So what’s next?

So what’s next after you buy an off grid property? I get asked from co-workers. “you bought 43 acres? what are you going to do with it?” I really have to laugh, you don’t have to do anything with it! most people think if you don’t drive it, or if it isn’t consumable then it is a waste of money. If I say a vacation house, they all raise their eyebrows and say “ah” or “awesome”. The whole thing about no water, no electricity, and an outhouse just blows over their collective heads. 99% of people have no concept of living without modern conveniences, there is no mental reference. The ex mil guys I work with get it, civilians generally don’t.

But what do you do? Since a off grid place wasn’t really in our thought process when we set out on this adventure, it has kind of opened some possibilities and some challenges. In the beginning and right up until we found the place we purchased we were not out looking for places that were off grid.  It was mostly raw land, or land with an established  homestead. The raw land we did look at for the most part had infrastrure near by either with county water at the road, electrical service near-by, county garbage pick-up. All the modern conveniences.

After we closed on the property I did a little exercise in how do I bring the those modern things to our land? My first call was to the local electric company to see if we could have power run to the cabin. They said Sure! $7 a foot! and by the way? roughly, that will be $18,000.  I thanked the engineer for his time and hung up.  So electric is out of the question for now. Maybe down the road we will look at solar, wind power, or a generator.

Water, well? (no pun) a few options available are, have it delivered? about $200 for 2000 gals. Bring it in ourselves? Rain water catchment system? Or drilling a well at $10 a ft? I was able to look up what the average well depth in the area of the cabin. 850 ft. with a static level of around 700 to 750 ft. and no guarantee of hitting anything other than rock. Then how do you pump it out without 222 volt electrical service?

Grey water and black water? We do have an outhouse. And a pretty decent one at that. Grey water right now just runs outside, we produce very little grey water.

The poop house, or what I call the shit factory



We spent  5 days over the Christmas Holiday in the cabin and had a few learning curves to go through first. No refrigeration, no flushable toilet, no showers, and conserving the water we did bring in by using it sparingly. Our potable water was hauled in using 5 gallon plastic carboys that I purchased from Walmart for $7 each. During our stay  our daily usage was about 5 gallons a day for 2 adults and 1 dog.

The cabin is fully wired and the previous owners used a generator to hook up to the cabin from outside connection or plug in. I found out the hard way that the inlet was wired initially for a 50 amp 220 volt plug.  I swapped out the 50 amp inlet (female plug) to accept a 30 amp male connection so I could connect my generator to the cabin. Easy right? Remember I mentioned 220 volts a few lines above? Yeah well, when you change to a 30 amp 120 volt connection to the wire or circuit that was wired for a split 220 volt input you now have 2 hot wires, a common, and a ground. I learned this after the incident, read on.

I plugged in a battery charger for my screw gun and I have never seen that amount of pure white sparks come out of a piece of electrical equipment like that in my life! Kinda cool but it did cost me $70 to replace the charger. Lesson learned. I did have a circuit tester with me and went around and tested all the outlets before I plugged anything else in. I found only 1 outlet and 2 overhead lights that worked “properly”. Only knowing basic electricity I am going to leave it up to the pros to come out and look at how the panel is wired. I know the previous owner was a welder by trade and he was using a generator that he runs his welding equipment with to power the cabin. Most of those are 50 amp 220v right?

Propane is the main source of heat and cooking for the cabin. A really neat thing is the previous owners installed Humphrey Gas Lights negating the real need for electric lights. Based on my experience, these little lamps kick out the heat, enough to keep the entire cabin warm enough to sit around in a t-shirt and jeans on a 30 degree night. I mentioned that cooking is also done with propane. There is a propane stove/oven installed and we cooked a pot roast during our Christmas stay, it was 57 degrees out that day and close to 95 inside with that oven going. Talk about kicking the BTU’s!

These are all challenges, not show stoppers in our book. And what is really cool? we don’t really need any of the modern conveniences to enjoy our stays.

In the immediate our intent is to use the property as a vacation get away for now. Long term? slowly develop the property or maybe not. I do know we are going to install a rainwater catchment system for our needs into the foreseeable future. With 800 sq ft of roof? why not? it’s not California and the rain is still free.




Pulling the trigger

5 or so years ago my wife and I were looking for a place to take a extended weekend away. What we were looking for was someplace quiet, away from crowds, fairly inexpensive, and not a long drive from our house. I’m not sure of the chain of events but the spousal unit picked Eureka Springs Arkansas for our long weekend, it was one of the few times in my life where I knew I wanted to be and wanted to come back to permanently.



Fast forward a few years to present day and after easily visiting Arkansas 8 or so times since that initial visit we felt we needed to make a change in our lives. We spent a fair portion of those trips “looking” at houses, and just raw land. What I wanted and what the wife wanted were 2 wildly different things. That can be hard thing to reconcile if you are not prepared for that sort of vision disagreement. We spent literally, months and years almost daily searching the interwebs looking at listings. There was a lot of back and forth about what I wanted and what the wife wanted. At times the wants and needs were wildly at opposites ends of the spectrum. If you are not prepared for a compromise, you will never have buy in from your spouse. It will always be something that she, or he will never participate in.

