Year Of Firsts: Off-Grid Living In A Tiny House In Vermont

Categories: Homesteading, Green, Health & Nutrition, Education, DIY, Survival

This morning, after the water chores, and after the chickens have been fed, my son and I went into our main field to check on our garden. Before we make plans for the day, I need to know what needs to be picked and canned. We had an abundance of lettuce, radishes, and peas in June and early July, but the main crops are starting to be ready now. The tomatoes are almost red, the beans need to be picked daily, as well as summer squash, garlic, carrots, and fresh herbs. The harvest will now start shaping our days, and how we eat for the rest of the summer. We dream about recipes we can try, even though we usually end up with a dish of all veggies mixed together. 

My son proudly picked zucchinis by himself today, wondering if it will taste as good as the yellow squashes we picked yesterday. "These are our first zucchinis that we grow in Vermont", I proudly tell him. 
Back in the house with the harvest, I realize I have been using the word 'first' a lot in this past year. 
We have been in our tiny house for a year now, having moved in mid-July 2015. 
We have learned a lot since moving to our homestead, and still have plenty to learn. 
We went into this homesteading, off-grid adventure with a lot of fears. Could we make it through the winter? Could we live in 450 sq. ft with a child? Could we get rid of  the majority of our belongings? 
A year of firsts
This year, we built our first house, learning that community and friends are indispensable to help you along the way. 
This year, we made our first maple syrup, and learned that no matter how hard and lonely winter can be in Vermont, there will be friends visiting and sharing a beer at 11pm, in complete darkness, waiting with me for the sap to turn into syrup. And every time I open a jar of maple syrup, I think of my friends who came by, I think of the cold nights by myself outside listening to animals waking up from a long winter. 

First maple sugaring

First maple syrup

This year, we spent our first summer, fall, winter and spring in our house. Each season has had its challenges, which we had experienced before, but exacerbated by our living choices. Our first summer, we needed to learn how to refrigerate items without electricity. Our first fall, we needed to learn how to make our first fire in our wood stove to keep warm and heat food. In winter, we needed to learn how to get water and lights in the house. In the spring, we learned to process maple syrup, and we learned to garden on a larger scale. 

First bees at our new house

First sip of water from our well

First foraging expedition

First harvest

First laundry

This has been an amazing year, and not as hard as we prepared ourselves for. I know that we have made it through the most difficult time, and that the first year was critical. We have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it, and we are still amazed by how smooth the transition was. Humans are very adaptable creatures, we just make with what we have (and quickly forget what we don't have).
I have a lot of hope for the future years to come. I am looking forward to a year of "seconds". 
I also write about other subjects, and have been writing about the NewVistas project unfolding in my town. You can read all my stories at And you can sign up for email updates HERE.  
Thursday, July 28, 2016  Very Vermont  :  Written by Nicole Antal
Source:  Daily UV
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