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  1. I enjoyed the article! “NO ONE IS GOING TO SAVE YOU; EVERYTHING IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.” It is what young adults of today need to learn. If you live on a homestead, whether on/off grid, everything is your responsibility. Everything labor is prioritized, every dollar accounted for, every item used over and over again until it falls apart. Animals, vehicles and tools must do their jobs first, then maybe you can find sport in them, if you have any energy left to do so. You help your neighbors if they need you and pray they will be around to help you when you need them. On a homestead, you earn your freedom.

    1. Yes, Animal House. No one is going to save you.

      I know a man, who on his first patrol in Vietnam, 1967, came under fire and hit the dirt.

      His first thought was, “Somebody should call the cops.”

      His second thought was, “Uh-oh, I ‘m the cops.”

      Carry on

    2. My husband (61), adult daughter (25) and I (57) have lived off grid for over 4 years. No solar, no showers. We have an outhouse and have never had fly problems. We use a natural powder called Eliminator that breaks down the waste, so no build up and it never needs to be pumped. We have a portable fiberglass tub we bathe in. We wash clothes with a hand powered wringer. We use an ice chest to keep our food cool. In the winter we can put it outside. We only have cell phones for gadgets. We use kerosene lamps for lighting. We love it and would never go back to “modern” conveniences…they are too noisy. Thank you for the well written and thought provoking article.

  2. Very wise words, VF. Thank you. I can’t help going back to your constant assertion that the amount of work involved in keeping up this lifestyle is so vast. It occurs to me that it would be almost essential to have an extended family or group (w many young bucks) to contribute to the harsh labor needs. The elder members (like yours truly) who can no longer labor intensively for extended periods can contribute in the capacity of a knowledge base and sit mostly at the helm in attending to and teaching the younger sect.

    Merry Christmas all.


  3. When my young wife and I were first married and just graduated university, we moved straight to the Interior of Alaska in January 1974. I was able to find a log homesteaders cabin rent free if I did repairs and upkeep. It got to -70F that winter, with no wood supply, no electricity, no plumbing. But just as VF has done, we got busy and made that 12 x 16 cabin our first home, had our first child there, grew a bountiful garden, had wonderful adventures, and frankly it WAS a romantic time in our lives, but work. Having a subsistence permit was a blessing, since we could lower a fish wheel in the Copper River and bring in the king salmon. Then sit up all night with a 30.06 in your lap because of the fresh fish on the stringer! The next morning the thrill and trepidation of seeing fresh grizzly sign 15 yards from the camp! It was an amazing adventure, but I don’t know if I would choose to live that lifestyle today.

  4. This article was an excellent combination of practical solutions and personal insights. It was an interesting and fun read for us even with many years of prepared living under our life-belts. We laughed. We reminisced. We talked about new ideas for age old challenges. We enjoyed lots of great Christmas morning conversation inspired by the stories shared by this writer. We hope it will also be enjoyed by many who are newcomers to the preparedness community!

  5. Hi V.F. excellent article! Lots of useful insights.

    Your comments about dish washing are spot on. People erroneously think hot water rinsing sterilizes dishes but it just wastes hot water. Soap isn’t even necessary for dishes where no fats/oils are involved so if I’ve eaten a bowl of fruit salad from the garden, it gets a quick cold-water wash/rinse then into the dish drainer.

    “The number one enemy when the sun goes down will be yourself!” No truer words were even spoken. So many of us have romanticized the idea of the grid going down but we still haven’t made the realistic preparations required because we love our modern conveniences too much. We share your chuckle picturing your friends bicycling out of Chicago with their dog but at the same time, many of us would be in no better condition than they are in a nation-wide grid-down situation. We live off-grid but we still depend on the nation-wide grid. I spent 13 months finding the perfect off-grid propane kitchen range (most ranges by law plug into a 110 outlet) but still haven’t gotten my built-in rocket stove kitchen finished for that day when propane is but a distant memory. Your article was a wake-up call to get some things done in 2020 that I have been procrastinating for way too long. Thank you!

