The big question in your head bouncing around is if I move and live off the grid, will I be filled with excitement or will I be overwhelmed? Research is the best way to alleviate any fear by knowing exactly what is in store for you. It sounds wonderful to give up the chains of city life with all its requirements. It is amazing what you can live without when it isn’t around to have. Malls, taxis, cable, corner Starbach’s, McDonald’s, and everything else. That does depend on where you decide to “live-off-the-grid”.
Lately, there has been a huge surge of people changing their lifestyle and choosing to “live off the grid”. Homesteading has become the newest way of life for a large part of the country. This means living a life on the simple side away from cities for the most part and raising their food & livestock.
Fear is not knowing. Taking a person that has lived their whole life in the city with piped-in natural gas for heat, water, sewer, and trash pick-up, out of their comfort zone makes them, obviously, uncomfortable. Be it walking distance from what they need either groceries, doctor, hardware store, hospital, etc., and put this person smack-dab in the middle of nowhere with nothing but their house and their dreams. That’s a pretty scary situation.
I was that person thirty-some years ago. But I had several great friends that helped me become accustomed to this new life. The things I had to learn about, and you will too, were that there was no piped-in natural gas. So my heat source was either electricity, which is very expensive, or a woodstove. Going out to get firewood, not something I had ever done, but my new neighbors took me out and helped me get wood in the forest. Wow! What an experience. Finding just the right tree, cutting it down, limbing it, and sawing it into pieces they called rounds. We loaded them up into a stock trailer and took them down the mountain.
My education didn’t stop there. The wood needed splitting and I learned how to work the woodstove. It made me a little nervous the first few nights burning in the woodstove but knowing that the chimney was clean and the stove was locked and turned down relieved my anxiety. You never want to leave anything near enough to the stove to catch on fire of course. Don’t hang clothes where they will get hot and ignite. Don’t leave the door on the woodstove open very long as sparks will fly out and catch whatever is around the stove on fire.
If you are going to stack a bunch of wood for the winter make sure it isn’t left out in the weather. It is not easy to dig wood out from under the snow and ice. I did that once and learned a very crucial lesson.
Fear is not knowing. Winter in rural areas is much different than in cities or suburbs. You usually have a longer trip to town to do the simple things, and since the roads are longer and farther apart, the snowplows don’t always get them plowed quickly. It might be several days before some of the more rural roads are driveable. Always talk to neighbors to find out how bad their winters can be.
Make sure you stock up on necessities for at least a couple of weeks. Know what you need if the power goes out. I found out that living in an area where water is provided by my well when the power goes off, so does the water. I make sure I have some water. In the winter it isn’t so bad because I can melt snow on my woodstove.
In heavy snows, don’t wander around near buildings or you could get buried by the roof fall off. You also want to make sure you investigate snow loads for the area before you build. Contact your County Building Department for the details.
Snow fall-off front eves
When traveling during the winter make sure you carry a shovel, blanket, and tow rope in your vehicle as well as your emergency kit. Here is what I keep in my kit:
- Put these in a metal coffee or some kind of larger metal can (for water) with a lid.
- Sterno and matches in a waterproof bag
- metal cup
- emergency shelter blanket
- long-lasting food, granola bar, dry soup mix,
In the winter you can melt snow for water.
I love winter but it does make work a little more of a struggle. I love the ability to go out after brand new snow and see all the different tracks and try to identify them. They’re usually just kitty tracks, but it’s fun.
At the beginning of this post, I talked about large harmful situations and small simple situations. Around here we have both. Large four-legged situations. Mountain lion, bear, elk, moose, deer, wolf, coyote, and badger. Luckily, I have not seen most of these up close and personal. In fact, with the mountain lion, I have only seen signs.
The wildlife in the country and mountain areas is wonderful and life-changing. Please remember, they are not cute! We have bear, lion, deer, elk, wolf, coyote all around our place and see them regularly. They don’t bother us and we don’t bother them. I have goats and sheep and since I keep fences good we haven’t lost any to predators. I have neighbors that have had a mountain lion show up in their barn. They are very unpredictable.
You are asking what are the small ones. Well, let’s see. There are foxes, skunk, porcupine, muskrat, weasel, rock chuck, voles, mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. For those that want to raise chickens, there are also flying ones. Eagles, at least 12 different kinds of hawks, osprey, owls, ravens, and our wonderful magpie.
Early Spring brings out new life whether it be flowers, baby animals, or hibernating animals just waking up. Going out and exploring all the new beginnings of life is a wonderful adventure. Spring also brings in some areas, flooding. Winter snows melting, running into creeks and rivers. Colder winters, ice covers the rivers not letting the runoff go its natural way. Backing up into the surrounding areas and flooding.
Oh, and find out if you will have a sewer system or septic tank. Most outlying areas have septic systems and you have to be careful about what you put in them. If you kill the good bugs, you upset the system and you will have a mess.
Summertime is a beautiful time. The warm air, crops are maturing and turning the landscape into a green sea of corn, alfalfa, potatoes, sugar beets, and more. One problem of summer, wildfires. If you live in an area where they are prevalent, you want to investigate. The best building materials, how to fireproof around your home, and even water sources.
Every area has its own greatness and problems. Talking to the county building department, forest service, hardware store, and of course, the local coffee shop is a great way to answer most of these questions. The coffee shop is the best place to get local information. The regulars always want to share information and stories.
This is just an example of what you want to find out about before you decide to treck off into the country life.
It’s a wonderful life and lifestyle as long as you know what you are getting into. I see so many questions on FB about different things relating to homesteading I thought I would address some of them here.
If you have decided to move to your dream homestead, make sure you explore your area and all that it has to offer.
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