Over the past year, I have improved upon my trailer skirting. I knew I wanted it to be inexpensive, easy-on, easy-off, and compact enough to be easily portable. I think I have finally hit on a working combination. Here is how I made my current Portable Trailer Skirt.
When we got the Minnie, we started off with foam board and heat lamps. This necessitated being hooked up to electricity to run the heat lamps. My new skirt keeps the salt-water charged waste tanks thawed down to zero. Then it’s time for some supplemental heat down there. Or preferably a move to warmer temps.
My trailer measures 8’ x 26’ plus the tongue, which holds the house battery and 2 propane tanks. I figured I might want the tarps to wrap around those as well, so I estimated a
length of 80 feet, just to have some wiggle room. I cut the tarp into 5 strips measuring 3’ x 20’. To do this, I had to open it up outside. There was snow on the ground at the
time, so the tarp stayed fairly clean. I had my son stand on it to help hold it down and help fold up each piece as we went. We also used rocks to help hold the tarp down as I
2. Sewing on the bubble wrap.
The bubble wrap was only 12” wide, so I had to sew 3 tiers onto each strip of tarp. This was the most tedious part of the project. I was also concerned that it would be hard on
my sewing machine, but it did fine. I had to clean the tarp dust out frequently and had to be careful not to catch the presser foot on the bubble wrap, but otherwise, it was
straight seams and easing the bulk through the machine.
3. Black paint.
After sewing on all the bubble wrap, the next step was to paint the outside of the skirting black. This is to absorb more sun and help retain the heat around the trailer. It is very
windy where we usually are, so I had to wait for a still day to get the paint to stick to the tarps instead of floating away.
We first tried attaching the tarp with velcro, but the wind made short work of that. We also found the addition of Reflectix insulation to be a major factor in keeping the temps under the trailer more stable. First, we stand the Reflectix around the perimeter of the trailer. Over that goes the portable trailer skirt.
I looked at what other people were doing with trailer skirts and liked the idea of attaching it with turn buttons. Amazon had them listed so I ordered 2 dozen and my son-in-law helped me to install them. I put the grommets on my tarp and attached it to the trailer turn buttons. It stayed on perfectly, but I now discovered that I needed to seal up the loose ends. This was a much better use of the velcro and keeps the wind from whipping the skirt up and blowing the Reflectix away.
Finally, around all this, we place our heavy tent weights, our extra sewer tank, and propane tank just for extra insurance in case the wind blows. If the temps dip below zero or stay below 30F for several days we still have to break out the heat lamps, but the skirting is doing its job and helping us stay warm and cozy.
And the best part about the Portable Trailer Skirt is that it comes off easy, rolls right up (both the skirt and the Reflectix), and stows away in the back of the truck or in the basement when it’s not needed.
The Humanure Handbook, (c)2005 (3rd Edition) by Joseph Jenkins
I tried a homemade composting toilet years ago, but I didn’t have the whole picture of what to do with the “waste”. The Humanure Handbook, (c)2005 (3rd Edition) by Joseph Jenkins, gives concise, complete instructions. It also offers supporting information about sanitary practices, composting times, and materials to use. He highly recommends sawdust.
Mr. Jenkins has been using sawdust toilets for decades. He has researched and collected data on the safety, sanitation, and practicality of sawdust toilets. “The Humanure Handbook” began as his thesis for a Master’s degree in Sustainable Systems. He presents detailed information on pathogens, parasites and other critters present in human waste vs. properly cured compost.
I cannot stand the stench or dust of cat litter, so we have been using feline pine with our new kitty. The odor is pleasant and masks the odor of cat waste better than clay litter. It also lasts much longer. It consists of 100% compressed sawdust pellets, with no chemicals or other additives. The pellets absorb moisture and break back down into sawdust, so I can add it to the compost pile.
I am also looking for options for the trailer. The handy fold up toilet is nice, but the bowl is cracked and I cannot get replacement parts for it. Instead of epoxy sealing it, I am going with a sawdust toilet in there, as the gray/black water tank is only about 10 gallons. I also like the composting toilet because it never gets clogged, which happens quite frequently with the water flush toilet.
