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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Is Sewing a Survival Skill?

Is sewing a survival skill? Good question. Some would argue sewing is a forgotten or dying art and therefore irrelevant. I couldn’t disagree more.

Back when I was in high school, learning to sew was part of the Home Economics curriculum. From what I understand that’s not the case today. Too bad.

So is sewing a survival skill? I would argue that it is. Read further to find out why.

Quilts make Great Gifts

Quilts make Great Gifts

Why learn to sew?

A burning question for many may be…. Why should I learn to sew? To which I reply, why not? Continue reading

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Tractor Versus Tiller for the Self-Reliant Homesteader

Most serious homesteaders come to realize at some point in their journey to self-reliance that certain equipment not only makes life easier but is essential for efficient utilization of time. For financial reasons many homesteaders hold down jobs while at the same time juggling the demands of the home place. Possessing the right equipment can make the difference between struggling to get everything done and being able to keep up with the workload. One of the questions all of us face is which piece of large equipment is the ultimate choice for working the land, a tractor or a tiller. Let’s explore the pros and cons of a tractor versus tiller for the self-reliant homesteader.

Ron Tilling Under Cover Crop in Nova Scotia Garden

Ron Tilling Under Cover Crop in Nova Scotia Garden

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Is Cooking a Survival Skill?

Food is one of life’s most basic necessities. Relying on someone else to prepare your meals be they restaurant meals, take out/deliveries or prepared convenience foods such as frozen pizzas and entrees is far from being self-reliant. So yes cooking is a survival skill. In a worse case scenario, knowing how to cook so you can feed yourself and your family is one of the most basic survival skills there is.

The Makings for Many Winter Meals

The Makings for Many Winter Meals

During the Covid pandemic, we were amazed at the number of seemingly helpless people who relied on take out food to sustain them despite being stuck in their homes for days on end with not much to do. Why they didn’t use some of their time each day to prepare simple meals for themselves is beyond our comprehension. Was this due to ineptitude, lack of cooking skills, fear of failure or just simple laziness? Perhaps it was a combination of all the above. Regardless, the circumstances related to them being stuck at home should have served as an eye opener. What if take out meals picked up at curbside hadn’t been available? If the pandemic had been a truly worst case scenario would many folks have gone hungry because they didn’t know how to cook a meal for themselves? If so, how pathetic is that. Continue reading

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The Off-Grid Sewing Machine

When preparing to go off-grid, one item that may be overlooked is the family sewing machine. Who gives this device a second thought until they need it to repair a rip in their pants or a tear in a shirt sleeve? Sewing machines have been electrified for decades, but they had their beginnings as non-electric machines which were powered by foot pedal. In other words they were off-grid sewing machines!

Our Singer Treadle Sewing Machine

Our Singer Treadle Sewing Machine

Mr. Singer’s introduction of a mechanical sewing machine revolutionized garment making as it saved an enormous amount of time. No more hand sewing to keep the family clothed. A non-electric, foot powered treadle sewing machine, an off-grid sewing machine, is just as relevant for today’s off-gridder as it was for the housewife all those years ago when Mr. Singer introduced his first model in the 1850’s.
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Butchering Equipment for the Self-Reliant Homesteader

With the onset of cooler weather, late fall/early winter is traditionally the time larger animals such as pigs and cows are slaughtered on the homestead for the freezer. Now that fall is upon us, let’s talk about the butchering equipment for the self-reliant homesteader.

Gambrel Stick and Block and Tackles

Gambrel Stick and Block and Tackles

For us meat eaters, raising animals or hunting for them is only part of the equation. Slaughtering is required before the roast, chop or steak appears on the table. Most people send their large animals such as pigs, cows and sheep off to a slaughter house retrieving the cut and wrapped packages from the shop as if they were picking them up from the supermarket. To me this seems a bit like paying a hit man to do the job. If self-reliance is your goal, you’ll need to arm yourself with equipment to do the job at the homestead.
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Six Uses for Utility muslin on the Homestead

Utility muslin, a cheaper grade of muslin than that used in crafts and sewing, has been in use on our homestead for decades and as such has been a valuable addition to my fabric stash. So much so that many years ago I bought a whole bolt of it. Why buy so much? Here’s six uses for utility muslin on the homestead.

