Monday, December 28, 2009

(11) The Pulk

After much research, I bought the (small) Wild Outdoors sled, purchased locally for $29.00 plus tax.  My sled is product # 1610 and is 44"L x 22"W x 9"deep and is six pounds.  Their web site is    I cut two pieces of one inch pvc for the pull /tow bars and threaded  quarter inch nylon line to fasten to sled.  I have an elastic net with hooks to attach over top to keep gear in.  This sled is large enough to carry a twenty pound lp cylinder, fifty pounds of corn, a pack with water, food and clothing, camera gear, snow shoes etc.  It is not so big, making it easy to  pull around tight corners on the trails and quite light.  This keeps loads off my back and all weight low to the ground.  I will comment on how the pull goes while snow shoeing, it could be interesting.

P.S.  Grant Wagner had a comment and I will expound on that here.  He was interested in my pulk or sled.  I have always been aware of major expeditions using sleds to haul their goods and gear.  I wanted one but not so large so I began looking into sleds used for ice fishing and chose one based on that information.  It should work out just fine.  I added the tow arms so I can control it when I go down hills; to keep the pulk from ramming me from behind.

Grant also wanted to know how long my stays are and what I like to do while there.
It takes about a half hour to hike in from the nearest road.  My stays this time of year are usually kept to only a couple of days, though sometimes I will hike out just to feed the birds and deer.  I have packed the snow down pretty good but we have had more lately so tomarrow I will probably have to try my snow shoes.  I purchased two styles from ebay last summer and am excited to try them out.  Once I arrive, I go in and fire up the little propane heater, then I go out and fill the bird and deer feeders.  I like to get this done before 3 p.m. as the deer usually arrive by 4 or 4:30. 

If there has been snow, I will clean off the roof.  Sometimes I will build a small fire in the pit and enjoy that for a couple of hours.  If it is dark out the deer will still come around as long as I am still and don't make sudden moves.  They will not come around in the daylight hours if I am outside.  That is fine with me as I want them to remain cautious of man, they will live longer, if you know what I mean.  I do not hunt anything and there is no hunting on our land anyway.  I don't even like killing mice as they deserve their little lives too!

As for my winter activities, they include:  Writing notes as to things I would like to do in the spring.  I read tons and enjoy listening to music or even playing a little music myself.  I take a lot of video and still photographs, obviously I enjoy watching the deer and birds and squirrels.  I put on the coffee and ocasionally have a toddy or three.  There is a small pond on the property.  I am going to hike out on the ice and drill a few holes to check the depths.  The pond is small, maybe only a half acre but even in this drought its level has not dropped much so there must be a spring or two within.

I also have been making notes as to the garden I am planning this spring.  What veggies I will grow and how I will preserve them in the fall.  I will start out small, approximately ten feet square.  If I am successful I will go larger in 2011.  We shall see.  

When the time comes I have a very comfy bed in which to sleep.

That is some of what I like to do when spending my winter in the "Realm"  Living with nature, simply.  Until later,  -Rick 

Tested the pulk today.  Worked great, very little load on me, a bit going up hill but otherwise good.  The snow shoes worked well also.  Breaking new path was slow and the trip took an hour rather than the usual half hour.  Lots of snow and ice removed from cabin top.  All is well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(10) Winter Projects

