Autumn in North Idaho

My wife and I were blessed to take a date day and see autumn in it’s full glory.  No plans, just drive and see where it would take us.  We followed the trees to my favorite spot in downtown Sandpoint.  The colors were brilliant, the sky crystal blue and the lake pristine.  Here’s a video of the trip, edited to music and mellow.  If you didn’t get a chance to experience fall.  You can experience fall in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Enjoy the simple things in life.

Electric Chainsaw Work in the Forest (For prepper’s?)

I am using dyed diesel instead of gasoline to cut trees in the woods. The Winco tractor generator helps power my electric chainsaw. I wanted to see if it was possible to gather firewood with an electric chainsaw, and it was. However, I have found it more feasible to use the gas powered chainsaw to cut logs to length and then use the thumb on the tractor to bring the logs to the woodshed and use the electric chainsaw to buck the wood there.


The reason why is the Winco tractor generator trailer has a difficult time backing up in the woods.  If I was to do it all over again, I would possibly prefer a carry all attachment versus a trailer.  I found that a 12 gauge, 100 ft. cord worked just fine and I did a single wrap around the generator to prevent me from pulling it loose.  I didn’t trip over the cord because I was focused on not doing so, but I did find that the cord could easily get caught up in the branches.

Why a cord over a battery pack?  Here’s my reason why; a battery powered chainsaw has about 20 -30 minutes of life before it needs to be recharged.  When gathering firewood, I spend hours cutting it; I don’t have time to hike back to the house and charge my batteries every 20-30 minutes for an hour and half of down time.  These battery operated chainsaws are for quick hedge or limb work, not gathering 4 cords of firewood. The plug-in will operate indefinitely as long as it has a power source.  I used the Winco PTO generator to see if I could collect wood beyond the reach of my home’s power.  It worked, and it did really well.

Why for prepper’s? I remember attending a living sustainability shows, many preppers would attend as well, and the wood gathering “fear” was their chainsaw would not operate if gasoline was rationed.  I wanted to prove that a person does not have to resort to hand powered crosscut saws to buck firewood.  In desperate times when the tractor is down, a person could use an axe or crosscut saw to bring a tree down, and hopefully, use a beast of burden to drag it out of the woods and buck in place at the solar powered off grid home using an electric chainsaw.

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Time to Change the Oil. (New Tractor)

After two hundred hours, it was recommended to change the oil in my new Kioti Tractor. I decided to purchase the filter from the dealer and replace the oil for the first time. I have changed the oil on my vehicles for years and figured the tractor would be just as easy; besides some crowding of space, it was.

I couldn’t plan a better day to change the oil.  The weather was perfect.  The yellow jackets and insect population was at a low, so I wasn’t constantly bombarded.  It was overall a nice serene day on the property.


For the video, I used 2 cameras for the shot, a lapel mic, and our Zoom H4.  I realized the lapel mic was not of very good quality, which explains the sound in the beginning.  I also used the Zoom’s auto levels and that proved to be a terrible idea.  The Zoom couldn’t adjust sound level fast enough to keep it level, so the best sound came from the video on my camera phone and the camcorder I had with me.

I am still using Blender to edit the video.  It is nice to sync the two cameras together

Get in line… Even the cat loves the tractor.

and switch the view back and forth, something you can’t do in Movie Maker.  If you create YouTube videos by yourself, this is extremely helpful because you can roll both cameras and not have to stop and change angles for every specific shot.  I did the same thing on my  “electric  v. gas powered chainsaw” video, except with a few more change ups and added complexity.   This video also predates the firewood and frustration with YouTube  video I created a couple weeks ago.

I am still debating on whether to drop YouTube or not, and just rewind the clock and continue with blogging. I have noticed traffic on our website has increased on search engine results, possible Facebook friends who have no other way to find me since I left the platform.  It is interesting all Facebook visitors to this website are now gone as that platform works through the final deletion of my profile and living a sustainable page as it rapidly approaches the final 90 days.  I admit I do miss contacting friends on Facebook that chose not to follow me to this platform, but it also puts FB into more perspective as well.

As I check my WordPress reader, I noticed many of the channels I follow on WP are also not posting as often.  My wife is seeing the same trend on her Instagram and is almost done using that platform as well.  It seems that our society is waking up to the corporate manipulation of social media.  As we transition into fall, I wonder if social media is going through the same transition.  What was once seen as vibrant and alive is slowing losing energy and preparing for hibernation and a long winter, until it is re-birthed; hopefully, into something new and less manipulative with the expected arrival of spring.

Bucking Challenge: Electric v. Gas

I have wanted an electric chainsaw for a few years now, and when I was asked by my wife and son what I wanted for Father’s Day, I went with the Oregon CS1500.  The Oregon electric plugin chainsaw was one of the few chainsaws left out there that doesn’t use batteries.  I did not want a battery-operated chainsaw because who wants to wait an hour to recharge to work 20 minutes then wait another hour to recharge for another 20 minutes of work.  With the plugin, I can plug directly into my solar powered home and begin bucking wood for free, minus the need for bar oil.

