When I was a child, my mother moved to a very remote area of Eastern Washington and we lived off the grid. This was long before the term had been coined, as far as I know. The property did not have a house. We lived in a little travel trailer. We went to town once a month and did laundry at the laundromat. We boiled water from the creek to wash dishes. The creek was also our refrigerator. We ran a PVC pipe in the creek and placed a horse trough in the creek. This is where we kept drinks cold and we didn’t have to worry about them going down the mountain. I don’t remember any of it as a hardship but I was a child and the responsibilities were not mine. I did not know that much later that I too would choose to live Off the Grid.
Fast forward. I joined the Army after high school and married a man I met while I was in the Army. After we were done with our service, we relocated to his home state of Illinois and bought our first house. We worked for years, myself in retail, my husband in the medical field. We relocated again for job promotions to the Chicago area and we had a wonderful life. Then something happened. My husband and I woke up!
When I think back to when I became awake, I realize that it wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was very gradual. It took years of semi-consciousness before it happened, but when it did happen, my life changed forever. There is no going back, you can not go back to sleep, back to dreaming, back to not knowing. You can not un-know… But sometimes I wish I could. It would be so much easier to not see what is going on. Once you awaken, you realize how brainwashed and asleep nearly everyone else is! The sad part is the realization of how unwilling everyone else is to see it for themselves.
As I was sleepwalking through my life there were the occasional few who would comment about something and a little spark of life might flare up in my mind. But I would always gradually nod off again. I think to myself, thank God, some people do still try to reach out sometimes to awaken others. I remember when a friend gave me a copy of George Orwell’s novel 1984. I read it because I enjoy reading. And I found it quite disturbing. But it took years for me to realize how truly accurate the ideas in the book actually are. It was a small piece of the puzzle. I went through a long period of denial. All that are awake know what I am talking about.
When you are truly awake, you understand finally, that evil forces are alive and well, thriving really, all around you. That the stories from childhood are real, there really are big bad scary monsters out there who want to kill you any way they can and they have disguised themselves is sheep’s clothing, or should I say flashy ads. This is the fundamental truth that all people who are not awake will deny. If you tell them that corporations that make food and personal products are putting ingredients in that will eventually kill you, they will label you as a kook. If you tell them that the makers of pharmaceuticals and vaccines are trying to drug you and inject cancer into you then they will say that you are part of the problem. Being awake is like being condemned. You can no longer have many friends. They don’t have time to do the research, or to worry about these things, or the energy, or the ability to do anything. So they shrug and they laugh and they just go on sleepwalking.
Finding Our Country Place
In 2011, my husband and I decided to start a family. We had already been married for 15 years. When my mother passed in September of that year, I finally started figuring out that if you don’t have children, then what is the point of it all? We got pregnant on our first try, and so began a lot of radical changes for us. We decided to move out of Illinois, a gangster state, and move to Wisconsin, where my husband had spent the best part of his youth. When I was 9 months pregnant we found our new place. It was an Amish farm on 7 acres in a little tiny town in the middle of nowhere. This property was on a dead end gravel road. The closest gas station and grocery store were 9 miles away. When the realtor took us to see the property, I remember that it was 90 degrees F, and I figured that since no one was living in it, it would be hot and stuffy. On the contrary, it was nice and cool. It was a ranch style home with white siding but it was situated lengthwise East to West. The front of the house looked North and the back side of the home was set right up next to a wood line, so it was in perpetual shade. We knew that we wanted to have solar power, so the fact that the house was so cool without air conditioning, was a real deal maker for me.
Since it was an Amish house, the home was not wired for electricity, which fit in well for our solar power plans. The well was operated by a gas pump that had a gravity feed system to the house but we couldn’t get the makeshift plumbing to work. We could get water from the well but we had to put it into 5 gallon jugs. There was no septic system. When we sold our main residence, we planned to use the profit and built-up equity to install a septic system and plumbing in the new house as well as solar power. This home had a large root cellar and a separate pantry for storing canned goods. It also had a wood storage room connected to the house so you never had to go outside to get wood. We could pull up to the garage with a truck (or buggy) and there was a little door, about 2′ x 2′ that we could open at chest height, and we could unload our firewood right into the wood room: Genius! Garbage service was included in out taxes, once every other week. There was a huge fenced garden and the metal shed was set up, on one end, for animals. I called the shed a barn for some time until the local farmers corrected me as to the difference between a shed and a barn. We had fenced pasture and enough hardwood on the property to keep us in wood for the rest of our lifetime.
