- Common Ground
- Basket Workshop
- Knife Workshop
- Off the Grid
- Ice Harvest
- Moose River Region
Photo Gallery - Off the Grid
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