Ed Essex – Off-the-Grid-Living Expert
Place of Residence: My wife Laurie and I live 2.5 miles from the nearest paved road on 40 acres at an elevation of 4200 feet. Our land consists of natural grass open areas, a little sagebrush, and a healthy stand of Ponderosa Pine with a few scattered Douglas Fir and Tamarack thrown in. Our home and barn are also occupied by two cats, an Anatolian Shepherd, two horses and nine free range chickens. We can access the National Forest from our property. There are 5 fishing lakes within 10 miles. Paradise? It is for us. Others think we are “nuts”.
Occupation: I worked for 15 years in the retail grocery business. Had to “make it on my own” first before I went to work in the family commercial construction business. I’ve worked as a laborer, project manager, general manager, and owner for the family business and others. In 2004 I started a successful commercial masonry business until the economic downturn hit. It didn’t just slow down for us, it ended completely. There were no more buildings to build. Laurie and I decided it was “now or never”, packed everything we owned and headed for our 40 acres in eastern Washington.
Background: In 2010 I left the commercial construction industry after 27 years to build a new home off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington State and operate our new website: goodideasforlife. I work part time to help us get by while the website continues to build a larger customer base. It takes time. Eventually, it is our goal to rely on the website for 100 percent of our income. We own and use most of the products we sell. It’s hard to put our site into a particular category. I think it is best described in the About Us section.
Personal History: Remember the movie that came out in the early 1980’s called the Wilderness Family? I nearly wore the rental tape out. I finally went to the Library and checked on the Homestead Act. It turns out I had missed the last year of it by just one year or I may have been writing to you from Alaska. I became busy with raising a family and working full time (and more) in the construction industry and kind of lost track of what I had always wanted to do – homestead, at least homesteading on my terms. I wasn’t interested in living in a tepee or yurt, although there is nothing wrong with that, but I did want to work the land, raise my own food, and breathe fresh air every day. Become a little more independent. It has taken us a while but we are finally in that place. I know people who are more sustainable and independent than we are but we all have to land where we are comfortable and I know there is a marked difference from where we came from and where we are today and that is something that we can build on.
Current Projects: We just finished the insulated raised bed/cold frame/mini greenhouse. Now we are growing starts of cold weather vegetables inside the house using products we sell on the website, and as soon as they are ready we are going to plant them outside and see if we can truly grow vegetables outside all year long!