This family went from living this urban city
life with financial stability to boom, being off the grid.
I don’t think that it’s something
that many Americans could do.
What was that adjustment period like for you?
For the first few months that we were here,
we felt successes after successes.
This is our bike-powered washing machine.
I got this off of Craigslist for $20.
We got this bike at a thrift store,
and we were able to select gears so that we can go kind of slow
for a tumble, and then we can gear up
and go really fast to drain it and to spin it out.
The kids bathe in a bathtub once a week on the weekends,
and then Nick and I also shower at least on Sundays,
and more often if we feel like we need it.
We carry water for the shower, just like we
carry everything in a basin.
We heat up water on the propane torch
and mix that together with cold water
until we have the temperature right,
and then that mix will run through a hose
downhill to the shower.
My rule is that I won’t shower at anything
less than 20 degrees.
It’s something that I thought would be a disadvantage,
but actually it’s very enjoyable.
It wasn’t until the wintertime that we met challenges
that we really weren’t able to surmount.
I had not been prepared for how dark
it is in the wintertime when you don’t have electricity
and how that affects your emotions.
It’s too cold for the kids to be outside very much,
so we did have that sense of family cooped up
in small spaces.
It just wears on you.
It just got to be really heavy.
I want you to calm down.
Find something else to do.
What else could you do other than torture each other?
And I had a few failures as a homesteader at that time.
I had failed to take care of my first bee colony.
There they are.
You also mentioned you had a confrontation with a bear.
So when the bear came, my husband was out of town,
and I was caring for my three children by myself.
And I have no communication, so I couldn’t call someone
That was a scary moment for me.
So this dish that our dog drinks out of, it’s bent in from my
banging it against another pan when
I was trying to get the bear to go away.
I got this gun after we had the bear incident.
I have very mixed feelings about it, and we rarely, if ever,
actually load it.
But I do hope at some point to gain the skills to be
able to use it.
Esther puts on this very brave, optimistic face,
but it is clear that she has had a tough time here
and has second guessed their whole decision to move out
How would you describe your emotional state
having had to deal with all of that?
At that point, I considered trying
to hang up the homestead idea as a failed experiment.
You thought, this is it.
We should give it up.
I felt like we should give it up.
Nick never felt like we should give it up.
We just had to reprioritize and figure out all over again
what we’re comfortable with.
We’ve changed our strategy substantially
going into our second winter.
I’m trying to see things as a slower, more
What’s your five-year plan?
Well, five years from now, we’ll definitely be in the house.
That you’re building?
That we’re building, yeah.
Out of these trees.
My husband’s an amazing crafts person.
His ability to make a space for his family to live in
is really fulfilling.
And I heard that he sews your underwear.
He sews my underwear.
Yes, indeed, he does.
I’ve got a kids t-shirt here with a tiger on it.
We’re going to try and center it up right on the butt.
I made the pattern from an old pair of underwear.
I just use a kid’s marker to mark on the fabric,
because it’s so washable, it comes right out.
I think there’s plenty of stuff out there in the world,
so anything that I can do to take existing materials
and have them provide for us, that’s what I’m in it for.
Do you guys think that you’re unique?
Oh, I don’t think we’re unique at all.
I think we’re actually part of a current trend
moving towards alternative lifestyles,
and particularly self-sufficiency.
How do you hope this lifestyle influences your children?
I hope that it makes them stronger, more resilient
Not long ago, Milo, in school, was
assigned to write a letter to somebody,
so he wrote a letter to Sadie saying,
I wish I could be at home with you, and I love our home.
For him to make that one of the things
that he’s happy to talk about is how much he likes his home.
That’s been pretty awesome for me.
How much do you have riding on this for this to work?
This is kind of everything that I have.
I don’t really have a plan B. I don’t
know how I would go back now.
I don’t know that I could live in an apartment again.
This is where it’s all at for me.
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