Who hasn’t, at one time or another, wondered what it would be like to chuck it all, give up the job, abandon suburbia, and become totally self-sufficient by living off of the land? Back in the late sixties and early seventies, folks with that mindset were sometimes called hippies. The reality is that some were but others were not. That being said, there was a “Back to the Land Movement” that was popular among young people of the era.
The concept of back-to-the land is not new. Back in 1845, Thoreau went to Walden Pond to “live deliberately”. Throughout the generations, the concept has been perpetuated under many guises, with perhaps the latest being urban homesteading. Taking that one step further, we have prepping, which I have often referred to as “Homesteading in Place“.
Whatever you call it, being self-reliant and self-sufficient are the goals of every prepper. Circumstances dictate that some can do more than other, but heck, who is keeping score? Not me for sure.
Given that we all learn from the experience of others, I am pleased to introduce you to our newest contributing author, Ron Melchiore. I first heard from Ron a couple of months ago and became enchanted with his video chronicling his life in the wilderness. He is here to tell his story.
Getting Back to the Land
by Ron Melchiore
Hello from the wilderness of Canada! I am a newcomer to this site, Backdoor Survival, but I’m a veteran when it comes to off-grid living and homesteading. Back in the late 1970’s ( seems just like yesterday) I became part of the back to the land movement. I purchased a wood lot in northern Maine in 1979 and started on the path to a more self-reliant lifestyle. I’ve lived off-grid ever since.
Thirty-seven years later, my wife and I live so remote, it requires a flight on a float plane to reach us. Talk about peace and solitude! We live alone out here on a pristine lake in the wilderness. There are no roads or trails to get to us. We are truly reliant on ourselves when it comes to our survival and well being.
We shop twice a year and it is only at those times that we buy supplies, take care of any appointments, pick up mail and interact with other humans. We just had our resupply run in early October. Once the float plane dropped us off, lifted off the lake surface and became a small speck in the distance, we became acutely aware our last direct contact with mankind just flew away. Exciting! We won’t see another soul until April. This computer/satellite is our only connection to the outside world now.
I’ve never considered ourselves preppers. That’s somewhat of a new term, one I had never heard of until recent years. As back to the landers, homesteading was the name given to those of us who wanted to get back to our roots, live a more sustainable lifestyle and by its very nature, be more prepared for that food shortage, power outage or event that would tax society.
Those most vulnerable, the people in the cities and the suburbs would be in trouble if something were to occur that disrupts their normal routine. I have always believed we are responsible for ourselves. It’s nice to have friends, neighbors and ultimately a government entity as the last backstop, but I’m not willing to count on any of that. Being armed with knowledge, experience and proper gear and supplies gives us a shot at survival in any situation. By the mere fact we live alone in the wilderness, we must be prepared.
To that end, we provide all our power with a hybrid solar/wind system. We’ve mastered gardening and grow the vast majority of our vegetables and fruit. My wife Johanna cans hundreds of jars of yummy goodness every year so that our pantry is always fully stocked. Instead of raising, slaughtering and butchering livestock like we did during our years in Maine, we now fly in a side of beef and a whole frozen pig. We still cut and wrap meat, make sausages, cure and smoke our hams and bacon and as a last step, render fat to make the majority of our own soap.
Part of the appeal of an off-grid lifestyle aside from the satisfaction we feel, is the freedom we have had. Not only the freedom to live where we do but I have also been able to do some interesting trips. I’ve winter thru hiked all 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail and bicycled across the United States from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans. I’ve been touched by a bear, survived forest fires and more. What does some of this stuff have to do with prepping?
Part of being prepared is not only having book smarts, knowledge, and supplies, it’s also having the confidence to act when the need arises. All of these cumulative experiences form a foundation that gives me/us a measure of confidence we’ll be able to cope with whatever life throws our way.
I’ve written a book titled Off Grid and Free:My Path to the Wilderness published by Moon Willow Press which passes on some of the experience and knowledge I learned along the way. It is my hope that my book gives encouragement and a shot of confidence to others to pursue their dreams, regardless of what those aspirations are.
We’ve been published in BackHome Magazine, Small Farmer’s Journal, and Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and appear in Life Off Grid, a documentary film and book about people living off-grid throughout Canada. Life Off Grid aired on British Columbia’s Knowledge Network and is produced by Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggart. I also blog for several websites including MotherEarth News.
I welcome comments, questions and feedback. Just as Gaye and her website are trying to be a venue for disbursing information, I am trying to do my part as well. Based on the questions and feedback I receive, I will write a follow up post to address those specific questions and comments. I have a number of YouTube videos and this video will give you a better sense of who I am: Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness.
You are also welcome to get updates on our life via my Facebook page.
The Final Word
I have traveled up the British Columbia coast numerous times and have also been to Alaska seven times. With each trip, the peace, quiet, and solitude have brought a sense of peace and fulfillment as I experienced being one on one with nature. I can only imagine what it might be like to actually live that sort of life on a full-time basis.
In closing, please know that Ron is sincere and will be happy to address your questions about off-grid living (and just about anything else) in future articles. And me? I would love it if Johanna shared some of her off-grid cooking secrets!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Here are some homesteading resources everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether they own, rent, or live in suburbia. Even if you have no intention of purposely living off grid, there is something to be learned when you pick up a book on self-sufficiency. I have also included a few of the tools that, in my opinion, should be part of every prepper’s kit. Be sure to check out the T6 LED flashlights. They are now my go-to source of handheld lighting.
Off Grid and Free:My Path to the Wilderness: After reading this article, I am sure you will agree that Ron and his wife at the ultimate preppers. Here is a link to his book which I am certain you will enjoy!
Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself: The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens, The Encyclopedia of Country Living includes how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. This comprehensive resource is the most authoritative guide available to a sustainable lifestyle and living off of the land.
How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew: You are going to love this book. It is charming and timely and filled with good-natured humor and the loving spirits of grandmothers everywhere.
How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew: From the same author and another good one. The book offers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of grandfathers near and far by sharing their practical skills and sweet stories on how to be stronger, smarter, richer, and happier.
Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency: When it comes to survival, one size definitely does not fit all. That’s exactly what author F. J. Bohan discovered when he and his family set out on a quest for self-sufficiency, a journey that has lasted more than 17 years. Be sure to read 9 Tips for Buying Property With Little or No Money.
US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. They are perfect for keeping your hands and arms safe while working outdoors or cooking outdoors over an open fire. They also perform double duty as garden gloves.
Morakniv Craftline Q Allround Fixed Blade Utility Knife: This is a favorite of mine! Also known as the Mora 511, this knife is made of Swedish steel and is super sharp. Many Backdoor Survival have emailed me indicating this is now their favorite knife too. There is a lot of emphasis on folding knives these days but please, do not forget to that fixed blade utility knife is eminently useful.
BYBLight TML-T6: This flashlight is extremely bright, casts wide angle and, when zoomed, a very focused beam. I swear that if there were a rattlesnake out in the desert outside my back yard this flashlight would find it. It’s a sturdy thing with an aluminum casing that is not at all heavy. It has 5 built in modes including the standard high, medium, low plus a strobe and SOS mode. It includes a rechargeable battery and a charger plus an adapter to hold AAA batteries. There is also the OxyLED Super Bright T6 LED which is very similar. I own both and find them comparable to let the price guide you.
Just to see it stacks up with my other favorites, here is a photo showing the differences in size and form factor.