For those of you truly wanting to live off grid

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Nadja, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Lets start out by saying this. Living off the grid as I do, has far more aspects to it then just solar etc. Lets talk about , distance from nearest towns, supplies , farming , livestock and all the other things that will really make a lot of differences as to why we really want to move beyond the urban and wired communities. Without digging throughout the entire site, I thought that we might try and use this newly created forum to try and put as much information as possible all in one place. I think by now , most of you already know about my solar etc. So lets see what the rest of you think about . What would you be trying to accomplish other then just getting away from the masses.

    Then, if we can get this one going, lets hear your ideas. No matter what they may be, this would be an excellent place to talk about it. Nadja
  2. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    Your solar setup is awesome nadja. I may use your setup for my place i'm looking at getting. We are in negotiations over the property now. I am looking to use solar/wind to power the entire compound. there is a metal barn for a workshop. an old hog barn, which I want to convert to a greenhouse/chicken coup. the house has an attached three car garage and a full basement. it all sits on 5 acres of Iowa top soil so I will have plenty of area for a very large outdoor garden mainly for sweet corn/green beans/potato's( all others will be greenhouse grown). I have enough room to in the basement for a freezer setup plus a few dehydrators for fruit snacks and jerky, maybe in indoor electric smoker or two for sausages. The workshop is a morton steel building so there is more than enough area for the control room for the solar/wind power electrical sytem. Heating for the whole setup will be wood fired furnaces to heat all three buildings(workshop would only be fired up on very cold days when a pot belly stove would not be sufficient. My smokehouse will be a portable trailer mounted setup. current plans include adding a wood room to the house with enough room for 10 cords(lord knows that it will be enough to use over the long harsh Iowa winters and have more than enough space for it). I also plan on having a generator as a backup for the solar/wind system.

    The farmstead we are looking at is only 2 miles from town, but it is a very small town barely even on the map with small grocery store pharmacy things like that. The closest bigger town is about 20 miles( the closest Wal-mart). we do have two medium sized cities within 100 miles of us, Sioux city and Sioux falls. we are decently supplied right now but we are dwelling in town in an apt. It is no-where near where I want to be on supplies but
    then again I could have my own Wal-mart supply warehouse and I wouldnt be happy.
  3. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I would becareful with indoor wood storage... if any of the wood has bugs (and it will) you will have bugs... terimites will also eat from the inside out... i would personally store in a shed near by and carry it in on a regular basis... that being said i don't have Iowa style snow storms down here in the semi sunny south...
  4. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    My wood room will basically be a really large metel shed within 15 feet of the house. unfortunatly no wood is termite proof at least none i would burn to heat or cook with. termites are an evintuality we all deal with.
  5. azprospector

    azprospector Happy Desert Rat

    If you have an indoor wood room or wood box, here is a little trick we used on our farm as a kid and still use today at our diggings. Mix a strong solution of lime and water and simply paint the floors, walls and ceiling of a wood room with the mix. You can do the same thing with a wood box. You have to put 4 or 5 coats on so the lime absorbs into the wood properly but termites sure hate lime and it does a good job for us. We always have lime around since we have a real outhouse.
  6. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Useful livestock is goats. If you have the right browse and relatively dry climes (the right fencing, the right housing), goats excel and can provide meat, milk, hair, and hides. They more often than not birth twins so herds grow quickly. 80% of the world's populace rely on goats as a mainstay.
  7. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    I may add goats eventually But I'm a bovine guy a few angus steers for meat and a few holsteins for dairy needs. I'll raise just a few duroc hogs for meat. then the rest will come from my chickens.
  8. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Disciple: Chell turned me on to "Lowline" cattle - pure angus stock bred for short stature: no dwarf gene reliance. You may want to check them out.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    A "few" angus won't make it on 5 acres. A couple goats, sure, chickens without doubt. As soon as you try to graze cattle, you need a bit more space.
  10. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Up here in N.E.Arizona where I am , the officials have determined that it takes a min. of 40 acres for just one cow. Even then you would need to feed them during the winter snow months. Plus any water standing like a cattle pond etc will freeze over the top.
  11. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    That is good goat country.
  12. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Yes , I can see that. But I detest goat meat, cheese and even their milk. Only thing worse to me would be mutton. Where's the Beef ? I can do that raw, somewhat cooked and if I am carefull even well done. Chickens are something else I love to eat. Will be building a chicken coop come early spring.
  13. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    I have seen the lowline angus and they do put out some really good meat. as far as grazing them in Iowa they graze very few cattle here most cattle see the inside of a pen and thats it. I'm not saying there is not any grazing land.... there is but when you are feeding them grain all the time, you can keep them somewhat cooped up with no ill effects. i have some rancher friends who will get my cattle some grazing time. now i also like the japanese way of doing their beef also they massage their beef and give them beer.......heck i don't drink beer so what the heck.....give it to the steers. I'll have my own variation of Kobe beef. Land is at a premium in japan and they have very little for grazing cattle, so there's an Idea.