    The other point your article drove home was that we learn best by experience, not book learnin’ or user reviews. You can’t buy a Zodi shower, Buddy heater, or any other product and pull it out of the box the day the SHTF and try to get it to work. Some things are hard enough to get to work in the first place, even harder when you are in panic mode. If we buy things and get proficient with them as you clearly demonstrated, we’ll know ahead of time whether or not we can depend on them when the chips are down.

    Again, this was a very enjoyable read and thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Good article, many parts very personally familiar. The most telling comment is the one that will make or break people with off the grid destination in mind is: “The number one enemy when the sun goes down will be yourself!” Easy enough to lie to yourself during the day when you are busy, but when you shut off the Coleman light and there is no TV, it is like the night holds a mirror up in front of your mind. You don’t look the first or second night, but eventually you will look. It can be a blessing or a curse, and sometimes you can’t tell the difference.

    1. This is a remarkable comment JE, and it provokes much thought. Bottom line, one must be at peace with himself and his God, otherwise the darkness will be a curse. Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

  7. Good article, and responses. I was thinking about writing about my pitiful little experience of being without power for a couple of weeks after a snow storm. I think I will just humbly learn from all of you. Thanks for your insights.

  8. Recirculating Shower,

    I’ve seen several videos on this reduced water idea, but I’m not sure how viable it is???

    Water-saving shower: Showerloop recycles used water for long, guilt-free showers – TomoNews
    (YouTube Video)
    TomoNews US
    Apr 3, 2016
    Duration – 1:32

    AN Tour: Recirculating Shower | How to Shower in a VAN
    (YouTube Video)
    Wando Tales
    Jul 17, 2019
    Duration – 8:47

    004 – Introducing the Hour Shower. Limitless showers while boondocking on a half gallon of water.
    (YouTube Video)
    Gone Boondocking
    Aug 7, 2019
    Duration – 19:15

    005 – The Hour Shower – Part 2. Limitless showers while boondocking on a half gallon of water.
    (YouTube Video)
    Gone Boondocking
    Aug 9, 2019
    Duration – 10:56

    011 – Hour Shower 2.0 – The Heated Hour Shower!
    (YouTube Video)
    Gone Boondocking
    Nov 7, 2019
    Duration – 24:12

    Recirculating Shower Tech Talk – Van Build Series E – 3.
    (YouTube Video)
    Snow & Curt
    Sep 14, 2019
    Duration – 23:27

  9. We hauled water 5 years while living in Alaska. We arrived with 2 children and left with 3. We had a large galvanized tub that i placed our children with about 5 gallons of warm water that i heated on our wood stove. I then had another gallon or two that i used to rinse them off with. My husband and I took dip baths just heating up 4-5 gallons of warm water. We just kneeled in the tub, poured warm water over us to get wet. Washed with a soapy rag and then rinsed off. It’s not hard and you get clean. In winter we did it in front of our woodstove. As for washing dishes, I washed them once a day. We just used a rubber spatula to scrape off the dirty dishes . Then I would place the silverware in the bottom of a large pan . I had a pitcher of hot water that I used to wet a soapy sponge then washed the plates cups , etc. I rinsed then with the pitcher of hot water pouring it over the pan. I could get all our dishes done with 2 gallons of water at the most. And yes, I cooked all our food and made our own bread and used regular dishes. I felt it was more sanitary to always rinse in clean water. It takes adapting and definitely is more work but really we’re just spoiled. People have lived for thousands of years without modern plumbing. Of course, I do prefer our modern plumbing. But we’re set up with the ability to be on or off the grid so if we need to we can get by.

    1. Modern plumbing also does a great deal to prevent half of your children from dying before adulthood, which is the historic norm. Not the long, hot showers part, but the clean dishes, clean water, and sanitation part.

