Looking backwards and forwards at the same time

When we first began living off the grid, we were somewhat amusing for ‘watchers’ in a slap-stick, city-guy kinda way.  It seemed that most of my blog reports were based on (my) injuries and projects not working out.  (And I did not even write a blog for the first six or seven years!  That was because I was either too tired or too wrecked ) . Sal and I were pretty hapless and, at times, pathetic in our efforts.  We were classic ‘newbies’ trying to learn the OTG ropes.

Of course, time heals all wounds and gives scars and lessons as rewards.  We learned.  We got better.  We are NOT GOOD, but we are better.  But, as we learned more, we also got older.  As we implemented better systems, we NEEDED those systems more.  And, as the major financial hemorrhaging waned as the empire got established, the empire also started to show some wear and tear and the revenue stream – such as it was – trailed off.  In other words, it was two steps forward, fall down, get up, fall two steps backwards.  Get more First Aid supplies.  For the most part, we are keeping up with the changes but, at this stage, we are not getting ahead.

Actually, that state of being was to be expected.  We started late.  I was 56.  Sal was younger.  And we had a LOT to learn, not the least of which was how to build crap.  I have not mastered crap-building yet but most of it won’t fall down – at least not for 15 more years.  We tried to build to the 30 year rule and we have been here 15 years…ergo, we have 15 theoretically ‘engineered’ years left. We’ll see.  I do NOT have 15 years more of ‘healing wounds’ left, that’s for sure.

This weird, push-pull influence of doing and failing, learning skills but losing the energy to employ them, gelling as a work-team but seeking more time with individual hobbies, becoming more anti-social while doing more for community and living every day in the moment but also writing about it for posterity…it is the natural dichotomy of life, I suppose.  But that dichotomy shows up MORE and more out here.  I see the two steps forward, two steps back-thing alla time.  There is definitely less physical trauma but, of course, that has been more than made up for by the magic of aging.  I used to groan as I lifted a log.  Now I groan as I get out of the chair.  There is a poetic element to it all…..there may even be some more falling down in our future.  

“So, why tell us?”

Because I see it in others, too.  ON-gridders thinking of getting off-grid.  They wish to trade one life for another.  And they will (if they leap) be pleased with their decision.  They will learn a new lifestyle.  New skills.  And they will begin to ‘fit in’.  But, as they do, they will also age and the world will continue to race on in the ‘other’ direction.  They will be left out.  The city will become more like the hive it is, OTG will become more ‘hill-billy’ than it currently is.  The division will become a chasm.  Rural folk and OTG will become the new marginalized and we will be THANKFUL for that.

It is a weird observation….

12 thoughts on “Looking backwards and forwards at the same time

  1. and yet still… we can NOT wait to be headlong into it! Try to scare me off, or edumacate me, but I’m comin’.!
    We will test what metal we have (left), pit our minds, bodies and wills against the Wild’s and Murphy’s and we shall see., and then I will KNOW.
    I can do this.
    WE can do this. OR
    the BUST will be Nuclear for Us🙁😖☹ 😉🙂🤗🤩😍😎
    Hope to see YOU (& Sal) THERE! (at the OTG, NOT the Bust!😉😆🤣


  2. Have you been there OTG for about sixteen years? That is a wonderful accomplishment and you two are amazing. Most Canadians could not do what you two are doing. Congratulations!


    • Thanks, Sid. But…we don’t see it that way. We think the hard part was the first five years. Maybe six because we are slow learners and had a lot of healing to do. But, after that? Living in nature more closely has been way, way, way better than we have ever lived before except when we traveled like hippies all around and when we lived on boats. Those were ‘good times’, too. But ALSO they were more nature oriented as well. Am I a nature ‘nut’? Not really. But, damn! It IS better. Ya gotta tell the truth about what you know…living surrounded by trees and wildlife is way, way, way better than living like rats. True!


  3. Yes, absolutely you are correct. Do you agree that be able to live OTG is a capacity issue? Many are called but few accomplishment their dream of OTG living.


