Living off the grid has been somewhat romanticized throughout American history. While many enter into this lifestyle change in the efforts of becoming more sustainable, self-sufficient, or for greater personal satisfaction, our story is a bit different than most.
I was a single mother of four residing in the southeast part of Alabama in Houston County. At the time, I was renting a tiny trailer for $100 a month on a half-acre of land.
After losing my job and due to a lack of public assistance, my savings and checkings were quickly drained. I was stuck yet I had to provide for my family. So I got creative.
After hearing that I had been foraging for food in the back of my then trailer’s woods, a friend came by to be of assistance. He took it upon himself to teach me about different plants and catching wildlife, and with time, everything sort of fell into place as things seem to do in life.
Related: How I Survived Alone for 10 Months Living Off the Land
Many years have passed, we fell in love combining our separate households of four and two to eight, and we now live semi off the grid with a small hobby farm.
The state of Alabama doesn’t fully allow you to go completely off the grid. While it is legal to live this lifestyle, Alabama Power may charge per kilowatt even when using solar power.
So we’re semi off the grid! It can be a bit tricky depending on your state. That said, there are things to put into consideration before making the leap into this lifestyle.
Nonetheless, whether you are interested in pursuing this change or purely flirting with the idea, whatever the reasons may be, your life will change for the better. These are five ways our life has become better since living off the grid.
#1. Newfound Quality of Life
Our quality of life has changed drastically, yet wonderfully. We don’t have the distraction of television or video games drawing our attention. Instead, we sit outside around a cooking fire and simply talk, rediscovering our love and affection for one another.
We would laugh and play with the kids when they were young and still lived at home, watching them explore the world without all the digital distractions.
Related: Homesteading After 60 What You Need To Know
#2. Strengthened Our Family Unit
My grandparents used to say it takes a village to raise a child. Maintaining a self-sufficient off the grid lifestyle for the sake of your children’s prosperity definitely does take a village!
We all naturally found ourselves working together as a family unit. Distribution of labor became a second thought as we each assumed roles and responsibilities just like our foregoing generations, creating our own little village on our property in the process.
Related: How to Get Your Wife and Kids Involved in Prepping
#3. Invaluable New Set of Knowledge and Skills
Going off the grid means learning how to become self-sufficient and sustainable. This is a learning process but in time you will have developed an invaluable set of skills and knowledge that can be passed onto future generations.
Self Sufficient, Sustainable Living
Back then, I would spend my off days at the library researching information on wild plants, maintaining livestock, and gardening. I would ask my mother a lot of questions about canning and preserving foods like how they did in the 1950s and ’60s.
I also asked my grandmother how she managed a household, her kids’ needs, and preserved food to get a better understanding of how they lived prior to the industrialization of America.
Related: How To Pickle Meat
We started with a few small chicken pens for the necessities, always have fresh eggs and chicken. Over time, we’ve substantially increased our livestock as we became familiar with maintaining farm animals.
Eventually, we began to visit animal auctions; we now have a diverse flock of birds, from different kinds of chickens to ducks, quail, and turkeys. We also brought in a Billy Goat, a couple of Nannies and later five hogs for our small hobby farm.
Creating and Preserving Energy
After deciding to officially go semi off the grid, we had to decide how we were to create and preserve power.
We kept the well on our land and learned how to effectively supply power to the rest of our household through the usage of solar panels.
The setup is simple: solar panels, a charge controller, battery and power inverter. The cells within the panel create electricity when exposed to sunlight, the charge controller serves as a power outlet while the battery is for storage and the inverter, well inverts! (specifically the solar cells from direct power to alternative power).
Related: How To Make Your Own Solar Water Heater
#4. No More Worries about Tomorrow
We eventually managed to cut down our spending. We had prioritized our children’s necessities and medical expenses for the entire family.
Without the stresses of paying for a variety of bills and the small successes from our hobby farm, we have enough money to properly invest in our retirement. Now that the kids are all grown and have moved away, we take delight in discussing our plans for this coming chapter.
Related: How to Build a 44-Day Stockpile for Only $2.40 a Day
#5. A Life Lived Deliberately
Going off the grid takes patience and a desire to learn. By no means does this lifestyle entail a stress-free life, stressors are a part of the human experience.
However, it does entail a journey of discovery, learning, quality close moments, quiet times and joy. It brings you back to the basics and unveils the forgotten pleasures of simplicity.
