Who Is Patrick, the Man Behind Off Grid Living News?Nov 04, 2020
Where did Patrick come from and why
should you listen?
In my early childhood my family moved around a lot. Although we lived in numerous different places, it was mostly limited to northern Georgia and south eastern Tennessee. We eventually settled in a house in Chattanooga which is where I spent a great deal of my childhood. The house was very small. I had a brother and two sisters. Neither of my parents graduated high school because they quit in order to help on the family farm. They were the average blue collar parents that worked very hard to provide everything they could. We never really did without anything but we had very limited financial means and the little extras in life were few and far between.
There were two working farms in the family and none of us were strangers to hard work. I often spent months at a time helping on one of the farms. Starting when I was about 5 years old, both of my grandfathers began teaching me how to work the farm. Donning over-sized boots, I trudged through the muck in the barn to help tend livestock. Also at a very young age, my father started teaching me about hiking, camping, and the basics of living in the woods.
As the years passed, I became adept at raising livestock, gardening, foraging for food, hunting, fishing, and home food preservation. We processed and preserved most of the food we produced. We rarely bought meat from the store, only basic dry goods and other essentials. It was a life where you learned to be creative and constantly make the most of the resources at hand. We never really talked about being self sufficient. It was simply the way we lived. In fact, this was the way I lived throughout most of my childhood. I finally stopped helping on the family farm upon entering high school.
THE OLD BARN WHERE I USED TO PLAY AND WORK.
Move to Colorado
While in high school, I decided I wanted to leave Tennessee and see some other part of the country. One year after graduation I moved to Colorado. It was a random choice. I opened up a map of the United States, saw Colorado, and remembered hearing how beautiful it was. I packed up and moved leaving all of my family and friends behind.
I first started working construction, then moved into the computer industry, then the fire department and search and rescue. I spent all of my available time hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, and fishing. To improve my skills, I paid for professional instruction in firearms, climbing, skiing, orienteering, native plant identification, and outdoor survival skills. Many times I ventured off for a weekend alone to practice basic survival skills and foraging. I spent a great deal of my spare time in the outdoors in order to refine my skills in case I ever ended up in a survival situation. I also took small groups of people on hiking and camping trips, which gave me great experience in outdoor leadership.
After about 4 years in Colorado, I purchased a small cabin in the mountains above Boulder. It was perfect for me because wilderness areas, hiking trails, hunting, and fishing were a short distance away. I was tired of living in the city and wanted to spend as much time outdoors as I possibly could. However, several years later, being unsatisfied with my “career” direction, I made the decision to go back to school.
Off to College I Went
I soon found myself working full time and carrying a full load of courses. I had very little free time to enjoy the outdoors. One year into my schooling, I decided I wanted to go to veterinary school. It seemed like a logical choice considering the years of animal related experience in my background. Eight years after that, I graduated with a Doctorate degree and had what I considered to be solid career.
Even though going back to school was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life, there were certainly some after affects of that choice. I sold the cabin, moved to a different city, and had almost no time to enjoy the outdoors. Furthermore, when I graduated, I was neck deep in student loans and credit card debt. I was also in dire need of a new vehicle and had loans payments on that as well. It seemed as if life had become complicated.
My Land Search Begins
My first job out of school was in Arizona. It did not pay very well and I was on-call for the hospital all the time. I was working 60 to 70 hours per week and could not make money fast enough. I felt as if I lived in commuter hell and I longed for the simplicity of the life I had before I went back to school. I did not want to live in the city. I just wanted some acreage, some elbow room, a little peace and quiet, and to be in the mountains again. I wanted a simple, self sufficient existence.
I began searching for some sort of property in Arizona and Colorado but had no idea how I was going to afford such a purchase. I just started saving as much money as I could. Progress was slow.
After being out of school for about a year, I received a random phone call from a long-term friend in Colorado. He had purchased 37 acres of land that was part of a quarter section completely surrounded by National Forest. He told me there was a 46 acre parcel for sale and he thought it was exactly what I’d been looking for. I flew to Colorado, rented a car and drove directly to the property. My friend was correct in his assessment. The land was exactly what I had been wanting for years. It backed up to thousands of acres of National Forest. I could build a cabin and be back in the mountains.
