Off The Grid

Living off the Grid on a west coast island

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boss around here

All of you who were concerned (no one) that we were about to blow ourselves up with the published setup for the new water boiler, don’t need to worry anymore. I posted pictures too early. The boiler must be higher than the coil in the wood stove or the natural cooling mechanism can’t take place and the boiler will over heat.(Science, who knew?)

We know the boiler has to be higher than the coil, well at least E knew. He has constructed a box which can carry the weight of the full boiler and covered it with tile. The box with the boiler on top of it will sit next to the stove.  I thought we were done and posted pictures… my bad.. Sorry.

Tomorrow, when the grout has dried on the box, I will take a proper picture with the complete set up so that you can be reassured that we aren’t going to blow up.

After the tiling was done and between the rain showers we went to buck up a load of wood. We filled the pick up truck, just the once as E’s back could only take so much chainsawing… We have found the secret to successfully handling the physical work on this island is moderation. Overdoing and screwing up our backs can set us back weeks.

The dogs are getting along a lot better these day.. I’m not sure if the neutering has finally had an effect on Pipers anger issues or if our strict four on the floor policy (never allowed on the furniture) has taught him who is the

boss around here.







or two off

E went under the house to plumb the water boiler into the system and remembered we had procrastinated putting the insulation under the flooring of the new room. He couldn’t ignore it any longer so spent the last several days on his back in a 36 inch space stuffing insulation between the floorboards and then screwing sheets of plywood over top. Although it was dry under there it was a miserable, miserable job. He ran out of insulation so will need another day to finish up.

He also plumbed the water boiler which we bought from a scrap yard, into the house system. As of last night we have free hot water. We have turned the on demand hot water heater off for the winter and our propane usage will be confined to the stove , BBQ and fire pit.

Propane costs

2012             $580.00 (7 months delivered)

2013             $840.00 (delivered)

2014             $570.00

2015             $760.00

2016             $590.00

2017             ?? (I can’t find my total but we installed the solar fridge in October)

2018             $200.00  (added a propane fire pit)



We are expecting high winds along with 15 mm of rain tomorrow. The two 500 gallon water tanks down at the garden are full so we can now concentrate on filling the main ones. It is cold and sunny today with calm seas so E has made a quick dash to town to pick up insulation and a few groceries. A trip made so much easier by our recent return to moorage at the closer marina

We plan to hunker down and ignore the bad weather. When E finishes the insulation project, I should think he could take a day or two off

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E’s back happy

As promised, today we measured our water accumulation after completing one month with a fully functioning rain water catchment system and it’s requisite rain. This month we had the family for Thanksgiving, we have showered and bathed as we felt, we have washed dishes when they were dirty and our clothes when we wanted. We have used water willy nilly without any care or regard just to see how much we could use if we weren’t worrying about it.  The results are in.

We began October with 2100 gallons of water in the tanks. We have used an average of 42 gallons per day with a total consumption in October of 1286 gallons. This morning our tanks are sitting at 4000 gallons. Drum roll please…. We caught 3186 gallons in the month! This week we will move some of that water down to the two 500 gallon tanks in the garden, close them up and forget about them til the summer. I should think we will have no problem filling all of the tanks (8500 gallons)  by the end of November. Won’t that be a great position to be in….

In addition to a guest room and a deck, the big objective for the reno was to perfect the systems. Living off grid it is all about systems and while we wanted to take advantage of  what nature provides for free (the sun and rain),  we need it to be simple. The new systems weren’t cheap but if we live here long enough, keeping in mind that I am very very (very) young, the new systems should pay off when we track the benefits in our propane bills.

I had been telling you about the sealions feeding at the cut when the fish are coming thru. I don’t remember if I ever showed you this video, it was a while ago, but you can see why the sea lions and seals hang around here. This is a sea lion swimming under the water with the fish trying to get away.

E strained his back last week chainsawing logs and is currently walking like his Grandmother used to do… We have taken the last couple of days off. This reminds me of another benefit of reduced propane usage.. E’s back hates carrying propane onto the island so we work to avoid the need for propane at all costs. We both want to keep

E’s back happy




keeping a secret

The objective of the game played on the nature channel which I tuned to in front of our house today, is twofold. The first objective is multi faceted. The animals need to find their food and eat that food before someone else gets it. The second objective and certainly the most important for the fish, is to eat their food before becoming someone else’s breakfast.

Other than constructing a second bedroom for guests, the main reason for the renovation was to provide me photo access to the winter activities at the cut. When the summer crowds are gone and the jets skis a distant horrible dream, the waters become still and the wildlife reveal themselves. With my new deck I have ample opportunity to watch the goings on.