    as far as the goats go, I have nothing against goat milk, Its great on grape nuts, goat cheese is good and If ya smoke that goat and bbq it it's not bad eating.
  14. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Dicisiple, keep in mind if your considering liveing off the grid on solar/wind as I do, that there are a lot of changes you will need to start thinking about right now , before you spend any money. Elect stoves, heaters, air conditioners etc will not do well with solar. They are massive power hogs, and will deplete an elec battery system in just a short while. Propane stoves, dryers and heaters are the only way to go. Your wash machine is 110 so, it won't be too much of a problem, as long as you do your laundry in the middle of a day. You will really have to learn how to live with your solar, as it will not learn to live with you.
  15. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    for cooking and heat I'm actually going with wood cookstove and a wood burning furnace. Air conditioners are nice but I dont feel as being necesary in a survival sit as long as I have a fan blowing on me I'm fine. as far as lighting goes I'm running dietz lantern's, most of the time, but am getting some hand crank lantern's off of amazon.
    But going back to the wood cook stove, I got introduced to them back in the 70's at my Aunt reba's in Carrsville Kentucky. she taught me how to cook on that knowledge will be very handy and I don't have to spend a fortune on one cause you can buy brand new ones. The one thing I want thats antique would be my cast Iron cooking materials, I.E. frying pans,utencils, dutch ovens stuff of that sort. basically the only thing I want to run on the solar system inside my house would be a laptop and perifrials. I love to read, so I can download the stuff onto my laptop, then print it out when I get ready to read it. Besides the freezers( 110),grinder(110), Dehydrators(110),Laptop(110),printer(110), a refrigerator(110), then little cooking utencils then my tools that are battery powered, and they will need charging, I think I should be able to run a system big enough to handle that load.
  16. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    Disciple, the savings from efficient appliances are immense. You'll be amazed at what you can save on your PV system by starting with the most efficient appliances.

    A front load washer, for example, uses much less electricity, but your savings don't stop there: They also use less than half the water, which means less well pump run time (more electricity savings, on your largest load!) They use just one fourth the detergent, making it far cheaper to stock up on that. They place less stress on your septic system and are much easier on your clothes as well - which really matters with cotton prices are soaring!

    Good refrigerators and freezers don't just use less electricity - they run less as well, due to better insulation.

    Take a hard look at all your appliances, and replace any that aren't extremely efficient. Then (and only then) should you size your PV system. You may be able to get away with fewer PV modules and fewer batteries than you ever thought.

    If you haven't already, study our peak oil thread. On grid or off, we all need to be preparing to live life much more efficiently. It's the only shot we have.
  17. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Fireplace guy is very right. Living off grid means self sacrifice and shopping more wisely. Before moving here and finding out I would have no choice in power which meant solar or nothing, we shopped for pretty colors etc. Once here, on very limited solar for a very long time, we quickly learned to shop power wise. I look at watts on things, but even more so look at the actual amps required for each and every thing we buy. For about $20.00 you can make one of the best buy's of your life. The name of this thing is called "killawatt" It is a small device that you plug into the wall, and then plug any appliances into it. It reads watts, hertz and even amps being used. When shopping for a new appliance, never trust the salesman, instead ask him/her if you can plug it into your device and then plug it into the wall for just a couple of minutes. By doing so you can see exactly what said appliance is using. Amps are what your solar system is going to read , not watts. Yea , I know the experts are going to have a field day with this, but I live on this system and believe me I have learned the hard way what is real and what is salesmanship. Every single thing that helps you save an amp here or even a half an amp is going to help you in the long run. Three weeks ago I up graded my crt huge power eating moniter to a nice flat screen that actually is also a tv. I is saving me about 1/2 amp all the time it is on. Next is my wife's crt moniter. I will get heres in about two weeks. Mine is about 1 year old, and came out of a pawn shop for $100.00 flat. This unit would be about 250.00 in the store. You can get dedicated moniters for about the same on best buy. I have seen them there for that. Pawn shops right now are overloaded with great buys as everybody is selling everything to stay afloat. check them often. Start learning to shop power and not pretty. Makes a huge difference later on when it counts. Nadja
  18. hedger

