Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stage One

   The first stage of winterizing the travel trailer is completed, that of stacking straw bales around it for insulation. It took 70 bales! The difference it made immediately was amazing. We can already maintain a comfortable 67-69 degrees F with mostly the oil electric heater, only using the propane furnace when we need to kick it up if very cold outside, as in less than 25 degrees. 

   The next and final stage is building a room on the side of the trailer to house the wood stove and give us a bit more room. That will be especially nice during winter when we spend more time inside due to less sunlight and cold weather. It will make a much better area for wet dogs to dry off, contain wet boots and coats, as well. It’s getting pretty dicey dodging four pairs of boots, a water hose (to keep it from freezing outside), two dogs, a cat, and cold damp coats hanging from cupboard doors!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Four Days Later

   And four days later, one of the same views only with snow!

Pretty Fall Colors

  Here are a couple shots showing the beautiful golden tamarack trees on the mountainsides. It is simply gorgeous here in autumn!

Waving "Hello"!

   Yes, we're still here! Sheesh, it's been one crazy summer I never want to repeat. Long and sad and lonely, yet at the same time peaceful and healing, too. What many of you do not know is that I spent from May until the end of October up here, in the travel trailer, with the dogs and cat and cattle, by myself 75% of the time. Tom was traveling back and forth every weekend to work on the coast. I thought at the beginning my limit to living this lifestyle would be August. I was dead on. However, things beyond our control forced us to continue. I did reach my breaking point. A few times. Let's suffice it to say there were many tearful telephone conversations between myself and Tom, as well as other family. I am infinitely grateful that we are here together now!!!!!! We are both finally full-time, permanent residents (address changed with the post office, DOL, and all!) albeit in a TT for now.

  So, what's happening in our neck of the woods? We are in the process of winterizing the travel trailer. What is involved in "winterizing" the trailer? Our version is stacking bales of straw around the trailer (which made at least a 15 degree difference instantly), and building on a little room which will contain a wood stove for more efficient, less-expensive heating. We got most of the straw bales up just in the nick of time, too - the very next morning we got our first snow... 3 inches! Being sited in the trees means that not much sun reaches the site, thus the snow is still on the ground. temperatures haven't been above 35 degrees in over a week. Welcome to winter! A trace amount of snow fell yesterday morning, and then just a few flurries today. More pictures will be forthcoming, but here is one of Tom getting ready to unload straw.    ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Off-Grid Laundry System

  No washer/dryer in the travel trailer meant I had to figure out a system to do our laundry. And hauling it into the laundromat every week was not an option. Been there, done that. This is what I came up with: 18 gallon plastic buckets, a hand washer, and a 3-bucket wringer system; plus a clothes line with pulley and wood clothes pins.

  I also use Bio-Kleen laundry soap since I know it is safe for greywater systems and the environment, absolutely no chemical anything in it. I use one bucket for the washing, one for the rinsing, and an extra for whatever. A friend who also uses the plunger-style hand washer (available from Lehman's) said using a 5-gallon bucket wasn't very effective with it, not enough room for the water to swish in and around the clothing, so Tom found these 18-gallon buckets (I know they are available at Wal-Mart) that work beautifully. We find the hand washer to be highly effective in getting the clothes clean, even towels, and it's relatively easy. I mean, listen, if I can do this with my health limitations, anyone can! Besides, building a few muscles is always a good thing.   :)

  Now, the wringer system is pretty cool, but we can't take credit for it. That would be Steve Spence who we learned it from. Take three 5-gallon buckets plus a lid, drill several holes in the bottom of one. Place one on the ground, place the one with holes inside that one, put your wet items inside the one with holes, then put the one with the lid inside/on top of said wet items, and sit on it. That's right folks, sit on it... to squish all the water out! Pretty cool, eh!!! The only thing we haven't quite figured out how to remedy is that the lip on the buckets prevents the water from being completely wrung out of the very bottom items. We think maybe adding some smooth rocks or something? If any of you have suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

  Finally, I simply take the bucket with the clothes over to the laundry line (which we also got from Lehman's). I have a chair there so I don't have to keep bending over to reach for each new article to hang. Having the pulley's is marvelous, that way I don't have to walk back and forth for hanging or taking them off. As you can tell, I am all about conserving various forms of energy! I really like the old-style wood clothes pins, too (no springs to break). I find they hold items of any thickness and haven't popped off even with the breeze. I wear an apron with pockets to keep the clothes pins in.With the lovely pine scented air and mountain breezes the laundry dries in a few hours and smells like no "clean" I've ever smelled before. It's a pure clean. The breeze also helps to soften the fabric, without any additions like vinegar or borax. I'm a purest, what can I say.   ;)

  So there you have it! From sorting to hanging on the line, two loads takes about 1-1/2 hours. Believe it or not, it's actually sort of a relaxing task!

