Vermont off the grid
When Paula and Matt learned that running a utility line to their rural Vermont home would cost the same as buying solar panels, they never hesitated. Now they're living the good life, off the grid.
Liza Fleischer was a suburbanite through and through when she met her husband, Ted, who she says was "born 100 years too late." Now they live in a solar- and hydro-powered hand-built home on 160 acres in Vermont--and she loves it.
Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.
How we avoid most clutter but manage to keep good leftover products for future use.
A comparison of costs between on grid and off grid utilities for our circumstances.
A typical day of activity on a modern homestead and off grid.
Things that occur when switching from summer to winter mode. Fall is almost non existent.
Going off the grid offers complete energy independence — no utility bills, no grid outages, ever — but it takes some effort, and you will need to learn how to conserve energy.
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
A short simple explanation of how to project your electrical needs in order to size your electrical off grid system.
Things to look for in your soil before you break ground on your new home or cabin.
How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
A description about something unique - a wood burning masonry kitchen stove.
Success at growing food at the 4200' elevation and some of the challenges.
A description and pictures of a tornado force winds in Washington State in 2012.
What it is like to live higher up.
Fun facts about our first year of blogging for Mother Earth News.
A brief description of our experiences with solar tubes in our off grid home.
Some of the downside of free ranging your chickens.
When we moved into the country, we had no idea that small critters would be such a nuisance.
How we have adapted from salt water fishing to freshwater and what we do with our catch.
Design features we incorporated into our new off grid home.
A quick look at different ways to be sustainable whether you are off grid or not.
A brief description of our experience with a masonry heater.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
Two easy steps to reduce your electrical use whether you live off grid or not.
This blog is about all of the choices we have for the type of home we want for off grid living and some of the construction materials involved. It turns out there are a multitude of options we have to choose from.
Things you can do to prevent fire damage to your home from an external source.
This post is about our water cisterns and what we use them for. It also contains a caution that many local governments would like to tell you what you can and can't do with rainwater.
Tips on how to keep water away from your home and water damage prevention.
A short history of my own horse riding adventures.
This blog is an introduction to how we went from a condominium lifestyle to off grid modern homesteading in the mountains. It also includes an explanation of the meaning of "off grid".
An article about when the best time is to start a new homestead.
Blog post number 17: Jeff solves the problem of how to use higher-efficiency D/C power for long run-time loads, while using some A/C appliances as well.
This is the last of a series in home and energy options available to us. It is a short summary of all of the choices we have when designing a new home on or off grid that will benefit your energy use.
Deb and Tommy have spent just $7,500 to set up their off-the-grid homestead in Oklahoma's Kiamichi Mountains, which relies on one 80-watt solar panel for power. As they learn more, they will continue to build their systems.
These are the first steps we took to make the change from city living to off grid living. It describes the questions you should ask before you buy property and the research required to make sure you can do want you want with your property.
If you want to live independently, it's always good to have backup because no one else is coming to the rescue. This is how we did it.
After a wildfire destroyed their off-the-grid compound in Colorado, Betty and Rolland rebuilt—better than before—following Rolland’s creed: no plywood, no plastic and nothing that smells bad when it burns. The wildlife around their home approve.
Lack of interest threatens ClimateSmart, a program that helps PG&E customers in California offset their carbon emissions, is about to be cut.
Details on a cool new carbon offset program from Volkswagen.
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
Instead of throwing out that empty feedbag, get creative and turn it into something new! Homesteader Ed Essex shares ideas for finding new uses for old objects.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
Each year we learn more and more about living off grid and homesteading. These are just a few of the third-year experiences we wanted to share.
The documentary film “Beyond Off-Grid” is nearing completion and includes a dozen specialists across the United States living self-reliant lifestyles.
Learning to appreciate seasonal differences.
The benefits of limited lighting and no electricity.
Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
Cam describes a recent adventure involving round bales, train tracks and a stressful drive home.
Sharing our first experience with an indoor/outdoor vertical hydroponic garden.
Developing a sense of place by shaping and stewarding the landscape.
This article does not get into home biogas gas yields or what biogas can be used for, but it is a basic introduction to the five necessary conditions for how to make biogas at home to get you started.
