Our Solar Panels Are Back Online (after a 2-3 year reprieve)

After collecting dust for a few years through our transition from last house to current house, we have our solar panels once again producing energy for us!  I installed the solar panels on our house roof this last summer while re-roofing.  Over the last month or so, we have once again started utilizing the power they provide.

Future plans include a significant expansion of solar panels, on the south side of either our garage or barn roof that would supply 230/120VAC power through an inverter.  While we do have a 120VAC inverter on-site, I try to avoid using it as it wastes power just sitting there connected to the system, even if no connected devices are consuming any power.  My system is just not large enough to handle that much waste.  For sake of efficiency, at least for the time being, we are consuming all the power generated by the system as 12VDC.

We have two 12VDC 150Ah AGM marine batteries used to store power for use when the sun is not shining.  Those are fed to a small breaker box that is then fed out to various systems in the house.

Now you may wonder, what could we do with a 12VDC power source in the house?  Turns out, a lot!

For starters, we save money by running the well less through the use of a compositing toilet.  Turns out, our compositing toilet’s fan is 12VDC and can be powered straight off of our solar charged batteries.

How about lighting?  All of our kitchen under counter lighting, closet lighting, desk lighting, and other various areas of the house are lit with 12VDC LED strip lighting.  They are extremely cheap and extremely bright!  They come in 16.5ft lengths with can be easily cut and soldered to any length.

(Ignore our beautiful back-splash, just waiting for it to warm up outside so I can run the tile saw)

We implemented 12VDC motion sensors in two rooms that auto turn the lights on (and more importantly, off).

In our central vacuum closet, I installed a magnetic switch that will be mounted to the future door, so when the door opens, the lights turn on (think Maytag refrigerator commercials from the early 2000’s).  When the door closes, the lights turn off.  I will be installing the same switches in our coat closet that I started building last weekend, along with installing them inside all of our kitchen cabinets.

We installed 12VDC USB outlets throughout the house.  These outlets provide (5VDC) USB ports that allow you to power any USB devices.  For example, we now charge our phones, tablet, kindle, cycling cameras, and bike computers using solar generated energy.  We even recharge our AA and AAA batteries using solar energy.

(my new desk/work area is lit with solar power LEDs)

How about our Ethernet switch?  Yep, turns out that will accept 12VDC and will be getting migrated in short time too!

We also power a bluetooth receiver for our home sound system from solar powered USB. I even spec’ed and purchased a sound amplifier for our home sound system that will be powered off of 12VDC.

Spring power plans include adding two panels and a battery to the garage and three panels and two batteries to the barn.  I will be installing inexpensive 12VDC LED lighting throughout the barn and garage.  I will also be installing a small 12VDC stock tank heater I have waiting patiently for me in the garage, before next winter hits.

As we are slowly transitioning to an off-grid lifestyle, I think these simple projects show that living off-grid does not mean saying goodbye to modern conveniences.

When running the numbers, out solar system will provide a ROI after about 10 years.  It also brings a piece of mind in the case of a power outage and an overall warm-and-fuzzy feel when thinking about all of these devices being powered in a sustainable manner with no costly inputs after the initial investment.

Are you currently converting solar energy into electricity?  Are you running off 12VDC?  What kind of things are you powering?


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Home Goat Invasion!!

-15 deg F this morning and the forecast isn’t looking too promising either.  Looks like these three chaps get to hang out in the house a bit longer!

We aren’t really the kind of family that enjoys indoor pets/animals.  When we first moved here, we tried raising our kitten as an indoor cat.  He hated it and wanted so badly to live outside.  We caved and outside he went.  So, besides allowing newly hatched ducks/chicks to adjust to their life outside a shell for a day or two, we don’t have any indoor pets.  Until this week.

Enel, Tata, Imin have joined our family, in the house, since the night of their birth (their mother refuses to care for them) last weekend.  Overall, they are pretty fun(ny) to have around.  While there is the occasional accident (from a loose diaper) that we get to clean up and the nibbling and nudging at your legs when they are hungry, I think it has been a memorable week for our children.

Maybe for the goats too!  This is the three of them, all piled up under the kitchen sink after I turned on the blender to make up a smoothie for breakfast!  Poor things were terrified..  No puddles though!

Not to mention the air compressor and miter saw I am using upstairs while trying to complete some more attic progress.  When I first started, they started maa’ing like little babies every time the compressor kicked in.