     First, I want to thank everyone who has commented on this blog. I appreciate any and all remarks.
     I titled this blog "Winter Projects" not because I am doing anything right now, projects in the "Realm" are near impossibe as I have to hike in, I guess I could pull a sled with all of the tools but then, not.
     I have been making plans for spring. Now is the time to consider and reconsider the things I want to do. After discovering Joseph Jenkins web site, I have decided to use one of his composting toilets in my cabin though I will build my own to save money. I didn't realize there would be no odor and the space requiement is minimal, let alone the valuable compost I will get as a result. After taking a few measurements at the cabin recently I decided a small addition was necessary to accommodate a toilet and shower area inside rather than outside. It is so very uncomfortable pooping outside in these cold temps let alone taking a shower. Though I have done it before.
     My initial plan was to increase the size of the cabin by 48 square feet to house the toilet and shower. More expense and a larger foot print. I measured and remeasured and decided by rearranging things inside I can fit both projects in the cabin, as is.
     By removing part of the counter that houses the current stove top, I can free up almost fifty inches of space. I will alot 25 inches for each, the toilet and shower. The lost counter space can be made up at the other end where the table currently resides. There will be room for the used twenty inch gas range i will get and still have room for some storage space I will lose at the other end. The table will be moved across the room to the South side. This will be very cozy, I realize, but very funtional and less expense.
     My other plan which I may have mentioned in an earlier blog was to redo the outside of the cabin. Removing the outer aluminum shell and adding more framing and insulation, relocating the windows and adding a hard shell roof with more insulation. These plans I have already confirmed and can now accommidate the new ideas in that project.
     Winter makes it possible to sit back and contemplate ideas then rethink them before you start a project when only realizing that is not really what you wanted. Saves time and money.
     My shower idea; While living on the boat all of those years, most of my showers were solar type, heating the water when there was no sun. Not feasible in frigid tempertaures. With space alloted for the shower which is small but doable I will install a six gallon water tank available from Todd Enterprises, to this I will attach the necessary fittings for fill and drain. To get water to the shower head; I found an aluminum heavy duty hand operated pump. I will attach a tubeless tire valve in the tank then use the pump to add pressure. The pump has a guage to monitor the pressure. Very simple, very nice. I fill the tank part way with cool water then add heated water; from the sun in summer and from the stove in winter. I can then poop and shower in the comfort of a heated cabin. In summer I can still enjoy an outside solar shower if I choose, the best of both worlds. The gray water will flow into a small reservoir of sand and gravel and will be returned back to the ground, clean.
     After much consideration about wood heat, I have decided that my cabin is too small to accommidate, as it requires too much space for safety. Since I am doing the shower and toilet and having to arrange things differently, wood is just not feasible. Actually that means less strain on my old back. I will only have to get wood for the firepit which I also cook on in the summer. I could do it in the winter but have not yet.
     The propane heater needs much less space for safety and has proved very economical so far this winter. I estimate I will spend less than sixty dollars on propane this winter and even less next winter with the addition of more insulation. Cost will increase a little when I am in full time.
     Until next time -Rick

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(9) Second Snow

     A walk into the "Realm"  after our second snow.  No snow shoes needed yet and the deer movement is active.  They seem to take the shortest distance to their goal, but find many of our trails suitable for their needs.  They will walk along one of our trails and then step off in the same general direction, only the shorter distance and then come out once again on one of our trails.  The temperature is holding steady at 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  I am dressed for the occasion.  Moisture from my mouth and nose create ice buildup on my beard and moustache.
     My purpose is to remove snow from the roof of my cabin and to give seeds to the birds and corn to the deer.  I also brought apples as a treat.  The snow seems very light but is amazingly heavy.  I don't need the hassle of a collapsed roof with more snow.
     After the work was done I went inside, the inside temp. had already risen from the outside 10 degrees to a balmy 40 degrees.  I brought along water and put some on to boil for coffee.  I enjoyed a cup while watching various birds enjoy their treat of sunflower seeds.  There were chickadees, nuthatches and downy woodpeckers.  One flicker happened by as well.  I thought a second cup was in order, by the time it was ready the temp had risen to 65 degrees.   The time difference from when I lit the heater to now was about thirty five minutes.  I was impressed that it did not take so long, but then I am heating less than 100 square feet.  
     The sun was shining for the first time in several days but the time was almost four o'clock.  Time to hike out before dark.  The temp had dropped to two degrees.  I did not wait to see the deer come in but I am sure they did.  I will go back on Thursday to replenish their supplies.  I plan to stay over night next Monday.  Can't wait for another campfire out in the snow. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

(8) Winter

     Winter is here!  Not official by date but the temperatures have dropped and ice has settled on the pond.  Snow is falling and now it will be more difficult to get to the cabin.
      I was ill for the week of Thanksgiving and not able to get to the cabin, however, this past Monday I managed a short visit  late in the afternoon.  I poured some corn into the feeder and to my delight within a half hour Mama Doe and her two fawns (nearly her size now) appeared for the feast.  They had survived hunting season, which thrills me and they couldn't look better.  I have to secure some hay for them and maybe some soybeans to supplement their corn.  Must keep them fat and sassy!
     I so long for simple days. . .where work is not so important, that is the kind of work that puts food on the table.  I look forward to the desired work to continue my existence in the "Realm". 
     Thanks to  I have further simplified my life my selling off  more "stuff" I no longer need.  The weight lifted off my shoulders is a good feeling and I will not miss the "stuff" much.  After all, it is just "stuff". 
     Most of the people I deal with on a regular basis do not seem to understand my position and seem to fear my slow but continuing effort to simplify.   Thus, I appear to be distancing myself from them.  My life views and theirs don't seem to mesh anyway and I am more comfortable with that.  In my world the things most people enjoy and expect are not a factor for my happiness.  Especially the younger people.  With this economy and how I feel our government is screwing up everything for everybody, I am amazed how the younger people still think bigger is better and more is the merrier.  They don't seem happy with small and paid for, and continue to dig into a debt filled life.  They seem to avoid the up front slap in the face we are getting and keep watching their televisions and buying all that is fed to them to keep them quiet and lulled into a fake existence that is tearing at the fabric of our lives. 
     I long to be at the cabin where no newspapers or television will ever be allowed.  I am content to enjoy my coffee and watch nature around me.  Nature that needs the human race to protect it rather than destroy it.  These beautiful creatures that share their lives with me have no knowledge of how close they are coming to destruction if we (humans) are not careful.  Our greed and selfishness which unfortunately is an inherent trait of our species; especially as our numbers increase at staggering speed.  We destroy not realizing we are doing so until it is too late. We WILL spoil everything for everyone including our unknowing friends in the woods, if we don't stop and think about what we are doing. 
     Many millions of Americans have not ever had the pleasure of seeing these creatures up close and personal in real time and in real life.  Most only see the nature shows on television  and many do not even care about those, being wrapped up in their own confusing, get all I can before you do attitudes.  We must be so careful as the balance is not so balanced anymore.  I, personally fear for that.
     Realizing this myself, I am trying to be so very careful  to do the right thing for me and all that I care for.
     This, being my third winter back from the tropics I am finally accepting with open arms, the frosty blast of the season, now that I have this new vision which has opened before me these past several years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

