March 2017

Side-by-Side Review of Water Jugs

We moved onto our property just as winter hit and before we could set up our water catchment system; consequently we had to haul our water.  Here are the 3 types/brands of jugs we used and how we rated them.

*Note: these are our honest reviews and opinions.  We were in no way compensated.

Side-by-Side Specs

  Midwest Can Co. Igloo Reliance
Size 6 gals / 22.7 L 6 gals / 22.7 L 8 gals / 30 L
Place of Purchase Sporting goods store Hardware store Big box store
Cap type Twist n’ lock Push on Screw on
Spout ring Fuel type Screw on with eyelets n/a
Spout Type Traditional Traditional Spigot
Intake Caps n/a part of spout Pop out Screw on
Air Intake In spout Hole in container body Hole in container body
Handles 2 top/rear 2 top/rear 1
Manufactured Made in the USA Made in the USA Made in Canada
Flow Moderate Slow Fast
Material BPA free BPA free Food Grade Polyethylene
Extra features n/a n/a Wheels and pull-behind handle

Read more to see Rubric Rating charts on each of these and which one was #1

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5 Mistakes We Made Our 1st Winter OFF-GRID

Our first off-grid homestead winter seemed easy until Storm Maya hit.  We had 30 inches of snow in two days with a brief break followed by another foot of snow and rain.  While we have still lived through worse winters ON GRID; being off grid for our first winter we had a few mishaps.

#1  Snow Removal Plan for a Snowpocalypse

We are used to shoveling heavy NE Ohio snow in subzero temps with high winds.  So shoveling 6 inches of snow in the sun and 20s F was easy breezy even for our long drive.  Then Storm Maya hit the PNW and we were put to the test.  We called every snow removal service we could and all were occupied.  Calling last minute was obviously no fun and put us at the bottom of the lists.  Especially, as new-to-the-area people.  While plow equipment was not in the budget this year, we should have researched snow plow/removal companies prior to the big storm.

#2 Park Our Truck by the road

Why oh why did we not park our truck at the end of our drive?  We’ve done this before when we expected snow.  For some reason…we forgot!  We ended up snowed in for over a week.  Our road was cleared day 3.  Which means we could have run to the grocery store and merely shoveled a human walkway down the drive to the truck.

#3 Get chains for our truck

Just before the big snow we had big ice.  We struggled and found ourselves wishing we had chains for our truck.

#4 Have more Fuel Storage

We have a gas generator to back up our solar generator.  While we did not run out of gasoline, we ran close and I had to curb my work on my laptop (our greatest gas guzzler) to conserve energy.  From this we decided to double our fuel storage.

#5 Stock up on pet supplies

Hmmm, seems obvious but when you are used to running to the store anytime you need something, there’s bound to be a period of adjustment when prepping.  Yes, we had enough dog food and cat food but ran out of cat litter!  We know what you are thinking, throw in dirt or woodchips, well we have a particularly finicky cat who needs one kind of cat litter or she simply won’t use the pan!

How We Survived Snowpocalypse 2017 on our Off-grid Homestead

We unexpectedly found our homestead just before winter’s first snow and while we didn’t have everything we needed for winter (See Mistakes We Made); we did plan ahead for a potential winter storm holding us captive in our home.

Here’s what we did to stay safe for a homebound snowpocalypse:

Prepare AND maintain water storage

Every time we went into town we filled up 40-gals worth of water jugs.

Every day we collected snow to melt for laundry, dishes, and cooking.

This allowed us to keep a constant 55-gal food grade barrel full of water.

Kept a drinking water filter on hand to filter melted snow water.  When melting snow for drinking water we boiled it first.

Store Bulk Food and Meal Plan

We do not yet have a pantry, nor any other storage options for food i.e. root cellar, garage, basement, shed, etc.  Therefore, we had to pick a few bulk items to keep on hand.  We chose rice, beans, flour, honey, chicken stock, tomato sauce, frozen turkeys, and constantly kept 5 dozen eggs rotated.

General Meal planning not only helps us keep within our food budget and keeps daily life simpler BUT meal planning helped during Snowpocalypse 2017 by allowing us to have 3 days of meals before we had to dip into our bulk food.  Practicing meal planning allowed us to look at our inventory and make a meal plan based on those items.

Alternative Heat Source

When we first moved to our property we had to play catch up on cutting wood.  We purchased some North Idaho Energy Logs to get us started.  Later when our unseasoned wood needed constant 24/7 vigilance to maintain heat, we supplemented our fire with fifths of the energy logs.  We decided to purchase a pallet load to keep on hand for emergencies too.  Emergencies such as if one of us was out of commission and we could not keep cutting wood, OR a snowpocalypse!  Next year we will have wood stored but for this season it was important to have a contingency plan for providing our family with heat.

Keep shoveling Snow

We have a long drive, a road maintained by neighbors, and a 2WD pickup truck.  What could go wrong?  We knew at some point we may get stuck but to keep the odds in our favor we shoveled every time snow fell.  This kept our drive manageable and our only concern the road.  But life is still unpredictable.  So head on over to Mistakes We Made and see the rest of this story.