Tiny Shiny Home Blog 2020-08-03T06:53:28-05:00 /feed Tiny Shiny Home hello@tinyshinyhome.com https://tinyshinyhome.com/fencing-workshop Fencing Workshop at the Tiny Shiny Homestead 2020-07-28T00:30:00-05:00 2020-08-02T18:05:51-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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We are stoked to be starting on our fencing project. It’s a job we’ve been needing to do since day one. For those of you who don’t know, Arizona is a free-range state which means ranchers let their cattle roam and it’s up to the land owner to keep the cattle out of their property. And they can really be destructive. So, needless to say, there’s been enough incidents since moving here that it’s high time we put up a fence!

When I first began researching fencing, I was drawn towards a high tensile fence. Not really sure why, maybe because you don’t see it much out here and we like to be different. Nearly everyone here has barbed wire or field (woven wire) fencing. But while driving around, I see that lots of that fencing has areas that have been breeched, need replacing, or that have been damaged...and it looks like a huge pain to fix.

I’ve said it a million times, but it’s true. The off-grid community is so incredibly helpful. We were contacted by Moses from High Desert Homestead and he confirmed my initial thoughts on high tensile fencing and even went as far as helping us figure out everything we would need for our project. AND he and his wife Polly are coming down to help us put on a workshop to show others how to properly install high tensile electric fencing. They are all about Homesteaders Helping Homesteaders.

That’s right, our first ever workshop here on the Tiny Shiny Homestead in Cochise county, AZ. We are stoked to open up our property to the community as a place to come together and learn such a valuable skill as fencing.

Details

The workshop will be held August 7th, 8th, 9th. The event is free and lunch will be provided. But space is limited so you will need to let us know if you plan on attending (see below). We’ll be covering: 

  • Setting corner posts
  • High tensile wire tips and tricks
  • Electric fencing
  • Sustainable fencing

Things you will need:

  • We ask that all participants bring water to stay hydrated
  • Small hand tools, hammer, pliers, and short levels
  • A willingness to get your hands dirty in this hands-on experience

Lodging

  • Hotels available in Benson, AZ
  • Campsites available on-site (no hookups) - more information provided at RSVP
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https://tinyshinyhome.com/water-pump-success Water Pump Success! Solar Powered Pressurized Water Off-Grid 2020-07-21T00:00:00-05:00 2020-07-21T13:22:51-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Getting water off-grid in the desert is hard! First you have to find it, then you have to store it, and then you have to find a way to get it to where it needs to go. 

For us, that meant hauling it from a nearby wellshare in a 330 gallon IBC Tote and storing it in a 2700 gallon Enduraplas tank.

For our first 6 weeks on the property we just used a heavy duty transfer pump to move 40 gallons at a time from the big tank to our Airstream's fresh tank. Then we'd use that water to wash dishes, take showers, and filter for drinking.

As you can imagine, this got old really fast!

Our plan to provide pressurized water straight into the Airstream had a lot of moving pieces. The tank is 100' away on a slight uphill grade. And our Airstream's solar system is the only power we currently have on the property.

Initially we planned to use a small 12v water pump, but we got worried that the long distance would mean not enough pressure. 

Water Pump Fail

Attempt 1: Water Pump Fail

Worried about low pressure, we got a massive 1 hp shallow well pump which necessitated a huge pump house to store it in and protect from the elements.

So we built the building, got it installed, and proceeded to run into problem after problem. Long story short - check out this article to see what went wrong.

Attempt 2: Water Pump Success!

Turns out our original idea was the winner. Shouldn't have second guessed ourselves! So what did we end up doing?

Pump House with Solar on Roof

Power

The shallow well pump had a huge 120v draw that had to run through our inverter which was 100' away. We found out the hard way that our system just wasn't wired for loads that large. Plus we would have had to run an underground power line and cut a hole in the Airstream to make it work (no thanks)!

By switching to a small 12v RV water pump, we could setup a small, independent solar-powered system that wouldn't be tied to our trailer.

We picked up this Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit for about $200. It was perfect because it included the panel, a solar charge controller, panel mounts, and all the cables in the same box. Easy!

Then I just went down to Walmart and picked up a cheap deep cycle 135 ah marine battery. Instant mini solar-powered system!

12v Off Grid Water Pump

Pump

We bought a Shurflo 3.5gpm 12v Pump - the exact same pump we've had in our Airstream for the past 3 years. We could have gone with a pump that pushed more water, but this model had been so reliable we decided to keep it simple.

We wired it directly to the battery with an inline slow-blow fuse, and that was it! No long electrical power run - just a simple, contained system that we can expand later if want to.

Flexible plumbing 12v pump

Plumbing

It's become clear to me through this saga that I have a lot to learn about plumbing 😂. We wasted an enormous amount of money on unions, ball valves, check valves, and threaded PVC fittings trying to get the larger pump to work.

But by using a smaller 12v RV pump, we were able to switch to more manageable flexible tubing that attached with hose barbs and hose clamps. Also the check valve was built in!

This meant that diagnosing leaks or changing some of the plumbing was much easier to take apart and put back together unlike PVC where once it's glued you're stuck re-doing things.

Our system is using 3 tee junctions - one that goes to a garden hose spigot on the outside of the pump house, one that will eventually run underground down to the Airstream, and one that goes to our accumulator tank.

Accumulator Pressure Tank

Accumulator Pressure Tank

When we said the new setup and smaller pump worked out of the box, that was 90% right. Because of the distance, if we turned on the water halfway there would be a weird pulse in the system as the pump would sense a loss in pressure and then turn on to accommodate it. Full blast was good, but partial blast wasn't.

We like conserving water - and we already knew that accumulator tanks are great for RV water pump motors. They absorb a certain amount of pressurized water in the system for on demand use so that the pump doesn't have to kick on every time you open the faucet.

Since we built a huge pump house, we decided to put the biggest pressure tank in we could fit! This 36 gallon beast takes a while to fill, but will provide pressurized water for a very long time before the pump starts up.

Trenching Water Line

Burying a Water Line from our Pump House to our Airstream

With our pressurized water working, there was only one thing left to do. Bury the line that runs about 100' from the tank to the trailer. We left this until last, knowing we could just run a garden hose for testing until we were ready.

The extremes here in the desert mean this water line needs to be protected long term. In the summer, the water in the hose gets so hot it almost burns us coming out of the faucet. And at 4,800 ft elevation, our winters will bring sub-freezing temperatures.

The frost line here in Cochise County is 3"-12" deep so we started trenching around 15" just to be safe. Yes, the ground is hard as a rock. And yes we've already hit lots of rocks, too. 

After much research, we decided to use PEX tubing to make the long run to the RV. PVC would have worked fine, too! But PEX is a little more flexible, making it easy to go through the floor of the pump house and make the 90 degree turn in the trench (we had to dig around where our septic will eventually be installed).

The downside of PEX is that you need special tools and crimping rings to make the connections. But we plan on using it in our own building projects later down the line, so we grabbed a cheap crimper and some cinch clamp rings.

On the pump side, we had needed to go from a 1/2" threaded ball valve to 3/4" PEX so we used a brass crimp fitting.

