A bow saw is an indispensable tool for the off-gridder.
Beyond what the shape of your off-grid home might look like, where it’s located, and all those big picture visions, a surprising number of tools can also make your plunge into the lifestyle easier.
Here are some of the things I have found indispensable. But don’t take my word for the be-end, end-all either. Shop around.
My favourite go-to piece is a bowsaw.
It’s an amazingly useful tool. I cut a lot of large pieces of wood with it, both on the sawhorse and in the field. They come in different sizes and with replaceable blades.
A good axe
Of course, you know I like working with wood. So it comes as no surprise that I treasure axes. You can chop larger trees, splinter kindling, and more.
Tools in general
You can’t have enough tools. Loppers, clippers, hammers, pliers, shovels, rakes, and so on and so forth. You never know what you’re going to need for the job at hand.
Lighters are absolutely necessary.
They light the wood fire, the bonfire, and more.
Lighter starter blocks.
Getting an outdoor fire started some times can be a pain in the butt; these blocks hold a flame for 10 minutes and ensure an easy light nine times out of 10.
Don’t laugh. Sometimes you can’t find the lighters.
Portable solar lights brighten the place up.
Portable solar lights.
Strictly speaking, portable solar lights are not necessary, but they cheer the hell up out of the place when it’s mid-winter, dark as your soul and then somewhat, and at a time when you could use a boost.
Glass jars and containers
We save all of ours. There are always nails, nuts, bolts and more that need a container.
We have an assortment of two and five-gallon buckets, mostly used for hauling gravel to repair the road.
Spare egg crates
It sucks when you run out and you still have eggs to go in the fridge.
Great clothing and shoes are a necessity.
A lot of the time you’re going to mucking around in or with something. That’s when you’re going to be happy that you have great rubber boots, doe-skins, hats, tons and tons of gloves, and more. There’s a reason people in the rural areas dress the way they do, in the checked doe-skins and so forth. They’re extremely practical.
If you have animals, at some point in the year you will be feeding in the dark of the morning, the evening and/or both. Plus, dogs need walking to do their business in the dark quite often. Headlamps are a lifesaver.
Yes, unless you’re running a lot of megawatts on your solar panels, you will need a generator. Hopefully, you won’t have to use it very often. But in the darkest days of winter, when daylight is in short supply and clouds can cover the sky for sometimes a couple of weeks, even the batteries can only store so much power. At that point, it’s time to haul out the generator and give the batteries a full boost.
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Well now…hardly any snow at all so far, and then 'ol man winter decides we shouldn’t get off that easy. It actually feels reassuring to see a big blast of the white stuff, to hear the snow plow come to dig us out at two in the morning, and wake up to minus-18. All the warm days, and lack of snow is unsettling. Certainly, we need a big snow pack to help ensure that we don’t face a drought this summer.
Besides it’s lovely:
The brook is frozen over.
It’s a beautiful, blue sky day. The panels are soaking up the sun, recharging our batteries.
It just wouldn’t be the same without winter.
I know it’s the end of February. You can never get enough of nature and local beaches this time of year. We had an incredible stroll on a beach we’d visited dozens of times before. Just never at super low tide. It revealed all sorts of secrets.
Come take a walk.
Oh, the places you will go and the things you will see.
As Sunday walks in February go, this one ranked right up there this year. We’re blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
At low tide this beach reminded me more than a bit of Gaff Point. At one time, Gaff Point, the hiking trail off of Hirtle’s Beach, used to be a fairly unknown walk. Not anymore. These days it’s more liking hiking Everest, it’s become so popular. This is now the path less travelled.
Clearly, someone along the route had a sense of humour.
Group of Seven?
I had no idea these bluffs even existed in the area.
What I’m reading
One of the Canada Reads shortlist novels this year is Hotline. Written by previous three-time fiction author and long-list Giller Prize Award winner Dimiti Nasrallah, Hotline is an immigrant experience novel; think Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise. Nasrallah’s narrator has fled the war in Lebanon with her young son, arriving in Montreal. There, her foreign credentials as a teachers are not recognized and to make ends meet she goes to work for a food diet firm. Working the phones, she makes connections with individuals that go far beyond an impersonal client relationship while at the same time she tries to make her way forward in an unfamiliar land. Hotline is touching and offers some unexpected twists as we follow Muna Heddad’s journey.
What I’m listening to
Ah, well, damn. I can’t believe I missed him play Halifax last week. Probably why I hauled the recording out of my collection. A JustinTime Recording artist - home to all kinds of amazing musicians - Diana Krall, Hilario Durain, Charlie Biddle - so many back in the day - Butler swings between a swinging traditional bebop jazz sound and a sweet blues last time I checked - and that was way too long ago. He’s a fluid piano player, who hammers down on the percussive end of the instrument. This particular recording sets up with Eric Lagace on bass and Wali Muhammad on drums. They’re an energetic, bustling trio.
Where I’m at
Hey folks, while it’s not my intent to turn this into a cancer journal, the disease is part of my life living here. So an update.
As many of you know, I moved into a second phase of treatment for my osteosarcoma. This was palliative as opposed to curative. At first that sounded onimous, like they were leaving me to die. But that’s not the case.
Rather, they switched me to a different kind of chemotherapy. I’m now two doses in. I was told it would have a 40 percent chance of working. Not great odds, right? But, hey, I lucked out - knock wood!
After two treatments of two days apiece, I feel amazing. I have pretty much regained full mobility of my left arm. I was unable to lift it before. I have no pain. Let me repeat that: no pain. In fact, I was shovelling snow today, something I would never, ever dreamed of doing again three weeks ago.
I still have some chemo brain, so I forget things easily, words, phrases, and so on. But at the same time I have greater clarity in my mind than I have had in months.
I am optimistic and hopeful for the future. I see a future.
Life is amazing.
It’s a great place to be, folks. Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me so far. I love you all.
a few comments from decades of experience building and living in the woods:
Always make sure your saw blades are chamfered or you'll be swearing to the skies as the blade jams over and over.
To split wood, get a real splitting maul, not just an axe. An axe will often jam whereas the maul's more heart-shaped profile will blast through and actually split it - plus has more weight to help you out.
Matches backup for sure but for super convenience, get a micro butane torch and a small bottle of butane that will last forever with this torch, often 1/2 price at Princess:
Also, a super convenience to cold start a fire are the parafin and sawdust firestarters from Dollarama. $1.25 for a package that will last to start fires for many weeks...you'll see the benefit when you use them, especially using the torch noted above to ignite them: https://forums.redflagdeals.com/dollarama-firestarter-1-25-2547937/#&gid=1&pid=1
Yay, so good to hear your chemo update. And I love your shoreline pix. And the frozen brook. Keep on keepin' on! :)