If you are investigating off-grid options for toilets, looking for more ways to conserve water, or just plain fascinated with why someone would even consider such an option, check out the Humanure Handbook and website. They have a “pile” of information on the subject!
Could you live off-grid without a refrigerator? Susan Gregersen has for over 30 years. She wrote Life Without Refrigeration to share her experiences and tips for preserving food without benefit of a fridge. She explains how bacterial growth and spoilage occur, and why some foods need to be kept cold.
To start with, several chapters address places to keep food cool –
basements and crawl spaces.
She then devotes a chapter to alternative means of preserving food –
With each method of storage or preservation, Ms. Gregersen offers examples of which foods are best suited for that method. I was particularly interested in the dairy and meat suggestions and found some new ideas for dehydrating that I plan to try. Especially cottage cheese and sour cream. Apparently it is possible. As another alternative, she gives information on commercial dried and canned meat, dairy and eggs, and alternatives. Raising meat and dairy animals is also an option.
I have stored food in my unheated workshop for many years with great success. Mostly canned, dehydrated, or dry goods, but also citrus and root veggies, wrapped in newspaper and put in boxes. It is very important to pay attention to signs of spoilage and know what kinds of storage or preservation are safe for the foods you are storing. Also how soon to use them.
Although Susan does not give detailed instructions for the projects offered, they serve as a springboard for ideas to further research.
To sum up, this book is a handy reference guide to all of the above, for the beginner. If you are looking for more advanced storage and preservation methods, such as for meat and dairy, it is a good jumping off point.
I bought Life Without Refrigeration from Amazon, Kindle Version. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
What do you do when water doesn’t run through the pipes? We’re getting lots of practice with that one right now. Most people on city water just turn on the faucet and are rewarded with a pressurized flow. Out in the country and on the road, however, things get a little bit different.
At the Arizona homestead, we haul water and pump it into a 2500 gallon storage tank. From there, it runs through pipes to the water pump, then the pressure tank, and ultimately, the house. Unless a pipe breaks. Or the main valve breaks. Luckily, the main valve broke in the closed position. Unfortunately, the tank was full at the time. Consequently, I have not yet replaced the valve, mainly because that would involve draining all the water. Therefore, at the moment, we are filling jugs from the tank, for use in the house. This begets a whole new, yet old, definition of running water.
Kitchen sink supply:
We have even splurged on a down-home swimming pool:
Still, the tank remains half-full. We’ll get there. Makes for good water conservation practices.
In the mobile homestead when water doesn’t run, due to a dead battery or converter, as is currently the case, we do pretty much the same thing. We just refill our water jugs from the drain valve on the fresh water tank.
Kitchen sink supply:
So all this has me thinking about what we would do at the urban homestead when water doesn’t run. First we would need a water supply. Probably 55 gallon drums. Then the rest would be just as above. We would simply have to train our city family to reuse the gray water for flushing and such. But probably, if it came to it, they would do just fine.
This is quickly becoming my favorite go-to book for anything and everything that can be done with a 5 gallon bucket. Of course, I already was familiar with the composting toilet, the washing machine and the planters. This book contains more than 50 projects for around the homestead (and the home) that can be completed with 5 gallon buckets! Including a trash compactor, wine rack, and toddler swing.
I have currently gathered supplies for making the manual washing machine – handy for the rv or any off-grid situation, and the rolling composter – a design that I think is much more efficient for our rving homestead. I just need the time to make them. Be sure that I will be posting pictures and such when I do! Inspired by, but not included in the book, is a design for a spin-dryer for clothes, that I am going to experiment with. Details to follow when I get to that one.
All the projects in the 5 Gallon Bucket Book come with detailed instructions and lots of pictures. Also supply lists for each project and how it is supposed to work and be used when it’s done. Many of the projects are perfect for off-grid applications; some use electricity. The 5 Gallon Bucket Book is a great investment for any do-it-yourselfer looking for more economical solutions to everyday issues in the home and garden. With this book and a few simple tools, you can make dozens of practical upgrades to your homestead.