I made the seller an offer, which he declined. He wanted far more money up front than what I had. I was severely disappointed. On my way to visit friends that evening, I was involved in the worse traffic accident of my life. I did not sustain any serious injuries but it took about a week for me to recover. I then returned to Arizona and forgot the whole deal.
My Land Purchase
Six months later I resigned my position in Arizona and returned to Colorado. I was still searching for a property to buy because I could not find affordable land in Arizona. I also missed the mountains in Colorado. Once I returned I asked my friend if that piece of property was still on the market and it was. I had truly fallen in love with that property.
The problem was that I had not been out of school very long, I had students loans, truck payment, and credit card debt. I had very little expendable income. Despite these financial challenges, I met with the seller again and somehow convinced him to sell me the land with an owner carry agreement. I made the purchase under a land contract which meant if I missed even one payment, the land reverted back to the seller.
The challenge for me was that agreement took 90% of my reserve cash. Not to mention the fact that I had just moved back to Colorado and did not even have a job. Fortunately I found one the very next day. However, in my over zealous attitude to purchase my dream property I acted without any forethought and planning, which created a tough financial dilemma. I could not make the land payment and pay rent while I was in the process of building. I was determined to make things work so I move onto the property, which was vacant land. Thus, my adventure began.
But, having no money, I lived in a homemade wall tent for about 5 months.
ONE OF THE VIEWS FROM THE PROPERTY
The Cabin Adventure Begins
Within a couple of weeks I was living in a 200 square foot wall tent which would be my temporary shelter. I started construction on the cabin almost immediately. I had about 5 acres of aspen and 40 acres or so of lodge pole pine. I selectively cut trees and did all logging work by hand in order to preserve the land as much as possible. I hand peeled the logs and notched them using a chainsaw, framing hammer, and wood chisel. Progress was very slow at times due to heavy snow and working outdoors at 10,000 feet elevation. It took about 5 months to build the original structure. I stacked logs by using a 2000 pound, hand operated engine hoist. The logs were stabilized with 12 inch spikes driven in with a 10 pound sledge hammer. After I installed the wood stove for heat, I moved into the cabin on February 1,1997.
NOTCHING THE LOGS
(I apologize for the quality of these photos. They are digital copies of old print photographs. )
INITIAL SUB FLOORING
LOG ROOF FRAMING
I started out using kerosene lanterns and candles for lighting because it was quick, easy, and very inexpensive. Despite using the high grade, so-called “odorless” kerosene, it still smells and takes a little getting used to. Although this method of lighting was sufficient to see in the dark, that is about all it was good for so I had to find alternatives. At the time, solar was still very expensive so this was not an affordable option for me.
Eventually I installed propane into the cabin which enabled me to have a gas cook stove and gas lights. I knew nothing about installing gas lines but after some investigation, I decided that it seemed straight forward. After I did the install, I bribed a client of mine (with steak and beer) that worked for the local gas company to come and do an inspection. After he made some minor adjustments to the cook stove, I was in business. This was a dramatic improvement.
I used these for years and they worked great.
Despite having the gas stove, I utilized the wood stove for cooking as much as possible. I was determined to stretch my resources to the limit simply because I truly had no money and had to make the most of everything. But, I was still happy and loving every minute of it. Although building the log cabin was for me the accomplishment of a dream, all of my friends and family thought I had finally gone over the edge.
It was obvious from the outset that the cabin was too small and I needed a bit more room. The size of the cabin was literally limited by the fact that I built it without using any heavy equipment. There was a limit to the size of logs that I could physically move when working alone. Knowing this, I cut, peeled, and stacked the logs allowing them to dry for almost a year. A seasoned log weighs substantially less than a green one. This meant I could work with logs that were a bit longer and be able to build a sizable addition.
BUILDING OF THE ADDITION
While the logs were drying over the winter, I excavated for a cellar on the North side of the cabin. I built the addition over the top of that, which more than doubled my living space. The cellar gave me cold food storage without the use of electricity and also prevented intrusion from wildlife.
The property was isolated enough that obtaining any kind of amenities would be expensive. Electricity was available for a $30,000 price tag so this was not financially practical. In retrospect, I should have checked into this before the land purchase. But as I stated above, I purchased this property without any forethought and planning. I had no choice but to figure out how to live off the grid. I was tired of living in town, tired of the rat race and just wanted to live a simple life without interference from anyone.
