Today I have some maintenance chores to attend to, to keep the trailer off grid ready. Some of these basic maintenance items would apply to a stick built house as well.
Batteries – I currently don’t have solar panels or a generator for the trailer. That means that my batteries need to be plugged in to charge. They are supposed to charge off the truck alternator while we’re driving, but they are not. There is a wire missing in the relay, which I plan to install. The batteries really need a good top off once a week, so that means plugging in somewhere overnight. When we are hooked up for a few weeks, at one of the grandpas homes, or at the Homestead, the batteries need to be checked once a month. Just like your car battery, look for corrosion at the connections, make sure the connections are secure, check the battery boxes for water, dirt and other foreign matter. Check the fluid levels in the batteries and add distilled water if needed. I make sure the “house” battery has a full charge, then check my secondary battery. If necessary, I plug it into the trickle charger to keep it charged and ready to go.
Holding tanks – When we’re stationary, we hook up to city water. But I also want to have a full fresh water tank in case of emergency and also to keep us ready to roll any time. If the power goes out and the water doesn’t flow, at least we have enough on board to last us a week or so, along with the on board water pump. I also fill up a few drinking water jugs. When we are off grid, this water will last us about 1 week for 2 of us, if we each take a quick “navy” shower twice a week. This includes toilet flushing and dishwashing. When we are off grid we use a dish pan and a pitcher in the bathroom sink to catch gray water which we can also flush the toilet with. When I get my portable washer, it may not go quite as far.
The gray and black water tanks are likewise usually hooked to sewer when we are stationary. Sometimes I will only dump them once a week, others I just keep them hooked up and dumping. It depends on the situation. When we are off grid, the sewer tanks last about as long as the fresh water tank and get dumped when we go to refill our fresh water. There are many places to do this, some for free, some for $10-$15.
Propane tanks – If we are using the heater daily, I check them daily. I keep 3 20# tanks on the trailer. We go through about 2 a week when it’s cold. One will last a month or two in the summer. Depending on whether we’re running the fridge on propane or electric. The third tank rides in the back of the truck, so I have to make sure it is standing up and hasn’t leaked. We can usually get propane when we fill up with gas or when we dump and refill the water.
There it is. Basic off grid maintenance for full time rvers. Once I get my solar panels and generator I will not need to find a plug in once a week. If the solar panels don’t keep us charged I will be able to plug in to the generator for a few hours.
Another project down the line will be to install a water catchment system to divert rainwater into the freshwater tank. This will have to involve a filter somewhere along the line, but I haven’t started on that one, yet. I also plan to mount my secondary battery and wire it in parallel with my house battery so we can go longer before needing to plug in. This will also entail connecting to the inverter inside the trailer. All down the line, as money and time permit.
Routine helps increase self discipline. In high school, I would get up, throw on my clothes and go run for a couple miles before getting ready for school. Fifteen years ago I moved out to the country to live a less stressful, richer life. I decided that I needed to get up and have prayer and meditation time each morning no matter what. Except for a couple of years when I had to seek outside employment, I have done so ever since and it makes all the difference in my day. A few years ago I realized I needed to stretch my sore muscles every day or I would develop painful knots which would lead to headaches and other problems. If I follow my routine of up, coffee, pray, stretch, I feel much better, more energetic, less pain or pain free. When I miss my stretches, tension builds, my muscles knot and soon I am having headaches and visual disturbances, even leading to dizziness and more.
When I find that we are veering from our routines, I pull us back on track. I get the boy up when his alarm goes off (usually about 8am), remind him to say his prayers, then let him wake up a bit before breakfast. Gadgets get turned off while we’re eating. Then he has some free time until he has to wash up, get dressed and start his chores. At 10am we start math. If I let him do something else first, by the time he gets around to math he has been procrastinating so long that he cannot bring himself to focus. By doing the least favorite subject first, we get it out of the way and get on with the rest of the school day. We also do corrections right away. I have found that by leaving them for the next day, neither one of us wants to deal with them and the school day drags on.
After school, the routine is finish chores, get out and move around, ride his bike, check and see if dad needs any help, then free time. On days he is highly distractable during school, I will frequently send him out to run, ride his bike or do something strenuous for 10 minutes to get it out of his system.
When we stick to our routines, we build self discipline by doing what needs to be done. When something is being neglected, we find a place to plug it into the routine. If the routine becomes overwhelming, we reassess and cut the fat. I am one that tends to overschedule myself and then become overwhelmed and do nothing. That is when I have to sit down and pick out the 3 most important objectives to complete that day and just concentrate on them. Same with Yak’s schoolwork. If things are fizzling we may cut back to math, reading and writing for a few days. If nothing else gets done, at least the most important stuff did.
It is hard to be productive in my work. I know what I need to do but getting it all done proves to be an insurmountable task. Some days the best I can do is homeschool, write 1000 words and update the blog. Other days I manage to make a few sales calls, find some new customers, new markets and keep up with social media. Mostly I struggle to find time for making product, recording videos and keeping up with household maintenance. Much like most working parents. I am still tweaking my work routine. And working on my self discipline.
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