Life on the homestead
The family’s homestead runs on electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines; they capture and filter rainwater from their roof for drinking, bathing and washing clothes and dishes.
“We built our home from the ground up, so we were able to incorporate a lot of the basic [energy and rainwater] systems into the overall design,” Connally says. “If you can consider efficiency from the beginning, it will save a lot of time and money.”
The family also produces much of its own food, maintaining gardens and fruit trees and raising animals like pigs, chickens and rabbits.
They also try to recycle or repurpose as much of their waste stream as possible – not simply because it’s good for the environment, but because it helps them operate their homestead.
“We try and avoid [waste] altogether,” Connally says. “The animals take care of all our organic waste, and everything else we try and reuse, leaving very little left over.”
What does a typical day look like for the family of four?
After sending Leo off to kindergarten, Connally and Moores work on household duties determined by the season: tending the garden and animals, gathering wild plants and making items they need for various projects.
While their main focus is on managing their homestead, the pair continues to work from home, writing for online and print magazines. Connally also runs the family’s website, Vela Creations, where he and Moores post how-to articles and tutorials to help other homesteaders – from setting up greywater systems to tanning rabbit hides.
“We have had so many comments saying that we have helped or inspired people, and that’s a great feeling,” Connally says.
Though the family’s cost of living is very low, the family earns additional income by selling their homestead’s surplus locally, including organic rabbit meat, homemade ham and bacon and animal fur.
This extra cash comes in handy when the family finds they need to buy items they can’t produce themselves, heading to the local store once or twice a month.
“Being totally self-sufficient is an enormous undertaking, and we’re not there yet,” Connally says. “If we absolutely had to, we could survive with the things we produce [on the homestead], but we’re glad we don’t have to; we both prefer jeans and T-shirts to walking around in furs in summertime.”
What’s the biggest challenge to off-the-grid living?
Patience, Connally says; there are so many projects he and Moores want to finish and it’s easy to wish they could all be completed right now.
But overall, the family finds their DIY lifestyle to be extremely rewarding.
“Each and every day, we get to look around ourselves – in the house, when turning on a light or tap, in the food we eat – and we can say ‘I did that,’” Connally says. “It’s immensely gratifying and empowering. There’s a pride and freedom in creating your own space that cannot be described.”