of the frame, I am taking the windows out whole so that I can put them up on Craigslist. Hopefully I will get a little bit of cash for them, which I will use for whatever parts I need for the tiny home on wheels.
Taking the windows out was a challenge that was no match for my tenacity. Sure, they were held in place by a million screws, and enough sealant to make the trailer seaworthy, but I stuck to it and got them out. It took a while but I kept at it, one window and a time, and the next thing I knew, they were all out! It was only the first step, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step.
Getting the door off was the next step in my journey. But it came out fairly easily, probably because some of the old wood holding the door in place was all rotted. I had installed some new framing to hold the door in., but the entire original frame was in sorry shape. It would literally crumble in my hands and turn to dust!
Further along in the demolition, I got to the side of the trailer that I was holding together with aluminum tape! I used to live in this trailer, and I had to smile at the thought of calling a place, held together with tape, home. It has been quite a journey, and I plan on making the tiny house on wheels much more sturdy. Actually, I have to confess that the poor shape of the trailer made the demolition so much easier because I could literally pull the place apart.
The heat of the day made the work a bit tiring. It is amazing just how energy zapping heat is. But, I have a simple but effective solution for that. Every now and again, I would step inside to cool off. It might not be an elegant solution, but it is one that works. Inside, I have the windows covered with insulating blankets over them. This allows me to run my air conditioner and be certain that I have done my very best to prevent the cool air from escaping. When the sun is shining on my solar panels I am easily able to run my air conditioner. However, once the sun clears the meadow, or if it is an overcast day, I don’t get enough energy to power the air conditioner. That is okay, though, because I have a generator that fills in when the sun takes a break on me.
Watch the full video here: Camper Demolition Begins For My Tiny Home Frame
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I have been trying out this cool compact folding camping cot that I got from TomTop online. This cot packs into a small package which you can take hiking or camping but folds out into a full sized cot that can hold up to 400 pounds.
This is a very light weight camping cot, weighing only about 2.5 pounds. It packs down to about 16 inches by 4 inches round when packed into its carrying pouch. But it folds out into a nice sized 71 inch by 23 inch bed when put together. This camping bed is convenient for camping, hiking, backpacking, or for use as a guest bed in your home.
I will be keeping this camping cot in my survival bug out Jeep for outings and survival trips. But when guests come over to the tiny house on wheels, I will be able to whip out this little camping cot and put it together. It is very comfortable. It is actually the most comfortable camping cot I have ever slept on due to the independent suspension of the round plastic feet and the spring like aluminum frame supports. Each little round plastic wheel mashes down under your weight, providing a very comfortable platform to sleep on.
The manufacturers gave this camping bed a lot of thought when they designed it because everything packs neatly together when stored. The plastic feet all snap together to give you a rigid frame to stash everything in to. The support rods pack inside the plastic feet and the nylon bed top folds up inside as well.
The folding camping cot assembles in minutes with ease once you did it the first time. It comes apart just as easily. But this camping cot goes together way easier than the military cots I used when I was in the Army. That was no easy task. This is also way more comfortable than those old cots were.
I wanted to give you a fair and honest review so I tested this cot for quite a while now. I set it up and left it together in my tiny house for a few weeks to see if the threads and stitching would hold up to the stress. I am very surprised and impressed that it held up very well. There are no signs of stretching or tearing in the threads or the high pressure points.
This ultralight camping cot was also stressed by my two cats running all over it day and night. I left it assembled and moved it around from upstairs to downstairs during this period. The cats ran on it, played on it and slept on it. The folding camping cot shows absolutely no signs of wear and no punctures.
I slept on the camping cot as well during the testing period. I can honestly tell you that it is one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on. Granted, I have not had a proper bed in many years and generally use camping type beds or mattresses. But this camping cot is very comfortable. It is certainly more comfortable than any other cot I have ever tried and I have tried many in my years.
I would highly recommend this ultralight folding camping cot for use in camping, hiking or survival. As I said, it serves nicely as a guest bed as well when you do not have a lot of storage space. For small apartments this is perfect because you can simply stash it in the closet or a drawer when not in use. For car camping you toss it in the trunk and it barely takes up any space at all. It is actually smaller than a compressed sleeping bag when packed away in its carrying pouch.
Thank you TomTop for another fine product.
You can get yours here: Super Light Outdoor Camping Folding Bed
Watch my full video review here: Ultra Light Compact Folding Camping Cot ~ Packs In Your Backpack
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Here is an update of the off grid tiny house on wheels that I am building. I have been using mostly recycled materials to build my off grid tiny home in order to keep the costs down.
Many of you have followed my YouTube videos for the past three years and remember the day I moved into the leaky, freezing camper in the middle of a blizzard. I had no heat and no power. I woke up each morning to frozen water.
I have come a long way since then.
Now I live in a tiny house on wheels that I am building myself. The framing, insulation, roof and floor were new materials but all the rest was recycled. I had friends help me with the framing and roofing because this was hard work. Since then I have worked mostly alone the past year on my tiny house. I used new materials in the framing because I wanted a tiny home that would last a long time and hold up to the harsh northern winters and winds out here.