(7) Energy

     Lighting is easy.  I use kerosene lamps and make my own candles.  Maintenance is easy and cost per hour is cheap.  I also have two Mag flashlights.  One, a small  2 cell AA, I have had for twenty five years and a larger five cell I have had for about fifteen years both work extremely well and use little energy especially since I converted the small one to a LED bulb a couple of years ago, purchased from Walmart at a reasonable cost.  Now, the batteries, (this current set) have been in over a year and it provides very good illumination. 
     I love music and this is a bit of a problem as batteries are expensive.  Recharge-ables are nice but don't last as long.  I have a satellite radio which is perfect.  Operates on eight D cells or ac power.  The sound is phenomenal and I can plug in the IPOD.   Under battery power I get about three hours use for the price of eight batteries.  Using recharge-ables (much more expensive, initial outlay) less operating time plus the fact of needing a place to recharge.  I could run my tiny generator but there is more wear and tear and fuel cost.
     Where I live solar power is not viable nor is wind power.  We get plenty of both but living deep in the woods, most of either never reach me.  The cost would be very high to install enough wind or solar to harness the amount I need.  The answer; don't listen to as much music or listen less often as a real treat.  I don't really like that idea but it is the best cost effective way I can think of.  However, I have a small Grundig multi-band radio that works very well and is very easy on power usage.  Six AA's last for weeks but I lose sound quality and do not have the benefit of plugging in the IPOD.  Simplify.  Get rid of the IPOD!  The multi-band is smaller in size and needs less space.  Guess it is time to sell the satellite radio.  Anybody interested in a good deal? 
     That covers my energy needs inside my tiny cabin.  Outside I rely on my tiny generator to power any tools that need electrical power to operate.  That is not often.
     I brought an old table saw to the woods and plugged it into my tiny generator.  It was sluggish but I managed to saw up two burning days worth of small fallen branches and small dead trees in two hours.  No splitting needed.  The wood is free and the fuel cost was a quart of mixed gas.  I think a smaller electric motor that draws less amps would solve the sluggishness.  A lot easier than a noisy chainsaw and easier on my old back. 
     I have an old gas powered pump.  I think a project will be to remove the pump housing and install a pully to the pto shaft then fix the engine to the tablesaw with a hinged setup to keep the belt tight.  All of this can be fitted to wheels and frame so I can pull the unit around without lifting the heavy mass.  This will provide enough power to the saw blade and again be less strain on my back.  The motor will run severals on a small tank of gas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(6) Beautiful Buck

Even though we are in a drought and need moisture, we have been able to enjoy some unusually warm weather for this time of year.
     A couple of nights ago I was lucky enough to get this photo.  He is a beauty and I hope to see more of him. 

     P.S. I got five more pictures of this guy, all after hunting season.  Glad he made it.  I will be looking for his antlers this spring.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(5) Henery David Thoreau

Read "Walden" over and over.

