Blog Archive


How a modern mountain man can earn real money while living in the wilderness....

There are SO MANY scams out there that target the stay at home person with "easy ways to make money" and they really are scams!!! ... But let me share a few not so easy, but successful, ways we and others produced income even while living in the wilderness. If you have a vehicle and access to a road system it improves your opportunities for earning cash but is not necessary.

When you live a wilderness or homesteading lifestyle you yourself are an item in demand in and of yourself. You possess something that is already in demand by others...knowledge, experience and information. You have already succeeded at something they wish to dream of or pursue. They will pay you for that information. Many folks homesteading remote areas of Alaska (Alaska has several publishing companies just for writers in alaska about alaska) writing books is an option.
   A.   - Poetry Fiction Non-Fict
   B.                          - Literature & Art
   C.                    - Non-Fiction
   D.  -Childrens books
   E.      - Poetry

You don't have to be a professional writer, many journal style books are very popular because of the content rather than the style. Many Wilderness Living diaries have been published with great success over the decades. It is the experiences themselves that are entertaining, informative, and interesting.  Alot like soda pop, its not the container it comes in thats so appealing, its whats in the bottle that is interesting.

We also use a lot of firewood for "projects" that pay by piece a whole lot more than firewood does.  We found there is a big available niche for simple hand made rustic furniture. No not log beds either. Not legs and post made with electric tools. Simple legs made from a hunk of log rounded to peg ends with a hatchet. Put into a slab of wood and called a garden bench, end table, patio tea tables and other stools and the like. Something you can not buy in a store. (See our homesteading pics) Farmers markets, Fairs, tourist stores etc are good places to sell these items. We happen to have internet at our homestead (we generate our own electricity and have satellite internet), so we have had good luck marketing these things on . Ps. That big 'ol stump will make nice wide table tops when slabbed, or as itself. The quality and longevity of usefulness of hand made solid wood furniture is not available in stores dealing in cheap imports. So your hand made items are in demand with little competition for quality. The public is hungry for "real" and "genuine" wood furniture. They are sick of plywood, chipboard and laminates.

We also make money from our food sources....
We make maple syrup and sugar for ourselves, but have been offered money many times for the syrup. Check out the maple syrup guys

Honey & comb, raised or from natural wild hives can also be sold. Although Wild hives are getting hard to find and bees are becoming endangered in many ares due to diseases brought into our country. Great care should be taken in not over harvesting the honey or too late into the season toward fall when the bees need the honey to survive the winter.

Jams sell at the farmers markets, and the fruits & berries are free for the taking along boat landings, public forests, along ditches etc. This includes; blueberries, huckleberries, black berries, red raspberries, blackberries, wild grapes, currants, cherries, dewberries, mulberries, elderberries, strawberries, autumn olive berries, apple & crabapple, rose hips and plums. Check local laws in your locale.

From our meat harvest we make money selling unedible parts like antler carvings, antler buttons, antler knife handles, antler coat hooks, antler knobs and cupboard handles, antler lamps, antler gun racks etc. We also sell the tanned hides, use the leather to make clothing, boots, gun sleeves, gloves & mittens etc. The fur from rabbit, fox, mink, skunk, coyote can be used to decorate many leather items, and as insulation for slippers, boots, gloves, etc. or the pelts can be sold on the internet ( , ) or to local fur buyers. The skulls, teeth, claws, feathers, hooves and bones are also sellable.

We also enjoy auctions, book sales, flea markets, second hand stores where we often find resellable items for resale on ebay for profit. At book sales we have bought books for 50 cents that we sold on ebay for $260 or at yard sales we've picked up book sets for $15 that sold on ebay for $150. Popular name brand items purchased second hand almost always resell for a profit on ebay from companies like Cabelas, Ambercrombie, and USA MADE tool companies such as Stanley and Snap-on. Some folks still dont like or use the internet so garage sales are still great areas to find resale items.

We get paid for sawdust and wood chips -sold for gardening, animal pens and pathways (a left over by-product of our wood working and cutting wood for our wood stoves)

Boards and lumber can be sold that are cut with an Alaskan chainsaw mill (one can be purchased for about $165 at Baileys online) and all things buildable with lumber like dog houses, rabbit hutches, bird houses, butterfly houses, bat houses, porch furniture, trellises, arbors, fences, gates and more. 

Animals surplus offspring can be sold to purchase food for the animals you keep, such as selling the chicks to buy feed for your egg layers. It is nearly impossible at todays feed prices to make a profit on a homestead animal farm. You are privileged to "break even" when it comes to animals. Manure can sometimes be sold in the spring to organic gardeners if you are near a populous.

