Year: 2022

Bureaucracy Run Amok: More address problems

Another story of Bureaucratic Red Tape gone berserk, I tried to get my license transferred from Ohio to Tennessee. The nearest Drivers License Center is 56 minutes away that can handle out-of-state license transfers. The clerk was very kind and I lay zero blame at his feet. If I had not needed to transfer a CDL license, I could have gotten it done today.

Because we live off-grid, we have zero utilities. So I cannot use a utility bill as a form of address verification. I cannot open a bank account with my new address until I have a driver’s license. I cannot use a cell phone bill as a utility. I cannot use forwarded mail envelopes to show proof of mail delivery. I cannot use a rental agreement on a shed on the property as proof. The only things I had were a change of address letter from the post office, and a mortgage statement that we had managed to get changed to the new address.

There are only two options open to me at this point. I could bring a vehicle title in with the new address, which I cannot do easily because both vehicles are in James’ name and would require a trip for both of us to Ohio to add my name to the title. The other is to apply for a voter registration card and wait for it to be mailed to me. I was told to go to the post office but… our post office “doesn’t do that.” I will have to make a 25 minute trip to the Benton County Election Commission. I tried the online option but because I do not have a signature on record in Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security office, that is not an option for me. I can of course print and mail an application in, but at this point, I’d rather not take the chance of Murphy poking me in the eye any further.

Again, if I had not needed my CDL, they would have been able to sort me out today as the list of required documents is less stringent for a regular license. I think I’ll have to gather up all of these little tidbits and turn it into a heads-up for other folks looking to move state to Tennessee.

Stay tuned to see how transfers finish out for me and see how James’ go with a Permanent Resident card.

We’ve Got Mail!

While the post office started delivering the odd junk mail a week or so ago, we’ve just been added to the online database and can now start receiving packages through other shipping methods. We’re still waiting on our mail forwarding to kick in, but I imagine it won’t be long now.

With the mail sorted, James has finally been able to order the next equipment we need for the solar expansion and we’ll have some new videos to make once that gets here.

Earthquake 301cc Woodchipper/Shredder

In the meantime, we’ve picked up a wood chipper/leaf shredder and an auger for digging post holes. We have also gotten some insulation to start getting the shed prepped to become a temperature controlled area to work in. I’ll be taking out some saplings and branches and stacking them for a chipping run, while making space for the ShelterLogic barn so we can get that set up. The auger will be used to get the posts installed for the compost bin and shelter, and the gate for the driveway.

I’m relieved to be able to get back to work!


Slow as the speed of government…

I’ve been hoping to get on to the next project but we’ve been stymied by the slow and ponderous rate of government. This time, the local post office.

It seems that the process of getting mail at a brand new address has multiple steps that are not known to the general public. First, you have to contact the local 911 office for your county to be provided an address. In Benton county, TN, you have to do it by snail mail because they do not want to field phone calls. You must wait several weeks before calling to check on the status of your address. If you’re not watching the junk file of the email address you provide, you may well miss the email they send and it will be eaten by the auto-delete in the junk folder. (whoops)

Once you have said address, you must visit your local post office, preferably with a print out of the email from the 911 address, or else the post office will need to make calls to confirm. You then fill out a change of address form as normal and then… wait some more.

The address must be inspected by the postal carrier of the route you will be on and by the postmaster of that office. No, they didn’t ride together to expedite the process. We are still waiting on the postmaster to approve the mailbox at the address so they can sign off on it.

From there, we are told, the process should take a couple of days for the data to finally be verified in the computer system for online address lookup. At THAT point, we can start directing mail and packages to our address, change our address on our various bank and store accounts, and begin the process of getting our drivers licenses and plates transferred.

Why do we have to wait to start changing those addresses? Because their systems have been built to verify addresses with the USPS database and will simply say that they can’t find an address to ship to. Handwritten addresses will be held at the post office, so we at least have that going for us.

We are currently waiting for an auger to be shipped-to-store so we can get started on the next few builds. In the meantime, we wanted to share our experience so that if you ever decide to build on raw land and need a new address for a home or business, you had some idea of the hoops you’ll need to jump through.

Building a Compost Bin

Today, I worked on some project materials lists for our next few trips to the lumber store and listened to podcasts while I worked. Had a couple of good phone calls with my boys back in Ohio. This evening, I measured out a spot for our compost bin and scratched out a footprint for the first third of the final project. I’ve got a lot of tree roots to cut through and digging to get the spot level but the manual labor felt good.

Off Grid in Tennessee

We made it! Last week, we hauled our 5th wheel RV down to our property in Tennessee, dropped it off, returned to Ohio, loaded up our utility trailer and truck with gear, and returned to Tennessee.

We’ve now established solar power with a gasoline generator for backup, water storage via IBC totes and a 12v transfer pump, and installed a mailbox and registered for mail service. We’ve done laundry off grid, have a storage shed coming in a few days, and sorted out where to take our garbage.

Our next projects include building a second solar array and running it parallel to the other series, setting up a composting site, installing an access gate, and building out the shed as a mechanical room for the solar equipment as well as storage.

We also made some new friends at the Self Reliance Festival in Camden, Tennessee!

Not bad for week one.

Check out our videos on YouTube and you can see some of our progress:

Getting ready for Phase Two

Loading has begun

Prepping for Phase Two is hitting a fevered pace.

The water totes have been power washed, sanitized, and loaded. The grill has been sandwiched between totes for stability. The RV has had some much-needed maintenance and repairs, as well as some spit and polish. Tools have been sorted and boxed. Books have been sorted and boxed. Water, toilet, and power have been accounted for.

I have left my job here in Ohio for the final push on packing and loading, as well as some home maintenance on the Ohio property. We’re also prepping the kids for their duties in taking care of things while we’re gone. I have faith in their ability to do what needs done, but I’d like to make it as painless as possible.

