off the grid home
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".
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.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
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.
Expense checklist for anyone wanting to plan a new homestead.
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.
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.
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
How we avoid most clutter but manage to keep good leftover products for future use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We look for materials bargains while devising a way to pay for it all.
After the snow leaves to do list for us.
Real life experiences with chickens spanning a 50 year period.
At last, we construct the foundation.
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
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
Today's a great day to follow our tips for creating a home office that's easy on you and light on the planet.
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.
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.
A roof is a wonderful thing to have!
Things we have done to earn an income from home in a down economy.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
Things we did to make our new home more sustainable.
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.
again, rushing to beat the weather as we close in our finishing our hand-built cabin
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.
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.
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.
We finally build somthing!
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.
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.
Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.
Ode to our hand saw...why we choose to live without power, and what we've accomplished by hand.
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.
The Homestead Act of 1862 celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The Homestead National Monument is hosting several activities to recognize this historical event that resulted in millions of self-sufficient homesteaders receiving free land. Learn more and participate!
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
Radical homemaker Karen Keb introduces her new blog, which will cover topics as diverse as baking bread to raising livestock.
A brief description of our experience with a masonry heater.
A short simple explanation of how to project your electrical needs in order to size your electrical off grid system.
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.
Things to look for in your soil before you break ground on your new home or cabin.
Some of the downside of free ranging your chickens.
How we have adapted from salt water fishing to freshwater and what we do with our catch.
What it is like to live higher up.
How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.
Two easy steps to reduce your electrical use whether you live off grid or not.
Things you can do to prevent fire damage to your home from an external source.
A description and pictures of a tornado force winds in Washington State in 2012.
A short history of my own horse riding adventures.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
A quick look at different ways to be sustainable whether you are off grid or not.
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.
Success at growing food at the 4200' elevation and some of the challenges.
Tips on how to keep water away from your home and water damage prevention.
When we moved into the country, we had no idea that small critters would be such a nuisance.
A description about something unique - a wood burning masonry kitchen stove.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
Design features we incorporated into our new off grid home.
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.
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
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.
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.
Do you find yourself spelling out words to others, such as when you are spelling out your last name? Try out our Homesteading Alphabet to keep your listeners on their toes and your homesteader lifestyle a part of your daily routine in a whole new way.
The thrill continues living in our handmade house.
We haul our water from the river - walking water!
Making the most of a winter walk to home.
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.
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.
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 cost to install and operate our solar electrical system.
The benefits of limited lighting and no electricity.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Unforgettable Fire's Kimberly and Katydid wood stoves are heating solutions for any and all spaces.
Cam shares some of the things he is grateful for....
What's the most efficient way to boil water?
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
Technology allows us to live where we live, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with!
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.
Sometimes being off grid doesn't necessarily mean that you're green.
Developing a sense of place by shaping and stewarding the landscape.
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.
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.
Environmental journalist Simran Sethi spends her first night in her new home and reflects on the struggles and triumphs of the journey thus far.
Four months or so after you made wine from summer’s fruit, it’s ready to go into bottles. More meticulous than romantic, the bottling process marks the start of the final wait until the wine is ready to drink.
Tips for snow removal around your house and down the road.
In this blog we share someone else's story about old fashioned home made ingenuity concerning deep well pumps that operate without electricity.
A snapshot of winter life living remote and off grid.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
How to make your OWN insulated window coverings.
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.
How and why we chose to have a livestock guardian dog and what they are like.
Where we have chosen to draw the line between convenience and sustainability - for now.
Short stories about our chicken experiences
Our first experience as a vendor or spectator at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA
Options for phone service if you live in a remote location that doesn't have cell service or landlines available to you.
How to make insulated shades at home.
How we stay busy in the winter even though we live at 4200', three miles off the road, and somewhat isolated.
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.
Costs associated with providing your own water.
Our take on the positive and negative points of insulated concrete forms.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
Be aware: Living sustainably can be hindered by homeowner association rules.
Are you a modern homesteader with pioneering women in your lineage? My great grandmothers were all pioneers, but our lives could not be more different.
Sustainsia’s compact, green-built work pod could solve my office needs.
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.
An introduction to me, a home-schooled 11 year old.
It's time for our third annual call for nominations for outstanding modern homesteaders! Organic gardeners, do-it-yourselfers and general self-sufficient gurus are being sought for the opportunity to be named as one of our 2014 Homesteaders of the Year.
Do you know any modern homesteaders living a self-sufficient lifestyle? We want to know about them! Nominate a family, someone you know or even yourself to become one of our Homesteaders of the Year in 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The difference between power and energy and how it relates to toast!
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
This blog post shares some of The Thyme Garden’s experience with growing hops for over 25 years. It includes history of hops, useful information about hops and how and where to grow them.
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?
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.
Farmer and HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates doesn't need a calling. He’s got plenty of other stuff to keep him busy in his small Missouri town.
Exploring preparing meals of only homegrown food.
Why do we believe that math must be done one workbook page at a time, at the kitchen table? Anyone who’s ever kept chickens can tell you all the math that can be found in the hen house.
Rhode Island plans to install large wind far off it's Atlantic Ocean shore.
Making cheese was nothing like I expected, but in the end, I was successful.
Pick something new to learn this year from Granny Miller’s list of 101 basic homesteading skills.
As the youngest member of a new local food producers and artisans cooperative, 11-year-old Grace is learning business skills while perfecting her artistic talents with homemade jewelry, pot holders and more.
Anyone can brew beer. Part 2 of Homebrewing for Beginners seeks to demystify the process of cooking the wort, fermentation, racking, and bottling.
Anyone can brew beer. The article seeks to demystify the process and help jump start brewing by breaking down the equipment, recipe, and ingredients. This is a 2-part blog post.