Expense checklist for anyone wanting to plan a new homestead.
The cost to install and operate our solar electrical system.
Cam shares some of the things he is grateful for....
What's the most efficient way to boil water?
Technology allows us to live where we live, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with!
Sometimes being off grid doesn't necessarily mean that you're green.
Cam discusses the decision to go off-grid or on-grid and shares his experience with batteries and the dangers of high winds to solar panels.
We look for materials bargains while devising a way to pay for it all.
Unforgettable Fire's Kimberly and Katydid wood stoves are heating solutions for any and all spaces.
Kate and Jeff are building their off-the-grid dream near Taos, New Mexico. As they build themselves a small straw bale house and make do with a few solar panels, they're realizing how little they really need.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
Options for phone service if you live in a remote location that doesn't have cell service or landlines available to you.
Sue McKay Miller divested herself of nearly everything she owned and moved into a yurt in the wilderness to determine how much she really needs to live a satisfying life. Turns out, she really doesn't need much.
In this blog we share someone else's story about old fashioned home made ingenuity concerning deep well pumps that operate without electricity.
How we stay busy in the winter even though we live at 4200', three miles off the road, and somewhat isolated.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
How and why we chose to have a livestock guardian dog and what they are like.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
How to make insulated shades at home.
Our first experience as a vendor or spectator at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA
How to make your OWN insulated window coverings.
A snapshot of winter life living remote and off grid.
Costs associated with providing your own water.
Things we have done to earn an income from home in a down economy.
Things we did to make our new home more sustainable.
Short stories about our chicken experiences
After the snow leaves to do list for us.
Our take on the positive and negative points of insulated concrete forms.
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
Tips for snow removal around your house and down the road.
Where we have chosen to draw the line between convenience and sustainability - for now.
Sustainsia’s compact, green-built work pod could solve my office needs.
When a fire destroyed their home and office near San Luis Obispo, Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper seized the opportunity to build the off-the-grid straw bale home of their dreams. Their comfortable compound now houses two other families as well.
Michael Funk's 6,000-square-foot off-the-grid home and retreat center on 1,200 acres in the Sierra Nevadas is an heirloom, handbuilt with reverence for the spectacle that surrounds it. He hopes it will inspire every visitor to preserve the paradise.
A look back at how we’ve become addicted to electricity and its conveniences since the Great Depression.
How did Victoria Redhed Miller and husband David end up living on an off-grid homestead in the foothills of Washington State's Olympic mountains? Grid? What grid? Electricity was something one took for granted; it came from those outlets on the walls. I was hardly aware of it except during one of the infrequent power outages.
Learn about our experience attending a Mother Earth News Fair as an exhibitor.
An upcoming inspirational documentary, “Beyond Off-Grid,” that strives to motivate people to return to the old paths, includes self-sufficiency experts from around the country. A MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog prompted the producer to contact us.
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.
The generators we use for living off the grid and a multitude of other tasks.
Ed and Bruce compare the weather and its impact on their mountain homesteads at different elevations and mountain ranges.
Cam looks back at the challenges of moving to his off-grid home.
Mountain homesteading in a remote area.
Using snowshoes to keep our paths and trails open as the snow piles up.
Tips to help you get started planning your very own homestead. With proper planning you don't have to be experienced to do it right.
Darning socks is a simple thing to do - and a statement for self-sufficiency!
Why manual water pumps are making a comeback and how to select the right type for a homestead.
Cam describes the benefits of writing this blog and his recent book.
Our experiences in learning to pressure can and use reusable canning lids.
A typical winter morning chore - cleaning off the solar panels.
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
again, rushing to beat the weather as we close in our finishing our hand-built cabin
Real life experiences with chickens spanning a 50 year period.
The difference between power and energy and how it relates to toast!
An amazing, off-the-grid Welsh hobbit house was built in less than four months and for less than $5,000.
Cyndee and Tony love being in control of their own power and never having to worry about rate increases and outages in south-central Colorado. Solar panels, a wind turbine and a wood-fired boiler keep them plenty warm and happy.