The finished product.
Further Lessons in Off Grid Living
During my first 10 years of being at the property I experimented with numerous things in an attempt to be off the grid and still produce some measure of comfort. I had a very simple gravity fed water system which included a shower that used about 2 gallons of water for bathing. I also had to haul in stream water so I also experimented with water purification methods.
I used the cellar for short and long term food storage. The year round temperature in the cellar was between 35 and 45 degrees fahrenheit. This was perfect for storing home canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables. Left overs from meals could not be stored for very long. My freezer capabilities were only seasonal and consisted of putting meat in a cooler in the storage shed. Anything more invited visitation from the local bears.
Since I had to use the wood stove for heat a good portion of the year, I experimented extensively with cooking off the stove. Consequently I have learned to cook almost anything using the wood stove. Cast iron cookware and Dutch ovens became my best friends. One Thanksgiving, I invited friends over and cooked the entire dinner on top of the wood stove, turkey included.
I was completely committed to the idea of living off the grid. It was difficult at times, and there was not shortage of physical labor. I completely traded a measure of comfort and convenience for the sake of living off the grid and being self sufficient. I learned a great many things during that 10 years. But as you will see, I had many more things to learn.
Sometimes Life Changes Without Your Permission
But, as life would have it, things sometimes change without your permission. I had been away from Tennessee for many years. There had been multiple deaths in the family and I truly felt it was time to go back to the South. It was a very difficult choice to leave the cabin that I had worked so hard to build. I ultimately decided to move back home for awhile in order to spend time with nieces, nephews, and aging family members.
Prior to this decision, I had already established some viable business options in Georgia and South Carolina. The transition was easy and the cabin was at the point that I could leave for awhile and have very little to worry about. Knowing that I would most likely be down South for several years, I decided to purchase a home. Financially it made the most sense to do this instead of paying rent. I purchased a home in South Carolina because it was a good central location for work and provided easy access to most of my family.
Things were going well until about a year after my purchase. The housing bubble burst and the economy across the country was swirling the drain. I saw many people struggling financially, loosing their jobs and homes. I soon found myself once again dealing with a tough financial dilemma. But at least I was able to consistently find work.
After a year of indecision on how to handle my situation, I ultimately decided to hold onto the house and try to pay off the property in Colorado. In 10 years I had managed to pay off 50% of the loan. It would be far easier to try and pay off this property in a short period of time and it seemed like something I could accomplish. For 14 months I worked between 100 and 120 hours per week. I was traveling between Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina making as much money as I could. I was paying two mortgages and financially supporting some other family members that were hit hard by the financial down turn. It was a constant struggle and it seemed as if I never slept.
Fourteen months of working like a mad man, I was so burned out that I absolutely had to take some time off. I politely informed the folks I was working with that I was taking time off and this was not a request.
I took nine weeks off and returned to the cabin for a period of peace and quiet. I spent all of my time there trying to recover from the burn out. However, during that period of time I celebrated by walking into the bank and writing a check to pay off the land mortgage. The young lady at the counter was completely taken by surprise and simply said, “But no one does that.” My reply, “Well, I am about to.” Even though I counted this as a major accomplishment, in the back of my mind I also knew it would be years before I could sell the house without loosing a substantial amount of money. I ultimately decided I would travel back and forth as much as possible.
THE HOUSE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Self Sufficiency In Suburbia
After I returned to South Carolina, I once again settled on the idea of being self sufficient and living as simple as possible. Even though I was in suburbia again, I thought I could make my home self sufficient in certain areas and then rely on the community only for specific things that I could not produce myself. The first thing I did was establish a small stock pile of extra goods just like we did on the farm.
I sectioned off a portion of the backyard for a garden and grew numerous types of vegetables. I built a chicken coup and brought in 6 egg layers. I also raised meat birds which consistently yielded 6 to 7 pounds of meat after butchering. I would butcher about 20 birds at a time. In less than 6 months, I was producing about 50% of my own staple foods and the freezer was constantly full.