There are side jobs that are of a handy man/woman variety that can be done NOT on a regular basis that folks will pay you for such as; rototilling gardens for others in the spring, plowing snow from drives in winter, selling firewood, mowing lawns, housecleaning, farrier work on goats and horses. Leaf raking in the fall etc. Dont be shy, charge a fair price. ($30/hr) is what we generally make. If they wanted to do it themselves they wouldnt be asking you, and when a person does not want to do something they are willing to pay to not do it!  (equipment upkeep gas & oil etc come out of that $30/hr)

Never throw away anything metal! A truckload of old metal stuff...washing machines, dryers, grills, car parts, lawn mowers, refrigerators, wheel rims, old rakes and shovels, old rusty barrels, kitchen food tin cans, broken bikes, pots and pans, hangers,wire, door handles, coffee cans, anything metal, rusted or not... doesnt matter...about $250 a truck load right now. (prices vary due to season and locale)

Internet re-marketing, buying cheap in bulk or wholesale from one site and reselling individually on other sites like and

Gunsmithing during the hunting season to hunters who are far away from home. Getting a license for this is not difficult. Word of mouth spreads quickly if you are honest and do good work. Guys that specialize in muzzle loaders have gotten overflow work from local gun shops during the seasonal rush.

There are traditionally feminine talents (and a few famous and not so famous men) who are talented in knitting and crocheting, pottery, weaving, spinning yarn, quilting, and painting that also pay well in specialty niches/markets. 

Gardening. Many small town and innercity groceries will pay for fresh produce organic or not. Usually you are paid by the pound and can find grocers who buy from you by making a simple phone call to the market or just showing up at their door with your produce. Cherry tomatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, green peppers, okra, melons, peaches, raspberries and blueberries are almost always sure sales. Expect $ per pound on small item, or by the piece for large items. The price is usually good since there is no middleman being paid.

Many of these activities involve "outings" which we also consider our "family entertainment", that produces money, rather than outings like movies,restaurants etc that "consume" money. These are the main ways we've known homesteaders to have made money through the years. Hopefully it will give you some ideas and be helpful in some way to you.

I'd love suggestions if any of you have had sure successes with other ideas, I'd love to hear about it!



     How to get a hot shower when living in the        wilderness or remote homestead.....


If you have always wanted to try homesteading off the grid, you will find some easy ideas here that will help you get started with minimal costs.  Many of these ideas you can try right where you live, RIGHT NOW!

OFF GRID Hot Water Showers ...

We have tried a few different ideas here, and there are definitely a lot of good ideas out there to be tried.  Since winter is the time that wood stoves are burning day and night for the most part, the wood burning stove is looked to for the main source of providing hot water.  Any large pot or pan works well for heating water. (Do not use aluminum pans as heated aluminum can produce carbon monoxide).  You should use stainless steel, enamel ware, cast iron etc.  We use a large turkey roasting pan and some exceptionally large coffee pots for heating water on the top of the wood stove.  Once the water is heated (about 30-40 minutes) it can be transferred to a camp shower (these can be purchased for about $10 at hardware stores, Wal-mart, K-mart, Cabela's or other similar stores which carry camping supplies.
This shower works on gravity feed so the lowest end of the bag and the tube and nozzle must be above your head for it to function properly.  This might not be a problem in the forest when you can find a high limb to hang it from but you may discover that your ceiling is not high enough to accommodate  the length of the bag & tube w/shower head. Another draw back of the camp shower idea is that the bag is vinyl so is difficult to handle when it is full because it is not rigid. It is difficult to lift high enough above your head to hang on a hook when it is full (5 gal.= 35+ pounds)

Another method we have used very successfully is a simple hand pump pressurized tree sprayer about 3 gallons.  You simply add the hot water, pump the handle several times and use the spray wand for showering. This is still our favorite method in our wilderness traveling and hunting camps where electricity of any major kind is not possible due to the carry weight of batteries.
The pump sprayer is very effective, offers high pressure spray from a stream to a mist at your own discretion by turning the nozzle. Its nearly fool proof and also provides a container for carrying water.

A better home-made set up can be made with a (36"L x 24"D)shelf about head high on the bathroom wall over your tub. On the shelf (a wide wire closet shelf or wooden if you have planks handy) place a ($5)plastic tote (cut down to about 12" deep) on the shelf. Place a tabletop submersible fountain pump in the tote with the tube and shower head from the camp shower.  Cut the tube to just 16" (usually the maximum height a cheap ($15) tabletop fountain pump can handle.) The pump comes with an electric on/off switch that goes from the pump, up and over the edge of the tote and hangs down outside the tote.  Once you have filled the tote with comfortably warm water, you simply turn on the little pump and you have a decent 10-15 gallon shower. When the water runs out you immediately flick the little switch and turn the little pump off.  The advantage to this set up is that the tote is stationary and you fill it from a smaller vessel such as a coffee pot or pitcher or similar container. So no heavy lifting is required.  Also, it can be set up much lower than your existing ceiling because it is not gravity fed, it is fed by the electric pump.  The pump also provides light pressure, it makes your shower feel much more like the showers you are accustomed to.  The pump is very tiny and uses very little energy easily run by very small solar panels or light wind power, or your outlet.  Because you are heating the water on your wood stove you have saved much cost by not running your electric/gas water heater day and night.  
 Some folks place copper tubing around the stove pipe either inside or outside the pipe and connect a garden hose to one end and run the other end into a regular hot water tank (disconnected from electric or propane, this is just for storing hot water produced by the wood stove)  
The tank should be located behind or off the the side area of the wood stove. Then they run a garden hose from the tank to the shower and this works on a draw system.  We opted out of this method due to the cost of the copper tubing. This set up offers a very permanent set-up for cold climates where the wood stove is often in use on a daily basis.

