Homesteaders, Off-gridders and Preppers- Welcome!

Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness

Aerial View of our Homestead on Hockley Lake

Our Remote Off-Grid Wilderness Homestead

 

To homesteaders, off-gridders and preppers everywhere- Greetings from the Canadian wilderness! Welcome to Off Grid and Free My Path to the Wilderness!

Imagine if you can, living so remote that access is only by float plane. You won’t see another person for 6 months at a time.

Twin Otter landing on Hockley Lake

Twin Otter Landing at Hockley Lake

No daily mail delivery, no commute to a mundane 9 to 5 job, no easy access to malls and supermarkets, and none of civilization’s chaos and noise. Nothing but the silence of the forest encompasses you. Continue reading

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Compost is the Lifeblood of any Organic Garden

Compost is the lifeblood of any organic garden since it not only enriches the soil, but also improves soil structure. Both clay soil or sandy soil can be transformed into a productive loam through the addition of compost.

Lush Garden of 2021 Thanks to Compost

Lush Garden of 2021 Thanks to Compost

What is Compost?

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Woodlot Thinning

For 42 years, I’ve actively managed and worked in the woods. The forest has been a source of firewood, income, recreation and exercise. Johanna and I cannot imagine living anywhere else other than surrounded by forest. I cannot look at a forest without thinking that tree here needs to go, that’s too thick in there, I need to salvage that leaning tree etc. This is a post about woodlot thinning.

Thinning the Woodlot

Woodlot Thinning

When we lived in Maine, we were part of the State/National Tree Farm program and we won a couple of County Outstanding Tree Farm awards for our forest stewardship. We own a large woodlot here in Nova Scotia and I continue to spend time improving our woodlot by thinning the jungle of trees that at times is so thick, it’s near impossible to bull my way through. Twenty or more stems within an arms radius. Way too dense! Continue reading

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Wood Cookstoves – Tips and Tricks

Given a wood cookstove is the only appliance we’ve ever had in our off-grid kitchen for the last 42 years, we’ve learned lots of tips and tricks that a novice may find useful beginning with the selection of a stove, installing the stove and finally using it. Let’s talk wood cookstoves – tips and tricks.

Antique Woodstove in Maine

Antique Woodstove in Maine

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Homesteading Track and Field

Homesteading Track and Field? Is there even such a thing?? By the time you get to the end of my article, you will have a definitive answer to that age old question. Homesteading Track and Field. Indeed!
US Master's National Championships Bronze M65 200M 28.01

US Master’s National Championships Bronze M65 200M 28.01

Competitive track and self-reliance? Off grid homesteading and competitive track?? A bit odd that I included sports and competitive athletics with homesteading and self-reliance don’t you think? But bear with me. Give this a read and let me know what you think.

I’m growing older and much closer to the end than the beginning with an unknown amount of time left. I’ve tried to make the most of what time I’ve had on the planet. I’m too old to toot my own horn so I’m simply writing to pass on my story as motivation and encouragement for others.

As a younger guy close to 40 years ago, I was a sprinter for a local Pennsylvania track club. Then I moved to Maine where homesteading and self-reliance became my career of choice. I was always active so this move to Maine was just a continuation of physical activity.

The only running I did was around the base paths for the local softball team. As many of you know, we then moved 100 miles into the Saskatchewan wilderness where the only running I did was from a fast approaching forest fire.

Then about 5 years ago, we made the transition from the wilderness of Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia to build our third and final homestead. Two years ago, I noted a competition for those 55 plus and older. The competitive juices started to flow and I thought to myself, how hard could it be to get back into sprinting shape? Well, surprisingly hard!

Everything I do, I give it my best shot and this was no different. I surely did not want to show up on the track and get smoked by a pack of old guys. So I trained hard, limped for months, pulled my quad and limped some more. Showed up at the track mostly healed with my quad taped up yet won my races. I was absolutely shocked!

