Been off grid for the last ten years.
In the late 1990s we found twenty acres of good timber land for 15,000 dollars.
We put 3K down and the escrow payments were only 150 a month. By immediately moving onto our land in a travel trailer we were able to reduce our monthly bills to only the land payment. This let us build our load bearing straw bale cottage out of hand as we went along without going into debt.
I highly recommend this rout to independence! Start now when your young, and go homesteading.
We lived in the trailer a year and a half. Survived a winter of sub zero temps and 15 feet of snow in that trailer. The only thing that made it comfortable was a wood stove.
Our trailer was 16 or 18 feet, I forget exactly how big it was.
It had a shower and toilet to small for even a hobbit to use, and a hanging closet in the end.
The middle was occupied by the galley on one side and a couch on the other.
The front end was taken up by a table and two bench seats.
Well, the torture chamber of a bathroom had to go.
I revved up the chainsaw and cut out everything in the back, including the tiny useless closet.
Then I cut out half the couch.
I built a nice four foot wide bed across the back, with a shelf above, room at the bottom to hang clothes and a nightstand at the head of the bed.
The original pad from the couch fit it nicely, and made a comfortable bed for my wife and I.
It is essential to have a bed that doesn't need to be folded up every day.
The remains of the couch frame was covered in patio blocks. The wall was tiled and also covered with patio blocks, and a metal heat shield screwed to the ceiling above.
The window above was removed and replaced with tile covered plywood, and we stuck an M1941 wood stove there with a wood rack beside it.
The pipe went out a metal collar in the window.
Best Thing I Ever thought of was that little stove!
I highly recommend them.
Well, then I built a nice big shed roof over it all, using logs cut from the surrounding forest to frame it all up.
The roof was much bigger than the trailer and offered good shelter. It was essential that the roof take the heavy snow load, not the trailer.
The galley in the trailer was OK but the sink to small to use. It got ripped out and the hole covered with plywood so we now had decent counter space.
My wife cooked many a fine meal in the little oven.
Behind the trailer, under cover of the roof we built an outdoor shower and a counter with a full sized sink for washing dishes.
The shower was just a nice platform to stand on and a five gallon "solar shower" hung up with a rope and pulley.
A few feet father away we set up a small metal storage shed.
We had a backhoe dig a shallow well twenty feet away, and I stuck a culvert pipe down that, backfilled it by hand, poured a little concrete slab around that, built a little shed over it, and installed a hand pump on the well.
We dug an outhouse up the hill, hung a hammock between two nearby trees and were all set!
Two kerosene lamps lit the trailer pretty good. My wife is a candle bug so we always had a few of 'em lit at night.
The galley also had a propane mantle lamp.
Eventually I added a couple of Siemens solar panels to the roof and even a small wind mill my brother gave me. With a charge controller and two deep cycle batteries hidden in the trailers battery compartment we now had DC fluorescent lights and a tiny inverter to run small kitchen appliances and a tape player.
We had no running water and didn't miss it. When the wood stove was lit we simply kept a pot on that for warm water.
In the summer we'd heat it on the propane stove.
During the coldest part of the winter we found that we were waking up to ice in the tea kettle on the stove, so we started Turing on the trailers propane furnace at it's lowest setting when we went to bed.
This trailer was an old one so the furnace had a pilot light and did not need electricity to operate.
No way this furnace could keep the trailer livable in the winter, and it would burn way to much propane if turned up, but it was useful in the coldest part of the winter. The little wood stove could heat the trailer so hot that we'd leave the door wide open even when it was -3 outside. But, it could not hold a fire all night long and *that's where the furnace helped out. With it running at it's lowest setting it would be 50 degrees in the trailer by morning, not below freezing.
I'd jump out of bed, light the fire and go back to bed for another half hour until the place was cozy and I felt like starting the day! *
You simply have to adopt a slightly different mind set to be happy living in such a small space.
First off, we did not live in the trailer.
It was a place to sleep, a place to cook and eat in cold weather, a cozy spot to warm up in and store your clothes. Much nicer than any tent.
But we lived outdoors. We spent more time out in the open air that year and a half than ever before or since.
We gave up TV when we moved up into the hills so we were never reduced to sitting in a tiny box staring at an even smaller box, looking at pictures of other folk doing stuff.
Instead, we were out in the forest always doing stuff.
Our clothes we reduced to just what we actually wore. We stored 'em in four cardboard bankers boxes under the bed.
My tools I reduced to just what I actually used, mostly my trusty chainsaw! It's amazing how few tools you really need to build a straw bale cottage!
Likewise with kitchen supplies. We had room to store quite abit of food, some of it in five gallon buckets in the metal storage shed out back.
My gun collection was reduced to just what we used - A glock .45 for my daily carry and a 1911 for my wife who stayed at the homestead full time.
- We wound up having trouble with bears - One even ripped the padlocked door off the metal storage shed and ripped up a five gallon pail of lentils -
So I swapped the 1911 for my trusty Ruger Bisley in .44 magnum and added a Mosin Nagant M44 carbine. My wife eventually added her favorite .22 rifle, a Marlin model 60.
Finding room for two longarms in the trailer did present a bit of a challenge though.
Living there was perhaps the most care free and idyllic time of our lives.
We'd pick wild strawberries on the way to the well for a bucket of water in the morning and have pancakes with fresh strawberries for breakfast.
It was very carefree, with life encumbered by few material possessions.
Our focus was on our forest and on our new home. We didn't know or care about events in the larger world away from our mountain.
If it were not for the winters up here, we'd still be living in that trailer!
One important consideration is that is Stevens County, Washington, a travel trailer is not considered or taxed as a home or cabin. Thus, our property taxes on our twenty acres was left at a little over 30 bucks.
How'd you like to live with only 30 bucks tax on your homestead? A travel trailer is the way to do that.
If I could go back and do something different, it would be to skirt that trailer with metal. I simply didn't think of it at the time.
On the same subject, I highly recommend this book -
Travel Trailer Homesteading for under 5,000 dollars, by *Brian Kelling.
Ten years down the road we have 40 acres, the cottage, a barn, garage, woodshed, fences, raised bed gardens, the whole works.
We built it all ourselves as we could afford it and as we learned how. *