If you live in a very hot climate you can acquire some black garden hose, 300-500 ft and weave it back and forth across your roof or even on the ground where it gets full sun all day and run this series of end to end hoses to your hot water pipe with an on/off T pipe to your faucet at your shower, where it can be mixed with the water coming from your cold faucet to a comfortable temperature,
(the water in these hoses can get extremely hot) and sent up to the shower head via the normal plumbing path.   If you wish to be able to use both your new solar hot water and your conventional hot water from your electric or gas water tank then simply install another on/off T pipe between your conventional hot water pipe and the T for your solar hot water so that you can shut off or turn on your conventional hot water at will.  

Easy solar power ...

Solar power is an easy to use alternative energy.  With all the costs coming down on components as more companies enter the production market.  Small inverters to convert your Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current -used in automobiles, to (AC)-used in houses are very affordable and can even be purchased at low end stores like Wal-mart for $50-$80. The inverter goes between your charging device like your car battery or solar panel and the cord you will be using to run your household items.  Inverters can be purchased up to about 3000 watts at common tool type stores or off line.  As the wattage capacity goes up, so does the price.  We use a 5 watt solar panel and a 400 watt inverter to run all of our lights and a radio at our deer camp.  The car battery charges during the day from our solar panel and we run the inverter, lights and radio off the battery during the evening and night.

Where to get wood for your WILDERNESS LIVING REMOTE or Country HOMESTEAD fires...

WHERE TO FIND YOUR WOOD SUPPLY for your homesteading needs...

The most convenient place to get wood is "on location". If you live on a wooded lot at least 10 acres in size you can select cut and maintain a healthy forest while still harvesting firewood. You will want to cut dead or fallen trees first. If dead or fallen trees are not available then you will want to choose trees that do not provide food to the local wildlife, such as; Ash, Maple, Aspen, Locus, Poplar, Ironwood, Elm, Sassafras, Pine, Birch among others. We recommend not cutting down trees that provide nuts or fruits to you or animals, unless the tree is damaged or diseased, as it is important to stop diseases from spreading and cutting becomes necessary. We try to avoid cutting Maple because we tap them in the spring which provides our family with enough syrup and sugar for our yearly needs.

Many remote homesteads are located on waterways, which conveniently bring wood to you in the way of drift wood. Particularly if you are on a rapid river, A SIGNIFICANT amount of wood may come to you....
 Breakup will bring whole trees down river as the ice grinds downstream.

or a large body of water such as the ocean or a bay.
If you are remote and plan to live there for many decades you may want to consider when you are young to get the dead timber from 5 to 8 miles away from your cabin and haul it in the winter on the snow. That way as you age you still have wood close to your dwelling when it is more difficult for you as you age. Many homesteaders do this backwards and end up having great difficulty in their senior years trying to get wood which is far away because all usable timber was used in prior years near the cabin site. Here is an example of deforestation of mature timber near a large homstead in AK.

The local lumber mill may have slat wood and scrap wood lumber ends available which usually can be taken for free or a nominal fee ($10-$30) per truck load which, of course, you usually have to load yourself. This is a real bargain though as a truckload is usually close to a rick and the wood is usually seasoned hardwoods such as; Oak, Maple, Walnut, and Cherry.
This wood would otherwise go to waste so this is a great way to recycle and save live trees you might otherwise needed to cut to meet your needs.

Talk to your local town or village maintenance or road commission to see about wood available after clean-up days or after storms. The city and county road commission generally have a local dumping site for wood that is removed and dumped at these times. It is also usually free for the taking with a permit from the city.

Throw away wooden pallets (usually hardwood) can sometimes be obtained for free to be cut up and used for firewood from local lawn & garden and equipment sales stores and dealerships. I don't recommend this option for those of you who plan to use the wood ash for other projects as it will contain nails from the burned pallets. You must also use caution not to cut into the nails with your chainsaw for obvious reasons. is a free website that offers a "free" category in which there can often be found folks who are offering for free, trees, brush or scrap lumber to be hauled away for use as firewood.

Local tree service companies may also be able to direct you to homeowners who want trees cut but can't afford to pay to have them removed, however private homeowners may desire that you be insured before cutting trees on their property.

The obvious place to look for wood is, of course, in the local newspaper. Wood is sold by the cord, rick, and truckload. A cord of wood when stacked measures a stack 4 ft wide - 4 ft tall - 8 ft long. A rick measures stacked 2 ft wide - 4 ft tall - 8 ft long. A truck load is a rick or less depending on the size of the truck. If you are receiving less than you are paying for and have a receipt you can call the local weights and measures office (the phone number can often be obtained off the local gas pump) and show them the stack you received and the receipt showing how much you purchased.

In rural areas you can expect to pay $30-$75/rick and $100-$180/cord. Soft wood and unseasoned or unsplit wood will be at the cheaper end with hardwood, seasoned and split wood at the higher end. Prices may also be higher in urban areas where wood may be less available. The benefit of buying wood this way is that it is often ready for use in the wood stove. Some folks who are selling the wood will also stack it for you as well.