    hedger Monkey+

    City Guy Learns A Lesson

    A couple years ago, I spent several months working in Northern New Mexico. Most of our customers were ranchers that raised cattle. Now, I am not a rural farming/ranching guy by any stretch of imagination. So, I took advantage of the opportunity to learn a bit about the lifestyle and economics of ranching.

    I explained that I am basically ignorant about the rules of thumb and what it takes to make a go of it when you are raising cattle in dry land. I learned that, in that area, you need 30-40 acres of land per cow to make a ranch work. I was told that the closer you are to 30 acres per cow, the closer you are to turning your land to dust, while the closer you are to 40 acres per cow, the chances are way better that the land will be able to regenerate itself over time.

    I also found it interesting that ranchers will get a "prescription" for their land; they may get multiple prescriptions if they have land whose soil makeup varies considerably from one location to another. These prescriptions are so that ranchers will know what key minerals, etc are missing from their soil. Once they know that they can order the right balance of minerals and nutrients for their supplement a/k/a "cake."

    Ranchers generally provide 1-1.5 lbs. of cake per head of cattle each day. Now, I initially thought that this stuff must taste pretty bad, being composed of minerals and nutrients. Wrong! When the cows see the pickup truck approaching to spread the cake, they run toward it--they love the stuff.

    Also, ranchers will take the temperature of their soil so they better know what their herd will be needing.

    Finally, I learned that ranching is one of the top 3 most dangerous occupations. It's not at all unusual for ranchers to be called out to search for a fellow rancher who did not make it back after going out to check on their herd. However, according to what I've been told, it's also one of the most addictive occupations; some folks just cannot get it out of their blood and they keep on doing it until they fall out of their saddle. God bless them all!
  19. Disciple

    Disciple Monkey+

    I will look into the more energy efficiant models for my appliances....Expecially my freezers and fridge. The fear I have is my dehydrators, electric smokers, the meat Grinder, Mixer. I know they will run off a solar power system, i'm worried about the very thing of amperage, not sure what they run I havent got them as of yet. I'm going to get them from the sausage maker catalouge. I figured i would add 2 electric smokers to my appliance list because winters can get very hard here and may not be able to get to my mobile smoker. It's funny you mentioned a front load washer dryer
    set I was thinking about using an old fashioned arm killer from and then I was just going to hang my wash out during the summer then near the fireplace during the winter. So I do have a bit of thinking to do.
  20. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    dehydrators, electric smokers, the meat Grinder, Mixer ? You have got to be kidding me right ? Let me clear this up for you if I can. You will not do well with solar using ANY kind of unit that requires heating, even a waffle iron unless you have around 40-50 thousand dollars to invest in the system. Sure you could use one for a little while, but that is where it will end. Even if you have say 5,000 watts coming in, ( very large system) you will use up most of the incoming power and then start pulling down the batteries, even in the daytime. Then, night will come and nothing else will be able to work. Maybe you could use one or so for a few hours in perfect day light, between say noon and two o'clock, but that would be pushing it a lot. Look at this, take a reg. flashlight. Now, new fully charged batteries in it right ? How long will you if left on non-stop be able to get the same light as when it is first turned on ? If you were to turn it on at say 7 pm at night, how long would it last ? Ok, now its 2 am and it is finally worthless, as you have not got spare batteries and no way for your backpack solar panel to recharge the ones in it. This is how solar works. Now there are ways to fix this, but will require additional sources of power, such as a fuel fed generator to charge them back up.
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