Suffice it to say, I’ve paid a steep price to get into and maintain sprinting form. I’ve torn the quad, several hamstring muscles, felt the sickening feeling of my calf muscle tear but I continue plugging along. Each injury took 2 to 8 months to heal. But the body is quite resilient and will heal. I now have a completely factory rebuilt right leg! I’m the Canadian Master’s indoor 60 and 200 meter champion and took a Bronze medal in the US Master’s Indoor National Championships.

I think it crazy and preposterous that as a result of a whim to run in a fun track event several years ago, I will now be running for Team Canada in the world masters Championships this summer. I sure didn’t see that coming.

So let’s get to the important stuff. I’d like to think this lifestyle of hard, satisfying work, coupled with clean air, fresh garden vegetables and healthy living put my body into a position where I could attempt this comeback.

Age is Not a Barrier!

It doesn’t hurt to be a bit goal oriented and driven to succeed either. I’m in the 65-69 competitive age group and I can’t stress this enough… age is not a barrier to success! Don’t ever let anyone tell you you are too old to try something new. You have no idea what you can accomplish unless you actually give it a try.

This concept applies to whether you’re contemplating something competitive, a change of lifestyle perhaps oriented to self-reliance or something as simple as walking around the block. Do something on a whim!

Maybe see you on the track for a race?

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

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A Homestead Staple – Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple vegetable for us. We grow several hundred pounds each year for just the two of us. Let’s explore how we grow and harvest a homestead staple – potatoes.

Bucket of Potatoes

A Homestead Staple – Potatoes

Here’s a video we did on potato planting. As you can see from this video, we will only plant potatoes in the traditional hilled rows. Over the many years of gardening, we have had consistently large potatoes in quantity with vigorous healthy plants. There is no good reason to change our methods which work great for us. Continue reading

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Using Our Cast Iron Waffle Maker

In a previous post we extol the virtues of cast iron for any homestead kitchen. Cast Iron Cookware for the Homestead Kitchen. Below is a video of me using our cast Iron waffle maker to make homemade buttermilk waffles. See if you can guess what the secret ingredient is before the video is over.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to give these a try.

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour or a combo of both)

1 tsp double acting baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup oil (or melted butter)

2 eggs

I large bowl whisk together the first 4 ingredients. In separate bowl mix buttermilk, oil and eggs. Add to the dry ingredients and mix. Cook waffles till golden brown. Makes 5 to 6 waffles.

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

If you found our site and this post of value, would you please click the “Top Prepper Sites” link in the right hand column to vote for us. Thank you so much!

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Grow Your Own Italian Herb Seasoning Mix

Anyone, even apartment dwellers, can grow their own Italian herb seasoning mix. All that is required to make your own Italian herb seasoning mix is equal parts of the following dry herbs: Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Sage.

Herb Bundle Ready to Hang for Drying

Herb Bundle Ready to Hang for Drying

Growing the Herbs

All these herbs can be grown indoors on sunny windowsills, in pots set on patios or balconies, in window boxes or in outdoor gardens. Some are annuals meaning they must be planted each year while others are perennials meaning they should come up each spring without needing to be replanted.
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Consider a Wood Burning Cookstove for Your Off-Grid Kitchen

Since an electric range is out of the question, anyone off-grid or considering going off-grid is faced with determining how they’ll cook meals. Most opt for a gas/propane stove trading dependence on the electric company for dependence on the gas/propane company. Instead, why not consider a wood burning cookstove for your off-grid kitchen.

Newly Installed Cookstove at Nova Scotia Homestead

Newly Installed Cookstove at Nova Scotia Homestead

Why Consider a Wood Cookstove

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Cast Iron Cookware for the Homestead Kitchen

Having lived off-grid for over 40 years, I’ve always used a wood cookstove for all my cooking, baking and canning and have found that cast iron cookware for the homestead kitchen can’t be beat.