To heat a 1000 sq ft home expect to use about 6 cords of wood per winter. A larger home 2000 sq ft should expect to use 6-10 cords of wood. If you choose to install a wood burning outdoor furnace expect to use considerably more wood - choosing the exact size for the sq ft of space you have to heat will help reduce wood use. Bigger is not necessarily better in this case. A outdoor wood furnace can use 8-15 cords per winter. The outdoor wood burning furnace is much safer and less messy but less efficient and versatile than the indoor wood burning stove.
Now, about those chainsaws.... 

CHAINSAWS & HOW TO USE THEM for homesteading needs...

Now if you are going GREEN then I want to take moment to mention that my wife and I as well as our boys have used "old fashioned" 2-person crosscut saws to cut firewood. This is not difficult if the saw is sharp and is both fun and invigorating as an activity for the two of you. If you start in the early fall it is not difficult to accumulate the necessary quantity needed for the winter.


Chainsaws are like cars, a good name brand is still your best bet since you will be using it alot! The cheaper brands now usually last only about 1 season of regular use. A good name brand saw should be able to be purchased used and have a good deal of life still in it. Look for brands such as McCulloch, Poulan, Homelite, these are light to medium duty saws, very economical and can get you by. They are also very popular and common making other saws easily available on the used market for parts and replacement. For heavy duty saws for everyday use or if you plan to cut wood to sell in addition to your own heating wood, you may want to look for brands such as; Husqvarna, Stihl or Solo.
If you decide you can not afford to buy a brand new saw and decide to look for a good used saw, here are a few helpful suggestions...

* Ask to hear the saw run AND see it cut 3 or 4 pieces of average sized firewood. (Some saws run well at an idle but are wore-out and stall or die when they are put into the wood because the compression is weak. A saw that does this either needs the fuel filter changed or is too used up to be of any good anymore).

* Check for wear on the nose (end of the bar) look for roundness, it should not have dips in it.

* Flip the saw upsidedown and look into the housing or casing where the chain goes in, the sprocket is there that drives the chain. The area should be clean (if the saw has been well-kept, and not full of caked sawdust etc) and the sprocket should not have medium or deep grooves where the chain runs. The grooves should be absent or light. It should not be seriously wore or grooved.

* The chain should be sharp to the touch, if it is not, it will need to be sharpened, if the cutting teeth have already been sharpened too many times the cutting teeth will be shorter than the guide teeth. If this is the case the chain will need to be replaced.

* Expect to pay 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of a new saw for a good used saw. You should also expect, and I recommend, to change the fuel line filter and the air filter, both very easy and will improve the performance of your saw immensely and keep it running well.

* For those of you with an alternative energy source such as solar or wind power, or if you have never used a chainsaw before... you may want to consider an electric chainsaw.


Electric chainsaws are for light to moderate use, is generally a secondary or back-up saw. These are a great way to learn to use a chainsaw as the come with safety features not usually found on economical gas powered chainsaws. They are not quite as powerful as a gas powered saw, but they get the job done. Both my wife and my sons learned how to use a chainsaw using an electric chainsaw first. It doesn't take long to gain the confidence you need to move on to bigger saws. Electric chainsaws are much lighter than their gas powered counterparts, they also shut off immediately when the trigger is released whereas the gas saw continues to idle after the release of the trigger and takes more time for the chain to stop moving. If you plan to purchase an electric chainsaw, you will be glad to know that they are reasonably priced even brand new, so I recommend buying the highest quality electric chainsaw you can afford. As I said earlier the electric chainsaw is an excellent choice for women, youth and small light framed men.


Proper maintenance of your saw is very important. With good maintenance your saw can last for years. You must keep it cleaned out of the accumulating sawdust and bar oil that collects near the sprocket. Be sure to grease the nose, fill your bar oil reservoir before each use, and remember to push the bar oil button to release oil onto the bar regularly during cutting. If you are using a gas saw, be sure to measure your oil and gas precisely to obtain the proper mixture...DO NOT guess! Make sure that you keep the mixed gas in your can clearly labeled as mixed gas, keep away from flame, and keep the gas free from debris such as sawdust, sand and dirt. Keep the nozzle of your gas can capped.Never cut all the way through the wood if it is laying on the ground, as your bar and chain will cut into the dirt which acts as a sandpaper on all of your parts ruining your saw. You should cut part way through then roll the log over to finish the cut or cut only logs that are on top of the pile to ensure against cutting into the dirt.


There are a variety of kitchen wood cook stoves, there is one for every decor or price range.  Ebay  is an excellent source for finding these old stoves.  I bought mine off a site called for $400 it is a working class average housewife stove sold in the early 1800's.  It was in working order when I bought it but it did have a few welded repairs.  It is not UL listed of course due to its age, so if you plan to install one you should check you local ordinances.  I LOVE my stove and I find it very simple to use, although I had to really search the web to find info on how the dampers all work (there are 3 of them). The process is very simple once you understand their purposes, just like turning on the knobs on your gas range! 

 A Dedicated housewife jumps out of her nice warm cozy featherbed and plops her feet down on that COLD wooden floor, makes a dash for her slippers, opens the door to grab some frosty kindling to get that first crackling warm breakfast/morning coffee fire going,....

