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.


  1. I'm 20 years removed from off grid days and still find myself turning one thing off in order to run something else or only running one large appliance at a time. Keeps me rooted to a simpler time in my life. You guys will scarcely notice when SHTF. :)

  2. Enola,

    You and your family are great mentors to many people learning the process of homesteading and living off the grid. Thank you for sharing your experiences and learning to all of your blogger friends.
    God Bless!


    1. thank you so much for all your postings!

  3. I have a great deal of respect for you.

  4. Congratulations on sticking with it; many people have tried off-grid and given up, or not even tried because of the challenges. Do you have plans you can share with us as to where you see your family going int he future?

  5. I applaud you for instilling in your children the ability to know more than video games and TV. They will make the kind of adults who can handle themselves, no matter what comes down the pike. If society would only look into your world, and learn to appreciate what you have, they would be much better off.

  6. Wow, that is truly amazing!!! Props for pushing through! I'm not familiar with what it takes to live off-grid but I do know what it is like to live without electricity for days/weeks. Dealing with no hot water, no running water, using a kerosene cooker, using candles and kerosene lanterns when its dark, no vacuum cleaner, using a broom similar to a broomstick to clean, no television, no trash collector, etc. Not fun but you manage.

  7. Beautiful post. I loved you saying that TV complicates things. In more ways than one. I admire you and your family so much.

  8. Grand post. Your children are blest to have such brilliant parents. May I ask what kind of refrigerator you use. We would like to get one that is off grid. Thank you.

  9. Once you get used to it, it's normal. You have power, heat,and light during storms, and you're not dependent on the flow of electrons from somewhere else..and the intricate infrastructure that delivers it. People got along without the idiot box and video games for millenia-and it can still be done. Books are wonderful things. LED bulbs are great-life measured in thousands of hours, and I now light my entire house and garage on fewer watts than originally lit the kitchen. Buy LED replacement bulbs for your flashlights-battery life will be measured in days..

  10. I lived off grid for nearly a year. I found it to be peaceful. The part of the grid I missed most was running water. I moved to the mountains in another state and it was already on grid. I think 840 square feet are too much for me alone. I liked my 660 sf open cabin. Still, the eternal mountains are wonderful and I love my Food Forest.

  11. Congratulations and well said! I half expected you to say that for your 15th anniversary off-grid you were getting electricity hooked up! LOL.

  12. Wow, what an accomplishment. Not sure we could pull that off with out it being forced on us by circumstances. In reading your post, I commented to my wife how much I love the nicknames you have for each of your family members. Sometime would you take a post to tell us all the stories of how each earned their moniker. Thanks again for your blog, I look forward to reading it each time.

  13. Your family is living, really, "the good life!"

    Even though some (most) of us are still "on-grid" I find its good practice to have as little to do with being "on-grid" as possible. By cutting down as much as possible on electricity, technology, etc. it's just a good practice when we have to do without altogether. Your family is already there.

    NOT using the dryer but hanging clothes outdoors in the warm sunlight (when there are no chem-trails streaking across the once blue skies) is a real blessing. And the sheets and clothes smell fresher. The electric bill goes way down. Turning off unneeded lights when not in the room, is also a cost saver. There are many ways to live a simpler and better life.

    Spending nights using candles we've made ourselves warms the room with its glowing ambiance. Even the fire-starters we've made with empty toilet paper rolls stuffed with their own packaging paper and waxed, or the waxed pine cones from our trees really gets the fire off to a good start to heat the house in the fireplace or wood-burner stove. And NOT have to turn on the heater, (which when its 15 degrees outdoors can never comfortably warm the inside) Burning junk mail instead of putting it in the land fill helps when its time to fertilize the garden with the ashes.

    However, some things we can't seem to e able to get away from that are truly hazardous to our health.
    All the "modern conveniences" which pollute the air, the skies and cause severe human, animal and plant health issues with higher and higher electro-magnetic frequencies from the many nearby cell towers and huge 200 feet tall electric masts are hard to escape from.

    But doing something to DIS-connect is better than doing nothing. Is there really such a need for the constant mundane chatter of the social engineering on facebook and other distractions of social media on "smart phones"? Meanwhile our children who live in such an atmosphere are growing up to be ignored, spoiled brats to say the least because parents have abdicated their role and responsibility to raise their children. I've seen parents who spend 10 to 12 hours a day chatting, on their "idol of choice" on social media with their "friends". Just sayin'...

    When family members come over, I have them turn off their "smart" phones and put them in a basket, or leave them in their cars. They are such a distraction, especially at family time. I am rebelling against such addictive distractions that take time away from family and from God.

    Enola your family is very, very blessed to be living such a wonderful life. You are leaving you children a wondrous legacy for generations to come.

    I have a dear, long time friend who is a former elementary school teacher and in her nearby cities, the schools cannot even get substitute teachers to fill in because the kids are totally UN-manageable, A very sad commentary on a nation that has so much but is very UN-grateful. And UN-Godly.

  14. Hello, in reference to ur comment about needing to run the generator to flush the toilet here is an idea. My family and I bought an Amish farm in Ohio and lived offgrid for the last a gear before recently getting grid power. There is a 1000gal. cistern buried in the back yard that I plumbed to the toilet. The water is pumped by a 12v shurflo rv pump hooked up to a 12v battery. I have valves to close of the well water and open up the water from the cistern. Even if u only used a plastic tank outside to catch rainwater for this system in the nonfreezing months this could save ALOT of runtime on the Genny. I could send pics if u like. I would be curious as to how much gas your generator consumes in a month. Good luck