Last week, on a hot October day by our northern standards, we arrived on our land in the south. Yesterday marked our first week here and it has seen some ups, some downs, and a lot of grace.

We are residing on two acres of bare land filled with mesquite trees, cacti, and the occasional free-ranging long horn cow. We are building our off-grid homestead from scratch which means we are living in a small camper while we prepare to build our home. It also means the basics of life that we normally take for granted become hugely significant and your perspective on what you really need is constantly changing.

This is what life looks like for a family of four just starting out.

Day One:

We arrive at approximately 6 p.m. with only an hour or two of daylight left. We meet with the neighbors who show us around. By 7:30 it is starting to get dark. We prepare to stay on a neighboring off-grid homestead for the night. By 8:00 it is very dark and our lack of preparations for an off-grid evening are showing. Oh, and we forgot to eat dinner. So we fold it up for the night and head for the local motel.

The idea of using an outhouse every day hits me like a ton of bricks and I try to get past my coddled squeamishness.

Day Two:

We get to the land early to meet with the neighbors to discuss the community, the land, etc. At lunch Papa heads out with some men to check out the area and get supplies while the boys and I are graciously fed lunch. We then promptly head to our camper for much-needed naps. By late afternoon I realize that one of our boys has had a nap-time accident and all of the clean clothes are in the van, which I do not have a key for, is locked. Our kind neighbor stops by just in time to offer to go get keys from the Papa. Once that crisis is solved and a bucket has been located as a temporary outhouse we call it a night early in the hopes that we can get to some bare necessities in the morning. Once again we stay at a motel for the night.

I have moved past squeamish on the outhouse front and into the I’ve-got-to-go-right-now-so-just-give-me-a-bucket-cuz-the-baby-is-kicking-my-bladder phase.

Day Three:

We try to get up early enough to make the rounds for supplies. We arrive to the land mid-morning ready to get started. Our first priority is an outhouse so the digging commences. I mostly observe while trying to get things set up in our new home. In the mean time we realize the urgency that a lack of a bathroom causes and try to work faster, thankful that our neighbors graciously allow us to use theirs. By the end of the day we have a temporary outhouse, we have lights and beds for the night, and we continue to drink store-bought water. Filtration of the water from our 1500 gallon catch-water system will have to wait until tomorrow.

That afternoon we meet the (very large) longhorn cows in our backyard. We spend our first night in the camper cozy as bed bugs, tired as can be, and happy as clams.

The outhouse, A-framed with a draping tarp, makes me want to weep it is so beautiful.

Day Four:

We head out early for supplies at the nearest large town, 30 miles away. Six hours later we arrive home with a van full of groceries, deep cycle batteries, and lumber. The afternoon is spent hooking up our first solar panel, setting up the solar freezer/refrigerator, hooking up the propane stove and putting together our Berkey water filter. 

The rest of the week brings its own set of challenges, which I will share next time.


23 Responses to Our First Week On The Land, part one

  1. Jennifer says:

    This looks a lot like where I grew up! What a beautiful place to call home!


  2. Linn says:

    I am so fascinating by reading this. I can’t wait to hear more about it. So there is a whole community of folks living off grid? Thank you for sharing your journey with us. How inspiring!


    Shannon Reply:

    Linn – Yes, we moved into an area where there is a community of Christian Agrarians attempting to live off-grid.


  3. kyndale says:

    Where are you living now? I’m so curious.


  4. Katie says:

    Your living my dream! Looks like your in Texas! The land looks like where my husband is from. I have questions…not sure if your answering questions or not…but I’m so curious as to how it all works.

    Does your husband have a job there or will he?

    How do you get money?

    I hope you guys are enjoying it.


  5. Kathi Harju says:

    Oh, Shan – what a wonderful surprise for your mom’s eyes this morning. I hope you can continue to journal your adventures. {{hugs}} to all.


  6. Karen says:

    I second the the commenter that said she hopes you continue. This is so exciting and I can’t wait to hear about your next adventures. I also love the fact that the neighbors are helping each other. Please let us know how it is coming along :)


  7. This is so inspiring! Keep posting — I’m enjoying reading about it.

    I want to see a picture of the outhouse.


  8. Heather says:

    I love reading about this! I am still trying to convince my husband to go live off the land, which he does not really think is a great idea – he likes his electricity and indoor toilets :-)


  9. Tiffany says:

    Wow. I’m so impressed. Please keep the reports coming. I’m living vicariously!

    Congratulations on all you have done so far.


  10. Wow! This is great! We want to do the same thing have started looking for land. We already downsized and got rid of most stuff except for a some things that we keep in storage…I’m looking forward to following your adventures.


  11. Joy says:

    Eeee! This is so exciting! I can’t wait to someday do something similar (though like Heather my husband is a bit skeptical). :)


  12. Enjoying this story and looking forward and wishing you well for the continuing story.


  13. Cinnamon says:

    So glad to read you arrived. I have been reading about you preparing for this day for sometime now.

    I remember when we moved to the country and lived in our trailer to build our home. I had two more children during that time bringing our total to 8 children in the country, living in a trailer, building a home and trying to figure it all out.

    It was thee best time of my children’t lives, EVER! They remember all the adventure and none of the hardship. Funny how it works that way.

    I wish you the best. It can be challenging and nerve wracking but oh that memories you are creating :-)



  14. MaryLynn says:

    I, too, am living vicariously through you! I have your blog set as one of my homepage tabs, so I can more easily keep up with your new adventures. Can hardly wait until the next installment!


  15. I’ve been thinking about you over the past fortnight, wondering how you were getting on. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to hearing more about it.


  16. Theresa says:

    That first picture is priceless! I love it!
    Thanks so much for sharing a window into this journey with your family!!
    Hugs to you all.


  17. Linda says:

    I am also enjoying reading about your day to – day adventures now that you have arrived. I am feeling very stuck where I am right now and hoping to get some ideas from reading your posts.


  18. Farmerjoans says:

    Please keep posting details. I too have wanted to make this kind of complete lifestyle change. I can’t say that my family is all on the same page right now ,but I believe that is changing.
    I am doing everything I can to sell ,give away or discard unnecessary things . Trying to simplify our lives in every way. It’s amazing how hard it can be to get out of the bondage of “stuff” . Seems the harder I try the more obstacles I come up against.
    I am feeling a bit envious that you are past all of that and starting to actually live out the hard work of simple life.
    It won’t be easy ,but neither is living on the grid trying to pay bills and keep up with a false lifestyle that you don’t really want.
    Being true to your beliefs is always hard ,but the fruit is a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
    May you be blessed in all that you are doing and becoming.
    I can’t wait to hear more!


  19. Kelly says:

    I am in awe! I also hope you keep journaling this for us “wannabees”:) What memories you are making for your childen, although I must say the outhouse is what usually stops me in my tracks, I don’t even like public bathrooms:P


  20. Solange says:

    I want to move to New Mexico, too!


  21. Michelle says:

    Got goosebumps I’m so inspired! Kudos to you and your family for having the courage to pursue this life! You give me so much hope! It is possible! You are actually doing it! Maybe I can too. Please continue to share your journey. God bless!


  22. [...] Our First Week on the Land, part one – Nourishing Days :: I’ve been following Shannon’s blog for a while now. They recently made a long-distance move to start their off-grid homestead. This is the first part of their first week. I’m finding it fascinating so far. [...]

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