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Photo Gallery - Off the Grid

Outdoor Kitchen - photo by Keliy Anderson-Staley

Living in the woods usually means living off the grid, especially if you are 12 miles from the paved roads. This means no constant electricity and gas from the power company, no running tap water from town, and no land telephone lines.

Luckily, there are alternatives to the mainstream energy sources. We have set up two solar panels in the garden for collecting solar energy, which is used to charge a bank of 12-volt batteries. In the winter time, when there is less and weaker sunlight, we have to run our gas generator to charge up the battery bank. So what can we run with the battery bank? We have 12-volt lights set up throughout the house. With a 1000-watt inverter connected to the battery bank, we can usually run electronics such as a computer, most power tools, a TV, a VCR and DVD players. Of course, you can not leave it on all day. Otherwise, the battery bank will be drained of energy. Having the gas generator requires purchasing gas from town, which can become a major expense. Solar energy is free energy once the equipment is purchased and set up.

So how do we communicate with the outside world? If we did not have to, we would do without a telephone and be happy. Well, since we are too far from telephone poles, we use a digital bag phone attached to a yagi directional antenna. It allows us to communicate with family, friends, customers, and others as needed.

Water is a plentiful resource in our area. We are located around Whipple Pond, so there is usually plenty of water. We also have a well with a hand pump for ground water. Drinking water is filtered through a Berkey ceramic water filter system. We can wash dishes and takes showers with water boiled on the cookstove or on the outdoor fireplace. The necessity of pumping and hauling the water in buckets is healthy exercise that most people would rather do without, but which we enjoy. Most folks prefer to have the convenience of running hot and cold water in their houses. The advantage of hauling water is that we do not have to worry about water pipes freezing or the water pump not working in the winter. The disadvantages are that it is inconvenient to many and requires you to use water sparingly.

So you must be wondering how we stay warm in the cold winters and cook our food without conventional heat and microwave ovens. Well, we burn wood in the kitchen cookstove in the colder months to cook and bake food, heat up water, and to warm up the house. In the warmer months, we burn wood in the cookstove of the outdoor kitchen or in the fireplace outside. The gathering, splitting, and stacking of firewood takes time and energy throughout the year. Once winter comes, we are always glad that our firewood is dry and available for heating up the house.

How do we keep our food from spoiling in the summer time? We put our food and a block of ice inside a homemade cooler in the outdoor kitchen. The cooler is made of wood on the outside, styrofoam insulation in the middle, and a big plastic tub on the inside. The cooler opens from the top. It works well enough to keep food cool for at least two to three days during warm weather. When the ice block has melted, we add a new chunk of ice from the ice house. See the Ice Harvest page for details on how we collect the ice.

Technology has advanced a great deal since a century ago, but it is always nice to live a simpler lifestyle and be self-sufficient.

Ways to Connect with Planet Earth
We live on the only life sustaining planet in this solar system. Cherish the bounty provided. If we pollute and destroy all the sources of our well being, then our future on this planet will be limited.

Are you wore out from working too much?
Unhappy with the way your life is going?
Here are some suggestions for improving your spiritual and mental outlook:

Fresh Air and Exercise
* Take a walk every day, preferably in a natural setting.
* Go camping in a tent.
* Go hiking or canoeing.
* Enjoy the sunshine.
* Smell the rain during a storm.
* Look at the moon and stars at night.
* Listen to and watch the wind, the rain, the birds, the frogs, and other animals.
* Get to know what plants and animals are around you.
* Smell the flowers.
* Take your dog for a walk.
Relationship Building
* Do something fun with family and friends.
* Spend time together at meals.
* Have a good discussion.
* Get to know your family, friends and neighbors.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
* Be aware of what you eat.
* Grow a garden.
* Eat healthier.
* Cook your own meals.
Improve Your Sanity
* Turn off the noise and stress from TV, radio, computer, newspapers, etc.
* Watch less TV. Live your own life!
* Reduce the use of electronic gadgets.
* Have a quiet house.
* Turn on only one or two lights.
* Turn off all the lights and machines so you get well rested from sleeping.
* Reduce your commitments and scheduled activities.
* Spend more time doing what you really enjoy.
* Think positive thoughts.
Slow down.
* Drive the speed limit.
* Do not drive over 55mph.
* Look around.
* Use your car only once a week or less.
* Spend less time at work.
* Stop being a rat in a Rat Race!