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