Four years ago, I was a warehouse manager for a produce company. It was a pretty good gig. I worked my way up from the bottom and was making what most would consider a good salary. It was hard, fast paced work and I absolutely went above and beyond more or less to prove my loyalty to the company.
Each day I thought about my future life, living off grid on my own land and that really motivated me during the most difficult days. I was living full time in my camper van and saving for what would seemingly be an ideal life for me. I paid the van and upgrades to the van off and started to put money aside. I planned to save for a few years then go for it. It being, finding and buying a piece of off grid property that I could build a homestead on. To my surprise Covid showed up and after all the restaurants were closed I was laid off. I weighed my options and decided to take the six thousand dollars I had saved and do my best to make my dream a reality. People were panicking, depleting all the shelves in the grocery stores and well you know how unpredictable things were. I thought it was a logical decision to roll the dice.
After some research I found that there was a lot of property in Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado many people deemed undesirable. Mostly because there wasn't water, after all, these areas are in the South West and they are not like the ideal pieces of land people think of when homesteading comes to mind. You know, green grass, trees, wild life, a river running through your property and so on. A quick search on YouTube revealed people are living in the southern desert in a similar fashion. I figured I must be able to do it in the high desert although many told me I would never succeed.
I found two and a half acres over an hour from any town and two hours from any city. I figured no one lived there at all. And in large part I was right. I think I paid one thousand eight hundred dollars for my property. I could have bought a forty acre lot with monthly payments but with only six thousand dollars and no job I thought the responsible thing to do was to live within my means. I paid in full and bought a cheap trailer that would barely make it to the property. I bought two IBC totes and a year supply of canned food, rice and beans and I headed for the high desert of Arizona.
In the minds of those around me I was doing something pretty nuts and to be honest I thought it was going to be more harsh than it was. Not to say it wasn't harsh, I think anyone who has lived the way I do in an area similar to mine would tell you, most people aren't cut out for it. The way I saw it, this was nearly a SHTF scenario already so, I could live on the side of the street in the industrial area of a major city or, I could live on my own land and the latter seemed so much more appealing to me. I think if you go into it with this mindset it may be easier to succeed.
After making the long trip to my property, which is way out in the middle of nowhere. Surprisingly so when I saw it in real life for the first time. I had so much gratitude for the land that I could say was mine. I live in the high desert but there are parts of the high desert that don't look much like a desert. This is no desert but there is desert sand as far as you can see, cactus, road runners, rattle snakes, scorpions and tarantulas. It's certainly desert like.
My first night out here, I woke up to the sound of maybe fifteen to twenty elk running through my land. I was very much caught off guard by that and as the years progressed I was caught off guard by many things. Within days of being out here I saw my first rattle snake and that was cause for caution. I had seen them in the wild before but not at home. I arrived at the beginning of summer and it shaped my perspective of just how baren the land was. It monsoons here, I had never experienced a monsoon and leading up to the monsoons it usually doesn't rain a drop. My perspective was that this place was damn near the Sahara desert. My perspective was wrong, although it's baren here, it greens up a lot after the rain and if you work with the seasons you can store that water and create a very habitable environment.
I came out here with next to nothing and got by on the absolute bare minimum. I started to harvest rainwater after I built my shop, month one. I knew nothing about gardening but started to teach myself by trial and error. I built my own soil and fertilizer from scratch and always have. I never called on anyone for help. I thrived in solitude and every day was a meditation in silence. I didn't even let my mind wander. Just silence.
I began to document the process on YouTube, mostly for myself. Just a vlog more or less like a diary. People started to take note and vlogging started to become a large part of my process. My channel was never meant to be a high production channel. Just a guy who really moved off grid in the middle of nowhere with next to nothing who wanted to do his best to live an honest and fulfilling life.
I did what I could with what I had, I used scrap material and ate the cheapest food I could get my hands on, I went without clothes, shoes, medical and dental and most every other want that went above the absolute most utilitarian needs. There were times I was briefly concerned I might fail but I just kept going. I broke bones, chipped teeth and gouged my skin, and I kept taping it up and kept going. I found motivation and happiness in doing what so many told me I could not. And when I saw proof of how difficult some things would be and how unforgiving this lifestyle can be I was motivated again.
I built gardens, grew food, harvested water, dug underground water cisterns, built a geothermal greenhouse and a root cellar by hand, like I had never seen anyone else ever do and they all paid off. I raised livestock and bred them and harvested them for meat, I made hamburger, sausage and jerky. I baked loafs of sweet bread and tortillas from scratch. I made complete meals from the food I had produced myself and I became more and more self sufficient.
I grew to be happier and more kind than ever. I learned that problems don't exist if you can sit in silence. I meditated more and found joy in silence and the sounds of nature. I learned that when people are highly critical it's a reflection of their own insecurities and they wouldn't care to be critical if they were happy. I learned that I have grown a lot and I still have a lot of growing to do. I slipped along the way and I stood back up quickly and I kept going.
I believe that the more I give the universe the more I receive. I am content and I'm aware many likely see that I have nothing and many more likely see that I have all that's worth living for. I do my best in every way possible every day and I feel like this has always been my destiny. I love my humble little homestead. Knowing that I have inspired many others to reach for their dreams has been rewarding and I'm grateful for everyone who has ever taken the time to interact with me along the way.