Then there is their favorite hangout spot next to one of our forced-air heat vents..  If they are quiet and out of site, that is probably where you’ll find them.

Unless, of course, they are sleeping by the heat vent in the kitchen…



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Baby Goats (in diapers)!!

It has been an exhausting few days.  Last Saturday, Anna, our goat, gave birth to three kids.

This evening, Bella gave birth to two!  So far it looks like Bella will be an excellent mother!  Anna, not so much…

The first three were born to Anna.  This was her first freshening and it doesn’t seem that she really understood what just happened to her.  She left the new kids to fend for themselves, which has left us with the task of milking her and bottle feeding the babies.  The night of her birthing, we scrambled to get everything prepared in the barn and in the house.  Of course it was below zero (deg F) outside.  With Anna refusing to have anything to do with her three adorable kids, we brought them inside the house. After everything was in place, we finally made it back out to the barn at around 11PM to attempt milking Anna for the first time; first time for all three of us (Anna, Shelly, and myself).  After successfully extracting milk from Anna, we allowed the kids to stay up late so they could get in on bottle feeding the goaty kids.  Of coarse, they loved it.

We cleaned them up and set them up with a cozy tote to sleep in, but not before letting them play around on the kitchen floor for a bit.  If it was warmer outside, they would have remained in the barn, but we didn’t want to chance it.

It is pretty amazing how they are able to walk on day one!  Not only is it amazing, but it is also pretty cute!

Enel:  He looks just like his mother Anna.

Tata:  We are told he looks just like Bilbo’s sire.

Imin: He looks just like his father Bilbo.  He also looks like he is ready for bed!

After plenty of play time, we found a cozy tote for them to sleep in, in the basement for the night.  I think Shelly and I finally made it to bed around 1AM.

Today we had to dig out some diapers and let these kids run and play in between their sleeps.  Nothing more hilarious than watching a diaper wearing goat running around and playing with children, all while trying their best to stay upright!

I think next year will will do a better job at timing when we allow our buck to hang out with the ladies.  Right now, March/April goat babies sound really nice!



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Buy chicken/duck/goat/cow/pig feed? Save BIG money!

If you are a homesteader maintaining a small farm with livestock like me, chances are you have or currently buy your feed in 50LB sacks.  For the last two years, we have.  When you add it all up, it can get a bit expensive!

Originally I was paying:

$6.99 for a 50LB bag of cracked corn at Fleet Farm  (link here)

$11.39 for a 50LB bag of oats at Fleet Farm (link here)

$10.95 for a 50LB bag of layer at Fleet Farm (link here)

In an effort to trim costs a few months in, I did a little bit of price shopping and found a local feed/pet food store that had a bit better pricing:

$6.50 for a 50LB bag of cracked corn

$7.00 for a 50LB bag of oats

$11.00 for a 50LB bag of layer (was 5 cents more, but I easily saved that in fuel)

I was content with the above prices until my brother stopped at a local feed mill with his pickup and had them bulk fill his pickup box with 1 ton of grain.  When I heard the price, I started brainstorming ways to get in on this big savings!  I arrived at the plan of purchasing an old gravity box, which can be found for sale in the $700-1000 range.  Problem was, we have some other major expenses we are saving for and there wasn’t really room for another one at the moment.  So it got put on the back burner, even though that purchase would practically pay for itself.

Then, my wife’s cousin let me in on a little secret.  Our local feed mill will fill totes (large pallet sized sacks).  They charge a refundable $30 for the tote.  A single tote can hold 1 ton of grain.  That is the equivalent to forty 50lb sacks.  So I called in my order, hooked up a trailer, and picked up my grain.  I used 5 gallon buckets to unload, literally a ton of grain from the sack, into 50 gallon drums.

So, you may be wondering what the pricing came out to.  They charge per pound, so I did the math for pricing per 50LB to make it easily comparable to the 50LB sacks:

$2.99 for 50LB of cracked corn

$4.35 for a 50LB of oats

$6.75 for a 50LB of layer

That is nearly a 50% savings across the board!!  If you have access to a trailer (or pickup box) and are currently buying your grain in 50LB sacks, you may want to reconsider!

So what does a ton of grain look like in my barn?  Well, after finding every spare storage container laying around in the barn and garage, it looks something like this:

Not to mention that all of our duck and chicken feeders are also full to the top!

– Jeremy

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Trees, Shrubs, and Bears.. Oh my!

