Get rid of your dryer and put up a clothesline and use drying racks when it rains. Don't use an electric stove to fight your AC system. In winter, cook on your woodstove. Buy a stainless steel wood-fired cooking station for summer weather. Don't use an electric water heater in spring/summer/fall and buy a wood-fired hot water kettle. Do not pay for an AC system!!!! When it is hot just deal with it. Never cook indoors in the summer and make your house unbearable. (Homesteaders do not live in places that are uninhabitable without AC.) Do not pay for a heating system—that is what your woodstove is for! (Real homesteaders have a woodlot.) Unplug anything and everything that draws a heavy electric load.
(Without all of the gadgetry you can build your house very inexpensively, hopefully without debt. That means you can self-insure because you can afford to lose it, and the odds of that are vanishingly small. Yes, 1 in 1,000 (or 10,000) will be harmed by this. Everyone else will have removed one more monkey from their back. Try not to do anything profoundly stupid and you will likely come through unscathed. No mortgage, no homeowner's insurance, and low property taxes will give you the personal freedom to do the things you want to do with the limited time of your life—write books, compose music, sculpt, philosophize... whatever! This is what freedom looks like.)
You will find that an electric bill for a fridge, a freezer, and an internet connection is about $40 per month. Why would you spend $20,000 to $30,000 for equipment (that will rust in the rain) to save $500 per year in grid electric expense? Real homesteaders would never do such a thing. They know they need lots of other equipment, and will be able to purchase all of the tools, equipment, and implements—other than traction in the form of a tractor or workhorses—with the money other people waste on solar systems. Including a water well and hand pump (about $5,000). Water is far more important than electricity. Get off-grid for water. Stay on-grid for electric. Unplug everything that can possibly be unplugged. You don't have to give up the internet or your refrigerator (ice for an icebox/cooler is very expensive).
"Homesteading" is as much a business as it is a lifestyle (this is why most people fail at it), and businesses require capital, planning, forethought, and consistent execution. Prosperous homesteads produce excess capital because their owners run them like a business, and because they are prosperous, real homesteaders can afford to have children. "Radical simplicity" invariably leads to poverty and childlessness. Poverty sucks. (Unless you are a monk.) Growing old without a family sucks even more. Ever met a happy gender warrior?
Outdoor wood-fired oven, stove, and grill.
Yes, a "rocket stove" can fry eggs and hot dogs. NO, a rocket stove cannot feed a family and keep them warm in winter and make 10 - 20 gallons of domestic hot water available at all times—but a wood cookstove can, and that is why real homesteaders have wood cookstoves and do not have rocket stoves.
Yes, you can heat up some water with any number of silly to just-plain-dangerous methods being peddled on youtube. NO, you cannot provide enough domestic hot water to keep a family bathed and dishes & laundry washed by wrapping a copper coil around a woodstove chimney, to say nothing about baking yourself out of the house in summer or enduring life-changing burns from scalding water. You need a wood-fired kettle.
Yes, your kitchen garden is a beautiful thing. NO, a kitchen garden will not get a family through the winter—but a steer, several hogs, and a dozen sheep along with field vegetables (corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes) might. Of course, you will need to feed them with hay and corn, and in the case of the hog, milk, so you will need to have productive ground and the equipment to make it produce your livestock feed.
You need many, many implements, tools, and equipment to make a homestead work, and you need them before you spend one dime on a solar system. If after you have purchased your land, built your barn and home, put up your fences, paddocks, and corals, and bought your stoves, ovens, kettles, plows, wagons, traction, and implements and have survived the start-up period with your enthusiasm intact (you won't be needing that gym membership; Americans are obese and depressed. Homesteaders are fit—physically and emotionally—simple as that) you wish to spend tens of thousands on a solar system... have at it.
But I guarantee you won't do anything so stupid. People who can get through all of the other challenges to take their lives back are too smart for that.
Click here for my best selling book, "Prosperous Homesteading," available at Amazon.
My latest novel, "Seven Years of Famine," is now available at Amazon—and it will rock your world. If you are not interested in this way of life now, you will be after reading this book.
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