Wednesday, October 7, 2015
15 Years of Off-Grid Living
Fifteen years ago, Sir Knight and I, and our (then) three children began an adventure. What we had intended to become a homesteading and farming adventure quickly became an off-grid, survival adventure instead. But what an adventure is has been!
While we were having tea the other morning, it occurred to me that our 15 year off-grid anniversary was upon us. As Sir Knight and I talked about all of the improvements we had made and the upgrades that were never to be, I mentioned to him that "normal" people don't live off-grid for 15 years. And then I realized that we didn't know anyone who had lived off-grid for 15 years! Over the years we have met many people who had lived off-grid, some, temporarily, while they were finishing their homes, and others who sought the independence of an off-grid life, only to tire of the hardship and choose grid power. Please don't get me wrong - in no way do I think we are superior for staying off the grid! No - there have been times I would have hooked up to the power grid in a heartbeat and never looked back! However, we have stayed the course and soldiered on. Our decision to remain off-grid has boiled down to sheer stubbornness mingled with a lack of better options. But really - 15 years is a long time to live off the grid!
In truth, we've had a 15 year education. We have learned what is necessary (a wood cook stove) and what isn't (a clothes dryer). We have learned what makes life easier (a washing machine) and what makes life more complicated (a television). We have learned to love the soft hissing sound of Coleman lanterns and appreciate the energy savings of LED light bulbs. We learned that electric refrigerators are REALLY noisy (which you can hear when there is no other electrically generated noise in your home) and electric ranges are almost IMMPOSSIBLE to cook on!
We truly have lived an off-grid adventure. Our children, with the exception of Maid Elizabeth, remember nothing but off-grid living. Miss Serenity doesn't remember a time when she didn't know how to change the oil in the generator. Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin have never lived in a house where you flush the toilet every time you use it. Master Hand Grenade has helped his dad move numerous 1300 pound batteries, install a wind turbine and troubleshoot the electrical system on an ancient 10KW military generator . The very first pie Maid Elizabeth created landed upside down in the wood cook stove oven. Miss Serenity learned to wash laundry in a tub on the same cook stove. Master Hand Grenade has hauled water, filled lamps and broken ice in stock tanks. Princess Dragon Snack asked (after we had batteries to run electric lights) if we could turn the "power" off and pretend to be off-grid. Master Calvin thinks everyone should have an outhouse.
From time to time, I think we must be nuts to live off-grid after all these years. It would be so much easier to run a freezer rather than can all of our meat. It would be wonderful to take a shower or bath or even flush the toilet without having to start the generator. It would be nice not to have to worry about our pipes freezing in the bathroom (the farthest room from the wood cook stove) or coming up with creative ways to thaw them when they do freeze. There are a lot of things that would be nice, if we had grid power.
But with the all convenience to be found in the power grid, I am grateful we have chosen to remain off-the-grid. Our lives have been enriched by the challenges and hardships presented by our lifestyle. We have learned how to live a simple yet rich life. We have become masters of invention and purveyors of ingenuity. We are intimately connected with life. And that has made every minute of our off-grid years worth their weight in gold.