A county tree order form and gummy bear molds…  How could they possibly relate to each other?  Hang with me for a minute..  (if you already figured it out, I think we would get along grand!)

It is that time of the year again, time to start planning out what plants we will be putting in the ground this Spring.  April is only a little over two months away… and this was us last April 12th:

That is right, we were planting trees!    Hard to image right now, looking outside and seeing snow covering the ground.

Spring came pretty early last year.  This year, we will be ready for the thaw, whether it comes in early April or late May.

When planning out our gardens, yard landscaping, and tree planting, I like there to be multiple purposes behind each choice of plant whenever possible.  Some choices and their resulting benefits are obvious, like apple trees are planted for their flowers, fruit, and firewood, blueberries as a natural hedge and obviously, their berries,…  Others, may not be so obvious, at least to the average suburbanite eye. For instance, this year we have some landscaping to do in our yard.  Naturally, we want it to look pleasant, but we also want it to be edible, both for ourselves, our animals, and the area wildlife (not to mention our honeybees).  We have ordered elderberry, juneberry, and several other varieties of plants that fit into our plans of transforming our yard into a food forest. Before choosing a plant, I first do a quick search online to see if we can eat it or if it has known medicinal uses.

There was nothing worse than being a kid and being told not to eat any berries or fruits growing around the yard or house.  That will not be the case on our homestead!  While most of what we plant can be eaten raw, we will take the time to educate our children on what can only be eaten after processing, like acorns and elderberries.

For trees, we will be adding a few more apple trees to our existing small orchard.  Who doesn’t like a good apple tree?  Last year we planted plenty of white oak, plum, cherry, and sugar maples.  This year, in addition to the apple trees, we are adding some pines and willows to provides some quick shelter and privacy.  We also purchased some walnuts for a great free source of protein in the distant future.

So here is where that county tree/shrub form comes into the story.  Contact your county soil and water district office before ordering your trees.  You may find you can save some significant money purchasing them through the county than you would through a nursery or big box store.  Most trees cost less than $1, purchased in bundles of 25.  If you are a homesteader or are into preparedness, why not pick out some edible variates when filling out the form.

So with the potential for so much fruit available, I latched onto an idea that was brought up by some fellow homesteaders on steemit.

Besides the common juices, wines, jellies, and such, how about making some gummy candies?  I love chewy candies but avoid purchasing them as I know they have no nutritional value.  So, how cool would it be to combine the homesteading activity of growing berries with the kitchen activity of making healthy gummies from fruit juices, collected right here at home.  So this year, I purchased some gummy bear molds as a family Christmas gift.

The possibilities are endless, from teas to strawberries, nothing will be safe from being transformed into cute little bears.

We will be sure to update you on any good recipes that come from our own, picked-fresh-from-the-homestead berries!

Have any good (edible) plant suggestions?  Have you stumbled across any good gummy recipes?  Let me know!

Happy tree, seed, and shrub planning!


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Attic Wood Flooring, Complete! (and a Lego tangential)

When we started work on our attic this last summer, we made the decision to pull all of the wood flooring planks out.  But, rather than just throw them out or use them for firewood, we opted to save them for restoration and re-installation. The floor was badly in need of a solid sub-floor, so there was no question that they had to go, if only temporarily.  After a few months of hard work, I just put the last coat of finish on the wood flooring in the attic!  Refer to this post for the beginning stages of flooring work!

Lets take the tour..

Here is the “before” picture of the attic stairway.

No…. Wait a minute…  That was an in-progress photo.  There, we actually had solid new steps and a window.   Ah, this is more like it!  Creepy with bits of green outdoor carpet thrown in:

Here is a current view of our attic stairs!  While we are staining none of our flooring, but opting to leave them their natural color, we did stain the pine construction grade lumber we used for our stairs.  Turned out to be an excellent match!

Here is a view of our future school room, well, part of it anyway.

Here’s the landing at the bottom of the stairs.  This flooring came from the neighbors old barn hayloft!

How about a proper floor in our small closet that will hold the central vacuum parts while not in use.

Check!  We have just the perfect reclaimed flooring for that!

Thinking about living in a house while you remodel it?  While many shy away from this (for good reason), it does fit our lifestyle well, even if it means using spare 2x4s to block off a freshly poly’ed floor, while still maintaining access to my the childrens Legos.

With four children, remodeling a house off-site would be unfair to them.  They would miss out on time with their father and I would miss out on, the dreaded Lego organization day(s)..

