Running the Off Grid Homestead Solo as a Woman

When Jesse and I embarked on this off grid property development adventure, we knew from day one that it would be wise to design things in a way that either one of us could run the day-to-day operations on our own, especially myself as a woman. It turns out, it’s good we did, because I’ve ran the homestead completely alone for the past month… with ease.

For most people, being alone for a period of time is a matter of when, not if, and we knew we were no different.

Although Jesse and I spend 99.9% of our time together, and wish to be together for the most part, we knew there would be times in the not-too-distant future that could drive one of us away from the property for a period of time.

Such things could be family emergencies, simple family visits, or unfinished business in another state which can happen when trying to transiting to living full time on an off grid property.

In our case, this time around, Jesse decided to put his rental property in Oregon on the market and to encourage a quick sale, we thought it would be best to give the rental a little TLC.

It turns out Jesse was gone for an entire month… that was the length of time he needed to take care of things, and he had the freedom to do so because we designed out property in a way that I could manage it alone.

In this post, we want to share some of the things that we purposefully did to make for smooth sailing for one person whether it was myself or even Jesse.

Taking Care of Basic Needs

The #1 most important thing is that we can each take care of our basic needs solo. For me, this means keeping myself fed, watered and powered up.

Water

Living off grid, there are endless opportunities to make getting water a hassle.

When we first moved to the property, our off grid water system consisted of bringing water to the property in 6-gallon jugs. We could have brought the water in larger quantities, but this was a weight we were both comfortable lifting without risking injury.

Even those jugs were heavy when full, but we designed a simple system where I could easily lift them up to a shelf where they would drain into the RV.

Now that our water system is upgraded, we get our water 200 gallons at a time and transfer the water to a cistern at the top of the hill using a pump. This is easy for me to do alone, requires very little strength, and I can even move the empty IBC container in and out of the trailer when necessary.

Ideally, a permanent water solution is more hands off, but you need to get creative when just starting out! Keep ergonomics in mind when designing your system!

Installing our permanent water system... believe it or not, once the system is installed, it will be easy for both of us to maintain solo!
Installing our permanent water system… believe it or not, once the system is installed, it will be easy for both of us to maintain solo!

Power

Now that we’ve upgraded to solar power, maintaining power is pretty simple, but it sill requires a little bit of knowledge about the system to keep it going.

This isn’t hard strength-wise, but even though Jesse designed the system, it’s really important for me to know roughly how it works and what to keep an eye out for.

When we get sun, all is well! But since we’re heading into winter, daylight is diminishing and clouds are out in full force. This means we’re relying heavily on our generator to keep our battery bank topped off.

We picked a generator that met our power needs yet also paid more for one that was lightweight (70lbs or so instead of maybe 120+) and had a built-in wheel kit. Whether Jesse is home or away, I can easily lift the generator if I need to or drag it around the property.

If we had one that was heavier, moving it around solo wouldn’t be a good option for either one of us, increasing our dependency on one another.

Our generator is easy to work with and easy to lift. Perfect for one person.

Transportation

This is somewhat of a no-brainer but worth noting anyways.

If you’re alone, it’s a great idea to be able to get around! This didn’t even cross our minds when we had the Forester PLUS a brand-new Subaru Legacy that I drove, but since we sold it to start this homestead and upgraded (or downgraded) to a 1990 pickup truck with personality, transportation is always at the front of our minds!

If one of us leaves the property for an extended period of time, it will likely be with the Subaru since it’s better for driving long distances, and in my case, I’m not very good at driving the truck. So, I try to drive it whenever I get the chance and we try to address problems when they arise so the vehicle is always ready to hit the road.

We also have a four wheeler that I can drive at least to the neighbor’s house if I have any issues when Jesse is gone. Between the truck and the four wheeler, one of them should get me where I need to go, in theory.

In a perfect world, we’d have two brand-new cars that are 99.9% reliable, but since we’re bootstrapping an off grid property, we don’t have two new cars when we really only drive one day-to-day!

Even though we're trying not to spend money on cars at this point in our life, we do try to make sure I always have a reliable set of wheels to drive if Jesse is gone.
Even though we’re trying not to spend money on cars at this point in our life, we do try to make sure I always have a reliable set of wheels to drive if Jesse is gone.

Making Progress on the Property Solo

Since it’s pretty easy to tackle my basic needs, the next thing I focus on when Jesse is gone is continuing to make progress on the property.

There is a lot I’m not comfortable tackling on my own since I’m still fairly inexperienced with construction and this lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing at all for me to do… there is plenty!

Tasks are always stacking up all around us. We have a daily “to do” list with the most important things, but less significant tasks end up getting pushed further and further down the list, ultimately not getting done at all. These are often menial tasks, so I try to pick away at this list when Jesse is gone.

These are some things I did this time around.

Tend to the Compost Pile

Since we want to have a larger garden next year, and since our soil is so poor, adding compost to the garden is one thing we can do to improve our harvest!

Since it’s fall, I decided to run around gathering leaves at local parks for the compost pile. I gathered bags, and bags, and bags. I also gathered grass clippings from the neighbor’s hillside. This resulted in a massive pile.

While this doesn’t help our house get build, I do hope this small investment in time results in a healthy bounty for us next gardening season.

cabon for adding to compost pile

Work on House Plans

We are getting close to finalizing our house plans, and Jesse wanted me to work on the floor plan a bit. This is right up my alley, so I checked out a few books from the library for inspiration, pulled up Adobe Illustrator, and got to work!

I ended up with a plan that works with Jesse’s proposed frame that we are both extremely happy with.

