Jennifer: Welcome to the Self Reliant Living Show. We have a really, really special guest this week. We have Tammy Trayer from Trayer Wilderness. Tammy is an author, a freelance writer, a web designer, programmer and a radio show host at Mountain Woman Radio. She’s got her own podcast. Tammy and her family live traditionally off-grid and have a passion to help educate others by sharing their experience of living off the land and dealing with autism, gluten-free and dairy-free cooking, self reliance, wilderness, survival, traditional and primitive skills and much more. Welcome, Tammy.
Tammy: Thank you. So good to be here.
Jennifer: For those that don’t know you, could you explain a little bit about your website and your mission.
Tammy: Yes, absolutely. We embraced this off-grid lifestyle in 2010. Just looking for a more wholesome life in this crazy world. Our website really started as a fluke. Our website, because I’m a web designer, we started to keep our family back East in Pennsylvania. Abreast of our building and knowing that we were still alive was really the purpose of our website. However, once we put it out there and started really sharing what we were doing, we ended up with a very large audience. It just kind of morphed into something that we really love because we are sharing our lifestyle, sharing out passions and helping to educate others to embrace and have the freedoms that we have. Embrace the lifestyle of off-grid living, simple living, home setting and just kind of trying to help inspire people to slow down and smell the roses a little bit while you’re living, actually living your life instead of trying to chase it. That’s a little …
Jennifer: I love that. Before I ask you this next question, I just want to share a story because when I first … I was first introduced to you through your podcast and I remember listening. I’m not sure if it was the first one but it was one but it was one of like, one or two, maybe three. I was listening to it and I was doing some research at the time. It was a while ago. It just came out so it was a while ago. I was tired. It was the end of the day. I thought, “Oh gosh, I have this one. One more podcast to listen to.” I started listening to it. The thing was it was so strange because it was … I had this feeling that it was going to be another story, another … just like I said, I had been tired at the end of the day.
You came on and you were describing how you built your house actually. It was in such a matter of fact way. It wasn’t in any [inaudible 04:07] or any … I mean, you had some excitement I guess that you were done with it and everything but there wasn’t any frills, I guess, I want to say, in your your voice. It was something that you’re describing just matter of factly. It was so intriguing the way that you were telling the story. It was one of those things where I just couldn’t stop listening. It was that fascinating. It really was. It was wonderful. If you guys have not heard those early podcasts, please go back and listen to those because they are wonderful and it will give you a real sense of Tammy and how she has, how far she’s come over the years. With that said, let me ask you about your story and how you became totally off-grid.
Tammy: Well, my husband and I grew up on farms in Pennsylvania. We’re both born and raised in Pennsylvania. He traveled all over the place. He was a professional bull rider. He was a professional guide. He took packed trips back into the back country. He’d seen a lot of places. I was the Pennsylvaniate bumpkin. I didn’t go very far. But I loved the simple life. We both grew up in the woods. We both have a passion for the outdoors that is beyond anything. It’s just such a thrill for us. We were also thrill seekers. When we met and collided, it was pretty dangerous because we don’t view anything as impossible. He’s crazier than I am. I mean, he climbs through trees like a monkey. I mean, he’s very gutsy. That has provided us with a really exciting life.
For our son, it was really wild for him too because with autism, a lot of children are reserved. But my son has always looked to me for his comfort. If I was excited about it, he was excited about it as well. Being that I’m excited about everything and always kind of see everything through the pink shady glasses and looking for the shiny penny, it made things really exciting for us. When we, when my husband and I met, I was living on a 150-acre farm in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania too. I had a mile and a half long land. I was just nestled down in a mountain range and it was beautiful. But I wanted to raise my son in the woods, in the cabin and I like that seclusion. It’s not that I don’t like people, I am a people person, but I love the seclusion. I love the freedom. I love that comfort of my home and our privacy and it’s just really awesome.