Crimping spigot

At the spigot side near the trailer we just pieced together the bottom with a 30" 3/4" threaded steel pipe, a 3/4" T, 3/4" plug, and 3/4" brass crimp fitting.

Water Spigot

And on top we used a 90 degree elbow and hose bib. Super simple, just stuff you can grab at any hardware store.

While the majority of the pipe was buried under the frost line, we made sure to insulate and tape the parts near the surface. Once its starts getting colder, we'll need to do the same to the actual faucet and hose running to the trailer. But for now, this works perfectly!

Solar Powered Pressurized Water Off-Grid

Using a 12v Pump on Your Homestead

There was definitely a happy water dance the day we got everything connected with no leaks and correct pressure! Not having to transfer water daily is a huge time saver. With all the other things we have on our plate out here, the last thing we need to be worrying about is making sure there's water in our fresh tank each day.

Unless you need to pump water up from a well under the ground, we've realized that these little 12v pumps are plenty powerful enough to push water around our property at large distances. And the best part is that they're easy to power with a remote inexpensive solar setup - and easy to plumb with flexible tubing or Pex.

So take it from us and don't over-power your water pump needs. Keep it simple, friends!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/weekend-homestead-projects Weekend Homestead Projects - Airstream Table, Switches for Water Pump & Inverter, Stock Tank Cover 2020-07-14T00:00:00-05:00 2020-07-21T12:11:20-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

After finally conquering our water pump situation, and deciding on a fence for our next big project (but waiting on materials to be delivered), we took the weekend off! Just kidding - we tackled a bunch of tiny jobs that have been driving us nuts for months :)

New Dining Room Table in Airstream

New Dining Room Table for the Airstream

Our gorgeous, hand made dining room table that Ashely's Dad and his brother made during the renovation had slowly succumbed to the Arizona heat, curling up like a piece of paper, and making it very difficult to set things on and even worse to sleep on. Nothing like a huge piece of wood sticking up in the middle of your back!

With a new puppy keeping us up all hours of the night, we finally reached our breaking point, and made a new, flat table a priority!

Trying to save time and money (and knowing there's a good chance the table may warp again), we just bought a 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood from Lowe's. We cut it to size, and then added a smaller additional support layer underneath by gluing and screwing it in. Then oiled it and screwed it to our pedestal.

It's not a perfect match, but we have a flat table/bed again! Is that a weird thing to say? For us, not really.

Weatherproof Water Pump Switch

Installing a Switch for our Solar Powered Water Pump

After a terrible first try at an off-grid water pump solution, we re-grouped and built our solar powered pressurized water pump system. It's been amazing!

But as with most things off-grid in the desert, it needed some extra attention. 

Here's a scenario - let's say we decide to take a trip in the Airstream and go boondock in one of our favorite places. That solar powered pump is always on, always making sure the water in the system stays pressurized. Great for when we're here and hooked up to it. But not so great for long periods of time unattended.

A line could burst, it could get too hot or too cold. We insulated the pump house, but you just never know. Someone could come up on the property and turn the water spigot on and we'd run out our entire tank.

Getting inside the pump house and cutting a line or pulling the fuse on the pump is a huge pain, so we decided to install an exterior weatherproof switch to make it easy to turn off when we're not using it.

That way we can turn it off and bleed the line to relieve pressure quickly if we're in a hurry.  I know, it's a small thing. But out here, there are so many small things that cause friction. We'll take a tiny win any day :)

Inverter Remote Display

Installing Our Remote Inverter Display

A while back we upgraded to a 2000w Inverter to run Ashley's Vitamix (among other things). During that process we also bought a remote switch that would make it easier to turn off. 

Big powerful inverters are awesome when you need them, but pull a constant power draw even when not in use. So often overnight we like to turn it off to save battery.

Our 2000w Samlex Inverter lives down underneath our bed, so removing cushions and cabinet tops was always a huge pain. We got the switch to make it easier, but because we didn't have the right tools to install in a facing cabinet while traveling, it got temporarily thrown inside a slightly more easy to access cabinet. Hah!

Weekend projects to the rescue! I had snagged a Dewalt 20v Max XR Jigsaw for Ashley on Mother's Day, and it was definitely the tool we were missing. Running the cable around the dinette was a bit of a pain, but we routed it to the new location. Ashley rocked cutting out the rectangle hold, and we now have an easy way to turn that inverter off each night.

Yes, it's another "make a switch easy to access" project. Maybe we're just easily annoyed? I don't know!

Tiny Chicken Coop Build

Mini Chicken Coop

Work on our tiny shiny chicken coop continues, but only in bits and pieces. It's so hot this time of year! Don't worry we'll have a full video and article devoted to it once it's finished.

Trenching Water Line

Burying a Water Line from our Pump House to our Airstream

With our solar powered water pump setup a success, there was only one thing left to do. Bury the line that runs about 100' from the tank to the trailer. We left this until last, knowing we could just run a garden hose for testing until we were ready.

The extremes here in the desert mean this water line needs to be protected long term. In the summer, the water in the hose gets so hot it almost burns us coming out of the faucet. And at 4,800 ft elevation, our winters will bring sub-freezing temperatures.

The frost line here in Cochise County is 3"-12" deep so we started trenching at 12" just to be safe. Yes, the ground is hard as a rock. And yes we've already hit lots of rocks, too. So it's going to take some time.

We've found that throwing water on the area you want to dig and letting it soak in helps a lot. So we've been taking it slow, trying to dig in the cool part of the day, and researching the best way to make the connections and run the line. More on that soon!

Stock Tank Cover

Stock Tank Cover

Ashley had been dropping not so subtle hints that she really, really, really wanted a stock tank :). On a trip to Tractor Supply to pick up materials for the chicken coop, I saw they had the perfect sized tank in stock - and it was Ashley's birthday - so I brought it home!

Needless to say, taking a cool dip together in the tank on these 100 degree days has been pretty fantastic. But since we don't have a fence yet, we've been throwing a big nasty piece of cardboard over top to keep the cows out at night.

This, too was bothering us. Besides looking terrible, the cardboard was disintegrating, and becoming a pain to deal with. So we grabbed some more plywood, used that handy jigsaw, and threw together a simple cover we could leave on. 

We'll likely do a bit more work on this area, adding a privacy screen, some towel hooks, and some sort of pavers or decking. It's not mission critical at all, but will be a fun small project when we get to it.

All the Weekend Projects!

Whew! What totally should have been a relaxing weekend turned into an exhausting tiny project marathon. But that's just life out here off-grid in the desert. Always something to do!

Until next time, friends!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/first-animal-on-the-homestead First Animal on the Homestead! 2020-06-30T00:00:00-05:00 2020-06-30T14:54:53-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

You know the saying, ‘don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.’ Well, a year or so ago, Jonathan promised the kids that when we moved onto property, we could get a puppy. They’ve been asking for years, but it was never an option while traveling. Since we are a bit more settled, the time had come!

While we would have loved to get a rescue animal, with 6 of us in a 220 square foot space, we needed a small, easy dog first :)

After much research, I settled on either a Goldendoodle or a Bernedoodle for a few reasons. 