  10. Merry Christmas all.

    Here is more from Tara Ross

    This Day in History: George Washington’s Christmas trip across the Delaware

    On this day in 1776, General George Washington makes a harrowing trip across the Delaware River, in the dead of night. The tremendous feat came just when it was needed most.

    Washington’s army was reeling from a series of crushing defeats: The British had won important battles in New York and had chased Americans across New Jersey. Early in December, a defeated American army had narrowly escaped across the Delaware River.

    That river provided a barrier from further British attacks, at least for the moment, because Washington had ensured the destruction of every boat for miles around.

    It was then that British General William Howe made a decision with serious ramifications for the British war effort. The weather had become much worse, and Howe decided to retire to winter quarters in New York City. He left behind a series of outposts in New Jersey to protect the ground he’d won.

    Washington did not realize that Howe was gone (or he may have thought that it was simply a trick). He had roughly 6,000 men fit for duty, but many of those enlistments would end on New Year’s Day. He needed to recruit new soldiers or inspire the old ones to stay. The year had gone badly, and he needed to end it on a high note. On Christmas Eve, he met with his officers, and they finalized the details of a surprise attack. The army would go back across the Delaware in three different locations. The men would march to Trenton during the early morning hours, and they would attack before sunrise.

    Washington’s army began its crossing on Christmas night. One of the American officers, Henry Knox, later described the “almost infinite difficulty” created by the icy conditions in the Delaware River. Making matters worse, a northeaster sprang up during the night. The bad news was that it made the crossing more difficult; the good news was that it covered up any noise created by the Americans.

    Amazingly, the army managed to cross—even getting horses and cannon across the river. Yet conditions were so difficult that the army completed its crossing 3 hours later than planned. Washington knew the element of surprise might be difficult to achieve if his troops arrived after sunrise, but he determined to push on anyway. They had come too far to turn back now.

    Washington could not know that the officers in charge of the other two crossings along the Delaware had called off their own troops, deeming the crossing too difficult. Washington’s planned three-pronged attack was down to only one.

    The army pushed on relentlessly, through snow and ice. Knox would later write that the march was made “with the most profound silence.” Another lieutenant later wrote that Washington rode among the men, repeatedly telling them: “For God’s sake keep with your officers.” The weather was so severe that two men literally froze to death during the course of the night.

    The army reached its destination, outside Trenton, at about 8 a.m. on December 26, three hours later than planned and one full hour after sunrise. Could the element of surprise be maintained?

    Tomorrow’s post will tell you what happened next.

    Primary Sources:

    David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (2004)

    David McCullough, 1776 (2005)

    Edward G. Lengel, General George Washington: A Military Life (2005)

    John Ferling, Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence (2007)

    Letter from Henry Knox to Lucy Knox (Dec. 28, 1776) (reprinted HERE)

    Carry on

  11. Please, please, please tell us how you burned poop. The method used by troops in Afghanistan is too nasty, not to mention toxic (involves diesel fuel and a lot of trash).

    In a grid down situation, where septic cleanout companies are nowhere to be found, burning certainly seems like the most sanitary method of sterilizing poop. And the ashes should make good fertilizer.

    All ground burial methods have the risk of leaching into the water supply. At the turn of the 20th century, a nice suburban home in a good neighborhood might have a widow in it, whose husband died of disease from his own well.

    It would be a great kindness if you would tell us what you did.

  12. Inexpensive option:

    DIY using the parts in the photo, or buy this kit. I’ve used my original build for years without trouble. Adaptable to a variety of needs such as water supply to a shower or sink, and be made portable. Can pump water from any surface source, or act as a transfer pump. Pressure switch turns pump off when valve is closed, mimicking pressurized water supply.

  13. Sun-up or sun-down, the worst enemy you have 24 hours a day is yourself.

    That said, great tale. We’ve been off-grid for 25 years in the Northern Rockies and there was a helluva lot of deja vu in her essay regarding our first few years.

    It’s six degrees out, so it’s time to reload the stove.

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