Piles of foot-piercing colorful blocks…  Literally, piles.  We were finding that the kids had lost all interest in Lego building.  Sitting down with them, it was pretty easy to see why.  It was impossible to find any pieces you needed among piles.  OCD, high on polyurethane, or just plain a lover of mind numbing pain, I set about the task of helping the kids sort out the Legos… by color….  I did this one other time, when our children were younger.  Needless to say, they didn’t stay sorted as long as I had hoped!

After only about a day and a half, we had everything in its proper bin, labeled and all!

Another few hours later, they had sets built that I haven’t seen in years!!   Totally worth it!

Besides the distraction of Legos pulling me away from my many house projects, we also hosted my dysfunctional family for Christmas in our construction project we call our house. Again, totally worth it!

Warm(ish) Greetings from Minnesota!





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Composting Toilet is Installed and Operational!

Our attic remodel is progressing well!  We are turning an unfinished, hard to access part of our house, into usable living space.  Part of that project includes adding a half-bathroom.  When my wife gave me the go ahead to order our first composting toilet, I hopped at the opportunity.

Last Wednesday, our compositing toilet arrived!

We still have a traditional flush toilet in our main bathroom, so I had to put this toilet next to that one to compare their size and footprint.  Overall, they really are comparable in size.  When researching this toilet, pictures made it look very tall (as even mine does).  While it does sit a little higher than our flush toilet, with the cover up, it does not appear to be that much higher.  The width and depth are pretty comparable.

So, here is everything that came in the stock kit (I did order an additional 5 ft of hose).  Included was the power cord (12VDC supply), fuse and fuse holder, vent hose, agitation handle, urine bottle cap, mounting hardware.

Here are some quick shots of the toilet closed…..

and open (still empty)….  So simple!

Right now, as you can see, the bathroom has a really classy plywood floor!  Sometime this Winter, I plan to get some tile down, but for now, we will live with plywood.  Our boys will have to sit while using this toilet, so aiming **shouldn’t** be a problem.  Oh, I hope that is not wishful thinking!

I connected the toilet’s fan up to my solar array’s battery bank on the other side of the bathroom wall.

Next, I ran the ductwork out to the exterior of the house.  The larger vent is from our main bathroom.  The smaller vent is from the composting toilet.

Here is a quick glance at the tubing behind our attic knee wall.  I made sure to have a can of spray foam handy to reseal the hole after installing the vent to the exterior of the house.  I’ll come back later and tidy up the vent hose, for now, this will work.

Next problem.  I needed the starter compost for the toilet.  The manual recommended peat moss.  I stopped at two local stores for some peat moss and they looked at me as if I was crazy.  I guess no one in these northern parts stocks or sells any peat moss this time of year, go figure.

No problem, I will go the sawdust route.  It is cheaper and more sustainable anyways.  I had some flooring that needed to be sent through the planer, perfect!

In goes the flooring….

out comes the smooth, clean floor plank…..

and plenty of sawdust…

I used my shopvac and dust cyclone to collect the wood shavings and dust.

It took a little less than a 5 gallon bucket of wood shavings to reach the fill line.  It took about a gallon of water to moisten the shavings.

Our composting toilet is now operational!  I will be sure to post a follow-up review as our family of six puts this thing through some real world testing.


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Quack and a Haybailer

Last year came with some hard times.  There was that trip to the ER, forking up our savings for a new septic, and the loss of our unborn baby. But, for all the bad, the blessings most definitely outweighed the bad!  This year has been off to a good start and we are only a few days in!  While not groundbreaking, we have already added two new additions to our farmstead!

We welcome our newest addition to the barnyard, Quack the duck.  Can you spot her?  She sticks out from the crowd.

A childhood neighbor and friend (big brother?) of mine stopped out on New Years to drop off this little gal at our farm.  They have a flock of chickens and Quack was their only duck.  As anyone with ducks well knows, ducks are messy!  Quack was no different.  As we already have a dedicated duck coop, separate from chickens, we gladly took her in (we would probably take in any animal, except dogs/cats/horses).  She seems to have settled in here just fine with the rest of her new duck friends!

After two years here, I suppose it is about time to start building up our arsenal of farm equipment!  Naturally, I figured we would purchase a tractor first.  Like everything else around here, the expected and most logical path from the outside looking in was not the path we selected!  Go figure 😀

When a family member decided to sell his bailer, we decided to purchase it.  I kind of feel like a little boy getting that new farm toy at Christmas, only this one isn’t fitting under our tree.

