Off Grid Livin'

In the recent past we have been frequently asked the question, “how do you actually live without electricity?” In response to those who asked and to any of you who may be also wondering, here is our answer.
  We have been off grid for about 17 years now. For 7 of those years we had our water hand pumped {from a spring} on the back porch {summer kitchen} and had an out house too.  We now, with gravity flow spring water, have a wonderful in-house bathroom! Most of the time we use kerosene lamps for light  and of course the natural sunlight in the day. The nearest power lines are about 4 miles away! Our wood cook stove is for heating {our only source for heating} and of course cooking, heating water and more. We have learned that we don’t really need all the gadgets that we are condition to believe we need. Also, that electric meter {like we used to have} is running {charging you money by the second} whether any appliance is being used or not! Big wheels keep on turning! The bill you pay, pays for more that just the energy you use. Think about it- better yet do research on it! We prefer alternative energy- water, wind, solar etc.,but we don’t have or use all these sources. We learned at first that a good wood cook stove, gravity flow water, and a few oil lamps will get you going. We do juice a lot and use a vita mix. These do take power- in the last few years we attained 3 small solar panels and a few batteries to run these useful tools. We also have a generator that we use only at certain times if we need to. It’s nice, but we are not dependent on it, good thing with the price of fuel these days! We sew totally on foot powered, treadle sewing machines. We wash our dishes by hand and we have a James Washer to wash clothes that we use in nice weather {you can find these in Lehman’s Catalog}. We do use a wonderful old wringer washer {a Speed Queen} let me tell you, those machines were made to last, folks! We use it when it is very cold, it’s powered by our generator for now, but we are looking forward to adding a few batteries to our little solar system and getting our wringer washer going without using gas! We grind our wheat with a Country Living hand-cranked grain mill. We had a neighbor attach it to an old exercise bike so now we can all take turns peddling our grain mill! It works great and you can get great exercise! Before you know it you have beautiful, fresh ground whole wheat flour ready to bake with! For the few things that we do freeze, we rent a freezer space about 4 miles down the road at a neighbors house {where they have electricity hook up}. But we mostly can and dry our store of food and of course harvest fresh right out of the garden in season. We love to work and make things with our hands and use our heads when we go about using energy. We are for tools of all kinds, and we are learning to be good stewards of what resources we have been blessed with! Hope this had been helpful to y’all!
                                                           Vicki at Homestead Blessings

41 comments:

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

this is fantastic ) :) :) I really enjoyed reading about how you live off the grid. I'm in th city, so it's not quite possible here. However, with energy, I discovered something...when the appliances are p lugged but off, they are still using 40% of the power that they use when "on"...so where I can, I completely unplug from the electrical outlet. That means, when we're not watching tv, it's completely unplugged from the wall. When my father and I started doing that one simple little thing, we noticed our bill went down :) :)

Oh, where did you find your foot-powered treadle sewing machine? I'd love to find one of those someday!!!!

Thanks for the great article :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Rosie said...

What a nice post Miss Vicki!
We have been thinking of you gals down in the sunny south, while we are surrounded be cold and snow!
Miss you all, and big hello from all the Clan here!!!
Love you guys :)...Rosie (for all)

Katy~The Country Blossom said...

How wonderful for you to share all that with us! :)
I love that you can ride the bike to grind the flour!

I hope you each are doing well and enjoying your days! Thank-you for taking the time to write and share with us!
Warmly,
Katy :)

Michelle, a heart at home said...

I love it! My husband and I had always talked of going off-grid, but now I'm not seeing it happen--our son became interested in diesel mechanics and they do some other "mechanical" things that require power tools. I have often thought that we could always get power for their garage, but leave the house off....hmmm....but right now we live in the heart of a largish city, so most of it's out of the question anyway----for now. :-)
Thank you for sharing how you do it--and re-kindling a long held interest.

Michelle, a heart at home said...

BTW-I loved the idea of the exercise bike hooked up to the grain mill---now that's something I could do---even in the city. :-)

Nancy said...

Thankyou for writing this. I think it is very timely.

happy momma said...

Great to hear from you dear folks. I think a lot of people will be looking for ways to cut back sooner or later, it's wonderful that you are already living this lifestyle and thriving. I just wanted to tell you that I was blessed last year and won a complete set of your Homestead Blessings dvds. (I still need the craft dvd) I love them. I put them in an it's like visiting with dear friends. I also live in TN, just several hours away from you guys, sure wish we were neighbors. Thanks for being who you are and sharing with others. God Bless

CWHill said...

I love your post and your great videos. This would be a great idea for your next video "livin off the grid".

Pamela Graham said...

internet?

Amelia said...

