Both Deane and Don expected that it would have been harder to do, both the off-grid experience and the local eating. We learned that food is available if you look around you and the internet is a big help in the research. In Sherbrooke there is the Marche de Solidarite promoted by Les Amies de la Terre de l’Estrie
(Les Amies de la Terre) You order on-line and then pick up local produce and products at a spot on King Street. A similar set-up, Les Amies de la Terre du Voisinage de Waterloo, is being developed in Waterloo, Quebec
(atvwaterloo.com). With a little creativity (sometimes a lot!), foods that are currently available can be made interesting in different forms. For example, once strawberries were ripe we ate them raw with yoghurt, with granola, in oatmeal with rhubarb, with pancakes, cooked in an up-side down cake on the top of the wood stove and finally mashed with mint for a refreshing tea!
If you try, you can have reasonable expectations that you can set up systems that can see you through. Our water set-up with gravity feed from the pond gave us water for many different things (washing clothes for one); our well has enough pressure to give us a trickle of drinking water; the wood stoves both inside, a Vermont Castings Encore (vermontcastings.com) and out provided what we needed to cook and heat water; our tandem bicycle with paniers served to get our food. It is all doable. It simply takes more time and more planning to do everything.
We discovered that it is not about the money, although we certainly saved money. We went out rarely at night (cycling in the dark in the country side certainly has its challenges as well as it’s delights) and never to a restaurant or cafe. Entertainment was never paid for! Instead we invited friends over and fed them local meals or played games such as Upwords or Quiddler by candlelight. Of course there was no hydro or gas expenses.
For the amount of inconvenience the money we saved on hydro was minimal - less than 75$. But remember, we live in Quebec with abundant hydro generated electricity. We think that a better way for us to affect a savings on the environment would simply be to purchase less of those unnecessary extras that everyone buys. Perhaps less purchasing from China would reduce the output from the coal powered factories. Actually, by riding a bicycle it minimizes what you can purchase!
During this month there was a storm here which caused a power outage of which we were blissfully unaware. Some of our friends were quite dismayed and did not know how to cope; others saw it as an occasional opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint. We simply kept doing more of the same.
So it is all about preparation, organization, adapting, and laughing!
Coming up: Ten Revelations