Henry David Thoreau makes note of this in the celebrated 1854 book “Walden”. He went out to the woods because he wished to live deliberately, “to front only the essential facts of life” in an effort to learn what nature could teach him. What living off the grid has taught us is to live deliberately.
This journey started as a desire to make ends meet. To ensure that my family wouldn’t go without food. To provide my children with at the very least life’s necessity and essentials.
While we didn’t initially intentionally set out for this change, everything came into fruition for the better. Life has more value. Waking up in the morning to tend to livestock or week’s harvest has a sort of bliss to it; its indescribable until you too experience it.
There’s a unique beauty in simplicity. We’re happier as individuals as well as a family. We have knowledge and skills that can be passed down for generations.
We’ve become self-sufficient, saving money in the process to invest in our future. And most importantly, we live deliberately. Nature has taught us life’s necessities transforming our lives in the most wonderful ways.
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Where did you get your solar panels? We cannot find quality panels so we would love to find them.
Great Article. My wife and I have lived semi-off the grid now for six years on 10 acres in New Mexico. It takes planning, especially to save trips to town for food and supplies, our nearest Home Depot being 2 hours away. With the recent unwarranted scare of national epidemic, we have had no worry of want or running out of toilet.paper. We have chosen not to have TV signal, catch the news headlines on the internet, and have developed good working relationships with our close neighbors. For us close neighbors means up to 14 miles away. The articles published on “AskaPrepper” have been invaluable in our continued success and stress-free lifestyle. Keep up the good work.
Thank you. I love reading the articles on askaprepper.com too. I am amazed by the spirit that moves us to excel in the face of adversity.
Interesting article. Glad things worked out for the author. It is amazing how government has intruded into our lives. They charge for electricity even though, apparently, they are not hooked up to the grid. Not sure that would stand a court challenge, but it is the same old story, unless one can get a legal firm to front the costs of litigation, with the hope of winning in a state where the state becomes liable for attorney fees if the state loses, the cost of such litigation is out of reach for most of us who do not have Bloomberg’s billions. Governmental entities can afford arrogance. They have all the money they need to fight endlessly on in court and Joe Average just doesn’t have those kinds of financial resources.
You are right. It is hard to find fed during a shift situation, we have grown grown our own feed. We have had to buy hay and oats for our horses because we have only 2 acres that are cleared. But only during the winter months.
Do you purchase feed for your livestock or produce on your farm? In a SHTF situation, feed may not be available to purchase.
Beth, I’m new to this. What is SHTF?
SHTF = S–t hits the fan. When the world as we know it is changed forever.
If that like this situation?
Shit Hits The Fan, meaning that things are swirling around and down in the porcelain pedestal in your bathroom. There are others ETOW = End of the World; WROL=Without Rule of Law; EOTWAWKI=End of the World As We Know It. I am sure I have just touched on the topic.
All this acronyms referring to a more severe situation than what we are seeing now. This scenario that is playing out in front of us as we sit here reading this is just the tip of the iceberg in the event of something serious.
Without comparative numbers such as how many people are sick with plain old joe influenza on any given day in any given city in the country we really don’t know if what is taking place is significant or some black flag event.
LA is claiming 79 case with one death. People do die of influenza. While most of the time it is just a major annoyance, sometimes just plain old influenza is a killer. During the “flu season” I suspect that there are far more than 79 cases of whatever is the flu du jour and that more than 1 person has died therefrom.
Yet here we are, disrupting lives, businesses, making proclamations that are outside the limits of the Constitution ordering folks to remain in their homes— what is the legal basis for that type of action? Sure it makes good sense, but the Constitution allows us the right to be stupid.
People are buying massive quantities of water. The last time I turned on the faucet, about five minutes before I started this diatribe, the water ran out rather forcefully.
Massive amounts of toilet paper? What’s with that? Unless we are expecting a massive outbreak of diarrhea and we have an exceptionally large family, one 30-pack of jumbo rolls from Costco should last a month. If not, expect to have the plumber come because you are using way too much t.p.
A little something I picked up in my reading, during WWII the British Army allow 2 sheets of t.p. per day per soldier. I always suspect the Brits were somewhat constipated and that confirmed it for me. The U.S. Army allowed four times that amount per day per soldier. The Brits equally thought the Yanks were full of it, so maybe it equals out. Don’t know if the foregoing to accurate or not, but it does make for interesting reading.
So far we have seen very limited scenes of fighting in the stores, but I am sure there will be some of it in the days to come.
