How We Became Off-Grid and Self-Sufficient Overnight

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It’s been a wonderful 5 years of homesteading for me. It has had its ups and downs. I have learned A LOT, and much of it the hard way by failing. However, the knowledge I have acquired, the friends I have made in the homestead community, and the wonderful followers of this site, have kept me persevering and moving forward. But this week, we made a drastic and forced change to become completely off-grid and self-sufficient, basically overnight!

How We Became Off-Grid and Self-Sufficient Overnight

It All Started With The Power Company

For 21 years the electric service has been on here at 15 Acres. It’s never been late or disconnected ever. However, over the last few months, the power bills have been increasing drastically. What started as an electric bill of about $130 has doubled each month causing us to have to split the amount due to 2 separate payments. Each month I called and each month they split the bill for me.

Last month the bill was up over $400 dollars and again I called to split the payment. Guess what? The power company here only allows 4 payment arrangements a year! What? So, needless to say, we were 3 days late and like they had it planned ahead of time, the day after the bill was due, the power was shut off at the pole. Thank God we had the funds quickly and 2 days later the power was back on.

Electric panel
The electrical panel with a bad ground.

And Then It Got Worse

So in the mail, 3 days before the new bill for August was due, came a letter. In the letter, the power company stated that the new bill was now $686.97! Impossible! And that wasn’t the best part! They added a deposit of $595.00 and a re-connection fee for last month of $40! Can you believe it? 21 years of never being late or any problems and one time, after numerous calls reaching out to them that there was an issue, they even tacked on a deposit!

So, we were looking at $1321.97 to have power, and we had 3 days to pay it. I called and there was nothing they would do, even after asking for a supervisor! So I decided it was time for a drastic change! I decided to become off-grid and self-sufficient.

The letter from the power company asking for a deposit
After 21 years of service and never missing a payment.

The Decision To Become Off-Grid and Self-Sufficient

Maybe it is my spontaneous decision making, or maybe I am just acting out of being fed up, but I decided the heck with the power company! I’ll figure it out myself without being on the grid! And so the decision was made to become off-grid and self-sufficient.

This decision meant there was to be some serious and quick planning to be done. Maybe preparing would be the better word, right? SO… off I went to make a plan, I hoped.

The Planning For Our New Off-Grid and Self-Sufficient Homestead Begins…

First I made a brainstorming list of everything I needed to have ready before the man came to shut off the power. I sat down for 20 minutes and made a list.

My off-grid and self-sufficient prep brainstorm list included:

  • A water source for the animals
  • Filled buckets of water for flushing the toilets and washing dishes
  • Means to take a bath or shower
  • Coleman Lanterns and supplies to run them
  • Check screens on all windows
  • Swapping the electric stove for the propane stove
  • Filling gas jugs for the generator
  • The generator
  • Make sure the gardens and plants are well watered
  • Set up rain barrels
  • Finish all laundry
  • Set up the clothesline and gather clothespins
  • Fill grill and smoker propane bottles
  • Consider fridge and freezer food
  • Internet and phone

Preparations Began

So with the list in hand, we started preparing to become off-grid and self-sufficient. First, we put up the clothesline and gathered clothespins. We had removed it before the grandchildren came down to make room for their big inflatable pool.

The newest clothesline

Once the clothesline was up we set up both rain barrels at each end of the back of our house. We brought out the Coleman lanterns, cleaned them and filled them up. I also brought out the huge box of emergency candles I had.

Coleman Lanterns and candles ready for the night time with no power
Coleman lanterns, candles and matches

We filled feed barrels with water and placed screening over top for each of the animals to start with. Thankfully, we do have a lake on the backside of the property so we will probably soon have to start hauling water from there. We also had to move a few pigs that were kept confined by only an electric wire back to the muddy pens that the rain has flooded. That’s something we will have to redo here shortly, but for now, they are confined.

The pig barrels are full of water
The pigs have bigger barrels!

Then we filled all the propane bottles and switched the electric oven for the gas stove. We also brought in 5-gallon buckets to flush toilets with.

The Issues We Haven’t Figured Out Yet

All went smoothly until it came to bathing and food preservation. Sure I have plenty of dehydrated, canned, and otherwise preserved food. However, we have an entire upright freezer filled with food as well as a well-stocked fridge! For now, they will run on the generator, God willing it has no problems staying running. We will have to figure that out as we go along.

The next issue was with bathing and washing dishes and even clothes. I guess sponge baths and an outdoor shower from rainwater will have to suffice for now as they are the options we have. As for dishes, I am going with paper plates and paper cups. We can burn those and only have utensils and pots and pans to wash. I will heat water on the stove to wash with. Most of the cooking will be outside on cast iron anyway or grilled and or smoked.

