Scribbling this down in my notebook, I sit legs criss crossed on a slice of geologic history — a glacial boulder weathering time on Vermont’s mountainsides left behind by the retreating ice sheets tens of thousands of years past. A relic shaped by eons of pelting rain and stinging snow, which in turn feed the cascading flows gushing through this forested oasis. Leaves painted a myriad of earthly greens filter streams of sunlight through the verdant canopy that grows lush like a thick old man’s beard. Through their branches a joyous chorus showers the landscape with the tunes of summer sung by our feathered friends. Warmth percolates through the world and life revels in vibrant abundance before the seasons change their tides and wash away the brightness of each day. We’ll be here ’til the snow starts flying again, patiently buying our time until powder dreams are renewed once more.
Before we get too far, I’m Kyle Toohey and with Goal Zero’s support, my partner and I will be sharing our story of living off-grid in a 600-square-foot cabin in the woods of Vermont. Around eight months ago Iz La Motte and I bought a cabin nestled along the spine of the Green Mountains. We dove in head first and purchased the property sight unseen and said to each other, “Where’s the adventure without the adventure?” With no running water or electricity we’re excited to learn the ins and outs of this space and to figure out what systems work for us along the way. We’ll roll with the punches, visualizing the growth that lies ahead and we look forward to embracing all of the challenges we may face. Iz and I grew up on the east coast, New York and Massachusetts respectively, so this adventure is a bit of a homecoming for both of us. We’re excited for the chance to immerse ourselves in the places we frequented before we trekked west six and eight years ago. The mountains may stand a little smaller and the views appear a little less “big” but the same grandeur exists here if you carry the right perspective.
Fast forward to today and we’ve been living at the cabin for approximately two months, relishing in everything a New England summer has to offer. Themes dominating our time spent here thus far consist of fresh farmer’s market food, crackling bonfires, crisp swimming holes and reconnection with family and friends. Now, since we teamed up with Goal Zero, we’re equipped with a power system that fulfills our daily energy demands. Inside the house we utilize the three and a half day home integration kit comprised of the YETI 6000X in conjunction with four YETI Tank Expansion Batteries all charged by eight Boulder 100 Solar Panels mounted on the southfacing exposure of our roof. On top of that, later on when the time comes, and our energy needs grow, the whole system can tie into a more standard electrical setup through the Home Integration Panel. If the situation ever arises that our main power goes out, we simply plug the generator system into the panel connected to the main circuit breaker and voila the lights are back on. We have a comprehensive understanding of how our generator system works and how to fix it if something goes wrong. It’s nice knowing we only have to rely on ourselves at the end of the day. This system and its collective ease allows us to get work done from home, freeing up more time for us to venture out into the spaces surrounding us.
When we’re not out exploring our backyard woods, fly fishing for native trout or sipping one of Vermont’s many tasty craft beers, we’ll be ticking away at a laundry list of projects around the property. One of the next items on our docket will be to install a set of French doors that we scrounged up from a salvage dealer not too far away. But, now that I’m thinking of it, as the crow flies the distance is not too far, but time wise it’s around two hours roundtrip. I guess as they say around here, “You can’t get there from here.” The doors happen to be phase one of a larger project leading up to the screening in of the front porch in order to create a section of outdoor living space free from potential rain, bugs or other creepy crawlies. And to boot, the extra natural light pouring in through the soon to be open walls will be a welcome sight in the daytime until our Goal Zero lanterns and chainable string lights illuminate the darkness after the sun drops below the horizon. Despite that fact, Iz and I are turning the clocks back a little with our living situation — power and plugs truly are a game changer to keep us linked in with the modern world around us.
We’re grateful to have Goal Zero by our sides as we take some of the first steps towards our collective goals. Iz and I have big plans dancing around in our heads to bring our new home to life by working with nature as much as possible, not against it. Some plans nailed down include installing garden beds for food sources, building a timber frame addition, insulating with a non-toxic hemp insulation — just to name a few — all powered by solar. In a few short years the cabin will be a sustainable hub providing us with nearly everything we may require on a daily basis. Recognizing the ability to produce our own power with no bill at the end of the month is an extremely empowering feeling to hold. With that said, the future is here, it’s green, and we’re both excited to be riding that wave into the horizon. Please, come along with us as we embark on this journey. Cheers!
-Kyle & Iz