 NO, I'm just kidding, its not really like that, you don't have a featherbed, most likely its a straw stuffed futon.  You really dont plop your feet down on that COLD wooden floor, most likely there's an old wore out braided rug there but you sure are thankful for it on those cold mornings.  Your slippers are probably already on your feet because you wore them to bed the night before because the wooodstove burned out early due to a lack of firewood that wasnt brought into the house before dark and no one wanted to go out to fetch more. And hopefully you did stuff a few pieces of kindling into the corner for mornings just as this and your fire is already poppin' and crackling.  You can hear the steam rising in the coffee pot and it will be purculating any moment.  You're wondering if the hens have thawed out enough to lay a few eggs yet, as you toss another piece of wood on the fire and sit down in your rocking chair.  You prop your feet up on the open oven door to warm them as the first streams of sunlight wander in the window and the birds outside begin to flit about. Yeah. life is Good.


 I have more info I've written about cooking on a wood cookstove at:

There are generally 3 dampers on a wood cook stove...
I believe most folks think these dampers are the most intimidating part of using a wood cook stove.  There seems to be little information available on the world wide web on how to use these vintage stoves and their multiple dampers.   It seems that when the women of the late 1800's passed on, that their daughters, enthralled with the  new cooking technologies of gas ranges, deemed the knowledge of using wood cookstoves unnecessary to "modern" life.  So it seems in one generation, or maybe two, this practical self -sufficient knowledge was lost to future generations.
Now, about those dampers... There are generally 3 on most wood cookstoves.
 1st damper...There is a damper on the side of the firebox, this damper is generally left wide open (unless you are just wanting to keep a pot of dinner warm for a long period of time and want to keep the temperature very low.) For most all normal cooking situations you will want a hot fire so the firebox damper is left open to provide for good oxygen ventilation onto your fire. This damper should always be wide open when starting your fires.
 2nd damper...There is usually also a damper on your stove/range top or on the pipe near the range top.  This works just like the pipe damper on a regular wood burning stove, (if you already have experience with those this will be easy for you). This damper controls the temperature and rate of burn for your fire.  With this damper full open your fire will burn very hot and very quickly.  This damper is generally full open whenever you are starting your fire but is closed half to 3/4 of the way after the fire is going well and a few red coals are seen on the  fire grate below the fire. At this point the heat will begin building underneath your range top and around your oven.
3rd damper...Some wood cookstoves may only have the 2 dampers we already discussed, but many have a 3rd damper which controls the heat flowing around your oven and helps to regulate the temperature inside the oven.  This damper is usually found on the backside of the cookstove, sometimes behind the firebox.  When this damper is closed ALL of the heat from your fire circulates around the oven.  This heats up the interior of the oven. The more open this damper is the cooler your oven temperature becomes.  You must note however that regardless of this damper, if you have a rip-roaring fire going using high btu wood such as cherry, maple, or oak your oven is going to heat up very hot.  
There are several ways to deal with an overheating oven, first you will want to open the damper on the back of your cook stove to draw cool air into circulation around your oven. This will reduce the temperature slowly or help you maintain the desired temperature even as your fire increases if you are also cooking on the stove top.  Second, if you are only baking and don't have anything else cooking on the range top you can close the side firebox damper partway to reduce the flame and heat source, (you would be doing this in addition to opening the back damper for the oven) and this will make a moderate change in temperature or reduce the temperature to the desired temp needed if the preheated oven has become too hot.  Should you need to change the temp very quickly (your rolls are already turning brown but the inside dough is still gooey) if it got out of hand when you weren't looking, the obvious thing to do is open the oven door allowing the heat to escape quickly. Then work on adjusting your dampers.  
The joy of cooking on the stove top of a wood cookstove is that the oven is perpetually heated while cooking on top of the range, so there is virtually unlimited opportunity to bake during everyday cooking and meal preparation operations. Because most wood cook stove ovens are smaller than modern day gas/electric ovens there are a few techniques that you will find helpful in making your baking a success.  First, since the firebox is generally located to the side of the oven box you will find that this side of your oven gets hotter than the other.  This necessitates the "turning" of your baking pan or baking sheet halfway through the baking process to ensure even baking.  (If you are baking rolls or biscuits and want to avoid the hassle of "turning" the pan, you can make the rolls and biscuits smaller on the cool side of your pan and larger on the hot side to accommodate the temperature differences and still be finished baking at about the same time. Although the hot side biscuits and rolls will still be browned more than the cool side.) Cakes and pies MUST be turned 1/2 way through, (very gently to prevent your cake from "falling" in the center if using store bought cake mixes.) If I am baking casseroles and am using dishes or pans smaller than the average 11x13 cake pan I just make sure the dish is all the way over to the side of the oven opposite the fire box.  I also have found that I generally use the lowest rack in my oven as the top of the oven is quite a bit hotter than the bottom.  I find that cast iron baking pans help to have more even baking.
One last word on the oven... you will notice there is a tiny small thin door beneath your oven that generally has to be popped open/out with a flat tip screw driver or butter knife.  The purpose of this little door is to give you access to the airspace where the flame and hot air goes around your oven.  As the flame and hot air circulates it carries a small amount of ash with it.  This ash can build up underneath your oven as well as on top and along the sides which eventually build up and prevent your oven from heating evenly (at least as evenly as possible).  You open this little door to remove this ash from beneath your oven.  You remove the lids and range top pieces to gain access to the top and sides around your oven to clean the ash build-up from those areas.  
Typically woodstoves smoke for a few reasons... If you have recently bought a brand new stove or recently re-blued or re-blacked an old one, the first fire you make in the stove will "cure" the black coating.  This curing should be done outside or with all the windows open and fans exhausting the fumes.  The occupants of the home should not be inside during the curing.  
There are some more common reasons wood stoves smoke, if they have not been used in a very long time (since last winter, or even years or decades) the stove may smoke terrible at first until soot builds up in the burner seams which effectively seals them in a short time (about an hour of good pine fire, similar to a smudge fire) after which they will not usually smoke anymore as the stove is in use regularly.  
An antique or vintage stove may smoke because time has warped the rangetop pieces so that they no longer fit tightly together.  (or perhaps they are not all the original pieces, but a collection of pieces that appear to fit together) Sooting may cure this as with the seasonal stove, but if the warping is too severe for sooting to seal the seams adequately then applying stove cement to the seam areas and then pressing the lids (oil the lid edges first) into the soft cement and letting the cement dry will give you a tight fit, then soot and use normally.  
A poor draft also can cause a stove to smoke.  There are a couple of reasons why your stove may have a poor draft... Check to make sure the pipe is not plugged with leaves, bird nests, or other debris. Make sure your pipe damper on your pipe or range top is open fully.   The other reason the stove may draft improperly may be because you have an antique cast iron stove whose body seams are not tight enough and you will see smoke billowing from these seams all around the oven, from underneath the range top etc.  You will need to fill these loose seams with stove putty or stove cement.  Once these seams are filled and dried the stove when relit should begin drafting properly with the stove pipe damper full open and the firebox damper full open.  
The last thing that causes cookstoves to smoke is backdraft on high windy days. The smoke is pushed back down the pipe and out the firebox damper into the room by the force of the wind.  The best way to deal with this situation is to build a very hot fire ...oak, cherry etc full open firebox damper and 1/3 closed pipe damper. It's not perfect but its tolerable.
FIRE SAFETY... Please check with your local fire marshall and township home heating inspector for their regulations and suggestions on properly installing your cookstove.  (Some antique cookstoves may not be allowed by your  local government due to a lack of UL Listing stamp...[they didnt have UL listing back in the 1800's] so they may not be permitted for installation.
We use a 3 foot empty circumference space around our wood stoves, with fireproof wall and floor materials, brick, stone, concrete etc. Pipes going through walls or ceilings should be in double insulated per local regulation.  I've seen some folks also who installed a large square of sheet metal through which the pipe passes rather than directly through a regular wall or roof.  This seems like a well thought out idea as well.  Be sure your pipe is higher than the highest part of your roof. Also, if you have a choice, it seems that having your pipe on the downwind end of your home of the most typical prevailing wind in your area would also be a good idea so that the predominant amount of sparks are carried away from your dwelling by the wind.  A 1/2"x1/2" cage wire screen should be put around the space between the opening of your pipe and the hood at the end/top of your stove pipe to both keep birds out and sparks in for safety reasons. I hope you found this interesting and helpful.  I welcome your comments and stories relating to your experience with your cookstove!


