Why A Homestead Often Looks Like A Junkyard

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Why A Homestead Often Looks Like A Junkyard SledDogSlow.com

What do you see when you look at pictures of homesteads online? Perfect fences, flowering garden beds, clean coops. Well let me tell you, I can guarantee they don’t look like that all the time! In fact, homesteads often take on a junkyard vibe. When Kyle and I first moved out here and looked around our piece of raw land, he explicitly stated he did not want our place to look like that. Now we’re over a year into our journey and guess what? We are definitely taking on that look!

Now you may say you haven’t seen it, even with all the pictures I post to Facebook and Instagram.

The truth is those pictures, while not posed, are very carefully selected to avoid junky backgrounds. We have piles of pipe, cut logs/brush, and tarped equipment everywhere. There is an inherent need to put your best self forward, so I avoid showing those things for the most part. And when they do make it into pictures, I usually apologize for the state of our place! It’s a lot like having a friend stop by unexpectedly and apologizing because your dog has just torn up the living room and piddled on the rug. It’s embarrassing.

That said, I don’t want anyone reading my blog to think living this way is all rainbows and fresh eggs.



I want to provide a 100% realistic view of our life and what homesteading is for us. I want to share all the troubles and hardships along with the joy and goofy stories. And really, there is a reason why homesteads often end up looking like junkyards. It’s because we need all that stuff!

We collect that junk because to us, it’s not junk.

A rusted mattress spring can make a great garden gate, or a tractor pull behind to level a gravel road. Have a broken broom? Turn the handle into a clothes hanging rod. Old shutters are new mail holders, a rake is a ladle holder, junk tires become planters. There are at least 2 1/2 uses for everything on the homestead.

Here is an old bar stool re-purposed as a rabbit waterer:

An old trampoline used as a rabbit pen:

A kindling splitter made from an old treadmill:

A stock rack turned wood rack:

A scrap wood chicken coop:

It only looks like junk until we turn it into something new and useful!

In addition to re-purposing, sometimes its a hassle to haul out what took so long to haul in.

For us, our homestead is miles from the end of the road. We use our 4 wheelers to get everything here most of the year. Occasionally when the road is frozen and clear of snow we can drive our truck back here, but we have been snowed in doing that so it’s not something we like to do. And going to town is an all day affair, so making special dump runs just isn’t an option. We do take trash out when we go to town, but we only head that way when we stack up a bunch of errands. And space is limited with 4 wheelers, so many things stay until we find a way to fix it or reuse it.

We also need spare parts for everything.

Kyle and I actually have a list of spares we want to buy when we have a little extra cash. Extra bearings for our Kodiak and Rhino 4 wheelers, since they seem to be a reoccurring problem. Spare blades for our sawmill, and another chainsaw for if ours breaks. Homesteaders always need extra building materials and fencing, spare equipment parts, and bits and bobs, just in case. Most homesteads (in fact, every homestead I’ve visited) has a junkyard or a boneyard so they have extra items on hand when they need them.

As the saying goes, one mans junk is another mans treasure!

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Pros And Cons Of Tiny House Living

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Pros And Cons Of Tiny House Living SledDogSlow.com

We live in a tiny house. It’s not the smallest I’ve ever seen, but it’s pretty small for two adults and a growing baby. Including our storage-only loft, our house is still less than 300 sq ft. I think it’s a mansion compared to what we started with out here, which was less than 100 sq ft. As much as I love our little cabin, it has always been a temporary space. There are lots of reasons to love it, and just as many reasons to be excited to start our larger forever cabin. Just like every aspect of life, tiny house living has its pros and cons.

Pros of living in a tiny house:

There is no room to collect junk when you live in a tiny house. This is a good thing for me, as I love a good junk collection!

It’s really hard not to be organized in a tiny home. This means almost always knowing where something is when you want it.

Tiny houses are super fast to clean when you do have the occasional mess.

Small spaces are easier to heat, which is especially nice if you are off grid and heating with a wood stove.

Smaller houses are cheaper to build and maintain than an average home.

Cons of tiny house living:

There isn’t much room to spread out in such small spaces. This means things like big baking projects and art projects don’t really happen.

More than one person in a tiny house means a lot of bumping into each other! It also means it’s hard to have friends over, so we usually end up visiting rather than having visitors.

Unfortunately, living in a tiny home means little to no privacy. There are no doors in our house for example, just a wider than average doorway leading from the main living area to our bedroom.

At least with small log homes, there is no sound dampening. I can hear Kyle running the chainsaw outside, or the chickens singing the egg song, or the goats playing.

