Rustic A F Living Truly Off the Grid

This will be my 7th winter living in this teeny tiny 8'x12' off grid domicile.

Before I lived here full time it was my play house since 2005.

Back then I visited on weekends and never did I plan this to be the first home I ever owned, but as circumstance would have it here I find myself.

I'll write an introduction piece on how I came to have this home and land for another episode.

Friends often share articles and videos of other off grid folk, which is nice but the articles always make me wonder if what I'm living is more akin to caveman...

I have no generator. Certainly no freezer (tho I've hatched a plan to put one on its own solar panel on the backside of the barn so I won't hear any noise it makes).

I have a couple 'fridge holes'. Holes deep enough to set a high quality cooler down in. One I use to keep my harvest of root vegetables in. A block of ice in the other in summer lasts about 6 days and keeps it at 45°. It's not a lot of space but enough room for the basics: butter, cream, homemade kefir, fruit, tonic...

There is no running water and if I want hot water I have to heat it beforehand.

There is no indoor plumbing.

Running jokes of mine are saying things like 'Can I use your flush toilet?' or exclaiming my amazement when the hot water comes right outta the wall on visiting friends at their homes.

I use a humanure bucket system toilet (and don't tell anybody but I actually used 2 year old humanure on my vegetable garden last spring). I utilize sawdust for biomass to cover the evidence that my body excretes waste. But more than that I use lavender dust that I sweep from the barn floor. Talk about a closed loop system!

I do use a chamber pot to pee in on winter nights. There's no foyer to the door; using the bucket instead of opening the door helps hold the heat inside.

I have an outdoor wood-fired bathtub, and a solar shower bag but that's fodder for another episode.

I have a well, that I sing praise and thanks to each time I draw life giving water from. It is powered by solar panels but has no battery block as of yet, so in the winter I get pretty keen on the amount of light that's coming through the sky lights in the cabin and rush out to fill the jugs when the sun shines.

The well is 400 feet up hill from my domicile.

I use wheeled carts in summer (and I always give thanks to the Sumerians who are credited with inventing the wheel and also to the aliens who from heaven to earth came and taught them that technology). A toboggan works better in mud or winter snow to haul my 3 gallon water containers to and fro. It's another 200 feet to the tub but there's always wood to chop while the 80 gallon tub fills, and I have a hose that reaches the 600 foot expanse.

I don't use the shower bag in the winter, but an outdoor winter bath is divine. And I travel once a week to a neighboring town with multiple magic healing water hot springs.

The drain in my kitchen sink goes into a 5 gallon bucket which I empty on a tree every few days.

Solar panels power my tiny house and various outbuildings. As I said there's no generator and no wires coming in. Two are simple DIY systems I purchased at Harbor Freight, the one on my tiny house a.k.a "cabin" is a little more elaborate but still simple as these systems go. It has a battery block of two heavy duty marine battries. There's one light. It is the only thing on for any length of time aside from charging the phone. There is a clear sight line of 3 miles to two different towers but still there are dead spots and dead days for the amount of money I pay for full coverage so I can use my phone like a wifi hotspot when I need to use my laptop. Otherwise most everything is done from my phone.

The small solar system on the cabin has ample power; I can use a bullet blender, 'lectric coffee grinder (tho I prefer to use the hand crank wall mounted vintage gem I purchased in Virgelle a couple decades ago). I can run a small vacuum, charge the phone and batteries of small power tools, the motorbike battery tender - not all at once mind you, but as I need them.

You don't just leave things on or plugged in for that matter with a battery storage solar system. Conservation takes on a whole new meaning when you live off grid - in every aspect.

I cook on a propane campstove and in and on top the woodstove too.

I have a studio sectioned off in the barn and a library/guest cabin; both are heated with propane space heaters, not constantly, only when I use those spaces.

The cabin is heated with wood. I enjoy chopping wood and making kindling.

Above all else, the thing I love and hold most sacred about off grid living in this simple rustic manner is the quietude. There is no appliance making white noise. I don't convince myself that I'll get used to any noise because there isn't any. That is really hard for people to imagine but it's the one thing visitors always notice and comment on - how quiet it is. I have to travel with ear plugs when I stay at friends' homes and will unplug lights, clocks, refrigerators, and even blowing heater units in motels. The noise in big towns and cities actually grates on my nerves so much as to exhaust me. I cherish the sounds of Nature that come with this place.

I enjoy the challenges of off grid living. It's all second nature to me now.

I'm still kicking around hosting workshops in my Back to the Land Camp series. Let me know what you're interested in.

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