So now we have a bailer, but no tractor (or haybine) 😀

No matter, our budget is giving us hints that obtaining a tractor should be possible this Spring and maybe a haybine later in the year.  We’ll see.  Right now I can slip that frozen stem of grass in my mouth, sit in the sub-zero degree garage, and dream of pulling this bailer behind my future tractor.  Okay, enough of that.  Time to head into the warm house and poly some wood floors!

It’s a good thing we burn wood and it’s like 80 degrees in here, or I’d be cringing at the money that would be escaping out this open window into the -22 deg F Minnesota night air.  We have had to keep some fresh air flowing through the house as we apply the finish on a few of our floors.

More on the floor progress and that composting toilet installation next week!


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Walk with me as I take care of the winter morning barn chores…

Looking outside the ice covered window, I can see the glorious sun peaking up through the trees.  Looks like a beautiful morning!  A quick glance at the weather shows its a cold one.

Better head to the barn and check on the animals.

Time to suit up.  First the bibs, coat, balaclava, boots, and mittens.  Yes, mittens today, for sure.  Five minutes later, I am finally heading out the door.  The door knob turns a bit harder than usual.  A flood of fog simultaneously rushes into and out of the doorway as I open the door.

Our barn water line froze up somewhere in the ground between our house and the barn earlier this winter, so I head on over to the house spigot with two 5 gallon buckets.  Hey, it beats getting water from the bathroom tub like we had to do last winter!  Two buckets will be enough to top off the waters, as the animals should not have gone through too much water since yesterday’s evening chores.  The spigot turns hard.  Very hard.  Careful not to break it, I apply a bit more pressure.  Earlier this week, I had to use the hot air gun once to thaw it out, even though it is a frost-free spigot.  It begins to rotate!  Steaming hot ground water pours out, a good 40 degrees warm.  Both buckets get their turn under the spigot, making plenty of cracking sounds as they disagree with the extreme and sudden change of temperature.  While I wait for them to fill, the sun gleams through the smoke coming from our chimney.  Our house exterior covered in snow and ice.  Winter beauty?

The buckets are full and I head off to the barn.  The ground moans and complains under my boots.  Absolute stillness in the air makes every crunching step sound that much louder.  You know it is cold when you breath in and your nose starts to freeze shut.  The warm moist air from your breath rises from your mouth and condensates on your eyelashes, making the involuntary action of blinking voluntary, a fight to prevent your upper and lower lashes from freezing together.

I check on the chickens and rabbits in the barn. Chickens are good.  Rabbits get their food topped off.  Their waters are frozen solid, no surprise there.  A few whacks against the floor breaks all of the ice free from the crock so I can refill them with fresh liquid water.  All good on the water and feed front now!

The goats are enjoying some hay in the comfort of the barn, non to eager to step foot outside.  That barn window I installed this fall gives them plenty of light to soak in.  The compost on the floor is starting to amass.  This is a good thing for the goats (not so much for me this coming Spring).  As it sits on the floor and decays, it generates heat to keep the goats a little warmer through the winter.  We also apply generous amounts of straw, it almost looks cozy, if only they didn’t have that bad habit of always soiling their bed!

Only the cattle and ducks left to tend to.  I’m still warm.  Hope you are hanging in there.  There is sure to be some coffee, tea, or hot cocoa in the house once the chores are complete.

Looks like their water is frozen to0 🙁

Lets fix that with the ice chisel and top it off for them…  Here comes Yavanna the yak for some treats.  She looks like a natural in this cold, she’s even sporting a frosty white beard (I probably am by now too).

“I’m ready for my treats!”  Who could say no to those big eyes!

I toss a bale in their feeder and give them each some grain.

Last but not least, we better check on the ducks before heading in.

Like the yak, the cold doesn’t seem to phase them.  After all, is it ever to cold outside for a duck bath??

If I have extra water, here is where I like to run to the sledding hill and toss the extra out.  Would be a shame to let that water go to waste.  Worse still would be letting it sit in the bucket and allow it to freeze solid, leading to another cracked and useless bucket.

Time to run those buckets back to the house so they are ready for later, now it’s time to warm up!  Just watching those ducks in the water is making me cold!


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Comprehensive Homesteader Winter Gear Guide

Baby it’s cold outside… baby you’ll freeze out there… Wait, no I won’t. In fact, we just finished shoveling our long driveway (by hand, although this should be the last year of that!), split a cord of wood, and did the farm chores. The wind was blowing, the temps are well below 0 deg F, the snow is falling, and I came in sweating.

