We made it through the first four weeks off-grid and the experiences have been far more abundant than I could ever have expected. You see, I didn’t come into this lifestyle with a preconceived ideal or a rigid set of outcomes of what I believed things would be.
Honestly, do we ever really know the exact outcome or result of any experience? If you do, you are one who is accurately capable of predicting the future and I hope you have developed your gift to help others, and even yourself!
But for nearly every human on the planet, the truth is you can plan and plan, only to have the rug pulled out from under you in a split second. Beautiful outdoor weddings undone by bad weather, family vacations and travel thwarted by a global pandemic and spring cleaning postponed due to a family emergency.
Nothing is set in stone and no one knows the outcome.
That has been the reality of our first month, in that we have been able to identify the pattern that nothing has a timeline or a pattern and through patience, we adapt.
I awoke this morning to the twenty-seventh mountain-view sunrise full of accomplishment and gratitude within my soul. We have been here a full month, but the other wake-ups were to a thick, white and fluffy blanket of snow under the gray mountain sky and one beautiful, but fog-filled mountain valley.
But today, there is only the sound of silence and the roar of the river with her powerful waterfall just feet below the cabin. A waterfall of my very own not meant to share with any other except the animals taking a drinking nearby.
It’s still too early for the birds and is the time I prefer to reflect and gather my thoughts for the upcoming day and what potential it holds. However, it is also the time of looking back and holding gratitude for my encounters, my lessons and experiences.
What experiences have I had in just four small weeks? What things have I accomplished that I never imagined doing? What senses have I engaged that seemed to lay dormant under the of the polluted and overpopulated city?
It has been an overflowing cup of abundance in terms of the senses and experiences. From the construction of our first ever chicken-coop, to planting seeds and gardening, to being snowed in for a few days all the way down to basic chores and hygiene.
In these few weeks, I have witnessed the transformation of nature’s beauty from her sleepy winter state to the hearty unearthing of tender life just below the surface. In fact, i’ve witnessed both life and death of plant life as my own experimentation with my carefully transported garden plants resulted in a few dying in just one night’s hard freeze.
You see, where I am, no weather located can provide accurate temperatures and as part of my journey, I’ve discovered we are often 10-20 degrees cooler than our nearest weather pin.
My potato did not make it, even though every ounce of energy when into trying to keep her safe. From the bouncing around of the roads, to ensuring she had water and sunshine and even some first aid after my husband threw a blanket across the backseat of the truck, ripping her beautiful flowered stems completely off! Unless you are attune with plant life and energy, it may be difficult for you to relate.
However, the early blooms of my very first experience with Daffodils and Tulips, in spite of the heavy snow, brought renewed hope and a sense of respect for the land and its divine timing. Adapting and patience!
What did our ancestors do without the luxury of online purchases and pre-manufactured greenhouses?
They were very patient and respected the land.
So in all my lessons thus far, let’s not abandon the very reality of nature’s own bounty and understanding the natural life that grows and flows whether or not we as humans give it any credit. With the discovery of mugwort, yarrow, wild tart grape, nettle, mullein, burdock, wild rose (rose hips), choke cherry, wild dandelion, plums and so much more, the living earth provided for tummy aches, earaches, asthma, nosebleeds, wounds, allergies, antiseptic, digestion, vitamins, antioxidants and so much more!
Not to mention the benefits of things like beeswax, royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis, found on our first experience with bee hives, where the busy workers give us honey and pollinate our flowers for more growth and more abundance.
All things provide abundance in their own order and divine timing. Not in ours. I’m living from the land and learning how our ancestors did it without PayPal and Amazon; without Lowe’s or Walmart’s gardens center! They didn’t have bags of enriched soil or pretty pavers. They couldn’t rush out to purchase faux-fertilized plants full of toxic growth chemicals to help them get ‘bigger’ or produce ‘greater yields’. They used what they had, just as I am learning, and taking the knowledge from their mistakes.
I was able to start seeds in recycled pots in a shed alongside our blossoming baby chicks, cold weather produce such as cauliflower, Brussels, broccoli, endive, escarole, turnips, radicchio, celery and a host of herbs!
Into the ground, I was able to seed radishes, short carrots, spinach, lettuce, kale, beets and peas. And my new potatoes, I am patiently awaiting for their first breath of green, being patient as I find myself under the spell of envy and analysis paralysis of what others might say about them.
