Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Off-grid living from a woman’s perspective? Lately, I have been shaking my head with a slight upturned grin as I read and listen to “tales from the off-grid life of a woman” — as if we are living on a celestial planet, removed from all civilization, or at least, humanity!
It seems that many tales are arising from this new, so-called “off-grid reality." It has been difficult to find a reliable source for us women to get a fair picture of what to expect. Before I went off-grid, I found myself wondering and asking, what's it like? Can I do it? Is there a disadvantage to being a woman off-grid? Can I survive?
Eight years ago, resources were scarce. But as time continues, media has picked up on the movement to develop its exposure via reality television and other unique media outlets, including YouTube. However, with that said, the floodgates of entertainment versus content have been becoming a issue.
Embellishment, distortion, and a capitalization on everything negative for purposes of captivating the audience have taken precedence. The network's job is to entertain. To feature an off-grid homestead showing us gardening, feeding the chicken, fishing, and taking out compost buckets lacks the thrill and excitement audiences are thirsting for.
So, networks find the “needle in the haystack,” fringe family that has no skills whatsoever yet decided to escape the city and live in a tepee with no running water or electricity. They showcase their struggle and label it as part of the off-grid movement.
Is it reality? No, its fantasia, which for us who live in the actuality of here and now, receive no useful practical feedback to answer the question once again, what's it like to be a woman homesteader living off the grid?
Weeding Through the Homesteading Hype
A lot of what you will experience a woman off-grid will depend on how you set up your homestead. There is no mystery behind living off the grid. You can live “disconnected from the utility power grid” using your own power source and create a home that has just as many perks as a conventional home. You can have the modern bath with a hot shower and flushing toilet if you so choose. You can have a modern kitchen even with appliances that make your job as homemaker easier.
It all comes down to your own personal preference and setup. Each household will vary in style, comforts and convenience. Thus one defining factor that will influence your lifestyle off- grid will be the size of your array, battery bank, and other sources of energy — and how you size your home for its electrical needs.
Although I think much of the off-grid philosophy, I strive to create a life of independence and focus on becoming more of a producer than a consumer. I see the movement evolving as it starts to appeal to a broader populace, particularly those in the urban settings. This demographic doesn’t necessarily want the whole self-sustainable style of living. Yet they strive to be more green and more independent from the resources we are all too often relying on to be there always.
Take, for instance, the abundant homes that are set in urban Americana who are choosing grid-tied systems or even relinquishing the grid and setting up “off-grid” right underneath the power lines!
They have backyard gardens and backyard chickens yet are living in a residential setting. Off-grid life? Indeed! It may not be self-sufficiency all the way, but it is essentially off the grid, even when it's under the grid lines.
Off-Grid And Working
Many women who live off-grid still choose to work outside the home. Off-grid doesn't necessarily mean staying on the homestead to just live off the land. In today's modern, off-grid lifestyle, woman can live in both worlds. A homestead that may be set up to provide free water (spring, well, weep), free electricity (solar, wind hydro), supportive food sources (hunting fishing and gardening) can allow for plenty of time to go off and continue careers.
I personally still work part-time as a registered nurse. Our homestead is set up as sustainably as one can get. And still I have time to work and to play! This will all come down to your own individual arrangement and how you choose to live in this new lifestyle.
What About the Dirt?
Finally in jest, I must indulge in this illusionary tale of how dirty off-grid living is, and as a woman, say that we must make concessions to this dirt-filled world. With a grain of salt I think sources such as YouTube can be very inaccurate and can also embellish certain aspects of this lifestyle. It's very disappointing to see a channel go down this road.
Thus, as a viewer searching for information, one must always take into consideration that many of today's channels are revenue-driven. On our channel, we show real life. It's not exciting, it's not Hollywood, it's not dirt and sackcloth. We harvest wood for the winter, we grow food, hunt, can, compost, raise meat birds, and do fun things like trail run, road bike, paddle the lakes, ski, and explore! That's off-grid? Yes, and that's reality.
Some of you may find yourself having to learn new skills, such as canning, if you want to have a sustainable pantry. Growing your own food or raising meat birds may be new, but skills can always be learned.
It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be burdensome and filthy and that you will have to sacrifice comforts and conveniences.
As a woman I find the skills that I have equip me even more in my life. They empower me and make me feel strong and independent. Media has a habit of depicting some of us woman as pioneers or submissive wives stuck in the past. We are not.
I choose to hunt, cut wood, and garden because I enjoy it. The level of skill you as a woman decide to take on will be your own particular choice.
Off grid as a woman? Dirt, hard mattress, no running water..sacrifice?? Now you know the truth! Tune in and tune out the hype. It's modern day, and its doable!
Starry Hilder and her husband, Mark, live off-grid on a 13-acre self-sustaining homestead in the stunning mountains of Northern Idaho. Unique in their approach to homesteading, they rely on working with nature and utilizing their skills and knowledge with a back-to-basic outlook. From hunting and fishing, to gardening, composting, canning, and trail running, paddling, and hiking, there is never a dull moment on their property. Starry enjoys sharing her journey and all their life skills on their YouTube channel. Read all of Starrys' MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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