(4) The Cabin

This is the cabin.  It is a vintage 1950s travel trailer.  Over the past two years I completely rebuilt the entire trailer.  In the coming spring I will further rebuild by removing the outer aluminum sides and roof.  I will add new framework to support a solid roof and deeper walls which will accomidate more insulation.  I will add new windows.  I currently heat with a Mr Heater "Buddy".  A propane heater which works well but with so much free wood all around me, well, I will build a wood stove based on the model you can see on the You Tube video linked to this site.  That will be another Spring project.  For lighting I have two standard kerosene lamps and one Alladin lamp.  I also use candle votives which I refill myself as needed.   I use only 00 kerosene as it has the fewest impurities and has very little smell.  For water I haul in my drinking water and fill the three gallon crock you can see in the picture.  All other water ie: showering, watering plants,etc. is kept in a fifty gallon barrel which I have on a small tower.   My toilet is the simple five gallon plastic composter which will be housed in its new location this spring complete with half moon cutout.  I have done some simple landscaping with stones, paths and flowers.  I have a small firepit outside to enjoy at night.  The cabin is situated on eighty acres in Northern Wisconsin.  The land belongs to my brother but has generously allowed me to use.  On the property is a small pond less than an acre and we have approximately four miles of walking trails to enjoy.  The deer seem to enjoy them as well as many tracks follow.  The interior of the cabin is panneled with Knotty Pine walls and Birch Hardwood ply ceiling.  I built all cabinets and shelves mostly with recycled materials.  Actually, I have used and still use when I can, recycled materials.  The current windows came from my grandmothers old mobile home and will be replaced with wood sash windows that will open to the inside.  I have a small generator that I use to power tools when needed.  My cooking stove is a single burner Coleman propane.  Currently I spend a couple of days a week at the cabin but hope to move in full time.  I have photographed many animals and birds here and there are several that come around regularly for a treat.  The cabin interior is aproximately seven by twelve feet.  This may sound small but I lived aboard sailboats for twenty years, many, with less living space.  I am used to small space living and feel any more would be a waste.  All of those years aboard small sailboats taught me how to be frugal and to live simply with less while still being quite happy.  There is a very rough road (path) I am able to drive to get to the cabin but in winter I will have to pack in.                    

(3) Night Visitors

11/16/09 Two hours ago, it is now 9:30 p.m. I was sitting by my little fire on a chilly evening, enjoying its warmth. I had a radio at low volume for comfort and the fire happily cracking and popping. I heard above the radio and to the East a rustle in the leaves nearby. I leaned over and lowered the already low volume and picked up the flashlight. I shined in the direction of the sound and was met by the green glow of two eyes. They stared into the light but continued to near. Eventually, I discerned the shape of Mama Doe who was making her way to the corn trough not sixty feet away. She was slow and deliberate but steady. She made the trough and began munching. I turned off the torch and leaned over to tend the fire having a few sticks of wood handy. After the adjustment I turned my attention back to Mama. I could hear her noisily munching. Light on, she scarcely noticed me with the occasional glance, never of fear. Briefly I heard more rustleing and shined in that direction and two more eyes appeared; it was one of her young now full grown. Mama took leave of her post and moved slowly away. I thought I would lose them both but to my delight the younger took Mamas' place. Nearly a half-hour passed and she too decided to leave. She slowly walked to the Northeast, close by the cabin and worked her way back into the deep woods occasionally lowering her head nibbling at whatever. I was content and again raised the volume a bit as the "Blues" was good and I was happy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

(2) The "Realm" continued

Getting closer. I do appreciate all of the advances we have made. I am afraid, like so many others, of what this has done to us as a species. We expect more, waste more and care less about; Ourselves, others, our environment, nature and its inhabitants. I think the media and how we interpret it has been our worst enemy. Advertisers are the worst. They use their media to encourage us to expect more. They expect us to replace our goods sooner than we need to, consequiently , manufacturers build for obsolecence and we just accept it. That is not right, such a waste. So much good can be found in others trash. It is acceptable for us to "rummage" for what we can use. It is a step in the right direction. I am always on the lookout for items I need to both, recycle and get by cheaper. Don't get me wrong, I am not cheap but if I can be satisified by reusing something so be it and I don't feel any less the person for it. In fact, I feel better because I am trying to help stop the waste.

(1) Welcome

Welcome to my "Realm" This is the entrance. I hope I can help or be helped by the interest in this blog. It is difficult these days to try to accomplish the things we want to do, especially if they are not the "norm". So many of us are not of the "norm".

I have a small (tiny) cabin in this "Realm" that I hope will one day be my permanent home. Much time has been spent planning and considering what goes into the "Realm". I want it to be as simple as possible. Nothing I can't fix myself.

I am older and my capacity for earning income is less than it once was. Now, I have to consider every cent that I spend. Being raised when I was has not always been the best way to learn the value of money, or non-value of same. Essentially, I am saying I have wasted my share. I am learning every day how not to do that. Living a simple frugal life is the answer to my wastefulness. Unfortunately, even using this computer causes expense that I care not spend, but what a splended tool. I hope this tool can be used to my benefit.