Let the planting begin!
The primary mountain water source finally broke free from its slow-snow dormant state, which means not only a hot shower very soon (something I haven’t experienced in a month), but the natural gravity-driven irrigation system for our soon to be ‘big garden’, as it gave us the ‘green light’ to till and plant on the land.
During our month, there have been a host of required and non-essential accomplishments as well. We completed a stone flower bed for our greens, rock lined walkway leading to our humble abode and even rock balcony to alleviate some of the mud from the run-off and the snow melt, of which required the rocks to be individually extracted from the earth and carried down the mountain to our cabin.
We also completed our first ever chicken coop build and successfully transitioned our first batch of baby chicks into their new home.
The challenges of using reclaimed and old wood were something we could have never anticipated. No fancy laser level could have ever made this perfect! Not to mention, building on a mountain slope and trying to measure and level twisted, notched and warped boards.
I even scaled the structure and attached the metal sheeting to my own personal accomplishment, as my minor issue with heights was conquered!
Have you ever climbed a ladder on the side of a mountain where level and stability isn’t a reality?
We now have 19 babies, some are around 5 weeks and some 3 weeks, requiring our daily attention. Waking up and doing early morning checks, pulling them into the cabin if temperatures threaten and even socializing with them to connect and provide trust and security.
The delays and adaptations dictated by nature, materials and the construction projects all revealed that I HAVE NO TIMELINE or schedule! It taught me to patient.
I’m not on the clock 9-5! I’m on the clock 24-7. With certain elemental experiences telling me when to sit and when to work.
This week, we will actually begin our greenhouse build.
A 40 foot structure constructed of 2x4s, trees, cinderblocks and greenhouse grade sheeting that will be constructed by a team of two. A structure that has to withstand constant heavy winds and snow! We aren’t living in the flatlands or in a farming area, but again, on the side of a mountain slope in zone 5, full of ponderosa pines, spruce, rocks and of course, rich blue skies!
No paid help or contractors. Just us two and our ‘mad’ skills; skills of experimentation and adjustment!
You know, that being said, we have found that even the ‘so-called’ experts of advice have zero part in our own discovery. Well, maybe a tiny lesson here and there about a natural workaround, but that’s it.
We have found that it’s a piece by piece experience of ‘what next’, versus someone who ‘successfully constructed’ a similar structure telling you what to do next!
The truth is that no one really knows and it’s all about their journey. All of the irrelevant advice and input, its aplenty if you let it be!
Their manure is an excellent fertilization for LIFE…so we let others expel their opinions, two-cents and beliefs without any interest or even the rewards of responding. It’s their advice and their journey. We have ours.
From a personal vantage point, the first month has been a bit of an adjustment. Being in total silence 99% of the time is not what many folks believe it to be. NOR is it what I had believed it would be either.
I absolutely love not having a TV, a radio or hearing any sound at all except for my running river and the roar of the waterfall!
My husband and I don’t have much to talk about anymore. Not so much out of boredom with one another, but out of peace because our experiences are all about living in the moment. When we talk, it’s about the NOW or the view or the discovery.
There are times when he may be on a rant about how other folks are living their lives or where I me be trying to be playful with him when he’s needing focus or he’s in his head. But these are far less now that we aren’t discussing the ignorance of the customers who called that day or the computer delays and the reboots and the emails!
We just work side by side without words most of the time, except ‘hand me the drill and the screws’! Sometimes, we work solo on different projects. We just absorb the light, the sun and the gratitude of being in one another’s presence either physically or on the same land.
This was challenging at first because I love conversation. I’ve always been able to talk to my son or others in my life that I spent time with. I didn’t realize that one on one solitude would be so, well, Silent! There is a part of me who fantasizes about him asking me my input and genuinely listening, or sitting in bed every morning discussing all the things we are grateful for or even being playful as we work side by side! There is a part of me deep within that wants him to say ‘you aren’t walking that far alone out here’, to be my protector or to say ‘let’s get you a guard dog who is loyal to you’.
BUT….those are my own fleeting expectations and there is literally nothing to discuss. I guess not everything requires words. This is taking major adjustment for me in all honesty, but I am so grateful for the silence and the deeper connection to my husband that we didn’t have before.
