How We Live at Lone Bobcat Woods (176)

pm176_554Peek behind the scenes at Peak Moment TV’s home base. Janaia Donaldson shows guest host Ivey Cone the solar power system, woodstove for heat (and winter waffles), and super efficient refrigerator. Choosing to reduce their footprint, she and Robyn Mallgren, Peak Moment videographer, don’t feel deprived at all. Janaia discusses what led them to leave the Bay Area, what it’s like to live on 160 acres of forestland, which they’ve preserved “in perpetuity” as a wildlife sanctuary, and shows us some of the members of the natural community they live in. Episode 176. [].

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  1. Iselin Celestine says:

    The “assault.” For years, I have thought of the visual experience of this as a blight upon the landscape. I try to blur it out and envision the latter as it was when only the Native Peoples were in this land. Sadly, I think that many (or most?) of us may even have a preference for these auditory and visual states. It is modern-day living to which we have become accustomed. Our populace has come to (be influenced) to think that we cannot do without all of this: the chain stores, the strip malls, automobiles, pavement…and so much more achieved with “cheap” oil. In this regard, and regarding the last, I am glad to consider its demise.

  2. Thanks everybody for your good words and support! To answer questions –

    Stuart M: the house is manufactured, what are often called mobile homes. However, it’s built pretty much like a standard “stick-built” home with 2×6 structure, drywall interiors, and asphalt shingle roof. It came as two halves on wheels. We built the foundation (solid perimeter, required by our county). The only assembly on the spot was putting the two halves together, sealing those joints with roofing, siding, caulking; bolting the house to the foundation.

    Ed, the phone landline is underground. Robyn and I trenched about 1000 feet to access the phone line. Internet originally was through the phone company, then dial-up. Now in the last two years we’re fortunate to have digital cell service but must use an antenna on the roof to get a good signal. We laugh about being on the edge of the Information Highway, and it’s true. Out here in the woods, the last to get service, if we get it all.

    We had a septic system put in, as required by our county. Nowadays I’d lean towards composting toilet and gray water systems, both of which are now legal in our county but weren’t when we arrived in 1990.

    Clelie, be sure to see the new Vicki Robin show “Your Money, Your Life, Your Happiness.” It didn’t take a lot of work to get going on the steps in Your Money or Your Life because we had strong motivations to live where we wanted and to be free of working at jobs as soon as we could.

  3. Thanks Janaia for showing others your place and explaining the choices you chose to make, a fine example of how we all can live more thoughtfully and enjoy life more. You have a lovely place and a wonderful story.

    I’ve been enjoying Peak Moments for 2-3 years now. It’s a never ending source of inspiration for us. Thank you so much for the work you’ve put into this and making possible for others to learn ways they can make a difference too.

  4. Hello Janaia,

    thanks for sharing! your story is very inspiring. was it easy getting started with teh your money or your life program? Or was it more of a stop and go process?

  5. I just want to say thanks for making this series…it is really helpful in regards to giving me ideas and inspiration for homesteading and living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. It’s very inspiring, thank you guys!

  6. Tammy Yorton says:

    Hi Janaia, your sister gave me this web address to check out. I just want to say how inspriring your story is and it’s great to hear how possible it is to live in the wilderness. Thank you for sharing your story. Enjoy your life.

  7. Roger/Tricia Winkler says:

    Hi Janaia,
    So enjoyable to see what you have done with your place, and how you have set it up!! Very creative and innovative. Congratulations on a wonderful job! It looks like the perfect setting.

  8. Helen C. says:

    I’m so glad I found Peak TV. Small is BEAUTIFUL!! Here in France, we only got a dryer after 20 years without: my asthma got worse and needed not to have a musty smell to the clothes (we’re not in a dry climate here and a fan only does so much in my house in winter).

    I wouldn’t mind carving a life in nature like that, except who can you trust with prehab materials now? Think: Fema trailers. My sister recently renovated part of her house and she’s now having severe health symptoms.

    Great you’re living your dream!

