Discovering my freedom in Minnesota

The first feeling of cutting the puppet strings was driving my Ford Ranger EV. The only time I stopped at a gas station was to buy some pop. It felt so great until one out of 216 batteries go bad. Then I’m disabled.
I discovered wood gas. In the past year I discovered I could cut and weld metal. So I challenged myself to find out what else I can do to cut more strings. I have also raised some chickens (for eating).
This year I planted a garden. I opted for the raised bed garden due to my bad back. A friend of mine was redoing his decking, so I repurposed his old deck into garden beds. Each bed is filled up primarily with compost because we have real sandy soil here and I felt it would increase my chances of success. I opted to build a trellis for the cucumbers to climb on. The zucchini plant takes up the middle.
A couple of weeks ago we have been able to eat from our garden. The potatoes are huge and the cukes and zucchini are coming in.

Today we are drying parsley, oregano and basil.

garden freedom


Carl Zinn on Thu, 07/31/2014
Great success Bill, congratulations. You are one of us.

Bill Schiller on Thu, 07/31/2014
My kids and I decided to make our own all natural soaps, detergents and cleaners.

Bill Schiller on Thu, 07/31/2014
Thanks Carl. It has been a real eye opener for me.

The only real sun I get on my 1 acre is on a hill. So in order to make this bigger is to make more beds. Our cat patrols our yard and brings the voles, rabbits and the mice to the back step to let us know she’s doing her part in helping too.

Steve Unruh on Fri, 08/01/2014
Looking good Bill

My wife will be envious of your big green things. Yours of mines new gasketless pressure cooker. If you are a canning start-up take a look at these:

Steve Unruh

Bill Schiller on Fri, 08/01/2014
Yes Steve we plan on learning to can this year. Those pickles are the first thing I’ve ever canned. I made 4 jars and they all sealed. I call that success. I just learned that putting a grape leaf in the jar for crispiness. I’ll try that on the next jars.

Thanks for the link. I need to buy a bunch of jars. The thrift store sells them for more than what I can buy brand new ones for which is just under $1/jar. I haven’t found any at garage sales.

Chris Saenz on Fri, 08/01/2014
Great job Bill! You’re on the path to a better way of living.

Side note… take it easy with the Borax in your laundry soap. I lost several pair of blue jeans that way, it softens and wears fabrics out very quickly.

Bill Schiller on Fri, 08/01/2014
Thanks for the tip Chris. I haven’t seen anything like that when looking up recipes. I will search it out.

Steve Unruh’s picture
The manufacturer of the
Submitted by Steve Unruh on Fri, 08/01/2014
The manufacturer of the gasket-less machined tapered seat pressure canners is Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co.
The are sold and marketed under the name of ALL-AMERICAN
Marketed by Chef’sDesign:
Expensive yes. But at least a three generation hand down product with no hard to find replacement gasket ever needed.
Lehman’s maybe? I never checked there.
Steve Unruh

Bill Schiller on Fri, 08/01/2014
Thanks Steve.
I was unable to open the previous link but this should provide better search results. I would rather have reusable unless it’s jars I’m giving away and may never get back.

Steve Unruh on Fri, 08/01/2014
Hmmm. Both links that I’ve put up work fine for dial-up me BillS.
On the the reusable canning jar lids the product name is TATTLER “Since 197?”. Made by Stieg.
Dutch John says in Europe there is are completely differed jars and products doing similar.
Canning jars even good ones eventually age from the hard heating/cooling cycles and need to be replaced. Say ~20 usages. Shows up as more cracking, bottom dropping outs and neck chipping. The glass itself is one of those infinitely recyclable materials like many metals. Earth friendly. Recycle, remake, energy minimal.
Sin to landfill these materials you throw-a-way CONSUMERS!
Cooked contents from no-seals even directly recyclable through chickens and pigs. How we aged out years past set backs cycle-out to replace. Chickens LOVE pickles once you train them.
Wife says plant dill too and put in a sprig. We have two grape vines (never get grapes more than once every 4-5 rare years) just for the leaves and the seasonal pretty.

Don Mannes on Fri, 08/01/2014
I inherited and use my parents old pressure canner from the 1940’s that holds 7 quart jars and is the gasket less type. It has the swivel up screw down tighteners around the top. Still works good. I wish it had the rattler pressure control though instead of just the pressure gauge. Then I could monitor the pressure by ear from another room instead of having to watch the gauge. I like frozen veggies but you can’t beat the economy of canned ready to eat food.

Tom Wobig on Fri, 08/01/2014
I would suggest also getting the Ball canning book. Mine has lots of different recipes . A favorite of mine is dilly beans

Brian Hamalainen on Sun, 08/10/2014
Welcome, BillS, to more fun “slip’n’slide” slope(s) toward more personal freedoms and self-sufficiency!