Assistant Editor Heidi Hunt checks in with a quick report about Nate Poell's presentation on homebrewing.
The discussion of home birth often revolves around the mother and the newborn baby. This blog post describes the experience through the eyes of the father, and the amazing respect for the family's midwife that came from the day of his son’s birth.
One of my earliest vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our family trip to Alaska, have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted the person I have grown to become.
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.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS is seeking nominations of self-sufficient modern homesteaders for our 2013 Homesteaders of the Year awards.
We learned a long time ago that we couldn’t attract an audience for our magazines unless we gave our readers tools they could use to improve the world personally. A backyard organic garden is the perfect symbol of positive vision and commitment.
When HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania mama Michelle Wire discovered a hidden treasure on her property, she found a new appreciation for her home along with it.
HOMEGROWN blogger Dyan finally spots signs of spring on her Maine dairy farm, from sunrises to newborn goat kids to eggs of every shade. Lovely!
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.
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.
A stack of cast-iron pans and a chainsaw helmet sum up why these homesteaders do what they do.
At the Healthy Homes Conference in Denver today, I heard Home Depot Foundation CEO Fred Wacker say that the nonprofit sector is so far ahead of the profit sector in addressing healthy homes that it’s embarrassing for the profit sector.
I heard Ellen Tohn of Tohn Environmental Strategies say that the government will fund energy-efficiency updates in 1 million homes in the next year, making it paramount that energy workers understand healthy home principles. Poorly done house tightening could trap residents inside with contaminants and create hazards.
And I was pleased to hear health care pioneer Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, put quality housing in the same arena as diet, exercise and public policy as a key to achieving individual health. “If you don’t have healthy housing, I don’t care how many times you push away from the table or how far you walk, you’re not going to be healthy,” he said.
The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up 270 million acres of public domain land for settlement. The Homestead National Monument of America tells the stories of many of the people who claimed land and tried to "prove up" their claim.
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.
HOMEGROWN.org unwraps its 2013 holiday gift guide, featuring lots of homemade presents, as well as a few stocking stuffers for under $20.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants, but have they thought about the wildlife that they will destroy along the way?
Marley Audio Electronics collection, which debuted last week, showcases premium, eco-conscious manufacturing and materials, including hemp.
We are collecting stories from our readers -- their older neighbors or relatives, too -- about self-sufficient homesteading and farming in the early 20th century. Read what we've found, and share your own story from yesteryear for modern homesteaders.
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.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania homesteading mama Michelle takes a young woman under her wing for a first lesson in homemaking.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick recounts a poignant start to lambing season on Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
Western Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares his thoughts on the USDA's once-in-five-years census.
Pennsylvania mama Michelle has finally found a homestead! Get her moving tips on take-back programs, packing mason jars, buying cheap appliances, and more.
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.
Victoria Gazely considers her revitalized 650-square-foot homesteader’s cabin on 7 acres of fertile earth--purchased for $150--a blessing. “I absolutely love living here,” she says.
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.
To freshen up your home without a major remodel, clean up and invest in lower-cost fixes such as paint, hardware and window coverings.
Glimpse a view into the world of cordwood construction. This old-fashioned, natural building technique can inspire you to build an energy-efficient, mortgage-free house of your own.
Doug and Jennie Ostgaard designed and built a photovoltaic system for their home, a project they was completed in six months. DIY photovoltaic solar has many benefits, and they outline a few of them here.
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.
How to make your own homemade deodorant that really works!
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.
Build this portable poultry pen in an afternoon using only simple hand tools. It’s just the right size for a small yard, but you’ll find lots of uses for it around the homestead, too.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares how she built a cheap greenhouse out of mostly scavenged materials - and how you can, too.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce shares 5 things to consider before starting a farmstead—not the least of which being winter.
Get our expert advice on homemade options for laundry soap.
Learn about using the Piteba to press your own homegrown oil.
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.
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.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall to create a barrier along the US-Mexico border. Although the wall will never completely stop illegal immigrants from coming into the country, it will risk the survival of animals and wildlife in the area.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border, despite petitions from the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.
While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.
Since her first house move, MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Cathie Ackroyd, has become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missourian Bryce Oates explains how he and his family survive summer on the farm. Two words: swimming pool.
We call our homestead Sunflower Farm and now we have the sign to show for it!
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.
Mother's Day was this past Sunday, so I felt it was appropriate to share two beautiful birth stories this week that were sent to me from two extraordinary and strong women. This first story, in two parts, is a story about a HBAMC.
My name is Antonette, and I am a new blogger here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Before I can blog my pregnancy journey for you all, I must first do something that has taken six years ... write the birth story of my son Baylin.
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.
The birth story of Baby Oakley from my dear friend Suzann is an important one. Someimes things don't go as planned, but her story goes to show that an empowering birth is about trust, love, support and the power of choice.
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.
On Mother's Day 2011, Brandy went in to labor with her fourth child. She was planning a HBAMC (Home Birth After Multiple C-Sections). She woke up that morning ready to bring her son into this world on her terms. This is Part 2 of her story.
October 6, 2010, at 11:04 am I said the three words I waited over four and a half years to say. I looked in to my newborn daughter’s eyes and said I DID IT! This is the VBAC homebirth story of my daughter Evangélina.
After many weeks of prodromal labor and a baby who kept momma on the edge by constantly changing position, Suzanne goes into labor with Baby O in a posterior position. Read Part 2 of Oakley's Birth Story.
I recently received a copy of the new book and pregnancy journal Sacred Pregnancy from author Anni Daulter. I was thrilled when Anni agreed to guest post this week for the blog on what makes a Sacred Pregnancy.
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.