Utility Muslin Ready to be Cut

Utility Muslin Ready to be Cut

Six uses for Utility Muslin

Utility muslin has many uses around the homestead. I’ve used it to make casings for large homemade sausages such as bologna and salami. I’ve used it to make small bags for straining fruit for jelly and large bags for straining fruit juices. I’ve also used it to make large bags for storing country hams we’ve cured and smoked as well as home cured pieces of bacon. We’ve used large squares of muslin to hold apple pomace for pressing for apple cider as well as using squares of it to cover buckets containing fermenting sauerkraut or curing hams and bacon. Finally I’ve used it to fabricate a greenhouse blanket to cover the glazing on cold nights in an attempt to keep the greenhouse warmer. Continue reading

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The Modular Backyard Power Plant

Our new book The Modular Backyard Power Plant has launched. It is a combined book and video geared specifically for people on the grid worried about losing power for days, weeks or longer term. This system will bridge the gap between grid power down and grid power being restored. Think of it as a solar electric generator replacing the gas generator.

In fact, you can watch the video where I’m tossing a gas generator in the dumpster.

Earlier this summer, we had a film crew here for almost a week filming lots of marketing scripts. Along with the marketing scripts, I was filmed building the system from scratch. That was an intense morning to late at night stretch. 

Our book gives easy to follow instructions so anybody can build the Modular Backyard Power Plant. The videos that come with the book give the viewer a look over my shoulder as we build this project together. Because it is modular by design, it is easily expandable depending on one’s power needs.

Not only does one get the technical information on how to build the system themselves, I also teach basic electricity and explain in easy terms why I chose the components I did. We also discuss solar design theory and the reasoning behind a good solar electric system.

Even if one does not wish to build the system, my book will be an invaluable reference resource for those interested in off grid energy production.The last chapter alone provides many ideas and methods for dealing with daily life during a disaster scenario. Old time solutions to modern problems.

What a relief to see all the effort we’ve made over the last couple years finally come to fruition. 

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Self-Sufficiency Versus Off-Grid, Is There a Difference?

Although quite a few people view these terms as synonymous, in reality they are not. There is most definitely a difference between self-sufficiency and being off-grid. Often the terms off-grid and self-sufficient go hand in hand but the terms mean two different things and they shouldn’t be confused or used interchangeably. Self-Sufficiency Versus Off-Grid, Is There a Difference? Let’s explore the differences.

Full Woodshed Will Supply Fuel for Cooking and Heating

Full Woodshed Will Supply Fuel for Cooking and Heating

Off-grid Versus Self-Sufficiency

By definition, off-grid means to be completely unplugged from the power grid as well as other public utilities such as water and sewer. People off-grid make their own power from the sun, wind, water, a generator or a combination of these methods. Continue reading

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Homegrown Poultry Seasoning

With the approach of the holidays, many of us will be making stuffing and roasting the holiday turkey. There’s nothing better to season both of these than your own homegrown poultry seasoning. Here’s how to grow and concoct your own homegrown poultry seasoning.

Finished Poultry Seasoning Ready for Storage

Finished Poultry Seasoning Ready for Storage

Recipe for Poultry Seasoning

Here’s the recipe I use to make our own poultry seasoning.

4 tsp dried marjoram

4 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dry sage

2 tsp dry savory

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until the mixture becomes a powder. I use a small electric coffee grinder I bought years ago to originally grind up flax seeds. Store in an airtight container. Makes ¼ cup.

Ready to Grind Herbs for Poultry Seasoning

Ready to Grind Herbs for Poultry Seasoning

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9 Home Canned Convenience Foods From the Garden for any Self-Reliant Homesteader – Part 2

Continuing on from our 9 home canned convenience foods from the garden for any self-reliant homestead part 1 we published previously, here are a few more options for you.

Quart Jars of Soup Stock

Quart Jars of Soup Stock

Soup stock and Broth

Nothing you buy from the store compares to homemade soup stock. If you raise your own meat and do your own butchering you will be generating a mountain of bones regardless of whether you’re processing poultry, a beef critter, a hog or sheep. All bones are the makings of delicious broth. Continue reading

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9 Home Canned Convenience Foods From the Garden for any Self-Reliant Homesteader – Part 1

If you’ve begun your journey to self-reliance, you’ve probably noticed you’re relying less on processed convenience foods and are spending more time in the kitchen cooking and preparing foods from scratch you’ve grown from your garden. We think that’s awesome! But there’s some more good news! You can make your own home canned convenience foods for when life gets hectic and time too short to prepare a full meal from scratch. Here’s 9 home canned convenience foods from the garden for any self-reliant homesteader.

