Homesteading with Mrs D

Homestead Systems Update

Homesteading with Mrs Dgrit trailer skirt

Trailer Skirt

The trailer skirt is working out incredibly well! By mid-December we have had several cold snaps — nights below zero and days with highs in the low 30s — and have not yet had to put heat lamps under the travel trailer. We did get some sturdy Reflectix to go inside the trailer skirt, and I think that is the key.

grit reflectix

A couple of hitches in the system so far:

The Velcro did not hold. I have turn buttons on order to screw into the trailer siding and fasten with grommets on the tarp. More pics and info when that is accomplished. For now, my 40-pound tent weights, Johnny tank, and bicycle are holding down the tarps. When the wind blows, I have to run around and re-position Reflectix and some of the tarp, but it's pretty much staying put.

grit heat tapes

I also heat-taped the sewer valves. Even though our waste tanks are enclosed underneath, insulated, and heated by our central heating ducts, the valves are exposed, and even the skirting is not preventing freeze-up. The heat tapes are though, so no problem dumping the tanks so far, even in the cold snaps. I also charge the tanks with a 2-cup salt to 1-gallon water mixture in each tank after dumping. I use the water softener salt and try to get it mostly melted in hot water before dumping it in. Salt keeps the liquids slushy down into the 20s. So between that and the heat tapes, I’ve had no freezes so far.

Small Space Composting

The small-space compost system is still happening. My initial winter truck-bed garden/greenhouse did not survive the sub-zero dips, and I have not yet set up an indoor system. Still working on that plan.

Off-Grid Laundry

My 5-gallon bucket washer is real handy. I have made some upgrades, but it remains very labor-intensive. I look forward to the day when a small, Panda-type “spin dryer” works its way into the budget. It will fit just as nicely in the RV as in the house and relieve my back and shoulders of that extra burden. I’m cheating a lot when we driveway surf and use our hosts’ facilities.

That’s a quick update on systems. Hope you enjoy your holidays, and stay warm!


Escape the City and Thrive: Book 2 — Milking the Wild Goat or How to Set up your Homestead is finally available! Download the PDF for just $1.99 on the website, linked below. You may also purchase a PDF version of Escape the City and Thrive: Book 1 — How I Did It and How You Can, Too! for only $1.99. All proceeds will help me get the full, 3-book volume to print! Sign up for my weekly or so newsletter while you’re there.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep up with our adventures in mobile homesteading at Mrs. D’s Traveling Homestead, where we also offer soaps, lotions, books, and pet items for sale to support ourselves.

How to Make a Trailer Skirt

Homesteading with Mrs D100_3400 grit 2

The traveling homestead spends much of the winter in below-freezing temps. One way we winterize is by skirting the bottom of the trailer to keep heat in. However, this trailer skirt has to be easily removable and portable, as we make frequent trips during the winter. Last year, I investigated the possibility of using concrete blankets — special tarps made to insulate wet concrete so that it can cure properly despite freezing temperatures. Between the high cost and low availability, I examined several and decided I could make my own. I only got three done last winter, but over the summer I finished the last two. Now I am ready to completely skirt my travel trailer, and it is easily portable for when we relocate. Here is how I made them.

The supplies:

• 16’ x 20’ blue tarp.
• 4, 12” x 100’ rolls of bubble wrap.
• 2 cans of black spray paint.
• adhesive Velcro.

Putting it together:

1. Cutting the tarp down to size.

100_3406 grit 1

My trailer measures 8’ x 26’ plus the tongue, which holds the house battery and 2 propane tanks. I figured I might want the tarps to wrap around those as well, so I estimated a length of 80 feet, just to have some wiggle room. I cut the tarp into 5 strips measuring 3’ x 20’. To do this, I had to open it up outside. There was snow on the ground at the time, so the tarp stayed fairly clean. I had my son stand on it to help hold it down and help fold up each piece as we went. We also used rocks to help hold the tarp down as I cut.

2. Sewing on the bubble wrap.

100_3416 grit

The bubble wrap was only 12” wide, so I had to sew 3 tiers onto each strip of tarp. This was the most tedious part of the project. I was also concerned that it would be hard on my sewing machine, but it did fine. I had to clean the tarp dust out frequently, and had to be careful not to catch the presser foot on the bubble wrap, but otherwise, it was straight seams and easing the bulk through the machine.

3. Black paint.

After sewing on all the bubble wrap, the next step was to paint the outside of the skirting black. This is to absorb more sun and help retain the heat around the trailer. It is very windy where we usually are, so I had to wait for a still day to get the paint to stick to the tarps instead of floating away.

4. Attaching the Velcro.

This might sound like a no-brainer, but I wanted to be able to use any tarp in any spot and make replacing tarps easy. I measured out 3” strips of Velcro and stuck them at 12” intervals across the tops of the tarps. The problem with adhesive is that it destroys sewing machine needles. So, I had to tack one side of the Velcro strip to the tarps by hand-sewing to reinforce the adhesive. The other side just went against the trailer. First I cleaned each point of application with rubbing alcohol, much as you do to place your new car registration tags on your license plate. Then I applied the Velcro adhesive. We will see at the end of the season whether I leave the strips on the trailer for next year or not.

5. Finally, we placed rocks, buckets, and hay bales on the bottoms of the tarp, so that our excessive winds don’t blow them away. I am anxious to see how this works. I am not completely sure the Velcro is going to be sufficient, but I will report on that in a later post!


Escape the City and Thrive: Book 2 — Milking the Wild Goat or How to Set up your Homestead is finally available! Download the PDF for just $1.99 on the website, linked below. You may also purchase a PDF version of Escape the City and Thrive: Book 1 — How I Did It and How You Can, Too! for only $1.99. All proceeds will help me get the full, 3-book volume to print! Sign up for my weekly or so newsletter while you’re there.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep up with our adventures in mobile homesteading at Mrs. D’s Travelling Homestead, where we also offer soaps, lotions, books, and pet items for sale to support ourselves.