The Poodle side of these breeds makes for some really smart and easy to train dogs, the Golden Retriever side of the breed gives you the playfulness, gentleness and loyalty we wanted, and the Bernese Mountain Dog gives you the goofy and fun loving side. 

I spent a lot of time researching and talking to small & responsible breeders, and I finally found one that I could trust.

The Strong’s are a small breeder based out New Mexico. Amanda and Josh were so kind to answer all of my MANY questions about bringing a puppy home. Their puppies are all raised with their parents, and constantly around their family and four young kids. 

We know for a fact that these puppies have been loved from day one, and it’s evident in the behavior of our little guy. He’s so laid back and chill and sleeps through everything.

Our family has been talking about getting a puppy for a long time, and we would always throw around different names to see if they stuck. But one that we all agreed on was Nine Nine

We are huge fans of the show Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the way they would often cheer and shout ‘Nine Nine!’ - it just stuck. It’s perfect, and makes us smile every time we say his name.

We couldn’t be more in love with this little guy, so welcome Nine Nine to our Tiny Shiny Homestead!

Bernedoodle laying down in Vintage Airstream

If you’re looking for a reputable breeder, we strongly recommend you contact Amanda and Josh @strongdoodles or via their website, strongdoodles.com.

Tell them we sent you:)

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/what-should-we-do-next What Should We Do Next on Our Off-Grid Homestead? 2020-06-23T05:30:00-05:00 2020-06-23T15:03:44-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Now that we have our deck built, our shade sails up, and just about have our water figured out, we’re looking for help from you! What should we do next?

There are endless options, so we’ve narrowed it down to five so that you can help us decide what we should do next.

1. Solar Shed

Our solar shed will not only be where we keep our batteries for the huge solar array we plan on building, but also be an office for Jonathan to have more room for work. We would even have room for another fridge or freezer so storing food for longer than a week could eventually be an option!

2. Fencing

We had planned on waiting to put up a fence for as long as possible, but in the last few weeks the cows have been really messing things up. They’re too close for comfort, eating our plants, licking our hoses and dropping their loads all over our driveway.

We have to decide if we fence the entire property, the 6 acres we're on, or just a permitter around our stuff.

3. Greenhouse/Chicken Coop

I’ve come up with a plan for combining a chicken coop and a greenhouse in one and it’s something I’ve never seen done before so I’m anxious to get this one started.

This would allow us to have our first animals, and start to grow the first food on the property. Whooo!

4. Bathroom Dome

I’m super excited about having a second bathroom, even if it is outside. We plan on building an eco-dome so we can see if we like that building process. It’ll have a composting toilet, small sink and shower!

5. Compost Bins

We for sure should be starting a compost bin very soon, but for now, I’m just taking our food scraps to our neighbor’s pigs and chickens.

Also, we need this area fenced off so it kind of relates back to #2.

So, there's the options. We’d love for you to check out our video and leave a comment on YouTube about what you think we should do next, and why!

Thanks for watching friends. We’ll see you next time!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/building-a-deck-for-our-airstream Building a Floating Deck for our Airstream 2020-06-16T00:00:00-05:00 2020-06-16T11:48:21-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

What is it about a deck that just makes a place feel more like home? I mean, we have the exact same amount of space, but somehow adding a deck makes your outdoor space feel more official and homey.

With monsoon season quickly approaching, we were eager to get this deck built to keep us up out of the mud and give us a bit more usable space during the rainy season. 

Shou Sugi Ban Deck

We choose a rather unconventional method of preserving the wood called Shou Sugi Ban. It’s an ancient Japanese technique that involves burning the wood, scraping the char, and sealing it with linseed oil. Basically by burning the wood, we are shrinking the cells and making it less permeable to damage from weather and insects. Here’s hoping it works :)

The deck worked out to be 288” x 99”. So roughly 24’ x 8’ nearly doubling our living space. Our joists were place at roughly 17.5” on center and supported by cement blocks and rocks because sometimes you just have to use what you’ve got! 

The kids were a huge help on this project. 

Shou Sugi Ban Deck

Adali was right there with me the entire time and we couldn’t have got it level without the help from our friends from Factotum Farms. Jason and Selena showed us how to use their laser level and even stayed to help us get the frame supported. 

Since moving here, we’ve really found our people. We’ve met some of the nicest folks around, and we’re excited to be a part of this community. And if you’re in need for some of the best goat milk soap, make sure to check out their family business at FactotumFarms.com!

This project only took 5 days to complete and we are super happy with how it turned out!

Deck for our Airstream

We will be adding a wrap around step because our ground slopes to the front of the Airstream leaving a bit more of a jump off than we want. I may have to talk Jonathan into letting me build some outdoor furniture that won’t blow away like our camp chairs currently do. A few more plants and maybe a rug and this place will feel even more like home. Now to just keep the cows off the deck ;)

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/water-pump-fail Water Pump FAIL 2020-06-08T00:00:00-05:00 2020-07-27T12:46:03-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

After our shade sail project went spectacularly, we had a major FAIL. 

We spent the last week plumbing and re-plumbing our water pump (6 times!!!) only to have it continuously leak every time. THEN we realized that our 2000 watt inverter couldn't even handle the pump. Arghhhh!

Hey, we just needed more power right?

WRONG.

Water Pump Fail

We thought it would be as simple as switching to a 3000 watt inverter, but it turns out that even though we over-gaugued all our wiring when we renovated the Airstream, it wasn't enough for that size inverter. Instead of rewiring our entire system at 4/0 cable, we’re sending back the pump, returning the 3000 watt inverter, and starting over.

Replacing our Inverter

You know, sometimes you just need to keep things simple and go with your gut. Our original plan was to just use a 12 volt water pump much like the one we have in our Airstream, connect it to a 12 volt battery and charge it with a small solar panel. So, hopefully in the coming weeks we can get this water situation all figured out.

As with most things we have done since moving out here 6 weeks ago, it’s all just a big lesson. We’re learning so much, often by making mistakes, but how else do you get the experience? Sometimes we have to fail, and fail hard, to get to where we want to be. And that’s okay by me.

How great it is for our kids to be able to see us make so many mistakes? To fail, to find another solution, and to learn from them.

There's something really great about getting to share this life with our kids. They aren't just watching, they are learning right beside us, and that's what this whole adventure is all about. Learning new things together.

Hopefully next week we’ll have a more successful project to share with you!

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notification button so you will be notified of our next video!

Thanks friends!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/washing-clothes-off-grid Washing Clothes Off Grid 2020-05-28T01:30:00-05:00 2020-05-28T16:51:07-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Since moving onto our property we’ve been doing our laundry by hand. Think Little House on the Prairie style! Let me tell you...I kind of love it! If I get up early enough, it's still slightly cool, bunnies are still hopping around outside, and the birds are still singing their morning songs.

To make washing a little bit easier, we bought two large wash tubs at our local hardware store, a washboard, and some eco friendly soap, good clothes pins, and some clothesline to hang up the laundry.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a really good washboard if you plan on washing your clothes by hand. I can tell it’s made a big difference in the amount of grime I’m able to get out of our clothes. Working out here in the desert, all our clothes get dirty very fast. The wavy pattern on the washboard really helps get the dirt out, plus these washboards are made right here in the good ol’ USA!

