Post-Apocalyptic Off-Grid Living: A Handy Plan

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
March 15, 2018

Have you ever watched those TV shows about people who choose to build their homes in remote locations that have no access to utilities, Wi-Fi or Whole Foods? Without even a Starbucks in sight? Alaska, the deep woods of Maine or Washington and the windy mountain valleys of the American West are popular places for this, apparently. The typical episode follows the intrepid homebuilders (often a couple who are constructing their off-grid dream home themselves, with the aid of a host of their handy friends) through material shortages, scary weather events and roofing near-disasters, until their new home, a marvel of innovative engineering and fabulous rainwater collection systems, is complete. And the interiors of these homes are always stunning. Because we all know that everyone who builds off-grid in America has a keen sense of proportion and impeccable taste.

Sure they do.

One of the networks has a promotional spot for its own such show that, in about 15 seconds, informs viewers how to build an off-grid hot tub. “First, locate a spring!” the announcer chirps. After that, we’re told it’s just a simple matter of installing your gravity-fed PVC plumbing into the rock face of the sheer cliff that you’re building your vast, cantilevered deck from.

Right. Because it’s that easy. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to locate a hot spring.)

Peeved as I am with the formulaic presentation of these shows, the way they alternate between over-simplifying the building process and then threatening catastrophe right before each commercial break, I have to admit I’m also fascinated with them. Especially now. After all, we live in interesting times. Then there’s the fact that Glen is preparing to move his workshop out here to the forever homestead. It’s the last step necessary to complete our transition from city living to country living, and it will make us more self-sufficient. Bearing all this in mind, it’s only sensible to be prepared to follow in the Timberland bootprints of those off-grid pioneers on TV. And I’m confident that if the zombies, the antichrist, the Illuminati and Tony Orlando and Dawn unite their dark powers to bring the apocalypse down on our heads, we could manage off-grid too. Yes, through no talent or foresight of my own, I somehow managed to marry the most capable, self-sufficient man I’ve ever met. How capable and self-sufficient? Well . . .

He can construct or remodel a house, erect the steel fencing around it and repair whatever needs fixing around the place.

(I can cook!)

He can weld anything weldable, and his welding truck is equipped with every tool, fitting, clamp, fastener, pipe, lubricant and spare part you’d need to build a rat trap or a small, functional cannon.

(I can cook.)

He can catch fish and shoot game, process it for the table, smoke it or grill it in/on the pit he designed and built, and plant and tend a garden.

(I can catch fish too! And, um . . . I can cook . . .)

He can grow and harvest hay to feed the livestock, do vet work in a pinch, run water lines and install cattle troughs, and breed/train champion show horses for the arena or working horses for ranching.

(I can . . . Oh, who cares?)

Though it might not be useful for apocalyptic purposes, he can also do graceful and intricate hand engraving, and he knows his way around a telephoto lens. As if all that weren’t enough, animals and small children love him. And none of the above talents are his day job, which is to work the heck out of a real estate contract. (That probably wouldn’t be good for much either in the scenarios I’m envisioning.)

Since it seems that handy men tend to have handy friends, we too are blessed to know a host of handy folks who might like to build things shoulder-to-shoulder with Glen and ride out the apocalypse with us. Among the handiest is The Daughter’s husband, Wesley. Wesley is an actual engineer; he doesn’t play one on TV. (Good job, Katie!) We’ve invited them to live on the homestead with us in the event of end times, not just to entertain ourselves playing poker and Cards Against Humanity, but also because Wesley will need to design us a fabulous rainwater collection system, a couple of water wells and at least one oil well to keep the tractor going. (And a natural gas well, maybe? I don’t know, Wesley, what do you think?) I feel sure Glen will have everything he’ll need in his welding truck and workshop for the two of them to build all of that and drill the wells. In the meantime, Katie can make the cocktails. I’ll cook. It’ll be fun.

Glen got home from work as I was typing that last paragraph. When I went to greet him, he told me, “If you’re going in to town tomorrow you’ll need to go a different way. The bridge over Brushy Creek is shut down.”

My pulse took a jump. What now? “It is? Why?” I asked.

“Looks like somebody’s making a movie. A film crew has it blocked off.”