Even back then, I mean, I know when I say this, a lot of people are like, “What do you mean things are falling apart?” But 2010, or even in 2008, you could see things just not looking very bright. We wanted to be able to be in a place that we could sustain ourselves and be free and kind of separate from the rest of the world. We just decided to embrace it. Everybody thought we were nuts. People in our hometowns were betting on us. But here we are at seven years later and we’re living our dream. We are very happy with what we have accomplished and quite honestly would love to even further back in … we’re in but we’re not near back in the way we would like to be. A hundred miles in the middle of Alaska sounds really wonderful to both of us. Our son likes that idea but he’s a little reserved in that regard because he wants a wife first. We’re supposed to wait a little longer.
Jennifer: That’s great. About this being off-grid, tell me one thing that was easier than you thought it would be going off-grid and then one thing that you thought it was going to be easy but you found it was a little bit harder. Give us the sense of this off-gridness.
Tammy: We are so unlike other people that I cannot really give you an answer to that because we run into adversity all the time. Some people, that really stunts then. They don’t continue. They quit. They give up. When we run into adversity and when we have struggles, we just embrace it and just slam into it and keep going. When we look back and when we look at things, those struggles don’t look near like struggles because we push through them, accomplish and made it through. We also grew up in ways that we had a lot of the skills before we got here. Just to give you an example, before I met my husband, I had a bear dog that I was training in the Pennsylvania wilderness. I went back in, 10 miles back in by myself with the dog, encamped for the night after I trained him for the day.
Being in that seclusion and being with dirt under my feet and camping in the woods and being surrounded by bugs and that stuff, it never really tainted me. It wasn’t something that was a struggle for me. Other women may have struggles with going from your cushy home with powered lights and running water into 8-foot by 14-foot canvas walk tent with dirt under your feet, animals snorting outside your tent maybe 10 feet away from you. It’s perspective. I really feel that life itself is perspective, how you look at things.
That was not hard for me but I could see that being hard for other people. It’s just that that’s how Glenn and I grew up and that’s how Glenn and I enjoy life. When we get a chance to go on vacation, he and I hit the woods for four, five days with a pack on our back and that’s all we have. We don’t have a shelter, we build one. We don’t necessarily have a lot of food, we find it. That was what we did before we even embraced this lifestyle. That’s a hard question to answer and I’ve been asked it many times. I don’t see anything that was really hard for us other than just maybe, I guess, the best answer I could give to that was we were building our home into December. We’re still living in a wall tent with a foot of snow on the ground.
The days working in the cold and the numb feet and that got a little hard toward the end bouncing eggs off of a frying pan because they were frozen and having to put food under a wood stove so that it would tow so you could actually make something. That was a little bit of a struggle but even so, I would do that again in a heartbeat. It was a romantic time. I don’t even know how to explain it.
Jennifer: I love the fact that you’re saying that it’s a perspective and that you kind of prepared for it almost your entire life or certainly before you got out there that you had taken the vacations in the wilderness and you knew what toe expect and all of that. I feel like that’s a really big advantage you guys had is you knew what was there so nothing really surprised you. Even the little things that did, you looked at it as a challenge rather than something that was blocking your way to go forward. It’s wonderful to talk to somebody who has that positive outlook on life. I think that it makes such a difference to the things that you can accomplish is the way you look at things like you were saying, perspective.
Here is another question that I wanted to ask you about. It was also of course about being off-grid but this is kind of an amazing thing to me, at least these days, that your husband and you built your house without electrical tools, I mean, without things that you could plug in. Tell us about that. Was there a decision when you got there, “We’re just not going to plug into the grid, does it not run out there?” Did you just make that something that was a non-negotiable? How did that play out in terms, “Hey, I’m going to build this house and it’s just going to be with hand tools?”