First, we’ll fill up one of the wash tubs with our soapy water, and the other with clean water for rinsing. We always start with the cleanest of the dirty clothes first. Typically that means starting with the kitchen towels, then we’ll wash the bath towels and washcloths. Just give them a good scrub with the soapy water and if needed, use a bar of laundry soap for tough stains or dirt. Give them a good wash and ring them out before they go into the rinsing bucket. I like to spend at least 10 minutes of scrubbing per small batch.

If the washing water looks too dirty, I’ll toss it on one of our trees and fill it back up. Next up is the least dirty of our clothes…shirts, shorts, etc. Same process as with the towels and keep repeating until all your dirty clothes are washed! I love this soap net bag to keep the laundry bar out of the water but easily accessible. 

We have several of these soap net bags that we use for our bar soap in the shower! We found them while exploring the great little town of Fairhope, AL

Make sure to give the clothes a really good rinse before ringing out and hanging up to dry.

It really is just that simple! Keeping on top of the laundry is key, though. We try to do laundry every 2-3 days and that seems to be working out great with our schedules.

Before you ask, let’s talk about the soap. I’ve used several kinds and while I don't have a current favorite, I do always make sure it says biodegradable and eco friendly since our dirty water will be watering the plants on our land. We are currently using Dr. Bronners, Ethique Laundry Bar, and SOAK.

As always, if you have any questions about washing laundry by hand, I'd be happy to answer them. Just leave a comment below!

Cheers

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/hauling-our-water-its-a-whole-thing Hauling Our Water - It's a Whole Thing! 2020-05-26T00:00:00-05:00 2020-05-26T12:39:34-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

There have been several viewers ask how we’re getting water out here on our desert homestead. Well, today is your lucky day! We’re showing you the entire process.

It involves a 330 gallon IBC tote, our Zero G Hose, our transfer pump, and our Enduraplas Water Tank from Oasis Water Harvesting in Sierra Vista.

The process is actually quite simple, but fairly time consuming. From the time we load our IBC tote into the truck until we have successfully transferred the 300 gallons into our big 2600 gallon tank, it takes a FULL HOUR. It would take us nine trips to completely fill our larger water tank.

From there, we use the transfer pump to move 40 gallons at a time into our fresh water tank on the Airstream.

Currently, we are averaging around 100 gallons of use per week. We have seen a HUGE increase in the amount of water we are daily consuming, but also getting a lot more showers throughout the week which I am NOT complaining about :)

We hope to eventually have a more powerful outdoor pump with pressure switch and accumulator tank so we can have a constant access to the large water tank. That's a project for another day, though!

Thanks for reading and watching our latest video. If you’re new, we’d love to have you subscribe to our YouTube channel! Hit the notification bell to know when we upload more videos :)

Stay safe out there, friends.

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/shade-sails-airstream Installing Shade Sails for our Airstream to Keep Cool in the Desert 2020-05-19T00:00:00-05:00 2020-05-19T22:11:38-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

If you’ve lived in, or even just visited Arizona, you know how important shade is. It can be a whopping 90 degrees outside, but if you have shade, it’s totally bearable. 

The low humidity and sunny days is one of the many reasons we wanted to move here. But if we’re going to make it through the summer in our RV, installing some sort of shade for the Airstream is essential.

After tons of research we decided to install shade sails. We didn’t want something that was permanent because we’ll be building our house in the near future, and when that’s complete, the Airstream will be moving to a different location on the property. We needed something sturdy, but not necessarily permanent.

We purchased two triangle shade sails that are 18’ on all sides. Lots of research led us to the decision to place our 6x6x12 pressure treated posts at a distance of 21’ apart.

With our limited tool supply, we called up our friends Bill and Yvonne from The Upside of Downsizing and they came out with their auger to help us dig the holes! What a time saver! We are so thankful they were able to come help us with that part. And if you want to watch their straw bale house build, check it out here!

After the holes were dug to our desired depth of 34", we set the posts in concrete with 3’’ screws angled 45 degrees upward for an additional surface for the concrete to bond around, and the posts were set at an angle of 5 degrees away from the center of the shade sails.

We made square forms out of 2x4's to build up the concrete around the posts, but we also angled them for optimal water runoff.

Concrete around 6x6 posts

Here in Arizona, we hear that the monsoon season is intense, so we are hoping that having this added concrete form at an angle will allow the water to run off and not pool at the base of the 6x6 posts.

With the concrete set, it was time to figure out where we wanted the shade sails to be mounted on the posts. We strung them up with ropes to get the placement we *thought* we needed. And sure enough, after they were up and secured, the angles just weren’t right.

Shade Sails for Airstream

The sun is blasting this side of the Airstream around 2:00 and we weren’t getting the shade we needed util around 5:00. Time to rethink this a bit.

You know what? Let's look at the bright side here. Even if this shade thing doesn't work out, at least I'll have the best clothes line around!

Shade Sails and Clothesline

Now, let's think about this a bit. I thought we needed to keep a certain distance from the top of our 6x6 posts, but turns out you can drill that 3/8” hole as close as you want to the top! So that’s what we did. We got the RV side of the shade sails up as high as we could, but our Airstream really needed to be closer to these posts.

We were loosing day light but the move needed to happen. As the sun was setting we all worked together to get the Airstream hooked up and moved over as close as possible.

With everything in place, we feel much better about the angle of the shade sails and the closer proximity of the Airstream. So far, we've definitely got more shade earlier in the afternoon and it helps so much!

Airstream with Shade Sails

Now the real test will be to see how the sails will hold up during monsoon season. Luckily, with a little effort, we can take them down if the winds get too intense.

This was our first big project on the property, and it got us super excited about building our house and other buildings we have planned. As with everything we do, there will be mistakes. We’re learning as we go and we hope that our mistakes will help others that are wanting to do something similar.

And best of all, building this dream with our kids by our side is really what it’s all about. They get to see us mess up, but they also get to see us come up with a solution to fix it! Team work makes the dream work. On to the next project!

Triangle shade sails shading vintage Airstream. ]]>
https://tinyshinyhome.com/natures-head-composting-toilet Nature's Head Composting Toilet - Full Review 2020-05-12T01:30:00-05:00 2020-05-12T10:05:55-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

How have we lived in this Airstream for 3 years and not once have done a full review on our Nature’s Head Composting Toilet? I mean, it get used daily, we get questions about it every month, and yet…still no dedicated blog post? Well, here it is my friend. Today you get the full details on all this 💩.

What is a Composting Toilet?

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

Simple. It’s a toilet that keeps the solids separate from the liquids. If kept separate, human waste is not toxic. It’s not until they mix that it creates sewage and that nasty smell.

How does it work?

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is actually quite simple. It looks similar to a regular toilet but does not necessarily require plumbing. However, the function is quite different. There are two main compartments for waste. Urine goes into a bucket via two little holes in the front. For solids, simply open the trap door and go about your business. In the solids bin, there has to be a medium. While it does say you can use Peat Moss, we don’t suggest it. We do however, highly recommend using Coco Coir. There is a handle on the side of the toilet that needs two easy turns to mix solids into the Coco Coir to coat it, break it down, and prevent odor. For liquids, aim accordingly, and yes men…sit down, please! Use a spray bottle filled with a vinegar and water solution to spray down the holes. This will keep the inside cleaner and the vinegar will help with any odor.

