Homesteading Family featured on the Today Show

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Wilbursmommy, May 20, 2004.

  1. Wilbursmommy

    Wilbursmommy Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    Hey! Did anyone here happen to catch a segment of the Today Show a couple of days ago about a homesteading family living near Scottsville, Ky.? I'm familiar with the area,nice place.
    The segment started out talking about this couple who had the big house in the burbs and the 2 Volvos in the garage. Then the guy shattered his ankle and had some time to think about his life. He realized how little time he spent with his children and decided to do something about it. That was about 15 years ago, if I remember correctly. He sold just about everything he had and he, his wife, and 2 children moved to 100 acres in Ky. They now have 6 children. They grow most of their own food, built their house with hand tools, and appear to have healthy, happy children. They live on $4,000 per year. All this, plus the fact that the father taught all the children to play musical instruments, which caught someones ear, has now brought national attention to this family. They don't have electricity, but now have a website. They don't own a tv, but now have a music video.

    I found all of this very inspiring. My twin sons thought they were so cool. My teenage daughters were horrified. My oldest daughter insisted the kids were just smiling for the cameras, they could not really like living like that! My husband said he wouldn't mind as long as we had electricity. Some things are just easier with a power saw! Anyway, it got me to wondering how much cheaper could we really live. I already have chickens and a large garden. But we have some debt and a huge mortgage payment each month. Property in this area is outragous. I would love to live off the grid. Does anyone know how hard/expensive it would be to convert a house to solar power? I know the initial cost would be very expensive. Living here in Georgia, we very rarely lack sunshine. We have a very long growing season, too.

    Well, just something to dream/think about. My husband said after some of the kind of days at work he has had recently, living off the land doesn't sound so bad. I know him, that's just talk!
  2. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 13, 2002
    I did see it,Very inspiring wasnt it.His name was John Christopher and they didnt give his website.The video was cool.

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 9, 2003
    Wilbursmommy said "Does anyone know how hard/expensive it would be to convert a house to solar power? I know the initial cost would be very expensive."

    If you have already trimmed your electrical use it could be less than $5k. Double or triple that if you plan to convert a modern house. Large panels go for about 500-600 each on Ebay. Then you need batteries, cables, and a controller. Deep cycle batteries cost about $30 each here in Denver at a battery store, or you could go to wolmart and buy golf cart batteries for about the same. The number of panels, batteries, and the size of the controller are based on your needs. The assembly does not require special skills, but it may require an electrician to hook it up to the panel. I remember a posting from this group that showed pictures of someone making their own cables to keep costs low.

    Some electric companies encourage and may rebate some of the expense. I looked into putting solar on my future homestead. The state electrical inspector discouraged me saying the cost was too high, the batteries wear out quickly, and a diesel generator would be a better backup to conventional electric. (I already have electrical service to my building site) I wonder about his long term wisdom. A diesel generator may be a good backup, but if the cost of electrical service skyrockets, diesel will not be an economical alternative.

    My bet is that the best arrangement would be solar with regular electric service as a backup.
  4. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    My kids would freak if we did that. No video games..Oh the HORROR!!! :rolleyes:

    >A diesel generator may be a good backup, but if the cost of electrical service skyrockets, diesel will not be an economical alternative.<

    What if you run out of diesel or there is a disaster and you can't get any. The sun isn't going anywhere.
  5. mamajohnson

    mamajohnson Knitting Rocks! Supporter

    Nov 27, 2002
    North East Texas
    DH and I have looked into solar many times. I really really want to go solar, also. The problem, like Georgia, Northeast Texas can be really really, well HOT! I am very attached to my a/c :no: From what I understand the amount of electricity needed for a/c is unbelievable. (well, yeah, I see this on the bill 8 out of 12 months!) We are looking into installing an attic fan, and possibly swamp coolers to help this out. Anyway, the initial put out is really high. But, I think in the long run it would be worth it. An issue or two ago Backwoods Home Magazine started a "solar 101" article. Worth the read. Also, if you have sat. tv the diy channel has a solar segment. I have learned a lot from it.
    Yes, you have to have an ellaborate battery/backup system. But, you can always us the local elec. company for backup... We are going to start small. Maybe a solar hot water heater, solar fan, etc.... then just work up to it.
    Just start, one little thing at a time, and before you know it, you have the whole thing done. :)
    It is inspiring to see someone succeed in what we dream about. But, there always seems to be a lot of discipline/work in getting to those dreams. ;)
  6. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    So Cal Mtns
    For the ultimate source of alternate energy go to
    You can download the entire magazine FREE bimonthly off the web site.After a year of reading this,you will know about the costs and realities of alt. energy.Its doable but expensive.My BIL is offgrid,runs a 3000 sq foot house on solar panels and genny combined,every other month or so he adds another 150 watts.You ideally need larger batteries than the walmart size,a very common battery bank is trojan L-16,about the size of 2 regular deep cycles,and you need 8 minimum to 16 of em for a modern sized home.You can go anywhere though on your system costs.Many states also have rebates that can return more than 50% of costs when all tax rebates are figured and you are grid tied.That can bring a 40,000 dollar system(That is a NICE SETUP!) all the way down to 15000!(approx figures,dont have em in front of me,but something like that)Got more than 1/2 back! A guy did that in the magazine at a bed and breakfast.
  7. OUVickie

    OUVickie Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 8, 2003
  8. nostalgia

    nostalgia Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2003
  9. MomInGa

    MomInGa Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    Dad-Burn-It! I always miss the good stuff on TV! Glad yall posted the url's though.

    Would be even happier if I actually caught the show! lol

    Oh, well... :)