Tammy: Actually, what we did is we built our guest cabin with just hand tools. Our home itself, we did use power tools because of its size and we used a generator. But we were very deliberate about not using it more than we had to. We did all the work ourselves. The only thing that we did not do on our homestead was set the septic tank. We had somebody come and set it up and drill the well. Other than that, everything we did here, we did ourselves. Glenn has been involved in construction his whole life, well, a good portion of his life. He actually has his own business, Trayer Construction. We also are starting to do a consulting side of things where we are helping other people to go off-grid. That will be starting up with the release of my book that we will be consulting to help other people that have questions on how to set things up, the best way to set things up.
But as far as doing the hand tools on our guest cabin, I will explain that because we were under a deadline with our home. Well, we were under a deadline with our cabin tool. Our guest cabin, we felled the trees, milled the logs and built the cabin in four and a half weeks because we had guests coming and we were actually sweeping the dirt out of the cabin and putting the door on, they were doing that while we were picking them up at the airport. Talk about pushing the limits. But we wanted to do that with all of the traditional hand tools that we had. We have a lot of our grandfathers’ and great grandfathers’ tools.
In all honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that we had to be attached to internet for my web designing business and my writing business and our educating, that all of our technology would he heaped in the woods and we would be living completely traditionally by choice because it’s just … we feel like we were born 200 years too late. It is a passion to live that way for us. When we embrace things again in spring, we will be building ourselves another log cabin in that fashion. We will be taking everybody along on this journey. Last time, it was just basically our family that we were taking along on the journey. All of our stuff is still out there but it wasn’t something that we were doing publicly.
But with everybody that we have following us, we are in a situation that my medical bills are not being paid and we are forced to sell our property and start again. We are going to do it from the ground up on another piece of raw land and embrace it again just because this is the way we have to live. I could not ever, ever go back.
Jennifer: Wow, gosh, that was a lot of information. You’re starting like a consulting business. Tell us a little bit about that because that’s kind of my next question as to … since you do live so remotely, what do you guys do for a living in terms of getting money for the stuff that you cannot produce yourself? Explain that a little bit.
Tammy: Sure. I’ll kind of combine it together. What we are doing out here is doing everything in our power to work from our home. Right now today, the Mountain Man is out working on a construction job with his business remodeling a bathroom for a woman. That kind of had to be embraced because of my illness. I got very sick last fall and in January had life saving surgery. I could do what I was doing to keep us afloat anymore. He embraced his construction business and has been doing that this year. We also handcraft a lot of things. He makes leather things. He’s a blacksmith so he makes all kinds of very unique decorative as well as useful things on the forge. Our son makes paracord survival equipment. I have made soap and candles. We sell all of those things on our website.
I have written my cookbook last year and I will be releasing. I’m so excited to release this. My new book is coming out in the next two weeks. That is on how to embrace an off-grid lifestyle which shares our journey and also a step by step look at every aspect of the lifestyle so that people wanting to embrace it have that opportunity to really get a good feel and have some guidance. The consulting business is something that we decided to do because we get a lot of people asking us how we do this and how we do that. When we were starting out, there was a lot of aspects of things that we had already known where there’s other people that they don’t know those skills, they don’t know. Some people aren’t as mechanically inclined as he is. My is my MacGuyver who can make a pistol out of a paperclip.
But there’s other people that don’t have that gift. We all are gifted in different ways. It’s not that you’re less capable. It’s just that you don’t have the same gifts. That’s why we wanted to start this and be able to Skype with people, email with people, phone call with people. There will be different options to help them set up their homestead. There is different ways with an off-grid homestead that you can set things up that will make it better and more efficient for you as well as save you money. That’s what we’re about. We’re trying to live debt free and trying to embrace a life that we choose to live.
I know there’s so many other people out there wanting to do it and there’s no reason why anybody cannot live this life. It might take some adjusting but anybody can embrace this. Some people just might need some extra guidance. That’s what we figured we would be able to offer by doing this. Then we also have our Trayer Wilderness Academy coming which will be … the purpose of setting it up is so that we have a community of like minded people and we will be sharing in detail everything that’s in my book for a hands-on videos and ways to do everything that we discuss in the book and expand, really expand on that and just be able to help people and grow. That’s some of the things we do to make a living. We try very hard not to have to leave our homestead if we don’t have to because it’s so comforting. It’s a little hard for the Mountain Man to be going out but it’s temporary, we’re hoping. We’re hoping that we can really build an online business much better and be able to help people better that way.
