acquiring "off the grid skills" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 10-30-2005, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Dh and I are really getting sick of conventional lifestyle and aspire to live off the grid. But I'm never one to take big leaps without a safety net underneath me. So I made a deal with him that we work for the next few years and save up as much money as we can and then we make the move. But a big part of it for me too is that we are so dependent on conventional things.
What skills do we need in order to live off the grid?
What changes can we make now, living in a rural suberb to prepare us for living in the woods?
Is it possible to change a conventional plumbing system to grey water?
*How can I cut down my dependency on electricty?
(We use propane heat and a gasstove for cooking)
Any othe suggestions? Thanks so much
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#2 of 12 Old 10-31-2005, 04:38 AM
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#3 of 12 Old 10-31-2005, 10:14 AM
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Somethings we did.... converted the fridge to propane...I would not suggest it and we probably would not do it again... we are working on going totally solar and then will convert the appliances back... we live on an old farm stead and I have the pleasure of a summer kitchen that has a wood cook stove..
The greatest skill I learned when we first moved off the to put oil and gas int he generator... how to re string the pull cord to it... and how to recognize when it was running out of oil and gas so I could switch the electric water pump over to manuel...

One night I was taking a hot shower.. the generator was humming along... we live about 10 miles in the middle of no where.. and I decided to color my hair...It was maybe 10:00 on a Friday evening... hubby and the boys had gone to a livestock auction... I knew I had plenty of gas in the generator...well here I am with hair dye matted to my head and the generator stops from lack of oil...~ sigh~ me and my matted head self had to drive the way to the country store ( yes the sign says THE COUNTRY STORE)... and mustard up all the pride I could walking past the local deer hunters ready for a night in the fields all dressed in their blaze orange with the start of their budweiser six packs going....I simply smiled ...nodded bought the oil and headed back to rinse out my extremly red hair at that point...Lesson learned.. ALWAYS keep a reserve of oil...LOL
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#4 of 12 Old 11-01-2005, 01:56 AM
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dulcey-what a great story, lol!

Probably the best thing would be to gather as much info as possible. I also think a great thing might be to start a small garden and/or keep a few chickens. Also having some experience with living a little "rough" seems to help the transition, i.e. limited showers, hauling in water, etc. I think also having a few books or magazines around to keep things in perspective helps. When my newest ds was born, I found the reality of diapers and basic newborn care really daunting with no washer and dryer, hand pumped water, etc., so keeping in mind that plently of other people have done this and are doing it seemed to help.
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#5 of 12 Old 11-07-2005, 09:50 AM
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#6 of 12 Old 11-07-2005, 12:53 PM
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Something I have noticed of my friends who wish to live off the grid, is there are a lot of missing skills that most people do not think of.

Can you feed yourself from what is in the pantry for a month? Making things from scratch? Have you figured out how to store your goods? Do you know how to preserve foods for later in the year when the garden is done? Do you know how to make/mend clothes? Do you know how to light a propane/gas stove? Do you know how to build a fire?

Some of these things may sound like they are no brainers but start asking yourself what you would need if there was not a store down the street. After Hurricane Rita, people in our area were running out of food after two days because they did not know how to buy and cook at home. I have taught a friend how to bake bread because she wants to live on the land, sustainable, siimply but was not even cooking at home.

Start with simple things and grow your skill set. Some of these skills will actually help you save money and allow you to go sooner.
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#7 of 12 Old 11-07-2005, 03:06 PM
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Great thread!

I do agree with ladywolf about doing what you can now, start learning to do basic things before you make the move.

I wanted to add, you ask about switching a conventional plumbing system to graywater...for things like that it might be tough to do in the suburbs as most are zoned now and the health dept usually isn't too accomodating : I know because even our country land is zoned so there are compromises we're having to make already and I don't like it.

But when you move, things like that are possible. I really liked the book Create a Graywater Oasis by Art Ludwig...he knows his stuff about graywater systems!! I think reading a lot and learning from others experiences and mistakes is highly valuable.

Good luck!!

C ~ mama to (16), (13), (9) (5)

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#8 of 12 Old 11-17-2005, 11:34 PM
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Thank you so much for this "cautionary tale". Normally all you hear is how wonderful and fulfilling it is to live off the grid. What a refreshing dose of reality (not to mention a belly laugh!!)

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#9 of 12 Old 11-19-2005, 03:01 AM
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I am watching this thread. My DF and I are hoping to live off the grid someday with a whole lot of country living mixed in.
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#10 of 12 Old 12-07-2005, 11:07 PM
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I agree with LadyWolf. Spend some time working on the basic skills like cooking, fixing your car, changing oil and the like. Repairing things around the house. Mending cloth can be useful. Learn about natural ways to promote healing (herbs, homeopathy, first aid, etc.) Basic gardening skills are great to have. Carepentry skills would not only be useful for your homestead but might give you a way to earn some cash or barter. The old fashioned art of money management and frugality is EXTREMELY useful no matter where you live. Start some fulfilling but useful and cheap hobbies to take with you (playing an instrument maybe) so you have access to entertainment. Learn to live on 1/2 of your current income and save the rest of the money. I wonder if the hardest thing about simple country living is just changing the mindset. Maybe the best skill is to learn to be content with what you have...
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#11 of 12 Old 12-12-2005, 12:16 AM
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#12 of 12 Old 01-02-2006, 05:58 AM
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