It’s important to mention that a composting toilet doesn’t fully compost anything. So the name might be a little misleading. You can’t go dump your solids bucket on your flowerbed. But it does start the composting process, and should continue to break down safely in a landfill. I highly suggest reading the Humanure Handbook if you’re interested in composting your waste!

Is it easy to install?

Airstream Bathroom

Yes! The toilet simply bolts down to the floor, and the only hole required is for the ventilation tube which runs to the outside of our Airstream. There is a fan that constantly runs pulling air and order through to the ventilation tube and to the outside of the trailer. The fan runs on 12 volt and doesn’t use much energy. If you don’t want to re-wire anything, they also sell a solar battery vent that powers the fan.

Does it smell?

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

Surprisingly, the only part that really smells is the urine bucket, but only when you're taking it out. Keeping the lid closed at all times allows the fan to pull any fumes outside. The solids should not smell, and if they do something is wrong. Perhaps someone accidentally left the trap door open while peeing and now you have a sewage smell. Simply clean it out and add new Coco Coir. We take apart the fan on the toilet and clean it every other time we empty the solids bin. This will help keep the fan running smoothly, keep moisture down, and allow any odor to be vented to the outside.

How often do you clean it?

Coconut Coir

Great question! This toilet is really meant for 1-2 people to be using it at a time. Not necessarily SIX! We know a few couples with this toilet and they don’t have to empty out the solids for about 2 months! We, however, have to dump the solids bin every 2 weeks if used exclusively, and the pee bucket gets dumped daily. When we’re at a campground, we take full advantage of their bathroom facilities.

This is probably the only real downside for us - as a large family, a single composting toilet is pushing it. We could really use another. Now that we're on our own land, we'll be building an outdoor bathroom soon :)

How do you clean it?

Cleaning Nature's Head Composting Toilet

It’s not hard to clean, but it is a bit of a pain. Jonathan unscrews the bolts holding down the toilet and takes it all outside. Once it’s outside, remove the urine bucket and set it aside. The top of the toilet comes off via two clips on the side and slide of a pin in the back. Set the top of the toilet aside to clean later. We recommend using a compostable bag because if you’re just putting it in a plastic bag it kind of defeats the purpose of having a composting toilet, right? Put the compostable bag over the solids bin, make sure it’s on tight, and turn the whole thing over. Now bang on the outside of the toilet to release any clumps that could have developed, and carefully remove the compost bag from the bin. It’s important that you don’t use harsh cleaners in this bin unless absolutely necessary. Now it’s time to add the new coco coir. Turn the agitator bar so it’s parallel with the bottom of the bin. Fill with coco coir until the bars are just slightly covered. This will be about 2 gallon ziplock bags full for reference.

Now to clean the top of the toilet. We typically lay it on a plastic bag on the tailgate for easy cleaning. Give it a good spray down with your favorite cleaner. We prefer to use Thieves Cleaner from Young Living. Once it’s all been cleaned, just put it back together and you’re good to go.

For the times when the fan needs cleaning, just unscrew from the side of the toilet, separate plastic pieces that hold the filter and give it a good wash and make sure to allow it to dry before putting back in place. We’ve found that the fan can get dusty so we clean it every other time we clean out the toilet.

How do you prepare the Coco Coir?

Coco Coir for Compost Toilet

We prefer to buy big blocks of Coco Coir and prepare it ourselves. We store it in a large heavy duty plastic bin in the bed of our truck. It’s a tricky balance of getting the block wet enough to break apart, but not so wet that when it’s in the solids bin it creates mold. For a big block, the best way to start is to just pour some water all over it and let it set for 30 minutes or so. This will soften it and loosen things up so it’s easier to break apart. Then we use a small ice pick to start peeling off layers, and our hands to break it down into the finer consistency you need. You may need more water during this process, but again don’t add too much. Keep it as dry as possible.

How do you dispose of the waste?

Compostable Bags

With the urine bucket, we do our best to dump directly at bathrooms or pit toilets. Otherwise, if we’re boondocking and not close to anything we will sprinkle it on plants. I know that sounds gross, but urine has actually been shown to be a safe and effective fertilizer for plants and gardens. So we’re just helping them out :)

For the solids, we recommend putting it in a compostable bag and leaving it in a dumpster. Remember, the solids are not fully composted yet, so allowing it to continue the process in a landfill is perfectly safe.

Any bad composting experiences?

There was one time that we had a bad experience. Someone gave us Peat Moss for the solids bin, and we got some kind of gross flies. They looked like large fruit flies. That was the one and only time we gave the bin a through cleaning. We emptied it as usual, but used a hose and lots of soap and vinegar to clean the inside with a brush. After that, we never used Peat Moss again.

Would we we recommend a composting toilet?

Nature's Head Composting Review

If you’re living in an RV, traveling full-time, and love to be off-grid…YES! I highly suggest it for those reasons. If you plan on being in campgrounds most of the time, probably not. 

When we were renovating the Airstream, we knew we wanted to mainly be off-grid. Having a black tank would require us to go into town at least once a week to dump our tanks. We didn’t want to do that, so we converted our existing black tank into a gray tank (it was new) ,and went with the Nature's Head Composting Toilet.

If we were to do it again, the only thing we would do differently is plumb the urine diverter to go straight into the gray tank. This would save us from having to carry a bucket of our family’s urine to dump every day. Or as Jonathan likes to call it - the WALK OF SHAME!

As you can see, a composting toilet is a nuanced decision that has many pros and cons and tradeoffs. It’s great if you love to boondock for long periods, and enjoy the simplicity of a not having a black tank. But if you stay in RV parks all the time and have access to a sewer hookup it’s probably more trouble that it’s worth. Also keep in mind the size of your family - our family of 6 is pushing it for a single composting toilet, but they are very efficient for 2 people or less.

If you have any other questions about the Nature's Head Composting Toilet, leave them in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer them!

See you down the road!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/off-grid-homestead-week-one-driveway-storage-water Off-Grid Homestead - Week 1: Driveway, Storage, Water 2020-05-05T00:00:00-05:00 2020-05-05T12:46:03-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been here a week. We got so much accomplished and it’s starting to sink in that this is our HOME! We get to live here! It’s all so very exciting.

So, let’s take a look at what we did our first week on the ‘homestead’. Can I call it that? I know it’s not technically a homestead yet, but it will be :)

Outdoor Garage Storage

First order of business was to get our ‘garage’ set up. We desperately needed a place to store tools and all our stuff that has been in the bed of the truck for the last 5 years!

Building Shelter Logic Garage in a Box

We have some friends that we visited in Benson that showed us their Garage-In-A-Box from Shelter Logic. We were so impressed that we decided to go with the same structure. We bought the 20’x12’x8’ Garage-In-A-Box and wasted no time setting it up. In fact, we worked on it the first night we moved here!