Jennifer: That’s wonderful. I cannot wait for that. Sign me up because I will be right there. I would love to learn all of that stuff. The next question I have is changing gears just a little bit but since stuff that happened recently and I’ve heard the stories but I want you to tell everybody exactly what happened because it’s just … well, they’re good stories, there’s that. But then also, they’re educational too with how to handle emergencies in terms of living remotely. Because you had some pretty good scare. Could you tell us basically what you guys have set up in terms of a protocol? Well, first of all, what happened because now we all want to know. The protocols that you had in place and then how you guys dealt with that and then maybe some kind of tidbits about how you could go if you don’t have an emergency plan, how you could go and set one up.
Tammy: Absolutely. It’s really important. When we were building our home, the Mountain Man ended up tar papering our roof by the light of a head lamp and the moon because a storm was coming. Our roof was large. It’s rally grueling project. He had just finished it and was taking … we had face boards up that were catching the steel that he was putting in place. He was taking all that down and he was … had just removed the last nail that was holding the ladder in place when the ladder went. This was seven years ago. But there’s a reason I’m telling you this. The ladder started to go. Being a bull rider and being in construction he knew how to fall gracefully. I got to give him that. Second, he knew not to get tangled in construction. People die. They break their backs. They break their neck. He knew to jump away from the ladder. That’s what he did. he jumped 16 feet off of a ladder.
I was actually back in our mess tent grading off in school work and it was the weirdest feeling. Our fate leads the way. I don’t mean to offend anybody by mentioning this but it’s very dominant in our lives. I was standing back there and something just came over me and I just threw everything and started running. I had no idea why I was even running. I hit the corner of our house when he hit the ground. As I was running, I could hear him yell. When I got around the corner, thankfully he was conscious because he kept yelling at me while he was working on the roof because I kept watching him. He’s like, “What? Are you going to watch me fall?” I was always so concerned that if he’d fall and I didn’t see it and I’d find him, he’d be unconscious, I wouldn’t know how to care for him.
Well, he was conscious. But the boards he took off of the roof had blunt screws sticking up and there was one on either side of his thighs, both legs. They were spaced. I mean, it was divine intervention by all means. He was laying there. He wasn’t hurt. He had caught his … one foot on the bottom wrong and it jarred his left foot into the ground. We did go to the ER to just get it checked. He did some nerve damage but he wasn’t hurt. It was by the grace of God. Next to him laid an 8-foot piece of steel that was pointed at the end that we were using to nail … hammer the holes into our steel so he could put those screws in up on the roof. I was doing that on the ground but occasionally had to adjust the hole or something. That was laying six inches from his side.
I just picked it up. I threw it across the yard. I’m a tough cracker but I cried. That could have ended so differently. That was the precursor for a protocol. At that point, we got something called Life Light which is a helicopter that comes in and lands close by and is able to get people like us out faster. Now, this year has been a character building year for us. We have had so much. I mean, lesser people would drink or throw in the towel at this point. I mean, it’s been a head banger. We’ve had health issues for me. He ended up needing to go to the ER in April. It wasn’t just a little casual thing. He actually stopped breathing eight times before the ambulance arrived.
It was really scary. But I have to say it was really … it was concerning to me at points that I was so calm. It almost make me feel like was a part of me that didn’t care? I’ve come to learn that over through this year, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t have any feelings left in my body, it’s that I have such strong faith that I don’t even react in a negative way. I just keep doing what I’ve got to do. That’s what we did that day. I’ve played through my head so many times after him falling off that ladder of what we would do. We discussed it. We knew. Our property is gated in by the state of Idaho.