THE CHICKENS (AND THE CAT)
I backed this up by purchasing other goods from the farmer’s market, as well as buying beef in bulk from local butchers. I collected free firewood from curb sides after the neighbors would cut trees and pile the wood for the city to haul away. I collected and stored rain water. I did home canning, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and used the spare bedroom as a food storage area. It reminded me of the large walk-in closet at the farm where my grandmother stored the home canned goods and extra supplies. At any given time, we had enough food and basic supplies at the house to last at least 6 months. I felt this was an acceptable level of self sufficiency. Turns out I was right.
Off Grid in the City
After having the house for several years, the area where I lived was hit hard by a major winter storm. It was essentially a disaster zone and reminded me of the aftermath of a tornado. Trees were down everywhere, houses were heavily damaged, and roads were impassable. The electricity went out for 5 days. The temperatures were well below freezing and there was no heat.
Fortunately one of the criteria I had for purchasing a home was that it had to have an alternative source of heat. This particular house had a fire place. We blocked off all doors to the living room by tacking up thick blankets. We moved mattresses onto the floor and kept the fire place going.
The covered porch on the back of the house was turned into an outdoor kitchen. We used the grill and camping stove for cooking. We had all the water and extra food we needed. There was really no reason to leave the house. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of suburbia and living off the grid. For us, it was an easy adaptation because it was nothing new. There was no electricity, no TV, no internet, no cell phone reception. Yet we were happy, warm, well fed, and had all that we needed. After all the time spent at the cabin living off the grid, this just seemed like a camping trip. However, my neighbors would have disagreed.
When I finally left the house after three days to go to the market for something insignificant, it was total chaos. The shelves were nearly bare and people had shopping carts piled high with bread and anything else they could eat that did not require cooking. I simply turned around and went back home. Obviously everyone around me was completely unprepared.
In the aftermath of the storm, there was an enormous amount of clean up work, mostly due to down trees. I went around the neighborhood with my truck and chainsaw and collected firewood as people hauled it to the curb. Several people came out to ask what I was doing. I told them I was collecting firewood for the next time this happened. Most of them thought this was such a funny concept and just went back into their house.
A Change of Mindset
Since I was going to have the house for awhile, I decided to do some home improvements. Many of the projects were new to me (complete kitchen make over) but doing things myself would save me a considerable amount of money. I was quoted $25,000 for the kitchen make over. I completed this myself for less than $5,000.
After making significant improvements, I will have to admit there was a part of me that wanted to work toward paying off the property and setting up a self sufficient lifestyle in the middle of suburbia. I carefully weighed the options of doing this versus selling the house and focusing on improvements at the cabin. After major roof repairs and complete replacement of the heating and air conditioning system, which cost me a total of $8,700, I began to reconsider.
I had tried to be as self sufficient as possible and yet it seemed as if my lifestyle was high maintenance. Something unexpected was always coming up that cost me even more money and this was nothing I could control. I longed for simplicity that always seemed just out of my reach. I wanted to be able to make my own decisions and not have constant interference from others. I did not want to be forced to listen to the opinions of others on how they thought I should be living. As much as I tried, I was not living life on my own terms and that needed to change.
My Intense Desire for More Personal Freedom
Even though I enjoyed many of the things that I had, it seemed as if I never truly had any time for myself. My life was full of time-sucking obligations. I had all the things I needed yet I doubted what I was doing and felt there had to be an easier way. I had this intense desire for more personal freedom and simply wanted to rid myself of the constraints that I had in my life. It seemed to me that many of those constraints were directly related to the life I had set up for myself, as well as the expectations of so many people around me.
One day I sat at the dining room table with a calculator and did a detailed financial analysis of my life. If I paid off the house it would still cost me about $600 to $700 per month to maintain it. I would have to budget for utilities, property taxes, insurance, and routine maintenance and repairs. These were expenses that were never going to go away.
Then I compared this to what I would have at the cabin while living off the grid. I would have no utility bills, very minimal cost for propane (maybe $150/year), I could do all improvements myself and I would be debt free. It felt as if I had a high maintenance, expensive lifestyle when I was really looking for simplicity. Obviously, it was time to cut my losses and downsize.
The Plot for Simplicity
About 5 years after the market crash, I started plotting how I was going to sell the house and move back to the cabin. This would require some careful financial planning and I expected a modest loss on the sell of the house. However, I truly wanted to simplify my life. Although I had made the decision to purchase this house and move for family reasons,those reasons were no longer valid. I had also dreamed of having a second home in a warmer climate thinking it would make my life easier. In the end I felt as if I was living only to work, pay bills, and support an overly inflated standard of living.