    • Well, many are called for a reason. And many should heed that call. Capacity is energy, commitment and skill. We had some of that and added perseverance. That’s a good recipe. It works. But Michelle Pfeiffer did the same thing with $3M and good cashflow. You don’t need muscles, sweat and hardship….money will do it too. The REAL question is: does your current environment energize, enrich and fulfiĺ you? If not, shouldn’t you look around for alternatives? I am glad we did.


  4. Well, I’m definitely hooked, and your blog inspires me…will we ever take the big leap…don’t know yet, but it’s definitely the life I want to lead. Capacity wise, we will manage, but we won’t start from scratch like you and Sal did, we’ll try to find a spot with at least some kind of decent house on it. But I admire what you and Sal did…could also do it I think…if I was 15 years younger


    • It is NOT either or (money or sweat). It can be a mix of both. It is just that wages are really high for skilled workers who have so far to travel thus it is more cost effective to do everything yourself if you can. To be fair, there are local people with skills, too. And they do not require travel, accommodation, food, etc. They have learned to do what needs doing with hand tools and ingenuity. They are affordable. But, but, but….you may get a tile-layer but not a plumber, a roof installer but he/she needs two labourers, a cement guy with no mixer and needs you to bring in the bags of mix. The hard part is really ‘being quick’ or even making steady progress unless you are the sole determinant. One of our neighbours is way more skilled than most everyone else and so he got hired but then it took him 15 years to complete his own house! Buying an existing place makes sense but…well…..we are all different and so whatever you buy will need to be ‘renovated’ to suit you. It’s a challenge.


  5. With this pandemic you might be attracting new readers interested in your life style for whom the issues of living off the grid have not yet crystallized as a reality. Generating one’s own electricity is but of many challenges. If they have found the last six weeks of self isolating a big challenge then living OTG might be more challenging. You might want to repeat for them the obvious and not so obvious of the day to day. Quite a bit of contingency planning must be in place to live independently.


    • That’s true. I may do some more ‘days in our lives’ type blogs. Today I picked up the doctor for the village. Sal just left to distribute food from the water taxi. I did some gardening….it is all rather ‘ordinary’ for us but, for people in the city, they might be intrigued by picking up the doctor in a small boat and distributing food from the dock. It is different.


  6. For me, it was not so much OTG, because I’m served by the grid here (a darned handy thing if you make your living from a home based welding shop!). It was, rather, a “do it yourself, or self reliant, “Mother Earth News” type lifestyle. Even though I have the electric grid here it is very rural. Hundreds of miles to a metropolitan area. Ten miles to the nearest traffic light, rural. It has always been challenging to choose remoteness. Many come to remoteness because of economic “booms”: mining, logging, fishing, pot farming, tourism service and pensioner retirees. I’ve had a welding business at home for over 30 years while watching perhaps 10 welding shops in leased spaces in town come and go. They couldn’t survive paying the leases on their shop spaces during the lean winter months. For me, I had my place payment free and just tightened my belt when things were slow. Self reliance, too. When my septic tank overflowed I rolled up my sleeves and replaced the leach field myself. When I came here it was cheap back then because this place was a dump honestly, and banks would not lend then on places like this. I had to put all new electrical service on the property, and did it myself. Many of the self reliant things are not possible in metropolitan areas in modern times. Try to put a welding shop business in your garage? or do your own wiring or septic system work in suburbia? There are inspections rules regulations codes and prohibitions, city and town “incorporations”, and now more and more even in ruralville: conservation easements, wilderness restrictions, wetlands and forest preservations and heritage site restrictions (the last several being of the newer “international rule” types).

    So, it really was easier to do it by your bootstraps, on a shoestring, 30 some years ago than it is now. They really want you herded into the concentrated urban hive zones now. They plan to re-wild everything outside of those zones and are making it harder and harder to be remote. Part of sustainable development. Your property owning presence in a remote area is not sustainable. Show up with a plenty of bucks nest egg or a phat pension or a family trust fund and pay close attention to the rules. Don’t buy land on a road that they are planning to gate off and close someday. It will be your life long battle and ultimately, you’ll lose.


    • Good on ya, Kev. You are right, a road does not an OTG’er make – not really. Being out there, way out there, that is the answer. Being independent, self-reliant, creative and productive – that is the reward.


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