Homesteaders, Off-gridders and Preppers- Welcome!

Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness

Aerial View of our Homestead on Hockley Lake

Our Remote Off-Grid Wilderness Homestead

 

To homesteaders, off-gridders and preppers everywhere- Greetings from the Canadian wilderness! Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness!

Imagine if you can, living so remote that access is only by float plane. You won’t see another person for 6 months at a time.

Twin Otter landing on Hockley Lake

Twin Otter Landing at Hockley Lake

No daily mail delivery, no commute to a mundane 9 to 5 job, no easy access to malls and supermarkets, and none of civilization’s chaos and noise. Nothing but the silence of the forest encompasses you. Continue reading

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Farewell Hockley Lake!

I wanted to give an update on our life. As some of you know, we’ve been on one big, long adventure. We’ve homesteaded off-grid for the past 37 years. The last 17 have been spent alone in the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan on remote Hockley Lake.

Wilderness River North of Our Off-grid Homestead

Wilderness River North of Our Off-grid Homestead

We’ve been on the cusp of a major change. We have one more adventure in life before we hit the checkout counter and that is to move to Nova Scotia, somewhere on or close to the ocean, to start over again and build a new off-grid homestead from scratch. The last 6 months have been spent packing and preparing. Continue reading

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Floor Plan For The Perfect Homestead Dwelling – Part 2

Welcome back! In this part of designing the perfect homestead dwelling, I’ll discuss more factors to consider when developing your floor plan, beginning with the workshop.

At the Maine homestead, the workshop was attached to the barn. This was convenient for tool storage since most repairs took place outside but it was inconvenient for Ron to do his woodworking. He’d have to make a fire and warm up the shop before any work could take place so he seldom engaged in his hobby.

Johanna's "Woman Cave"

Johanna’s “Woman Cave”

Here, the shop is an enclosed room in the house. Enclosed so wood shavings and dust are contained. It’s somewhat inconvenient having to run inside to fetch tools when Ron is working outside, but that’s balanced out by the fact that he’s more inclined to do wood working since his shop is located in the heated house. If you’re able to locate the shop so that it’s near the entrance, tramping through the house to retrieve tools when working outside is kept to a minimum. Continue reading

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Floor Plan for the Perfect Homestead Dwelling Part 1

Designing the floor plan for the perfect homestead dwelling, whether it be on or off the grid requires careful thought and consideration. Let’s face it. You’ll be engaging in activities most people have never dreamed of doing. Certainly modern houses aren’t designed with activities such as butchering and food preservation in mind so you’ll need to devise areas and work spaces with these activities in mind.

If you’ve purchased property with an existing house but plan on doing some remodeling, you can incorporate many of the features I’ll discuss. Doing so will make your homesteading life easier and more enjoyable.

If you’re building the house on your homestead from scratch, you have a wonderful opportunity to include features into your floor plan that are integral components of an efficient, smooth running homestead dwelling. Continue reading

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Homestead Road Building

Busting a road through the woods is an expensive proposition. You may have to pay a logger to drop trees. You will have to hire a bulldozer to clear the roadway. Then you will need to pay for load after load of gravel that will be hauled by a dump truck. If you are trying to convert a boggy area to a road, you will be astounded at how much gravel the area sucks up before you have a passable road. For spots with high spring run off or year round flows, you may even need to purchase culverts. All these expenses need to be factored in when figuring the cost of homestead road building.

Road Building to My Maine Homestead

Road Building to My Maine Homestead

Out of curiosity, I inquired years ago how driveways through the woods are priced in Canada. Per foot was the response. A lot per foot as it turned out. It was an absurd figure. So absurd, I never bothered to put it in my memory vault for future retrieval. Paying a pile of money per foot to bust a trail through the woods wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime. Continue reading

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The Indoor Outhouse

In my last post, The Homestead Outhouse, I alluded to the fact that there is an indoor version as well. Composting toilet manufacturers probably wouldn’t be too keen on my characterization, but an outdoors outhouse is essentially a chamber that solids drop into for composting. A commercial composting toilet is essentially the same concept. So let’s chat about the homestead’s indoor outhouse.

Our Off-grid Homestead Bathroom

Our Off-grid Homestead Bathroom

In Maine, many years ago, we purchased a non-electric composting toilet. Liquids (urine) were supposed to magically evaporate and solids were to turn into a nice crumbly compost. It was a nice idea but it didn’t work. In fact, it was a disaster. I installed it properly including the vent tube through the roof and ultimately installed a small fan hoping to aid the evaporation process. What really happened was a mostly solid mass formed in the rotating drum. This occurred even though we added other organic matter after each use. Because the drum door didn’t close properly sometimes, with each turn of the crank handle, some debris fell from the drum into the collection tray, mixed with the liquid urine and formed a disgusting goo. And guess who had to clean out the mess? It was an expensive fixture that turned out to be essentially unusable and a waste of space.