For one, an ambulance couldn’t even get back here without that gate being open because nobody has a key. My son who is autistic. He’s high functioning autistic but he has overcome so much with our lifestyle. He drives and he drove out there and he opened the gate. We were a little concerned with him just being worked up and he burned out of the driveway a little bit but he calms himself down and went out, opened the gate, came back. We put dogs away into the bathroom so they didn’t go after the emergency people because they would because they’re protectors. I had to keep rattling him to keep breathing and to keep him awake.
What happened is he took Valerian root which is an herb. We are very big into herbal medicines and natural things. He took that to sleep. However, he chewed it. They were tablets. He chewed it and what happened is it caused his body to absorb the outer coating and the active ingredients way too fast and it caused the part of his brain that tells you to breathe to stop working. It was very alarming. Had he not chewed it, he would have been fine but he chewed them. He does weird things like that on occasion. He takes aspirin the same way. Anyway, it was just a fluke thing. It was alarming because we don’t have a land line so I cannot dial 911. I called the sheriff’s office and I got that lovely sound that tells you the phone number is nonexistent. However, I was dialing their number. That’s a local phone number problem, a phone problem. That was just fluke also.
What do you next? I tried that three times with no success. I called a friend of ours and ask him to please call 911. Hung up with him, he called 911. But they didn’t have enough information and another friend of mine heard on a scanner. She started Facebook messaging me. I’m rattling him. My friend was here, Ronda from the Farmers Lamp. She was rattling him as well. I’m saying rattling, we were shaking him and trying to keep him breathing, trying to keep him awake. But while we’re contending with him, I’m also Facebook messaging on my phone to let the 911 know all the details. Thankfully, the ambulance driver knows us and knew where our home was because we are located in a weird spot. To get somebody back here that isn’t familiar with the area is tricky. I mean, we usually have to go find people because they’ve driven around for an hour looking for us.
It was a little alarming. But we knew at that point, we need Life Flight. We were able to get them fast. They were able to come back and he was fine. But it definitely adds to the scenario. I mean, we’re not easy to get to. We are locked in. We’re gated in. You have to have something in place. You cannot just wait for those things to happen. Living as remotely as we do, the skills we have are important. To have protocols in place regardless where you are is important. It doesn’t matter if you live in town or not. Flukes, weird things happen. An ambulance gets in an accident trying to get to you. You don’t know. The thing is if you don’t know anything, you’re in a bad spot. If you don’t have a plan in place that if something happens to you and you’re kids and your family don’t have the phone numbers for the emergency, people to contact, what’s going to happen?
You really need to sit down. This is a family affair. This is something that you need to sit down and discuss as a family, determine what you will do in certain situations. We’ve also had fire scares last year. We had our trailer packed down and loaded with everything we would need to rebuild because there were fires 20 minutes from us. If it started, the winds carried it, we have one way out of here. We don’t have time to play around. The trailer was either pointing in the right direction so that all we had to do was drive out instead of have to hustle around trying to turn that thing around, a 24-foot gooseneck trailer around in our driveway.
Being prepared and thinking. Common sense play such a big role. The more you go through these protocols and the more you practice different things, it’s ingrained in you. It just becomes instinct. When that happened, it was just like this for me. It was really a very calming thing looking back at it. Even while it was happening, the thoughts are crossing my mind that I was just so calm. That plays a huge role. You got to be calm when there’s chaos going on. You cannot be spastic and you got to keep it together. That can be hard for some people. But it’s really important because you’re not going to be of help to the person that’s injured or in need of help and you’re not going to be of help to yourself either. It’s really important. Then we also had another event just last week. Did you want me to share that?
Jennifer: Yeah, if you would but I just wanted to say, I think that you’re right about faith because that has carried me through on many, many occasions. But you’re right, because there is a calmness that comes over you. I’ve done not emergencies like that but the emergencies that I’ve had, I have been able to do it calmly and of course I’ve fallen apart afterwords but while it was happening, I was calm and doing what I needed to do. But I wanted to share with everybody because we follow and we’re friends and all that but Bill was on Facebook the other day and he saw your message about the story that you’re about to tell. He came in there and he told me, “Did you know?” I was like, “No, I hadn’t seen that.” I said, “But it’s going to be fine. I just know.” I didn’t even skip a beat. I just knew it was going to be fine and it was. But I mean, there was just this feeling I had that, I mean, there was not even a question in my mind. Anyway, go ahead and tell the story though.