Before I continue, a few quick points:

  • I was not paid to recommend any of this gear.
  • I was not given any of this gear to review, but purchased each item.
  • Being a lifetime resident of Minnesota (with the exception of a short stay for schooling in North Dakota), I have put many different pieces of winter gear to the test.  Each of these are items I personally use and trust.
  • Farm chores and homesteading chores are hard on clothing.
  • From winter fat-tire biking, ice fishing, to farm chores, I think this selection of winter gear will keep you toasty and will survive a beating that homesteading and farm living will throw at it.
  • While I do receive a small percentage off of any purchase made through Amazon using the links I provide, I do encourage you to shop local if you can and if the price difference is not out of line.  I personally have found the bibs listed below cheaper locally than on Amazon.

I hope this list helps you out as the frigid arctic weather settles in for the winter.  As is always recommended, layer up for maximum warmth.  You can always remove a layer if you start getting too warm!


Image Source: Amazon

Outdoor Research Ninjaclava Balaclava – I discovered this balaclava when looking for gear for my commute to the office, on bike, in the winter, in Minnesota.  This is my balaclava of choice for any outdoor cold weather work or recreation.  The beauty of the balaclava, you can wear it as a face mask,  hat, or neck warmer.


I have two go-to items here.  Which set I grab before leaving the house depends on the temperature and the task at hand. Quickly, two things I look for in a good winter work glove: proper insulation and leather exterior.  The leather serves two purposes, blocking wind and handling the harshness of the task at hand.

Image Source: Amazon

RefrigiWear Fleece Lined Insulated Leather Mitt Glove – These mittens are great for shoveling snow or splitting wood.  They also have a decent cuff to keep snow out. Unlike most socks and gloves, I found the sizing on these runs a little large.


Image Source: Amazon

Well Lamont Leather Winter Work Gloves – The classic winter work glove.  These provide good dexterity while still providing warmth.


Image Source: Amazon

DeFeet Woolie Boolie Lo Sock  – These are THE sock, summer or winter.  I love these wool socks!  I stumbled upon these when looking for the perfect cycling sock in all weather.  Summer heat, winter cold, and the wind and rain in between, these are the perfect sock.  They are a little on the expensive side, but they tend to outlast any cotton or polyester sock, hands-down.


Rocky Blizzard Boot- I have had these boots for almost 15 years now.  Great traction for pulling wood from the woods in the jet sled, cutting firewood, or fat biking through the snow.  They don’t sell the same model I have anymore, so you are on your own here to look for a suitable replacement.


Forget about your dad’s long (thermal) underwear!  With the popularity of winter running and cycling, we now have a decent selection of cold weather tights to choose from to use as our base layer. These are my favorite:

Image Source: Amazon

Baleaf Men’s Outdoor Thermal Cycling Running Tights – These are always used as my base layer when winter cycling.  They also work excellent as a base layer under jeans or slacks.  I have been really impressed at the quality of their build for their price point.

For the outer layer, I go with:

Image Source: Amazon

Carhartt Quilt Lined Zip To Thigh Bib Overalls – I picked up a pair of these and liked them so much, I bought a set for everyone in the family!  They are a farm/homesteader classic.



I have a really fancy $300+ North Face coat.  To be honest, my $50 Dickies keeps me just as warm, if not warmer.  I also don’t need to worry about ripping it while doing chores!

Image Source: Amazon

Dickies Men’s Sanded Duck Sherpa Lined Hooded Jacket

While the above recommendations won’t win you any fashion awards, you will stay toasty warm while tending to the animals or stacking firewood.  And trust me, the animals will be happy to see you no matter what you are wearing!

One more recommendation…..

Night Lighting

While you are at it, do yourself a favor and pick up a headlamp for those outdoor activities in the dark winter mornings/evenings.  My bike headlight doubles as a headlamp when attached to an inexpensive head strap.  For evening wood splitting, I also carry along my new favorite lantern:

Image Source: Amazon

Streamlight 44931 Siege 540 Lumen Ultra-Compact Work Lantern – This lantern is great.  It has an ingenious handle that allows it to hang from almost anything, including my jeans or Carhartt bibs pocket. My only complaint is this lantern takes “D” batteries, which I resolved by purchasing Eneloop D spacers for my Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries.

Do you have any suggestions?  Did I miss something?


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