We’re still off grid, and not by choice. It was not “part of the plan”, but that’s kind of how life goes, isn’t it? We have been waiting for the power company to come do a quick job of hooking up the electricity at the road, and it has been really hard waiting a month and a half for this improvement in our lives.
I’d like to say I’m building character, but I think the only thing building is my muscles (carrying 5-gallon buckets of water daily) and my cynicism for life and all systems. But with the help of some well-timed pints of ice cream, bags of truffles, showers at a friend’s house, and casseroles from mom… we’re making it through.
The orange jug is my “faucet” the only one in the house. I wash dishes with one hand, pushing the button with the other hand, and trying to use as little water as possible, because as you can see in this picture, I haul every drop we use!
We are gathering rainwater in 5-gallon buckets off a very clean shop roof. We are very thankful for the rainy days and I have to see I see the world and weather differently.
We have a Berkey water filter (literally everyone in the world needs one, they are the best thing ever). This filters our drinking water and helps us not worry about using rainwater. I dip a pitcher in the water bucket and fill the Berkey that way.
We have been building a deck for the tiny house. This is a huge improvement in our lives. We can walk out the door onto a flat surface, a sort of outdoor mudroom.
We built it with almost 100% reclaimed materials from Trent’s job, scraps of decking and metal sheeting that were destined for the trash. That made the deck and roof cost us about $50 and saved the world some garbage!
Here it is, almost finished, still needs some roof panels and stairs. But I do feel thankful for every advancement.
On the deck, you can see my “icebox” (a deep freezer with ice in it) which has been a pretty big challenge, between stocking it with ice and fishing out the melted icewater so I don’t drown my food. You also see the plastic totes that we keep our boots in because goodness knows there isn’t room for all that muddy business in the tiny house!
We take showers and do wash at my parent’s house. We cook on our propane cookstove. And we are keeping out house as warm as an old folk’s home (like… 80 degrees) because our wood stove is the only thing that really works in the house and it feels good to have one luxury. And I like obsessively stoking that cute little Cubic Mini stove.
We should be getting power on October 30th… cross your fingers for us! Showers, dishes, vacuums… I dream of it all.
But don’t let this complaining deceive you, we are having the time of our lives. And it feels so good… SO. GOOD. to be living what we set out to do. It feels intoxicating to know that we can do nearly anything, all we need to do is have a plan, stick to it, work hard, and eventually, it will come to pass.
The kids have adjusted pretty easily to the move and the new style of house. It has helped that we live on 5+ acres of land, full of new wonders for them, including a creek, a forest, and a shop for riding bikes.
Here is one of my tools to help life work better: Quiet time. (which, with kids aged 3-8, it isn’t super quiet, but maybe I could call it “quieter than usual time”) Here’s an example of a quiet time all through the house.
Tate’s quiet time in mommy’s loft… books and being alone.
Wade’s quiet time: pressing flowers
The girls’ quiet time: in their loft with Barbies and a Barbie book.
And our real key to success is what we’ve planned for all along: time outside. Which isn’t hard to achieve since the weather’s been so nice! Today we built a fort under a fallen oak branch.
As if living as a family of 6 in 300 sq. ft. wasn’t enough, somehow it’s ended up that we are also living off grid. Only a small electricity from our solar panel and no running water.
But don’t worry, I’m not so hardcore that this will last forever. It’s just a temporary thing as we have just moved onto a fairly undeveloped piece of old farmland.
But it is a bit of trial-by-fire… and let’s face it, if I can get through this, having electricity and running water will make me feel like I am living in a palace.
This is my kitchen sink setup:
Not having running water is the hardest part because that means that a water cooler is my faucet, and I have to do wash and showers at my mom’s house. The upside is I feel pretty elemental hauling my own water.
Then, meet my fridge!
This is a chest freezer half-filled with ice blocks, with food precariously balanced on top. At first, I wasn’t sure this was going to work, but it’s actually been pretty awesome and we haven’t gotten food poisoning yet! And I feel so connected to nature, going out before each meal and gathering my food from the fridge. haha, kind of not.
