I officially changed my address with all companies I do business with. And I forwarded my mail from Titusville to the Pithole Homestead. I plan only on returning to the house once every few weeks to check on things and mow the lawn. So it’s official. I live in the woods.
Although I plan on the final move on August 2nd. That day I hope to have the house as empty as possible.
On mine and Lily’s morning walk today I found a nice surprise.
Chicken of the Wood mushrooms, or Sulphur Shelf. (Laetiporus sulphureus)
I didnt have my knife but these were tender so I broke off a handful.
Quite a plate full.
And easy to clean.
I cut them up with some yellow squash.
And broke out some cooking supplies. I am going to make soup.
Some spray Canola Oil, Tony Chachere’s Creole Spices, Powdered Garlic, Hot Sauce and condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.
First I fried up the squash and the mushrooms. Chicken of the Wood mushrooms do not cook away to nothing like some mushrooms.
At this point you know where the mushrooms get their name. They taste almost exactly like chicken strips. But I want to make them into soup. So I added a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and spices and cooked for a while.
Boy, does it look good.
I am not exagerating. It is delicious. Like something you would get at a fancy restaurant. My only cost, 50 cents for condensed soup and a few spices. The Creole spices make it almost taste like a seafood bisque.
What’s that? Oh.
Lily says she doesn’t think those mushrooms were chicken of the wood.
She always makes comments like that before she flies away.
Just kidding. The Chicken of the Wood mushroom is one of the easiest to identify. I am no mycologist. But once you have POSITIVELY identified this you will always be able to find it.
But I am writing for entertainment, not as a field guide. Be sure to get a good field guide to take with you, either a book or a wise older person.
Back in the 70s an 18 year old girl, pen named Dolly Freed, wrote a book about her adventures growing up with her divorced dad outside Philadelphia, in what would be today called a mini homestead. The book was called Possum Living, How to Live Well Without a Job and (almost) No Money. It is now available by audiobook, read by the now grown author.
The title Possum Living comes from the fact that possum’s don’t have to have day to day jobs and can still make a living and survive. Diogenes of ancient Athens was her father’s hero. He lived in an old barrel in the center of Athens and Alexander the Great is quoted as saying if he had not been born Alexander he would have prefered to be Diogenes. The bible gives an idea of the lifestyle in the quote “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feed them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
So this brings me to today. I am calling it Possum Day.
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of living in a cabin, away from the “civilized” world. This was my intention when I bought the Pithole Homestead several years ago. But instead of living on the land I have been trying to do a balancing act of living both at the cabin and at the house in town. This has never satisfied me. I want to actually be a member of the forest I live in. I have realized that one main thing has been keeping me from living this way. My vehicle. It is just too easy to jump in the car and head to town, when I really don’t want to.
So with my Declaration of Possum Day I will truly begin my adventure. It may take a couple of months to complete but starting today I will live on my land. My vehicle for now will be only for important trips and emergencies. Eventually I plan on not driving at all. In the 1976 book the girl and her father spent in one year $1498.75. Her fathers reaction was “where did it all go?”. Taking into account the cost of living from 1976 to today and that it is just me and my dog, my goal is to live on around $5 a day, or about $150 a month. For now I will calculate this not counting vehicle costs and taxes, Basically just the basic survival. The end result will be $5 a day, total. This does not mean I will start from scratch but I will make use of the the conveniences I have already setup, such as solar power, and I will attempt to maintain the status quo.
Today’s post is going to be a long one. In fact probably a week long.
I will document here what I have and what I will do will each thing. I wil list my goals. By the end of this post I will have laid out my entire plan. Possibly, a 5 dollars a day may have been a good idea in the 1970s, but I may decide to adjust it after full consideration. Maybe more like $200 a month. But I will document the journey every day.
So now on with the show.
What do I have now?
Here is my basic budget of $150 a month, leaving a little extra.
Of course this will be supplemented by what nature provides.
Here is my current status. As I write I will note other costs and adjust my budget later.
My new .5 micron water filter ($8 every 3 months) is doing a great job removing rust. I am thinking of attaching a home built, solar powered, UV filter, but .5 micron is actually smaller than most bacteria. Also another small water line and a solar pump would be nice.
The 100 foot well provides ice cold water, which I use to keep a few items fresh.
And of course my solar shower bag heats the water up for a warm shower in the summer.