Waffle Iron, Muffin Pan and Corn Stick Pans

Waffle Iron, Muffin Pan and Corn Stick Pans

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The Fall Garden – A Key Component to Vegetable Self-Sufficiency

The fall garden is one that is still producing after the first fall frosts and is a sign of a dedicated, committed and skilled gardener. While keeping a garden productive well into fall is a key component to vegetable self-sufficiency, it doesn’t happen magically. Planning is essential for a successful fall garden. Knowing when to plant what as well as knowing which vegetables can take exposure to frost and cool temperatures is the secret to success. Let’s talk about the fall garden.

Fall Seedlings Waiting For a Home

Fall Seedlings Waiting For a Home

Estimating Fall Planting Dates

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Bountiful Harvests Grown on Small Plots

Recently, our publisher put up an inspiring post about an urban garden in Detroit on our book’s marketing page. That post garnered over 250,000 likes and loves and wonderful comments from so many people. As you might imagine, it also brought out a comparative few “experts” who questioned the bountiful harvests grown on small plots.

Day's Harvest

Day’s Harvest

Imagine our shock and dismay when a few wizards even told us it was impossible to grow our year’s worth of vegetables in our relatively small garden, something we’ve been doing for over 4 decades. Continue reading

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Ten Non-electric Small Appliances for the Off-Grid Homestead Kitchen

For the off-grid homestead kitchen with limited power options, there are non-electric versions of various small appliances available to make kitchen duties easier. If, like us, you are solar powered with ample power, the following non-electric utensils are still invaluable. In most cases they perform as well as their electric counterparts. However, if you’re still plugged into the electric grid, these ten non-electric small appliances for the off-grid homestead kitchen would be of interest to you as well.

Non-Electric Food Processor

Non-Electric Food Processor

Non-Electric Food Processor

This gizmo has sharp blades that are operated by a handle that is cranked around in a circular motion. I’ve used it to chop up our horseradish roots as well as to puree cooked pumpkin from our garden prior to making pies, breads or muffins. It’s perfect for the small amounts of pumpkin needed for a recipe.

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Home Grown Rhubarb Juice for More Self-Reliance

While home grown orange juice is out of the question for us self-reliant homesteaders in most of North America, home grown rhubarb juice isn’t. In our book, The Self-Sufficient Backyard: For the Independent Homesteader, we write about rhubarb and rhubarb juice and the role it plays in our plan for self-reliance. Chilled rhubarb juice mixed in equal parts with ginger ale (homemade or store bought), makes a punch that is a perfect thirst quencher when you come in from sweating in the garden. Let’s talk home grown rhubarb juice for more self-reliance.

Trimmed Rhubarb

Trimmed Rhubarb

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Plant Belgian Endive Now for January Salad Greens

For those of us seeking independence from the supermarket, winter salad greens are a challenge. But there’s a little known vegetable that fills the void – Belgian endive otherwise known as Witloof chicory. So plant Belgian endive now for January salad greens.

Planting the Roots to Force

Planting the Roots to Force

What is Witloof Chicory?

Witloof chicory is an unusual garden vegetable. Grown all summer long as if it were a carrot, the roots are harvested in the fall then forced indoors in winter whenever salad greens are needed. The shoots the roots produce are called chicons. They have a slightly bitter taste but when mixed with other “fresh” foods from the root cellar such as red cabbage, shredded carrots and onions along with some microgreens from the window sill and perhaps some fresh sprouts you’ve made, you have the fixings for a yummy mid-winter salad. Continue reading

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The Homestead Herb Garden

Our previous two homesteads wouldn’t have been complete without the homestead herb garden and neither would our new homestead here in Nova Scotia. Because herbs don’t require much space, they make good candidates for containers and can even be grown indoors on sunny windowsills by folks living in apartments. Herbs can be grown in the vegetable garden or they can have their own dedicated space, the herb garden, which is what we’ve always done.