At 53 yrs old Dick Proeneke left everything behind to live in the Alaskan Wilderness

YOU CAN STILL HOMESTEAD TODAY!!! WILDERNESS and REMOTE LIVING is AVAILABLE in 2017!  Although many of the government homesteading programs are gone, the dream of homesteading a remote or wilderness homestead is still very accessible and available. The state of Alaska has many remote parcels available for "over-the-counter-land sales" <=click or paste -
where you can purchase remote properties over the internet direct from the state of Alaska with your credit card. Their website has maps, pictures, evaluations and descriptions of available parcels with a wide range of prices from low couple thousands $2k on up to $50 or $60k depending on the locale and size of the parcel, type of ground etc. Its worth a look if you are Alaska inclined.  They also have a purchase and remote parcel staking program for 1+ year residents of the state that is very attractive as well. The state of Alaska also offers very attractive financing to residents on land purchases from the state of Alaska.

Canada has many affordable wilderness large acreage parcels where you can still homestead today. Many are very reasonably priced and Americans can stay at their Canadian homesteads up to 6 months a year. Dual Citizenship is also available which would make full residency possible. With dual citizenship you must realize that if borders are closed during time of war you will have to remain on whichever side you reside when the border closes. However, I must say that Canada has some of the most beautiful wilderness areas/habitat.

Another way to acquire remote properties in todays economy is through tax sales in many states. These are properties that have been forfeited back to the state because the land owner did not pay the land taxes. Often these are remote recreational secondary properties that the owners felt were extra baggage in tight times and let them go. Many are undeveloped because they were not the owners primary property. These are usually able to be acquired for very low prices when you agree to pay the back taxes. Check state websites for these tax sales. We were able to secure a 10 acre remote parcel between two national forests for just $4,000. We used some of the trees to build and we have no neighbors for miles. 

