Winter Blues? Try Off Grid Living in New England

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that we started to look at off grid living in New England as an option for our later years. The idea started as a kernel, where we wanted a more rural environment than the one we were living in with a simple garden. We had battled heavy shade to plant a decent rendition of one, but the new location required full sun and fresh air.

Then we got a six-chicken flock for eggs. We loved it, so we started to think bigger. Goats, which opened up livestock for us on a larger scale. Pigs maybe, but no cows or sheep. From there, we realized our homestead could have a smaller carbon footprint if we also went for off grid living.

Off Grid Living in New England

Off Grid Living in New EnglandThe concept of off grid living in New England could be summed up as a hardy choice. Bitter winters bring their own problems, but in reality, preparation allows us to move through the seasonal issues with relative ease. Our solar panels adjust to a lowered winter ecliptic of the sun, and our six hundred and fifty foot well is far below the front line to be a worry for either drying up or freezing.

Granted, we aren't completely off grid thanks to our decision to work from home and a requirement for reliable internet connection. Also, we have kids. Four of them, with varying needs concerning access to ESPN, YouTube and iPad messenger. So, we do have that. But, if a severe winter storm knocks out the neighborhood, we are still the place to be with wood stoves, pellet stoves and a propane backup to keep us warm. The battery banks are large enough to last a few days with no sunlight and conservative usage practices.

We haven't truly tested the extent of our system as of yet, with only a few gray days and no real weather to speak of, but our confidence level is high. Our off grid living in New England choice was the right one to make, and though only four months into it, we're starting to find our groove.

How to Go Off Grid

Off Grid Living in New EnglandHow to go off grid is a solid question, but relies on some details to answer it satisfactorily. To begin, what is your idea of off the grid living in New England, or anywhere else for that matter? If it is a complete apocalyptic preparation the time and resources involved are strenuous. You would be looking at building a more-than-reliable energy source from solar or geo-thermal than can get costly. Most solar systems do fine, but are limited in poor weather by the size of their battery banks. There is also water which a well will provide, but how deep will you drill? The deeper, the more costly.

Then there is the price tag of a mortgage to consider. Homesteading in a place that a bank owns isn't truly living for yourself, so paying for everything upfront in cash is the proper way to go. However, that is only a philosophical consideration. For us, it was cash on the barrel head with zero financing. Debt free was the only way for us to make sense of our transition, from credit cards to student loans.

Off Grid Living in New EnglandHow to go off grid in a basic sense means doing your best to reduce the impact of outside forces on life, everything from growing your own food to generating your own fuel. Wood stoves are great, but it's either cut your own or buy firewood from the guy down the road. Pellets stoves are efficient as all get out, but running one is easily $5 a day for pellets alone.

There are no plans to go hard-core and completely separate from society, but we are producing what we can from our gardens and have reduced our costs of modern living by nearly 95%. There are the supplemental groceries we like, the cable and internet, and a few incidentals here and there that still allow us to remain under budget.

Frugal Living

Off Grid Living in New England
Frugal living is a solid mindset to place yourself in, if of course, living off the grid is something that peaks your fancy. Frugal is a relative term, and it could simply mean changing your cable account to basic, better dinner-leftover practices for meals and planting a few tomatoes in the summer.

The draw of homesteading and off grid living in New England is the reduction of not only a carbon foot print and increase of self-reliance, but the separation of your family from the oppression of a credit-based economy. Learn to save money and how to live a better life by reduction your consumption. That is where it should all start.

Homestead Living

Off Grid Living in New EnglandHomestead living is a large concept to swallow all at once, and the greatest advice I can give you is to take things one step at a time. If you bring livestock into the equation, start small and with one concept a season. Start small with chickens before making your way up to a dairy cow or a passel of meat pigs. Waiting until you understand your land before building bee hives of dedicating a large portion of your garden to sweet corn. Learn what you can and give yourself time to understand how it fits into your life. Off grid living in New England is not only possible but enjoyable. However, it isn't for everyone. Treat yourself with logic and respect, and explore the lifestyle with baby-steps.

We'd love to know where you are in your off grid living thoughts, either as a dreamer or a long-time practitioner. Leave your comments below.