Living a Sustainable Lifestyle | Earth Haven Farm
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CURRENT MOON
 

The Weather Network

News & Events
March 6, 2017
By Karen Davis-Brown Originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of Biodynamics.
December 22, 2016
by Hugh Lovel | Dec 22, 2016  How certain notions arise and become entrenched is a bit
October 10, 2016
Long story short: Biodynamic is the new organic, and you need to get behind it, like,

Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

The decision to go off the grid started in 2006 when we moved to the farm and had to look at replacing the existing furnace and started looking at alternative sources of heating.  The real decision to go off grid was pretty much made for us when our electrical bill doubled in 2008 and then doubled again when the new "smart meters" were installed. Thus, to say, the decision to go off grid has been driven by economics.

For us, living off grid means:

  • Utilizing solar and wind power with a back-up diesel generator
  • Heating with wood (outdoor wood stove) with propane furnace as a back-up
  • Use cold water instead of hot water whenever possible
  • Cooking on a propane stove specifically designed for off-grid living
  • Cooking on an outdoor propane BBQ
  • Maintaining our old fashioned wood burning cook stove for emergencies

The decision to go off grid has also entailed a complete lifestyle change. What we give up, we only hope to gain in the smaller footprint that we leave behind in this world.  Here are some of the lifestyle changes that have been made:

  • We use an outdoor and indoor clothes line to dry our cloths
  • We use low energy light bulbs throughout all buildings on the farm
  • We do not flush the toilet after every use
  • We have a seasonal outdoor composting toilet
  • We do not use an automatic dishwasher
  • We refrain from using electrical kitchen appliances
  • We are mindful of bathing and showering habits
  • We burn candles and avoid leaving unnecessary lights on
  • We utilize and collect hand tools as opposed to power tools whenever possible
  • We minimize our use of electrical appliances, tools, toys and luxury items
  • TV's, computers, printers, etc. are plugged into power-bars which are turned off when not in use

Upgrades and additions to our off-grid system have been coming out of nowhere in every direction. Delays, setbacks and a lot of stress. Could write a book on the whole experience. Nevertheless, we are where we are and it remains a work in progress.
Will keep you posted as things develop and more time can be dedicated to writing on this subject.  Pushing forward. 

In 2008 we started looking at all the components that would be required, the alternatives, the possible grants, equipment, suppliers and contractors. It has been a daunting task to say the least, with little to no support from any direction.

There are lots of newspaper and magazine articles written by people that have gone off grid, but the economic policies of our times do not support this move, in fact they hamper it.  With no support from any level of business, municipal, provincial or federal government, it puts us very much of being alone and truly having to rely on our own "sustainability".

The first step to going off grid was to determine what our electrical power requirements are.  The electrical bill does not reflect accurate usage by any means.  A contractor met with us and did a site inspection and presented us with our usage requirements and advised us point blank as to what we would have to give up and eliminate from our current usage.

It was obvious that we needed to purchase a solar panel unit with some sort of back up power supply.  That led us to our next hurdle; finding a solar contractor that would actually sell and install an off grid system to us.  The market is saturated with solar contractors that only want to sell grid-tie systems. We have yet to understand this economic anomaly.

 

Sustainable Living & Off-Grid Projects

The following are projects that we have undertaken here on Earth Haven Farm to either live off-grid or to create a more sustainable lifestyle.

Wood

Wood

Wood, Wood and More Wood. An average winter will see 10-12 bush cords of wood used to heat the house and greenhouse.
Wood
Wood

Wood

Wood, Wood and More Wood. When the job is done, the wood will be stacked neatly in our wood sheds to keep dry throughout the winter and handy next to the house.
Wood
Wood

Wood

Wood, Wood and More Wood. When the job is done, the wood will be stacked neatly in our wood sheds to keep dry throughout the winter and handy next to the house.
Wood
Wood

Wood

Wood, Wood and More Wood. With 100 acres of woodlot, we are not short of a wood supply. However, bringing in enough wood for the winter is a huge job.
Wood
Wood

Wood

Wood, Wood and More Wood. With 100 acres of woodlot, we are not short of a wood supply. However, bringing in enough wood for the winter is a huge job.
Wood
Wood Chipping

Wood Chipping

All branches, bark and debris from our wood cutting efforts are shredded and used for mulch, incorporated into composting and used in the barnyard for the cattle during the winter.
Wood Chipping
Brush Piles

Brush Piles

Brush, bark and debris from logs are collected in piles to be chipped for multiple farm use.
Brush Piles
Cook Outdoors

Cook Outdoors

It is so nice to be able to cook outdoors whenever possible. Food takes on a whole new flavour and meaning.
Cook Outdoors
Solar Fencing

Solar Fencing

Solar units such as this one with a battery unit supply all of our electric fencing needs for the cattle.
Solar Fencing
Water

Water

With climate change and drought upon us, we purchased a 3,000 gallon water reservoir that will collect water off the roof of the barn and supply water for irrigation.
Water
Water

Water

With climate change and drought upon us, we purchased a 3,000 gallon water reservoir that will collect water off the roof of the barn and supply water for irrigation.
Water
Water

Water

With climate change and drought upon us, we purchased a 3,000 gallon water reservoir that will collect water off the roof of the barn and supply water for irrigation.
Water
Generator

Generator

This gas powered generator is very fuel efficient and is used to pump water from the ponds used for irrigation.
Generator
Ponds

Ponds

There are three ponds that feed into each other that will supply water for irrigation.
Ponds
Ponds

Ponds

The mandate of our pond project was not to disturb or upset the natural environment in the process.
Ponds
Ponds

Ponds

The mandate of our pond project was not to disturb or upset the natural environment in the process. The goldfish in this picture all survived and have continue to multiply helping to keep the pond in balance while providing food for the travelling blue heron and other creatures of the forest.
Ponds
Ponds

Ponds

The mandate of our pond project was not to disturb or upset the natural environment in the process. A wide variety of frog species propagate each year in the pond adding to the pond ecosystem and providing food for other species.
Ponds
Barn

Barn

Eves troughs were installed on the barn to allow for collection of rain water and to deter excess rainwater from the roof to saturate the barnyard area, assuring a better environment for our cattle.
Barn
Storage

Storage

Additional shipping containers have been purchased to store irrigation equipment, tools, bins, baskets, seed trays, animal feed, and marketing supplies.
Storage
Storage

Storage

A large shipping container was purchased to provide clean space for hanging herbs, making soil, storing irrigation equipment and other uses. It was a smart and economical purchase.
Storage
Manpower

Manpower

Being inventive and finding ways to work equipment without electricity is a challenge. This bicycle driven flour mill works great. The workout keeps us in shape.
Manpower
Outhouse

Outhouse

We installed an outdoor outhouse to reduce the use of the household toilet, thus saving energy. The outhouse is the preference in spring, summer and fall.
Outhouse
Outhouse

Outhouse

We installed an outdoor outhouse to reduce the use of the household toilet, thus saving energy. The outhouse is the preference in spring, summer and fall.
Outhouse
Cloths Line

Cloths Line

One of the smartest things we did was install an outdoor cloths line. Huge savings on electricity and propane heating fuel. Cloths smell so much nicer too!
Cloths Line