Farewell my Subaru

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.



2 Responses

  1. 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.


    https://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.

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

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

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

    https://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.

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