We officially moved in that spring. We used coolers for refrigerators. We already owned a handicap porta-john that we had used on our camping property (our old bug-out location) in Illinois and we moved it up on Mother’s Day. What a gift! It was large enough that we could fit our portable shower system inside of it. When I contacted the local porta-john folks to find out how much it would cost to have ours pumped, it was $60. We figured it would last a month or so. She wound up letting us use one of her units even though we had one of our own because she felt it was easier for her. That worked out pretty well. Our extra large outhouse was just a shower room for us. We used a Zodi hot water system. It cost $500 at Gander Mountain and was worth every penny. You hook up the Zodi to a 20 gallon propane tank and a little battery, then put the cylindrical water pump into a water tank. We started out using the 5 gallon water jugs people sometimes see at the office. The pump fits in there perfectly. It is a hard thing to adjust to taking a 5 gallon shower. Even with the reduced water flow, you must get wet first. Then shut the water off and wash up. Then turn the water back on and rinse. You do not have time to shave your legs or condition your hair. You learn, in time, that if you wash your hair and let it air dry, you don’t need conditioner.
We purchased a 1.5 kilowatt solar power system from Backwoods Solar in Idaho, along with a chest style freezer and refrigerator that were built for solar power. These appliances cost a thousand each but they have extra insulation around them so they work better and consume less energy. The system had 3 panels and a 4000 watt inverter that would allow us to create a much larger system in the future if we wanted. The energy we collected from the sun was stored in forklift batteries. We had to test the batteries all the time and if I were going to do it again I would get gel cell batteries that don’t need to be tested often. We only had to run a generator about every four days or so if there was no sun. We never ran out of electricity and we never had a power outage.
Since the house was so close to the forest we ran our panels 200 feet away from the house in a field that had no trees around it. The system worked great. We only used it for the bare necessities but we could have used it for more than we did. We wired each room with one light bulb and each room had two or three outlets; all lighting was LED. We did not use the electricity for garage door openers, no plug in alarm clocks, no curling iron or blow dryers and certainly no heaters of any kind. Another thing we did to save energy was to keep everything unplugged unless it was being used. Almost everything uses energy even when it is not turned on. (“Phantom loads.”) We were able to watch television, and listen to the radio. When I needed to vacuum, I did it when the generator was running. We did use a toaster, but that is only on for a minute or so. The system we purchased cost ten thousand dollars. We probably could have gotten it less expensively if we hadn’t bought a package, but we didn’t know enough about it to piece our own kit together when we first started out.
Some Important Outhouse Talk
I feel that it is very important for me to talk about the outhouse for a little bit. For those of you that have fantasies about becoming self-sufficient, the harsh realities are just that: harsh. You can only poop in an outhouse for a couple of weeks before you discover that the poop piles up like a termite hill and that the only way to deal with it is to grab a stick and knock it over. The logistics of pooping in an outhouse are simple but it is hard to cope with mentally. The flies are many by the time you start having to knock it down and I could not stop thinking about the flies landing on me while I am using the facilities. Needless to say, I only paid to have our outhouse pumped out three times. I knew that I was not going to be able to continue this through the summer or winter. Just couldn’t do it. I need to be able to relax when I go to the bathroom and that is not possible at all with an outhouse…just forget it, ladies. Since our house had no plumbing, there was no bathroom. The master bedroom had two closets, so we converted one of the closets into the bathroom.
An Off-Grid Bathroom
Here is how you can make any small space in your house into an off the grid indoor bathroom. What you need first is a Coleman portable toilet. It is for peeing only. No more flies!!! The Coleman toilet has a mechanism for flushing with water, but it isn’t necessary. It holds a couple of gallons of pee. With three people using it, we had to empty the pee reservoir once per week. We made a pooping toilet out of a 5 gallon bucket and a toilet seat lid was purchased at Farm and Fleet. It is made to fit on a 5 gallon bucket. Put a plastic garbage bag inside, line that with another paper bag (fold the edges down to fit inside) and pour in enough sawdust to cover the bottom, then put your toilet seat lid back on and you are in business. Always cover your poop with sawdust, so that the stink is minimal. Make a separate paper bag garbage for toilet paper. You could put that inside of a garbage can with a lid, if you like. Do not throw your toilet paper waste into either toilet. You can burn your toilet paper. Sounds gross, I know, but that is why you line your toilet paper waste can with a paper bag, so it can be burned, ince it is full. The reason for the paper bag in the pooper is to absorb excess liquid. We did burn poop for a while — yes, it can be done. But we found it much easier to bury. Make sure you have a bottle of CLR for cleaning your Coleman toilet.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)