In the Green

Living out in the woods has, at least temporarily, increased our consumption of fossil fuel in our attempt to get off the grid. Or at least reduce our connections to the grid.

The nearest convenience store/gas station is about two and a half miles away. We have a Country Boy supermarket about four and a half miles away, right down the street from a Dollar General and a Sonic Drive In. Anything else is a minimum fifteen miles away. Except casinos. We have ready access to casinos.

We got moved in too late in the spring to get a garden started. There is no existing garden plot, so it would take some investigation and planning to stake out the right spot. We wouldn't want to put raised beds over the septic tank. Or on the site of an old nuclear waste dump.

Since the place hadn't been occupied for several years, there was a lot of mowing and brush clearing to do, just to get our immediate surroundings in workable shape. Out of nearly five acres, we only mow about a third of an acre, but that is a lot. Especially since it is all hillside.

Fortunately, the double-wide "manufactured home" was in good shape, repaired and kept clean, but the woods had been through several heavy ice storms, wind storms and the edge of a tornado since the last people lived here. There are downed tree limbs everywhere. And a few entire trees.

The place was also without a dog yard. Given our wealth of little dogs, we needed a fence. That became a priority.

The outbuildings, a storage barn and a large pump house, were in rough shape. We painted them both with red barn paint and finished out the inside of the pump house with leftover insulation, pieces of Sheetrock and odd pieces of plywood accumulated over half a life-time of home ownership. Then we painted the inside of the pump house making it seem brighter and cleaner.

It's a fairly safe bet that none of this would have been accomplished without a chainsaw, a mower, a riding mower, a post hole auger, a chipper/shredder and lots of round trips to town with the old pickup truck pulling a flatbed trailer. By next spring we hope to have minimized the trips to town and reduced the need for the other gas power tools, but we'll see. Some small solar units are on our wish list. With solar-powered LED lighting we could at least reduce that part of the electricity we take from the grid.

There are a few rough spots in transitioning to this new life, but the tranquility more than makes up for it.

--Stephen P.


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