Disappointment & Heartbreak

  Tom and our nephew C. made the Big Cattle Drive back to Missouri and Arkansas to collect our started herd of six American Milking Devon cattle in May. What a ride!!! You'll have to read about that adventure on our Ranch blog, when I can actually get Tom to write it down.

  Five days after their arrival, one of the two pregnant heifers went into labor. She delivered a stillborn calf. Disappointing to be sure. But at least she is fine. One more heifer is due in August/September.

  Then, two days after that event, tragedy struck. Our dogs contracted a superbug from the packaging or some organic chicken. Our female, Greer, recovered. But our main companion/working stud dog, Eoin, died. The emotional devastation has been incredible, the grief immense. Our female that survived went into a depression; they were very bonded. We need at least two dogs out here and with her in the state she was, we knew we needed to get another pup started sooner rather than later. So on July 1st a male English Shepherd pup named Liam joined our family! No dog could ever take Eoin's place, but we are looking forward to watching little Liam grow and mature into the best dog he can be. And he is a wonderful puppy who is already bringing joy and helping all our hearts heal.

Spring 2011 Update

  Well, what a spring it's been! Updates have been nil due to my not having a computer. But it doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I actually keep a notebook nearby to jot down all future posts.   ;)   I have access to my pc for a few days so am making sure to update all of our blogs (see below for a list). Thank you for your patience!

  For the most part things have been going well in our Temporary Shelter (read: travel trailer), country life. It has its challenges and constraints for sure - like learning to step over/around two dogs and shoes without tripping and killing oneself (sort of like that game Twister!), adjusting to a postage stamp-sized bathroom complete with shower stall made for an 8 year old, keeping all the dishes washed up so one can actually use the minuscule amount of counter space the kitchen affords, and learning to make your bed while in/on it, etc. After about two weeks we hit our stride and fell into a nice routine. One things for certain, we adore being out in the country!!!

  Although we aren't off-grid yet, it's very much like glorified camping. We had much more rain than usual, than before anyone alive can recall. Camping + rain does not = enjoyable, however. It does add up to mud & dirt & wet coats hanging on cabinet doors to dry. Of one thing I am absolute certain... after living in our travel trailer TS, I am firmly believe they were never designed nor meant to actually live in, full time. And also, as tiny as it will be, our humble cabin is going to feel spacious and solid!

  Watch for an upcoming post about my off-grid laundry system!    :)

Our other blogs:
Highland Glenn English Shepherds
Highland Glenn Ranch

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


  We just got back from an all-too-quick-trip out to Republic last weekend. Tom had work in Spokane, being that close we figured might as well take the opportunity to go check out the trailer site situation in advance. Looks all in order.   ;)

  This was the earliest in spring we'd been out there. Not too much in bloom or budding out yet, but pretty much all the snow is gone, except for spots of deep shade and of course the mountain tops. It was also the first time to drive up through Colville and Kettle Falls, and through Sherman Pass... the highest in the state. What a beautiful drive! We so look forward to exploring the region!

  We enjoyed a brief visit with a couple neighbors. And the dogs sure loved exploring while we checked things out! Eoin dug a huge hole in pursuit of some underground critter! I was thrilled to discover a pine tree oozing fragrant pitch (resin)!!! I collected some to make a healing salve. The bounty of Nature for a family herbalist is a treasure indeed!

  Next week is the trailer deep cleaning and then I begin packing it. Time is flying by!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Simple Solar Homesteading

  The following is a press release from a guy who is inspiring people everywhere to live more simple and sustainable lives they build with their own hands. A version of his tiny cabin is what we plan to build ourselves! For anyone interested, his book is chock-a-block full of incredible ideas easily implemented. We highly recommend it!

