A Few Thoughts About Living Off Grid

I thought I’d share this story about a Florida woman who was living completely off grid.  She harvested rain water, had solar power, etc and was completely unconnected from the utilities and was evicted from the home she owned because of it.   Lately I have been hearing about states that are trying to make illegal to not be “connected”. If someone has solar power, they must use the power company for backup instead of batteries.  How stupid is that?   I believe, however, all the states now permit harvesting rain water.   Here in the US, each state has its own rules and regulations.                                    Evicted for Living Off Grid

LIVING OFF GRID:
We have been 100% off grid since moving here last October.  No electricity, no running water, etc.  If we cannot produce what we need, we do without.  We don’t let the generator run 7/24 as it is a waste of fuel to have it running during the night just for the fridge, so we time it so it will run out around mid-night.  Then Nick fuels it before he leaves for “the office” in the morning, about 8 hours later.

The generator gives us power for lighting, the computer, the little RV fridge, the microwave and electric appliances such as the water kettle, electric skillet and slow cooker.   We also have two propane camp stoves, each with two burners, and I have a camp oven which requires only that is rest upon one of the gas burners to operate.  I can bake anything in it that I would normally bake in my “big” oven…. only smaller.  It can hold a pie, loaf pan, 6 muffin tin, etc.
Back in the old days when I had my wood cooking stove I used one on top of that.  I haven’t yet tried it on a camp fire.

So far we haven’t built an outhouse or gotten a composting toilet, though both are on the list.  We have a bathroom in the motor-home and Nick empties the holding tank to a “special” composting bin.  There is an excellent book available that is probably the best resource out there regarding how to gather, compost and use humanure and is one of my “go to” books.   The Scoop on Poop

For now we have a bored well, about 20 feet deep, from which we, that is Nick pulls up water in a bucket.  We boil around 10 gallons for safety, every day, for watering the livestock and for bathing and cleaning.  We buy water for drinking and cooking…. just because….

Laundry is done either by hand with a wash tub and plunger/agitator; or Nick takes it to the laundrette while he is in town.  He can work anywhere as long as his mobile hotspot has a signal.  I still struggle with him to at least bring home the wet wash so I can line dry it, but more often than not, he doesn’t.

food storage

This is the first year in many that I don’t have any food from my garden to preserve. Thankfully, I thought ahead last year anticipating this, and there is plenty of food still on the shelves inside the house.

The old farmhouse has become a storage facility for our household goods which are all in boxes and plastic crates.  We still have all the furniture to move from the house in CT.

food storage

 

Living here, without pubic utilities,  has given us ample time to learn what works and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to the old farmhouse.  We had intended to restore it, but the red tape in doing that has gotten out of hand.  So we are now planning to build a new cabin, further back on the property, for our home.

Recently I discovered a  Canadian television video series about two couples who went to live in rural Ottowa, Canada for an entire year as pioneer settlers of the 1870’s.  They had very little with them, we actually have more tools than they had, with which to build their homes and farm.  There were also faced with the wettest spring and coldest winter in 120 years.  I learned quite a bit from watching how they managed to live, totally off grid, and recommend to anyone wanting to live off grid to view it.  Both for what can be learned, and for its entertainment value.  It is a good show.    Pioneer Quest

For now, we rely on the food I preserved and stocked last year.  Except for chicken, we are running low on beef and so must get some things from the market.  Now that the farm stands are open I will be getting fresh produce from the community farmstand nearby, and we found a place that sells local meat, and the goats will be kidding soon and we will have our own milk.  And though they won’t be laying for a few months, our new flock of laying chicks will be arriving in about ten days, along with a dozen meat chicks.  We will need two dozen meat chickens to put up for the coming year.

I would love to be able to build a cabin from the trees on our land, but at our age it isn’t a project for us.  We are looking at “kits”  and “build on site” cabins for our new home.  Once the shell of the home is constructed and finished by professionals, we intend to do the interior work ourselves.

For my first birthday with DH, many years ago, he surprised me with a wonderful gift.  The box was about the size of a shoebox and was quite heavy.  When opened I found a little jewel box with a beautiful ruby and diamond ring…. but what gave the box its weight was the special gift… a brick with a note reading that this would be the first brick laid in our new home.   It’s taken 16 years to get there, but it looks like we will finally get to lay that brick this year.

Now the question is how “connected” this new home will be to the grid.  I would love it to be 0%… but until we can afford to get the wind turbine………
Are  you living off grid?  How do you manage?   I’d love to know.

4 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts About Living Off Grid”

  1. We will not be 100% off grid. We have a well and septic tank, two wood burning stoves and a propane tank. We are installing a wind turbine that we anticipate will generate at least 80% of our electricity over a year. We don’t want to spend the money to size up the turbine because we know we’d over produce and WY doesn’t buy that back if it’s connected to the grid so we are stepping down a size, not connecting it to the power grid and using the grid as back up in case we don’t produce enough. I don’t expect it will happen often because it is pretty windy where we just bought. I’m pleased with that set up. We have young children and the potential for blizzards to snow us in for days at a time. If we lose grid power the turbine should keep us covered to run the forced air heat via propane. Worst case the stoves will keep us warm. We are going to look at getting a generator for our outbuildings. You know what I’m super excited about though? Line drying my clothes 🙂 I use cloth diapers and love to hang them. ❤

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    1. Thank you for sharing about your “almost” off grid living. I do think that unless someone is located far from any utility may be difficult to be 100% off-grid. At this time we don’t have septic system, although it is required and we have been trying to get through the process for the past year.
      What is your wind turbine? We are planning to with wind power since this place has more consistant strong wind than sunny days. Even if we use it only for pumping water I would be happy.
      Our children are grown this homestead is our retirement haven. We want to keep things as simple as possible. Including a wood burning cookstove for cooking, heating and hot water.
      When my children were babies I also had cloth diapers (Pampers weren’t invented yet) and there is nothing like line drying for purifying diapers. 🙂

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  2. We live in a beachside urban community. We wanted to go completely solar to be off grid with our power. After much research and getting several companies to quote for this we have decided that this is too cost prohibitive. The panels couldn’t go on the roof of the house as the roofing material is wrong. This meant the panels would have to go on the shed roof. Then there were lines needing to go from shed to house. What seemed like a simple and easy solution to high power costs suddenly got too complicated.

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    1. We ran into the same issues while we were living in CT. We had a metal roof, which in itself was no problem. The problem was that it was the “wrong type” of metal roof. Have you considered using a wind-turbine? I used to watch Ed Begley jr’s Green show and he uses a rather small, vertical wind turbine. His home is very green. We are currently researching the wind turbines since we have better wind than sunshine here in VA. I couldn’t decide which of the links on the page was best..so I am posting the link to the entire search page. Lots of great information.

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