When you’re living off the grid, things are anything but easy. One crisis or emergency, and suddenly your world is thrown into chaos, as you’re struggling with a power outage or a water shortage, playing catch up instead of enjoying your time working the land.
For me, the smartest hacks on my homestead are my backup plans. Because things will inevitably go wrong, that’s probably the only guarantee in this life, and if you’ve taken the time to put each of these hacks in place now, you’ll be laughing when things go wrong.
Here’s how you can keep your homestead running smooth.
Keep the lights on
Our solar panels are out main source of power, operating everything from the refrigerator to the deep freeze, and keeping the lights on above our heads. I've even got a portable one for my bug out kit so I'm always connected.
But just having solar is not always enough, and you need backups in place.
Set up a small wind turbine on a key area of your property. It won’t generate enough charge to run your entire home, but it could keep your refrigerator running in a pinch.
Set up a small water turbine in the stream that runs through your property. It’s an alternative to the wind turbine, and it’s also a little stealthier from a distance.
Invest in a generator, and store enough gas to keep it running for at least a month. More is always better, but keeping the lights on, no matter what, for a month, should give you an enough time to find a solution to get your main source of power operational again.
Keep the water flowing
Our water tanks provide the vast majority of our water needs, and a small pump is what keeps it all pressurized so that when we turn on the taps, the water comes out. But we’ve been working hard to add a few additional options.
Tap a well on your property (depending of course on local regulations) to ensure a continued and unpolluted water supply for years to come.
Set up a rain catchment system on every building on your property, so that you’re making the best use of any rainfall and collecting it for use on your homestead.
Set up a pump from any natural water source, so you can quickly and easily replenish your supplies if you have no other option. We’ve got a rather large pond we could use in a pinch.
Keep food on the table
On our homestead our survival stockpile is our main source of SHTF preparations, and there’s enough food in there to last at least a year. But with long-term sustainability in mind, we’ve used the following hacks to bolster our supplies.
Raise rabbits as an alternative food source, they grow quickly and can provide an ample supply of meat far more effectively than any other large cattle.
Stockpile fish in the pond on your property. We’ve got tilapia in not only the natural pond, but as part of the aquaponics setup in our greenhouse.
Find produce that’ll thrive in your local environment, and seed your property naturally. We’ve got blackberries, kale and a ton of other greens growing naturally, not to mention all the different fruit trees on our property we harvest and incorporate into our meals.
Keep the pipes flowing
Sanitation is a big one when you’re living off grid, and it’s important to have backups in place should your primary system fail. It’s not pretty, but it’s true.
We’ve got two separate septic systems that operate independently of each other, as a first backup, connecting into the two different bathrooms in our homestead.
We’ve also pre-prepared and dug a traditional drop-pit outhouse in a remote section of our land (near our bug out cabin) that we use when we’re up there.
And in our RV, we’ve also got a portable toilet and shower system built into the setup of the van, so no matter where we are on the road, we can keep it clean.
Keep the heat on
During winter the last thing you want is to be battling the cold, so I’d also recommend thinking of a plan should your central heating go down.
Wait, who am I kidding, you’re not going to have central heating in your homestead. But it is important to think about heat. You need a way to keep your home warm during winter, and to cook should you not have any electricity or gas.
Our kitchen is primarily electric powered from our solar panels, but we’ve also got an old wood-fired stove that’s probably 100 years old but it continues to work a treat. For both cooking and warming up that part of the house.
We’ve got a fireplace in the living room, and another small one in our master. More than enough to keep us warm, so long as we’ve got enough wood stored in the shed.
I’ve also built a brick pizza oven in our yard near our fire pit. This is an alternative we use quite often during summer when we don’t want to heat our house up to cook.
Keep it secure
Finally, I just want you to remember one last thing. Security. It can be easy to forget how isolated you are on your homestead, and while it may be perfectly fine now, in a crisis you want to setup a few quick hacks now to stay secure.
Consider entry points to your property, and ways you could limit access in a crisis. We’ve planted big pines along every key stretch of border, and you’d be lucky to get a car through the gaps there. Not to mention the fences we’ve strung up too.
On our main driveways, the cattle grids actually disguise a rather hefty drop, and when they’re removed it’s impossible to drive through. Not to mention I’d probably fell a couple of the big pine trees over the road too, so no one is getting close.
Thinking ahead is a smart idea when you’re living on a homestead and if you’re looking for hacks to make life a little better, these tips and tricks will ensure you’re never caught off-guard because you’ve always got a good backup in place.