This morning I could hear the sea gulls excitedly screaming. There was a sea-lion feeding just in front of the deck.  I’m guessing like me, he doesn’t like his breakfast wiggling as it goes down his throat. He will throw the fish in the air or slap it on the water to stun it into a more appetizing  food. But while the fish is soaring through the air it becomes easily accessible to clever birds. The eagle and sea gulls were circling the sea-lion just waiting for their chance.

The picture I am still waiting to take is of the eagle grabbing a fish right from the sea lions mouth.  I was close once, but it remains elusive. Today, I will have to be satisfied with the seagull snatching breakfast from the sea lion.

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As I see it, the  primary objective for the seagull is to have someone else find their food for them. They always let me know if there are whales or sea lions anywhere nearby as they are completely incapable of

keeping a secret

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Got his dinner

Grandma called them collywobbles. Truth is, I never actually heard her say the word collywobbles and I can’t imagine a situation where Grandma would need to talk about some fellows bits and felt the need to use a word like collywobbles. But Mom always maintained that she picked up the term from Grandma. Whatever you call them, Piper doesn’t have his any more.

I was quilting today. Mostly unfinished projects which won’t amount to anything but let me practice on the new sewing machine til I feel confident enough to sew some clothes for my granddaughter.

E is in the process of installing the brass water tank. There was a delay as he had to run to town to get some missing parts. He also bought some Brasso to try to clean the filthy tank enough to bring it inside. Let me tell you, Brasso is useless. So I went to Pinterest, as you do, and got a recipe.. One part flour, two parts salt and three parts vinegar. Look at the difference.

The Juvie eagle was guarding the cut today. I feel I haven’t been supplying you with enough nature channel pictures lately so while we wait for the sea lions and whales here is the eagle in front of our house.

I am home babysitting dogs while E went out to enjoy a big dinner with friends. Someone had to make sure Piper

got his dinner.



the damn thing

On my winters schedule of events, it is time for me to sew my squares for the island raffle quilt. When we moved here I bought a $50.00,  fifty year old sewing machine off Craigs list.. It goes forward very reliably… Nothing else.

I decided that I would like to explore sewing a little further now that the reno is kind of done and I have a granddaughter to sew for…. I ordered a new fangled machine off of Amazon and my friend picked it up for me yesterday…. It has a lot of bells and even more whistles… Computerized everything….

I spent the last day sitting in front of it waiting for it to sew my squares… It seems my involvement is expected to be more than the purchase and placement of the machine in front of a window with a view. The set up is ideal. I can’t imagine what else the machine needs from me.

E wanted a break from hammering shakes on the side of the house. Last winter our son chopped down a tree on the cliff behind the vegetable garden. It was close to falling on the apple trees in the next heavy wind. With the weather forecast to turn to rain soon, it seemed like the last opportunity for dry weather, to climb up the mossy rocks and harvest the fire wood. He likes chainsaw work but it takes its toll on his back… One or two days at a time is all that he can do without suffering… But the job is done and ticked off the to do list. Best of all, he is still standing straight.

As it turns out, if your plane to Vegas has the auto pilot function on the control panel, it still needs someone trained sitting in the Captains chair. Similarly, just because one can drive a Porsche doesn’t mean they can parallel park. These same truths retain their validity in front of a computerized sewing machine. The machine still requires someone mildly competent to run

the damn thing


Beneath the soil

Traditionally my garlic is planted by the light of the October full moon. Preferably, yet rarely it is planted while naked. Stories are told of the health benefits of eating nakedly planted garlic but they remain unproven, by me.

The rains are supposed to start on Monday so I felt the risk to plant my wee cloves early was less than the unpleasantness of planting them in the mud.

I planted three different types. There are twenty-two cloves of Metechi, a hot strong spicy vigorous grower. Forty of German White, great for roasting and stores well. Twenty nine of Duganski, a strong, fiery flavour with a rich garlic after taste. Ninety one in all. I got carried away at the nursery…

There is much discussion on the island as to which side of ones house is the front and which is the back. Is the front where you enter? Or is the front the side facing the water?E is working on the shingles and framing around the windows at the back of the house, or is it the front of the house. He is working on the rock side. Today we can call it the back.

I can’t show you a picture yet because it is definitely more than a one day job. It is very finicky work cutting the shingles around the edges. So instead, I will show you a picture of my pretty garlic all ready to be pushed

beneath the soil