It all started for us when we decided we wanted to have good clean food. We were locked into a suburban area and couldnt leave right away due to our debt load, but we decided that we did have enough room to grow our own food. We hunted on public land for red meat, we raised chickens and ducks for poultry, just a few. They gave us meat and eggs. We fished local lakes in a cheap boat & canoe we bought off craigslist which gave us a way to harvest our own fish. We dug the worms in our own yard and collected them after the rain, we stored them in a cooler full of dirt with a screen over it and then used them as needed.  We also planted our yard into strawberries, asparagus, and alfalfa. We used cherry and apricot bushes for shrubbery, and planted apple and peach trees for our yard trees. We planted grapes for a hedge row on the fence between our place and the neighbors which made a nice privacy screen as well. We also tapped the few maple trees in the yard to learn how to make maple syrup and sugar. We planted a vegetable garden and learned to can them for storage.  We therefore gained some practice before we actually headed into our wilderness. Having all this knowledge really helped us feel more in control and much more secure in our abilities to succeed on a homestead.  We were already heating with wood at that point and I had made many 1 pot suppers on the heating stove, but I soon ventured into the idea of having an oven too so finally bought a wood cook stove. It was marvelous! But thats a story all on its own!  I learned to make jams, jellies, juices, jerky, soups etc. all stored away for winter, all organic, all healthy. So the move to a remote homestead was smoother for us than it might be for some, but one of the things that was not so smooth was getting accustomed to a lack of electricity. Our income primarily comes from the internet, through making buckskin clothing and other mountain man items, and through the sale of homesteading items we acquire at vintage auctions and estate sales. So we needed a way to have internet access and the ability to run our laptops at our remote location. The solution came through Verizon Wireless. We purchased a smart phone which had hot spot capabilities which meant we could get internet signal to our laptops through the phone. We then purchased a few solar panel kits and some batteries, as well as a cheap 1000 watt generator. This gave us adequate power to run two laptops on internet for work, and by streaming movies through Amazon Prime and netflix where we can view movies of our choice as well as documentaries, independent films, National geographic, History, Discovery etc for $7.99/mo - if we can find the time to watch them! So we stay connected with the larger world inspite of our seclusion.
Getting into homesteading and wilderness living is really just taking measure of what is really really important to you and finding a way to preserve that while deciding what is NOT important. Then going through the steps of peeling that away, until you have centered on what is your essential character and pursuing that character. Your wilderness homestead can be exactly what you want it to be, that is the freedom and liberty of remote living. There are still laws and regulations to some degree, but fewer restrictions than in areas of more concentrated populations. That is the essence of wilderness living...Freedom to live, not just exist, but to grow, learn, stretch your mind, and physical abilities, to really LIVE!


       My first summer in northern Canada and Alaska was a real eye opener for me.  I had very little money and was making the trip in a little Geo Prism and a tent. I left from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I had a car top carrier full of dehydrated food, a trunk full of tents and gear, and a backseat full of sleeping bags, a dog and a 6 yr old.
       I wanted to see ALL of ALASKA so that I could come home and shop "online" for a piece of land there knowing what the general area and terrain was like in a given location.   I ended up going 11,000 miles that summer. (My car died about 60 miles after returning home) ~ that was a close call. Sure glad I didn't head up to the Arctic Ocean like I was thinking at the time.  

        Since my journey really started after crossing the Minnesota border into Canada.  I quickly found us in very rural countryside heading north.  We drove in 20 hour stretches looking for a camp ground.  Only when we were completely exhausted of looking at mile after mile of countryside did a campground seem to appear. We had a goal of getting into Alaska as quickly as possible.  Prior to crossing the border,  we had spent the night at a camp ground was in Northern Minnesota. We had pulled in around midnight, set up our tent quickly, thinking we were going to FINALLY get some sleep.... WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Sleep is NOT something you get on an adventure! 
About a half hour after we arrived at our first campsite,  a van drove up to our peaceful setting, it was full of some interestingly intoxicated occupants who were certain they were suppose to meet us there. We reassured them that we had NO IDEA who they were and that they were the last thing we needed for company in our endeavor to get a good nights sleep. We urged them to depart, which took some convincing, but they did finally leave and we had our trusty double barrel shotgun join us for the night instead. So wearily we turned in to once again try to sleep. Suddenly there was a loud SMACK on the water behind the tent    ....There was a large canal behind our tent and unbeknownst to us it was inhabited by very large carp or gar jumping from the water and coming down with an awful tremendous SMACK. That went on all night until day break. So we awoke almost rested and headed north. We crossed the border in the middle of the night around 2 am in North Dakota. The Canadian border guards had a million questions, (really just 2 questions asked a half a million different ways. Namely why were we coming into Canada and when are we leaving...welcome to Canada! This was doubly interesting because we had a son with us who was born at home and didn't have a birth certificate at the time. This bit of information would come into play later, however with some explaining they let us cross.)  The border agents kindly let us in with the small $25 fee per firearm , so lightened our wallets of about $150 right off the bat.  We traveled hours and hours into Saskatchewan where you you could see so far across the horizon that you could see the curve of the Earth!  Its easy to see there how so many millions of bison/buffalo could roam those vast prairies. The prairies are enormous! There's just no way to describe how you can drive for days and never reach the horizon. Coming along a back road we spied a sign for a camp ground at a lake. So we turned off expecting to come upon the campground within the first couple of miles. A few miles further on we see another sign telling us to turn at the road up ahead, after about 17 miles of signs we finally arrive at the campground to find a bewildered hostess who had no idea what to charge for two people and a kid in a "candy wrapper" (a tent -in bear country), so she tells me to wait a second while she calls the owner and I hear her whispering, "yeah, they're wanting to stay in a candy wrapper, how much do I charge them?" This was our first initiation into bear country where people, sane ones anyway, just didn't camp in tents. The owner arrived at a price which included all the cut campfire wood we needed and just a tip that we should keep our food packed away, there's been a couple bears off and on around the campsites, particularly in the back more secluded areas such as we had asked for....Well that was comforting!
    As it turned out we spent a couple of months wandering around Alaska after leaving Canada and never saw a bear near our tent. We were assaulted by storms so bad the winds pushed the roof of our tent down into our faces as we slept, rain that poured like a river requiring a second tent to be put over the first to keep out the driving rain, motes to be dug to divert the raging torrents coming off the tent. We had a moose cruise past the side of the tent on the one foot of space of the tent pad that stuck out past the tent. It was pretty unnerving to think of hooves carrying 1200 lbs just inches from my face. There were the unknown silent things (probably bears!)that we could neither hear, see, or smell that sent our dog into a barking ruckus in the middle of the nights, but overall our tent stay was fairly uneventful. The Alaskan nights (mind you its still broad daylight at night) in June and July did surprise us by dipping down into the 20's and 30's in some places particularly in higher elevations.