All of that because the flu this season is one the health authorities weren’t expecting and they don’t have a vaccine whipped up for it.
We are nearing the end of the coronal minimum we have been in for some years. The next period will be a period of coronal maximum. Those are periods when the sun is spitting out massive ejections of energy. We dodged the bullet some years back when a massive CME (coronal mass ejection) missed the earth by a week’s time. It would have sent every country with an electrical system back to the days before electricity, but without the infrastructure that existed in those days. That is a true SHTF situation. I will leave it to your imagination what the scene would like like when that event happens.
Yeah, well, just have a home where they want to put a freeway in and see how well ‘standing up in court’ does for you.
Taking property upon payment of just compensation is delineated in the Constitution. The government does maintain the right to condemn property. “Just compensation” is defined in the law as the price the property would bring in the open market with a buyer who is not compelled to buy and a seller who is not compelled to sell. In a condemnation trial the jury decides just compensation after hearing evidence from both sides.
I have always found jury awards in condemnation trials to be within the evidence although I must admit I was surprised at the evidence by the condemning agency’s appraiser that dry creek bottom land with no use except to serve as a channel during heavy rains was worth $500 an acre. That was considered “nominal value” here in the PDRK where land and housing are obscenely high.
While you may not agree with the government’s right to take land upon payment of just compensation, it beats the other system where the government just takes the land without any compensation.
I have seen roads built to accommodate powerful farm families in the political entity building the road and usually they contain curves that eventually become known locally as “deadman’s curve.” as traffic on the road increased beyond the original design plan.
No system of government is perfect. If we want roads and highways, public buildings and schools, hospitals and jails, we need a method for government to acquire the land for those uses. Just compensation is the best method devised so far. Again, foresight by our founding fathers.
Sometimes a public project does more harm than good. In my opinion, the MacArthur Freeway known as I-580 destroyed the soul of the city of Oakland when it was built in the 60s. Today it relieves heavy congestion on the other streets and highways in the EastBay but at an extreme price paid by Oakland. Whether the cost was worth it in the end could be discussed by various “experts” and non-experts ad infinitum without resolution. Even though I have thought about the horrible impact on Oakland and the destruction of middle class neighborhoods by its construction for the 60 some years since its construction began, I still have not reached a conclusion in my mind about the cost/benefit of the construction. It destroyed the neighborhood where my wife and I first began our lives together so I well realize the impact of condemnation and public construction.
LLC: Mass and Florida both have used it to justify wiping out small towns and selling the land to developers. The Kennedy klan wanted a deep port to anchor their yacht, and people near Miami suffered for it. While I agree with you, we have to be diligent to watch for crooks like the Kennedy abusing the system. niio
Red: I am aware that there have been abuses in the condemnation process. As with everything human, it seems as if there are always those who manage to twist what should be good into something evil. Even the Supremes in the District of Corruption upheld the abuses with an infamous ruling by the leftist Ginsberg court. As a result of the abuses the ruling led to (Sorry, right off the top of my head, I cannot cite the case) several states passing laws forbidding the stealing of homes for “Improvement Districts” as if bars and restaurants are an improvement over private homes.
Even the PDRK passed legislation negating the Supremes’ ruling much to the chagrin and dismay of the pols and bureaucrats in the town in which I live as they had big plans for “Improvement Districts.”
What they don’t seem to realize is that without a concomitant growth in population, there are only so many dollars to be spent on drinking and dining out and every time a new restaurant or bar opens, it doesn’t make the pie any bigger, it just cuts the pie into smaller pieces. Unless the facility is so unusual or so outstanding that it attracts patronage from a wider area than the immediate confines of the political entity in which it is located, there is no additional income to the city via taxes, or the increase is more than offset by the homes that are lost with the dispossessed moving out of the area.
Over the many years I have lived it has become my conclusion from watching events unfold that every time pols and bureaucrats attempt to manipulate the marketplace their attempts have turned something viable (not without problems, but viable) into a puddle of feces.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Ginsberg sold her soul to be a supreme. Her only claim to fame was her brother used to give head to Jack Kerouac. She was lead in handing the Waco massacre to the Clintons. Never get between a lib politicians and a nickle in the sewer, I was told. They’ll gnaw your arm off trying to suck it out of the used toilet paper.