Everything else from the exterior sheathing to the inside paneling was recycled. I got the sheathing and lumber for the inside paneling from an old abandoned lumber yard. The wood was sitting outside in the weather for ten years untouched until a company bought the property. They had to get the materials out of there for insurance reasons. I did the job for free in order to get the wood and some metal framing for my wind turbines.
When I got home I thought I had wasted my time because the 2×4 lumber was rotted and ugly. Useless I thought. But when I cut one open to use it as a 2×2 I discovered the most beautiful wood I have ever seen. The wood had been outside in the elements all this time. Inside it turned a beautiful pink salmon color.
Using a table saw I got for free I cut the lumber into strips that I used as paneling in my tiny home. I used natural mineral oil as a protective coating on the wood. I put about three coats of oil on all surfaces with a rag.
The walls in my tiny house are quite thick. I used rockwool insulation which is moisture resistant, bug and mouse resistant. Then I have an air gap. Next comes a sheet of radiant foil. This radiates heat back into the home, not allowing it to escape to the outside. Next I have another air space. Then a piece of pink paper as a backing to the paneling. Next comes the paneling.
Outside I have 6 ply 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood followed by tar paper. Later I will have pallet wood siding on the outside as well.
The floor was made with simple plywood underlayment coated with shellac. The shellac has protected my tiny house floor for a year now. I have had many guests and visitors during this time and the floor has held up very well. Later I will cover it with hardwood pallet flooring.
I built the entire kitchen using all recycled pallet wood and shipping crates. The cabinets, counter tops, under the sink areas and the walls are all built using free materials. The pantry under the stairway is also made using all free recycled materials. Even the kitchen sink and 4 burner stove was recycled. The kitchen is 12 feet long. Literally half the length of the tiny home. I cannot work in a cramped kitchen so I wanted a full sized kitchen. After living in campers and tiny apartments for many years I wanted space to work. If my kitchen is too small I get lazy and just eat canned foods or junk. With a full kitchen I can prepare nice meals. I also preserve my own foods and need the space to work in. The layout was also planned to be able to allow multiple people to work in the kitchen at one time because I often have guests from church or friends over.
The bathroom is fully built using recycled materials from the pallet wood walls to the sink and even the fixtures. The light, toilet paper holder and towel holder were all free. The composting toilet is from Airhead Composting Toilets and has served me very well during the past year. It uses no water and nearly no energy. It uses nature to compost your waste with nearly no smell. The only smell you get is an earthy smell of decay if you put your nose near it. A little fan draws fresh air into the composting chamber and pushes it outside, pulling the excess moisture with it. The shower is from Durastall and was a complete kit including the curtain and shower head.
Upstairs I have two lofts in my tiny home. You can walk through bent over on the high side just fine. I have a study and a bedroom. Both are about 10 x 5 feet in size. There is a long catwalk connecting the two. Dead center under the catwalk is an old barnwood post that supports the weight and just looks good. I have my cast iron pots and pans hanging on the barn wood post using old barn nails as hooks.
The two lofts are not yet finished. I have spent all my time downstairs because I often serve guests in my tiny house on wheels.
The living room is cozy and roomy and about 10 x 12 feet in size. I built my tiny house a bit wider than most so that I can serve guests. I was tired of cramped and narrow spaces of campers and RVs. My tiny home is 10 x 24 feet. I cannot tow it myself but I have a nearby company who will tow it for me if I ever need to move it so that is fine with me. I own the land here now so I do not plan to be moving around anymore.
I got the table and couch for free from the internet. Both have served many guests already. When I have church meetings in my tiny house, I put down the leaves of the table and push it against the wall. For meals, I put up the leaves and put the table in the middle of the living room. Then I can put up to 10 people around the table comfortably.
I have some barn wood shelving in my living room. I got an entire barn dumped at my place for free last year and I am using the wood to build my tiny house. The old barn wood is very valuable, fine grained and beautiful.
Upstairs on the cat walk I have a long set of shelving made of old barn wood. Next to that I have a closet for my clothes that I build using shipping crates from a small engine shop.
Even the doors and windows are recycled and were picked up for free. I bought the two upstairs windows and the bathroom window for about $70 each but all the rest were free.
Due to the thickness of the walls and the radiant barrier, my tiny home is easy to heat. I use about 1.5 cubic feet of fire wood per 24 hours to keep the tiny house warm on even the coldest of winter nights. My wood stove was also second hand and serves me very well. It is very efficient. I originally used plain black stove pipe last year but it was very hot and required a heat shield. It also radiated all the heat into the house but the inside temperature of the pipe was too cool so creosote built up badly. This year I replaced the black pipe with shiny new stainless steel triple walled, insulated stove pipe. This reduces the temperature in the tiny house a bit and increases the internal stove pipe temperature to safer levels. Creosote buildup can lead to dangerous chimney fires. Last winter the tiny house was ranging around 100 degrees even with windows open. This year I am keeping it around 70 – 80 degrees. I almost always have some windows open though to let the excess heat out. But I prefer this to freezing like I did three years ago in that old rotting camper.
You can see the full video here: Tiny House On Wheels Overview & Update So Far
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