The next morning we prepared the site by scraping off the desert vegetation which is actually quite simple to do with their shallow roots. We got it as level as we could and finished setting it up. The hardest part about setting up this Shelter Logic structure is getting it square. Plus, the directions are extremely hard to follow so watching a few YouTube videos about the process was a huge time saver. The kids helped so much on this and we worked so well together, it really got us excited for all our upcoming projects.

Shelter Logic

With the tent set up, and the truck bed empty, it was time to prepare a place for our water tank!

Water Tank Pad Level

Water Tank Storage & Transfer

We ordered a 2600 gallon Enduraplas Tank from Rick Weisberg at Oasis Water Harvesting. These tanks aren’t cheap, but after much research, we wanted to go with a tank that is made to last and Enduraplas fits the bill.

Endurplas Water Tank

While our end goal is rainwater harvesting into several of these large tanks, right now we are set up with a well service down the road that allows us to get as much water as we need for a minimal fee. We haul it ourselves and transfer it into the big tank. It's a great temporary solution that takes a lot of stress off of us trying to find water.

Driveway

And let’s not forget the driveway! We got in touch with a local guy here named Darrell Johnson to get our driveway cut out! He gave me an estimate of 7 hours but he was done in just THREE!

Driveway to Homestead

We are LOVING having a real driveway. He did such a great job and highly recommend him to anyone in Cochise County that needs any site preparation. We will definitely be using him again once we begin building our home.

After seeing it overhead we laughed because it looked so similar to many of the boondocking sites we’ve been to over the last 5 years. 

Having the large loop will be great for any large equipment we bring in plus any friends visiting in their RVs won't haven any trouble maneuvering. We also love the slight curve in the beginning of the drive that gives us some privacy.

Picnic Table & Outdoor Seating

Last but certainly not least, we picked up a wooden picnic table at Lowe’s because our outside situation is getting out of control. We really, really needed a place to set things down, and a place to sit outside that wasn’t in our camp chairs. We are dreaming of the day we can splurge on a couple zero gravity chairs, but until then, we have a picnic table.

Not just any picnic table though. The kids and I sanded this down (by hand because we don’t have a good sander yet) and I thought it would be super fun for them to draw all over it. A little keepsake if you will.

Lowe's Picnic Table

We traced everyone’s hand, and the rest was up to them. I absolutely love how it turned out. We added a protective stain also purchased at Lowe’s called Cabot Australian Timber Oil. This will be a good test to see how well wood will hold up here in the Arizona sun.

Our first week here has been one for the books. We are exhausted, but in the best way. We have so much to learn about the land, the wildlife, and how to live in this climate, but we are willing and ready. It’s been so fun to watch the kids explore this new place and really dig into all things desert.

Let’s just ignore the fact that by 1:00 we’re literally roasting inside :) Think cold thoughts and send them our way. We’re now accepting donations for bags of ice. We are officially desert dwellers!

Next up, we start researching, planning, and prioritizing what in the world we do next out here. 

Let us know what you think our next project should be in the comments!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/we-are-home We Are Home! 2020-04-28T00:00:00-05:00 2020-04-28T13:05:06-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

After 5 years of full-time travel, 5 months of searching, waiting, planning, and preparing…we are finally home.

Just typing that fills my eyes with tears. Sad to close our full-time travel adventure, but happy to begin this homestead journey as a family. Driving here last Saturday was so emotional. 

We waited so long for this, and the day had finally come.

We pulled onto the property in the early afternoon and by sunset we had cleared the weeds on both sides of the Airstream (just in case the reflection decided to start a fire), and prepared our first meal on our own land.

Our ‘home life’ doesn’t really look much different, honestly. We’re still technically boondocking as we haven’t set up our water tank yet and we’re still running off the power of the sun. But living on our own land and being able to trim up trees, cut the grass, and plan our future feels so, so good.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back on the last 5 years and looking through old photos. It's so fun to see how our lives have drastically changed from the moment we said yes to full time travel.

House For Sale

Yes, we’ve seen so much, and traveled so far, but there’s still so much left to see. 

Kidspeace

Even though we are ‘home’, the road will always be a part of us. Adventure is embedded deep in our soul, and curiosity runs through our blood. It's who we are now. We are just taking a different turn down a new road.

Home in Arizona

Thank you for being a part of our family’s journey. We are happy to share this new adventure with you!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/owning-the-land-and-marking-our-driveway Owning the Land & Marking Our Driveway 2020-04-21T00:00:00-05:00 2020-04-21T18:13:20-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Can you believe it? We are officially land owners! 

We searched for several weeks back in December for a place to build our own sustainable off-grid homestead, and boy did we find a gem. 

We got connected to a realtor in Cochise County and she helped us search all of the RU-4 properties in the area we were interested in. We found some properties that would do just fine, but we weren’t excited about them. It wasn’t until we came across this piece of land that everything just clicked. Except for one major issue. It was not zoned RU-4.

This began our long journey of re-zoning the property with the county. The planning and zoning department of Cochise County have been a huge help to us. They helped us find the correct forms to fill out and we went through the process of submitting our application for re-zoning, paying the fees, waiting, attending the meeting, waiting, and attending the last and final zoning meeting where we were approved for re-zoning.

Shew, we’ve fought hard for this land and it was worth it. Now comes the fun part.

Now that we own the land, what's next?

Well, before we can move out here, we have to get our permits. And before we get our permits, we have to submit our house plans, and before we submit our houseplant we have to have our septic plan and the septic test holes dug.

Well, check, check, and almost check.

We’ve had our septic test holes dug and we’ve created our house plans and submitted them to the county. Now, we wait the allotted 5-10 business days before we have our permits in hand.

It's so nice having Jonathan be able to draw out our land to scale on the computer so we can really begin to picture what will be where. It makes moving things a bit easier as well.

Site Plan

With 11 acres, we knew we wanted our house to be as close to the middle of the land as possible. There are 4 lots attached to ours that we hope to buy eventually, which would give us plenty of room to spread out and lots of room for animals! In the event that we aren’t able to purchase the extra 4 lots, we’ll still be in the middle of our 11 acres which will allow us to have plenty of privacy.

Now that we have the site plan and measurements, we were able to take those plans to the land and start measuring, staking, and putting up line to mark our driveway. Let me tell you, if the stores do not have proper landscaping stakes, DO NOT use shims. HA! We knew it wasn’t the best idea, but they didn’t have any stakes when we needed them. Let’s just say, that didn’t work.

Our second day out at the property we were armed with the proper stakes and twine to lay out the driveway. This worked much better. We also picked up a measuring wheel that was a game changer! This allowed us to walk the length of the driveway and mark where the top of the loop will be. We also were able to measure the width of the driveway much faster with the wheel, as well as double check measurements from our property lines.

We also splurged and purchased a Gorilla Cart

Gorilla Cart

This thing is a beast! It can hold 1200 lbs which will come in handy when we begin building our home! I know we'll be using this thing all the time. From moving rocks and limbs, mixing cement, and even just hauling out all our supplies while we marked the driveway. It was a huge help and worth every penny.

Armed with plenty of stakestwine, and water, we finally finished marking the driveway…after the 4th attempt. We walked it several times checking our measurements, and once we were set on it, we took the twine down and left up the stakes. This way when the free range cattle come back, they won’t be dragging our line and stakes everywhere (again).