Pint Jars of Stewed Tomatoes in Foreground with Quarts of Tomato Soup to the Right

Pint Jars of Stewed Tomatoes in Foreground with Quarts of Tomato Soup to the Right

Home Canned Convenience Foods

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Alternative Methods to Weed Control

I know this post is coming a little late to be useful this year but I’m hoping this post will be helpful next growing season for all gardeners and homeowners who wrestle with weed control. Unless weeds are dealt with in some fashion throughout the spring and summer growing season, they will quickly overwhelm all efforts to grow lawns, flowers and in our case, vegetables. And then in the fall, they have a natural tendency to reseed themselves. There are many alternative methods to weed Control!

Some Unpicked Weeds Around Apple Trees

Some Unpicked Weeds Around Apple Trees

Let me ask you this. Have you ever noticed the similarity between a weed and a cat? What’s the one trait in common? It’s a natural instinct they share. Can anybody guess?

Ever hear of the cat righting reflex? There’s been a lot of study about it. This is true now. I’m not pulling your leg on this. The cat has an innate sense of being able to land on it’s feet regardless of the situation. They somehow can twist and contort their body so that they are able to land feet first. See where I’m going with this?

Weed Control

Surely we’ve all pulled weeds. Ever pull a weed and toss it aside only for it to land back down on its root. Come back a few days later and that sucker has rerouted itself and is thriving again. Especially after a rain. There’s no physics principles that can explain this phenomenon. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the weeds internal gyroscope is programmed for ROOT DOWN.

We have pulled a lot of weeds over the years and we’ve done a pile of mulching for weed control. And I even fire up the string trimmer and pulverize the weeds to bare soil. But the one thing we’ve never done is use herbicides such as roundup around the garden or house.

Glyphosate Alternatives

I recently received an email from an organization dedicated to healthier living. I have never heard of this group. I have no affiliation with this group. I was simply asked to read what they have to say about the herbicide roundup (glyphosate) and I was pleased that the article was straight forward on the health concerns of using products like roundup. Better was the majority of the page listed many natural alternatives to weed control. Basic stuff like using vinegar or boiling water. Some things I’ve honestly never knew existed like corn gluten and natural oils for weed control.

I found the information quite educational and there’s a few tricks I plan to try such as boiling water. I wanted to pass the site on to you for a browse since whether you garden or have a lawn, weeds can be counted on to sprout every year and anything we can do to make the battle simpler and environmentally friendly is a noble cause.

Here’s the website. https://www.drugwatch.com/roundup/alternatives/  I’m curious. Any tricks you’ve used that we might add to the mix? 

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

Ron and Johanna

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Those people aren’t off grid! How dare they claim that!

Those people aren’t off grid!

How dare they claim that!

Twin Otter landing on Hockley Lake

Twin Otter landing on Hockley Lake

The following was written by two off grid people, Ron and Johanna Melchiore, sent to you via satellite for distribution on social media.

A couple of weeks ago, our publisher put up a short video clip on social media of Johanna and me. That video clip touted our self-reliant, off grid lifestyle. That video clip went viral. Over a million views which generated enormous interest in us with hundreds of comments. We tried to respond to most.

We are grateful for the overwhelming love and support from the vast majority of them. They fully understood what we have done in life and the gist of that video. They easily made the connection that they were on our publisher’s pages which promotes self-reliance. That’s the context and the spirit in which all posts on these accounts are made. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. It is you folks who keep us going. But we were a bit surprised that there was a small fraction of people who ended up with exploding heads over the topic along with a few radicals who gave us exploding heads. Continue reading

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Our Solar Greenhouse Construction

We’ve mentioned our solar greenhouse many times over the years both in Saskatchewan and now here in Nova Scotia. Our greenhouse is an indispensable necessity for us and an invaluable resource for maintaining our self-reliant lifestyle. It not only allows us to grow vegetables requiring longer growing seasons like sweet potatoes but it is a season extender both in spring and fall and allows us to grow some vegetables literally year round.

Solar Greenhouse Framework

Solar Greenhouse Framework

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12 Steps to Becoming More Self-Reliant

If you’ve been wanting to become self-reliant but are unsure how to proceed, consider these 12 steps to becoming more self-reliant to get you started. If you’re already on your path to self-reliance, there may be some items in this list you’ve never considered but after some thought, may decide to pursue. The items are in no particular order of importance.

