How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

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How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

I think my husband and I have a pretty great marriage. Sure, we disagree at times, like everyone does. But we never spend days angry at each other. A lot of this is applicable to any relationship, no matter where you live. But living in a tiny home will put an extra strain on any one living there. We have two adults and a toddler living in 250 sq ft, so trust me, I know!

I have yet to see the way space constraints can affect a marriage talked about. So I thought I’d put this out there for anyone who wants to take up this kind of life. Living in a tiny home can be hard on you and your partner, and it takes some getting used too! Luckily I’ve done 2 solid years of research on this living out here with my husband, and I’m happy to share what I know ūüôā

So what tips can I share for having a great marriage in a tiny home?

Say you love each other.

Mean it and say it. Often. Kyle and I probably say “I love you” a dozen times a day,¬†at least.¬†Both to each other and our daughter. It should be just as easy to express love as it is to vent frustrations, so affirming our love every day helps keep our relationship strong.

Touching is important.

Not much for cuddling at night? That’s okay! Hold hands while you watch TV, sit next to each other while playing video games, or snuggle up and read together. It should be easy to find ways to touch living in a tiny home. Heck, sometimes I can’t walk through the house without bumping into Kyle! Even if you just stop for a hug now and again, physical affirmation of your feelings is important!

Do chores together.

This is probably where Kyle and I struggle the most. He has handled so much of the hard physical labor out here thus far, while I handled our newborn daughter. Now she is old enough to get geared up and explore outside while we work. It helps that we both kind of gravitate to doing chores if the other has started something. So I’ll cook and he’ll wash dishes, or he’ll start picking up the floor and I’ll sweep.¬† Doing chores together, even if we aren’t working on the same thing, helps it to feel like things are being done fairly.

Don’t keep score.

Not of chores, or fights or anything. Being married means you’re a team, you share the same score!

Allow yourself, and your partner, to be mad sometimes.

I know everyone’s advice to newlyweds is to never go to bed mad, but I think people need to on occasion. Not every issue needs to be solved right now. Sometimes I just want to say that I’m mad, and then be left alone for a bit. Kyle is definitely a talk it out right now person, whereas I need some time and space to put my thoughts together. Now I’m not saying go to bed mad every night! Just that people are complicated and sometimes we piss off our partners. It’s okay not to rush into¬†fix it mode immediately. A little space to figure out why you/they are upset can be a good thing.

Communicate.

What ever you are feeling, let your partner know. If you’re mad the dishes didn’t get done, say something. (Trust me, this is a¬†huge¬†deal when dishes from one meal clog up the entire counter!) Frustrated because your partner has hogged the remote all day? Tell ’em! Going stir crazy because you need more space to spread out? Talk about it! Seriously! Communication is a big deal in relationships. Just because you’re married doesn’t make you mind readers. Talk about¬†everything.

Don’t use the words¬†always¬†or¬†never.

These words are most likely to come up in an argument. They will almost always be an exaggeration. If you’d like your partner to do something more, don’t say “you never do this!” The only thing a statement like that does is make people defensive. It’s much easier to hear “I’d appreciate it if you’d do this more.” Always and never will only get hackles up and create a worse argument.

Once you’re done with an argument, be done with it.

I know it’s tempting to bring up the past in a fight, but once you’ve settled something let it go. That’s not to say the subject is suddenly forbidden, just make a point not to rehash things over again unnecessarily.

Have sex.

Yup! I said it. More physical affirmation of your love for each other. Regular sex is important in most relationships. There is science behind skin to skin contact and your brain releasing happy love hormones. Plus, feeling good together just makes for a happier couple. And having good sex makes you want to have more sex. Its a vicious cycle of looooove. So wait for the baby to nap, or send the kid(s) outside for a bit. Make time to make love!

People are complicated, therefore our marriages are too.

Really, not doing one of these won’t break your marriage, just like doing one won’t make it. And maybe some of these tips aren’t for you and your marriage at all. I do think they are a good place to start for having a great marriage though, in any sized home!

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What I Wish I Knew Before Butchering Pigs

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Warning: I’m trying to keep this blog as accurate to our lives as possible. That means posting sad things and mistakes we make. This is not a pigs going easily to the farm in the sky post. This is a hard lessons learned butchering pigs for the first time post.

I learned something the other day. Pigs are not easy to kill.

There is a lot more that goes into butchering pigs than other smaller animals. Up until now I’d only raised meat rabbits and chickens that I’d butchered myself. So in the process of butchering our pigs we made some mistakes. I wish I could say they died a quick easy death, but neither Kyle nor I have ever killed anything as big as pigs before. We thought we knew enough and had the right tools. We used a .22 rifle on one (which was not big enough), and Kyle missed his first shot with the .45-70 on the second one.

