Tough Enough

So you are interested in "living off the grid" "way out in the middle of no where", you say, "I want to make my own way". Well, it can be done. It has been for years. Think about this, it has only been the last couple of hundred years that people have all the "modern necessaries". Your great, great grandparents lived without electric, toilets that flushed, vehicles, lots of clothes and shoes. They did not shop at the Super Market or Mall or On Line...and thought nothing of it. That's how life was. In some countries, even today, life is still like it was for our great, great, great, great, great grandparents. In some countries they have less then nothing. So, it is not anything new, or a fad, it is a life style.

Arrow looking down at Marna riding Missy
So? How do you "get back to your roots"? Well, first make sure they are your roots. Most people today could not live "without". Can you? Do you camp? Can you cook without electric? Can you eat what might not be what you are used to? Can you sleep without constant heat at a constant temperature with an automatic control? What if you did not have air conditioning? Could you handle that? I do not mean for a week end. I am talking life style. How tough are you?

If you are still interested do you know where to start? Many people that want to have this life style do not have the "big money" it takes to set up with solar panels, windmills, and all the fancy stuff....but you can get started for next to nothing. Can you build? Can you camp? Mobile Home OK with you? Can you take a bath in one gallon of water? Can you survive with only a generator for electric?

Deron and I are living in NW SD, waaaaaaay out on the Prairie without electric, water or phone. It is a life style. We have a generator, and battery packs, we have a pay as you go cheap cell phone that works as well as any out here. Town is over 50 mile away and if it rains we do not get out on our mud, I mean dirt roads. We have 55 gallon barrels and a tank we fill for water that we haul in each time we go to town. But it works for us.

Marna, Missy & Raya at the only tree for miles
We are buying land we found on ebay. Little money down and monthly payment on Land Contract. A person can get 40 acres and up for low payments. Many of the plots do not have electric and never will. There are no phone lines, and you will carry your water. But, you did say you wanted to live off grid, right? Some of the plots do have ponds on them. Some are closer to the Highway. Some closer to electric polls.

Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Neilsville and Buffalo as well as other towns in SD are set up with water stations. Many people here carry water. It is not uncommon at all. If they are not taking it home for their own use they are taking it out to the livestock. Spearfish, however is the only one of these with a Wal-Mart. We are talking small towns here. The Mall? Over 100 miles (one way) from us.

Deron and I have always been outdoor people. We were mushers (sled dog drivers) when we met and enjoyed staying outdoors in the cold (and I mean really cold) and snow all day (like 13 hours straight). I always said, and still do, Deron could run the Ididarod or Quest, sleeping outdoors for days in the extreme cold, cooking for himself and his dogs and be Not so much. I am not quiet that tough. While I enjoy a day outdoors and don'[t mind camping, I don't care to be out in the extreme weather for over a week. But, even as a kid though my mother had to call and call to get me to come in away from my animals....dogs, pony, horse, chickens, cats and all the other animals I always had around. Deron and I love being out with the animals, so when our choice came down to buying a piece of property with nothing (and I mean nothing) on it or an apartment....well? There was not choice.

Some people will only talk about moving out. How they would like to, when in honest, they are not cut out for it. Are you? Do you just want to dream of "living off the land"? Or are you really tough enough to live it. Your values will change, city stuff will not longer matter. You will not have neighbors and that can be a good AND a bad thing.

If you are ready to "move out", do it. Stop just dreaming, talking about it, thinking about it.....Like a book I read in the 70's "Just Do It", albeit extreme (the book) I did learn from it (and you thought the shoe company came up with that slogan....nnnnnaaaahhhh, it's been around a long time before those fancy tennis type shoes.). Like they say "put up or shut up." LOL

WARNING: If this is something you want to do but your spouse does's not going to work for you. Life is too tough and it takes both of you to make it work. Start a new dream, one you all can agree on....


Deron and I moved here the year before the 7 - 10 year drought was over. We have so far, had five major blizzards. We had three in just two weeks. Blizzards are very serious and you must be ready to be pinned in for weeks.

Last May, yes May, we were stuck here for 7 weeks and 3 days. We keep lots of food for us, food for the animals, water, extra gas (always keep the truck on full. We run on a generator), we keep extra tanks of propane, we use the smaller ones, we do not have the large yard type) cash and our good humor.