Garden that Will Feed Us All Year

Garden that Will Feed Us All Year

1. Plant a garden

Often this is one of the first steps someone chooses to become more self-reliant and for good reason. Freedom from supermarket produce means you can be certain of how vegetables were grown and are no longer subject to escalating food prices or potential shortages. Whether you start small with a garden big enough to only supply fresh eating through the summer months or one big enough to feed you all year long, you’ll be glad you embarked on this path. Continue reading

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Six Herbs for Homegrown Herbal Teas

If, like us, your goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, we can recommend you raise these 6 herbs for homegrown herbal teas. We’ve grown these 6 herbs for years and never tire of drinking them. They are as good as store bought herbal teas yet because you can grow them yourself, you are a step closer to independence from the supermarket.

Herbs Washed and Spun Dry

Herbs Washed and Spun Dry

Many of the following herbs are perennials meaning once established, they will come up every year. Although in truth some are only perennials in the deep south of the United States. Lemongrass and Stevia are 2 herbs that are perennials in zone 11. This doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t grow these plants however. We simply have to treat them as annuals and plant them each year. Depending on where you live, you may need to mulch the other perennials to give them winter protection. Here’s our favorite six herbs for homegrown herbal teas.
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Basic Knitting Equipment for the Self-Reliant Homesteader

As we’ve eluded to in previous posts, winter on the homestead is the perfect time to engage in pursuits there’s no time to do during the busy summer months. Knitting is a pleasurable hobby but for the self-reliant homesteader it’s an invaluable skill that’s part of a well rounded basket of survival skills; one that you can draw upon in hard times to help keep the family clothed. Familiarizing yourself with basic knitting equipment increases your level of self-reliance and may give you an edge in the future.

Using Double Points to Make Gloves

Using Double Points to Make Gloves

Equipment

While there’s a lot of paraphernalia available to any knitter, the fact remains that all that’s needed to get started are 2 things: needles and yarn. Continue reading

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Winter Activities on Our Homestead

We had a recent inquiry about our woodlot work as well as our winter activities on our homestead so here it goes.

Woodlot Thinning

Woodlot Thinning

With gardens put to bed, preserved bounty socked away in the root cellar, pantry and freezers, life on the homestead in winter takes on a slower pace. Nevertheless, there are numerous winter activities on the homestead that occupy our time. These include but are not limited to: indulging in various hobbies, spending more time cooking and baking, planning the coming season’s garden as well as reflecting on last season and what we want to do different, perusing seed catalogs while dreaming of spring and working in the woods. Lastly let’s not forget about relaxing. Let’s explore each of these winter activities on our homestead in more detail.

Wood Lot Work

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2023 Resolution – 100% Self-Reliant Vegetable Production

Is raising 100% of your own vegetables possible? Absolutely. We’ve done so for decades. Why not make 100% self-reliant vegetable production your 2023 resolution.

100% Home Grown Meal

100% Home Grown Meal

We raise 100% of our vegetables which means we don’t rely on the grocery store for any of our veggies regardless of the time of the year. This was particularly relevant when we lived remote in the bush of northern Saskatchewan where our homestead was only accessible via bush plane. We flew to town twice a year and it was only during those biannual trips to civilization that we did any shopping. Being self-reliant was a necessity. Even though we are more accessible to stores now, we still grow all of our vegetables.
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The Aging Homesteader

Aging is a fact of life. Even though we’ve been homesteading for over 43 years and we’re in our 60’s, we haven’t slowed down much. But we know the day is coming when we’ll slow down to the point it will take us longer to accomplish tasks. As the aging homesteader knows, they may put in the same number of hours as always but their productivity will decrease. In other words, they won’t be able to accomplish the same amount of work in the same number of hours as they had in the past.

Elevated Bed in Full Production

Elevated Bed in Full Production

This will be hard to accept but is to be expected. Since we know the day is coming, now is the time to prepare for it. This post is dedicated to the aging homesteader including young homesteaders who are smart enough and possess enough foresight to prepare for the inevitable.

Acceptance

The first step is to accept and expect the aging process. You don’t have to like it or be happy about it but rather figure out strategies for dealing with it. Aging and homesteading don’t have to be at odds with each other so long as you’re smart about it.

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