The kids are doing really well. Kids often are the easiest adapters, they seem to meld into whatever situation they find themselves in. They really enjoy having a big shop to ride bikes in, sheltered from the rain on grey days!
We’ve even gotten started with school a little bit this week.
I have to admit it’s taken all of my abilities to handle this new situation. There has been a lot of thinking of how to arrange things, how to use our pieced-together off grid setup, and how to arrange our days now that our life has changed so much. I’m also really tired this week from pushing ourselves so much last week as we moved out of our pink house. But slowly, I find myself getting a rhythm, and it feels good to know I’m pretty adaptable too.
Overall, it is going really good and I have a lot of excitement about the future. For so long, we have had this tiny house build looming over us, and now that we are finished, it feels exciting to know it is time to make new goals and plans and start a new phase of our life. Sky’s the limit!
Also, we do plan on making cabinet door fronts. But for the time being, it’s almost nice to be able to see where everything is! And if you come visit us, you’ll know exactly everything we own, no secrets!
We moved the tiny house on Tuesday, and beginning on Wednesday was a 5-day rush of work. My mom (who deserves an award) helped me pack boxes and totes in the back of the truck and unpack stuff into the house.
This process took us basically two days. It was satisfying to fill the shelves that we’d spent so much time building. But each day left us super tired and overwhelmed.
It began to become really confusing having our things and time split at two homes. It was hard to remember where things were and decide which house we would eat dinner at. The kids started saying we were homeless, and I tried convincing them that it was much better than that– we had two homes!
But by Sunday, as planned, we were 100% moved and left our rental house clean and painted. And we were exhausted. But it was satisfying to know it was all done. The tiny house is no longer “the tiny house”, it’s just “home”!
Welcome to the kids room– and this is probably what it will look like most of the time (or worse). It ends up a mosh pit of blankets, Legos, Barbies, and stuffed animals. But the most important things are this: The kids LOVE it and I don’t have to look at it unless I climb the ladder. Win-win!
Trent and I have a fresh new bed for a fresh new house! This bed was a big splurge for us, and we have hopes that we will love it for years and that it will last a long time.
We got a buckwheat hull mattress from Eco Health Lab. They were so helpful and made a custom size for us, which we really appreciated. The quality is incredible, and the smell is amazing! If you’re in the market for a eco-conscious bed, I would highly recommend it.
Amazingly, the package came on the very day that we were planning to spend the first night. The kids were really excited to open the packages!
Here’s a quick look around our new rental property.
It was a beautiful Tuesday that turned into a thunderstorm. But we’d already committed to moving the house and our hearts were set on it. As the thunder pealed, I was not sure if it would work to move it that day. But I hoped it would.
The thunder lessened and the rain lightened and we hurried the kids into their rain slickers and boots and hopped into the truck. It seemed too easy. Just hop in and pull out. But then I remembered about all the months we had planned for this moment; buying the perfect truck, installing a new hitch, and so much more.
We rushed. I’m not sure why, and it felt like we were hurrying out before an invasion. But between years of excitement and the electricity of the thunderstorm, we were pretty jacked up. As you can tell from this picture.
It was an uneventful trip. As we drove, it felt like we were flying. We really finished the house! We really found a place to live! And here we were, living a moment we had long thought of.
We parked temporarily in front of the shop, and when we spread more gravel and prepare our parking pad, we will move over a bit so we can see a beautiful view out the kitchen window.
We’re home. Home. It’s starting to mean something new to me. I kind of hate pithy sayings, but I do like this one for us: “Home is where you park it”. And, I would add, home is anywhere we are together.
We’ve spent the last two days moving our surprisingly large amount of belongings into the new house. Everything is fitting better than I could have imagined. To my happiness, I have realized we’re going to need to buy more books to fill the bookshelves.
This has been a long journey, but we are finally ready to move into the tiny house. I wanted to take some space in this post to answer some FAQ’s that I get to hopefully answer some questions for you.
Are you going to live in the tiny house for reals? Yes, we are!
Where are you moving? We will be renting property fairly near our current house. There will be several acres for the kids to explore and enjoy. I’m excited to share pictures of our new beautiful views!
