Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Living Off the Grid: “A Process, Not a Microwave Dinner”

5/12/2011 4:48:26 PM

Tags: living off the grid, off the grid, living off the grid in Oklahoma, solar-powered home, solar, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThis is part of a series on Living Off the Grid. If you're off the grid, send us your story. If you dream about living off the grid, read on. 

The way Deb sees it, there are two ways to live off the grid. You could spend a lot of money on a full-blown solar system with a backup generator and all the modern comforts, or you could get by with very little money and focus on living off the land. Deb and her husband, Tommy, are of the second type.

“We left behind a successful business, nice home and all the city sirens in the ever-growing concrete jungle called the Metroplex,” Deb says. “Feeling like the Beverly Hillbillies, we loaded up and moved to the Kiamichi Mountains [in Oklahoma]. Our little 160-acre ranch is right dab center in the Ouachita National Forest with a view of Winding Stair Mountain that is truly soul-inspiring. … It is incredibly beautiful and peaceful.”

Deb and Tommy launched their off-the-grid life with the bare necessities to power their small cabin: one 80-watt solar panel, two 12-volt car batteries and a 1,500-watt inverter. Understanding that everyone they consulted would have a different recommendation for meeting their power needs—and that most of those suggestions were expensive—Deb and Tommy chose to just get started and grow from there. “We are ‘seeders,’” Deb says.

Deb and Tommy’s solar panel powers two lamps, a portable TV with a DVD player, a radio, a water pump for the toilet and a small heat lamp for their baby chicks. Antique oil-burning lamps—which Deb says are “very romantic and even generate a little heat”—provide backup lighting. The couple uses their computer—“an amp hog”—only during peak sunlight hours. Heat, stove and refrigeration run on propane. Because Deb and Tommy don’t have a generator, when the batteries get low, they connect jumper cables to the car for 15 to 20 minutes.

“Water conservation is a given,” Deb says. A 275-gallon tank catches rain water from the cabin roof and supplies all the couple’s water needs except drinking water, which they bring in. They’re in the process of running a line from the well to the cabin.

“With everything we’ve done so far, including building a greenhouse on the side of the cabin, we’ve spent approximately $7,500,” Deb says. The couple has cut more than 200 cedar trees into logs to build a house, and fallen oak trees from the property will be used for flooring. They’ll use recycled trusses and tin roofing from old chicken houses to build a storage shed and workshop. 

“After eight months, we have lots of funny and embarrassing stories to tell, and our marriage couldn’t be better,” Deb says. “We have learned a lot!” Deb advises anyone who’s considering living off the grid to understand that “it’s a process, not a microwave dinner” and that having a Plan A is great, but you should be prepared through Plan Z.

At the end of the day, the minor inconveniences living off the grid are more than worth it. “Sitting on top of our mountain and watching the sunset is the only place we want to be at 5:30,” Deb says. “We can’t wait to explore tomorrow!”

deb cabin 

Deb and Tommy’s small cabin on 160 acres in southeastern Oklahoma is powered by one 80-watt solar panel. 

 deb on porch 

Deb and her dogs love living off the grid. 

deb landscape 

“When I’m heating water over a propane burner to hand wash clothes, this is what I see,” Deb says.



Related Content

Mobile Egg House Breaks New Ground

Made from bamboo, wood and grass seed, this tiny house could be our future.

Living Off Grid - An Average Summer Day

A typical day of activity on a modern homestead and off grid.

It’s Almost Time for the 2009 Solar Decathlon

Student teams prepare to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy hosted, fourth biyearly Solar Deca...

Living Off Grid - Does It Cost More?

A comparison of costs between on grid and off grid utilities for our circumstances.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Melinda
1/18/2013 9:57:09 PM
How great you are.I wish you all the luck.And hope to be able to live that way again one day myself.










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.