Why walk away from a life of instant hot or cold air, light at the touch of a button, and safe to drink running water?

Karen Madej

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A log cabin similar to the house in the story.Photo by Mary Winchester on Unsplash

The majority of Westerners live in urban settings, comfortable, secure, surrounded by neighbors. There's safety in numbers and economies of scale for local councils to provide water, energy, and refuse collections. Many other services exist in our communities. All we need to do is Google or visit them in person.

So why walk away from a life of instant hot or cold air, light at the touch of a button, flat-screen TVs, and safe to drink running water?

Off-grid homesteaders, Doug and Stacy, built a log cabin in 90 days but lived without running water for three years.

Many folks dream of escaping the rat race, building a homestead and living a simple, self-sustainable life.

Doug and Stacy are one such couple. In 2012, they started with a log cabin that took them 90 days to build!

Not bad. Pretty impressive.

By 2015, the couple had built a chicken coop for the laying hens and a tiny A-frame house for the fryers - the chickens they will eat. The Eco Peanut has 19 designs for an A-frame coop if you want to get started in your yard. Doug always tries to use materials he has already, like some old barn wood and tin.

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An A-frame coop - not the original from the story.Par VanTucky — Travail personnel, CC BY 1.0

The video shows it's a gloriously sunny day in the winter, but the frozen ground isn't the only challenge. The homesteaders don't have a well, but they do have a pond. The pond works fine in the summer, but it freezes in the winter. Doug set up gutters and one of those huge plastic food-grade containers to hold water. Of course, that's frozen too!

Frozen water for the one girl and three boy lambs and other animals must be tipped out of the bucket and replaced with freshwater carried from the pond. Doug's wife, Stacy, does this chore several times daily.

He has big plans for a new underground cistern. For now, he breaks up the ice on the pond and fills buckets with water for his sheep and alpacas. The horses drink a lot of water directly from the pond after Doug busts up the solid ice top layer, and he clears away the big chunks! He makes two holes so two horses can drink at the same time.

Tim Knoerle commented: "solar livestock water heaters would resolve that frozen water problem." He provided a link to Build It Solar, which gives many expensive solutions ($1000+). However, keep scrolling until you reach the build from scratch section. Some states like Montana offer a tax credit (worth up to $500) for folks who install renewable energy systems.

In the future, Doug will cut huge chunks of ice from the pond and store it in an ice house. The ice will last until the next winter as long as it is insulated with sawdust or straw. At the time of filming (2015), he and his wife were using a friend's freezer to freeze gallons of water in buckets then take them over to their homestead.

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A 1930s Illinois Ice HouseIvoShandor, CC BY-SA 3.0

Doug and Stacy's land had a barn at the top of a gentle slope when they arrived. Their plan for spring is to have a faucet and use gravity to deliver water into their house. Doug says that a two-inch schedule 40 PVC pipe will carry the water through the ground. There won't be enough pressure to use the water as a spray, but it'll be good enough for the sink and running a bath.

Can you imagine having no running water for three years? Doug and Stacy's way of life impresses me.

Why would you walk away from a life of instant hot or cold air, light at the touch of a button, flat-screen TVs, and safe to drink running water?

Is it because you dream of escaping the rat race, building a homestead and living a simple, self-sustainable life.

Are you prepping for your great escape to the wilderness?

If you already have skills like carpentry and construction and your partner can make a piece of leather taste fantastic, you will probably find self-sufficient living a dream. I decided to take a course to learn how to self-build an Earthship and have since decided to build a straw bale cob house first.

Unless you can afford to pay Mike Reynolds and his crew (or local labor) to come over and ram earth into old tires, building an Earthship will take a lot of time. However, if you have a lot of friends who would love to help you out, you could have your off-grid home up in no time!

The Earthship Academy offers courses in 2022 and ongoing online courses.

Having completed an Academy session 2 years ago all I can say is, go do it...Incredible experience learning from Michael Reynolds and his team of Earthship experts (Warriors). You’ll meet like minded individuals and learn new skills which will give you the confidence and know how to build and promote these beautiful sustainable buildings.— James Singer, Earthship Academy Student

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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