Greater intimacy, more organic connections, deeper respect and an unconditional love and appreciation for the whole of him, his skills, his energy and his mind! Of course, he’s still my eye candy and I get more of that all to myself!
I see sooo many people complain about their spouses, bitching about their wives or husbands not being ‘on board’ with the off-grid life or not helpful or in alignment with off-gridding, and I think WOW, you chose them! What does that say about YOU?
Did you not know he was an angry person before you moved off grid? Did you not know she spent hours online each week shopping or at the salon? Did you not know they drank too much or had addictions and attachments to princess lifestyles, family/friends, materialism and intoxicants? I just don’t get this! But my journey is not theirs!
Being alone has taught me much about myself and how to overcome and heal. I’m so grateful for my spouse, my beloved, and his love of not talking because it has shown me that people really do waste too much time talking about unimportant things, gossip, negative crap, worries and such.
Talking is overrated for sure and it seems like a distraction from the beauty of deep connection and teamwork. As a side note, we have some extemporaneous human interaction weekly so that helps me as a woman and an individual who enjoys a deep and loving reciprocal conversation!
I’m beginning to see why this lifestyle should be implemented as a mandatory part of premarital counseling! Even for 3 months!
You get to see the RAW, ORGANIC reality of your CHOICE!
Pissing in the woods or on a bucket. The intestinal distress from eating too much cabbage or oatmeal! Not washing your hair for DAYS! Walking around naked, cleaning your ass from a bowl in the sink just inches from one another. Experiencing your menstruation cycle in a one room cabin!
No fake props or ideals there! No fake nails, fake hair or pretty smelling perfume to hide the fact that we all look the EXACT same sitting on a ‘Home Depot’ plastic bucket lined with plumber’s foam taking a dump!
And finally, the daily experiences are so vast that one can genuinely NOT develop a schedule in terms of rigidity.
We had ‘plans’ for Friday that were thwarted by the discovery that a local entitled old man who doesn’t even have land up here cut our fence because this state has open grazing laws. You cannot shoot livestock on your land, nor can you do anything to the person who put them on your land!
In other words, if joe cuts your fence and puts his cows on your property to graze, YOU are responsible for mending your own fence and removing the cattle from your property without harm. On 30 acres of mountain terrain, you won’t know it if you don’t walk the perimeter regularly!
An impromptu walk with our dog and another couple led to the discovery and the subsequent mending of the fence…a few additional hours of unforeseen labor.
Other things like weather, wild animals, resources, energy and even interrupted sleep can certainly get in the way of any plans. In fact, weather is the number one deciding factor in everything we’ve experienced thus far, specifically the extreme wind!
Have you ever cut and laid a tin roof in 60 mph gusts with just two people?We did and it requires the utmost safety and focus! People may offer advice and say ‘bake your own’ or ‘build a mud room’ or ‘take it to your local xyz and have it tested’ but they are ignorant to our unique situation and environment. Many of them pretend to be experts from their city life watching YouTube off-gridders or trying to insert their experience as a kid 60 years ago into our current life. I silently eye-roll and move on.
I’ve learned to take every single day as a present moment. To fully immerse myself into the existence of the current versus worrying about timelines and the what ifs.
I live for my morning coffee at sunrise, and the entire process of boiling water, pressing my one cup and sitting in total reflection. I am drawn to a full spectrum tears as I walk the perimeter and capture views of the landscape that NO ONE ELSE can see! I am greeted lovingly by our horses, our chickens and dogs, making the deepest most authentic connections that cannot be replicated in human to human contact.
I sat with the horse yesterday barefoot and petting her for half an hour non-stop! Talking and connecting and loving her in all of her organic beauty.
It may be chilly outside, but I walk barefoot and feel the earth between my toes. I sink my hands into the soil. I have splinters, bruises, burns and scratches from my authentic labor. Sometimes my body says NOT THIS HILL AGAIN, and sometimes it says BRING IT BITCHES!
I may feel lonely or alone some days, with the sense that I don’t want to do anything. I may want a hot shower instead of bowl bath on a cold cabin floor. I may wish my husband was wanting to chitchat with me or be more affectionate at times. But these are fleeting and I quickly immerse myself into the moment.
But after one full month in this raw, uncomplicated, yet laborious environment, I don’t understand how people EVER go back to the loud and superfluous, pedantic world that exists below us!
Each day is one step deeper into this beautiful experience….one simple moment at a time.