Introducing Wretha

Isn’t it funny that the first sentence is always the hardest to write? But here goes, first an introduction, my name is Wretha and I live 100% off-grid. I live in a small cabin with my hubby Bob and my little dog Pekoe, a 9 year old, long hair Chihuahua. We live on a 5.75 acre tract of land on the side of a mountain in the high desert of far west Texas.

We have no city utilities, we generate our own power, haul all of our water, pretty much do everything for ourselves. We heat our cabin with a wood burning stove, I cook on the wood burning stove and a small propane stove. We moved here to live full time in December 2007, a few days before Christmas and we haven’t looked back.

We purchased the property last year and started immediately hauling our belongings from our previous home to our new place, the distance was an intimidating 500 miles (one way), it took 5 trips in total. During that time, Bob began to build the cabin. It started out as a 16×16 one room cabin. We now have a second room, a bedroom, plus a deck that goes across the north side and a deck that goes across the west side of the cabin.

We incorporated lots of windows into the cabin, especially the bedroom. The views are simply spectacular, we can look in any direction and see mountain tops looking back at us. There are many different wild animals all around us to enjoy, the deer (mule deer and white tail deer) are a common site, they stroll through, stopping to browse on grass and oak leaves. They are pretty friendly, sometimes too friendly. We have to watch out for them, especially the bucks, this time of year, they get more aggressive during rutting season. We also have jackrabbits, skunks, fox, javelina, feral donkey, feral hogs and too many birds and insects to list.

We are coming up on our one year anniversary living out here, it’s so hard to believe I am getting to live a life that most people only dream about. This was something I had wanted to do ever since I was a young child. My earliest inspiration came from watching Grizzly Adams. I was fascinated by the idea that a person could live in the wild and not only survive, but thrive in an environment that would be deadly to many other people. I wanted to be the person who could survive and thrive. I began my journey of gathering knowledge on how to survive, I learned how to cook from scratch, really from scratch, give me some flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and a few other necessities, and I can make just about anything. And I can do it (mostly) without recipes, I cook by the seat of my pants. I don’t have names for most of the dishes I create, much to the frustration of the people who are dining at my table. :)

Shortly before we moved to our off-grid property, I began a blog to document our lives, it was mainly for our friends and family we were leaving behind, little did I know how many people would find my blog, I was even more surprised at how interested people seemed to be in reading about our adventures. I have made a lot of cyber-friends, other people who are in various stages of becoming off-grid, some are completely off-grid, some are taking the steps necessary to get off the grid. A few months ago, Nick Rosen found my blog and invited me to begin writing here, we have moved my blog’s archive to this site, so if you are interested in reading more about my adventures living off-grid, just click “Wretha” and you should find all of my previous blog entries.

I want to welcome all of the current followers of my blog, all of you have been very important to me, I consider you my internet family, I hope you will continue to follow my progress here and continue to leave those wonderful comments, I love reading your reactions to the things I write. I also look forward to getting to know many new internet friends here.

Big thanks to Nick for inviting me to join this great site. :)


14 Responses

  1. Mayberry, I didn’t write that message, it’s a glitch, if you are not signed in, you will see that message and it has my name on it, if you are signed in, you will not see that message and it’s not attributed to me, don’t know why that is happening, I am trying to get it taken care of… the best thing to do is go ahead and sign up with, that way you will be sure to see all my current ramblings. Thanks for coming over, I like seeing familiar faces here! :)


  2. Hey Wretha. Tried to comment on the “no tax credit for off-gridders”, but had to register and log in, and now I can’t find the post!!! Anyhoo, here is my comment on that topic:

    That’s because “they” WANT you on the grid. “They” WANT you dependent on “them”. You see, off-gridders are too independent for Big Brother’s liking, y’all make him nervous….

    Congrats on your new gig!

  3. JoniK, we connect to the internet via WiFi, we have 2 microwave towers close by, you have to be line of sight and fortunately one of the towers is right across the valley from me, right in line with our cabin. You are right that we do not have a hard wired phone line, we do have a phone though, it’s through the internet, VOIP, the one I use is called Magic Jack, it works pretty well, not perfectly, but better than my cell phone ever did out here. The only other option for internet is to use a satellite, but it’s expensive, around $600.00 for the equipment and setup, the monthly fees run around $70.00 and they meter your bandwidth, if you go over your allotted bandwidth, they cut you off. With the WiFi setup, they do not meter my bandwidth, I can download (and upload) as much as I want. Setup and equipment was less than $200.00 and the monthly fee is $42.00 per month. I can’t use an air card where I live, we don’t get a very good signal for that.

    Thanks for your comment! :)

  4. Hi Wretha, Could you tell me how you connect to the internet living out where you do? Are you using satellite or a mobile card? I assume you don’t have a phone line.