Although I was attempting to be as self sufficient as possible, I needed a simpler, much less expensive lifestyle. I wanted to be able to free myself of utility bills, mortgage induced wage slavery, and all other things in my life that just weren’t necessary. I reasoned that if I downsized and freed myself of debt I could live well on less than 50% of my present income. That would mean I could work part time and still have plenty of extra money to continue cabin improvements and truly have a self sufficient homestead.
Cabin Improvements Begin
It took me about a year to come up with the funds to start improvements at the property in Colorado. I needed more living space and decided to build a second cabin. I took a month off and returned to the property to do the foundation work. I met with a carpenter that had agreed to frame and dry in the structure so that it would be protected until I could finish the job myself. After running the figures, it turned out that it would be less expensive for me to pay him to do the initial framing than it would have been for me to take the necessary time off of work, purchase materials and do the job myself.
It was a win-win situation. I could continue to get the house in South Carolina ready to sell while the new cabin was under construction. He gave me an estimate and I paid in cash for the work instead of taking out a loan. Once again, months of hard work and saving money had paid off.
Finally Debt Free
About one year after the new cabin construction was started, I decided it was time to put the house on the market. I took a deep breath and hoped I would not loose a tremendous amount of money. As it turned out, all of the improvements I did resulted in a quick sale. The house was on the market for less than three months.
When the house sold, I lost about $10,000. However, I was completely debt free for the first time since I was 22 years old. Even though I initially lamented over my financial loss, because I had no debt, I was able to work extra over a 6 month period and regain 75% of that loss. I considered this a small price to pay for my personal freedom.
My Downsizing Begins
Once the house was sold, I had to figure out what to do with all of the contents of a 4 bedroom house when I was moving back to a cabin that was about 400 square feet. Downsizing and simplifying was the main reason for the move. I decided to rid myself of all the things I did not need.
When I purchased the house I had managed to furnish it very reasonably. Most of the furniture, and a great many other things, were now excess baggage. I donated about 60% of the contents of the house to a non-profit organization so they could sell those items in their thrift store. The remaining things I kept were construction and gardening tools, dishes, gardening supplies, animal care supplies, and any thing else that would actually have a purpose at the cabin. I needed some things to set up the second cabin so I kept only what I thought I needed.
Unfortunately, I had to get rid of the chickens. They would not be suitable to the much cooler climate in Colorado. They went to some friends of mine that lived down the street. They have a couple of daughters that used to come over the see the chickens all the time. I was happy they went to a nice home.
Upon returning to the cabin property, I felt as if I had an overwhelming amount of work to do. I first tore down the old storage shed and built a larger one to store the extra tools and personal things until I could finish the second cabin. I then insulated and did interior siding in the new cabin. Then I added the deck. At this time, both cabins were wired and ready for electricity. The carpenter I had hired had taken care of that for me.
Complete Solar Overhaul
Obviously, I needed to install a solar array of sufficient size to supply electricity to both cabins. The problem I faced is that I knew essentially nothing about solar design and installation. I only had a very basic “plug-and-play” system that had served me well for years. I had never performed any more than very basic electrical work. Everyone I spoke to about my project repeatedly told me if I had no experience with solar installation that I should never take on such a project myself. But, I had something different in mind and I was determined to learn how to do this myself. After talking to other people that already had solar, I heard about some very steep fees just for installation. I needed to avoid that.
After a bit of internet research, I found a company in Georgia that offered a class on solar design and installation. The cost of the class was a small fraction of the price tag for most things that were offered in Colorado. The class was geared toward preparing someone for an entry level job in the solar industry. Consequently, it was very in-depth. The instructor was a master electrician that had worked in the solar industry for years. It consisted of a 30 hour online class and a one week hands-on workshop including a final exam where you had to score a minimum of 75%. It was exactly what I needed. Oh yes, it took me 6 hours to complete the exam!!
After completion of the class, I spent hours on the internet comparing solar companies, prices, designs, and cost of delivery. I decided to work with a company in Arizona that offered technical support for the life of the system and free delivery for cash purchase. They also assisted me through the entire design process. While going through the design work and awaiting delivery, I was working tons of extra hours to pay for the purchase. I was debt free and wanted to stay that way.
