So what’s it like living off-grid full time? What does the daily grind look like?
We’ve been at this so long, it all seems normal. The infrastructure was set up to be low maintenance, so it doesn’t take much time at all. The labor is centered around the farm business that allows us to stay here and provide a living for ourselves. Tracking water consumption and power production/usage takes less time than we imagined since we didn’t cut any corners during the design and build process. The roads are constructed with decent drainage and only require a tune-up once per year, some times less. It doesn’t take long to adjust to dirt road living, dirty vehicles, and having to schedule around Mother Natures tantrums. If you want to be here, it’s just part of it.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely. Financially, we are likely upside down a bit if we had to sell if you figure in all our labor. There’s a lot of upgrades that people can’t see or appreciate if they don’t try and produce food. But again, we didn’t build with the plans of selling. We did give up several years of decent income to pull this off as well, a trade-off we were willing to make.
How do you measure the value of security? The world got screwy in 2020, and we had zero issues circling the wagons. We had food, water, sanitation, safety, and very little need to interact with the outside world at all for months at a time and the ability to bring all the kids/grandkids home too. The funny thing is, our daily life didn’t change- we just had more people here. I’m not sure where else a guy like me could find that for any amount of money.
How do you put a value on health? I’m 47, Amy is 52, and we can both outwork most people half our age. We fall asleep fast, sleep through the night, and wake up feeling great. Neither one of us requires any medication, and our six-month check-ups always come back perfect, not at all like when we started. I was a 261 pound big doughy beer-drinking machine that required nine prescriptions to manage self-inflicted ailments. This adventure saved my life.
I’ve had to re-learn so much since this is two adventures in one, off-grid living and a new career in agriculture- it’s completely different than anything we’ve ever known. Projects and upgrades to infrastructure are planned out well in advance since weather dictates so much. Dealing with a much smaller income means a careful approach, patience, and still more planning. The magic number for us is three. Three hours starting with one hour per day of working on “the plan.” Budgeting, goals, meal planning, animal and feed purchases, butcher dates, delivery dates, and a little bit of dreaming mixed in make up the first hour every day.
The next hour is “the walk.” We head up to the tanks first, gets the heart pumping. After checking for leaks and tank levels, we walk the rest of the roads. It’s a great way to start the day and also lay eyes on the guest RV’s and check refrigerators during the veggie season when we use them for extra storage, check and re-set mouse traps and find parts left from whatever Gus and Maggie killed the night before. Since we irrigate on timers at night, we wrap up with “checking the wet spot.” Trees, grasses, and gardens take a few minutes to make sure irrigation systems are working correctly.
Hour number three is feeding animals, moving meat birds to fresh grass, and making sure everything has clean water. Next up is harvesting vegetables from the garden along with the constant pruning to keep plants healthy and production where you want it. By now, it’s about 8 am, and we’re ready for breakfast.
Three, one-hour blocks, then we have the whole day ahead of us for projects, repairs, or chasing animals that learn how to open gates. Somedays, we grind it out through dinner time, and some days we put in a movie at noon, followed by a nap at 2 pm. We are getting closer and closer to having the enormous projects finished, which will no doubt give us more free time (or I’ll find more shit to stack on my plate because I’m not real smart).
Below are some random pictures from Spring/Summer of daily life.
Getting the garden ready for the season.
We move them onto grass as soon as they feather out enough to handle the temperature swings. Usually between 3 and 4 weeks old. We move them every morning to fresh grass, before the sun comes up when they are still half asleep.
Setting up for butcher day.
New offering this year, 2lb Cornish Game Hens. They were crazy popular so we’ll do these year round now.
Garden matures and it’s time to start canning/preserving for winter.
Overcrowded carrots from Covid kids doing your planting. Love the effort though!
More birds. We’re getting close to producing chicken year-round now.
A freezer full of Cornish game hens shortly after butcher day, getting their deep freeze on.