Coming home from grocery shopping is like playing Tetris, sometimes more than one round. We will often bring in half of our goods, rearrange and put them away, then bring in the second half and do it again.

If you think you can handle the cons along with the pros, a tiny house might be right for you!

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5 Homesteading Secrets Revealed

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Homesteading. Its all over these days. In the news, on television, even in video games! That said, there is a lot of misinformation about what homesteading is, and who does it. Today I wanted to dive into those misconceptions and set a few things straight. Without further ado, here are 5 homesteading secrets, revealed.

5 Homesteading Secrets Revealed - SledDogSlow.com

5 Homesteading Secrets Revealed - SledDogSlow.com

Secret #1: You can homestead just about anywhere

Homesteading is all about being self-sufficient and the journey to get there. On 100 acres or a kitchen windowsill, as long as you are taking steps towards growing and preserving your own food, you could be considered a homesteader. Unfortunately, there is little opportunity to truly homestead,  where you would receive land in exchange for working it. The meaning of the term has changed with the times to encompass any one looking to live a little more simply.

Secret #2: Homesteading is H-A-R-D

I hate to burst bubbles, but TV homesteading is overly romanticized. It’s not all barn raising and moonshine makin. Homesteading is often tragedies like dogs killing chickens, or essential equipment breakdowns. It’s problem solving, and problem having. Homesteading is working every day, without fail. This means no long vacations, or even weekends sometimes!

Secret #3: You can homestead without knowing anything about it

Have a hankering to grow your own food but don’t know how? As long as you are willing to do research, ask questions, and try, you can homestead. There’s no required degree from the University of ‘Grew Up On A Farm’. The same applies to wanting to raise your own animals for eggs, meat and dairy.

Secret #4: Homesteading is expensive

It’s unfortunate but true, homesteading costs money. Sure, there are ways to get homestead goods cheaply, but there are a lot of expenses, and they add up! From starter costs like seed, to expansion costs like land and equipment, homesteading means spending cash.

Secret #5: Homesteading can be fun

That’s right, even if you are broke and covered in mud (err, poop) you can still have fun homesteading! I love watching all the baby animals in spring, chasing around our goats, and digging my hands in the dirt. The satisfaction if living this life seems to make nearly every aspect of it more enjoyable!

Are you a homesteader with secrets to add? Share them in the comments!

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How We Have Tap Water Off Grid

How We Have Tap Water Off Grid - SledDogSlow.com
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Do we live off grid? Yup. Do we have clean, drinkable, running water on tap? Yup, got that too! I thought today I’d talk about how we cobbled together our water system to create clean tap water off grid.

Check out this video detailing our system!

And just in case you would like to read about it rather than watch the video, I’ll include an explanation here as well.

As anyone who has been following our off grid, off road adventure so far knows, we haul our water from a nearby creak to our property. We’ve been hauling water roughly 20 gallons at a time for a year now, but thanks to our new Yamaha Rhino, we can now do 100 gallons at a time! The water is then poured into our recently acquired 1100 gallon reservoir tank, then the appropriate amount of bleach is added for purifying. From there we use a pump inside our house to move the water.

First the water is pulled through a sediment filter.

This filter catches any large detritus such as leaves and bugs. The filter is placed before our pump so that it doesn’t get gummed up with anything.

Next in our system is the pump itself.


We have a this Everbilt pump. It pulls water from our reservoir, through the sediment filter, then pumps it into our well tank.

We have an 86 gallon Water Worker well tank.

The steel well tank has a bladder inside that is pumped full of water. The rest of the tank is filled with air so that it pushes on the bladder when full. This is what creates pressure to push the water through pipes into our other systems. The air pressure and water pressure both have to be right for this system to work!

Next on our system is a pressure gauge, then fittings for our hoses leading to other systems.

The pressure gauge needs to be at the waters exit so we know if we have enough pressure to run everything. Our fittings lead hoses to our sink, washing machine, shower, and an outdoor garden hose. It may seem odd to pump water inside then right back out to the garden, but our well tank had to be indoors to keep from freezing during Alaska’s harsh winters.

The washing machine and garden hoses lead directly into those systems. Our shower hose leads into an Eco Temp propane instant hot water heater.

This allows us to have instant hot showers when ever we want out here. We really love this system because we spent a year heating water on the stove and pouring it into a camp shower. Having a shower that’s a tad longer than 5 gallons is such a luxury!

Another hose leads to our water filter, which feeds into our sink.

