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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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