There are so many people that can not understand what it is like to live off the grid in a little pine cabin in the woods so far out that the ambulance refuses to come to in an emergency. They ask how to you do this and that and what do you do about those times and the questions to them seem hard to answer, mostly because people have a hard time believing life could function like that. But to someone living off grid, like this, the answers come easy because it is their life. Living in a city someplace you can explain everything to someone in the country easy because you live the city life.
But more than once I know, I or my wife have been asked how we do some of life’s everyday activities. Well the short answer is we do it as best we can and we do it not much different than how it was done for hundreds of years and we do it as we have learned. So here are some of the best answers to some of the hardest questions we have had the experience of answering.
Q- How to you take a shower if you have no running water?
A- We sponge bath, take a large pot fill it with water and heat it up in the winter and enjoy its coolness in the summer. OR We simply rig up a 3 gallon, or so, used water bottle and hang it in a tree. Alternatively, in the warm months, we make a trip to a river nearby us and swim/bath when we feel the need.
Q- Do you have lights? How do you see at night?
A- Yes we have lights. Just because we are not on the grid does not mean that we do not have lights. We use lanterns that are fueled with oil and have used ones fueled with propane and kerosene . We use candles when we have no fuel and we use battery powered lights known as 12 volt lights when we have a charged battery available. In the day we do not need lights, no one does actually.
Q- How do you keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer?
A- In the summer we spend a lot of time under shade trees. We take it easy on very hot days and drink a lot of water. Since we have a nearby river we may jump in the river from time to time to cool off before going back to what we were doing. When we have a charged battery we can run a fan in our cabin window using a power converter and batteries but most of the time we save that energy for lights in the evening. In the winter we use a wood burning stove. But believe it or not, over the course of years our bodies have become acclimatized to the temperatures. We spend so much time in the temperatures, instead of in a controlled environment such as in the city. Humans have lost their ability to do this because they live in controlled environments. But your body never forgets.
Q- Do you hunt for your food?
A- Although we can hunt on our homestead or where ever, if we needed to we choose to save constant hunting for a last resort, we shoot small game from time to time to enjoy. We grow our own food, veggies, fruit, we harvest wild edible plants and berries and nuts and herbs and mushrooms too. We raise our own meats. But we go to town from time to time and grab a few bags of groceries to keep our pantry stocked. We always shop at a discount store and buy 90 percent organic and non GMO foods.
Q- Don’t you get bored with no TV, computer or radio, no electricity must be boring sometimes.
A- One thing about living in the woods on a homestead like this is that there is always something to do. Since we use wood for cooking and heating with we can always gather, cut or split wood. There is the garden and animals to tend to, and that takes a long time. Since we have 5 wooded acres we can always go into the trees and find something to entertain ourselves with. If we get to bored we can always got for a walk down a country road or stay in the cabin and play games. During gardening season, we never get bored for sure. You get used to no electronics. And when you do, it feels so good.
Q- Aren’t you afraid of wild animals?
A- No, we do not have a problem with “stupid” animals, that is… wild animals are to smart to come around where there is a human presence, most of the time. We have smart wild animals that stay away and we also have guard dogs, a few, in fact, that will not allow anything to come near our land boundaries. But again, you get used to living so close to them and you stay away, if you are smart, and they will not bother you either. Then there is the spiritual aspect where we believe and have experienced becoming more attuned to nature, which makes the animals…even bugs, act different towards us.
Q- How do you use the toilet if you have no running water?
A- Well there is this idea called composting. Along with that is a host of awesome sustainable practices that come into play. One of those practices is using a compost toilet. It is a simple set up of a wooden box much like a toilet, with a 5 gallon bucket under it. We use that as our toilet and we use some sort of organic material to cover with, such as saw dust. The waste is collected in a compost bin outside and allowed to sit for a year composting, decaying into actual usable soil.
Q- How do you keep food cold?
A- We do not use much cold foods. A lot of foods that people usually keep in their refrigerator does not even need to be refrigerated, even if it says so. This is a play on consumerism. In fact, if you do not refrigerate your chicken eggs, they will keep longer on the counter! We have changed out lives to where we do not keep leftovers, we cook what we eat and we eat it. If we don’t right then, we eat it before it spoils and we have almost mastered knowing just how long food can retain it’s safety with no refrigeration. But IF we do use cold foods we eat it fast and store it in a cooler with ice. We could just as easy build an old fashioned root cellar too.
Q- How do you wash clothes?
A- Another consumerism play. Clothes do not need to be washed nearly as often as people have been taught. We wash clothes in 5 gallon buckets using a plunger by hand and we hand ring the clothes and line dry in the summer outside. In winter, we can do this in the cabin and hang the clothing near the wood stove OR we can simple travel into town twice a month and wash at a coin laundry.
Q- Where do you get water?
A- many places actually. We have access to friends wells in the area, if we want. But we would much rather take a trip to the local river, which is spring fed, and harvest water using barrels, a water hose, a power converter and our vehicle battery. We can alternatively walk to a spring on our property and bring water up to the cabin with a barrel, bucket etc. by simply hand harvesting it. We always catch and use rain water.
Looking for or need more information about living off the grid? Check out these books by the author: