Living Off-Grid on a Tiny House Homestead for 6 Years
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Ariel has been homesteading and living off-grid in a 24'x8' tiny house for 6 years! She grows, forages and preserves as much of her own food as possible, she cuts her own fire wood, carries her own water, generates electricity with solar, and cooks with propane. She is a passionate backpacker and wildlife photographer who works part-time on a ranch in exchange for a place to park her small home, and she also works a variety of jobs to earn money, although her expenses are very low since she isn't paying rent, and since she managed to pay off the tiny house several years ago.
[Music] I moved into my tiny house here in 2014 so I'm in my sixth year here and heading for seven I am trying to produce as much of my own food as I can I do have to carry water if I want something to come out of my closet I do have to go to split firewood if I want my house to be warm but I enjoy doing most of that it's been a very fun ride over all of those years [Music] my house is off-grid as in the standard dictionary definition of not physically connected to any public utilities my primary heat is with wood my backup heat and my cooking and hot water heating is with propane and I just have some hundred pound tanks I only need to fill my propane tanks like every year and a half two years so it's very very minimal propane use and that I do have a small amount of electricity provided by a little 400 watt solar panel bank that's sitting on the hill up there and that's enough that I can charge up a laptop or camera batteries or you know I could turn on my light I have light I also have oil lamps and I have flashlights so I have lots of options for lighting I carry my own water and there's an internal tank in the corner of the kitchen and I actually pick it up from a neighbor's well now let me just come over and fill up my water jugs I pour it in the tank and then that also works really well because this time is so cold because my whole water system is internal there's no hose or anything coming in or going out that could freeze up or burst or create problems in the winter and then for a toilet I have a composting toilet which is absolutely awesome so I did not build my tiny house myself I did start looking for professional builders they were awesome you know we worked out of design because I ended up with something I really loved basically designed this house around having space for all the things I wanted to keep you know photography of wild license such as something I really enjoy so I make sure they were supported for that I love going hiking and backpacking and that involves you know some gear and I made sure I had room for that I kept everything that I cared about this is my tiny house it's on wheels she is 24 feet long eight and a half feet from the outside tips of the eaves and height is just a couple inches shy of thirteen and a half feet the inside of my walls is pine siding behind that there is spray urethane foam and on the outside is is cedar siding on the top and the exterior there is a metal roof all the snow just just sheds right off the roof and I never have to worry about that the floor under me is made of cork and I really really like the quark it feels a little softer on your joints and it's very warm I'm kind of standing in the middle about almost exactly 12 feet going that way and twelve feet going this way so half of my house is the kitchen so in my kitchen I have butcher block counters on both sides of the stove and the sink I have these lovely cupboard doors they actually have this cool soft clothes when you do that every propane stove and oven and just something to note because I was not aware with this before moving in here if you are planning to go off grid and have a limited amount of electricity a lot of propane bobbins specifically are made with what's called a globe or ignition a globe or ignition takes a massive amount of electricity approximately the same as running a microwave they do make stoves that do the same ignition with just a spark off a little 9-volt battery and that's something I look at there are very few stoves like this there ain't a lot with the globe are so just something to be aware of coming this way I have a double sink with a building drain board that part I really really do like behind this door and by my hanging clothing there this is my little fridge and freezer and then I've got more storage here a few dishes a lot of food because I do like to preserve a lot of my own food and then this big cupboard is my pantry I have a lot of spices here on the door and this pantry is actually fairly deep this door goes to the very small bathroom it is 25 inches side to side here here you can see my little composting toilet it's a Nature Center been very happy with that I have a shower looking at this half of the house I've got the living room with my little couch here there is storage under both sides of the couch and I actually have a little extra board that that sits right on this edge here and this back cushion happens to fit right there which makes it into a little guest bed if I have somebody over then here is obviously the front door front door goes up to my gosh this is kind of my mudroom area living in a cold climate you do tend to have lots of layers puff wool shirts and jackets and scarves and shoes and boots and kind of the openness of if you are out in the snow or rain or something everything just hanging here is able to easily evaporate and dry this is a pretty popular kind of table with a lot of people in small spaces let's go this two wings that fold out like this pretty conveniently sets me to do any of the work I do or two or three friends for dinner this right here does look like wood but these are actually tiles so this is my what I've used as my hearth that works great because if a coal or anything should roll out it's non flammable and then I have this steel backing which has supports to keep it standing up an inch off the ground and out an inch from the wall so there is air space behind it and that's worked just really well so that's kind of my my protection set up in that corner for the wood stove this is a design that I've been really really happy with that I haven't seen a lot of other people do this kind of partial wall to the sleeping loft has been wonderful I did it originally mostly for having kind of more storage space but it also gives the the loft a lot of privacy and because I happen to heat with a wood stove and it can make things very nice and cozy warm and heat rises and I don't love sleeping in a really hot room it blocks a lot of the heat and keeps it down in the main room some can circulate up there but it doesn't get excessively hot like a wide open loft wood so here I've got my sleeping loft my my bed is right on the floor this is like a four inch mattress obviously I have plenty of room here to you know sit up and not hit my heads even the whole way over to the side I can I could set almost clear up to the far walls without hitting my head got lots of three you know windows so there's lots of daylight and this is mostly been I do have to flip the mattress kind of up to fully open these doors but that that's workable these hold things that I don't use all the time like my heaviest turn lawyers when it's actually summer and then a lot of backpacking gear that I only pull out when I'm actually you know going all along our backpacking trip so this is kind of my backup storage loft I don't have a ladder or anything specifically to get to it I simply step on the couch when I want to read something up here this little cabinet is usually extra food storage for canned goods and stuff which give me a decent amount of extra storage I ended up living here actually kind of as an accident I've been living in the general area for quite a while sharing a rental with a roommate and that home was sold by his owners and so we were looking for somewhere new to live and at the time just could not find anything that was affordable but in the process of looking at options for Vann life I ran into somebody with a tiny house on wheels and describing that and thought that would make a lot more sense in it really cold and snowy climate to have a small home that's insulated and you know easy to heat yet still be something that was mobile and giving some of that flexibility there's not a whole lot of things I would change there was a handful and most of them have been changed at this point I did not have a wood stove as my heating source when I first moved in there's a built-in heater kind of under the stairs here that runs on propane and requires electricity to run the fan and such that's still an option but there's millions of acres of beetle kill pine trees around here so access to firewood as long as I'm willing to do the work to go collect it is super easy just given where I where I live living in a tiny house with a dog has been wonderful but if I was redesigning this I would probably make the stairs a little bigger and a little less like a ladder because he can't he can almost go up them but he can't really come down them it's just a very awkward position so I just lift him up and then lift him down and it's not a big deal other than that I'm really happy with the design in here almost everything has worked out exceedingly well for everything that I wanted and do and and that goes on in my life so it's it's been awesome what I've done for work in the past it's been kind of crazy variety of things before moving into here I was waiting tables as far as jobs I do now again it's a wide variety and a lot of it varies with the time of year because in the winter I shovel snow for quite a few homes or I do some housecleaning for a private home or two in the summer I help an elderly lady with her gardening stuff I do not own the land I am parked on it as part of a much larger ranch they're kind of doing a trade for labor in exchange for parking so it might be making hay and might be cleaning up down trees it might be shoveling snow and again I really like that I like living with the kind of seasonality of the natural world and it's been a wonderful situation for me and so far the landowners seem happy with it as well I do have a fairly large garden here I live in a zone 3 area if you're familiar with gardening here it is it is cold all year round we usually have snow on the ground for at least eight months of the year so that somewhat limits the things I can grow I can't grow washes tomatoes pumpkins sweet corn but there are a lot of things I can grow kale chard cabbages broccolis cauliflower onions garlic carrots beets potatoes but I am trying to produce as much of my own food as I can I'd say I do grow a hundred percent of the vegetables I eat for the four warmest months of the year and then I preserve as much as that as I can't doing things like canning fermenting pickling dehydrating and then a neighbor and I also work together to harvest two elk every year they're massive amounts of elk herds in this area that provides a good bit of the meat used in both of our households over the entire year as well as a good bit of my dog's diet you know he eats all the parts humans wouldn't want to eat and then I also like to forage for wild things Wow greens wild berries later in the fall mushrooms throughout the summer all that kind of thing so I do try to provide as significant a proportion of my food as I can through the gardening and then also the hunting and foraging aspects of food providing but it is not a hundred percent and I do still go to the grocery store so the first winter when I didn't have the wood stove I did have serious condensation issues it was one of the main motivators for adding this that I had water and not just condensed on the windows but running off the windows despite mopping it up multiple times a day but since installing the wood stove that has completely eliminated the moisture and condensation problem I have now had five more years with no issues at all daily life now what are the biggest challenges there's very very few there are times when something's think of me like oh my goodness the urine bottle in the toilet needs emptied and it's really cold I don't feel like walking outside right this second but the longer I've lived here the more of a routine I've got to kind of know when something's about to get empty you're about to get full and I can kind of on the weather's nice today let's do it today most of that stuff even has smoothed out and a day to day life I would say at this point I don't see any big challenges with living here I really like just having a smaller space all to myself financial freedom that's a big one my house cost me more than a lot of people you know especially people who build their own you can you can definitely do it for a lot less I did work a lot a lot of jobs for the first few years to be able to pay for that but now I have no ongoing bills I have no one going rent I have no long going utilities and so all of that means my entire amount of cash expenditure for living expenses is relatively low which gives me time I like being able to you know get up without an alarm clock but I feel fully rested I like being able to go for walks or snowshoes in the woods with my dog I like taking the time to put her around in my gardening and good food I like taking the time to sit and observe wildlife I love sitting down and reading a book so the freedom to not have to spend a significant portion of my time earning income gives me the freedom to spend more of that time on doing other things that I care about more be sure to subscribe to explain alternatives and check out our playlists for more stories like this you can also follow Arielle at the finest YouTube channel and blog thanks for watching