As I write this on April 10, 2009 I am sitting in the house hoping that Deron can dig our truck out. Here are a couple of notes I sent out to friends and family:

this one 3/22/09


My heal is bleeding, my sock quite torn. My ears hurt from the wind and I am sweaty cold. (sweaty around my bra, skin and ears cold).
I just walked over 5 miles back from the gate where the truck is good and stuck about 75 yds from the Highway gate. <sigh>

We have a Blizzard coming, although I have been praying and praying it misses us. They are giving 12 - 24" of blowing snow for our area. It was warm today and seemed dry when we decided to go to town for gas (generator) and food.....I am sure we will be alright, but we just wanted to get out a bit too. I has been too wet here for over a week for us to drive out.

So we did well, the truck went right across the prairie, thought we were out.....then about 50 foot from the gate we started sinking bad. Deron started backing up and we got a ways....then the truck is sunk up to the fenders. This has happened before. One of two things will have to happen. If the ground freezes, he might just pull it out. If not, he will be digging......I hate this soil, I HATE IT!!

I decided to walk with Deron. I was holding him back and so I told him to go on and to get the ATV to come and get me. I got all but about the last mile home when I heard him coming. Joy and Fankie were with me and we had coyottes yip at us. How did people live here waaaay back when. God Love Them.

With each step I took my ankle bracelet, beads on fish wire, road my ankle. I could not stop to take it where to sit, my feet were swelling and I was afraid if I took my boot and wet sock off I would not get them back I kept walking.

I am exhausted, tired, aggravated and angry. Deron took the ATV and went back to the truck to get my purse, our Bibles (we carry them with us for reading if something like this happens and we are stuck in the truck) and our winter wear that we carry with us. He, at least shows me, takes it all in stride, such a strong person, such a calm person.

Anyway, that's what is going on here. <sigh>

this one is from 3/23/09

<deep sigh> So far, not too much on the ground. Horses have not even taken shelter yet....bless them! LOL
Thunderstorms of sleet have fallen all morning. If the horses are gonna stand in it, I am glad it is not rain! Why do they do that?? I think it is too keep me occupied worrying about them....
Anyway, they say the worse is yet to come. Schools are/were closed. Mall is closing, they are telling everyone to stay home. Highways are scheduled to close this afternoon. They have a list running on TV of the roads you are only allowed on WITH chains.
Marna, who is warm and dry

this one 3/24/09

It blew hard and snowed alllllll night. Yes, I laid awake worrying abut
the grazers.
This morning first thing, because he knew I was soooo worried, my
husband put on his overalls, boots, two scarves, a hat, goggles, and
headed out to feed.
ALL THE ANIMALS ARE FINE! He found the shovel that we had not known
where it had gone.....oh yeah, I did leave it way out there to the North
fence where I was building that tent piping/stand and digging cactus,
last (early) fall! (Our good flat shovel is in the truck at the Highway
It is still blowing at 32- 48 MPH and gusting higher. I am not sure if
it is snowing or blowing or both. It is 19 degrees.
Marna SD still praying all will go well for us and our animals

this one 3/26/09

Hi All,
<deep sigh> Yesterday Deron walked well over 8 miles in the deep snow. He left at 9 am and got back at about 7 pm. The plan was: We had sunshine so he took the ATV to go to the mailbox to send off orders. This, in mud, not too muddy weather, this takes about an hour or hour and a half. It is 6.4 miles to the Highway from our driveway.
So here's what happened......
It took him over two hours to get to the first gate (there are four between us and the fifth at the Highway, barbed wire gates, not the fancy type LOL)
So I got a note/email from some friends (he had the phone with him). They said he would be a while and not too worry. (Yeah, right!)
It got to be 2 pm, then 3 pm and I started to wonder what to do. Do I wrap up my torn up heel and start walking? Do I sit tight? Do I call out the National Guard?
I sent a couple of notes to our friends but did not hear back from them so I started wondering.....WHO WOULD BE ON LINE THAT COULD CALL DERON AND SENT ME A MESSAGE!!??
I called Drusilla in NY LOL Bless her heart, she got right on it. She and Deron got disconnected and she called him back. She let me know he was OK....that is what I needed to hear. God love my Internet Friends!!