Tammy: Well Monday night or Monday morning, my husband and my father in law went out hunting. Now, I was supposed to be on that trip. I decided not to because my immune system is impaired and it has just been nothing but miserable rain for October and it would have been really foolish of me to put myself in that position. That’s all my Mountain Man said to me over and over when the situation was over that he was so glad that I wasn’t on that trip because I relinquished my seat to my father in law so they could have some bonding time. What they did is they took the canoe and dropped it in the river and were elk hunting out of the canoe. That was the intention.
Now, most of our hunting is done out here on land. We have a rule in our home regardless if it’s hunting season or not, if you leave the house, you need to let the rest of the family know where you’re going and how long you intend to be gone so that if something happens, we know where to start looking. I knew he was. I knew where he was going to be. This is something else that plays a role. I feel there is nothing wrong with checking out, being an adventurer and going into new territory, we do it all the time. But typically we do it together. I was blind from home because I had hiked the railroad tracks that go along the river there for about six miles but he was going in about 17. It was the 17-mile track.
I didn’t know the rest of the terrain so I felt really blind and really out of the loop as far as what he was experiencing, what he was going through, what he was in there. But what happened is they left at 6:30 in the morning, dropped the canoe in and we had gone, got the truck and moved it to another location where they were going to come out of the river. 8:00 roles around and they’re not back. That’s no big deal. 8:00, they may have got something last minute so they’re totting it out, whatever. Midnight comes around and he’s not back. It was just a very uncomfortable feeling. I have to say. I’m right there with Jennifer.
I never ever once doubted my man’s ability. He has grown up in the wilderness. He’s lived the wilderness. He used to do the packed trips back into the back country for weeks on end. His capabilities are incredible. The sheriff even said that his ability is probably are so much greater than those that would be coming to rescue him which is a little bit of a nerving feeling at some point but I didn’t know … I was trying not to let the devil on my shoulder because the unknown was the problem. Water plays, adds a whole lot of new variables, drowning, hypothermia, falling and hitting his head and becoming unconscious, I didn’t know what they were dealing with. I really did have a very comfortable feeling that he was okay but I also knew and being that my mother in law was involved, I needed to make an effort to do something, just see what the protocols were.
I went out with the dog at midnight and I started driving around. I drove off to where the truck was and it was I have to say the most eerie feeling seeing that truck sitting there and seeing the river just dead calm and nobody in it. It was really nerving. I drove up another road that rides along the river. It’s a really rough road and it goes back in really far and it’s an old logging road. There’s not a lot of cars back there or homes back there. I didn’t want to put myself in a position, that’s something else that you got to remember, is when there’s … especially at night like that, I knew to be careful because if I end up putting myself in a situation that I’m lost or I am impaired in any way, it would be worst and cause more struggles.
I drove back probably about eight, nine miles and was just looking along the river, the river is visible through a good portion of that. I was looking for head lamps. I was looking for signs of a fire, anything. I would had just been happy if he yelled up the bank at me and said, “Woman, I’m okay. I’m camping. Go home.” I would have just left and gone home. But that wasn’t the case. His scenario always had been if I don’t come home, wait three days. I’ve always told him, “Forget it, that’s not going to happen because if I can save you or there’s something that I can do, I’m going to do it.” I drove around. I couldn’t find anything. I went to the sheriff’s office. I wasn’t able to get in there. It was locked.