Winter is still heating water on the stove and washing up indoors.
Heat is provided by a wood stove and supplemented by a propane tank ($17 a month).
The tank can feed a heater, a cooking stove, a bright lantern, and maybe soon a water heater. I can also use the large tank to refill small 1lb bottles.
Well, it is actually more of a porta-potty than an actual outhouse, or a lugable loo, as the Brits might call it. State laws don’t allow for creating and actual pit outhouse. So I have designed an 5 gallon bucket, composting outhouse, which uses replaceable, biodegradable plastic bags ($10 a year) which can then be placed in a composting barrel.
To keep the electrons flowing I have a 3 battery storage bank and a large 100 watt solar panel.
I also have a smaller 40 watt panel that I feel bad when I see it making electricity but not going anywhere.
40 watt solar panel
This powers my tv, computer, recharge phones and tablet, provide light and even a fan.
At full battery bank charge I have about 1500watts available. That’s about 12.5 Amps max at 120VAC (depending on power factor of equipment run) or 125 Amps at 12VDC. All 3 batteries charged provided about 120 AmpHours meaning I can run a 5 watt LED light bulb for about 12 days continously without recharging. But they recharge nearly every day.
My well pump requires 220vac with about 3500 watts peak surge so I still use a gasoline generator when I need to pump water, or run heavy power tools. If I double my battery bank I could probably run my well pump.
So that is the basics, except food. For now I purchase my food, usually in bulk.
There are many wild foods, and as anyone who has ever planted a garden knows, squash multiply. Even better than loaves and fish. If you plant one you’ll be giving them away for months.
Soups, rice, pasta, canned goods, etc. But it is 2018, so I don’t really have to go anywhere to get my food.
Yes. A large part of my budget was cell phone/internet. I can order my groceries and supplies through Amazon, etc and have it delivered right to my mailbox. I plan on putting a special large package box behind the regular mailbox.
UPDATE: I have added the package box.
Yes, I am living in the woods. Nature is my entertainment. With bears in the morning, raccoons at night and chipmunks, squirrel, birds and deer 24 hours, there is plenty of nature. But that is not all.
Yes. I have a tv. And along with broadcast channels I have streaming video over my internet. Jeremiah Johnson eat your heart out. Remember, I am posting this online, and part of my meager income is via the internet. And when I say tablet I’m not talking pen and paper.
While there is no power, water or sewage connections here, there is an old telephone pole with a telephone connection. It isn’t connected and with decent cell service here I see no reason to connect it.
I also have many tools and equipment for building and repair.
And I just got a new addition to my outdoor furnishings.
At the end of my driveway is a ditch.
It presently can be crossed with a 4 by 4, but I plan on digging it deeper because I have a removable bridge.
Also there is a gate.
This gate is normally closed, even when, or especially when I am in the cabin.
You may have noticed that Lily has discovered the joy of photobombing. Everything I want a picture of, she suddenly becomes interested in.
Also, as I have stated elsewhere, please contact me before just dropping in. I am a friendly hermit, but I am also a well armed veteran and don’t want any misunderstandings.
The time has come to make the big move. I’ve been splitting about half the time at the house and half at the cabin. Time to make the cabin home. Things are set up enough at the cabin, in many ways better than the house. For now I’ll only go back to the house to get the mail and mow the lawn. Soon I’ll sell the house completely and stay out of town.
Even with the smallest amount of rain the inside of the gravel drive gets large puddles. I experimented a bit and think I might be able to pit in a small pond.
I might need to line it. Fish with my beans.
The Pithole Homestead is not just a place of freedom for me from the hustle and bustle of civilization and it’s many rules and regulations, it is also a place for Lily to be free to run without a leash and enjoy the forest. Up until now I have been hesitant to let her loose. Well today is freedom day and she is doing very well. I am carrying hotdog pieces to encourage and praise her. It seems to be working. The video below is just around the homestead. Earlier we walked all around the Pithole Ghost Town for an hour and she ran like a greyhound, but still listened when I called. But I forgot to film it. Maybe we’ll go back soon and get it on camera.
In order to be able to heat up the cabin quickly, or if I’m too lazy to build a fire I got a Mr Heater Big Buddy and a 20 pound propane tank. Heats quick and shuts off immediately if I need to leave. To help keep the heat in iI put a tarp across the ceiling until I get panels. Made a world of difference.