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Farewell my Subaru
Out of Warranty

With the upcoming publication of Farewell, My Subaru, Doug Fine’s account of everything that can go wrong (and then right), when a regular fellow decides to get off grid, off petroleum and on local living, we spoke to Doug about what’s next at his Funky Butte Ranch.

“Well, ‘Farewell, My Subaru’ recounts my transition towards off-grid electricity and unleaded fuel, and my start with animal husbandry for local, organic food. In my first two years, I’ve reduced my grid bill 70-80%, and no longer need to stop at the gas station. Plus, I have more chicken and eggs than I know what to do with, and my goat is due to give birth this month, meaning local-as-it-gets milk, yogurt, cheese and even ice cream.

But I have a way to go. Take tropical food, for instance: I love bananas, oranges and limes. The plan is to build a solar-powered greenhouse so I can cut those carbon miles out of my diet. I’d also like to cut my last ties to the grid — that last 20-30% comes from my electric range. I don’t want to switch to propane, because that’s a fossil fuel. Solar ovens are a possibility, but I’m trying to show that anyone can get off grid, and still live with the comforts we’ve come to expect. So I’m doing research into harvesting methane from my and my livestock’s waste, and powering a stove that way. They do it on a large scale in India and I’ll see if it’s possible on an individual scale. And if I do that and build up my solar system, I’ll have to decide if I want no connection to the grid at all, or to sell energy back to the power company.

Water is another issue: my well is solar-powered, but since I live in the desert, I want to get started on harvesting my rainwater — that one’s a no-brainer. If we talk in another year or two and those improvements are dialed in, I’ll feel like I’m on a good track. But as anyone who checks out the misadventures on my blog (www.dougfine.com) will see, there’s always more to do — there’s no shortage of the ways I can screw up as I make this journey. Still, one of the points of writing about this effort is to show that if I can approach carbon-neutral, anyone can.

Best,

Doug

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2 Responses to “Farewell my Subaru”

  1. Revolution Hydroponics

    Growing with hydroponics is a great way to get one step closer to living “off the grid”.

    Reply
  2. scakya

    Hi Doug,
    Interesting piece. Here are a few tidbits in case you’re interested. Brad Lancaster has done some amazing things in Tuscon and here is his website and that of an article he wrote about a Mr. Phiri in Zimbabwe. Awesome stuff when it comes to harvesting/using rain water in the desert.

    http://www.harvestingrainwater.com

    http://cals.arizona.edu/OALS/ALN/aln46/lancaster.html Mr. Phiri’s story

    On the solar greenhouse here are some different types of sites to check out.

    http://www.crmpi.org/forestframe.htm Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture center

    http://www.sunnyjohn.com/indexpages/shcs.htm Sunny John site that explains CRMPI’s subterranean greenhouse heating system

    http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/solar-gh.html More typical solar greenhouse

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Homes/1978-05-01/Joseph-Orrs-Fabulous-Mud-Heat-Storage-Solar-Greenhouse.aspx This is the article that got me started researching.

    I do research on the above things so hope these links help you on your way to carbon-neutral status.

    Reply

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