An off-grid life is a goal for many of us and being self-sufficient is what prepping is all about. However, the adjustments to an off-grid life may be difficult for some people. If they don’t get used to the routine they will bounce back on the grid. In this article, you will read about the confessions of a family that has been living off the grid since 2001. It provides a big picture of what you should expect if you want an off-grid life.
I wrote in a previous article about the off-grid limitations that no one tells you about and it was really appreciated by readers. Some of them wrote to tell me about their experience while others didn’t agree with my opinions. However, most people are convinced that an off-grid life is something you have to fight for, regardless the difficulties you will encounter. Mary Collins, wrote me a long email describing her off-grid life on her 50 acres homestead. She and her husband Tom, decided to start a new life completely off the grid and offer their children a life that is not poisoned by all the technology and chaos that can be found in major cities.
They use wind and solar power to provide electricity and cut their own wood to fuel their stoves. When it comes to food, they grow their own vegetables and fruits. They have goats and rabbits that provide a good source of meat. Tom also supplements the meals with meat he is able to obtain through hunting.
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As Mary said, an off-grid life is all about the routine and you get used to it after a while. You don’t have to think about turning the lights off when you get out of the room, you do it instinctively. You don’t have to remember to bring in wood for the stove, you just do it.
According to Mary, here are the ups and downs of an off-grid life as a firsthand experience:
Time is never enough for an off-grid life
This is the biggest obstacle for them and the situation varies from year to year. There are some years when they are good and they have everything stacked and the gardens are all cleared out. So, they have some sit back time in the summer. Mary says that “there is always something to be done around here”. You have to take care of it because no one else will. Her husband used to be stressed about not having enough time. After the first three years he understood that there is always something that doesn’t get done, no matter how much you struggle. They agreed that an off-grid life requires a good time planning and they have to always prioritize chores.
No television and no internet is part of the off-grid life
They do have all of this, but they don’t have the time to use it. Tom and Mary don’t miss the TV and the computer so much. They consider the computer a tool that helps them get things done since most of the things they need are online, like banking. However, the kids, especially the youngest one do miss the TV and for them it’s like a well-deserved prize. They are not allowed to spend too much time in front of the TV or the Computer because it will take a toll on their energy supplies. They want their kids to experience what an off-grid life means.
You need to keep the kids busy when you have an off-grid life
Since the kids aren’t allowed to stay in front of the computer all day long, they need to find other ways to entertain themselves. The opportunities for the kids aren’t plentiful if you have an off-grid life and there aren’t as many things to do. This can be a big drawback for some and it’s the same for Mary. Her kids don’t have any friends close by and she constantly needs to find ways to keep them busy. They look for ways to enhance the social opportunities for their kids and for example their daughter is very involved with the local Girl Scout troop.
Tom manages to keep the kids busy without struggling as they always want to help him with various chores. They both agree that it will be difficult to keep them busy when they grow up. Having pets is something that Mary and Tom recommend and it really helps the kids to cope better with the off-grid life.
An off-grid life requires you to frugal when it comes to energy
Living off the grid means getting used to cut back on your energy use. You have to cut back on using things like the microwave. They get all their energy from solar panels and a windmill built by Tom, but as a plan B they also have a power generator fueled by a propane tank. They try to use it as little as possible, but during the cold season they have no choice and that’s really not up to them. That is the time when the kids spend most of their time on the computer and it really takes a toll on their energy supply. Being miserly with the electricity is something that took time to adapt to in their off-grid life and they still have occasional slips.
An off-grid life keeps the friends away
Far away friends and not having their family around is one of the hardest part of an off-grid life. Mary said “The rural lifestyle we cherish can take away our friends”. It’s hard for them to keep in touch with their friends because they don’t want to come way out there and sometimes it gets lonely. They see their neighbors only a few times a year and that’s it. They keep it all to themselves and although it is nice to have the quiet and privacy, sometimes is hard for them.
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Safer environment can be provided by an off-grid life
They feel that overall, the homestead provides a safe environment for the kids and they don’t have to worry about them. They let them out the back door and they know they’re going to be safe. There isn’t anything they can get into that’s going to be a problem and this is a reassuring feeling for Mary and Tom. They don’t have to stress about their kids and they always know where they are. It’s something that they wouldn’t be able to get in a big city.
Having an off-grid life will assure a healthier living
Mary said that although there’s a lot of work involved in growing their own food, they do get peace of mind in knowing what’s on their plate. Their food is healthier and it’s something they enjoy every day. Since she is doing a lot of canning, they have a good amount of winter supplies. There is no better satisfaction than being able to get something from the pantry and know what went into the jars. You can’t get the same reassuring feeling when you buy something from the store, you don’t know if it’s organic, what pesticides they used or how it was caned.
Their kids are not exposed to temptations like junk food and they don’t live in a polluted environment. According to Mary, her family members never suffered from a serious illness since they adopted an off-grid life. She believes they are able to build a better body immunity by living in their current environment.
You get more independence with an off-grid life
Besides independence, they get a good sense of security knowing that their family is far away from any upsetting forces in the outside world. You worry less about natural or man-made disasters and you don’t have the stress level provided by the average home. You don’t have to put so much energy into protecting your home from the criminal elements of society. Even more, you don’t worry if the power goes out and stress about food going bad. They know that if something bad will happen they will be okay. They have all the food and water they need and they are able to produce more of it in their off-grid life.
You have options, even if you have an off-grid life
In 2013 Mary decided to take a part-time job in the nearest town. Since then, she divides her time between her on-grid and off-grid life. She took this decision in order to see if she can re-adapt to the modern world and to get a change of scenery. The job provides an additional income and it’s a good chance for her to get away from the homestead. It helps her interact with the women from her community. Mary said that it provided her with a break from the kids (I’m certain she was joking) and it was a good opportunity to prove herself that you are not chained to the off-grid life and it’s just a matter of one’s personality. You don’t have to be isolated and you can enjoy the most of both worlds.
As I’ve understood from the email, the Collins family continues the work to make their homestead as efficient as possible. Their next project will increase their power supplies by installing a newer generation of solar panels.
From my point of view, they are living the dream of many preppers and survivalist. Their confessions provide us with a good understanding of what an off-grid life implies. Thank you Mary and Tom Collins for sharing your experience with us!
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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