  9. Stuart M. says:

    Janaia and Robyn,

    Thanks for inviting us into your home. My questions: What all was involved with the prefab home? Was it assembled on location by the the prefab company? Did you pour a foundation? Which company makes it? I guess 1990 prices are not that comparable, but how much did just the prefab home cost? Do you have to shovel snow in the winter to get out of the woods?

  10. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Here here,
    I’m with Terry regarding Part II. Being remote, how do you get your telephone and Internet connections? And, (hard question) what about your septic wast disposal system?
    There are so many things that suburban dwellers take for granted, having to be your own utility/service provider, you have to learn about and develop your own methods. It’d be great to have these extra parts covered.
    Thanks for doing what you do.

  11. Hi Janaia!
    Wow! So fun to see you being interviewed! Great job! I am so proud of you and Robyn. I appreciated the editing to include footage of Bear, and the Owls and other birds.
    I think a second interview is needed, though. Part II should have you share about the solar oven, the cooling cupboard, the hole in the granite for the compost can, composting, water storage for fire fighting, the differences in drinking water from your 2 wells, what you do instead of watching TV, etc.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Love, Terry

  12. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Hi Janaia,
    Hard questions? Just a bit of facetious humour. There’s nothing in your lifestyle that could raise hard questions. You’re great example of what the rest of the western world should be moving toward.
    Thank you for the info about the Warm Company. Fantastic stuff. I’ll have to break my transport miles policy and order some. Now, where is that tape measure…?

  13. Ed,
    Well, go ahead and give us the hard questions!

    The curtains are made using Warm Window fabric from the Warm Company in the U.S. (check their website). The fabric has about seven layers — polyester batting for insulation, silvered mylar to reflect heat. They are Roman shades, folded vertically for sliding doors or folded horizontally for windows. They’re labor-intensive: you add your own interior decorator fabric, some magnetic strips (which we haven’t really used), and have to add rings through all layers. You can do a simpler version with only the polyester batting.

    The panels are being shaded by the trees across our meadow, not the ones you see behind them in the video. We have topped several trees, and also taken down three pine trees in the last few years that had grown tall enough to really reduce the hours of sunlight. Soon we’ll need to do some branch cutting on a large oak. That’s what happens in 20 years — the forest keeps growing!

    Hi Valerie,
    Real Goods in Hopland, California has an excellent catalog of energy-efficient appliances — for the SunFrost refrigerator. What other appliances??

    We connect to the internet now through Verizon digital service. We’re extremely fortunate geographically to have a tower somewhere across the river canyon that we can connect to with an antenna on our roof. Before that, it was ISDN (land line service). Prospects of DSL are basically non-existent because we’re more than a mile beyond where the phone company would want to extend lines, unless mandated by government.

  14. Valerie says:

    That was great to see how you are living – to see the lifestyle behind the show. I think your show is great as well. What resource did you use to find all the wonderful appliances? How do you connect to the internet?

  15. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Hi Janaia and Robyn,
    How does it feel to be on the other side of the microphone? I think Ivey was easy on you and left out the hard questions. 😉 She did a commendable job and shows promise.
    Thank you for showing us how you and Robyn have tackled your problems with living a low impact, sustainable lifestyle. You have come up with some good answers that will help many.
    It was very opportune as I am currently trying to figure out how to make curtains that trap heat. Your solution looks like the answer. Adding pelmets at the top would help too. Any chance of a little more detail on how you put them together?
    I was a little concerned about the positioning of your PV panels. They were being shaded by the surrounding trees which will really knock off a lot of the availanle energy. You may not want to cut down any trees so a bit of judicious pruning or thinning could really help here.
    Keep it up, another good one.

  16. Janice Beall says:

    What a lovely life.

  17. Beautiful and inspiring!

  18. Johnny in SF says:


    I really appreciate the tour of your own place. Thanks for the show!

    – Johnny


  1. […] world, ourselves, and others.(, 26 & 27: 176: How We Live at Lone Bobcat WoodsPeek behind the scenes at Peak Moment TV’s home base. Janaia Donaldson shows guest host Ivey Cone […]

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