Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving to Carson

I haven't been able to post comments to other blogs or on mine for awhile because I had to be on googlechrome, which I don't like using for a lot of reasons I won't go into here but at least I figured out what the problem was.

Sooo.... the big news is that we are buying a piece of land in Carson. We hooked up with a really nice couple who has lived out there for years and is willing to owner finance a 2.25 acre parcel to us. This is of course off grid land with no electricity and no water. There is a community well or you can haul it from a nearby spring. I've been wanting a piece of land for years now. I've spent the last decade or so poring over Mother Earth News, Countryside Magazine, and every homesteading book/online forum imaginable. We've spent hours talking about alternative energy and housing. The funny thing is that we knew most of those things were out of our reach living in Fl and we had to move someplace else to do it....and yet, we've done nothing but shuffle our feet since we got here a year ago. In hindsight we should have done it last year but we were trying to be prudent, having just arrived and not really knowing what winter would be like or if we could financially survive here. Truth be known, we would have probably survived better financially if we had just gone ahead and done it instead of renting a house.

For those who aren't familiar with this area there are a lot of areas in Taos County where you can buy offgrid land for fairly cheap and there are little to no restrictions. The downside is that this of course attracts all sorts of people. As a family of four I'm not into living next to twenty somethings who live out of their bus and stay up all night partying. This is one of the reasons we really like Carson. It is a community of mostly older folks who were hippies here back in the heyday of the 60's and 70's. They are mostly established with their handbuilt homes and have a real sense of community. The property we will be moving to is very close to the main road which will be easier to get in and out of in the snow. The best part is that we are within walking distance of the post office and the general store, the two only amenities in this little town. The general store is like a little camp store but is fully stocked with healthy and organic foods. Even better, they have washers and dryers in there. I will say that since we only have one car and I am the one home all the time that it makes me feel real good to have these amenities nearby.

However, in some ways this anticlimactic because it isn't the ideal time of year to move out into an rv with no power....not with winter at our back door. This will enable us to afford and save a substantial amount of money that we couldn't last year renting a house. We are glad that Riki is one of the few employees Graham's has agreed to keep through the winter but we also know that business will go down considerably along with income. This seems like a more sustainable alternative to staying in the house we are now and then finding ourselves out of money in the middle of the winter with an rv that isn't winterized or ready.

So here are the immediate plans. We will be moving in around 30 days to the property. We'll need an extend  a stay to hook up our own propane source without having to drive the rv and get it. We will need a generator and/or solar setup to keep the battery charged so that we can run said furnace heat. I am thinking this will bide us some time until it gets super cold around December/January. In the meantime we will need to skirt the rv. Many recommend hay bales but I'm worried about critters taking camp there so something like plywood might be a better option. I am looking into some kind of supplemental heat to keep the furnace from running constantly, and believe me, it will. I am interested in a catalytic heater but also concerned about safety so I think we would opt for one of the more expensive models like an olympian wave which would be super efficient on the propane (it hooks into your current propane source but uses much less than the furnace) but also has more safety standards than the cheaper catalytics.

I will need to get the kids some wool or down blankets to go over their current bedding. I know nothing about these things being from Florida and the variety of types of down blankets/prices makes the choices overwhelming. I am leaning toward some Pendleton wool blankets because they were used by early pioneers in the northwest who camped OUTSIDE. I figure if it kept them warm that it should keep us warm inside an rv with a heat source.

I'll admit that I'm extremely anxious about wintering in the rv. I can tell you that probably 9 out of 10 people would try to talk us out of it and give us a bazillion reasons why not to do it, as if I'm not already aware of any of them....and yet I think about the pioneer settlers who didn't have electricity or a heat source or in many cases had to camp outside. What about the Native Americans? It is as if we have forgotten that once upon a time people didn't have the luxury of heaters...and I know that many places like New Mexico were a lot colder in the winter 100 years ago than they are now. That certainly doesn't mean it will be easy but I'm hoping we can make it work and come through to tell others how it can be done.


Mouse said...

Wow.. congratulations!! I can't wait to hear about your new adventure & I'm so glad that you were able to purchase land for yourselves! I dream of one day owning land of my own so that I can build some "Tumbleweed" style houses on it for myself & my mom who I miss dearly.

The Pollinatrix said...

I know what you mean about the kind of people you DON'T want to live around. I was lucky to find a spot on Two Peaks that is away from all that, and surrounded by relatively stable neighbors.

Have you thought about enveloping the RV somehow? Maybe you could use earthbags filled with scoria to skirt the bus?

Little House On The Mesa said...

You know it's funny you should mention using the earthbags because when I read your blog post the other day I thought Hmmm...I wonder if you could insulate around the outside that way.

Mouse, we are a huge fan of Tumbleweed homes. In fact, we just ordered the latest book which includes free building plans for a shed.

Anonymous said...

Big move and a fantastic one. I know you love the old, rugged pioneer times but if you ask me, people back then were a lot tougher stock. Not trying to talk you out of it because I'd do the same thing and have roughed it, repeatedly over the last 20plus years. Key I found is to make sure you have breaks where you can get relief. For me that was a day in town once a month, warm diner booth, social interaction, a good read in a nice library, etc.
That skirting bit, honestly, GO STRAW. But don't just put it there, turn it into a good thermal mass by mudding the bugger. Any straw bale housing book should be able to show you how dirt cheap.
While checking out strawbale building, look into therma mass rocket stove building as well. RV lacks the thermal mass but if you build a system under it that runs heat there it will go a long way to keeping you warm. Setup the rocket stove part outside, like a lot of greenhouses do. Heck, can even buy a carport canopy and put the RV under it and build the TRS inside it.
I'll try to get up more info and email you, pretty sure I still have your email.
Such exciting news :) Congrats!!
Oh and looks like we won't be down to NM this winter or spring, we're rving it in the national parks along the Oregon coast. A tad chilly but heck of a lot warmer than Wisconsin or even Taos NM winters.
*hugs & cheers*

HeatherLee said...

Have you looked into silk underwear? It sounds crazy, but it is like lightweight long johns.

Wool socks, wool caps, and uggs would be nice.

Bon vivant said...

If you have enough insulation on your beds at night that covers 1/3 or your time. For the daytime you have to have enough economical fuel to keep warm. Unless you plan to chop wood all day. ;-)

Little House On The Mesa said...

Heather, I am ALL about silk underwear. I bought a few pairs last year and like them a lot. They are a bit more affordable than wool. I also have some sheeskin boots that aren't Uggs brand but are awesome!

Garnet, it is so good to hear from you! Hubby will be looking up this rocket stove info tonight. My email is in case you lost it...look forward to hearing from you:)

Bonvivant, thanks for the advice. There is no way to chop wood where we are which is basically desert/prairie. Most people just buy a cord of wood who live out here and it still ends up being more economical than other forms of fuel.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog by link jumping, and congratulate you on purchasing your own land.

Buying is always better than renting.

A Catalytic heater is the way to go, as are wool blankets. It is a great way to retain heat, on the body or hanging in the RV, blocking drafts.

Do a search, as I am sure you have. The blankies aren't that expensive, relative to down. And, not that it will ever happen to you, wool insulates when wet, unlike down.

Uh oh... I'm leaning into lecture zone here.

Here may be a partial solution.

Water retains heat much longer than air.

Warm water heats and boils using less energy than cold water.

If you have room, a 55, or 30, or 15 gallon water tank in the living room will help maintain room temperature.

How to heat in the winter?

I'm babbling.

Best of luck! I'm following you.

(When did that not become creepy?)