The Beard and I are all about simplicity, small cabins, off-grid living, and backwoods privacy. So we get really excited when we see others doing the same.
We have gotten pretty serious about selling our house and getting our dream 30+ acres. However, after long discussions — we’ve decided to stay where were at on our 1 acre property and max out it’s potential. After watching these documentaries/movies/shows, we’ve realized there is so much more we can do here and a lot more learning to do before we just jump off the deep end with 3 month old Jr. Jack.
However, some off-gridders go all in opting for no electricity (including alternative power), running water, or roads in. While others take a lesser approach and opt for solar power, 4×4 trucks for transportation, and a rainwater catchment system. We’d like to find ourselves somewhere in between.
Ok so maybe for an experience I’d like to have to drive, then boat, then snowmobile, and finally snowshoe to a cabin waaaaaay in the backwoods, no one would ever know it existed.
However, when it comes to day to day life — we would like a few more amenities. Maybe a grocery store within 2 hours. A dirt/gravel road in. And a little bit of solar power to run our workshop. We can’t all live on thin air and grass. We’ve got a baby to feed now and that means we need money!
But nonetheless, The Beard and I love watching inspiring documentaries, movies, and videos of people doing all the above. It gives us motivation to be more self sufficient and check our priorities.
Now, with any video, tv show or documentary, we take what we want from it. We don’t necessarily enjoy or want to do exactly what the actors or real life people are doing. But we get ideas. We get inspired. And we tailor those exposures to our ideals of self-sufficiency and off-grid living.
So, instead of you having to scour the internet — I did all the hard work for you. Here are our top picks!
An all-time fav! This is a fictional movies about an entire family that moves out into the woods. They are completely self-sufficient in their little ‘campground’ they have made with the exception of going into town to sell a hand full of items for their monetary needs.
Reality hits hard when they attend a funeral in town. The children are amazed and disgusted all at the same time. Can they fit in? Which life do they enjoy more?
Sometimes, you might find the bush life goes too far. Or maybe you see the need for extremes.
We did at times feel like the father was hiding them from the rest of the world, often making them naive in social situations. We believe our children should explore both ‘worlds’ and choose what parts of each fit in with their morals. Our children will know what ice cream is, how good pizza tastes, and how a movie can inspire them. But I also want them to know what’s important. Maybe it’s not the food but the memories and stories told around the food. Maybe it’s the bridging of cultures from the food we experience. Or maybe it’s the ideas we can create because of a story told through pictures and movies. Or maybe it’s the way we can connect with positive people through social media, sharing our ideas, experiences, and values with one another. And then, maybe sometimes it’s good to be naive to the world around us. It blocks out the negativity, cruelty, and temptations.
Into the Wild
This is a real life story about Chris McCandles, who defies the norms of society and sets off to explore the great unknown. He lives for adventure; kayaking down a river illegally, living with nudists/ hippies/ and nonconformists in the desert, and eventually sets off to conquer Alaska.
When we makes it to Alaska, he is able to forage, hunt, and bare the elements but unfortunately with the river melt and eating a poisonous plant, Chris McCandles dies in an abandoned school bus.
This one is a little Hollywood for us, though the real story has some serious value to it.
The biggest takeaway for us was — that life/experiences are meant to be shared. McCandles finds this out a little too late.
All the Time in the World
We just watched this documentary last night and fell in love!
This is about a family of 5 with three young children who go into the Yukon for 9 months. There is no running water, electricity and the only access is by boat or snowmobile (depending on the season).
It inspires the natural education of children. The need to learn from exploration, nature, imagination, and at their own individualized pace. This is one of my favorite parts of the documentary.
The parts that we didn’t enjoy as much —
*How far away from other civilization it is. Now this may be a plus or a minus for you. But we like a little more access.
*We also need internet access and alternate power to run our wooden decor business online. Though we can totally deal with natural light, candles, oil lamps, and headlights for added ambiance of the off-grid life. Don’t let me forget that wood burner!
