Remote Off Grid Internet Options

Today I would like to speak about our off grid internet and why we chose what we did.

This is our second off grid homestead. On each one we used different methods of connecting to the internet. Both have their advantages.

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Our first homestead was one that was not as remote as the one we’re working on now. For this reason and due to cost we decided that a satellite connection with a dish through a company called Hughsnet would be our best option. The price was roughly half of what we’re using now and the installation could be done in an afternoon. Since we were off grid and ran our home from a series of 6 volt batteries and 8 solar panels we weren’t really concerned with power consumption because the dish and modem’s power usage was minimal. We never had a problem.

At first, Hughsnet seemed to be a dream come true. We were able to access the internet, view our livestock reports and news almost as well as a cable connection.

This dream slowly unraveled after our first series of wind storms. In many ranching areas high winds occur frequently. The dish became nothing more than a kite and was unable to lock in on any satellites. No amount of adjustment or shoring up would fix the matter.

We learned, like a lot of off grid things, to deal or to work around it. We did both.

Our second homestead was a little bit different. We knew we were remote but didn’t know how remote we were until we tried to get Hughsnet again. I had brought out our old system from our first homestead and figured a technician would simply follow us in and make the necessary adjustments and we’d be back up on our old substandard part time internet connection again. Unlike a TV dish at the time a “Professional” installation person needed to set up your system.

Apparently, We’re to far out here. After numerous calls the folks at Hughsnet decided that due to our remote area it wasn’t worth their time to get someone out to our neck of the woods.

Isn’t that what Satellite internet is for? Remote areas?

This actually turned out to be a blessing. Based on previous scouting trips to the ranch we knew there was one spot that had mild cell phone reception. It was like finding a flea on a Bear’s back. But, we found it. It wasn’t much but it was there. Based on this information we started building the house on that location. We were grateful. We had cell reception in a 15 ft radius and that was it. Yiiipppeee!

It turned out that only one company gets cell service anywhere near here and that company turned out to be Verizon. We soon found ourselves in the big city at a Verizon store and purchased a Verizon Wireless Internet Jetpack. This gives us internet here at the touch of a button and it is immune to the elements. Further, it’s portable and only plugs in to recharge so for our monthly town trips it’s there if we need it.

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The down side? Dang, this thing is expensive. It’s our highest monthly bill and twice the price of Hughsnet. Moreover, we’re only allocated 20GB per month. No more Facebook, No more Youtube, No more podcasts. All of this would have to wait until we get to town.

It works. And it works good!  I figure pay twice the price and get something that works. We were already trained by Hughsnet to modify our usage so why not?

A while ago a friendly e-mail showed up from the good folks at Hughsnet inquiring to see if we would still want internet. It seems we’re suddenly not so remote and it’s available here. They can get a “Professional” out here lickity split!

That was 2 months ago.

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Homemade ATV Dog Carrier

Last week my dog Ranger and I started the shed hunting season with a bang. For those who haven’t heard of shed hunting it’s basically the process of hiking through the woods looking for antlers that have fallen from deer and elk. Every year in the winter and  spring these animals shed their antlers and begin to grow knew ones.  Found antlers are know in certain circles as “white gold”. Every year these are sold by the pound to dealers who visit small towns on their yearly routes.

This brings us to the ATV Dog Carrier. I’ve trained Ranger to sniff out these fallen shed antlers and she really enjoys it. The problem is that many of these areas that we hunt are miles away and by the time we get their the poor dog is already dog tired. With this ATV Dog Carrier I hope to alleviate this problem. Plus, Ranger really loves riding on the back.

Here’s how I did it:

The first requirement is to already have a rack on the back of your ATV. I didn’t so I ordered one on ebay for about $50. Since I have a 1983 3-wheeler it didn’t fit. I did cut the legs off with a grinder and re-welded them to fit my application.

Once this was done I procured 3 2x4s, 4 u-bolts, 3 2×2’s, a handful of screws, a 27 X 39 piece of 1/2 plywood (for my application) and a piece of carpet.

I cut the 2×4’s the length of the rack and affixed them using the u-bolts. This forms the base of the dog carrier.

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Once this was secure and sturdy I cut 13 2×2’s 10 inches long. These will form the rails of the carrier. I screwed these into 2×2 pieces that matched the width and length of the rack. This created a rail 13 inches in height. Once these rails were finished I then secured them all to the 1/2 piece of plywood mentioned above. This makes the platform for the carrier.

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Once this is done screw it all down to the plywood base until it’s secure and add apiece of carpet so your dog has some traction to hold on to. I used staples on the carpet but, screws would work fine as well I would imagine. I cut a half moon in mine for more seating room. Ranger didn’t seem to mind a little less room. The size of the carrier seemed more than adequate for my 70 lb Belgian Sheepdog. I finally got around to painting it to protect it from the elements.  All in all it took a couple of hours from planning to finish for me and I found it to be pretty simple to make. Not to mention a carrier the same size was running about $200 plus shipping on several websites.

