February 2017

Our Greatest Winter Challenges 1st Months Off-grid

The long-time locals told us that our first winter on the off-grid homestead was the worst winter for snow accumulation and temperatures in 21+ years in our area.  We posted our TOP 5 Reasons this was the best season to start our homestead but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have challenges.  TWO big challenges to be exact.

Score 2 for our beautiful treacherous road.

#1 Living on a back road

The most inherent aspect of living on a back road is road maintenance.  We knew this when we bought our property and were prepared for the fact that along the way it was going to be an issue.  We had not experienced a North Idaho winter and were not entirely sure of the severity.  However, as we are both raised Ohioans having experienced “Lake effect” snow storms from Lake Erie; we were confident we could handle it.  Additionally, we planned our relocation by studying microclimates, therefore we knew our property was well situated in altitude and weather to our needs and capabilities.  However, seams of doubt cracked open as we heard more and more horror stories of N. Idaho winters.  Only time would tell and it did.  While we thrived in the winter, and maintained our long drive the challenge was our road.  Maintained by neighbors, we learned to plan on hunkering down on the homestead 1-2 days after each snow storm until the road was cleared or other vehicles made enough tracks that made it passable.  Twice we found ourselves digging out and the first time was our fault for not following our own rules.  Our solar battery/inverter died and when the replacement arrived we had to venture out when our road was not cleared.  We easily dug out of the soft snow bank.  The second time however, proved more challenging.  When warmer weather melted a half of our accumulated snow fall, followed by a deep freeze, we found our road to be a solid sheet of ice. A neighbor in a 4 x4 got stuck and we ventured to the post office anyway.  On the way home our truck couldn’t make it up an icy hill and slid backward into a snow bank.

So, what did we do?

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TOP 5 Reasons Winter was the Best Time to Start Our Off-Grid Homestead

#5. It’s easier to stay warm than cool when you’re OFF-grid
Okay so this may be a matter of opinion. Tom and I are fortunate that we both feel it is easier to stay warm than cool when you are OFF-Grid. This is a double edge sword because one of the worst

Tom geared up for winter-time wood cutting.

things about starting an off-grid homestead in the winter is not having properly dried fire wood. This has been problematic for us. Nonetheless, we’ve maintained 70 and 80 degree temperatures in the cabin. It has been a matter of the fire staying lit throughout the night that has been the issue. We did come up with a semi-solution and are anxious to cut and season wood this summer! Regardless, having a nice warm cabin has been great for moral and productivity.

#4. Learning to Cook on a woodstove is easier in the Winter
Because we use a wood stove for heat, we had ample time to cook at our convenience as the stove was always hot. As spring is upon us and we have had warmer days; we are finding that is no longer true. Keeping the fire going on warmer days is a waste of fuel (wood) and leads to 90-Degree temps in our cabin. Therefore, our cooking on warmer days occurs during mornings and evenings. When we first started, we were trying to acclimate and it was super convenient to cook whenever we had the time or to slow cook something all day.

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