  5. cizzi, hmmm, I don’t know about the other states, in Texas all you have to do is get outside of the city (I believe that is correct), the quickest way to find out is call a realtor, they can tell you if there are areas that do not require building permits.

    Scavenger, glad you found me!

    Betsy, where are you located? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, I’m just curious where your island is?


  6. Hi, Wretha – thank you for the gracious welcome! I went back and read some of your older blog posts, and very much enjoyed them. I especially smiled when you wrote about not running the fridge too much because then you can’t do as much with the computer. That’s exactly the equation we always are balancing! Sometimes I’d opt for just slightly warmer milk, if it meant that I could complete an online project or watch a DVD on the laptop!

    But now it’s cool enough that we don’t need to use the fridge at all, so that makes it easier.

    Finding this website inspired me to write a blog post about our experience of living off the grid. Here in the northwest, where 3/4 of the year it tends to be damp and chilly, what came to mind when I sat down to write was being warm. A woodstove in a 650-square-foot house is the purest luxury I can think of. So my blog post about living warm is at

    But maybe I’ll write more. I actually had kind of lost track of our lifestyle as being anything out of the ordinary, and your blog kind of refreshed my perspective! I linked to in my blog’s list of interesting websites, by the way.

    — Betsy

  7. Thanks Betsy, you explained things much better than I did! Wow, living on an island sounds like a dream! I’ve been told that where I live is considered a sky island, but we definitely aren’t surrounded by water. Your artwork looks great, I am an artist, as is my hubby, we both have artists in our families too, it’s wonderful and a curse at the same time (you KNOW what I mean…). Thanks for commenting, I love each and every one!

    Rio, Thanks for following me here, don’t know how big of a celebration we will have, though I do want to do something, if the weather is anything like it was the night we arrived, the biggest thing we will be doing is trying to keep warm. :) Maybe we’ll celebrate with a big steaming cup of hot chocolate.


  8. Dang, I just get you on my blogroll and you go and change the address. Oh, well, not to worry. I already made the change, and you are on now with this new address. Good luck with your new location.

    Bet you’ll have a big celebration on your first anniversary in your new home. I hope it’s a good one. This will be my fourth winter on the high plains and in a perverse way I am looking forward to it. Winter is a good time to get things done that get bypassed when the weather is good.

    I’ll be around.

  9. Wretha.. What states in the US still allow builkding without permits? I’d love to live in AZ for example.. and how do I go about finding land that doesnt require permits or is it the whole state?

  10. One more idea about building permits: What some people do is they familiarize themselves with the applicable regulations, and (to the extent reasonably possible) try to follow those regulations when they build their house. They don’t apply for any permits, but they have a backup plan in case the permit office finds them someday.
    (In general, I don’t think permit officers go out on scouting expeditions. But Wretha is right about NOT talking to anyone about the fact you didn’t get a permit. Just be vague and act like “of course it’s permitted.” )

    If the permit department people do come around, they will give a list of what has to be upgraded or changed. If your stairs and woodstove installation (for example) are already built to code, then in the unlikely instance that you’re busted for not having a permit, you won’t have to tear your house apart to make it compliant. Also, if you’re really in the boonies, the permit department people will probably notify you ahead of time. So if, for example, you know you have more square feet of windows than are allowed, you could hide them behind removable chunks of fake wall. And then put everything back to normal once the inspection is finished. It’s been done…

    I just found this website and wanted to say hi… My husband and I lived off the grid from 1990 to 2002, and after a hiatus of 6 years in the big city so our kids could go to high school we’re now back in our little house in the woods.

    We live on an island, and there are no stores here, no paved roads or (of course) public utilities. But we can now get internet via aircard, which makes a huge difference in what’s possible.

    Anyway, I enjoyed meeting you through your post, Wretha. I’d be delighted if you feel like visiting my blog. It’s a random eclectic mix of art and musings and political rants and bits about our lives. It’s at

    I’ll come back here and check in from time to time…


  11. Hey Seth!!! Glad to see you here, thanks for saying “hi”!

    Cizzi, there are still places in the USA where you do not have to get permits to build, and fortunately where I am located is one of those places, the only thing that has to be checked is if you dig a well and if you put in a septic system. I have no problem with that because both of those activities have the potential of messing with your ground water. As far as to how to get around it, the only thing I can think of is getting far out away from any town and hope that your inspectors are not too adventurous. Oh, and you have to keep anything you do private, don’t tell your neighbors, or anyone, the more people who know about what you are doing, the more risk you take of someone tattling on you.
    I am not suggesting to anyone that you should do anything illegal, what you do is your own choice and you are responsible for your own actions.

  12. Nice article, I am very interested in living off-grid. I have the solar energy part figured out and am saving to buy an acre or more of land. However around here (Canada) we need permits to build a cabin that you can live in. Did you have to get permits? Is there ways around this?

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