Off the Grid, Can it be Done?

off the grid forestGoing off the grid, how possible is it in today’s world? Can it be done? How easy can it be to do everything without electricity? I tell you it can be done. It’s not easy, but it IS doable! I did it for about 10 years with three children!

Many moons ago, when Hurricane was just a squall, Perfection was still finding out what that word actually meant, and Grouchy was interested in 101 Dalmations (not in grouchy dwarves), we went off the grid. We lived for many years without electricity.

How it All Started

off the grid roadWhen Grouchy’s dad hurt his back falling off a roofing delivery truck he had a lot of time on his hands. He loved reading the Little Nickel adverts regarding properties to buy. Well, one day in late February of 93 (or maybe 94) we went on a little road trip down to Raymond, Washington. It was a gorgeous winter day, the kind that causes you to just KNOW Spring is right around the corner! We drove up this long overgrown gravel road and parked. Getting out of the car the five of us, Hurricane, Perfection, Grouchy, his dad, and I walked a little way to the top of the hill and just stared. The view included this amazing expanse of a valley below us. It was ringed with evergreen trees. Idyllic. We had to have it.

Not So Pretty

Turning the other way, down a path, we could see the hints of a cabin. Traipsing down this path we oohed and ahhed over the green stretch. Finally we arrived at the cabin. It wasn’t so pretty. It wasn’t fully sided, it had wood sides, but not actual siding. Stepping inside, it was even uglier. 1 room. No walls. Just the bare 2x4s. A set of steep stairs lead up to the second floor. Here there were two rooms. Luckily one was a bathroom. But… There were no pipes heading up to the bathroom. Upon closer inspection, there were no pipes leading ANYWHERE inside the cabin. Nor any electrical wires.

Turning Around

As we all trudged back to the car we weren’t quite so happy. Driving back home I just couldn’t see how we could do it. We had just about put this dream behind us. We didn’t even know it was a dream, but it seemed like one once we saw it. Raymond, a nearby small city seemed the perfect place to raise the kids, not to mention just having 6 wooded acres for them to roam on!

Maybe We Could

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I don’t know how long it was before I went to a thrift store. It must have only been a day or two. I was perusing this bin of 10 cent books and found a book on homesteading. I am almost positive it was The Encyclopedia of Country Living.  It is an amazing book! Thanks to it I learned people lived without electricity all the time. It showed me people lived without piped water all the time, too. I was sold, we could do it!

I had Grouchy’s dad call the realtor immediately and within a month we moved in.

Papa wasn’t kidding when he said how the kids had to build their own bedrooms. How they had to haul their own water. They did. We found a creek that came from out of the hillside down in that idyllic valley. Using the book’s instructions, we set up a 55 gallon barrel to catch water for ease of filling jugs. We’d then haul up the water, every day, for toilet use, showers, washing dishes, and cooking.

Off the Grid

We lived for month’s without electricity. It was easier in the Spring and Summer. When we had lots of daylight hours. Once it started getting darker sooner, we soon decided oil lanterns weren’t enough. It would have cost us thousands of dollars (that we didn’t have) to get electricity up the (more than quarter mile) long the grid generator auto

To get past that stumbling block, we rigged up a car’s generator (run by a lawn mower type engine) to power up heavy duty truck batteries. We first tried car headlights, wiring them up to the battery. They took a lot of power, so we next bought small auto interior lights. While they weren’t as bright, they actually worked out quite well.

off the grid woodstoveWe had a wood-stove that I cooked most of our meals on in the cooler months. We used a propane cook-stove/oven from a camping trailer for regular cooking. That’s how we heated our water for showers and dish washing, too.

You Can Do it, Too!

I know this is more of an inspirational pep-talk than an informative blog post. It’s meant to be. It is so easy to think of all the challenges that come from the idea of living off-grid. Here on the homestead, we don’t aim for being off the grid, what we aim for is the ABILITY to go off-grid if the grid ever went off! I’m going to be introducing you to a lot of different options that I have tried, seen, or researched, over the coming months. So please stay tuned if being prepared for an emergency, or truly taking yourself off the grid, is important to you. It’s amazing how much stuff is out there if you just look – and think – off the grid.

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