Looking for REAL WILDERNESS LIVING , MOUNTAINMAN/WOMAN BOOKS That are GREAT READS...Here are ones I've read more than once...

I've read all these books, and many more than once... Everyone of them are Great Reads you should find intriguing and adventurous! Please allow a moment to load... there are a lot of great books here!   
Two old women
Two in the far north
Searching for Fanny Quigley
Way out here
Four against the wilderness
Ruffles on my long johns
Olive Fredrickson
The endurance
Fifty five years a Hunter and trapper
Wilderness: a quiet adventure in Alaska
Cache lake country
Hanna Breece teacher in wilderness 
Final frontiersman
Nuk Tessli
Forty years in the wilderness
Indian Creek chronicles
Wilderness wife
One man's wilderness


There are a surprising number of natural things to drink on a remote homestead, and they of course vary based on the natural plants & trees native to the area you are in.

1. Teas - are generally any edible plant material that is steeped in water, and can be drank hot or cold.

Trees commonly used for refreshing drinks include, but are not  limited to:
a. PINE - Needles made into a tea makes a drink high in Vitamin C and        helps fight scurvy.
b. BIRCH - Sweet drinkable sap, can be made into syrup, sugar, sweet tea, and beer.
c. SASSAFRAS ROOT - Makes a sasparilla sassafras tea
d. MAPLE - Sweet drinkable sap, can be made into syrup or sugar or sweet tea
e. STAGHORN SUMAC - the red spire seed pods are steeped into a lemonade drink

Plants commonly used for drinks include, but not limited to:
a. MINT - Found in moist areas
b. JUNIPER BERRIES - give drinks a "gin" flavor
c. RASPBERRY LEAVES - This tea helps with female menstrual cramps
d. ROSEHIPS - Are steeped into a tea also high in vitamin C

2. Coffees - are generally made from roasting things in combination to make custom coffee flavors.

Grains, nuts, seeds, roots are usually roasted in an oven or over a fire and then ground and then brewed.

Things commonly used for coffee include but are not limited to:
b. CEREAL GRAINS - wheat, oats, barely

3. Juices - are generally made from locally available fruits. In the north, these include but are not limited to:
             I boil fruit with a bit of sugar to taste into a concentrate, I filter the juice through a t-shirt to remove the pulp and then I "can" it into jars. Later I use these concentrates mixed with water when I serve them as glasses of juice. They make wonderful cocktail juices.

4. Wines - are made by fermenting the fruit juice with yeast. A balloon can be fastened over a jug and about 1 teaspoon of bread yeast or wine yeast (old-timers used a bit of sour dough starter, which does produce wine albeit a bit cloudy) in 1 to 5 gallons of juice. Fasten the large heavy duty balloon on top of jug secure with string, tape or zip strip . When the balloon deflates in about 2 to 4 weeks your wine is done. It must be bottled quickly without alot of air exposure or it could turn to vinegar. (Which is not a total loss as the vinegar can be used for cleaning or cooking, pickling etc.) The alcohol content in homemade wine is usually 9-12%

5. Beers - this is easily made Alaska bush style by buying hops flavored malt in a large can and mixing with water to make 5 gallons.Heat, then cool, Add the yeast at about 105 degrees f and an airlock or a balloon as above and wait for fermentation to stop and the balloon to deflate or the airlock to stop bubbling. Beer is temperature sensitive and ferments best around 45 degrees fahrenheit so makes a good springtime endeavor for those who do not have thermostat heat. 

****As with any food related suggestion make sure you use proper identification methods for identifying plants, please be aware of possible food allergies, and risks involved in canning, preserving, and brewing. Local laws could prohibit some of these activities in your local, so please check your ordinances.****