  "LaMar Alexander is a long time homesteader and author that lives off-grid in the 14x14 solar cabin he built for under $2000. His cabin power comes from a small 570 watt solar and wind system that runs his lights, water pump, TV, laptop, and other gadgets. The cabin includes a rain water and gray water harvesting system and he hand drilled his own water well. He uses a solar composting toilet of his own design for handling waste. Propane is used for a small 20,000 BTU heater, fridge, and on-demand water heater.

  LaMar also uses many passive solar features in his cabin including solar air heaters, a solar water heater, solarium porch, and passive cooling. With no house payments and no monthly utility bills LaMar has been able to leave the 9-5 rat race and now runs a small part time business and spends most of his time pursuing his hobbies of fishing, gardening, and writing books.

  If you are interested in a simple solar homesteading life LaMar has a new book titled "Off the Grid" that is 355 pages full of his designs and detailed step-by-step plans for building a solar cabin, solar composting toilet, solar air and water heaters, and teaches you how to hand drill a water well and make your life and homestead sustainable.

  Visit his website for more information:"

LaMar's simple solar cabin
Simple Solar Homesteading Lamar Alexander is a long time Homesteader and author that lives off-grid in the 14x14 solar cabin he built for under $2000. His cabin power comes from a small 570 watt solar and wind system which runs his lights, water pump, TV, laptop, and other gadgets. The cabin includes a rain water and gray water harvesting system and he hand drilled his own water well. He uses a solar composting toilet of his own design for handling waste. Propane is used for a small 20,000 BTU heater, fridge and on-demand water heater.
LaMar also uses many passive solar features in his cabin including solar air heaters, a solar water heater, solarium porch, and passive cooling.  With no house payments and no monthly utility bills LaMar h

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Ahead!

  Officially it is Spring now! And the clocks have been re-set ahead one hour (at least folks living in the states that practice maddening daylight savings time [I wish ours didn't] ). The trees and shrubs in western Washington are in bud and bloom, even the native species. Yes, we're having a bit of an early spring this year after a very mild winter. It won't be long before the lilacs are in bloom once again, scenting the air with their heavenly perfume!

  What lay directly ahead this Spring of 2011 is moving to our land! May seems to be sort of a special month for us - we were both born in May, we met in May, we bought our first house in May, we first visited our future home-town of Republic in May, we found our land in May. And now we are beginning our move in May! Although the house has not sold as of yet, and the market is very slow, we have our heritage cattle to bring home. So myself, Krystal, along with the two dogs and cat will make the move in May to live in a travel trailer and watch over our small herd of six. In the meantime, Tom will remain at the house trying to sell it. If it doesn't sell in a couple months, we will rent or lease it out. Tom will visit us often!

  This was not our "plan" but, like the river analogy I use over and again to illustrate this journey we're on, our raft came upon a snag of debris from spring run-off and we're going around it as best we can!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feeding Your Carnivore

  Many times we are asked what we feed our dogs and cat. Simply stated, we feed a Species Appropriate Raw Food diet (SARF). We first heard about it just prior to getting our first English Shepherd puppy, Eoin. When he started having digestive issues, and changing commercial feed wasn't helping these, we decide to make the leap into raw. We have been thrilled with the glowing health of our pets and would never go back! And it fits very well into the plans for our sustainable ranch. We are impassioned advocates for the natural care of all animals we share life with. 

  This is a rather long post filled with the basics. So grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy the read! And be sure to do more research later on.   ;)

* We now know Eoin's symptoms were also related to adverse vaccine reaction. His system was overloaded with toxins! For more information on the dangers of vaccines, please visit our Canine Health and Further Research pages.


What Is a SARF Diet?