DERON WALKED FROM JUST PAST THE FIRST GATE ALL THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY. First he stopped by our truck that was stuck out there and found that the blowing snow/48 hour blizzard had filled, filled the engine and under the truck and in the bed! FILLED! So he dug out the shovel in the back of the truck and started digging....including the engine. No go. The truck is not moving for a while. Now in the past we have had the truck here that we use the gas out of for the generator. <another deep sigh> So? He grabbed the empty gas containers from the back of the truck and headed to Crow Butte. It is a little (read very expensive) store about 18 miles down the highway. A trucker picked him up and gave him a ride. He got gas, tried to birthday shop (bless his heart) and started walking home. A family in a Van gave him a ride back to the Highway gate.....where he started walking with one gallon of water (thank God he remembered to carry with him), 12 gallons of gas (remember one gallon weighs 8 pounds) the mail from our box and headed home. He got almost to the first gate (from that end) and relised, it was toooooo much. so, he went back to the truck (he had dropped his hat) and got another empty to put some of the gas out of one into.....he brought back three gallons of gas, his water and the well as some sausage to fix, birthday meal, some Lays Potato Chips (cause I love them!) and the mail. He was wet and hot and tired and I was soooooo glad to see him.

HE IS SOOOOO SUNBURNED HIS EYES ARE SWOLLEN. He walked into the sun both directions. The snow is drifted and when he did not have to walk through it he had to go around it.

So, now, it is suppose to snow again today. <yet another sigh> We are hoping and praying it does not! Deron is planning (I know, I know) to go back out on Saturday to get the rest of the gas he bought. We are hoping for some serious sun to melt some of this snow.....then he can take the ATV, not walk most of the way. Until then we are rashinging our gasoline (generator) so I will not be on line too much. We are gonna be stuck here for a while! Why not the horses? Well, two reasons. One, we have not ridden them in a while and it would be very hard for them. None are trained to pull......that is going to change. LOL

Please continue to pray for us. And the next time you hear someone say "I would do anything for my wife/animals." Tell them you know someone else like that in NW SD. LOL

this one went out 3/31/09

The good news is that I have lost 9 of that 10 pounds I wanted to get off by Easter.
The good news is that Regina is now doing really well on an Agility Course.....any that I set up now. New pieces of equipment do not stump her, she just goes right over them.
The good news is I have been reading more. The good news is that Deron (bless his heart) took the time to record Regina the other day doing a small agility course. It was like her third or fourth time on the pieces. He also made a little video for me that you can see at
The good news is the winds have died down and the sun is out.

The bad news is we were hit again yesterday, well and Sunday night, with another Blizzard. Yesterday they shut highways, towns, basically back to the same less then a week ago.
The bad news is that Deron was going to meet a friend at the Highway tomorrow and go to town to pick up some stuff, including gasoline....we are not sure he can get out across the Prairie again for a while. He said he was going to take a ride (ATV) today to see.
The bad news is, I am feeling a bit angry about being stuck here (I will have to get over this and move on!)
The bad news is, we are rashening gas again so I will not be online much until we know when we can get out again to get more (the truck is not here so we do not have our usual reserve).
The bad news is that we are expecting snow for tomorrow and the week end.

The best news is that Deron and I are both reading our Bibles again and more in the mornings before the generator goes on.
The best news is that all the animals as well as us are fine.
The best news is we have power! We might be rashening, but some people are out. Last years blizzard had people around us out of power for literally weeks.

If you have read this far......thanks! LOL
Marna SD

this was Ester Sunday April 12, 2009

Gosh, we sure miss you all!!
I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday!
Deron is fixing Chicken - Augroutin Potatoes - Green Beans.....WE EVEN HAVE MILK!!
We are still very stuck here. I have not been out of here since MARCH 16th. Deron has been to town twice with a friend of ours (who has a small car, so bringing much home, no) LOL
The truck is very stuck at the Highway Gate still. Deron has been out there several times working to free it. He even bought so sort of big deal jack, got it up and put rocks under the wheels (rock? you might ask? Dave & Kelly had them delivered about a year ago to the gate when their trailer home got stuck there) Deron has dug trenches so that the now running creeks of water (well, not today, but yesterday) would drain away from the truck.
I added some information (and am still working on it) on our Tough Enough page at under the title BLIZZARDS 2009 we had three in two weeks.....
ANYWAY!! WE AND THE ANIMALS ARE GOOD! Tired of winter, all of us, but doing fine.
(rain expected here <sigh> )

and the day after the third Easter we were stuck here and could not drive out April 13, 2009