I grew up helping my parents can/preserve stuff but I remember the first jar of pickles (peppers actually) and the first jam (strawberry ginger) that I (and my “chosen family”) made ourselves from ingredients we (mostly) grew ourselves.

If you want to get serious about growing your own foods, research “Permaculture”. It IS more work up front, but less work and bigger/better harvests in the long term. Considering we are on a Woodgas site, I don’t see that a being much of a problem though. :slight_smile: has a lot of good info on it, as well as many other forms of self-sufficiency (EG, sustainable building, food preservation, woodworking, low-tech tool making/use/care, etc.)

Some methods might start out as less efficient in the short term, but don’t get discouraed. For example, HUGELKULTUR (pronounced “hoogle-culture”), the practice of making a garden bed over the top of a pile of layered rotting logs/branches, takes at least a year to start breaking down well and thus will provide slightly poorer than normal harvests the first year but years 3-10 would be much better than standard raised beds. Also, “Hugelbates” (“hoogle-beets”) are by design more “vertical” in nature which provides more growing surface area per acre and makes it so most of the stuff is at least as high as a raised bed so less bending down for your back.

Looks awesome and keep up the great work.

PS: If anybody gives you a hard time about getting excited about ‘the simple things’, link them to THIS WONDERFULLY WRITTEN POST on the subject by my local “blogger” Erica, of NW Edible Life.

Bill Schiller on Fri, 11/21/2014
My freedom realization has just got another step closer. Along with wood gas and learning how to raise my own food was to get some land away from heavily populated cities. That happened yesterday. Last week I stumbled across a website the auctions off hunting land in Minnesota. My business partner and I put bids on two 40 acre parcels for $300/acre and won them both. This is all high ground wooded acreage. There is some open meadow area too. This is former Polatch property and no electricity or other utilities within 2 miles. I will have all the room and fuel I need for self sustained living. The trees on the property are Birch, Maple, Pine and Alder. Both properties have road access. I’m pretty excited about this so I can evolve into a more simple life and exit the rat race.

Steve Unruh on Fri, 11/21/2014
Good for you!
Steve Unruh

Mike LaRosa on Fri, 11/21/2014
Bill, Now is the time to do it … My rifle is loaded and ready to fire and on the couch for opening day tomorrow … :o) … Of course I won’t head out till maybe 10 AM and I’ll set my chair up by my office and see what the other folks push in front of me … Mike

Bill Schiller on Fri, 11/21/2014
Thanks Steve! It’s hard to express how excited I am about this. It feels like my whole world just opened up to me. No more mortgage payments, utility bills, no ridiculous municipal permits to do small projects on my own property. No neighbors complaining about me driving in my own back yard.
Mike, I haven’t been hunting yet, although I’m pretty good with guns. I’ve had a pretty busy life with having a company and raising 4 children. There are deer there but the wolves keep them scattered. There are also plenty of bear. I guess grouse hunting is really good as well.

Wayne Keith on Fri, 11/21/2014
Here’s to you Mr. Bill.

Bill Schiller on Fri, 11/21/2014
:slight_smile: Thanks Wayne.

Jim LaPlant on Fri, 11/21/2014
That’s great Bill., I want to get out farther too. There is over 520 people in my little town now.

Tom Collins on Fri, 11/21/2014
Congratulation Bill. My dream came true 25 years ago. I lived in LA and always wanted land. I had traveled all over Ca. Nev. Utah Az Or. I found some land in Utah, but because I was from LA the guy said he would give it to someone in the Mormon church before selling it to me. Finally found 120 acres here in Wi. Lots of draw backs to Wi. compared to Ca, but I have land and elbow room. Next thing is to move out there, now. I never regretted the life change and I am sure you won’t either.TomC PS you will be overwhelmed by all the projects ahead of you when do. But pick your battles and attack them one at a time.

Al Frick on Fri, 11/21/2014
congrats Bill, I did it over 30 yrs. ago. If I were to do it these days, the first thing I would buy after the land would be a small band sawmill, build as you go no borrowed money. Just my opinion. Al

Mike LaRosa on Fri, 11/21/2014
Bill, One of the biggest problems of having rural property and then storing valuable stuff on it is that there are a pile fkhds that will take it when you are not there. I have been through this many many many times. Wayne doesn’t have to worry. I got lit up by 3 suburbans on the way into his place and one on the way out. On the way in the main guy was a real a-hole and TOLD me he was the only one that lived up Wayne’s driveway and on the way out the guy that stopped us apologized … Crazy world and good luck … We might get a short thaw and some rain this weekend … The ground is already ice here … Regards to all, Mike

Brian Hamalainen on Fri, 11/21/2014
Congratulations on achieving the dream of so many!

