Migration Isn’t Just for the Birds

Reader Contribution by Karrie Steely
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Every winter we take a break from the homesteading life and migrate south. The main drawback of this lifestyle is that we don’t raise or keep animals. But as much as I miss the farm animals, not having them has given us the flexibility to go where it is warm and come back in time for growing season.

Most of our time is spent on remote Bureau of Land Management Land with no RV hookups. (This is land owned by the federal government – i.e. We The People) and in most areas, anyone is allowed to camp for free in one spot for up to 14 days. We hike and 4-wheel and generally enjoy the solitude and silence. Most of the winter is spent in the desert mountains in Arizona, Southern California and Utah.

Our camper has nine solar panels and 25 batteries. We have a 150-gallon capacity for propane, and enough water to last several weeks if we are conservative. Many of our meals consist of deer that we processed and froze or made into jerky from the fall hunt.

All this weight is pulled by a semi-tractor, which is partially fueled with the soy oil we made last summer. There’s also a 300-gallon tank with the soy oil for the semi and diesel engine in the rock crawler that he built, which rides in the garage in the back of the camper. He is really into 4-wheeling, so he has an air compressor, welder, tools, spare tires and spare parts, making a fully functioning “mini-shop” in the back.

The sun shines most of the time, so we only have to use the generator a few times each winter, which runs on the propane. It does get chilly at times, so the propane heater usually runs at night. We get enough power from the solar panels that we can run the TV, lights and computers without worrying about conserving electricity. For four or five months out of the year, it’s a comfy home away from home. It’s a perfect size for two people, and you have to love each other’s company. There are a lot of friends we meet camping and who we join for 4-wheeling events, and there is a routine of the migration from place to place.

His rock crawler (an extreme 4-wheel drive vehicle) is the fifth generation of experiments that he has built over the years. This one is pretty amazing. He applied hydraulics and other mechanical principles that he learned building and fixing farm equipment, so this is a one of a kind that draws crowds. (If you’d like to see it in action, visit the Facebook page Rock Dawg Sidewinder, and like it if you want to follow our 4-wheeling adventures.)

By the time the winter is over, we are always rested and ready to get back to the hard work of farming life. But for now it’s ‘roughing it’ in the winter desert.

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