Definitely. Every depression and major recession begins with the dems trying to manipulate the stock market. That’s in part when the chicom flu is about, wrecking the SM for their fun and profit. niio
Taking private land by eminent domain is just wrong in my opinion. Sooner Generating Station owned by OG&E in Oklahoma is an example. Farms that had been in families since statehood were just taken. Sure they were paid for the land but most really didn’t want to sell.
Another example is Tulsa Hills, a shopping area in southwest Tulsa, Oklahoma. I can’t confirm the story but it’s been said that property was condemned & taken from an old woman who’s family had owned it for generations….and done in the name of “progress”. She probably was paid what farm land was valued at. I doubt very seriously you could buy a piece of that ground now for less than several hundred thousand dollars or maybe even millions. The taking of her land certainly wasn’t progress for the old woman….just the greedy developers who only saw dollar signs.
Eminent domain is just wrong!!
BJ: the big excuse is urban blight. A cousin is from a small town near Miami, FL, and his family almost lot their land to it because there’s a deep enough hole for the kennedy klan to dock their yachts. Cousins in Pennsylvania and folks in N. Jersey lost farms, some of the farmed by the same family back when it was still Indian Country, because a municipality wanted ‘green space’. In both states, the repubs passed a boy-out on development rights to protect farms. The dems got around it by passing a green space law. In Penna, the land was valued at 20K/acre, so it was a big relief when the repubs bought the rights. NJ, 200K and up. New York takes a different approach, and if farmers in the city (there re two left) allow visits by school kids, no taxes are on the farm. Dems tried to get rid of them, but a few hundred thousand protested 🙂 It’s legal to have a flock of chickens, goats, and so on in NYC. But, I live in a village in Arizona and we’re not supposed to have chickens! Asinine dems. niio
Beth: A lot of dairymen are going back to grazing. When they have to start feeding hay, they dry off the cattle for the season. niio
You are right. It is hard to find fed during a shift situation, we have grown grown our own feed. We have had to buy hay and oats for our horses because we have only 2 acres that are cleared. But only during the winter months.
Horses do well browsing. They have the right enzymes to break down woody growth and do it better than goats. It helps keep the teeth worn where they don’t usually need floating. We never grained unless working them. Nor shoe them, either, as it can cause hoof problems. For work,yes. Bad, bad job for a tall man, tho 🙂 niio
Teresa and left coast chuck, You only pay the fee if you want to remain hooked up to the grid for say, back up power, which is completely different from being “off-grid” and completely reasonable. This article misleads you into thinking that the power co. is charging you for nothing. Either go “off-grid” or pay the fee for not being.
Yes, the article is a tad misleading. Certainly if you remain connected to the grid it is not unreasonable for the power company to charge for the service of maintaining that connection, however tenuous. OTOH, if governmental regulations require one to remain connected to the grid despite utilizing your own generating sources, then that is something else again. Especially with power. It wasn’t until after WWII that many farms finally had electricity available to them. Somehow tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of folks living in this country somehow managed to live successfully without electricity.
I could see the local authorities getting involved if the source of electricity was a large power generator burning kerosene if diesel or gasoline if thus powered. Such stationary generating devices do emit pollutants and I can understand the rationale. I might not agree with it but can understand why local authorities might want to have some control over what the off-grider was running.
BUT, using solar power, that is the supposed nirvana of all the greenies, with “Pollution free electricity,” That’s not quite accurate because making solar panels and batteries involves quite a bit of solid wastes which is difficult to dispose of. But certainly meets all the present criteria for “clean power”.
I can understand regulation of water and sewage as misuse of both of those items can influence your neighbor’s right to peaceable enjoy his property.
If one is using natural gas or propane for heating purposes, I can understand having to meet certain standards with regard to the connections. If the unregulated building explodes or catches fire again it could impact your neighbor’s right to peaceable enjoyment of his property — even if he is 15 miles away. An unrestrained fire can easily cover that distance in 15 minutes. Just ask any of the folks whose house got destroyed in the fire we had in our town.
Even the use of a simple fireplace can have the same kind of effect, so safety regulations and inspections are important and necessary.
Still an interesting article about how necessity forced a change of life style and the successes they have had in adapting to that radical life style change.
It’s weird that Texas is so conservative it seems like it’s liberal. All the power companies (even my Farmers COOP) have digital meters that measure your consumption but that also measure the power you put back into the grid with excess solar or wind production and give you credit for it. Pretty cool, huh?