I’ll just say it. It sucked.

Seeing an animal you raised suffer is not a good feeling, even if it wasn’t for long. Part of raising our own pigs was that the whole process was supposed to be humane. Because of this experience Kyle doesn’t want to raise pigs to butcher again, though I still do. Next time we’ll have the experience to do better. And we’ll borrow the right sized gun if we don’t have one.

Anyone who wants to raise pigs for meat should be prepared to get attached to them.

They are surprisingly like dogs. Ours came when we whistled, were happy to see us, and just kind of ran with our pack of huskies. I’m so glad we don’t have neighbors so we can experiment with free ranging! Pigs are notorious for getting into (or out of) places they shouldn’t. Ours had space to explore and fresh ground to nose around in. Happy pig life? Check! I will say though, I did not enjoy pig poop in random places.

As for the rest of our butchering process?

After dispatching the pigs everything else was pretty easy. We watched Youtube videos to figure out how to properly gut the pigs. It wasn’t any harder than butchering chickens. Just bigger! I did get a little confused around the tail. On a chicken you can cut the whole thing off. Turns out that is not easy on pigs, so its better to just leave the tail on and cut in at the base.

Because we have so many predators in this area, we took the parts we weren’t going to eat down to the lake. Bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, lynx. No reason to call our carnivore neighbors right to us!

Once that was done we left the pigs outside in a chicken wire cage to finish bleeding out. We wanted to make sure our dogs and the magpies didn’t get to them. We ended up having baby back ribs a few nights later for dinner, and they were amazing! We also traded some ribs and pork chops to our neighbors for moose.

Cutting up the pigs probably would have been easier if it wasn’t so cold outside.

The carcasses froze before we actually got to separating cuts of meat. We needed to wait for cool weather because we don’t have refrigeration. We’ve actually lived without a fridge for almost 2 years now! But I imagine skinning and separating cuts wouldn’t have been so hard. Not to mention working with frozen meat meant having cold fingers wielding sharp knives.

So what do I wish I’d known before raising and butchering pigs?

  • I wish I’d known that you pretty much have to be an expert to kill them on the first shot. Neither Kyle nor I have done much practicing with our guns. That is something we will need to change for next time, or before going hunting.
  • Did you know pigs are loud? Ours have been so quiet out here I didn’t realize how piercing they could be. Chickens and rabbits don’t make much sound being dispatched, so I never even thought about the pigs being loud.
  • It would have been nice to know how much like dogs they were before we got them. It’s more than a little hard to kill something that is so friendly. If we raise pigs again I’ll make it a point to be a bit more standoffish with them.
  • I think next time we’ll separate them even if we are butchering more than one at a time.
  • Because our pigs were free ranging, our plan was to lure them into a small pen so they couldn’t take off. I wish I’d known how smart pigs are! Even with food in the pen, they knew something was up. Next time we’ll take our time and get them in the pen to dispatch them.

I really think pigs should be a staple of our self sufficient lives out here. They provide us meat and fertilizer, as well as tilling the soil and eating vegetable scraps/waste. I am disappointed that this processes didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. We can only do better from here.

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Best Of Sled Dog Slow 2017

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 Best Of Sled Dog Slow 2017

Last year I did the top 5 posts at the end of the year. This year I wrote a lot more, so I wanted to share the top 10. Here is the best of Sled Dog Slow 2017:

1. How To Hack A Chicken Killing Dog

Definitely a go to post if you’ve had trouble integrating dogs and chickens before. This is a tried and true method for me, that I’ve used on multiple dogs over the years. Hopefully you never need it, but its better to be over prepared than under prepared!

2. Why A Homestead Often Looks Like A Junkyard

This post was shared a lot by my homesteading friends. Quite a few thanked me for giving them a good excuse for the junk piles everywhere!

3. When A Hen Is A Rooster Is A Hen

Did y’all know a hen can “turn into” a rooster? Neither did I until I had it happen in my flock! Now, you won’t be getting any fertilized eggs out of these gentlemen, but they will crow, grow spurs, and protect your ladies!

4. Pros And Cons Of Tiny House Living

Not sure you’re ready to make the leap from 2000 to 200 square feet? This is the post for you!

5. How To Raise Chicks Without Electricity

When we first moved out to our little piece of Alaskan paradise it was raw land. No driveway, no cabin, no power. So our first batch of chickens I ended up figuring out how to raise without electricity. I actually used these methods for our second batch too because it was more convenient than starting the generator or using up all our solar with heat lamps!

6. Building On A Budget – The Alaskan Way

When you need a shed built¬†now¬†but won’t have money until¬†later. This is how we managed out here.