*They ate a lot of canned food. Now, their pies looked absolutely delicious. But, we want to grow most of our food. Not to mention with the health scare about the government shutting down FDA checks on produce and seafood.
Don’t get me wrong, we loved their story. But everyone has different priorities when it comes to off-grid living. It was sad to see their journey end after 9 months, but we loved how much their lives changed and it really helped them see what was important.
Dick Proenneke: Alone in the Wilderness
Dick Proenneke walked into the Alaskan wilderness after retiring from his mechanic career, after suffering an eye injury, to better his life and health. He is a naturalist who survived in the wilderness for 30 years, alone. He used no power tools to construct his cabin. Everything was expertly carved and built by hand.
He survived by hunting small game, foraging, and fishing. He enjoyed watching nature and disturbing it as little as possible. He had no way of properly storing large game, so he only hunted smaller animals and fish.
If you are up for some extremely hard handy work and a life of solitary — this is for you!
That is one of the drawbacks of this documentary is that he was by himself, most of the time. Only going into town a hand full of times to see his brother and collect supplies. We felt it would often get lonely and what are experiences if you can’t share them with someone? However, his foraging and building skills were unparalleled to anyone’s we’d ever seen, landing his hand built cabin as a national landmark in Alaska.
TV Shows —
To start off, many think this show is fake and they really don’t have to work that hard or aren’t as off grid as they should be. Take it with a grain of salt and believe what you want to believe.
Alright with that out of the way, we may have been binge watching this show for the last two weeks. Though we try and make it until 7pm to turn the TV on.
This is obviously (like it’s title portrays) about men in the mountains. Most of them live in Alaska but there is one man who lives in the mountains of Montana and another who lives in the mountains of North Carolina.
These men do things the hard way. They are expert trappers, mechanics, fishermen, builders, preservers, etc. This show takes you through the real lives of men living off the grid.
They hunt for food. They run their own business, mostly selling fur and other things made from it. However, there is one man who makes his money from milling timber.
There are so many things we can learn from this show but the biggest thing is just dreaming about the off grid lifestyle.
This show has also taught us that we still have a lot more to learn before we completely move off grid. Sure we could figure things out but with Jr. Jack — we’d like to have a better understanding of how to garden, how to build, breed animals, filter water, collect water, create power, etc.
While visiting my parents, we stumbled upon this show. Um — and the addiction started. We don’t have cable and until last week we didn’t have an Amazon Fire Stick. It’s a dangerous trap, though in our defense it’s winter and that’s when you’re supposed to be resting and learning everything you can for the coming season. So the parent’s cable was like eating candy when we haven’t seen it in years.
This is about a family (father, son, and daughter) who go to different homesteads to help them survive and thrive on their property. Though, I do suggest if you are like one of those people on the show who needs rescuing– you should probably wait until you have more skills before you move off grid. There is a lot of skill and knowledge required to be self-sufficient.
The family travels around the country helping families who are struggling to stay afloat on their homestead. Some issues are water, wildfires, gardening, livestock, etc. This family is seriously SOOOOO resourceful. They basically use scraps found on the home owners property to create solutions from greenhouses to alternative power to clean water. And these are things you can’t find on YouTube or Google. They are one of a kind solutions.
The biggest thing we have taken away from this show, other than specific projects that would help on our homestead, is how to be resourceful. And it pays to have a huge junk/scrap pile on your property for future projects.
Though, I must say this is also a show that you keep thinking, “You dumb asses. Why would you do that?” Let’s be honest and if we were in the same situation, we would probably do the same or far worse. HAHA!
Homesteading isn’t a finish line. It’s a never ending journey that you hope to leave the legacy for your kids one day. It’s hard work, but it pays off and gives you peace of mind when things go bat shit crazy that your family will be okay. You’ll be able to take care of yourselves.
You cannot learn enough when it comes to homesteading. And what we take away from these movies, shows, and documentaries are mostly two things. 1) There is always more to be learned and 2) keep dreaming, even if you already have your homestead! There are plenty of ways to keep improving it.