This doesn’t involve tools or lumber, but finalizing house plans has to happen before we pour concrete.

Learned How to Butcher a Deer

Jesse and I are hoping that we can obtain hunting licenses next year and begin our hunting adventure, so we are looking for opportunities to brush up on our knowledge now.

When Jesse was away, our friends’ daughter shot her first deer and I was invited over to watch them butcher it!

Even though I didn’t participate, I do feel that the first time we butcher a deer, it will be easier because I already have one experience under my belt.

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Learned How to Pressure Can

Another thing on the never-ending to-do list was to learn how to use our pressure canner. Since we had a chicken in our freezer from chicken slaughtering day, I decided to cook it up in some water and then continue to make a rich broth with added veggies and even chicken feet.

This is one way I was wanting to increase the quality of our diet and lower our winter grocery bill ever so slightly – consuming copious amounts of homemade broth!

If you’re new to pressure canning, start with the Ball Blue Book – mind and everyone else’s canning bible.

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Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

With everything we do, we plan to succeed. We aren’t pessimists, but realists, so we plan for realistic scenarios and running the property solo is one of those.

This was my second and longest time running the property alone, and I passed with flying colors! Had we not designed things from the start with me running things alone in mind, it could have been much worse resulting in PTSD.

If you’re planning on starting a homestead or living off grid with your spouse, take some of these things into consideration (especially for us ladies) to ensure smooth sailing!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. Jeff says

    i just found your page. Good for you guys! I hope you will be well settled within the next few years. Also, I wish you the best in getting top dollar on the rental property you will be selling to help with upgrades on your current property. You guys seem nice, so I’m hoping karma will be on your side.

  2. says

    LOVE THIS VIDEO!!! You’re a total superhero, don’t fool yourself! 😉 Awesome job getting it all done in Jesse’s absence, I’m sure he was proud!

  3. Donna West-Yordanov says

    LoVeD the video!! Good thinking as I wonder how much stress I would have by going it alone.. We have the small car for getting down the hill but totally limits the quantity of water to bring back up.. We have the RV we use to haul the spring water (55 gal barrels) back up but I hate driving that huge box of a truck.. Looking forward to getting a p/u truck so I don’t have to rely on anyone.. We rotate the propane tanks so there’s always backup and the generator has the electric button to make it easy on me to start … 5 acres of trees, there’s usually wood for cooking and heating on the ground… Soooo satisfying living life the way you want!! With Nature..

  4. Gman says

    Some advice on your water system. You should bury your water lines at least 36 inches or better yet 4 ft. under the ground. For climate that is really cold in winter -below zero for a lone time I would advise you to cover your pipes with 2 inch bead board 2ft. X 8ft. sheets.By doing this you will cause the frost that goes down and hits the bead board it will not go on down but out to the sides. This is especially true when you have to drive over your lines. If possible don’t drive over lines or at least as little as possible in winter. Having spent 33 year in Alaska you learn some of these things the hard way. Good luck and don’t stop trying to learn new things. PS ask the old timers for advice. Garmo

    • Dennis says

      Installed water lines for a living in the Dakotas. 6 feet was the minimum for water. Depending on the snow amount and timing, less than 6 feet is risky. Not unusual at all to see frost at 5 feet when digging in the winter.

  5. Adam says

    I just came across your journey on youtube and it sounds like we have similar stories. Im former military and have also worked corporate jobs but I feel more comfortable living off the land like my grandparents. Do you live Oregon? We are planning to move to/outside the Portland area and what you guys are doing is my end goal.

    • says

      Welcome! There are certainly many of us “returning to our roots”… welcome to the club! We are located in Idaho but moved from Oregon… the Southern part.

  6. says

    You two are one of the best channels on You Tube!!!
    Wranglerstar, Cody Crone, got top You Tube award world wide in 2014.
    He is one of the top people featured in the awesome documentary, Beyond Off Grid. I am the second person in the trailer. You guys are DOING what we advocate; going off grid and growing as much food, having your own water source, building your own home, etc.
    Watch what you can of that documentary. It will help in many areas of your journey.
    It is in the directors cut stage and should be released soon.

  7. billy,Hill says

    I think you Guys are great. Thank you for sharing with us your journeys. I find ya’ll Inspiring,and heart warming funny. I think you two could do anything you put your hearts to. I look forward to seeing more. I love you Guys.

  8. Regina says

    A little word of caution. When gathering grass clippings from others, find out if they use any pesticides or herbicides. You don’t want to accidentally kill off bacteria or earthworms, and definitely don’t want to add something to future compost dirt that would prevent the garden from growing. Also be careful of any walnuts in the leaves. Again, this will inhibit plant growth.
    Keep up the awesome work! Living the dream just like you!

  9. canadagal says

    Just sent the name of your site over to Modern Survival Blog as the discussion was whether a camper trailer could be a good bug out item & there was a lot of comments on winter. I figured you are witnessing winter for the 2nd time in your camper & have some excellent proven ideas on coping with winter that others might find interesting. Love your site. Keep up the good work & am looking forward to seeing how your drone works with the photography for your videos.

  10. canadagal says

    Jan.6. Just read that some parts of Idaho have record amounts of snow & heading into very cold after it quits snowing. Praying you guys are OK. Stay warm.

  11. Lucy says

    I was looking for tips on wood burning stove efficiency and found Jesse’s video. I really warmed to him and his most efficient and helpful tips . Brilliant stuff. Just wanted to tell you guys that. Am in awe of the way you are living. I’m from Suffolk, England. Now off to stack my stove. Thanks! Lucy

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