Since they built their solar- and wind-powered cordwood home in Desboro, Ontario, Lisa and Ray Racicot have never looked back. The only thing they'll do differently next time is install the renewable energy systems first, to power the construction.
This part of the series deals with window size and location, ceiling heights, eave length, and other design and passive design choices you can make for your new home. These choices apply whether you are on or off the grid.
Here are a few ways to know if a business is supporting green practices or not. Green practices are increasingly more and more important as companies increase and continue to have a large impact on the environment.
Tell us what you think. If you installed a wind turbine or solar-electric panels, would you want to be tied to the electric grid, or would you rather have a grid-independent system?
Rhode Island plans to install large wind far off it's Atlantic Ocean shore.
Today's a great day to follow our tips for creating a home office that's easy on you and light on the planet.
A roof is a wonderful thing to have!
Who knew that making a soda so delicious was so darn easy?! This office experiment is our most rewarding yet. I mean, Marlin is cool with his aquaponic system and all, but I definitely don’t want to drink fish water. (See aquaponic blog.) Our ginger beer is so refreshing, surprisingly effervescent and just plain awesome! So you’d like to know how to make it yourself, right? Well, I will gladly share the steps and recipe with you.
A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.
Cam contemplates the amount of energy that goes into our food production and shows how he prepared corn for freezing the zero carbon way!
An introduction to Cam Mather's off-grid home and lifestyle.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
This initial blog post tells the story of how Phillip Vannini became interested in off-grid living and how he began — together with Jonathan Taggart — to do research on the off-grid lifestyle in Canada.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
In this blog post we describe the choices we made in producing and editing our film, "Life Off Grid."
As Offlining urges cyborgs to turn off their Blackberries, Neo-Luddites question technology's exponential encroachment on our lives.
Use old jars to make these cute, inexpensive candle lanterns--for a fraction of what you'd pay if you bought them at the store.
Amid rising gas prices, some people think offshore drilling in America is the answer, but is it worth it? Also, read an opinion piece by Mark Weisbrot.
On Sept. 30, the offshore drilling moratorium expired, and the energy battle between the Democrats and Republicans began.
How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future.
Ode to our hand saw...why we choose to live without power, and what we've accomplished by hand.
Your local county extension office can answer questions on gardening, livestock, poultry, crops, garden pests and more.
A strong partnership between Cascades and Office Depot to deliver on customer need for softness and strength while significantly reducing total environmental impact.
Vermont Peanut Butter has an excellent grass roots feel, a very colorful and fun look, in addition to a product that is probably found in 9 out of 10 homes.
Choosing the business model for Bob-White Systems micro dairy.
Clearing overgrown land can be a daunting task. Choose the right tool for the job and it can be a breeze! Here are 5 of my favorites that make clearing overgrown land satisfying and fun!
The first in a series of weekly postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont for a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.
Cam loves sharing his homesteading skills in Hands-On Workshops at his off-grid home.
Cam & Michelle recently enjoyed a visit from an ethnographer who is studying off-gridders.
We finally build somthing!
The thrill continues living in our handmade house.
Rancho Margot in Costa Rica is completely off the grid and constantly closing the circle. Nothing is wasted on this self-sufficient ranch, where everything is considered a resource--including methane from the compost ovens.
We haul our water from the river - walking water!
Announcing an opportunity to get Anna's new Ebook for free today at Amazon on the subject of homesteading in a mobile home otherwise known as a trailer.
Making the most of a winter walk to home.
At the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Wash, I listened to lecturers cover topics from re-newable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening, simple living, and citizen solidarity building. While I listened, I pondered ways to weave these powerful themes into our children's lives.
University of Maine leads the United States in clean-energy technology, thanks to the development of a grid-connected wind turbine off the coast of Maine.
In light of the environmental, economic and other damage caused by the Gulf oil spill, has your opinion about increased domestic drilling changed? Yes or no, we want to hear your thoughts on the topic.
An explosion at a British Petroleum oil rig has caused a massive and growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Lousiana coast. Here is an account of where the spill stands at the moment.
Hundreds of Gulf Coast oil spill workers have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms related to oil exposure. News reports claim that BP is not allowing workers to wear respirators, despite the potential long-term respiratory and neurological consequences workers could face.