We did engage a realtor once on our first discovery trip and told her from the beginning that we were a couple years out from pulling the trigger on a purchase. We also shared with her we preferred to look at land on our own without a agent standing there looking at her watch. I want to beat the brush and see what is over the next hill, like, is there a hog farm with a 100,000,000 gallon pond of pig shit waiting for the next heavy rain to burst the banks and let loose with a wall of shit on me, downstream?

The agent didn’t stay with us, even after a courtesy call every time we popped into town.,How are things going? do you have a moment to pull a couple listings for us?  Nothing major like drive us all over NW Arkansas so when can go shopping (yes that happens).  On our trip this last September she was kind of indignant and distant. Her loss. There are too many other agents out there willing to be flexible for us to deal with someone who in the end just kind of became a bitch. I worked for 2 major Real Estate companies in my past and learned a lot about agent personalities. Majority are great!, a small minority can’t be bothered of you are spending more than $500,000. She fell into the minority.

We did narrow our search in September and became more serious about what and where we wanted to eventually settle. We found 2 listings and I called for more information. It so happened the agent listing the property turned out to be a great person, down to earth, very laid back, and fit our personalities. The properties we looked at were a bust, either they needed a lot of work, the owner was to set on to high a price, or there was just something hinky about how they were getting water, from the neighbors? By November we found 2 places that we wanted to see that was 2 counties over from where we originally looked back in September. We called our “new” agent and she was more than willing to meet us not only an hour’s drive away from her office but at 0900 in the morning.

We followed her car out to the first listing on our sheet of we wanna see’s for that day, 43 acres with a small off grid cabin. It turned out to be a really neat place tucked back in the woods sitting on a bluff overlooking a small valley. The agent and I did a little hike on the property, while we were gone the wife had gone over the cabin. She looked at me and said, let’s make an offer! Wow! ok, I wasn’t expecting her to say that.

Well, we made an offer, and then a counter offer. The closing took a bit longer than normal, and it was on us. We changed mortgage companies midway through the process mostly because of the interest rates being offered, but we also found out no one wanted to finance an off grid property or raw land.  That wasn’t our intent at the beginning, to find an off grid place. It just happened.

The amount of financing we wanted was also a factor for changing midstream, for some mortgage companies that was an issue, not enough.

Insurance was also an issue, no insurance company will want to take the risk on a off grid property either. Another point learned was, yes if you borrow money the mortgage company will want insurance to protect their investment, duh. I do have to say that I did know the above information, it was more of a reminder than a realization.

As soon as the words “no utilities” are mentioned, because they will ask, most companies say no. The other thing we experienced is companies will insure you, but you will pay for it. And other companies were a flat out “say no”.  It wasn’t until a insurance adjuster actually went out to the place and had a look for himself before we were able to get a honest insurance rate.

Off grid is a relatively new phenomenon in the mortgage and insurance world from my experience, so if you are going down that path of off grid, it isn’t as simple as obtaining pre approval on a regular home mortgage or insurance.



So here are a couple takeaways if you are going down the off grid path, whether directly or indirectly like us.

Local mortgage companies, credit unions, or banks and insurance companies are your go to guys if you do go  looking for insurance or a mortgage. They understand the local market better than some algorithm in a mainframe located 1000 miles away with a customer rep reading a script does. We went local for both financing and insurance. We were pre approved on a conventional loan and having all my financial information available and at an arms reach helped the process. The credit union we used also gave me a veterans discount. It saved a few dollars.

Rural loans take a bit more leg work to do than the conventional. Expect push back from some companies either on the mortgage or insurance side, they may want more documentation, and in some cases more money upfront in the form of a down payment. Do your homework, and be aware that your options are far fewer in the rural mortgage and insurance world than the conventional market. We found that 20 yr. mortgages are the norm on rural loans, that can be good and it can be bad. A bad would be, If you’re strapped monetarily by taking on a second mortgage or able to put more money towards a down payment.

We also discovered our current home owners insurance will cover liability on the property but none on the cabin, cabin interior or any other structures located on the property. We had to make many phone calls to local insurance agencies to find coverage on the cabin and the contents inside.

With all the extra time and legwork it was a good learning exercise and worked out. Wouldn’t do it again, but I am better prepared if I do.

A picture of bliss



In the end it worked out, and we were able to capitalize on a still fairly down market.

Boots, and socks

Quite a few months ago I had a comment on a post asking what type of boots and socks I use. I know in the past I have written about boots, blisters, and foot care ad nauseum. I suffered through a lot of bad blisters over the past couple of years, mostly to poor fitting boots. And I tried everything that was suggested to me by former Infantry guys and then some. Suffered is an understatement.

After wearing Naval steel toe flight boots, Army GI issue boots (23 years worth), reading a lot of boot reviews, talking to other joes, and a number of bad choices, I landed on Rocky boots, S2V type. I have rucked, did some running in them, and with around 500 miles over the last year and change. I, have not had any major foot issues since wearing these bad boys. The only 2 things I have done since the initial purchase was to replace the insoles with the same Rocky branded type that I bought direct from Rocky for around $30. I just wore out the original set out, so they needed replacing. The other was, I just used some GI suede boot cleaner/conditioner to keep the leather pliable.

