Lately, I have been working on my book about our journey from using the public utilities to our off-grid lifestyle. For this reason, my writing here and on my autism & homeschooling blog have been less frequent. I am hoping to get back on track with the blogs this week.
The e-book is finally getting closer to finished. After a few rough starts, I am finding the words coming much easier. On Friday night, I added another 3,000 words to it before my netbook battery got low. This book has been a challenge. When I first started workign on it, I had my own vision for where I wanted to go with it. As people learned that I was writing, I received many requests of what people wanted me to include. Over time, trying to please everyone turned teh book project into a heavy weight around my neck. I felt no joy in it anymore and set it aside. I met through Twitter another author, Paula Hardin. She gave me wonderful advice. Stop trying to please everyone else and write the book that I want. I have to say that piece of advice was very timely. I had my book saved on a flash drive, but instead of going back to it, I started over from scratch.
My goal for the book is to have at least 20,000 words before I call if finished. I am writing a bit of the backstory on how we came to be living off-grid. Included are some of our successes as well as our mistakes. I am hoping that by sharing both the good and the bad, I can help others avoid making the same mistakes as we did. The reasons for why we made many of our decisions are in the book as well. I am addressing the most often asked questions that we receive in how to get started.
There are many books out there that go through the step by step process. What makes my writing unique is that it is written almost as a journal. Readers will hopefully get an insight into not only the mechanics of how we did things, but the personal struggles along the way. When I am ready to sell the e-book, I will be doing it through Amazon and will post on the blog when it is available.
In homesteading news, we have finally stopped having freezing temperatures. I usually don’t start planting the garden until May, unlike many of the neighbors who start earlier. I tried planting early one year and lost the entire planting due to a freeze. Our last frost happens about late April each year, so I play it safe. This year, I am planting mostly root crops and only a few varieties of squash and leafy greens. A farm near us sells fresh produce from their produce stand. It is more economical to buy from them, than to grow it ourselves. I am also looking at the fact that with 2 young children, one of which is special needs, I have to limit the amount of garden work that I do. So, I am focusing on items that I will be canning or are ones that we use almost daily. High maintenance varieties that require a lot more attention will be purchased from the farm. Once my husband is no longer truck driving for a company that has him gone for a week or more at a time, I will have help tending the garden. Until then, I have to keep it within the reasonable levels that I can manage on my own.
My husband was able to meet the 2nd of 3 goals for getting a local trucking job last weekend. The first was to get a small truck for transportation to and from a local job. We did that earlier this month when we bought a used truck from a neighbor. Last weekend, he started the process for getting his background check for a HAZMAT endorsement. In our area, most trucking jobs require that the drivers have this endorsement. The last step will be to take the written test once he receives the letter saying he has passed the background check. Getting him back home has been a goal of ours for a long time. We tried it once before and it didn’t work out. He had found a job outside of trucking and the pay was minimum wage. We lived on that single income for 3 years before we made the choice for him to go back to trucking, which pays better. Now, we are taking it a bit slower with getting him back home again. We are taking steps to get him a local trucking job that will pay at least what he gets now. By having a HAZMAT endorsement, we can accomplish that goal.
In other news, we seem to have hit a time of breakdowns with equipment. LOL It never fails. One thing gets fixed and another decides to take a turn. Latest was the lawn tractor. We replaced the battery, started it up and began mowing only to have the cable that engages the blades snap. So, after all the rain we have had, we have no way to mow until we fix the lawn tractor hopefully tomorrow. You have to take it with a sense of humor. I keep thinking of an old fashioined rotary blade mower my grandparents had. It had no motor. Instead it was a wheel of blades that spun as you pushed the mower. I have to wonder if they were not much smarter to have that type of mower. I remember using it a few times. The only maintenance was sharpening the blades. It sure was heavy to push though!
A new project that I am going to try this week is making a mosquito catcher to hang out in the woods away from the house. I saw instructions to make this really easy one from a 2-liter bottle. You start by cutting the top portion off of the bottle just about an inch below where the bottle is at it’s widest. This makes a funnel that will later be inserted into the bottom portion. Heat 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of brown sugar until the brown sugar has dissolved. Let cool, pour into the bottom part of the 2-liter bottle then add about a scant 1/4 teaspoon of dry active yeast to the sugar water. Place the top portion of the bottle upside-down into the bottom portion to form a funnel. Tape around the seam to hold in place. Wrap the bottle in black paper or paint black. From what I read, the mosquitos are attracted to the carbon dioxide the yeast/sugar mixture makes. They also are supposed to be drawn to the color black. The mosquitos go into the bottle but cannot get out. You have to change out the mixture every couple of weeks to keep baiting them. I know this is common sense but make sure that you bait them a distance from your home or any area where your family hangs out. I am hoping that this works since we have an irrigation ditch not far from our home.