You all are such a blessing, our family loves your videos, I can't wait to show them this blog entry...We are moving back to the country this very week. I cannot tell you how timely this entry is. The Lord has used your family greatly to encourage our family here. We have four daughters at home ages 17 to 28. : )

God bless you! In Christ's love, ~Amelia

Mrs.Rabe said...

So thankful for your encouragement in living a simple life.

God bless you and the girls!

Deanna

The Simple Girl said...

Wow! I think that is wonderful! I don't know if I could do that, but I love trying to find ways to save energy and being simplistic. God bless! :D

Anonymous said...

How do you use the internet w/o electric

Laura Jeanne said...

Thank you for sharing this info with us, and thank you for allowing comments now on your blog. It's nice to be able to tell you how much I always enjoy your posts. I am not living in the country yet, but will be before too long, if it is meant to be.

I love your blog and your videos too. So far I only have the quilting one, but it has been more helpful than any book in helping me get started. I look forward to adding more of your videos to my collection as my budget allows.

Thanks again and God bless!

Michelle said...

What a wonderful treat to be able to leave a comment for you. I just want to tell you what an amazing blessing you have been to our home. I am watching my young girls grow up and desire to learn the skills of yesterday . . that are slowly disappearing from society. The girls and I love watching your Homestead Blessing DVDs.

As I was sitting here pondering your post, oh, how I would love to go off-grid but, then I thought how sad I would be to lose my connection, my "electric connection" that is, to your beautiful posts as well as some of the other special blogs I read to inspire me along my walk with Christ. Godly women to hold us accountable are so necessary. Thank you for blessing my life and my children's lives.
Blessings,
Michelle

Shara said...

My hubby and I dream of mountain living on less, but for now constraints keep us here (on the coast of NC). We've simplified as much as we can here and still maintain his business. Thank you for sharing how y'all do things. Lets my mind dream a little more in detail.

Toyin O. said...

Wow, I admire your graciousness in living the simple life. Thanks for sharing.

Don and Shelly said...

Ladies, we've notice on the DVDs that you're cooking on an electric stove and you have a stainless steel refridgerator off to the right of the camera. Do these run off of your solar panels or are these moments taped on a set? By the way, we love the DVDs... we have them all!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Thank you for answering those questions!

I'm in my 50s and when I grew up, our house in the country had electricity but we still had a hand pump in the side yard as well as an outhouse as our only bathroom.

I've been enjoying your DVDs and then sending them to my daughter and young granddaughters. Except they don't have the herb DVD, yet. I'm still going back to it all the time for reference. I LOVE the basil vinegar. :)

Hope you are working on new DVD's.

Don and Shelly said...

Ladies, by the way we were wondering... do you enjoy a good love story? We're posting a true story on our blog and we think people may really enjoy it. It's the story of 2 Christian kids that fell in love. We've posted 5 parts so far and below is the link to part 1. Check it out and let us know what you think:

http://hlministries.blogspot.com/2011/02/ill-be-seeing-you-love-story.html

~Don & Shelly~

Cynthia Francisco said...

Love this post Vicki!! <3
You've taught my daughter and me sooooo much. I've learned to take baby steps and not get discouraged. I would looooove to be off the grid! Simple living...there's so much wisdom in it. Thanks for your words, your wisdom, and also your encouragement. Love to you and your beautiful daughters!
Cynthia Francisco (& Sophia)

Terry said...

Hello Homestead Blessings

You all are a blessing, This is almost the way I grow up,and now I'm trying to go back to it and show my daughter how great it can be. The world can eat you up, with all the things in the world, and make you think you can't live without it, I thank GOD that I was brought up different, and I know better, and I think we forget to ask God what we should do, we think we have to have all or some of the worlds things, the worlds way makes us want more. And take God's blessing away from us. I want more GOD, not more world.
Thank you Ladies for being what God wants you to be, and thank you for sharing, sometimes the world want you to think that there is no one like us out there, anymore, but that is how the world get's us to change to it's way.
Thank you for showing it can be done, and what a blessing it is.
I love all of you. May God Bless you all in a very special way

Terry
Homeschooling Farm

Renata said...

Thank you Vicki - this was very interesting to read! I really admire what you are doing there!
Have a wonderful day
Renata:)

Anonymous said...

Don and Shelly,
I am not the West Ladies but I might be able to answer your question about the kitchen in the cooking DVD's. I had e-mailed Franklin Springs before and asked where that was filmed and they said that it was filmed at the house of some folks who are friends of the Wests. I was curious too, since I knew they don't have electricity.

Valerie

An Amish Table said...

Thanks Valerie for clearing that up. I too was curious about the cook top stove and fridge. I just assumed it was solar power. Thanks for letting us know it was filmed at a friends house. ;)

Elese said...