This probably won’t last as long but it works for us.

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I trained Ranger to get into the carrier pretty easily by using treats and the “Hup” command. The first couple of times I had to help her up but, after that she got the idea and was chomping at the bit to go. I found that by adding additional weight to the front to offset the extra weight made steering much easier.

If this works for you I’d love to hear about how you did it and if you made any improvements. Thanks

 

 

Making Mini Pollen Feeders

These mini pollen feeders for your bees are so easy to make it may not be worth a blog entry but, I’ve been working more than writing for far too many days now so it’s on.

It’s a pretty simple process and only takes a few minutes. You only need a plastic juice bottle, scissors, nails, paint and a hammer.

I started this because I used this same method to make a 5 gallon pollen feeder from a plastic water jug that seemed to be getting overcrowded with bee activity during certain times of the day. It looked almost like a Japanese subway during rush hour.

I used 64 oz. plastic juice bottles that I already had around. They used to be top hive feeders but we have since begun feeding with division board feeders due to the high winds in our area.

Take the bottle and cut a half moon out of the bottom.

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Be sure to take the label off of them. I then painted them with some tan spray paint to keep the plastic from degrading in the sun.

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Once this was done I went down to my apiary and found strategic locations for them in trees. In our area we have a lot of predators so I chose to put them in trees so the foxes and coyotes would have a hard time reaching them.  With a nail I hammered the caps of the bottles to the tree and then screwed the bottle to the tree. Once this was done I filled them with pollen. The bees took to it immediately. They had no problem accepting the fact that they and the feeders were destined to be.

Simplicity sure makes life a lot easier. Enjoy!

 

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Aging Corrugated Metal Panels

I’m currently on a mini project to make a heat shield for the back of my old Franklin wood stove. The heat shield should minimize the amount of heat that hits the wall so my tiny ranch house doesn’t burn down or at least give me a chance to put the flames out. Being so remote, there is no chance the county fire department could get here in time.

Better safe than sorry I’m thinking.

I’ve used this technique to age all the roof panels on our stone cabin at the ranch and it worked pretty well.  Basically, there are only 3 steps after you get your new shiny panels to get the aged look you may like.

Without much hooey, here goes;

1. Grind the panels –  This is probably the most important step. Get a grinder, sand paper or steel wool and start knocking the shine off of the panel. This entails some elbow grease. The more shine you can get off the better. Don’t ninny wagon it!

2. Get corrosion – With a  spray bottle, rag or paint brush spread your choice of corrosive agent on the panels. I use either Muriatic Acid or vinegar. You may also use bleach or if time permits you can let good ol’ Ma Nature take it’s coarse. Get the rockin’ chair out for this one because it may take some time depending on your climate. Let the stuff sit for a while but don’t let it dry too much. Expect some off gassing and stand down wind. You are doing this outside arn’t you? I’d use a respirator if you have one. We don’t so a dirty old t-shirt does the trick.

3. Get age or rust look – Again with the spray bottle, rag or paint brush put Hydrogen Peroxide and a pinch of salt on the panel. Well, maybe more like a handful of salt. heatsheildstove Dissolve it in water would be best. Salt and metal don’t like each other’s company very much when they get together. Add in Hydrogen Peroxide to the tryst and the panel should start looking like a spurned lover in short order. I  allow this to sit over night but do check it from time to time to see the results and sometimes add more salt and peroxide if needed.

It’s pretty much that simple. You can repeat the process after you have rinsed the panel to get the desired aged look. Don’t forget to rinse the panel off before you use it for your application.

If you have any suggestions or have tried this method please let me know how you’ve fared.

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Building a chicken coop, the cornerstone of your homestead

This is a great example of a nice aesthetically pleasing coop.

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One of the most important buildings on any homestead is the chicken coop.  On our homestead we eat eggs every morning.  Pound for pound the chicken coop is the undisputed champion of providing meals.  Our coop is located where we can see it from our back door.  So when it came time to build it we knew it had to look good too.  We chose to make it look like a small rustic cabin, and were able to acquire rough cut hemlock for the exterior.  This also saved money in the end, as the lumber also has some natural resistance to rot.  The next challenges when building a coop are to maximize space and ease of use.  We chose to put the nesting boxes directly in front of the door, this made it easier to get breakfast in the morning.

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The floor space behind the door can be used by…

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How to Get FREE or Cheap Homestead Land Honestly – Part 2

Part 2 of a 3 part series where we discuss several things to consider once you have found your parcel of land or area in which you would like to homestead. Part 1 of the series outlines six ways to find homestead land Free or cheap honestly.