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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Off The Grid

Happy New Year! 



Since my very first post on September 7, 2013, Vermont DeadLine has received 224,212 "hits" as of today.  In the right hand column under "DeadLine's Athenaeum" is a list of topics which contain the buzz word for the 228 posts (to date) that I have written.  Also, check out the rotating world on the same side.  It is fascinating to see that people from all over the world have visited this site!    Thank you for your support, and I hope you continue to drop by in the coming year. 


Today's post is about Living "off the grid".  This is a lifestyle choice, in which one truly unplugs from their dependency on traditional energy sources.  It is a means of becoming self-sufficient without relying on public utilities or municipal [water/sewer/electric] supplies.  The advantages of this lifestyle are multiple as you consider the money that you save and your contribution to the reduction of the notorious carbon footprint.  (Links to external websites will appear in purple).


image credit: motherearthnews
This way of life, is not for everyone, because it can be a lot of hard work; however, as I have said, for those who do chose this lifestyle, it can mean that they leave their dependency on energy on the proverbial doorstep.  Fortunately for us, there is an overwhelming wealth of information available for anyone who is considering this change, or even if you are thinking about ways to go "green".   We are recycling and reusing more, and upcycling is now a huge trend. 


The "Tiny House" movement is also alive and growing, with a television show dedicated to individuals and couples who want to go "small".  It is an interesting study and you can read about how to do it, here: concept.


For less than $7,500.00, Lowe's can sell you this tiny house.
For a measly $3K, you can also buy this at Lowes.
When you think of it, living off the grid, or the tiny house life style is almost like permanently camping. 

These tiny houses are often mobile, so you can hook your vehicle to it and travel any where you wish!  As an alternative to a gas-guzzling RV,  you will make a statement rolling into any town.   I like to think of the tiny houses as kind of a gypsy caravan!


image credit: trib.com
Another term that we are hearing today is "homesteading".  Currently, there are several television programs showcasing people (mostly in Alaska) who are true home-steaders.  You have probably seen at least one of them.   wikipedia provides this definition: 

 "Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craft work for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. Use of the term in the United States dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before."

If you chose to be stationary for any length of time, there are important decisions that must be made.  If your goal is to become independent of your reliance of public utilities (such as water, sewer, natural gas and/or electricity), then you must consider the many options and consequences of living off the grid.  You would be responsible for complete self sufficiency, and a complete life-style change. 




Here is a list of questions and answers that I have compiled, if you are considering moving to off the grid living.  I have provided many links to the answers from the most reliable sources I could find (and relying very heavily on offthegridnews.com): 


How will you heat your home?  One of the most common ways the off-gridders choose, is to burn wood.  One must be responsible for cutting, stacking and hauling their own wood.  Here is something I didn't know, from tinyhousedesign.com:

"Burning wood is actually a carbon neutral way of heating a home. When a tree grows it absorbs carbon. When we burn it it releases that same carbon. If we use a highly efficient wood stove in a small living space we can actually get through the winters with little environmental impact and effort. The problem with burning wood for heating a large home is that it would take acres of trees to make it sustainable. Heating a small home requires less energy input which in turn reduces the cost, impact, and effort needed to stay warm in winter."


If you are truly off the grid, you must locate and haul your own water into your home if you have not figured out a way to have it pumped indoors. 


image credit: offthegridnews.com
Which brings up another very important topic, as we are civilized humans:  

How and where do you go to the bathroom?  

Will you have an outhouse or an indoor toilet?  There are interesting options such as utilizing composting toilets.  

And.... how will you properly dispose of the waste?

offthegrid.net explains how to construct a small sewer system here

Do you want to generate your own electricity? 

offthegridnews.com offers 4 options here.  



Do you want to become self-sufficient in the sense that you would raise your own livestock - to sell and for your own consumption - or both?  I know that people frequently purchase chickens because they are a multi-purpose beast.  

They are raised to maturity, produce eggs to eat and/or sell, and then slaughtered for food.  There is no cost to reproducing them, so you can maintain a rather economic plan.  


Image credit: Activist Post
Other than chickens, there are many other options such as raising goats, cows, pigs, ducks and so on.  

I have neighbors who have young children and raise chickens and ducks right in their back yard, here in the "city".  The parents encourage this, as the children all participate in their keeping.  They all are rewarded with an education, as it teaches them about self sufficiency.  

Fortunately, there is a ton of information available online, here are a few helpful links:

Livestock

Chickens for meat and eggs

Livestock

Raising animals for milk

Chickens


Image credit: theprairiehomestead
Will you grow your own vegetables to can?  

How and where will you store your goods?  More great links:

Survival gardening

Growing vegetables indoors

Preserving vegetables

Winter vegetables



image credit: homesteadfocus.com
Before the days of modern refrigeration, a root cellar was necessary to keep vegetables such as  carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and other root vegetables fresh throughout winter months.  The Farmer's Almanac has a great "how to" which you can read here


image credit: offthegridnews.com
How do you plan to light your home?  Will you use candles or kerosene lanterns?

Of course there are safety concerns when using either candles or kerosene, so placement of these items should be scrutinized.   Off The Grid News.com has a great article for making your own survival candles here


image credit: Giphy
Will you consider alternative energy such as the utilization of solar panels or a wind turbine, or even a hydro ?  thomasnet.com gives some great options here

If you decide that you leaving the working world behind, but own land, how will you pay your taxes?  
Your survival concerns the root of all evil, as everyone still needs some money to stay alive.  

Farm stands - selling vegetables, canned fruit and vegetables, jams and jellies, home-made candles. 


image credit: pinterest
Real self-sufficient off-the-gridders may want to consider bee-keeping as a means to produce honey and beeswax to make their own products to use personally or to sell.  

offgridworld.com lists some ways in which you could make money and still maintain your off the grid status.   And here is another link providing earning potential from offthegridnews.com. 

Helpful and Informative Links:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/

http://www.offthegridnews.com/

http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/how-to-move-yourself-off-the-grid/

http://rurallivingtoday.com/sustainable-living/want-grid-living-can/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/going-going-gone-off-grid-zbcz1409

https://homesteading.com/homesteading-skills-every-homesteader-should-know/

http://www.theeasyhomestead.com/what-is-homesteading/


http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/homesteading