Gas gril
Our biggest means of cooking currently!

As for laundry, I guess I will have arms like Thor when I am done because that will be done by hand and squeezed out then hung on the line. This will only happen until I am over that chore and go buy an old wringer washer! I could go to the laundromat if need be I guess.

Internet and phone work on electric so the modem and my computer will have to work off the generator. I have no internet without wifi so no modem means no blog! I can use the tablet for social media and so forth because it gets service without wifi, so I won’t have to be plugged in 24 hours a day.

The generator is filled and ready!
The generator is filled and ready!

No Electric Means No Well!

We haven’t figured out the well issue. We don’t have a pump to get water here, and the well is too much power for our generator. Buying a massive generator or even solar panels isn’t in the budget, not yet, anyway. We will buy jugs for the water cooler for now and use rainwater as much as possible until we come up with a better solution.

When the electric bill goes to almost 700 dollars and you can't find out why, you can't afford an electrician, and the power company won't help, what do you do? You become off-grid and self-sufficient OVERNIGHT!

What Have I Learned From All Of This?

Wow! Where do I start? The lessons I learned are:

  • Always Be Prepared!
  • Don’t count on others for your survival and well being.
  • There are no programs for those of us that pay our bills and need help.
  • Appreciate all you have!
  • When the Grid fails, you better be ready!

Honestly, I wouldn’t be as worried if I didn’t have my grandchildren for another week of this. I mean I can do it. Heck, I can live in a tent in the woods! But they are a little weirded out by it all although they have definitely adjusted to it well.

Where Do We Go From Here?

All of these sudden changes have caused me to really look at life and all of its challenges in a new way. Consequently,  15 Acre Homestead will be off-grid and self-sufficient from here on out! I plan on adding a YouTube channel over the next 2 weeks as well as a podcast in September on the realities of being off-grid and self-sufficient. I will share my journey and what I learn along the way with you.

My Daddy always said, “Kid, if anyone can do something they put their mind to, it’s you!” And you know what, he’s right! I got this! So from today forward I will build a life that I am sure will have its struggles and overwhelm, its highs and its lows, and its peaks and its plummets. But you know what, I am ready for whatever this challenge brings! It’s full speed ahead now! Dady would be proud!

My Dad
My Daddy, my best friend, taught me I can do anything!

Are you off-grid? Do you live a self-sufficient life? If so, share with me your tips, tricks, and lessons so I can use them in our own journey! If not, and maybe you are wanting to go off-grid and become self-sufficient! Download my free PDF  “How To Prepare To Become Off-Grid And Self-Sufficient” for some great tips on getting started.

Off-grid and self-sufficient optin
 

Tell me your thoughts and suggestions below! Trust me, I’m all ears!

For more information see the following posts from OakHill Homestead:

How To Be Prepared For A Disaster

How To Make An Emergency Grab and Go Binder

The Power is Out Kit

Water is Life

Straw Box Cooking

If you are looking for tips to survive the summer off-grid try these tips from The New Homesteaders Almanac:

12 Tips To Survive The Summer

And for self-reliance:

105 Ways To Be More Self-Reliant

About the author

I'm a mama to four and grandma to six. Yankee born with a love of the south. I love old-fashioned ways with modern thinking. I'm a homesteader, gardener, blogger. I enjoy “from scratch” cooking, consider myself a crafty do-it-yourselfer, and animal rescuer.

12 Comments

  1. Annie, you are truly awesome! I love how you are able to take a bad situation and turn it into a blessing. This is going to be inspiring to so many people!

    1. Author

      Thanks for the warm words! I will do my best to make this inspirational but honest!

  2. Wow…I can’t image an electric bill going up so much in such a short period of time…what gives?!

    Sorry to hear about your huge bill, but I’m glad you are being proactive and getting things done!

    Best wishes!

    1. Author

      Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!


  3. Hi Annie!
    I’m sorry you got thrust into this situation but yes, you can totally do this. I’m also off the grid and self-sufficient up in Canada’s Northwest Territories (7 kids, just 2 still at home.) A couple of tips: 1) get yourself some headlamps. We only have four hours of daylight here in the winter, and we all use them – even my six-year-old. Keeps your hands free for chores. 2) Look into getting a wireless internet hub with backup batteries. I run my websites and financial content creation company from our home (we’re in a cabin about 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle) and that’s how I get online. It saves on generator wear-and-tear. 3) Can you have solar panels where you are? I know some states and provinces have strict rules. But if you can, start saving now. You can actually even buy them from Amazon. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Sending best wishes from the Northwest Territories! Oh – and I saw this on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop!

    1. Author

      Wow Sarita I will be emailing you! Thanks so much for the excellent information!!!

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