Living Off Grid: An Average Summer Day

Reader Contribution by Ed Essex
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We get out of bed about 6:00. I know, you thought we would be up before first light. Well we are in the winter but not in the summer. 6:00 a.m. is a nice average.

While I start the coffee and tea brewing, Laurie heads outside to turn the animals loose and get their breakfast ready.

Laurie then heads for the garden to hand water all of the veggies and I go to the computer for my morning computer chores. I have a routine I follow every day to keep our websites up and running, checking on Google Analytics and our Facebook page.

After that we generally do our household chores. Laurie does the typical inside duties like dusting, vacuum, dishwasher, wash clothes etc, and I head outside to clean. I scrape the “free range” chicken pooh off the concrete and then blow that and the dust off with my gasoline powered leaf blower or just use a broom. Then it is off to bait traps. We keep traps in our barn, garden, and exterior house area. All critters are welcome to live as they please otherwise. Have a raised eyebrow do you? I will explain in detail the thousands of dollars in damage they can do in another blog, just for your education. I’ve already received mine.

The rest of the day could be anything. You just prioritize as issues come up. I could be working on our three mile long access road. Working on our websites. Cutting wood for the winter. Cleaning up the wood cutting mess. Hauling and loading hay for the winter. Maintaining vehicles by replacing fluids and keeping tires inflated etc. Repairing fences, mowing, and weed eating to keep the grass down around the house during fire season. Pumping water and maintaining our solar power system. We do these things seven days a week. There are no weekends except I usually cook a big breakfast on weekends and eat all the things we aren’t supposed to.

Laurie works on the garden(s), taking care of the animals, grooming, watering, feeding, and administering medicine if required. She handles the bill paying, shipping and much of the shopping and household indoor chores. She also helps me outside a lot. She does most of the food prep like canning, freezing, drying etc. She taught me how to do fencing and drive a tractor.

We both cross train. We don’t have a “set in concrete” list of chores. We help each other as needed or just because we feel like it. If she has been cooking a lot I will step in and give her a break. She does the same for me. It works out great.

The thing I would like to stress the most about this lifestyle is that it does require more effort than most other living situations. I have lived in the city in a house on a lot. I have also lived in a condo. Both were easier than living on a modern homestead like we are. I like having a tractor to do the heavy work but just needing a tractor should tell you something about the extra requirements of living as we do. We also own a chainsaw, roto tiller, and snowplow blade. We have a solar power system to maintain and even our own cell phone tower and signal boosters. All of these items require attention in one form or another. They all mean extra work.

One other item to note is that because you are a little more intertwined with Mother Nature in this lifestyle, your needs and responsibilities change as the year progresses. I like it that my winter chores vary from our summer ones.

I’ve read many clever things others have said about why they do it. Why they live this way if you don’t have to. It usually comes with comments about “healthier lifestyle”, “it’s more satisfying “or “I like being independent”.

All of those things are true I guess. I can’t really put my thoughts into words but it has something to do with the above statements and my own personal conviction that we have gone too far in the way of convenient living. As a result our food is lacking in safety and nutrition, we have a national concern over obesity and a multitude of health problems, many of which are avoidable by simply changing our lifestyles. We don’t have all of the answers but I think we are on the right track. I think we are more right than wrong.

Laurie – she just likes it here and enjoys doing the things we do. Hers is a simplified outlook.

When we aren’t working, we are riding our 49cc scooters on the National Forest roads, fishing just down the road, riding horses from our property into the National Forest, hiking directly from our property, panning for gold, and enjoying the local wildlife, our own animals, cooking over a live fire, and just in general – enjoying the outdoors. It’s like taking a vacation in your own backyard.  “You can’t beat that” as Dick Proeneke would often say.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website  and