Building On A Budget, The Alaskan Way

7. Six Reasons We Homestead In Alaska

There are a lot of places we could have chosen to homestead, but trust me, Alaska is one of the best places in the USA for this kind of life! There are plenty of reasons we chose to live here, but these are our top six.

8. 5 Risks When Living Life By The Tides

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that our access isn’t easy. It’s seasonal, and can be sketchy year round. In summer we can’t get anything bigger than a 4 wheeler to our place, and we come and go depending on the tides. There are a lot of risks involved with having our access regularly cut off. Just read the post to see what happens if you don’t follow the rules!

life by the tides

9. Three Surprising Places To Find Cheap Homestead Goods

Homesteading is expensive. Here are three places to find the things you need a little bit cheaper.

10. Canning Salmon

How to can fresh caught salmon, as I learned from a dear Alaskan friend.

Bonus round anyone?

My favorite post of all time is: Appreciation For The Small Things. This is pretty much the post where we realized just how different our lives where really going to be. I love how well I captured our awe and appreciation of that moment!

How y’all are finding us: Most of our views come from Pinterest and Facebook. Feel free to follow us in both places and share our stuff ūüėČ

The most searched items to get to here are: “What to do on a homestead in Alaska in the winter” and “Hauling water for an off grid cabin”. I guess I know what I should write more about!

My favorite purchase we’ve made this year:¬†Definitely our instant hot water heater. Being able to take a shower when I want,¬†for as long as I want, has been such a ridiculously nice thing to have! We do also have an amazing wood splitter, and that would be #1 except it was a gift from my Father-in-law, so we didnt buy it!

We’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned quite a few lessons in our second year out here. I hope you’ll keep up with our adventure in the coming years.

Thanks for reading friends!

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Use This All Natural Trick From Grandma To Clean Fireplace Glass In 5 Minutes

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Use This All Natural Trick From Grandma To Clean Fireplace Glass In 5 Minutes

I’m sure you’ve all run into this before. You got a great deal on a glass faced wood stove, but the glass has an inch of creosote built up on it. Or you put in a brand new stove just last week and already you can’t see the fire through the thick layer of black. Fireplace glass is notorious for getting dirty fast and needing to be cleaned often.

So what to do?

Do you give up on ever seeing the warm glow from the fireplace ever again? Do you spent hours scraping or give in and use harsh chemicals to soak it clean? Think those are your only options?

Well have I got the trick for you!

Its all natural, and I’m sure you already have everything you need at home. Best of all, its fast!

This is the difference in my stove glass before and after cleaning it:

I probably wouldn’t of even needed 5 minutes to finish except I was taking pictures for y’all! This process is seriously as simple as it gets.

1. Next time your cleaning out the stove, pull out a nice piece of charcoal and set it aside until you have a minute to clean the glass. Who am I kidding? Of course your doing it now!

2. Grab a clean rag or paper towel, and a small dish of water. Open your stove to see what kind of mess you are working with.

3. Wet your charcoal and rub it over the inside of the glass.

4. Continue wetting the charcoal and using it to scrub the glass until you can see through the glass. It will be covered in streaks still, so don’t worry if it’s not clean yet!

5. Wet your rag and wipe it over the glass. Most of the grime and charcoal should come off at this point. Take wet charcoal to any places you may have missed on the first scrub, then wipe again with the wet rag.

Ta-da! Your fireplace glass is now sparkly clean! So thank your grandma and enjoy the peaceful glow of a good fire ūüôā

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Homestead Goals For 2018

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Homestead Goals For 2018

Wow, rereading our goals for this year sooooo much has changed in what we wanted to do for 2017, vs our goals for 2018. We accomplished a few of our goals, but have also figured out a few that don’t actually work for us. The longer we spend living this way the more we learn. Need vs want, idealism vs reality. Living this far out is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

Our goals last year were:

Getting Kyle a crew fishing license so he can salmon fish with our friends

Kyle did fish with our friends, although they decided not to fish the whole season. We did get enough fish put away for winter, and he made a little money. Our fishing goals for 2018 include getting our own permit and boat. That way we can fish as often as we want.

Installing a water system

Done! This is our first winter with this system and we’ve already had to make some adjustments. So far we’re managing, fingers crossed there are no catastrophic failures!

Spending more time hunting/fishing

We just got too busy with other things to do much besides Kyle salmon fishing. Next year we’ll hopefully be approved for subsistence hunting and fishing.

Preserving more foods (and shopping less) 

Between a cold summer being bad for gardening and not spending much time hunting/fishing, we still depend a lot on the grocery store.