    A Species or biologically Appropriate Raw Food (SARF) diet is one based on the physiological needs of any given animal. For our discussion here, we are talking canines. Dogs are facultative carnivores meaning they are largely carnivorous, but have the ability to digest small amounts of plant matter. In order to thrive and not simply survive, they need primarily meat, organs, and bones. According to the Smithsonian Institute, dogs were recently categorized as Canus lupus familiaris, this came on the heels of DNA testing that confirmed dogs are more closely related to the Grey Wolf, Canus lupus, than previously realized. The canine digestive system cannot truly digest grains such as corn, rice, and wheat since they do not produce the enzyme Amylase in their saliva which is specific to the digestion of carbohydrates. Along with putrefaction, an over abundance of yeast can establish itself in a dog's digestive tract due to these products, causing bloating and discomfort at the very least, but also contributes to disease and both internal and external parasites. Commercial dog food manufacturers use grain as fillers to help the dog feel full. These are less expensive than protein sources and help keep their production costs down. Eating foods high in fillers means more to be eliminated as unused waste. This, in turn, means lots of stinky piles to clean up!
    Take a close look at your dog's teeth. Their teeth and jaws were designed for ripping and tearing, not chewing and grinding like the flat molars of humans, although their molars are suited to some grinding action. The teeth are all pointed or jagged to shear, cut through, and nibble-off meat; and their jaws are hinged to crunch through bone and swallow large pieces of meat. Although some do feed their dogs ground meat, we don't feel it's quite biologically appropriate. We feed whole pieces, with bone in. This is where it comes into play that they are benefited mentally. To see your dog truly enjoying his food, perhaps for the first time in his life like our Eoin, the look of contentment on his face, is a beautiful thing!
    Feeding a SARF diet does take a bit of extra time and thought. By feeding your dog only natural foods that are biologically active and species appropriate, his internal and external body condition is increased. The likelihood of him developing disease is greatly reduced. Visits to the veterinarian due to problems are all but eliminated, in fact, 'wellness visits' will be the norm instead! After all, one should have an allopathic veterinarian on your dogs health care team - who knows when he'll need stitches or break a bone. When you choose to feed a SARF diet, your dog will be healthier and happier!

Benefits of a Species Appropriate Diet

  • Improved quality and length of life due to greater health.
  • Improves mental and physical well-being, love those bones!
  • Stronger immune system, less money spent treating disease.
  • Sparkling white teeth, healthy gum's, fresher breath.
  • Organ health reduces incidence of chronic disease.
  • Fewer, small stools with little or no odor.
  • Shiny coats with less shedding and body odor.
  • Eliminates/reduces skin allergies.
  • Full control over preservatives and chemicals.
  • Ideal for weight management.
  • Balances energy.
  • Live enzymes in real food enhance digestion.
  • Fewer parasites, parasites do not thrive on or in healthy animals.

Raw Basics

    There are no absolutes to feeding your dog raw. It's highly adjustable according to your dogs needs- more bone, more meat than bone, more/less based on activity, etc. After you've been feeding raw for a couple weeks, you'll get to know your dogs needs. Here is a basic formula to follow as a starting point:

  • 45-50% Raw Meaty Bones - meat with edible bones like fish, poultry necks, backs, wings, etc.
  • 45% Muscle Meat - meat without bones- heart
  • 5% Organ Meat - liver, lung, etc.
  • 0-5% Miscellaneous - whole raw eggs, raw milk, green tripe (not the bleached white stuff!)

    Our dogs get 2-4% of their body weight in ounces per day, monitoring weight to adjust amounts is important. More or less depending on how he feels in the 'hug test'. We also adjust amounts according to activity level- less in fall/winter, more in spring/summer. Here's a handy calculator to aid in determining how much to feed your dog or puppy!

    Remember to supply a nice variety of raw food each week. Every meal does not have to be completely balanced... balance is achieved over time. So go ahead and give your dog chicken three days in a row, red meat for a couple days, and then lamb to round out the week. Each type of meat contains different nutrients and amino acids, so this variety will give him superior nutrition for life. 

   So, what exactly do we feed our pets? They get a wide variety of human grade raw meat, bones, and organs- fish, chicken, beef, rabbit, pork, lamb- much of it in its whole form or chunks large enough to really gnaw on and clean those pearly whites. Occasionally whole egg, plain organic yogurt, and raw goat milk. The dogs enjoy apple and windfall plums, as well as vegetables they pilfer from my kitchen garden. They also enjoy large beef and buffalo bones as a treat, never rawhide which can block up their systems and be a choking hazard. Some folks also give supplements, although this isn't absolutely necessary. Our pets get a good variety of healthy meats, organs, and meaty bones for a naturally balanced diet.

You Can Do It!

