Off-Grid Achievements

With a plot of land and a lot of sweat equity, this practiced off-gridder has surprised even herself with what she’s been able to build.


house
The author built an A-frame shelter to host temporary renters.
Photo by Zak Suhar

In the fall of 2019, I stumbled across an affordable plot of land in Passadumkeag, Maine. My offer was accepted, and I paid cash. A Maine winter was on its way, and I couldn’t break ground right away. So, I waited. But at the beginning of 2020, we were warned about the novel coronavirus. Panic reached all corners of the Earth. People were laid off from their jobs, including me. I began collecting unemployment. Food and essential items were in a shortage. It felt like the end of the world, but for me, it was also the start of something new. I moved onto my property and began to work the land.

This is my eighth consecutive year of living off-grid, and I’ve interned with established off-gridders and learned their ways. But, with my newfound plot of land, I was the one in charge. And this time, the land I’d purchased was able to tell me how to work it to live in harmony with wildlife.

The land was initially raw and vacant. About a decade ago, it was logged, so when I first arrived, it was full of new growth, and it glittered with wild blackberries and raspberries. My vision was to cultivate a beautiful mixture of wild edibles and a decorated garden.

Initially, I had just enough room to pull my vehicle off to the side of the road. I hiked in and found a clearing big enough to pitch two tents. One was for sleeping, and the other was to store my hand tools out of the elements. I began clearing a driveway. The trees were no more than 4 inches around, which made hand-felling them much easier. After just three days of hard work, I had a driveway that was about 100 yards long.



For more permanent shelter, I started searching for affordable builds. Lumber prices skyrocketed during the pandemic, which made my search for affordable permanent-shelter building materials more difficult. However, I came across an adorable A-frame in Microshelters by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen. I found the plans for this A-frame on Diedricksen’s blog
(Relax Shacks), and then I gathered building materials. This was my first solo build, and Derek kindly responded to my emailed questions on how to begin building. Within a few weeks, I erected my very first cabin on my property.

bed
Photo by Zak Suhar

I built the A-frame for just under $900. The door I found on the side of the road, and the windows in the clearance aisle at a building materials store. It was almost as if this build was meant for me. I used social media to showcase my builds and share my truths about how one woman can turn her dreams into reality. I’m glad I did; the project generated a lot of interest among people following my journey. I realized how much I could inspire others, and that in turn inspired me to keep pushing.

DocMarg
8/11/2021 4:22:42 PM

Awesome! If only I were younger...






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