Responsible investment secures land for a young organic farmer in Minnesota.
Hmmm - not feeling so well. Was it those chicken wings?
Woodstove sweepstakes winner Ken Newman plans to use his new Vermont Bun Baker to heat both his home and his meals. The Bake, Crackle and Broil Giveaway, sponsored by MOTHER EARTH NEWS, awarded the $3,400 woodstove to Newman earlier this summer.
How a small and inexpensive High Temperature-Short Time pasteurizer could change the dairy industry.
Understanding and effectively executing a breeding program depends on understanding the calving cycle and when and how to dry a cow off in preparation of calving.
Cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, camels and, even, horses have been successfully milked by hand for thousands of years. Though it's an age-old practice, milking a cow by hand is not as easy as it may first appear. It’s best to know what you are getting into before you take on this important farming task.
Cows love routine. The more things stay the same for cows, the safer and more secure they feel. Here is my abbreviated list of best practices for milking a cow, learned over many decades in the barn.
Cows are big, powerful animals, and milking puts you right beside the strong hind legs and feet. If you find yourself with what I call a kicky cow, there are steps you can take to manage the animal.
Your soil can be your best friend or your worst enemy as you prep your garden. Find out what you're up against with one of these three easy methods!
How does induction cooking work? What are the pros and cons? Efficient electric cooking or hidden health risk?
Kinetic log splitters have taken the log-splitter market by storm. But how much do you know about these lightning-fast, hyper-efficient machines? Check out these surprising facts about kinetic log splitters.
It's important to prepare your Micro Dairy or small farm for winter by making small improvements to your facilities. But it's also important to mentally prepare for the dark, cold months.
What do holidays, indoor air quality and global warming have in common?
A big benefit of running the private and FDA-certified Bob-White Systems Dairy Lab is that we get to see what works and what doesn't work to keep milk clean. “Clean," for our purposes, means that it passes Vermont's Tier II Raw Milk Standards, which happen to be some of the most stringent in the country — more stringent than federally regulated pasteurized milk standards. At the lab we perform FDA-certified testing to ensure raw milk producers are compliant with Vermont’s standards.
Finding the right balance between obligations can be a challenge.
We bring power from the array inside the building and put it to work.
Our power system begins to take shape.
Instead of learning new tricks, we devise new ways to do the same old tricks.
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
We settle in for a long winter's work.
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
Jeff and wife Kathy have lived off-grid since 2002. They strive to inform the public about ways to live inexpensively, and to further the principle of sustainability. Visit their website to learn more: www.naturalpower.weebly.com
At last, we construct the foundation.
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
New investment in clean energy reached $243 billion last year, driven by soaring activity in China, offshore wind and European rooftop photovoltaics
Selecting the location for the Bob-White Systems’ micro dairy barn.
Why we chose to build the Bob-White Systems barn we did.
Choosing cows for the Bob-White Systems micro dairy.
One of the oldest CSAs in the country and how they do it.
“The Gourmet Butcher” Cole Ward breaks down the meanings of Kosher, Glatt Kosher, and Halal.
Cow manure is a key indicator of bovine health and well being. After milk, it is the most valuable thing your cows will produce. Micro-dairy expert Steve Judge explains why it pays to get comfortable with cow manure.
Managing the feed regimen for cows in a micro dairy environment is a matter of setting clear goals and understanding what your cows need.
If you’re considering buying a new log splitter, you may have begun to debate whether you want an electric log splitter or a gas-powered model. What’s the difference? DR Power Equipment has some useful insight for you.
Washboard road is often considered a fact of country life. It's uncomfortable, wreaks havoc with your vehicle, and can cause expensive damage. Here's the one simple trick to preventing it almost completely!
High efficiency air source heat pumps are proving their worth for cold climate heating and cooling.
Bucket milkers offer small and micro-dairy farmers affordable and reliable system for milking cows. Here are my basics for how to use a bucket milker on a micro dairy.
How installing a pipeline milking system can help dairy farmers of all sizes make the most of their valuable time.
What you need to think about to prepare your cows, barn, feed and yourself for the cold weather.
Feed and hay management tips to get through winter.