I went to the ER. I said, “Is there any way that you can get me connected to the deputy?” I need to talk to somebody just to find out what the protocol is for this because I wanted something in place because I figured they wouldn’t search at night but I also didn’t want to wait that they’d end up having to go another night because I didn’t implement things. He said it’s a 12-hour process. Once they’ve been gone for 12 hours then they’ll start looking. That’s what we did. I put a incident in and went home. We had a million and a half prayer warriors. I mean, there are people praying from the UK and Australia and everywhere. We’re really blessed that way to have such a good prayer warrior following. We were very thankful for that.
I really did have a comforting feeling that he was okay. I knew while I was driving around that I was just thinking he was sleeping somewhere under a shelter he built, had a nice fire going and that was the case. But it was also raining. That was the part that scared me. Because it was drizzling while I was driving around but when I was heading home, it just started dumping. I mean, it was just white rain coming down. It was raining hard. That was a little scary to me because hypothermia sets in really fast and if you cannot keep a fire going to keep you warm, you’re in a spot. It’s been raining for a month so the ability to find dry tinder is getting a little limited but he’s very creative and I knew that wasn’t an issue either but just keeping it going. They also had the canoe they could put over top of them. Even if they were injured, I knew they’d be able to keep themselves at least under cover if not.
When he left in the morning, he had two water proof bags full of clothing. They had long underwear on. Their camo, their rain gear and then they grabbed two extra outfits because it started raining in the morning. I knew they were well cared for. He had survival pack which his survival pack could keep him out there for weeks on end. I wasn’t concerned that way but the fact that maybe my father in law had a heart attack, one of them broke something, that was the concern. 8:00 in the morning, I got a phone call from the sheriff’s office and they’re wondering if we’ve seen any or heard anything. We were already en route to where the truck was to see if they were coming out and didn’t see them.
A friend of ours went out into the woods. Of course that did upset the sheriff and I understand why because when you have a situation where they’re going to send out search and rescue, if you have too many people out there that they don’t know where they are, especially when they’re not as educated as the person out there, you run into situations where you end up with another lost or dead or injured people. It’s got to be organized. But our friend has the same skills my husband and he was on a quad. It ends up that he did find them. They ditched that canoe. What happened is … nobody got injured. They didn’t even see an elk. They shortly after entering or getting onto the river got into shallow water. They had to pull the canoe.
He was pulling the canoe most of the day. My father in law was hiking vertical slopes and they were at times 20 minutes they go without seeing each other and they finally … it started to get dark on them before they hit moving water again. They just ditched the canoe and went to high ground trying to find a cell signal. They were more worried about us than they were about themselves. They would just knew we’d be worried. Our friends found them hiking on the railroad tracks heading out. It was a blessing because they would have had another 10, 12 miles to hike they had gotten to town. I was really grateful that he was out there and so were they. But having a protocol in place, had I not known where he was, I wouldn’t even known where to begin. Even though I didn’t know the terrain, I at least knew where to start. I knew where to look. I knew what he would do. His shelter was set up. I went up with him and we were able to get the canoe.
But it’s just a scary moment. The unknown is the hardest part. Like I said, I trust it. We both have the same skill sets. I mean, he is certainly more advanced than I am but we all practice those skills. I just want to mention something, on our YouTube channel, we have a wilderness survival section and people think that if you have a lighter, you can light a fire regardless and it’s no big deal, “Hey, I got a lighter.” Well, that’s not the case. When you have wet and snowy terrain, if you do not practice lighting fires in that type of an environment, you may not get a fire lit. There are times, I know friends of mine does back country rescue and he said they found snowmobilers that were unfortunately dead and they were trying to burn the contents of their wallet when right above them was tinder in the tree they could have used.
Like my husband said, you still got, if your snowmobile breaks down, you still got fuel and oil that you could use to ignite a fire. But people get out there and they don’t think and these are things they don’t practice. If you don’t practice, you remember them and you don’t know them. That’s why it’s so important something as simple as lighting a fire, even if you’re driving home and your car breaks down and you’re in a remote spot. Outside of town or whatever, if you don’t know that skill. It could be the difference between life and death.
