Friday, March 18, 2011

A Different Solar Life

We live very differently than most.  The nearest power lines are about ten miles away, as the crow flies!  Because of that, we live off grid.  Generating our own power teaches us not to take energy for granted.  Want to run the bread machine?  Well, it will help to know if the sun is shining first!

The same goes for laundry (drier machine is the sun, ie clothes line!), freezers, crock pot, coffee maker, hair dryer, microwave, television, and so on.  All the things one naturally takes for granted living with the power grid.  You think twice about leaving lights on in a room with no one in it when you generate and store your own power!

Another precious commodity we all naturally take for granted is water...

If you want water, you gotta drill for it.  It doesn't come when you turn on the water faucet unless you've drilled, set a water pump, set up storage, trenched and set water lines, and made all the necessary connections.  If you don't want your lines to freeze, you bury them at least a foot or more deep.  Then you wrap any exposed lines and inlets in the hopes that they still don't freeze!  Every year we have had to deal with frozen lines somewhere.  Nasty icy winds tend to find the least protected points.

Got a snack attack?  Want to zip down to the corner store and pick up a gallon of ice cream?  Hahahaha!  Not here!  You gotta plan for those attacks!  Or make your own sweet-tooth remedy...

 At least I have help in that department!

When you live 60 miles (on a good day) away from the nearest town, nothing is on a whim!  Weather changes the conditions of the 17 miles of dirt road we must travel before reaching the two lane highway, which in turn eventually connects to the interstate.  Rains can flood the Big Sandy making the main crossing uncrossable.

A second exit option lies on a route which adds another 20 minutes of dirt road down stream.  If that crossing is uncrossable too, then you go another 30 minutes to the third option.  If this third crossing is flooded as well, the last option takes you all the way down past the tiny community of Wikieup where there is a bridge built for the highway.  A normal trip to town is just over one hour.  But depending on the weather, rains, floods, washouts, muddy road conditions, it can be well over two hours away.

Need a restroom on the way to town?  Ok, all-naturale! 

Pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home from work?  Nope.  Work is here on the ranch or just down the highway, no conveniences in between but home itself.  There are no water, electrical or sewer systems in place here.  We live in pristine rural mountain deserts!

 Our road snakes its way up through foot hills and mountain passes.

Homeschooling is the most obvious and logical choice for this rural family.  Since my first child I started thinking homeschooling may be a great idea, never knowing it would turn into a necessity! 

I'm always researching new ways to handle gardening techniques.  One of my nearest neighbors is a cattle rancher and his wife.  She keeps all kinds of great books on hand.  After I'm done borrowing a book, all I need to do is drop it off in a mailbox instead of always driving all the way to their house.

This mailbox is too far from any postal route to receive any mail, but it does serve as a handy rural drop-off point!

To cut down on the grocery bill, in any way is very helpful, and downright necessary lately.

Garden-wise, this is a  pile of 'help' that accumulated over the winter months, complements of our goats and llamas.  Just a couple of days ago we transported this pile, and the horse manure in the background that was already here, up the hill to dump into the garden beds.

 This is where all the help for our homesteading comes from.

...eggs, meat...

...and milk.

And my Miracle Worker is the one who makes this all possible!

A little camera shy...

...but a first-rate equipment operator!

Without him, nothing would feel as worthwhile as it does now.  We are both living and building a dream that ultimately is all about the journey we are taking together.  Hopefully our children will be able to appreciate this special path in life!

Surrounded by my favorite people, the wilderness, and my gardens, what more could I possibly need?
We are truly blessed!

This post is linked to the Farmgirl Friday blog hop
Come take a look and enjoy visiting other Farm Girls at heart!


  1. LOVE reading about your farm and living off grid. so very cool!

    happy day!

  2. Wow! Reading about all you do is amazing! I would love to be off grid, but hubby doesn't share the excitement. I have always wanted to live a very simple, down to earth life. Being free from the power company would be a dream, the prices keep going up. Love your milk goats, that's my next dream, waiting on hubby to catch up with that dream. ~smile~ God Bless! By the way thanks for coming by my blog for a visit, and for the nice comment.

  3. Thank you for linking up today for the Farmgirl Friday Blog hop! You are living an old dream of ours...I lOVE your off grid desert homestead. You have accomplished a lot! We too have land off grid in the high desert of northern Nevada. Once, we dreamed of doing just what you are doing but not all roads let there. Instead, we are firmly planted in New England and spend part of most summers in a tiny solar powered beach cottage. Funny how some dreams still turn out, they just look different the original vision. It does my heart good to see all you have accomplished there! Oh, we homeschool too! Ten years now! Thanks again for linking up! Great post!
    Your place will be an inspiration to others following in your footsteps. Do you have an annual Solar Tour in your area? Thats' a neat way to meet folks who want to live the simple solar, homesteading life.

  4. Thanks for coming by and commenting. I always appreciate that. I am so glad to have found another homesteader blog to follow. We are just in the very beginning stages and learning to give up things like the microwave/dishwasher/dryer even though they are still in our home. I am tired of the expensive electric bills and relying on modern appliances that seem to break at the worst times. Hope to visit again soon.

  5. Marcia, thank you!
    Happy Momma, living off grid is the ultimate in self-sufficiency and independence. It's wonderful! It's American!!! Good luck to you in all your dreams coming true, I'm sure they will, in one form or another!
    Deborah, unfortunately there is no Solar Tour in these parts, but what we want to do is eventually set up cowboy tents/cabins outfitted with solar so that people can come experience independent energy! My husband's motto is/will be, "Live it, learn it, love it!" Thank you for sharing your story, it's nice to know how dreams stay alive, yet in their own forms!

  6. Sarah, boy do I hear ya! We don't even miss those things anymore! Enjoy your growing independence!!!