Finding time to make improvements on a small dairy is difficult but making a few improvements as the seasons change can often make a micro dairy or any size small farm more efficient. Here are 7 steps to help you prepare your barn for the cold winter months.
Helping your cows transition from fall to winter can be easy to do. Here are five steps to consider when the cold weather starts settling in.
As farmers, we know the importance of creating a milking environment that is clean and healthy for the animals. In Part 2 of Making Clean Raw Milk, we outline the steps needed to milk your cow or goat in a manner that keeps it clean.
An affordable prototype home helps revitalize a blighted Syracuse, New York, neighborhood--and could be the city home of the future.
Although the well that caused the BP oil spill is now dead, the spill’s effects live on. Debate about oil dispersants, such as Corexit, and concerns regarding the settled oil on the ocean floor that came from Deepwater Horizon continue to grow. To understand how the spill impacted and continues to affect the Gulf of Mexico, MOTHER EARTH NEWS spoke with Ronald J. Kendall, director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Recent approval by the Obama administration of the Massachusetts based Cape Wind project creates the potential for 130 offshore wind turbines, which are predicted to produce up to 468 megawatts of wind power.
Let's stop for a minute and think about what we are doing!
Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power, and that lead is about to get even bigger.
How and why I started using leftover raw milk as a natural soil supplement and fertilizer on my dairy farm.
Why I have never trimmed my cow' nails in 8 years of running a micro dairy. Read on to choose whether you want to be trimming your cows' hooves.
How to define an egg shed? Let’s look at the definition of watershed to give the egg shed concept more shape. A watershed is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as: “The area of land where all of the water that is under it, or drains off of it, goes into the same place”. Based on the definition of a watershed, an egg shed could be defined as: the eggs produced within a certain distance that go to a specific place. That place could be your kitchen.
As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to
expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Nov. 7, 2012, a lease for commercial wind energy development 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.
The term "living off the grid" can be used in different ways, but it means something very specific when you start looking at producing electricity from renewable sources.
Welcome to by blog “City to Country, One Step at a Time.” Here’s how I ended up as a modern homesteader on a little acreage in the Canadian West Coast bush.
If you are growing vegetables, making a few homemade wares here and there ... you are practicing good, old-fashioned homesteading techniques.
If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.
Consumers are intrigued by smart grid technology, but they need a lot more information and better tools before they'll participate.
The beauty and refreshment of our swimming hole are a swell compliment to work and sun of our homestead.
For many homesteaders, taking a job during the winter months to earn extra income is an appealing option. Here are some options to consider if you're looking for off-farm income.
There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.
We have the technology, today, to make our power grid more sustainable, cleaner, more robust and more reliable just by replacing old-fashioned metering with “smart-metering” and agreeing to pay homeowners who generate electricity.
Only 43 percent of Americans know what smart grid technology is, and of those, 70 percent don’t really understand how it works, according to a survey released today.
Experts say that that bathroom and kitchen remodels--once a sure-fire way to move a home for sale--aren't necessarily the ticket anymore. Creating a house that feels homey and welcoming is most important.
We use more water than we need in our homes every day. If you’re curious to know how much water your own home might be wasting, check out this infographic on U.S. residential water consumption from eLocal.com.
To freshen up your home without a major remodel, clean up and invest in lower-cost fixes such as paint, hardware and window coverings.
At the gardens of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, we're preparing to plant sweet potato slips, hardening off transplants, and enjoying an abundance of spring cabbage. Learn tips and tricks for getting your transplants ready for the great outdoors.
A year-long study in Oklahoma found that consumers who used energy-tracking technology and pricing plans that let them analyze their usage can cut their consumption in half.
It's easy to find out what fuels your power comes from using this nifty tool from the EPA.
A stack of cast-iron pans and a chainsaw helmet sum up why these homesteaders do what they do.
Finally! Design experts and contractors say granite and marble have lost their luster. Find beautiful, natural alternatives to that and solutions to other common design mistakes, including dull color pallettes and overused water features.
Outdoor kitchens, dining areas and living rooms are a great way to expand your home's living space. Designers offer advice on how to make the most of the great outdoors--in your own backyard.