In the video, I created a split screen and put myself side by side to make it appear I was racing myself in the challenge.  The Stihl was not warmed up, and had a slow start.  The Oregon electric just started and ran when I pulled the on trigger; however, it did not have the power the Stihl had.


I believe the electric chainsaw is a great option during the summer months when the solar panels create a lot of extra power.  Not having to buy gas or perform engine maintenance also helps with the decision to have one.  When looking at the cost, the MS 311 Stihl is $499.00 while the Oregon CS1500 was advertised at $99.00.  I will keep my Stihl for the deep forest work of collecting of firewood, but I will try and use my lighter Oregon electric whenever I can.

Will I drag the electric chainsaw into the forest connected to my tractor’s PTO generator?  I have thought about giving it a run just to see how it would perform, but the idea of hauling all the video equipment out to film it, doesn’t seem appealing when I want to just get the work done.  “The Bucking Challenge” video I created took an entire Saturday morning and afternoon to film and about another 10 hours of editing.

As I return home, an Appendix prepares to Leave.

At each stage of the journey… I would text the grandparents to update and be encouraged by their prayers for our son.

Off grid or on grid living; it makes no difference when troubles come.  I believe we are judged by those around us, whether we like it or not, on how we handle the obstacles we face in life.  What began as a series of posts to remember and share our vacation to the Medora Musical and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, became a test on how we handle adversity when it comes.  However, little did we know the greatest challenge was not the engine or being stranded, it was caring for our son’s emergency appendectomy less than a week later.

In the video, I wrap up my return from Columbus, MT.  I also share the cascade failure of events that occurred within moments of being home.  However, today, even as I type this post, the inverter has thrown a Low Battery code at the beginning of a beautiful, cloudless, summer morning.  This means our battery bank, is beginning to fade at an exponential rate and will most likely not last until late fall when we really rely on it. (Sigh).


Life is full of struggles and right now many of you who are reading this post or watching this video are facing struggles right now of your own.  You’re ready to throw your hands up in the air, like a bad rap song and stomp away from the mess.  Yet, there is no place you can escape to that doesn’t have troubles of its own.  I remember living a life riddled with student loan debt, a mortgage, we were one incident away from total financial collapse.  During that time, I would sift through realtor.com for hours looking for land I could build my off grid “palace” and be free of all the financial stress my mortgage and student loans brought me.  Now that the off grid dream has come to fruition, I still face troubles, just a different set of troubles.

Wherever you are, life will happen.  And, life is messy.  So, how can I encourage you today in the midst of this mess called life?  I can speak about how my faith in Jesus brings a peace through the midst of the storms of life. I can talk about stepping back from the moment while in it. Thinking through each circumstance, but then surrendering to the outcome, whatever it is.  I can talk about enjoying the part of life that the troubles have not touched directly, which could mean a free for all family water gun fight hours before an appendectomy.

I do know that I am tired, and I mean really tired.  I see so much discord in the world, and I wonder how much of it is people transferring their problems, anxieties, and issues onto others.  The world has enough trouble of its own for me to be adding to the quagmire of issues.  So, my car’s engine blew up. Compared to our son’s appendectomy, the car is meaningless.  I am in a cascade failure of events, and yet, I am strangely at peace with it.

Facing one problem at a time, and what is next will wait in line.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-4

Marooned in Columbus

This is the moment of greatest tension in the story.  I had been marooned in Columbus, Montana for 3 days and this is the moment in which I find out if the car will be ready or if I will continue living in Columbus until another replacement engine could be found.


If the issue turns out to be a fuel injector, I will be sent on my way back to the homestead in a matter of a few hours.  If it turns out to be a bad engine cylinder, it could be a matter of weeks.

Diary of a Union Soldier. I had to wear white gloves to handle it to protect the pages. This diary entry is from over 154 years ago.

During my stay in Columbus, I toured the Museum of the Beartooths.  The museum has a lot to offer about the history of the area. The museum is very charming and inviting.  Since I had nothing to do, I asked the curator if I could volunteer at the museum for the next day.  The museum was kind and gracious and gave me a place to hang my hat for the day.  They also allowed me to white glove a diary of a union soldier from the Civil War, 1864. I can’t explain how thrilling it was to read a journal of a union soldier penned over 150 years ago.

If I had to stay, I would have made arrangements to assist the museum more or even volunteer at a few local churches if I could.  The place was already beginning to feel a lot like the movie Groundhog’s Day starring Bill Murray.  I was beginning to know the locals, their history, and relations in the community better than my own community back home.  One thing the museum taught me is that I need to look into my own community’s museum and begin to possibly volunteer there.  The amount of information available is staggering.

One thing for sure if you are ever on I-90, driving through Columbus, MT, be sure to stop at the free Museum of the Beartooths.  It will be worth the visit to stretch your legs while taking in the rich history of this community.