When are you moving? We are waiting for electricity to be hooked up at our new rental property, so we’re not sure when the move will happen. Sometime in the next two weeks is what we’re expecting. We have almost finished packing up our things and cleaning up our current place. We’re in a sort of “holding pattern” for now.
Are the kids excited? Yes they are! They love their new room and they are excited to explore the new property.
Are you nervous? Yes, a little. I’m a little worried we won’t fit our stuff into the house, but I am trying to assure myself that we will be able to make room for the essentials, even if we need to say goodbye to some non-essentials. I’m mostly nervous about issues pertaining to moving in general, such as getting used to a new way of life, new driving routes, and new appliances. I’m also hopeful that the tiny house doesn’t cramp our social schedule and that we’ll still be able to entertain our friends.
In other news, my friend Dinah finished the mural for the kids bedroom wall. We copied a Teagan White picture from the book “Counting With Barefoot Critters”.
I really love all the details and I appreciate the time she put into it. It brings the room to life and gives it such a playful feeling.
We are about two weeks away from moving day, and the house is nearly complete (other than the cabinet fronts, which will just have to wait). We wanted to take our truck and house for a quick ride together and make sure they knew they needed to be good friends. We also wanted to move the house so we could clean the lumber scraps from underneath it before we left our rental. But mostly, we just wanted to see our house rolling on its wheels.
Well, Trent wanted to see it rolling on its wheels. The very thought of moving the house made me want to throw up with anxiety. Some of my most terrifying thoughts at 3 AM have included, for the last three years, the tiny house tipping over en route.
Trent unhooked all the utilities and tucked cords carefully underneath. Trent hooked the truck up and I realized that I needn’t have worried about the truck being able to handle the tiny house. The F350 is a hearty truck., especially with the horribly expensive new hitch that Trent installed that is rated for 20,000 lbs.
We pulled it about 40 feet down our driveway and surveyed the sight: Everything was well, the wheels rolled, and the truck stood proud. (Just a little sag in the back.) Now to back it up into its new home.
Have I mentioned that I’m an anxious person? This move was almost too much for me.
But all went well. Trent did a great job driving it and backing it up and I didn’t quite blow a fuse. I am really glad we did it; it gives me more confidence for the real moving day.
Not only does this house represent almost $30,000 of our dollars, but it also represents three years of weekends and many, many evenings and vacations. For me, it has been going to weekend parties as a “single mom” and putting the kids to bed by myself more times than I’d like. Neither of us regret this project and I am massively proud of it, but we have sacrificed a lot for it and it makes us really care about this house.
And I think that’s how a house should feel.
As a side note: for any of you skeptics out there that wonder how we will fit our family of 6 into a tiny house, let me present this picture as evidence: we will fit because they love to be crammed together.
And there’s nothing more exciting about a new front-loading washing machine with a light-up drum.
Trent. I’ve been married to him for almost 9 years and I’m still feeling amazed by him. When faced with the challenge of making a ladder for us to access our loft, he couldn’t just make a “normal” ladder. (Is making a ladder even normal?) He has been slightly obsessed with timber framing for a while now, a style of woodworking involving interlocking pieces and wooden pins… and no metal hardware like nails or screws. Trent chose this style for the ladder, hoping to challenge himself and make a very sturdy ladder. Side note about Trent: these two things are important to him– challenging himself and making overly sturdy stuff.
Most of these pictures of the ladder-making were from our second attempt: our first attempt included the side rail splitting as we pounded in the rungs. Tragic, especially because it was about noon on 4th of July and we just wanted to finish, feel contented, and enjoy the holiday.
Trent finished the wood with a slurry of dirt and hemp oil (we use this stuff a lot because we like it, but also because I bought a gallon of it from Amazon…). The dirt seeps into the grain of the wood and really darkens it. I also love how a little bit of dirt gets left behind in the cracks and makes the ladder look truly old.
You might also notice that the bathroom now has vinyl flooring. Trent was lucky enough of salvage this scrap from work and we swiped the adhesive from my Dad, so total cost of bathroom floor: $0. After spending about $25,000 on the house, it always feels good to get something done for free.
Anyway, now we can access our loft without a construction ladder, which is awesome.