Having lived on grid for all but a little over a year of my life, I find myself becoming more and more mindful and sensitive to the energies around me. I’m required to think through providing for our basic needs. Although this is more work than living on grid, flipping switches and having water flow our of the tap without a second thought has made us as a society detached and unaware of our finite natural resources and energies around us. I’m ot focused on minimalism or lowering my carbon foot print, I’m just focusing on what is right for me and following my guidance and intuition. I’m coming into what is right for me. There is no such thing as any one thing being the ultimate truth and lifestyle that’s for everyone, thinking so requires a belief in conformity. We do not do conformity here, we think for ourselves and only ourselves.
The little things bring big lessons and require more thought and energy. They also give me control over what we ingest, wash in and live in. Collecting rain water is such a primitive and satisfying act. We collect as much rain water as possible and use it for everything. Before we run it through the Berkey, I need to remember to boil it for at least 10 minutes, I do 15. I need to plan for enough time for it to cool. Since I’m cooking on a 2 burner cook top, I need to plan for other things that may need to be cooked on the cook top. If I’m not mindful and aware enough of this, I could make us sick.
Part of living off grid, for us anyway, is detaching from the money system. We don’t have a plan to do this completely, yet. We haven’t figured it out yet. We do focus on spending as little money as possible and using what we have with respect. I do my best to avoid corporations and shop small and local businesses. Avoiding corporations is another one we haven’t completely figured out but will. We do pretty well thus far. One way we do this is with charging our batteries. We have big battery packs that charge off our generator. To cut down on using the gas, we bring the batteries with us when we drive somewhere and charge them in the car. Since we’re not running huge appliances such as refrigerator, TV or Heater, we comfortable get by on our battery packs. They charge our phones (so does the car), laptop, keep the lights on, run the speaker, printer, package sealer, fan, etc. When we have the generator on, usually a few times a week for 2 to 4 hours at a time, I do laundry, run the dehydrator, ice maker, vacuum, basically anything that the battery packs can’t handle. For what we paid for 2 months for electricity on grid, we could get a years worth of comfortable use with what we’re doing now. That will improve when our solar system is installed.
I make all our cleaning products which saves us a ton of money. I’m able to make a year’s worth of laundry soap for $30, 6 months worth of biodegradable dish soap for $18 and a year’s worth of household cleaners for a fraction of what one earth friendly product will cost.I have control over what is in these products and I’m able to keep toxic chemicals away that corporations so obediently put into their products. I try to buy as many ingredients as possible from small businesses.
I make our dog food, which is a huge money saver. We’re still buying kibble however, I make the canned food. We call it ‘mushy food’, the dogs get happy when they hear those words! I make dog food with organic chicken and/or beef form either a local farm or on sale at the grocery store. Whatever meat I buy, I make sure it has bones so I can make bone broth for future dog food. I buy beans, rice, peas etc dry in bulk so their very affordable. Beans add extra protein, minerals and nutrients. I use at least 2 types of legumes and the bulk of the food is brown rice. I use brown rice because our Silky Terrier has a collapsed trachea. Brown rice and bone broth are both great medicines. Bone broth is excellent medicine for dogs and humans. Although I don’t eat meat, I have no problem recommending bone broth for certain aliments. It’s amazingly healing. When I have them on hand, I like to put in veggies of the season. Right now it’s spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, etc.
I do sell this dog food locally when I have an abundance. I charge 5.00 a pint, that’s 16 ounces or 2.50 for half pints. Most dog food cans aren’t even the full 14 ounces as one would expect. Their 12 to 13 ounces. My dog food is made from real organic, non-GMO whole foods. The only processing it undergoes is canning. Just this dog food makes me mindful. Choosing my ingredients wisely, using what is available and in season, pricing it so my community gets a great product for their time and money. I’m realizing what a demand for high quality dog food there is. I’ve become mindful of myself, the health of my and other dogs and my community.
We heat and do some of our cooking with wood. Every morning I bring in wood to set near the wood burning stove. I need to be mindful of the weather forecast and bring in a little extra wood. The weather here changes so quickly. I need to know how to start a fire in the wood burner and start it in a safe manner for everyone. I need to be mindful of the creosote and keeping the fire going. I need to make sure the wood is seasoned and preferably hardwood. I need to know how to manage the air flow in the burner. At night I need to be sure we have enough wood and its burning low enough that we can get through a large part of the night without putting wood in the burner. Cooking on it is another learning curve that makes me mindful. It’s a bit more involved than turning on a stove and cooking or throwing a log into an open fireplace.
The wildlife here demands mindfulness. Living in the woods, we need to be careful not to speed down the driveway or our road. We moved into their territory and took over a space for ourselves. Living with respect and one with nature is of utmost importance. We’re mindful of what we plant, where we plant it, how we handle our grey water, which products we choose, keeping dangerous items put away and not disturbing parts of the property, it’s not for us. When we see one of Mother Gaia’s beautiful sentient beings, we, as humans, want to point, take pictures, tell the other humans near us and, for the more common sense challenged, approach them. It took some time however, these days I don’t rush to find my phone or get loud in any way. I meditate into their consciousness, seeking to understand them so I can better serve them. I have a deep respect for them and I’m beginning to see signs that they are beginning to believe it. I keep the plan spirits in mind. I harvest with respect and permission. If a plant tells me no or does not respond, I respect that. Earlier this season, Lobelia kept telling me no. The plant had flowers and looked ready however, it wasn’t. A few months later, it was ready and granted me permission. Looking back, I believe the plant was saying no because it more growing and maturing to do. This requires mindfulness and the willingness to open up and really listen.
We poop in buckets, we compost our waste. No deep lesson here, just messes with our limited minds until we get used to the fact were pooping in buckets! It will certainly humble a person. This saves on a septic or other wast removing costs and provides us with rich, fertile soil after the buckets sit for 2 seasons. We can complete the natural cycle of returning our waste back to the earth. I’m still not past using it on human food so I will use it on chicken and rabbit feed for now. I know it’s perfectly safe to use on human food plants however, it’s a me issue. I know Mother Gaia is laughing at me right now! Its OK if you do too!
I know to many these are little things. We’ve only been off grid for a little over a year and the changes and challenges are many. The lessons are unending and the rewards are flowing to us. I try to practice mindfulness as much as possible but nearly not enough. When I get into that meditative state and just notice the subtle energies around me, I just mindfully and effortlessly flow. It’s a cool thing.
I’m looking forward to the next lesson!