Herbs Ready for Drying

Herbs Ready for Drying

Growing Herbs

Many herbs originated in Mediterranean areas where the soils are often not the greatest in terms of fertility. Therefore herbs can thrive in soils where other plants may struggle. But the one thing most herbs do require is well drained soil. If you have heavy, wet soil, consider adding sand to lighten the soil, adding organic matter in the form of compost or peat moss and/or establishing a raised bed for your herb garden.
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Rhubarb for the Self-Reliant Garden

Rhubarb, sometimes referred to as pie plant, has a place in every self-reliant garden especially for us northern gardeners. This hardy perennial is a boon for any of us in cold climates as it’s one of the first things to revive in spring assuring us the long winter is finally over. We write about rhubarb for the self-reliant garden and how it figures into our plan to be as self-sufficient as possible in our book The Self-Sufficient Backyard: For the Independent Homesteader.

Our Rhubarb Plant

Our Rhubarb Plant

Why Grow Rhubarb

Historically rhubarb was one of many plants used as a spring tonic by early settlers. After a monotonous winter diet of dried beans, cured meats and whatever root vegetables could be stored, there’s no doubt the first rhubarb stalks were a welcome treat. As a source of various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, C, potassium and manganese, it’s use as a spring tonic shouldn’t be surprising since the winter fare, with its lack of variety had the potential to be nutritionally deficient over the long term. Rhubarb is also high in fiber making it a natural laxative to relieve constipation. Continue reading

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Time to Get the Garden Started

With winter-like weather still in the forecast, garden season seems so far away. But it’s actually time to get the garden started unless you plan to buy seedlings from a nursery center. Seeds for vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, celery, cabbage and other Cole crops must be planted indoors so they have a jump start before they are transplanted out in the garden. For us, now is the time to get the garden started.

Transplants in Containers

Transplants in Containers

Why Start Your Own Garden

There are many reasons for starting your own transplants. Cost is one. A packet of seeds is cheap especially when you consider how many seeds it contains. Often a packet has enough seeds to last for several growing seasons if properly stored. Compare this to buying a pack of six plants that costs considerably more than the packet with dozens of seeds in it. Continue reading

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The Off-Grid Dream – the Realities

Going off-grid is your dream, but how do you proceed? Where do you begin? First you need to come to grips with the realities of going off-grid. We’ve lived the off-grid dream for 41 years beginning in northern Maine at our first homestead, then in the bush of northern Saskatchewan where we built an off-grid homestead so remote the only way in or out was by float plane and now here in Nova Scotia where we’re building our third and final homestead. Our experience has shown that to be successful anyone considering severing the electrical cord needs to give careful thought to the following questions. Let’s discuss the off-grid dream – the realities.

Kitchen Work by Kerosene Lantern

Kitchen Work by Kerosene Lantern

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Fall Garden Care

One would think that with the onset of fall frosts, cooler weather and blustery winds, garden chores would have come to an end. But in reality, the success of next year’s harvest begins now. Fall is the time to replenish the soil with organic matter and certain nutrients that have been removed by plants grown in the summer months. Now is the time for fall garden care!

Begin your fall garden care by removing any and all plant debris from the garden so it doesn’t harbor insects or diseases through the winter. Relegate all organic matter to the compost pile unless it’s diseased in which case it should be burned. The last thing you want to do is perpetuate and spread any diseases by composting infected materials then spreading the finished product all over the garden in the future.

Buckwheat Green Manure

Buckwheat Green Manure

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Tomato Propagation for a Winter Harvest

As you can imagine, tomatoes are a staple in our household. We grow a lot of them and process them into many different products. We can tomato quarters, stewed tomatoes, make plain sauce, pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce and tomatoes are the prime ingredient in V-6 juice. Let’s chat about tomato propagation for a winter harvest.

We grow Red Alert cherry, Bellstar and Amish paste, an heirloom variety called Brandywine and a new one called Kalinka We save seed from all except the cherry tomatoes which are a hybrid.

Tomato Cuttings

Tomato Cuttings

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