Off-grid does not have to equal discomfort. When were started our off-grid adventure at our little property in Big Bend, we determined that we wanted a place that we would look forward to visiting. Of course, that meant factoring in some of the comforts of home.
On our most recent visit to our cabin, we took two more steps toward adding small measures of comfort. We are still off the grid, and while there are more primitive ways of doing things like using water and bathing, we added a couple of things to make each of these tasks a littler easier.
Our first project was to add a bold Southwestern color to our base cabinets in our kitchen area. We chose a color called Pursuit of Teal that we selected at Lowe’s. We like it a lot. The cool thing about the Southwestern color pallet is that each vibrant color pops against the bland browns and tans of the desert.
I purchased an on-demand water pump designed for drawing water out of five-gallon jugs. This pump feeds our simple faucet and can pump up to a gallon a minute. Even so, we can’t leave the water running while washing dishes. Instead we use only the amount we need and no more.
The water we use for cooking or washing dishes drains from our sink into a gray water catchment jug. Once at capacity, we remove this jug and then use the gray water to irrigate the trees closest to our cabin. Lucky trees! We don’t want to waste a single drop of water but instead responsibly use even our waste water.
We have a very comfortable all-season outdoor shower area complete with composting toilet. However, we wanted to add an indoor shower area. Last year, I purchased a Durastall Shower Stall. This easy to assemble shower stall comes in a flat box for easy transport. The components fit together easily and, once assembled, make a durable shower stall.
At this time we are not adding plumbing. That will come later. In the meantime, we are using our homemade pump sprayer. Topping off the 2-gallon sprayer with a teapot’s worth of hot water is enough to warm up the water. We average two showers per fill-up － a very efficient way to bathe.
I built up the shower base area and plumbed the shower to drain out the side of the cabin into a gray water catchment pail. We then use this gray water to nourish our trees. I left a narrow opening to the side of the stall to add plumbing in the future. In the meantime, I built some narrow shelving to fill in this area and as a place to store bathroom essentials.
Future projects include finding the right LED light fixtures, adding an old-fashioned screen door, and installing a more permanent shutter system that we can use to protect the windows in the event of one of those no-warning Chihuahuan Desert hail storms.
One thing is certain, there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes with each little improvement that we make to the cabin. We are also working on some permaculture projects on the property and have added a lot of bird feeders. I will report on some of these projects in the coming weeks.