Bill Schiller on Sat, 11/22/2014
Al Frick, That actually is my plan with the band sawmill. I have 4-5 years to live where I am which will give me some time to set things up there.
Mike L. We plan on getting a storage container or two for the properties.
Thanks Brian. This has been a dream of mine for many years. This was a deal we just couldn’t pass up.

Al Frick on Sat, 11/22/2014
Hey Bill, Just a little fyi check out the saw mill from harbor freight. I built a mill yrs ago then sold it when I sold my first farm. Then I wanted another one,looked at the HF one and took a chance, surprise! not a bad little mill. After coupon only have about 1,500.00 in it. It is the same mill sold in Canada under the Woodland name. Wish I was close to help you get started on your dream. Al

Carl Zinn on Sat, 11/22/2014
That sounds great Bill. You’re paving the way to real independence. Good luck on the transition to country living, you’ll love it.

Bill Schiller on Sat, 11/22/2014
Thanks for the info Al F. I will definitely look into the HF mill. Some experience would be helpful when I’m able to get started.
Thanks Carl, I’ve always been a country boy at heart. As a kid I spent my summers on the farm helping my Grandpa. It used to be a dream of mine to own a farm. Work has never scared me.

Mike LaRosa on Sat, 11/22/2014
Drain King !! Hope to see you again soon … Gotta grab rifle and head out again while I can still walk … M

Kevin Rowland on Sat, 11/22/2014
it a little peace of gods country,too what heaven will be like, with out the regards/did you say 12.000 on 40.acers woods. that much woods aint at all too many, good investment.

Bill Schiller on Mon, 11/24/2014
Just some of my newly acquired inventory. I have enough for another truck.

Chris Saenz on Mon, 11/24/2014
One man’s “cemetery” is another man’s gold mine. Looking good Bill.

Brian Hamalainen on Tue, 11/25/2014
Just out of curiosity, what are those things on the ground on the left? Looks like you have 4-5 of them, most have red handles that look almost like dolleys.

Bill Schiller on Tue, 11/25/2014
Everything on the floor in that section are extra sewer machines, The last two units on the far left, (front and back) are 400,000 btu water heaters for our water jetters (basically glorified pressure washers).

Bill Schiller on Fri, 12/12/2014
Took the day off to head north to our property of which we close on next week. It warmed up to 30 degrees and produced fog. With fog and a breeze, it produces hoar frost. For those in the south not familiar with this, I posted some pictures. The first one is a close up on a little branch. The other pictures are the overall effect.

Calvin Rader on Fri, 12/12/2014
Looks like a great piece of property Bill,looks like it’s got some nice trees on it ,good for gasifier.I live on a 160 acres & the only trees are is around the yard site & two rows between to 40 acre strips.

Carl Zinn on Sat, 12/13/2014
Beautiful pictures/scenery. REAL winter holds a powerful presence that cannot be ignored.

Bryan Stater on Sun, 12/14/2014

When I get my truck going, I want to come up to Minnesota. We own some land not far from you up in Bruno. I have not been able to see it since the 1970’s. I am very much looking forward to moving freely thoughout the country. Without the Dakota, I could never justify just taking off for a sight seeing tour to Minnesota. I’ve been busy paying for braces, raising my family and what seems to be endless supply of medical bills. Looking forward to it…


Bill Schiller on Sun, 12/14/2014
Bryan, when you come up to Minnesota, make sure you give me a call. Bruno is about half way up to the property. Maybe we can throw something on the grill for you. What would make it nice is to see your property is driving up there on wood. Maybe some other wood gassers from nearby can make it at the same time?

Bryan Stater on Sun, 12/14/2014
Bill, I agree. It will be extremely gratifying to get up there especially driving on wood. I probably wouldn’t get up there otherwise. So, we will have to do it when I get some miles under my belt on wood. I have a ways to go since I still haven’t even started on the truck yet, but I plan on towing my 4 wheeler and enough wood for a round trip…Bryan

Bill Schiller on Sun, 12/21/2014
You’re always welcome for a visit. I for sure want to see you and your new truck at Argos if a get together is set up for 2015.
Today I found an old looking stove. I guess I’m not sure how old it is but has the look I want. I bought it from an older gentleman out in the country. Instead of the transaction taking 5-10 minutes, I was there for about 45 minutes. He showed me around the place of projects he was working on and has made. We talked about wood gas and DOW.
Here’s the stove I bought

Bryan Stater on Sun, 12/21/2014

That’s one thing I am looking forward to is cutting wood again. A wood stove in the house will be another natural fit as I prepare the wood for the Dakota. After all, cutting wood was my chosen profession, I owned and operated a sawmill for over 20 years. Just being out in the woods cutting firewood and sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold night with my family are both something I greatly miss doing. My wife and I have often talked about putting in a wood stove in our current home. It’s a no brainer now. Back to my roots…sometimes I wish I had never left them.

Nice looking wood stove!


