Off-Grid, Organic and Old School

Reader Contribution by Rd Copeland
1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

I won’t tell you How-To get there, but I’ll show you how I did it. Use the knowledge and experiences of others who live off-grid, garden organically, build naturally, and live a sustainable life. Then, get some chickens, build a shelter, hook up your own wind, solar and battery power, and find your niche in a whole new world. You can live like a boss on your own devices in a place you call your own. If I can do it folks, it ain’t rocket surgery. Check it out… Find Some Land, Buy it, Stake Your Claim: Find 5 Acres of land and buy it. More if you can afford it. Land is expensive but the price hardly ever goes down, and you’ll discover ways to earn a living off the land you’d never learn living in an apartment, next door to neighbors you hardly know, with a view of an old Ford Torino up on blocks and two dumpsters. Including myself, there are at least a half dozen speakers here at this fair who will tell you how you can “Make a Living on 5 Acres” and folks, we aren’t kidding around. Books, videos and classes today on this very subject are in circulation everywhere, especially here. Reduce your carbon footprint, conserve electricity, water and save every penny you can. Train yourself to be frugal, don’t waste ANY food, start a compost pile.

Educate Yourself: Seek out the vast databases of knowledge online, 1000’s of books and magazines, attend fairs like this one, listen to Ted Talks, watch documentaries and videos, and write down everything Joel Salatin says. Everything.

Jessi Bloom can show you how to create a Practical Permaculture paradise, and she’s here today, books in tow. Dan Chiras knows everything about solar power. He literally wrote the book on it. Get one and study up.

Come to the DIY Showcase, sponsored by our host, Mother Earth News, just outside this old roping arena, and we’ll show you how to set up a starter camp, with a 20 year old camper trailer given it’s own power source, solar water heater, chicken feeders, and more. SECRET!: We’re gonna feed as many of you as we can with Yard-Food including The Sunflower Farm’s all-natural, grass-fed beef, my friends Charlie and Laura of Shine’s Farm Stand, brought organic veggies and bread, all cooked with the cultural influences of the Southwest, and possibly Far East.

Produce Your Own Food

Commit to growing your own food, cooking it, preserving it, and staying away from processed foods.

All-natural, organic vegetables, and pastured and grass-fed meats are in high demand. The supply of “Yard Food” is so far below the demand, if you had 500 acres in production you’d still be running behind. Organic vegetable sales have increased on average 10 percent every year for the past 10 years.

Pastured chickens and eggs… You can’t raise too many. In Wichita Falls there’s a food share group of around 100 people who purchase $1,000 to $1,500 in locally farmed groceries every week. The group is usually in short supply of either eggs, or milk and cream, grass-fed beef, veggies and forget about pastured pork unless you had your order in a month ago. If they had two dozen, dozen more eggs today, they’d all be sold. 

Let’s do some math: $4 per dozen X 24 dozen = $96. $96 X 52 weeks = you just put Five Grand in the bank for the year. $5,000 selling eggs. 

How many chickens would that take? 50 hens should just about do it. With a 90% daily laying rate, you’d have 25-26 dozen every week. Joel says: You need a chicken tractor or mobile coop. I made a coop from plywood, landscape timbers, two-by-fours, and reclaimed roofing tin. My chicken tractor resembles a ‘70’s 20 ft. travel trailer, because that’s what it is. Or was. It’ll be all tricked out for chickens this spring. Now we’re up and running, and I promise you, there’s a food co-op, CSA, neighborhood group, or local restaurant who’ll buy every dozen eggs you can get into a carton. I sell them for $5 a dozen all day long, and three moms in Wichita buy most of them. Fresh eggs and all-natural chicken for the table. You just can’t beat it. Well, maybe….

I sort of backed into the grass-fed beef cattle business last year. My neighbor had a grass lease off some folks from Dallas on the property to my south, when they decided to sell it all and live happily ever after in the smog-filled, six feet from your neighbor, fast-food friendly city confines. Mike had 30 head of cows and calves he had to move basically overnight (the 88 acres sold within a week at $3,500 per acre), so we struck a deal to graze them on my place, and I was in on a few head. My sisters and I bought a few more steers to go with them after Mike moved the cow/calf operation to his new place, and here we go. And folks, 17 steers, 36 cows, two bulls, a handful of calves later, and it isn’t near enough to meet the demand for naturally raised, grass-fed beef— just in north Texas. People are shunning traditional CAPO raised beef quicker than you can shake a stick at it, especially hamburger meat with all it’s deadly ingredients, and the cattle are fed GMO grains, growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. No! No! No!