Ah. Well, Dear Reader, you’ll never guess. Turns out it’s not a movie. The bridge is closed because Fear the Walking Dead, the hugely popular post-apocalyptic AMC television drama, is filming an episode there. A mile from our house. (Isn’t synchronicity grand?)

So fortunately, this is only a drill. For now. All the same, though, you might want to get to work on those schematics, Wesley.

18 comments on “Post-Apocalyptic Off-Grid Living: A Handy Plan”

  1. Yes, I don't know how we lucked out having such handy men in our lives! Well at least you and I will make sure we are well-fed and well-watered before zombie target practice.

    1. Absolutely! And since your father and Wesley will be very busy, that means you and I should have time for Spite & Malice and Munchkin!

  2. What? Nobody has a husband like that.you are truely fortunate to have the only one😄.
    And you do a lot more than cook!
    Lots of work to be done.you have a fascinating future awaiting you!!

    1. See, that's exactly how I know I'm the luckiest person in the world, Susan--because that description fits Glen to a T! (And thank you for the kind words about my own capabilities, but, sadly, being able to write might not be a valuable skill in the post-apocalyptic world. *sigh*)

      Let's hope we all have a fascinating future and that the end times hold off for awhile!

  3. Love it! Here's to having a Renaissance man around. As for you, you'll create the complete mythology and heroic epics of the post-apocalyptic world.

  4. A man, a plan, a canal, oil! (Wait that's not a palindrome)

    One water well and one oil well should do it, it would produce enough oil and a bit of gas to make electricity.

    Then I'd have to build a small refinery for fuel, and if I'm going to do that I may as well work on my moonshine too!

    1. No no no, time to refocus!! A water well and oil well are all well and good (well . . . get it? Hee!), but Glen says moonshine comes first, because there might be black market fuel during the apocalypse.

      Oh, and, wait for it . . . Panama!!

  5. First, that water well needs to run off a windmill. Forget the oil/gas well. But, your COOKING is what will keep the world turning. I sense that you are passing that off as a joke, but first there was fire, then hot water, then pasta, then and then and then . . . Remember that man absolutely cannot weld on an empty stomach. Be forewarned. Best, John

    1. You know, John, you're right! I think Glen puts just as much importance on my cooking as I do on all the things he does for me/us. You should have seen his face last night when I set dinner in front of him: a plate of ground beef with mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, and a spinach salad with creamy Parmesan dressing. And you've reminded me that it's high time I make some pasta. It's been weeks! Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic toast (homemade bread) . . . I feel a delicious weekend coming on!

  6. Thanks for sharing Nita, I really enjoyed this weeks blog. And I'm sure Glen really liked it too! haha 🙂

  7. I'm so glad to hear that! Glen has remained somewhat mum about it, which is becomingly modest of him. ^_~

  8. I've only just read your blog posted eight months ago and I laughed my socks off. It sounds like you and yours will successfully survive any apocalypse thrown your way. Should the worst happen I may just ship out to you.

    Don't do your skills down ... not matter how competent your man is he's no use without well cooked food inside him. Also, if things get really bad I'm sure you could rustle up an excellent Zombie based burger. 🙂

    1. HAHAHAHA!! Ew!! Oh, blecchh!! Hi, Maureen! I'm so happy you enjoyed the post. It's wonderful to see you here, and you are more than welcome to join us should the apocalypse descend. We can take turns in the kitchen! It'll be great--just as much fun as the Hell party! 😉

    1. Thank you, Julia, I'm so happy to see you here and I'm glad you enjoyed the post! When the apocalypse comes, we'll have room for two more, so y'all are welcome to join us. You'll have to fight your way down here through the zombies, but after living in Alaska, zombies won't be any hindrance at all!

  9. How neat to have a filming that close! Did you peek by? We joke about surviving the end of the world out on our little homestead, too. And it'd probably work. Not only is one pretty self-sufficient and handy (important in farm life), but the neighbors are too, and they block tons of area around us. To survival! (and cooking)

    1. We tried to see what they were doing, but they wouldn't let anybody within 100 yards. However, they felt free to fly low over our property and our neighbors' in a helicopter!

      Here's to us and our families and friends, Tonja! All of us surviving and cooking long after the zombie apocalypse! SOMEbody has to re- start humankind, right? 😉

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