Bill Schiller on Mon, 01/05/2015
So the scrap metal guy swung by our place to pick up scrap and had these in his trailer. I think they are commercial steel pots for cooking?
They’re pretty heavy 16-14ga. One is 12 1/2" diameter, the other is 14"
Any ideas what they can be used for? I’m thinking maybe the bottom of a heat exchanger?

Terry Lavictoire on Mon, 01/05/2015
All I can see is R2 D2 :slight_smile:
Aluminum or steel?

Jim LaPlant on Mon, 01/05/2015
Throw ya some of them stewen chickens in dare. Terry ,funny you should bring up R2D2. I was thinking today that’s what my gasifier is starting to look like.

Terry Lavictoire on Mon, 01/05/2015
Would be a hoot to build a gasified R2 D2… :slight_smile:

Bill Schiller on Mon, 01/05/2015
I think they are 16 gauge steel

John Giles on Tue, 01/06/2015
Bill, I believe the tabs on the side of the pot were for holding it in a up right mixer like a stand up commercial hobart. The tabs should have a hole in them for indexing the mixing bowl. I’m glad to see someone else picking up something with out having any Ideal what there going to use it for.

Dick Thodal on Tue, 01/06/2015
Looks like a Glenwood Bill. I heated with this one in the early 70s. They’re kinda leaky and can get exciting if full of wood. As pretty as they are I wouldn’t consider using it as a serious heater today today. Our Jotul F400 Castine is our only heat source and it’s great.

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I tried to transfer my blog the easy way. I guess it didn’t work as well as I hoped. It’s all good, I will continue from here.

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Dragged a 28’ camper up to the property this weekend. We found a place to park it and people can still get by. Found out the camper that was left there prior to the sale of the land is also ours. We just received a two for one. There was about 10" of wet snow on the narrow 3 mile dirt road.

It warmed up to the mid 40’s and was decent working weather. I was able to cut down a few trees for a driveway entrance. Here’s the before picture

I brought some wood home to chunk. Size varies from 1 1/2" to 5". Birch, Poplar and some type of bush.


Hello Bill,
I’m also a Minnesotan and first lived in northeastern Minnesota in the Arrowhead region about a hundred miles inland of Lake Superior back in 1947 when my dad and grandpa built a cabin north of Ely and about 17 from Ontario.

I moved back again about forty years ago and have been here since. Been burning firewood all this time and have been interested in woodgas for some years, but never did anything with it. I have a hobby building motored bikes and saw on this forum that people are using charcoal burners for bike sized projects… ob boy! So, I signed up and have plans for a gasoline/charcoal gas/ electric trike.

I see birch trees in your photo so you must be in the northern part of the state. Maybe we’re neighbors!


Welcome to the forum Silverbear. The property we purchased is near Brimson.

Hello Silverbear, How did the foot surgery work out ? … We haven’t talked in a couple of years … I think I still have your phone number somewhere in this mess. Regards, Mike LaRosa, Linden, Wisconsin
I sent this hours ago but it apparently didn’t go through …

Just a little update on the property up north. I cleared out some poplar for a driveway. The small branches were cut up to fit the truck and brought home for chunking. Judging by the weight of the dried poplar I found, I don’t think it will make good gasifier fuel but I want to find out how bad it is.

Here are some courting male turkeys

@Terry_Lavictoire , look what I found! A little Chaga


Popular runs fine. I get about 30 miles from a hopper on it.


That’s good to know Marvin. Then I won’t hesitate to chunk it.

Hey Marvin, Is your hopper about the same size as Wayne’s?

Hey Bill .

You could dump a load of that popular down here . I’m sure I could think of something to do with it ! :smile:



Good lookin Chaga Bill, how big is it?

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Terry my wife spotted this Chaga but has never looked for it before. She was pretty excited to find out it really was Chaga. I broke off three chunks from the same spot. Each chunk is about the size of a baseball. It was about 6’ off the ground

Doesn’t get better than that, I gotta say some women seem to be real good at spotting that stuff :slight_smile:


Maybe a couple inches taller.

Well I had to “Google” that one, I guess we here in the south are “toadstool” deprived. Ha.


Carl ,I had to do the same :smile:


Made an impulse decision to head up to the property while at work because a GPS unit became available. Today we found 4 of the 6 corner posts. We will find the other 2 in the morning before heading back home. We have tracks coming this week for the skid steer. This weekend will be spent making a driveway and leveling off a spot for a building. I plan transplanting some raspberry bushes up here too.
It started snowing tonight so hopefully not too much so we can still find the stakes.

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SNOW, NOOO! It was 40 this morning, “Blackberry Winter”. Good luck on the work ahead of you in getting established in the country.


We woke up to a couple of inches on the ground. We did however finish finding the rest of the corner posts. We also set up a wild game camera nearby an active moose trail. Hopefully I will be able to share some pictures soon.