February 13th, 2020 – TRIPLE SYSTEM FAILURE!!! :(

What’s a triple system failure? It’s MURPHY’S LAW.

Off-grid, you have 4 main systems: power (generator or solar or both), black water (sewage), grey water (kitchen sink + bath tub water waste) and your pipe systems for actually washing + bathing.

We’ve been running on 3 systems for almost 2 months. Our pipes froze while we were on a trip and have never thawed. But we don’t need water in our pipes—we can wash dishes, hands and bathe without pipes with our filtered water deliveries.

Yesterday, our last 3 systems failed. First, the black water reached capacity and I literally couldn’t drain it because the release handle was frozen. I tried so many things but—nope—nothing could get the handle to budge. This meant it was nature potty’s ONLY aka bucket outside, until temperatures reach above freezing—which is not realistic at 17 degrees as a family.

Then, the power system failed. The generator would not start. Maybe the propane line is frozen?? I don’t know—I unburied the lines out of the snow but it still wouldn’t start. Our RV batteries only last about a half day without needing to be recharged, and at this point, they were nearly dead and the RV was rapidly dropping in temperature.

Then, the grey water system failed. The release handle was also frozen and I couldn’t drain the tank. Waste water started backing up into the tub every time we washed our hands. This meant our only option is to wash hands and do dishes outside—which is not realistic in below freezing temps.

Then, my youngest started coughing.

And it started snowing again.

So… instead of checking into our hotel on Friday night, we checked in last night. And I took a 30 min shower!! I probably used the same amount of water we use in a month during that shower 🤯

Ya’ll I’m worn out. I need to sleep for 4 days straight. Cronin Mountain thinks it’s cute we want to live here full time. This mountain demands respect and sacrifice. With beauty comes discipline. When you want something you’ve never had you have to do things you e never done. This is the final push until spring. WE CAN DO THIS! 💪🏼


  • Jennifer Lomeli …and the coldest snowiest months are still ahead of us! Keep your head up lady, this time last year I literally asked myself several times “wtf are you doing?! Do you really want to do this?!” Matter of fact I asked myself that a couple more times last week when the 3rd storm rolled thru and atv wouldn’t start and the tracks came off the snow blower and I still had 3 feet of snow in the driveway. I just threw my hands up and told myself “this will not last forever” and take in the beauty of it and go hang out in the hammock and just BE! So that’s what I did, just as you thoroughly enjoyed that 30min shower, you so deserved it lady! If you need a vent buddy I am here for ya, hit me up on messenger anytime, I’ve lived it, still trying day by day, still pushing forward, it is NOT for the faint at heart that is for sure!
  • Joanie Lovell They make heating tape…we wrapped all of our lines in it so they wouldn’t freeze..we even wrapped the release handles so they wouldn’t freeze… 
    • Rachel McCash Cronin Joanie Lovell we’ve tried this already 😞
    • Joanie Lovell Rachel McCash Cronin it didn’t help? I wish we had transportation my husband and I could come up.there & help you out, we lived off grid for 8 years and he knows every trick in the book…including with power…
    • Rachel McCash Cronin Joanie Lovell the heat tape we tried requires electricity, so it only worked when the generator was on. So yes it helped when we had power, but try to only run the generator 4-8 hours a day if possible. Also anytime we leave, and we don’t run the generator for days, it’s just complete ice blocks. I’m not sure how many days of running the generator it would take for everything to thaw
    • Joanie Lovell Rachel McCash Cronin yeah power was our biggest struggle too…
  • Amanda Stitt Wow. why chose there of all places? lol. I live the woods but this seems like torture and kinda unsafe for kiddos.
    • Rachel McCash Cronin Amanda Stitt this location is perfect for us. Minutes away from our kids school, shopping, movies, groceries, etc. Gorgeous city views and mountain views. 35 acres!! Spring-fall it’s paradise. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water over one season 😂💯
  • Tatiana Evans Please let me know if you guys need anything!! Seriously, PLEASE do not hesitate to reach out.
  • Melissa McCash Wow! Talk about roughing it! I haven’t thought to be grateful for showers and baths. Whew!
  • Mike Kasper You need to check into some rv skirting for your trailer and then put some electric heaters under it for a few days and get it thawed. It’s surprising how much warmer the skirting will keep your underneath and prevent freezing.
    • Jennifer Lomeli I used hay bales as skirting last year to help with the snow drifting etc but not sure they would have helped much with the pipes not freezing I gave up on running water early on when the tank froze and cracked sending 11+ gallons into the camper ugh
    • Rachel McCash Cronin Mike Kasper yes this is next on our list of upcoming purchases 💯
    • Mark Bore Jennifer Lomeli insulated skirting plus straw bales plus heating tape on the pipes is what they used on my friends trailer out on the ranch up in Canada for the winter. They used a big industrial genny to power everything.
  • Diana ER You guys are such an inspiration! Thank you for keeping it real. Please let us know if you need somewhere to stay! You’re always welcome at our home ❤
  • David McCann Yikes! I totally feel ya..this is why we had to move out of our Airstream last year..everything always froze solid, AND the kids were always sick 😳 Hoping you can get it all figured out! RV living is not for the weak, that’s for sure!
  • Wendy Wills Sounds like our life lol, everything is 100 times more challenging than the average person.

    Here’s to things becoming less difficult for ya’ll!
  • Farrah Renee Can I ask how you get mail off grid? Do you have a PO Box?
  • Frankie McAdams Barlow Just reading this post wore me out ! Power to you and Todd it’s definitely not for me !!!! It amazes me what you two can do and want to do 🤪
  • Tom Smokoff My grandfather had a cattle ranch, and homesteaded- Powder River Montana. Winters- minus 50 degrees… my dad use to tell me how easy I had it… I’ve been in disaster zones with harsh winter climates, dealing with water filtration, freezing pipes, hoses etc. I’m sure you’ve probably done everything you know to keep pipes from freezing using insulation, heat tape, etc. I’ve played and experimented with all of it.
  • Stephanie Victoria Lifting you up, enjoy that shower!
  • Rebecka Graves Theres heat tape specifically made for water lines, get you some!