    Depending on your dog, you can either switch over 100% immediately, or transition gradually. Paying attention to how your dog's body responds will be the main determining factor. Some dogs may experience loose stools the first couple days. For this, simply give him a couple tablespoons of organic, plain pumpkin puree per day until it firms up again. Yep, the kind you find in a can at the market!

    Do try to keep the diet simple to begin with, starting with one type of meat for a couple days, adding another type, and so on. Feeding meat with smaller bones and in 2-3 small meals will help your dog adjust to the exercise his jaw is receiving. Trim off excess fat and hold off on giving him any of the Miscellaneous items until it seems his system has fully adjusted, maybe 2 weeks or so.

    There may be a day here and there that your dog doesn't want to eat. That's okay! Canines go for almost a week without food in the wild. Some folks practice a 'fast day' for their dogs each week, only making water available. Eoin and Greer have a semi-fast day once every week, consisting of raw milk or bone broth, and two whole eggs. They seem to enjoy this special meal and we have seen firsthand how the toxin cleansing benefits have helped them.

    One thing to definitely be aware of -  dogs not accustomed to eating raw meat and bones can sometimes choke. Their jaw, facial, and esophageal muscles aren't used to it. They seem to eat faster in general on raw, most times Eoin is finished in far less than 5 minutes. I do wonder whether a dog thinks his incredibly delicious new food may be one he's not 'supposed' to have, so he scarfs it down even faster before it's taken away! Just watch him for the first week especially, while he eats. Trust me, it's not like you'll have to stand and watch for a very long time! You can also teach your dog to slow down by hand feeding - have your dog "sit and stay", then hold the chunk of meat while he eats. He will eat slowly and carefully with you holding it. Once you see him slow down, go ahead and let go of the meat. It only took a couple times for Eoin and Greer to learn with this method.

    In your dog's enthusiasm to eat the tempting morsel you offer, he may accidentally nip your hand. We found it extremely helpful to train Eoin and Greer to "sit" or "down" and "stay" while we placed their dish on the ground, then give the release command "okay, go eat". This technique will also eliminate any tendency toward food aggression. Their routine comes in handy for the pet sitter, too!

    Some older dogs especially, may not take to raw at first. Go even slower, do what you can. Be patient. Above all, keep at it! Every little bit is one step closer to a healthier, happier dog!

    Also, keep in mind that a raw fed puppy develops very strong jaws and teeth. Translation, they can tear up furniture and toys in a flash. We liked the rubber puppy Kong for Eoin, so got one for Greer, too. Needless to say, we were quite surprised to see shreds and chunks taken out of it! Caution and supervision are in order.  :)

    Where to feed your dog? Well, eating raw meat is a messy affair, believe you, me! Unless you don't mind thoroughly sanitizing your floor after each and every feeding, go ahead, feed your dog in the house. I'm all about ease and simplicity, so its outside on the porch for our dogs. Next, we do try to be considerate of our neighbors. Observing a dog through the fence gnawing on animal parts could draw the unwanted concern of a neighbor. So, we opted to train our dogs to take their pieces of meat from a dish, in one location, instead of strewn all around the yard, as they instinctively will do. It's a helpful practice while traveling, too. This does not mean, however, that we don't find the odd bone buried here and there, or see the neighbor dog gaze longingly as Eoin relishes a big bone, but we can all live with that!

    Whether you go 'cold turkey' or gradually transition, by all means do give it a try. We haven't regretted it for an instant and will never go back!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blog Talk Radio

  I have been invited to share about our plans to go off-grid as well as natural animal care on the Animal Talk... Naturally live radio show! The date is Wednesday February 2nd at 12:30 MT. Here is the link for the show-

  To listen in just be there! To participate in the chat and ask questions for me to answer, register (it's free) and type away!

  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


  During this rather slow time of waiting for something interesting to happen to blog about, the thought occured to me "Why not ask our Readers what they would like to read from us?"

  So, Readers, what interests you? You may either vote in the poll on the right, and/or add a comment.

  We look forward to hearing from you!

No Bites

  The house has been on the market for one month now. It's been shown a few times and one caravan open house was held. No bites yet. Except me biting my own nails. We lowered the price a bit. Our realtor said it was a good time to do this while it is still a fairly new listing. And she also feels positive about it selling within our hoped-for time frame of moving in March or April. From her lips into the universe!