Fire the democrats out of the state and tell the repubs you want this vote sucking law about not being able to go off the grip abolished. My parents told me when Pennsylvania passed the Rural Development Act (which is from DC, 1930s crap) farmers went into debt to pay for electric, even tho most made their own. Then the dems tried to force everyone to hook up. Many of them owned stock in electric companies. To protest, the Amish bishops held a meeting and quietly registered to vote Repub. The hoop-up part of the law was rescinded a lot faster than when it went in. You do not need post-SHTF for someone to come by with a bill for electric that was never made, and that sort of law, they can do it. niio
I would stay hooked up to the grid and use it for AC and a washing machine and maybe the fridge Because if the Solar minimum happens then it will be cloudy for days on end.
Stumps: If you have been following Spaceweather.com, you would know that we have been in a solar minimum for quite a while and are actually, according to those folks who know a lot more about it than I, are about to enter into a period of solar maximum.
I went to that website but could not find the info on the solar maximum…could you please direct me specifically to it? All I could find was that we are in a solar minimum…I would like to know when this is going to switch over and how to follow this in the future.
CAGal: The answer is not very satisfactory. It is when the sun decides to switch. Sun watchers can estimate when it might occur but as in all things concerning nature, it is merely an educated guess. Solar cycles seem, with heavy emphasis on “seem” to run in 11 year cycles. The present 11 year cycle is just about up but approximate 11 years cycles are its present mode. In the past cycles have been longer and shorter.
I am convinced and others with more knowledge than I are also convinced that a coronal (predictive changed “coronal” to “coroner” a significant freudian slip.) mass ejection of X-category, the strongest category of CMEs, will envelope the earth someday. The details of such envelopment how long, how intensive, how much of the earth will be affected are the surprise part of the package.
Up until we got so dependent upon micro-amp products in our daily lives with almost everything from travel to food production to medical treatment and communication controlled and directed by computers, CMEs were interesting phenomenon studied by solar observers but of little concern until the Carrington Event in the 1850s.
That affected the limited telegraph communications world wide. But inasmuch as most of the world at that time did not have telegraph nor electricity, its effects were quite limited.
I have mentioned before that in reading a history of the crusades, the author mentioned a CME with aurora borealis, an indication of a CME type event, visible as far south as Aleppo in Syria. Other than wonderment at what it meant to the opposing armies, it had no effect on mankind. It certainly was indicative of an x-class CME. The book was written in the early 1900s so CME was of little concern and other than passing mention of it, the author made no other note.
Since 1850 there have been a surprising number of CMEs which have impacted the earth to varying degrees. The most recent that I am aware of is one that shorted out electricity in the Nova Scotia area of Canada. It was in the 1990s before everything was computerized and because it was limited in scope, utilities were quickly restored.
The Carrington Event aurora borealis was seen as far south as Havana and also in the Hawaiian Islands, so it was more widespread than the Nova Scotia event.
Sign up for spaceweather.com’s notifications. They send out notifications of interesting space events, sometimes before they happen but they can predict that they will happen and sometimes as surprises are happening. They will also send notifications of the spots that portend the eruption of a CME and will make note of their estimation of its strength. They advise of CMEs presently bathing the Earth with their energy and their estimation of that CME’s influence on our structures, ranging from radio interference to satellite interference or even satellite destruction. We don’t hear of those events in the general news, so it is always interesting to me to read about such and such satellite having its electronics burned out by a CME. That’s how I have learned about what to me is a large number of CMEs every year. Fortunately most of them are minor or pass the earth without impact.
Right now there is an increase in radiation over the northern pole that is subjecting flights to increased radiation exposure. Aircraft crews are especially vulnerable as they fly more flights than most passengers. My son flies for an international carrier and he flies the polar route going and coming eight to ten times a month every month, depending on the length of the flights. According to spaceweather the increase in radiation is significant. That increase, according to them, is due to the solar minimum we are in now. Doesn’t seem logical to me but then I am not an astrophysicist, just a preppier waiting for the shoe to drop and hoping to be at least somewhat prepared for when the Sunzilla occurs.
Thank you so much for the detailed and super informative answer! I will definitely sign up for their notifications…have been on another sun-sky website notification but it is not as detailed as this one.
I am a tiny bit familiar with the Carrington Event and am studying up more on all of this new to me info (I only just started truly prepping in January, thankfully… although, I have been a wee bit of “be prepared for anything” type person.)
I really appreciate the information you gave. It’s all so fascinating and scary at the same time.
So super thankful I stumbled onto this website and appreciate everyone’s constructive, well researched input, esp. yours.
Thank you again.