Upon delivery, I piled all the equipment in the new cabin. I was completely overwhelmed. I now had 6 solar panels, 12 batteries, several hundred feet of wiring, and multiple other components. And by the way, I had no instructions. I felt completely lost and resorted to internet research again.
A PILE OF COMPONENTS AND NO INSTRUCTIONS
I decided to break the project down into baby steps. From the class I had taken, I knew the basic concept of the design and the order in which the components fit together. I felt comfortable with the steps needed to connect the array to the battery bank and eventually to the main loads panel that supplied both of the cabins. I just did not have a good understanding of how to do all of the ring. It all looked like a big confusing mess. Furthermore, I was told that there was not mounting system on the market that would handle the snow loads at my location. Therefore, I had no choice but to design and build my own.
After some research, I downloaded instruction manuals, I studied wiring diagrams, contacted product manufactures, consulted with my instructor, and with the design folks at the solar company. In the end, it probably took me three times longer to do the install than it would have for someone with experience. At least now I was familiar with every single component in my system, how and why it functioned, and how to isolate various parts of the system for inspection, maintenance, and replacement if necessary. Once again I had started a major project with no base of knowledge. I learned a tremendous amount in the process and ended up being one step closer to self reliance.
JUST PRIOR TO COMPLETING THE WIRING
I also installed a small array at the bottom for some back up batteries
With the solar array now in place, as well as a high efficiency DC refrigerator and freezer, my next goal was to begin food production. I had all of the equipment and supplies from raising the chickens in South Carolina. I just needed to build a coup. Considering my location in the mountains, it really needed to be a chicken fortress. I had to contend with wildlife that would be intent on having an easy dinner.
One Step Closer to Self Sufficiency
Once the chicken fortress was built I was once again in the business of producing my own meat. With the combination of chickens, hunting and fishing, and trading with friends who hunted as well, I had a freezer full of meat. I was well stocked with chicken, pork, beef, antelope, elk, and venison. I was suppling or producing about 75% of my own meat. Next on the agenda is rabbits.
CHICKEN FORTRESS CONSTRUCTION
With meat production well organized, the next logical step was to have a garden. I have a long history of gardening and growing my own vegetables but had not yet attempted to do this at the cabin. The challenge was that I lived at an elevation of 10,000 feet and the growing season was very short. Not to mention the fact that every critter on the mountain top would love to eat my fresh, delicate vegetables.
And so the research process began. Obviously I needed a green house to extend the growing season but I also had to contend with intermittent high winds. I decided my best option was to build an earth-sheltered green house. I hired someone to do the excavation work on a South facing hillside. I now have a 20 foot by 24 foot pad cut into the hill. The plan is to build a 400 square foot green house. As of this writing, the construction of the green house is the big project planned for summer 2017.
What I Did Wrong
A good portion of my life has been spent working on a farm, gardening, hunting, fishing, butchering and otherwise raising, growing, and preserving my own food. Looking back I see that my life has always been centered around simplicity and self sufficiency. However, like so many other people, I decided I wanted more and I reasoned that there was nothing wrong with that.
Despite my tendency toward a simple life, I also wanted an education, a second home, new vehicles, and a certain amount of material possessions. I wanted to step away from the manner in which I had grown up. But, without even realizing what I was doing, I was reaching for far more than what I truly needed to live well. The end result was an over burdened, complicated life where I had little personal freedom. Although getting a good education was truly one of the best decisions in my adult life, so many things that followed in my life were just not necessary and even detracted from my lifestyle. I could have done things differently.
I was always trying to accomplish more and to have just a little bit more. I was making a great deal of money and spending a great deal of money. Although there were good reasons for purchasing the second home, it brought with it a great deal of financial responsibility. I went to great lengths at that home to be as self sufficient as possible. But I still had the financial responsibility and had to work to support that lifestyle.
In the end, I gave it all up and did what I should have done in the first place. I should have kept a simple, self sufficient lifestyle, carried very little if any debt, and only brought the things into my life that were beneficial in numerous ways beyond the simple material possession.
What I Did Right
First of all, I came to my senses. I changed my mindset.