Thank you Vicki for this post. It was so helpful and informative. I love the idea of attaching your wheat grinder to a bike--very innovative and smart! You ladies are always such an encouragement to me. Blessings! Elese

Anonymous said...

My sweet mother tried to teach my sister and me many of the skills that you ladies share in your DVDs when we were still at home but we weren't interested then. Now we're married and have our own families and mama has passed away and we could kick ourselves for not listening and paying attention when she was trying to teach us. We have enjoyed your DVDs very much and you ahve inspired us to give things a try. I made candles a few weeks ago and my sister made jam last summer for the first time. I inherited all of my mom and grandmother's canning things because I was the only one who liked canning. I sure enjoy your blog and the beautiful photos you always post. BTW, Vicki, you look and sound so much like my Aunt Bulah, I could just hug you!! Have a great day!

sneaux said...

What a fantastic post!!! Thanks so much for sharing... I've been looking for ways to eliminate more and more of my electrical use - I've gotten down to just a few things, but there's always more to eliminate. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

h. rae said...

Fascinating! What I would love most about your lifestyle is all of the animals. If I had my way, I'd have a farm-full!

Becky said...

Wow, you truly live off the grid.

I'm holding my first giveaway at my blog. Visit: http://heritageofgrace.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/sharing-giveaway/

Becky

Don and Shelly said...

Valerie, thanks for clearing that up!

Anonymous said...

Some of you wish you could go off grid but can't -- don't think that it's all or nothing! Some people must have electricity when grandparents who require oxygen machines are living with them. You can still use "less" electricity, and still grow your own food and do a lot for yourself... cutting out the extras you really don't need.

It's not a contest -- just see what you can do with less!

Deja said...

living "off the grid" sounds kinda neat, but how do you power your computer? i would like to know where you got a peddled sewing machine!

blessings on you all, Deja

Emily, wife of Jeremy said...

I am not the West Ladies but I can answer three questions that were asked.

1. I think they used to go to the local library to use the internet.

2. I have a treadle sewing machine. You can find them at antique stores fairly easily. Them being in working condition is another matter all in itself BUT you can still find people who will work on them.

3. And someone else already mentioned this but the Homestead Blessing videos are often filmed at a friend's house when filming inside.

The West Ladies'; What a blessing they are!!!

Amanda said...

Hello West Ladies,

It's such a blessing to find this site just in time for my family to move off grid. We will be making the transition within one year. However, we do have an rv that we will live in but our power is very limited. Probably less than you have. We have invested in one solar panel and four batteries. I'm not sure what we will need in that area. We have our grinder but not attached to anything yet. Great idea. I'll use that. Anyways, your post was timely as we needed the boost in our preparation time.

Thanks and Blessings,
The Gowans

Hillery the Great Conquering the plains of Canada! said...

All of your videos and now your blog posts are so helpful and encouraging to me and my husband. In our life together we are striving to live a completly self sustainable life, one that benefits our health and the health of the beautiful earth around us. We only hope that in time we will be able to achieve the love and light that you have gained through this life style. Thank you so much for sharing and for the encouragment.
Thank you thank you!

Anonymous said...

Janome makes a treadle powered machine.
Here is one link, can also be found on Amazon
http://content.janome.com/index.cfm/Machines/Specialty/712T

MommabearFoley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MommabearFoley said...

ey there Ladies :),
My husband and I are prepping ourselves for living a more self sufficiant way of life and your family has been a wonderfull insperation to us. We are saving up for our own land right now and we are just curiouse about milk storage, if there is no refrigeration that is? Winter time would be easy breasy of course, but more milk comes usually in warmer weather, is there a special way with that you may be able to share? The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is if there is a creek nearby, that may keep it cool enough, but what if there is not one? Thank you and God Bless, Melissa from Oregon :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see there are other families like ourselves. We too are off grid and garden and homestead with many mid size animals. So happy to see your modesty and simplicity in a world where there is little of both. I have 6 children my oldest borrows mennonite dresses I hope to make my own clothes as young ladies fashions are very limited. Your a family that sounds super busy. If by chance you do any travelling into Northern B.C in Canada ( summer is best) we have a private lake a guest cabin and lots of farm chores available. Email at will God Bless and continue stiring the pot we need more back to basics families who want to serve Our Lord. Annie jkaa12345@xplornet.ca

Anonymous said...

I just moved to Tennessee and would love to know what town they love in. I would love to visit someday too them all and thank them for so many ideas and teachings. I'm homeschooling my children and trying to teach them these things. We are looking to make more of our clothes, but fabric seems so expensive. Looking for cheaper ways to do things is a full time job! Thank you Angi