Little-House-Off-The-GridFor the past few years, Michelle and I have been working on a book to share the story of how we left the city and ended up in an off-grid home on 150 acres in the country. For a while we were calling our book “Off The Grid Without a Paddle” as a way of conveying just how unprepared we were to deal with solar panels and wind turbines and batteries when we first arrived. Eventually though, we decided that “Little House Off the Grid” sounded more comfortable and homey with a bit of nostalgia thrown in.

We finished writing the book early this summer, had some friends do a read through (thanks Ellen, Deb & Heidi!) and then sent it to the printer. It’s now back and ready for shipping! The price is $19.95 and if you order it from our website, shipping is $10 anywhere in Canada or the U.S.

Below is a little bit from the introduction to the book…


“I’ve made a horrible mistake!”

As I stood in the blizzard, I was having serious doubts about the wisdom of my vision. It was two o’clock in the morning. I had a moving van backed up against the garage door, but the wind was blowing the snow so hard it was starting to form drifts on the garage floor. The house that I was moving in to was 4 kilometers from the nearest human being. If I needed help tonight, with this snow, I wasn’t likely to find it.

I had just had the most harrowing drive of my (then) 39 years. Starting out in calm conditions from my suburban home west of Toronto in a large rental truck, it had started to snow lightly just beyond the city limits. It increased in intensity as I drove along Highway 401 east towards Napanee. As the snowfall became heavier, it appeared to dance in a dizzy, mesmerizing sort of way … and I struggled to keep from zoning out or falling asleep.

As I started north up Highway 41, the centre line was no longer visible, and maneuvering the monstrous truck was proving to be a challenge.

But the worst was yet to come. If I made it to Tamworth, I’d still have13 kilometers to go to reach my new home and I knew that at this time of night it was unlikely that the snowplow would have been through. That’s one of the downsides to living on a road far from the nearest town. Why would they bother to plow until the morning? Only an idiot would be out tonight.

Yet by some miracle I was able to steer the beast through the snow. Now I had to start a fire to warm up the house since it was well below freezing, and unload the truck by morning. Oh sure, a logical person would have rented the truck for two days, but logic seldom ruled my decisions. My strategy had been to pick up the truck at noon, have it loaded by 4 pm, get to my new home by 8 pm, unload the light stuff by 10 pm, have a relaxing sleep, unload the larger stuff with my dad’s help when he arrived early the next morning, and then have the truck back comfortably within the 24 hours allotted.

But now it was 2 am and things had not gone according to plan. It had taken much longer to load the truck than I had planned for. Then there was the snow.

I kept thinking about a conversation I’d had with my wife Michelle months earlier as we discussed the idea of moving in January. “Moving in January is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!” she had said. My reply was “Michelle, we haven’t had any real snow in Burlington in January for years. We’re lucky if we get a dusting. Trust me, no problemo, it’s a no-brainer, don’t worry, I’ve got this under control.”

Clearly, I didn’t.

And this was turning into a serious mess.

I was completely exhausted. I had been running on nervous energy for days, making the final arrangements and packing up the last of our belongings. I hadn’t eaten properly all day, and now at 2 a.m., with no energy and frozen fingers, I had to unload the truck in just a few hours. The same truck that had taken the four of us, 4 hours to load. Math is not my strong suit, but even I could tell that this equation wasn’t adding up.

And as the magnitude of the task ahead sunk in, it occurred to me… what the heck was I doing?

I’d uprooted my family from a warm, secure, bungalow in a quiet city close to the customers of my electronic publishing business that supported us. I was dragging them 3 hours away to the woods of Eastern Ontario, where our nearest neighbor is 4 kilometers to the east, and 6 kilometers to the west, to a home with no power lines to the house, no phone lines, no gas lines for heat, a volunteer fire department that would take 30 minutes to get there in a best case scenario, and police service that might make it in 45 minutes… on a good day… with good conditions.

I’ve done many stupid things in my life, and clearly, this one took the cake.

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If you enjoy this blog, I have no doubt you’ll love this book! Buy a copy for your own library and for everyone that you know who is dreaming of a life in the country or is living their dream already. Michelle and I would be glad to personalize and autograph your copy or books that you purchase as gifts …  just provide your instructions when you order (this is only applicable to orders placed on our website.)  Here’s how to order….