Back when I was in my twenties, I stumbled across a book called ‘Homestead’ by Jane Kirkpatrick. It is a story of a couple who leave the easy city life to homestead out in the Oregon wilderness. Instead of being horrified by the struggles, heartbreaks, tragedies, challenges, HARD physical work (yuck) and rattlesnakes they encountered, I was fascinated. Completely fascinated. So much so that I read this book several more times through the years. Their story planted a seed in me that lay dormant for a long time. It honestly never occurred to me that I might actually one day do something (crazy) like that myself. I hate hard physical work, I mean, rattlesnakes so…. no thanks. But lo and behold, two decades later I find myself in a similar situation, as much to my surprise as anyone else’s.
Yes, it’s been a struggle at times. Yes there is a LOT of demanding physical work. And challenges and heartbreaks. (But no snakes! Ha ha! Thank goodness.) There has also been a bit of mild griping along the way but that’s to be expected. I am a born and bred city girl who is used to modern conveniences, ease and comfort, but not much in the way of manual labor, unless you count working out at the gym. Yet, even with all the mild, occasional griping, there are things I LOVE about being off grid. So, you want to know what that long-dormant seed blossomed into? Well, let me tell you about the good stuff.
There are aspects of living off grid that seem so old-fashioned and quaint and cool to me, like: using lanterns; cooking on a wood stove; using a wood stove for heat; less noise; slower-paced, simpler lifestyle; using an old percolator on the stove to make coffee; no television; more talking and game playing; having to go get our water each week from a spring; hard physical work that keeps us ‘young’ and fit and healthy; using a cute little outhouse with the best view in the world (yes, we have real bathrooms but sometime using the outhouse is just fun); big bonfires in the yard; rustic wood house and barn that we built with our own hands; closer to nature; having to work as a team; such satisfaction – if we have water or warmth it’s because we worked for it; learning to appreciate the little water and power you have and not wasting any of it; having people up for dinner and games, talking and laughing; raising our own chickens and having fresh eggs; being outside and getting fresh air a lot; getting to split wood which is one of my favorite things; going to town less and having to be creative and make our own fun; sitting on the porch in rocking chairs in the evenings watching the sun set, going over our day; etc… This way of life seems healthier, calmer, less stressful and surprisingly, better for relationships all around.
We also like the independence, the self-sufficiency and the fact that we spend a lot less money. We own our land, our own place. We love not getting electricity bills or water bills. We’re not dependent on the power company. If our power goes out, we don’t have to wait hours for them to come out and turn it back on. We do it. We are our own power company. We like the privacy and peace and quiet, not being five feet from our next door neighbors. We’re living off the land with gardens, getting our water from a spring and getting our wood from our property.We like being prepared for emergencies or ready for the next Zombie apocalypse (the ‘next’ one? Was there one before?). There is a confidence and security that comes from depending only on yourself. And it’s a nice feeling.
Even though living off grid is definitely more work than living in town, my husband still says, “It’s just easier.” His definition of ‘easier’ must be WAY different than mine, but whatever. I would change that to ‘simpler’. Good, old-fashioned hard work and play time, lots of healthy exercise, close relationships that come from having to work as a team, very little boredom, life not revolving around endless entertainment, so much satisfaction and purpose in everything you do, making peace with yourself and lots of quiet (which is harder than you’d think) and best of all, having your very own barn. How cool is that? Yeah, that little seed blossomed quite nicely into a lovely rose-like plant. It needs some work and extra care but oh, how beautiful it is.
(Article and photos by Penny Dinwiddie)