Jennifer: Yeah. If you don’t run some of those scenarios because you’re kind of panicked anyway, “What do I do? What do I do?” Then if you have run some of those scenarios, it’s already familiar in your mind and so you can … yeah, that’s something that does not have to happen, to die when there’s resources available. I have so many more questions for you. Tammy, you have to come back. Really quick before we wrap up here, could you tell us a little bit about how you do have power out there with your solar set up because I’m very interested in that and I think some of the people tuning in would be too. Could you give us a run through of that really quick?
Tammy: Sure. We have a 48-volt system. It has 16 panels and 16 batteries. A lot of people don’t understand how solar works. Many times when I tell people I live off-grid, they’re like, “I’m so sorry.” I’m like, “What do you mean you’re sorry?” They think we don’t have power all the time. But we have power all the time. We are frugal so we really have power all the time. Other people would be using a generator more often but let me explain how it works. Sun comes down, hits the panels, even if it’s not a sunny, sunny day that’s bright, we’re still pulling in power. That power comes in to the home and it goes into a charge controller. The charge controller checks to make sure that the batteries don’t have too much power so it doesn’t over power them. If they still need power, it lets the power through, otherwise it diverts it.
Once it’s in the batteries, then it goes into an inverter. That batter powers DC current. You have running in your home is AC current. It goes to the inverter and converts it to AC power. That is what comes in my breaker box just like you have the grid coming into your breaker box. I have my batter power coming into my breaker box. I have power all the time. The difference is when the sun goes down, we’re pulling power from our batteries. If you’re not cautious, you’ll end up having to run a generator a lot to recharge those batteries to keep them up because you don’t want to get them drained, you don’t want them to be low. You have to have the generator to recharge those. We are very solar powered out here in regard in that … when the sun is shining, that’s when we do our chores.
We wash, we do whatever we need to do. I mean, I can have the washing machine going, the vacuum cleaner going. My husband can have a welder going. We can do all kinds of stuff when the sun is running or the sun is out. But when the sun is down, that’s when we just kind of honker down. We don’t use a lot of power. We’re very cautious even with lighting. But we’re well set out here. A 48-volt system is kind of overkill. He does wood working also so we wanted to make sure that he had enough power to run all his power tools. But we have … 24-volt system would have been sufficient for us. It’s wonderful. We’d have been out here multiple times already where the town has been out of power for four, five days and we go in and had no clue and they’re like, “Yeah, we just got power back. It was out for five days.”
We’ve only been out of power one time and that’s because the breaker went and we didn’t have a back up breaker. Needless to say now we have extras. That was only for three days and we still had power because we were using the generator. We weren’t really without but we weren’t pulling from the sun. It’s an amazing way to live. We don’t have a power bill and we have a very minimal fuel bill so it’s awesome.
Jennifer: Yes, it sounds awesome. Well, could you tell people where to find more about you and how they could connect with you. I know that you have a new book. If you could just tell us a little bit about that and like I said how to connect with you.
Tammy: Absolutely. I would absolutely love to have you guys connect with me. You can find us at trayerwilderness.com. You can find us on YouTube by simply going to trayerwilderness.com/youtube. My radio show you can find, all the archives are on our website. But you can also find it on iTunes if you’d like to listen at your convenience. That you can find by going to trayerwinderness.com/itunes. My book, like I said, I’m so excited. This is a labor of love. This has been in my head for seven years and I am just so grateful to have it on paper now. The eBook will be coming out in the next two weeks. Then the print book will be coming out later. You can find out information on that right now. It’s on our website. But once that changes and you’ll be notified, if you subscribe to our newsletter.
You can find the book on trayerwilderness.com/embraceoffgrid and I use the hastag embraceoffgrid. If you want to find my materials and I’m on Instagram. Our newsletter, you can sign up by simply going to trayerwilderness.com/newsletter. I would love to have you guys join us. We do a lot of neat things and have a lot of neat things upcoming and love meeting new people and sharing our inspiration.
Jennifer: Thank you so much for being here, Tammy.
Tammy: Thank you. This has been great. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.