After the driveway was finished we marked out where we’ll park the Airstream and where our fresh water tank will go. Eventually we hope to build a massive rainwater catchment system, but for now, we’ll have it hauled in when we need it.

Tiny Shiny Homestead

We don’t have any plans to go back out to the property until our permits are in hand and we have the approval to move the Airstream there. The countdown is on. We should be out there on or before May 1st! Then the real fun begins!

We just want to say thank you, again. So many have reached out and encouraged us and asked us how we're doing with this transition. It means so much to us to have you cheering us on from all over the country. Thank you!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/boondocking-truck-garage What's In Our Truck? 2020-04-13T00:00:00-05:00 2020-07-27T12:45:27-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

As you may know by now, there are 6 of us living full time in our renovated vintage Airstream. And while we built a ton of storage in the process, most of it houses our personal belongings.

But what about all the gear, tools, and utility type stuff? We use our 2017 F250 as our "truck garage."

Let's take a look at the tools and products we keep in our truck for full-time travel and how we organize them.

Front Seat Area

Bag Podz in Front F250

Up front, we like to keep things as clutter-free as possible. Partially because we don't want anything of value visible, but also because with a bench seat and 3 people - it's just cramped!First up let's talk about phone mounts and chargers. Our phones are always mounted where we can see them since we use them for directions, podcasts, and music. The Kenu Airframe+ Vent Car Mount Phone Holder is super simple mount that connects to your air vent and uses a spring loaded clip to hold it in place. We love that it doesn't require adhesives or any sort of permanent change to your vehicle to make it work. In addition, we're still opting to keep charging simple by using high quality cables and high powered car chargers. The Aukey USB C PD Fast Charger lets us quickly charge our iPhone 11's, but is also backwards compatible for older iPads or devices with the USB A port.We also keep a first aid kit and some extra fuses for the truck. And of course, our BagPodz reusable shopping bags. We seriously love them!

Back Seat Storage

F250 Under Back Seat Storage

The back seat is also pretty clutter free, but thankfully our truck has a decent amount of storage both behind and under the seats. We always carry an IceMule cooler for transporting ice and taking food on long hikes. And having a roadside emergency kit and flashlight are important. Our Viair Portable Air Compressor lets us air up our tires on both the truck and Airstream in a pinch (super handy if you have to air them down for a sandy or muddy road).

Have we mentioned we love hammocks!? We have a bunch of Eno hammocks that we use whenever we can. Make sure you use a heavy duty strap suspension system and properly rated carabeaners so you don't break your butt...

Bed of the Truck

Now this is where the goods are! And by the way...we're only telling you what's in the bed of the truck because it will all be out of there very soon as we move onto our property in a couple weeks. 

We have three boxes that fit perfectly underneath the canister of our RETRAX Rolling Bed Cover. Seriously, if you're looking for a great rolling cover, we highly recommend this one! 

Box One

Box one has items left over from the renovation like VHB Tape and Primer from installing our solar panels on the roof. 

We also have extra gaskets and seals for our windows and doors and the magic sauce for Airstream renovation...TremPro! We used SO MANY tubes of TremPro on all our rivets and seals. When we had the interior walls out we had to replace so many buck rivets and we went ahead and sealed them all from the inside! So far it's held up beautifully! 

Oh, and I can't forget the suction cup! This is what allowed us to find all the rivets that needed replaced. From the outside of the Airstream, simply place the suction cup on each rivet. If it slides off easily, that means you the seal is broken and the rivet needs replaced. We probably replaced 85% of the exterior rivets! We also used TremPro on both the interior seams and exterior seams. 3 years later and we're still leak free (knock on wood).

Box Two

The next small box has all our tools needed for changing the oil in our Honda EU2000i Generator. It's really nice to have all this stuff in it's own container because you never know when a bottle of oil may leak.

Box Three

The last small box that goes under the Retrax cover has all we need to maintain our bearings and axles. Having extra seals, dust caps, grease and a grease gun is super important as you really need to be checking your bearings every year for proper maintenance. Throw in the grease packer and you'll be able to quickly replace your own bearings!

Gas Can

JustRite Gas Can

It's incredibly hard to find a gas can these days that doesn't make a huge mess whenever you're pouring into a small opening like your generator. We've been through several plastic safety containers and cursed them every time we used them. This JUSTRITE safety can has been a game changer. Super easy to fill and pour. Yes, it's big, but they do carry several sizes to suit your needs.

Generator

Honda Generator

Though we typically can get by with only solar power, we have found ourselves needing a generator maybe a few times a year. Camping in a rainforest under a dense canopy of trees or during a week of cloudy weather can really drain your batteries quickly. Having a good generator as a back up is a good idea. We bought this Honda EU2000i back in 2015 and we even had the companion model that went with it. That was back when we had our huge 5th wheel and needed more power. This model has been really great for us, but we've definitely heard rumors that the newer 2200 model isn't so great. Just do your research on which model would be best for your situation.

Coco Coir Box

Coco Coir Box for Nature's Head Toilet

We have a Nature's Head Composting Toilet so having a medium for the poo bin is essential. We've tried a few different brands but love this Coco Coir that comes in a large block. It will last us anywhere from 1-3 months depending on if we're using the compost toilet exclusively or if we have access to a bath house. Adding in this scoop makes adding the coco coir much easier and cleaner.

Outdoor Box

This box contains extra shoes, some balls for the kids, and a few outdoor toys. We really don't get to it that often which is why it's in the back.

Pellets

pellet box

Smoked meats are the best meats...is that what they say? We keep a designated box for our wood pellets that we need for our Davy Crockett Green Mountain Grill. They're easy to find at most big box stores or you can even order the pellets on line.

Tool Bag

Tool Bag

Curse this tiny tool bag. While it's great for keeping lots of tools in a tiny space, it's HORRIBLE for accessing them! I can't tell you how many times I've reached in to grab a tool only to be sliced on the dang hack saw! Bad words, I tell you! So many bad words muttered because of this bag.

However, we can store quite a bit in here. Over the years we've accumulated most of what we need to fix anything that goes wrong. Some items that you may have not thought of needing would be copper pipe tools for cutting and flaring if your propane line goes bad (yes, we've already had to do this once). Don't forget the de-burring tool! Having a copper pipe kit like this comes in handy.

You may want to add some rasps to your arsenal. We've needed them from time to time for small jobs.

For plumbing, make sure you have a drain wrench and a basin wrench. We've needed both several times as things will become loose while driving down crazy bumpy roads. I'd even suggest having plumbers putty and a new sink seal on hand. We had to replace ours in a very tiny town and finding what we needed was a huge pain.

A small hatchet for cutting up wood for a camp fire comes in handy.

Of course you should already have things like screwdrivers, drill bits, tape measures, hammers, mallets, and pliers for common problems that may happen.

Solar Ground Deploy

Renogy Solar Ground Deploy

We crammed 500 watts of solar on our roof, but having an extra 200 watts via this Renogy Solar Suitcase that has really saved our batteries, especially in the winter months. All our solar panels are from Renogy and we've had zero issues with them. We love that this ground deploy comes with a suitcase to protect it in the bed of the truck.