Factory farming is the death of nutrition. Widgets are sold as food to a hoodwinked public. Multinational corporate profit margins do not allow for such noble causes as pasturing cattle or letting them eat grasses for which they are designed. 

So this just happened: We had a cow butchered at the local USDA processor, which made about 550 pounds of ground beef and stew meat. Most of it was sold to friends, family, a local restaurant, and to a food co-op. I contacted the food co-op to let them know we had 100 lbs of grass-fed ground beef for sale, and the manager says, “Let me see how much I can sell.” She posted it on their Facebook page that evening; it was all gone in 3 hours! There’s a big restaurant in Dallas where the owner has been serving up organic and natural fare for almost 50 years. I took some samples of ground beef and 4 oz. cutlets to him, and he want’s to buy direct from The Sunflower Farm. Only problem is, he cooks, serves and sells 350,000 lbs of grass-fed beef every year. That’s at least 700 steers, all rolled into hamburgers, meatloaf, pot roast, chicken-fried steaks and stuffed peppers. 700 head just to outfit one restaurant! The demand is there. Again, how much can you supply? 


Building your own home sounds like a huge undertaking, and it is. However, if you’ll keep it simple, use some proven alternative building methods, and pilfer as much materials as possible, you can get it done and done cheap. My cabin is straw bale and earth plaster. The framework consists of used oil field tubing welded up and topped with a steel roof. I built it all myself, with a little help from my friends. The planning stage is critical; you should take into consideration what raw materials are plentiful in your locale. Near me, it’s all wheat fields and oil fields, so my choices were easy, albeit limited. If you’re surrounded by bamboo, build your frame from bamboo, then stack straw bales on the frame and mud it all up. Use cob, a mix of mud and straw or other fibers, stuff wooden pallets with the mix, stack them up. and voila! you’ve got a goat barn. Uncle Mud is here to show you how to build with mud and straw all weekend! Go get your hands dirty! If there are plenty of trees on your property, build a log cabin. If you live in the hills, build a cave or an underground home. Limitless awesome hand-built homes. Consult the inter-webs and our host’s publications to find yours.

Supply your own power with a few solar panels and batteries for starters. I’ve been living on 4 Golf Cart batteries and two 250 Watt solar panels for years. If it’s windy on your homestead, add a homemade wind generator to help charge up the batteries. Use a simple solar water heater like this one I have on display. Do it now and you’ll be grandfathered in before the government shills for big energy corporations won’t allow you to do it. Then vote them out.

Make things and sell them. Living off-grid and sustainably is a lofty goal. It isn’t easy but it can be done. Being able to earn money on top of providing your family with food and shelter is important, especially during the transition period, and later when you are set up and experience an abundance of something you grew or made. Homemade Food sells all day, every day, everywhere. Homemade soap, tools, firewood, computer geek stuff, everyone has something they can make, or a service they an provide, and sell it. Make art and sell it. Ours is an appreciative bunch.


Save up and buy some land. 5 Acres. Start a garden. Containers, aquaponics, traditional… either way get some food growing. Get some Chickens. They take care of themselves. Raise grass-fed cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits…. whatever you have room for on your property.

Build a shelter from whatever you can afford, find, or gain in trade. Start out in a camper or RV while you build your dream homestead. You’ll learn to conserve, live simply yet with many modern conveniences. Seek others involved in sustainable living, real foods and farming, and neighbors with whom you can trade.

Teach yourself to Do-It-Yourself. Can those extra veggies, meats, jams. Eat all you can and sell all you can’t. Artists and craftsmen….sell your wares. Trust the experts and experienced. Most importantly, know that you can live wisely, and happily in Nature.

TODAY is the best chance you’ve ever had to get started on a Sustainable Life, Off-Grid, Organic, and Old School.  Thank you! Now follow me if you’re hungry.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368