In April, I wrote about chasing your own kind of crazy — and in the following months, my husband and I waited patiently to close on our new land. Despite a few delays, and a handful of frustrations, the deal finally went through and we became landholders.* And now, we’re starting a new adventure of living off-grid in Montana.
We’ve lived all across this great country and around the world, but Montana called us home. We knew in our bones what we were looking for. It had been over a year of seeking, with several false starts and not-quite-rights, and then we found it. Thirty-five acres of raw potential, set against the mountains of Montana. A small creek gurgling across the land. Huckleberries and thimble-berries and service-berries running rampant. Tamaracks and white firs and cottonwood trees strewn amidst thickets of brush, home to bears and rabbits and all kinds of forest creatures. It’s our little piece of paradise.
But there is one thing we don’t have – Power.
Living nearly two miles from the nearest power lines means hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a little electricity our way. (By the way, this also means nearly two miles of roads to plow come winter — just to reach the main road. That’s going to be a whole other adventure.)
So in part from necessity and in part from inspiration, we leaned headfirst into another little dream we’ve been talking about, casually and in between our other plans. It was one of those ideas that roots into your brain somehow and doesn’t quite let go. It persistently pokes you to remind you it’s still there, until you finally either decidedly walk the other way, or embrace it and dive in. Much like we cultivated the Tiny House dream for years, this new dream was living off the grid. So instead of relying on electricity, we are turning to the world around us — to solar, and wind, and fire.
Sourcing our energy from the sky above and the wild. Learning to exist with only what we need and building self-sufficiency and skills that aren’t so commonly known anymore.
It sounds romantic, and I’m sure the reality will greet me in time. It’s also a privilege to make this choice, unlike the thousands of people around the world where off-grid living is the only option. But regardless of these truths, it’s a life we are eager to live and allow to unfold in our own experience.
A year ago, we started living in our Airstream, and that taught me a whole range of lessons about what I actually need and how I experience being a person in the world. The lessons of our Airstream Winter are another story, and one I hope to tell here soon.
But I think much of what off-grid living has to teach me lays ahead of me. After all, winter is coming. We’ll be sheltered by a structure, built quickly and intentionally to keep the deep snows at arm’s length. But without reliance on easy comfort, on a thermostat and a hot water heater and unlimited light, my mind now is focused on preparation.
Learning to handle new tools, to wield a chainsaw with confidence, to find solutions to problems that aren’t expected.
This is now the year of building myself into a wild woodswoman – and choosing how I can define that word to capture the wholeness of what it could mean.
The word owner always feels strange to me when it comes to land. I can apply it to a home — a structure that is built for a purpose. But with land, I feel like a custodian. Fiercely protective of my privacy and my right to the space, but aware that in time, it will not be mine and may not, in fact, be anyone’s.
Photo: from our first days on the land, breaking ground.