Telescoping Ladder

Telescoping Ladder

Having a good ladder on the road can really come in handy. We use this telescopic ladder to be able to tilt our solar panels in the winter months, and to allow us to clean them off easily. This telescoping ladder has been with us for the last 3 years and though it can feel a bit unstable at times, we've never had any issues with it it collapsing on us. Though we probably wouldn't use it if we were permanently stationary, we do love having it with us as we travel full time. Plus, it's on Amazon so delivery is easy!

Interior Box

This next box houses all our interior replacements parts we may need. Once you're on the road for a few years, you really begin to get a feel for what will need replacing after awhile. We keep things like extra Fantastic Fan Vent Screen because when we take them off for cleaning, the tabs holding them in place can occasionally fall off. We've only had this happen once, but we have an extra just in case.

We keep an extra solar display since we've already had to replace it once.

Propane pigtails. These seals tend to go bad because our propane tanks do not have a cover over them. They're always exposed to the elements. However, I just put some UV Protective Tape in our Amazon cart to put over the seals so that may help us not have to replace these every six months or so. Hopefully that works.

We also have little LED replacement lights, too. We got as many as we could because they no longer make them anymore (of course). Because we don't have the lights on a whole bunch, I think our lights will last quite a while in here.

We carry extra push button latches and hinges that we used in our build. You never know when you may need to replace those.

We still have our set of Clecos that we used during our renovation. If you plan on renovating an Airstream, these are a must have item. They make putting in your aluminum walls a breeze as they hold everything in place as you begin to rivet in the walls. Speaking of rivets, we also have a container of all the different rivets we used on the build. We'll never use them all, but it's always nice to have extra laying around.

We do keep an extra fan for our Nature's Head Toilet. I believe we've had to replace it one time so far which is pretty good after using it for 3 years!

When we purchased this Airstream, the previous owner had an extra door latch which came in handy when we were unexpectedly locked in our Airstream due to a broken pin. Thankfully our door is right next to a window so we just needed to pop out our screen and reach around the outside and pull the handle that way. We used the new latch and were back in business. This extra latch just needs to have the pin replaced and it's good to go again.

Keeping extra light bulbs for break lights is a good idea, too. They tend to go out at the most inconvenient times. 12 volt sockets, sail switch for the furnace because we've heard they tend to go bad, extra light switches (or in our case, buttons), and always a random box of crap that we may or may not need down the road.

C-Gear Sand Mat

C-Gear Sand Mat

We LOVE our C-Gear Sand Mat. This actually our second one we've had in the 5 years on the road. They now make RV size which is what we have. Instead of just a large square that sometimes doesn't fit in sites, the RV size that we have is 8x14 and perfect for our size of Airstream. We love that the sand just sifts through the mat, though with our polished Airstream, we have had the sun's reflection melt the mat in a few places. Definitely something to think about if you too have a polished trailer.

Reliance Water Jugs

Rhino Jugs

We have had these two Reliance Water Jugs for 5 years, too! They've held up great and we have zero complaints. We try to always have water with us in case of emergencies. If we had more room, I wouldn't mind having more of these jugs, but two fit so perfectly so that's what we roll with.

Wooden Blocks

This is not necessary, but we have found a couple of 2x10s to come in handy from time to time. We carry quite a few leveling blocks but having these is just an added assurance in very uneven sites.

Easy Access Box

In this box is all the things we get to on a regular basis. It's near the tailgate so that it's super easy to get to. In here we have things like a 30 amp extension cord and a 50 to 30 amp dog bone, the tool for lowering and raising the Airstream stabilizers, an extra sewer cap (don't be without one!), extra bug screens for our furnace (this keeps wasps from making next in your furnace!). This is also where we keep our wheel chocks when we're not using them. We love our vintage chocks that came with the Airstream. They're lockable and work just like X-Chocks which are also a great option for keeping your trailer from rocking. We also have random things like zip ties, and velcro straps that we occasionally need.

Car Wash Bucket

We have to wash our trailer by hand now that it's been polished. It will scratch if you just look at it the wrong way. We keep a bunch of micro fiber towels, some drying towels, and some blue Dawn Dish Soap to wash the trailer with. I also usually add a generous amount of white vinegar to the washing bucket when we're washing the trailer. It really shines it up.

Fresh Water Box

Water Tools

Ahh, this is our precious cargo box...our baby, our love. We actually have a video and blog about everything that's in this box so you can read it here. But I will list all the times for you again.

Green Mountain Pellet Grill - Davy Crocket

Green Mountain Davy Crockett

We LOVE our Green Mountain Grill. It's been with us for a long time and there's nothing better than a smoked burger after a long day of exploring. We smoke anything from burgers and pizza, to breads, pies, and cookies. With the adjustable chimney we are able to keep it in the back of the truck with no problems. We always keep our box of pellets full and ready to go. This Davy Crocket size of grill is their smallest and most portable grill and we are so thankful to our friends @wanderingnation for introducing us to this smokey magic.

Dewalt Drill Set

Dewalt Drill Set

I love these drills. It was actually a gift to me from Jonathan back when we lived at the house. I love building things and I still remember my excitement when I opened it. Even after all these years, they're still working great and we use them very often.

Camp Chef Stove

Camp Chef Stove

We splurged a couple summers ago and bought this Everest Camp Stove at REI. It's come in handy especially during the summer months when we need to cook food but don't want to heat up the inside of the trailer. We even have an attachment that will hook directly to our large propane tanks, but I definitely prefer to use the smaller tank that it's made for.

Camp Chairs

Camp Chairs

Are you even a camper if you don't have a proper camp chair? We have a few of that we bought on Amazon and they're so junky. We tell everyone to get their camp chairs at REI because of their warranty. If it breaks, they'll replace it no questions asked. Perfect for traveling families because we use them so often and there are REI's all over the place which makes finding a replacement easy. Though, we haven't needed to replace any of our REI chairs yet!

REI Portable Table

REI Portable Table

This aluminum table from REI was a great purchase and one that I think anyone would find useful. It's the perfect size for ease of use and portability. And I believe it can hold 100 lbs! It's been a great addition to have with us.

Milk Crate

Occasionally we see these on the side of the road and I've always wanted to grab them. I still remember asking Jonathan to turn around when we spotted this one on the side of the road in Florida back in 2015. We keep our leveling blocks and caps in here as well as this random spray paint can. We spray painted our bright orange blocks and made them a nice matte black so they don't stick out so much in photos. Why didn't we do that 4 years ago? Anyway, it's nice to have a place for all those leveling blocks and they fit perfectly in this crate.

Andersen Levelers

Andersen Levelers

These Andersen Levelers are a game changer! We love how easy they are to use. Just ride up on them and stop once you're level. They'll get you up to a max of 4 inches! These are a must have item for anyone traveling full time!

Heavy Duty Wheel Chocks

Last but certainly not least. Do yourself a favor and get a really good set of heavy duty rubber wheel chocks. Use them every time you set up. The last thing you need is your trailer rolling down the hill into a lake or tree :)

Shew...what a list! We hope seeing what we keep for traveling full time and boondocking helps you decide what you may need for your big adventure. As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer them. Until next time, we'll see you down the road!

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