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Category: Off-Grid

Trials, travails, joys, and learning experiences of living with homemade utilities

A county’s all-out war on the little guy

… and on private property. Though I’m trying to move the blog away from knee-jerk reporting of Bad Government News, when S. sent this, I realized it said as much about the resilience of the victims and the obvious fear “their” government feels toward them (armored teams for code violations?) as it says bout the outrageousness of L.A. County bureaucracy. So read it and weep: “A County’s Private Property War.” You desert rats might want to take special notice.



Back from the Mother Earth News Fair. It was a huge, fantastic event. If Mother throws one of these anywhere near you, you might consider attending even if you have to travel quite a way. I was also fortunate enough to connect with several delightful “friends I’ve never met” and to enjoy my time with Dave and Ilene; this is the first time I’ve met them despite all my years of writing for BHM, and they are great people. I’ll have tales (and tails!) from the fair later this week (and will also continue blogging “Middle-class shrugging”). But for your…


Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat (a book review)

Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution By M.D. Creekmore Available from Paladin Press Available from $12.00, 79 pages, 2011 While many would-be survivalists were waiting to win the lottery or planning to discreetly bump off a rich uncle to build their Ultimate Survival Retreat in Idaho (complete with underground bunkers, escape tunnels, a decade’s supply of dried lentils, and customized Super Whizz-Whacker 3000 rifles at every lead-shuttered portal) … a handful of authors have been telling us how to do it another way: cheap. First came Brian Kelling with his Travel-Trailer Homesteading Under $5,000 Then along came Phil Garlington…


Yep, I’ll be there

I can now confirm that the rumors are true. The rumors aren’t as exciting as the ones about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child or even the ones about Botox Mom. But they are true. I’ll be with the Backwoods Home gang at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, on the weekend of June 4 & 5. I’ll be there signing copies of Hardyville Tales and (if the Duffys permit) taking orders for any and all of my books from other publishers. (I can also take advance orders and hand your autographed copies to you at the fair.) The event…



Let me tell you about the people in this high desert gulch — and the people connected to it, though they may be far away. Neighbor M. needed the footer space dug for some retaining walls. Though M. is a tireless worker, this was clearly a job for a backhoe, not muscles. Neighbor Joel also needed backhoe work for the septic system on his Secret Lair. Without a word to Joel, M. arranged to have both jobs done at his own expense last Saturday. The work was done by our neighbor L. If you read Joel’s blog, you’ve heard about…



Today in 1943, “pay-as-you-go” income-tax withholding began. (Oh thank you, Milton Friedman.) Today in 2004, Marlon Brando died, age 80. There was probably no connection between the two, but I have friends who could spin conspiracies proving me wrong. Today is also the day the Battle of Gettysburg began (1863). I had a Confederate cavalry re-enactor friend who, with his comrades, almost won that battle once. It was very embarrassing for the event organizers. Not to mention the Union troops. —– The wind has been howling more than usual lately. Making me crazy. Makes me dream of northwest forests. But…


A confession

… and some more miscellany. The confession The astute among you who’ve followed my links to Joel Simon’s blog, The Ultimate Answer to Kings, have noticed, shall we say, a few similarities between Joel’s life and mine. I think it’s time to reveal the secret. No, I am not Joel Simon. I have more hair and I’d look just awful in that beard, not to mention that Jayne Cobb cunning hat. But I am the neighbor Joel refers to as W. or Uncle W. — and I suspect his attempt to turn me into a person of the male persuasion…


Encounter with an outlaw

Got this note last night from my beloved former veterinarian up in the Pacific Northwest: I thought this may make you smile. I had a visit … from an outlaw last night. Someone left a note attached to a $100.00 bill shoved in the front door of the clinic. The note said, “I had some extra cash while passing through, please use it to care for an animal in need.” It was signed “Colton Harris-Moore AKA the barefoot bandit.” [My receptionist] found it and was busy trying to figure out which client left it when I came in. After reading…


High-wind warnings

This is my first full spring in the desert and I’m not loving it. I knew, from word and brief visits, that it could be windy here in springtime. “Heck, it’s windy anywhere that time of year,” I thought. But wind here is something cosmic — even worse at times than the howling gales that are part of Wyoming’s very identity. We’re under high-wind warnings two to three days a week right now. And that’s not to say that the other days are calm. Merely that they’re windy enough to be annoying and to make havoc of both your housecleaning…


Writer in the treetops/419 revisited

Two quick things: 1. In England a broke & jobless writer takes to the trees in an experiment in low-cost, low-impact self sufficiency. Very creative. 2. I think Joel “did” 419 better than I: “It’s Interesting Times Day!” And a third: 3. Radley Balko also does today proud.

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