Getting equipment out here and clearing more land 

We didn’t manage this as it didn’t fit our budget this year.

Finding our property markers (or having our land surveyed) 

As it turns out, finding property markers under 40+ years of growth is not easy. We’ll need to pay someone to survey our property in the future.

Fencing animal pastures 

Without knowing the borders of our land this wasn’t something we could do. We did create a pig pen though.

Getting 2 goats for milking

We did get two goats, and then we gave them to friends. Without fencing they got in to everything.

Building a bigger chicken coop and getting more birds 

We did build a bigger coop and get more birds. However, we have figured that chickens aren’t the direction we want to go here.

Planting a large garden

We did this, but then… The chickens got in and scratched about. They thoroughly mixed everything up. Then once things sprouted the goats broke into our greenhouse and ate everything they could. Hence us giving them away. After all that, this was a very cold summer. Last year I wasn’t prepared for all the rain, this year I wasn’t prepared for a cold ‘warm’ season. Between all that we didn’t manage to harvest much.

Planting pasture 

This wasn’t possible without clearing land first.

Building a garage

We didn’t manage this, but we did build a wood shed. Our friends did drag an abandoned trailer here that we plan on turning into a garage. So I suppose if we get that finished in the next month or so we can count it as done this year.

Building a root cellar/pantry for food storage

We didn’t build anything specifically for storing food. We did however, cover our porch and added a door. That allowed us to store food where it was cooler. The porch is our fridge/freezer this winter.

Expanding our solar set up (we have this one)

We did add 2 more batteries to our solar set up. It doesn’t sound like much, but we can store twice as much power now!

Building a shower/sauna 

We did build a shower. It works fantastic, and I enjoy it so much better than last years camp shower. We use this instant hot water heater for our showers now.

Purchasing a sawmill

Done! We’ve used our sawmill to mill shelves and steps. We also milled wood for our cabin, wood shed and pig pen.

Purchasing a second 4 wheeler

We did buy a second wheeler, but we also sold it. The one we got was more comfortable for riding, but was not really designed for the work we needed it to do. Back to one wheeler now (though we do have 2 cars again!)

After the many things we’ve learned this year, some goals have changed and some will be expanded. Our homesteading goals for 2018 are:

Purchasing a fishing permit

This is our #1 goal for next year, and will allow us a source of income and food.

Spending more time hunting/fishing

Next year we might be approved for subsistence hunting and fishing. That will extend some seasons, as well as areas we can hunt in. Getting a moose will be high on our list.

Preserving more food

More hunting and fishing means more putting food away for the winter.

Getting equipment out here and clearing land

With rental prices and the time it takes to get equipment out here, we’re seriously considering buying a rig for this. Then we could potentially barter it’s use to our neighbors as well.

Finding our property markers

Since we can’t seem to find them, we’ll need to find a remote surveyor and pay them to do it for us. It’s something we need done before we can expand much.

Getting a high tunnel

This will allow us more control over the temperature in the garden. Next year’s garden will be ah-mazing. Third times the charm, right?

Purchasing a beach truck

We need something that we can drive on the beach that’s cheap so we won’t cry if the tide takes it. The dream is to get something lifted, with big tires and a winch. Then we might even be able to drive all the way to our place in the summer.

Cut and mill lumber in preparation for building our cabin

We expect to work on this for a few years. After all, how fast can two people build their dream house? Especially with a toddler under foot! We’ll be living in our 250 sq ft cabin until the dream cabin is complete.

As you may have noticed, there are fewer goals for next year.

We have 8 goals for 2018, vs the 17 we had for 2017. Part of that is a large scale back on certain projects. As it stands right now, we don’t have plans for animals next year. We discovered this year that getting animals and figuring ‘we’ll make it work’ later isn’t a sustainable plan. Pens, pasture and fencing all need to go in before we try adding animals again. We do have to roll with the punches out here, but that doesn’t mean we can just toss the rule book!

We’ll also be dedicating a lot more time to building infrastructure out here. Having tools is great, except when you don’t have anywhere to store them. And working on vehicles is not fun if you don’t have a place to do it. There are a lot of little projects, like wood carving, that our current cabin is just to small for. The mess from carving a spoon doesn’t seem that big until it takes up your entire house!

One of the biggest things we learned this year is that winter comes fast.

Compared to Washington seasons, there is almost no time to get the big projects done here. And some things are multi season projects. There is a lot of finagling when building has to be done in the summer, but materials can only get here in winter. Putting less on our plates to start with will relieve some of the stress we’d felt this year. It also means that any extra projects we get done are just a happy surprise! We completed 9 of our goals this year, even if some didn’t work out the way we’d hoped. I think 8 is a good number of starter goals for 2018.

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