Ok so we are now getting rain and storms and snow....starting tonight. <big sigh from someone who would really love to go to town, since I have been stuck here since 3/17/09....last time we went to town was 3/16/09, Deron has been twice with a friend)
ANYWAY! We have another friend with a truck that is picking up our order for 1200#s of horse food, plus rabbit food, dog food and shavings at the feed mill and delivering it to the Highway to us. GOD LOVE HER!!
Deron will be leaving here in just a little while to meet her at the highway gate and unload it all into our car and truck at the gate. Deron will then bring in as much as the prairie will allow him to carry in on the ATV today (the consistency of the snow and mudddddd will matter much for the ride or getting stuck!) And go out for more as needed.
In the mean time I ordered Horse Wormer for a price I thought you all (horse and goat and llama and dog owners) may be interested in. I got Ivomec, 1250# tubes, for $2.59 per tube. Shipping is free is the order is over $49.99.....I was ordering a really cute turn out coat for Missy, in Zebra Stripe, so my shipping was free. Anyway, it is at
Continue to pray for us. Thank God we get along as well as we do, ey? LOL

sent 4/24/09

Gosh........well, Monday late afternoon Deron finally got the truck "unstuck". (from 3/16, it was good to see people!) ) He came back for me on the ATV and we went to town. The Laundromat was $44 but the hot shower felt really good!! (Spit bathes get you clean, but hot showers burn the germs off. LOL We had Taco John's and that was about it. We got up Tuesday and went back to town. Did some shopping, washed the clothes from the day before ate out again and on the way home stopped at Cononco (always our last stop in town before hitting the long lonely highway) and bought an Eskimo Bar to split! I have not had one in...............I don't even know. Yesterday we got some outdoor things done here and it is a very good thing.........we have 3" of snow and more falling. <sigh>

The truck is at the highway so we might (depending on how much muddddd is there) be able to get out when we can get across the Prairie on the ATV. Sunday, God willing, I am suppose to pick up a couple of goats in Belle Fourche. The gal I am getting them from in MT (she goes to church here in Belle Fourche) also lives on gumbo soil and said it would depend on the weather if she is coming or not.....

This snow was suposse to be thunderstorms and rain from yesterday til we shall see just what we get. I have to say again, I miss the drout!!

Anyway, Just wanted to let you all know we are finally out after three blizzards! What I hate to think about is that the last three Mays in a row......Blizzards with over 2' of snow, one was over 5' of snow.

We did not start getting out across the prairie consistently until about June 15th. Our fist snow came Oct. 9, 2009.

The contents of this page for Tough Enough is still under construction. Please check back.


It's winter in South Dakota
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love South Dakota
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave South Dakota
I'm frozen to the ground!


Storm Damage Storm Damage Storm Damage Storm Damage Storm Damage Storm Damage Storm Damage

I have not been driving Abby or even working on the cart. We have had storm after storm here in NW SD and they have been severe! After the rain we have that good ole gumbo mud that you can not hardly walk in, so driving has been on hold.

These are photos from a storm that came through fast and hard on July 19, 2010. It broke out our kitchen and bathroom windows. Left the bathroom wall dented from the hail and glass was embedded in the drywall. We had glass everywhere. It also broke a window on the truck and both the truck and the house look like someone took a ball-peen hammer to them and went crazy!

Deron and I went into the bedroom on the inside side of the bed. We were not hurt. We lost one goose, who is sorely missed, and two chickens, of course they were Americona hens. We had a goose a duck and a chicken injured. We keep saying "It could have been worse"...but it has sure interrupted our normal getting ready for winter, our building of the barn and training on all equine and goats.

As I write this on 8/3/2010 it is storming outdoors and is predicted to be bad again this afternoon and all day tomorrow. Sooooo, no. I won't be out with Abby or the others for a few days.

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