Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On water

Water is important. You can live for weeks without food but not even days without water. If I'm going to be able to live at camp long term I'll need clean water. Even if I can find sufficient food if I can't find water I'm doomed.

Fortunately we've got a pond, even in the worst of droughts we've got water. I've seen the pond down several feet but never dry. Unfortunately we've also got beavers. Beavers are an issue because they carry giardia, a little parasite thats no fun at all.

An ideal way around this would be to sink a well, it'd be awesome to sink a well right next to the camp and have a pump inside but that would run into serious money so it ain't happening. Instead I'll need a filter.

At home we've got a Multi-pure filter, ours sits under the sink and is pretty terrific. I could rig up a similar system but I'd need so way to feed the filter which would be a pain. Enter the Berkey filter, its a canister filter, pour questionable water in the top get clean water out the tap at the bottom. I like the stainless steel construction and the replaceable filters and they're priced reasonably. There are other systems that use plastic buckets for "emergency water filtering" but I feel like the Berkey is a much more significant unit and if/when I make this great experiment thats probably what I'll get.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crazy ideas

Do you ever get crazy ideas? I get 'em pretty frequently, some are dumb, some are just crazy, some are dumb and crazy...
Lately I've been thinking about how much I'd love to have a job that worked on my schedule in my location. The only thing I could really do that meets that is to be a writer. I've thought about that for years and years but of course its a difficult gig to break into.

A couple months ago I read "Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream" by William Powers. Powers is a kind of greenie weenie activist. Honestly he's kind of a dork and I didn't really like the book that much (want it? Just ask, I've got loads of books that need good homes) but it got me thinking about my own remote cabin off the grid. Our camp is actually quite a bit bigger than Powers' (its not actually his, he borrowed but you get the idea) cabin, we've got a 16x24' main camp and 10x12' bunkhouse but they're similar in that we've got no electricity or running water. I've also read "Into The Wild" by John Krakauer which is a very good book telling the story of Chris McCandless and his adventure and untimely death in Alaska. Together they've gotten me thinking about attempting a long term stay at camp, a sort of "Walden Pond" for the 21st century.

How long? I'm thinking 6 months, mid-April through mid-November. With me I'd bring rice and beans and some other basic staples with the idea of becoming basically self sufficient by July. Self sufficient means no added inputs in fuel or food, I'd survive on what I brought and what I could find/grow. In support of this future idea (and to attract wildlife) this spring I planted what is essentially a big garden of corn. This was an important first step since most of our fields haven't been planted in a decade or more and the sod was TOUGH to break through. It'll be a big help to have a section of garden already started. I'll still need to do a lot of wild gathering as it'll take time for the garden to produce a significant amount of food.

Since we're off grid theres no electricity and since we use propane for cooking and light I'll need to be stingy with it, I also won't be using it for showers, fortunately we've already got a solar shower I can use. I'll supplement with a jug of kerosene (I have a kerosene stove I haven't yet written about here) and another of white gas. Finally we've got loads of dead trees and live spruce trees are usually loaded with dead branches so I'll have to set up a fire pit and do a lot of my cooking (especially for rice and beans) over a wood fire.

Anyway crazy right? I've got a mortgage that needs keeping up with, I'd need considerable financial buffer to make this idea work but the idea sticks with me. Over the next couple years expect to see me working on the skills that will be required to make it work. I'll mark posts related to the idea as "homesteading" because thats really what I'm talking about...