I would discourage everyone from a non-electric composting toilet. Any composting toilet should be an electric version that has a heater and fan to really heat and dissipate moisture. Even though I put one of those small metal wind driven turbine fans on the stack pipe outside, it didn’t make a difference. Just not enough air flow to draw moisture out of the toilet. Continue reading

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The Homestead Outhouse

Welcome back. I had a question from a fellow homesteader about outhouses. We used an outhouse for 20 years in Maine and I’ve used them in remote exploration camps too. To a degree, even in our current off-grid home, we use an indoor outhouse. Seriously, an indoor outhouse? Sure, and I’ll talk about our current toilet setup in my next post. But for now, let’s talk about a traditional homestead outhouse.

Be aware, in some localities outhouses may not be legal. Check the laws and ordinances in your locale. Assuming a privy is legal, placement of an outhouse is a critical component of any safe waste disposal system. In this case, human waste. We all seek safe, clean drinking water so unless you want “flavored” water, it is critical to locate the outhouse a suitable distance from any well or drinking water source. Please don’t take chances with water borne diseases. Locate the outhouse well away from your water source. Figure 100 feet as a starting point. You may wish to ask your state public health department about the recommended set back distances from wells and property lines. Continue reading

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The Homestead Plan – Part 2

Welcome back! Continuing on from yesterday’s discussion, I asked numerous questions and suggested ascertaining all the different attributes of your property and mapping them out. Now let’s start to lay out your homestead plan using that information.

Laying Out the Elements of Your Homestead

If at all possible, I would situate the house so that the living areas face south. Why? Admitting natural light to the living room, dining area and kitchen makes for a brighter home, helps combat SAD(season affect disorder) and may mean needing artificial light for fewer hours in the day, a plus for any off-grid home. Having large picture windows that face south guarantee all of the above. Two other positives, in winter you will gain much heat from solar radiation on sunny days and come spring, you will have full sunny window sills for your garden seedlings. At the Maine homestead, the living room picture window faced west. The house was rather dark even on sunny days and our garden seedlings weren’t the best. Here at the wilderness homestead, we have 2 big picture window that face south. The difference in the brightness of the living spaces is dramatic as is the quality of my seedlings.

Continue reading

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The Homestead Plan – Part 1

I’ve written numerous articles regarding the basics; what to look for in a homestead site as well as options for the homestead water supply. At this point, I’d like to tie things together a bit. Let’s call it the homestead plan.

For someone just starting out with an existing property or for those who are still contemplating an off-grid homesteading lifestyle, the transition can seem daunting. How do I get started and what do I tackle first?

Questions to Think About

Presumably, while searching for your homestead plot, you have taken some of my suggestions from my earlier post Selecting Your Homestead Site to heart, and you have made the exciting purchase of a piece of land. The following questions will hopefully further define exactly what you wish to accomplish with your property now that you own it and how best to set everything up. For those with an existing house in the country who wish to be more self-reliant, the same questions will apply. Continue reading

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Increase Your Chances of Homesteading Success

Since the start of our posting, we have made a logical step by step analysis of the many considerations a person needs to ponder when contemplating a move to an off-grid homestead. Having done this for 37 years, it is second nature to us and has become our natural way of life. Personally, we can’t imagine any other lifestyle, but we realize that many of the aspects and concepts of off-grid life are foreign to the general population. We want you to share in the good life. It is our hope that our website and posts increase your chances of homesteading and prepping success.

Maine Home under Construction

Maine Home under Construction

To that end, I write this post as a reality check. It is a gentle prod for you to think everything through completely. It is so nice to fantasize about the simple little cabin in the woods surrounded by a lush garden with no cares in the world when you are stuck in a traffic jam or seated behind your desk at work. However, when it comes time to make your dream a reality, the path to success is often strewn with unanticipated pitfalls, any of which may seem insurmountable at the time unless you’ve thought ahead and have at least the seed of an alternative strategy in your mind. We hope we can help you achieve your goal of self-reliance by sharing our experiences with you. We encourage you to ask questions and comment. Continue reading

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Homestead Hot Water – A Thermosiphon Loop

In my previous post on homestead hot water, homestead-hot-water-part-1/ I discussed the hot water set up we had at the Maine homestead, the most basic system possible. For 20 years, we lugged buckets of water in by hand from a hand pump outside, poured the water into pots, set the pots on one of our wood stoves to heat and then we carried the hot water to the tub, sink or washer. This was great for building muscle and character. But yikes, there had to be a better way! And there is. A thermosiphon loop!

Our Canadian homestead has a piston pump and draws from a hand dug well. You can read about it here. homestead water supply That pump/pressure tank combination supplies pressurized water to the house. A wood cook stove in the kitchen set up with a thermosiphon loop and a storage tank provide our off-grid homestead’s hot water. Continue reading

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