The adventure is imminent. I am both excited and worried about forgetting things. Oh well. Sally forth!

Community: Are you ready for it?

Do you behave better than children?

You may have noticed while perusing homesteading groups, prepping groups, and even self-reliance groups, a lot of people are “looking for community”. We all eventually realize that no man is an island and we can’t do everything. There’s not enough time, money, space, or bandwidth to do all the things. We need others to learn from, others to trade with, and introvert or not, others to talk to about family, interests, and projects.

Some of us are looking to move out of our current home and move someplace else with more community (guilty). Some of us are looking to find an undiscovered community in our current geographical area. Others are really only looking online because we feel we’re too busy or uncomfortable to “go out and people”. All of that is okay, good even. But have you thought about what that community even looks like and if you’re ready for it?

“Of course I’m ready for it; I wouldn’t be looking for it otherwise.” Umm… no. Yes, you know something is missing from your life and you want to fill that lack, but you’re not ready on that basis alone. It’s like wanting a puppy, or a sweetheart, or a spouse. You can want all you like; that doesn’t make you ready.

That puppy sure is cute… until it cries all night in its crate… Until you have to get up three times in the middle of the night to let it go potty… Until it chews up your work shoes or your expensive electronics. Having a sweetheart is amazing… Until they stop answering your texts… Until they start rolling their eyes at you… Until they start flirting with other people. Having a spouse is awesome… Until you start fighting about bills… Until they complain about quality time… Until no one does the chores they’re supposed to.

See what I mean?

“Okay… so what do I need to do to be ‘ready’?”

Well, there’s more than one aspect of “being ready”. Physical, financial, social, emotional, and time.

Physically: Can you physically get to where to you need to be to be in the company of your community? Or, if you are building community from scratch, do you physically have a place to host a meetup? Is it physically child and/or pet safe or must they be excluded? Do you have to accommodate for allergens, yours or others? Are there enough bathrooms? Is there electricity, refrigeration, or cooking facilities? Does it require an overnight stay?

Financially: Can you afford the gas to get there? The food and drink to feed people? The motel room? Rental fees for the venue? Membership dues?

Social: Will your family support you pursuing this interest? Will they be put out if you host an event? Are your friends going to have a nose out of joint if you’re taking up new interests and spending time with new people?

Emotional: Are you emotionally mature enough to handle a difference of opinion without cutting off the world? Do you view every constructive criticism as a personal attack on you as a person? Can you deal with people talking excitedly talking over each other and it being difficult to get a word in edge-wise? Can you still be friends with people with different worldviews on religion, politics, child-rearing, etc.? Can you be polite in the face of someone whose manner of speaking gets on your nerves?

Time: Do you have time to invest in new relationships? Will your work schedule allow for you to take the time to attend meetups? Do you have someone to look after your responsibilities at home while you’re away or do you not have time to be away from the feeding/milking schedule?

Are you ready? Where are you lacking? What can you work on?

None of this is meant to ever discourage you from seeking community. I just want to urge you to become the best community member you can be before you stick your foot in your mouth, die of embarrassment, and crawl under a rock for the rest of your existence cursing the word, “Community”.

Just like you should work on your communication skills to be a good friend and spouse so, too, should you develop your community skillset. Patience, kindness, respect, and developing a voice to speak up when you are uncomfortable are among those skills. Conflict resolution is an important skillset for all parties to develop to keep your community intact. Expectation management helps avoid conflicts to begin with, as does being realistic with your desires.

I am not going to claim to be an expert in community. I’ve read a few things an extrapolated a few nuggets though experience and I hope I have opened up a window in your mind and allowed some light to shine in on aspects you may not have thought about.

Those of you already in communities aren’t immune to this either. You may already have some base rules about being respectful, what will not be tolerated, what some of your goals are… but what do you still need to work on? What would your ultimate achievement be? What would you like to see more of or less of? What kind of community are you building?

Love and respect,


Culvert and 911 Address

We have set things in motion with the county seat to get ready for the driveway installation. In Benton County, they have a 911 address form to be filled out and mailed in and the Transportation department installs the culvert for you once you purchase the prescribed size. We expect that these should be completed mid to late July, in time for the driveway installation.

In the meantime, we will be working on getting the RV ready to move. It has sat in the same place for a few years now and I’m sure it has issues that will need to be addressed. If anyone knows an RV tech near Cincinnati, Ohio, feel free to reach out.

Visit our YouTube Channel

James and I thought it would be good to share what we’ve been doing via the video platforms that are available to us. We have had somethings hosted on Odysee but YouTube tends to be where more folks are accustomed to going and is more reliable with framerates.

Here is the link to the channel. I hope you enjoy!

Autumn Dawn Endeavors – YouTube

Goats (Zone 1 – 4)

At the new farm, we want to get Nigerian Dwarf goats. We’ve had a pair of goats in the past and we were not at all ready with infrastructure, but they did the job we asked of them (clearing briars) and they moved on to another home.

This time, we want them for milk. We like the ND for its small size, milkfat ratio, and the fact that they’re adorable is icing on the cake. We don’t yet feel ready for a dairy cow and the sheer volume of milk they produce.

We are planning for their fresh water needs, minerals, forage, and browse. Does will need alfalfa and grain in the last month of pregnancy and while in milk, bucks or wethers will need grass hay, but not alfalfa (too rich), and kids may need some grain for the first 6 months while growing. I think the bucks may live with the rams in the ram base as their diet is similar. Bucks will need some loose copper mineral and the rams won’t be attracted to it.

I’d like to rotate the does with the ewes during the day and bring them in at night to be milked in the morning. Maybe even milk the sheep. The handling system for the sheep should also work well for the goats.