This is not a sales pitch for Rocky boots, but I highly suggest a consideration if you are shopping for hiking boots.

The stitching is solid (triple stitched) and I have not had any separation of any kind anywhere on the boot so far. The Vibram soles still look like the day I took them out of the box and the laces have held up very well with no wear or rub marks from pulling them though the eyelets. The inside of the soles are made for Air Assault repelling (which is not something I do on my weekends) High Walled I think is the term Rocky uses along with a Cordura patch for abrasion resistance.  Rocky thought these boots out for the person or warrior that will be living in their boots.

The point I am trying to make is, with so many kinds of boots on the market you may have to spend some money, do research to find the kind of boot that is right for you. I think an even bigger issue is you have to walk in them, with weight on your back. Just can’t get around it. You have to walk with a pack on your back.

Boots are like anything else you have to find what works for you. My friend wears Keens, I can’t I need the extra ankle support that Keen’s do not offer me.


Socks, again like the boots above. You just have to try different types out. I have worn cotton white tube socks, GI issue socks, Fox brand socks, and a couple others that I can’t remember the names of. I settled on Bass Pro Red Head Mountain Bear socks. Just can’t beat them in my book. The Red Heads are knee high, a wool blend that washes in a normal laundry cycle and dries quickly.


As long as you are changing your socks you won’t have foot issues. Just a fact.

I normally change my socks every 5 miles or so when I am rucking. Just having dry socks on (winter or summer) not only keeps your feet in good shape, but dry socks are a real moral booster.

What do you do with your wet socks? hang them off the back of your ruck and let them dry as you walk. Simple huh?

That’s my thought’s. Everyone is different, feet sweat more, or less. Need more ankle support, blister easy or less, wear their boots tighter or looser. But, to beat a dead horse, you have to ruck march with a weighted pack.




Non prep, but a rant

I really try to stay away from racial topics and with all that has transpired in the last week in Dallas Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Kentucky and a few other places that dumb fucks think it is open season on cops and white people. There is always another side to every issue. In most cases you don’t hear to much other than what the news, or so called news/media wants you to hear or see. I won’t get on my media rant right now since I covered that subject pretty well in the past and probably will again.

We have had more than 30 years of I am a African American, Chinese American, Native American, Mexican American or whatever racial group you identify yourself with, that there are no more American’s left. We have either by indoctrination through the educational institutions, Government, self imposed ignorance, or whatever divided ourselves. I get it, it is human nature to tribe up with like minded and yes, racial like people. No matter how much you desegregate.  The United States has become a pretty fragmented society. Just by making  a statement “I am a Muslim American” you are adding kindling to the smoldering fire and perpetuating the myth that you are:

A. Special and deserve some kind of recognition or

B. You are some kind of ego maniac that you feel compelled to tell everyone what you are, or

C. You are ashamed of your heritage. Yes, I knew a guy in the service that did everything he could to deny that his mother was a filipina.

Whenever I get asked, “hey what’s your heritage?” I always make a conscious effort of saying I am an American. Sure I have Irish, English and Lithuanian blood in me. I can’t and could not control where my ancestors came from or who they had sex with. But one thing I can say that my dead relatives couldn’t say, is I am 100 % American.  I am only a 2nd generation born and bred American. I am not ashamed of that.

But by the pure definition of saying you’re an American what you are really saying your are a mutt. But a mutt that has a pretty cool place to call home on a rather large portion of the North American continent. Not to take away from the Canadiens, they are pretty much like us, mutts. My family never sat around the kitchen table and talked about the “old country” much. They were Americans. They were not English or Irish anymore.

I guess what I am trying to get at is this, If you live in The United States of America you are an American, To say you are a “fill in the blank” American makes you fit into a nice little racial and political group to be counted, given a pat on your head, told you are special and then sent out to declare to anyone that will listen you are a special person. Bullshit. I grew up in a small dead coal mine town, we all knew are ancestry gave each other shit about it and moved on. We weren’t fucking special. We all had dead relatives 300 ft below the ground that died in a coal mine disaster. An Italian laid next to an Englishman, that laid next to Frenchman, that laid next to a Catholic that laid next to a Protestant. We didn’t dwell on that crap. And, funny thing, we weren’t special! If we thought we were, we got the shit kicked out of us.

I worked with a lot of people in my 24 yrs of military life, yes there are race issues, and like any other cross section of society there will always be strife. But you know what? When it came time to get to work, we worked together and if there was a race issue, it was taken care of pretty quickly and it wasn’t an issue. All this bullshit going on now is just that bullshit.

Yes I’m white, I can’t help that. Do I have white privilege? Very little has been given to me in my life and I have taken little. I sure haven’t sat around and cried about not having as much money as Mark Zukerberg, or the Kardashian’s. Do they have white privilege? How about Kanye West? or Will Smith? oh that’s right they sold out.

Call me a cracker? I’m a saltine American then.

Done with my rant.

This video was shared with me by my wife. Although this is almost a year old since it was recorded it is still pretty relevant today. Preach Sister Preach!