Although it took some time and a lot of hard work, I paid off the cabin property. This was the first in a series of things to get myself out of debt and greatly simplify my life. Once I unloaded all of my unnecessary material possessions and radically downsized, my life completely changed.
Even though I lost money on selling the house, finally being debt free was an exhilarating experience. In order to get there, it felt as if I were cutting off a much needed appendage. I knew it was what I needed to do but sometimes big changes are painful. I will have to admit, there was a bit of fear involved.
Once I made the decision and actually went through with it, I was free of any major responsibility and could easily make my life into whatever I wanted it to be. I could finally start living life on my own terms. I could now easily live on less than 50% of my previous income. This alone created a situation where I had an enormous amount of free time to utilize however I wanted.
Not having any debt also enabled me to easily raise the extra money needed to continue cabin improvements. It took a couple of months of extra work to generate the funds needed to pay cash for the solar array. The same was true for the cost of finishing the interior of new cabin. I was out of debt and was determined to pay cash for anything else. The good thing is that I could keep a busy schedule for a short time, raise the necessary money, then go back to a more relaxed lifestyle. It was my decision. I was finally living life on my own terms.
How I Can Help
My goal at the cabin has always been very simple: to live off the grid, to live as economically as possible, to be as self-sufficient as possible, and preserve my land in its original state as much as possible. Almost my entire life has been spent learning and practicing basic living skills such as gardening, raising livestock, hunting, fishing, food processing, basic survival skills and anything else that is needed to be self sufficient.
Sometimes I’ve had to go to great lengths to accomplish certain things at the property. Building the log cabin took tremendous dedication and hard physical labor. Learning the masonry skills needed to build foundations, learning how to build a roof structure, learning electrical, all took time. It required a considerable amount of effort to learn about solar design and installation. But, despite all the hard work, this is something I’ve always wanted to do. Being self sufficient and free from the grid may take some extra effort and sometimes it means compromising convenience. But for me it is a better choice than being in a position where someone else makes my decisions for me.
I can now say that I have years of experience living off the grid and finding ways to function well while using minimal resources. There have been numerous times that I’ve spent hours doing research, reading books, and consulting with others in order to gain the skill and knowledge I needed to accomplish specific tasks. I’ve even invested a considerable amount in professional instruction to gain such knowledge. I have often found it difficult to find appropriate, in-depth information for what I needed to do. It was even more difficult to find someone that had done it before.
If living off the grid and being self sufficient is something you desire, I would like to share that knowledge with you and prove it is possible to live off the grid and still have a very comfortable life. I would also like to share my grand successes and abysmal failures so that you may learn from my experiences. Learning from someone with experience can save you countless hours of research and frustration trying to find a simple answer to a problem.
If living off the grid is not your goal, then l would like to give you the skills to be self sufficient even if you live in an urban area. I have done both. It is possible to make your present home completely ready to go off the grid if necessary. Perhaps this is a concept that far more people would be comfortable with as opposed to the pure off-grid lifestyle. Simply being ready to go off the grid would give you a bit of personal security and peace of mind. You would definitely have more control over your life.
More and more people are realizing that much of our lives are governed by a consumer driven culture that keeps us spending money. This type of culture is dependent on all of us staying in debt. This type of culture is also dependent on perpetual growth, which is not sustainable. There has to be a better way and I am here to tell you that there is.
One misconception that I deal with is that people frequently think that off-gridders are anti-Capitalists, anti-government, or anti-social. The simple fact is that most people that live off the grid aren’t anti-anything. If anything at all, we are post-consumers, not anti-consumers. We are just looking for a sustainable way of life. I also believe there is a general loss of trust in our government to perform it most basic function, which is to take care of the people. I feel this makes people nervous and produces a lack of confidence in our society. Well, I can give you a great way to counteract that lack of confidence.
I would highly recommend that you learn how to take care of yourself. Learn how to be self sufficient. Learn how to manage a good portion of your own resources. I can help you do that.
In the end, perhaps the real justification for going off the grid are the internal benefits you derive as an individual or family. You have to be a critical thinker, a problem solver. You are ultimately responsible for everything you do and everything you don’t do.
If you would like to have a self sufficient lifestyle, produce a little more security, and have a lot more control over your life, then learn to live off the grid and be self sufficient.
Go off-grid and live well,
A Persian poet once said, “When setting out on a long journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home.”
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