This allows us to have tap water off grid. I still find it hard to believe sometimes that I can just turn the faucet and get a glass of water! For most of the last year we had been using a DIY berkey filter we made with 5 gallon buckets (post here). It worked great for filtering drinking water, but it was really slow. There never seemed to be any extra water, so we boiled or bleached water for dishes and bathing in. Our water filter now is a Kube system. It can filter 1600 gallons before the filters will need to be changed, and has a class 4 filter for things like giardia and cryptosporidium.


And that is how we get drinkable tap water off grid!


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The Good, The Bad, The Gross – Outhouse Care

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Before we decided to go crazy, drop our entire lives, and move to the Alaskan bush, I had rarely used and outhouse. I’d used park maintained porta potties mostly. And maybe a real, honest to goodness outhouse in an orchard or on a camping trip a few times. But I’d never needed to even think about maintaining an outhouse until now, and as we all know, maintenance matters! Outhouse care is especially important when the outhouse is in use 24/7/365.

The Good, The Bad, The Gross: Outhouse Care by SledDogSlow.com

Proper outhouse care starts with building an outhouse correctly.

Outhouses are receptacles for waste. This means that they should not be placed to close to buildings, gardens, or water supplies. In many areas there will be codes regarding the building and use of outhouses. Check with your local municipality to make sure everything will be placed to code. Fines for improper waste disposal can be huge! And there really is an outhouse sweet spot that is not to far from the home, but not to close either, so placement really matters. Next time we move it, I think the outhouse could stand to be a little further away, and actually in line with the house rather than going around the back side.

There are a lot of things to think about that go into caring for a year round outhouse, once you get it built.

One of the considerations of using an outhouse vs a septic system is animals. I’ve touched on our issues with the dogs briefly in this postbut there are other critters to consider. I’m still trying to figure out how to remove the sneaky wasp nest that showed up before it gets to big. And yes, before we fixed the back of our outhouse there was the occasional chicken party in there (blech!). There are also mice, voles and squirrels which all love to steal toilet paper, fresh or used! Switching from using a flushing toilet to an outhouse has had a definite ick factor that we needed to get over.

Part of that “ick” factor is what to do with toilet paper and wipes.

Unlike plumbed toilets, an outhouse will only hold so much before a new hole needs to be dug. It’s important to dig the hole deep enough, and fill it slow enough, that the contents have time to compost. A well cared for outhouse can last years in the same spot! To keep our outhouse from filling too quickly, we made the decision to bag butt paper, which tends compost slower than other things going down the hole. And wipes take even longer to break down than tissue paper, so we burn them along with the rest of our cardboard and paper garbage. It’s definitely gross, but better than an overflowing outhouse!

 Another outhouse issue to consider would be insects.

Composting waste of any kind tends to attract flies, and outhouses are no different. Cutting down on the smell helps prevent this to some extent. We use wood ash from our wood stove for this purpose. Products such as lime and pine shavings also help cut down on smells, though lime will slow decomposition.

Outhouse buildings should be completely enclosed and have screens over any vents to prevent insects from making their way inside. This will help with flies and mosquitoes (because nobody likes itchy privates).  Also, if you are lucky enough to collect a spider in an outhouse try to leave him be. Spiders make short work of many flying insects and are beneficial to have in outhouses.

 Year round outhouse care means additional winter chores.

On top of the gross scale for outhouse care would be tipping the ‘poopcicle’ in winter. Decomposition slows to a near stop in freezing temperatures, which we definitely had this winter. Freezing temperatures also meant that things would, well, freeze. Combine the two and what’s left is a frozen tower of yuck in the outhouse that gets taller with every use. If the original hole is deep enough, or the outhouse isn’t always in use, there is no need to think about the ‘leaning tower of pee-za’. If one (or neither) of these is true, then it become necessary to take a big poking stick into the outhouse to occasionally knock that sucker over. When things start to thaw out, so will the toppled poo pile.

Freezing weather also means a cold toilet seat. I know some people who hang their outhouse seat near the fireplace when not in use and bring it with them when using the loo, but  I didn’t want to carry a toilet seat back and forth all the time. What we did instead was use two inch foam insulation board as a toilet seat. The foam board reflects body heat back to you and nearly instantly warms up to body temperature. It feels warm to sit on even if there is snow on the seat (ask me how I know!).

The best thing about outhouse care though, is having the funniest ice breaker for meeting neighbors in the bush!

I’m grateful to every one who talked outhouses with me when we moved here so we could figure these things out. There’s nothing like a little potty humor to make instant friends  😉

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