Would you live off the land?

by (77348) Updated December 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM Created March 10, 2010 at 3:28 AM

One of our own, Lucky, has taken on a 3 month challenge to live off the land. Would anyone out there in Paleo-land do the same? As I understand it, she took a bet with a friend and has just started her challenge. Today she was sending Twitters from a tree, which I thought was amazingly appropriate. I myself would want to cheat a bit by raising at least rabbits and chickens and maybe even pigs to get me through the 3 months. What about you?

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13 Replies

808 · March 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Wild! Checking in as I warm up in my car, iPhone and laptop in hand, and find this thread! Thanks, Anna, for telling folks about my crazy challenge.

I'm sitting here, on the top of a mesa the foothills of New Mexico's Sangre de Christo range, getting warm after one hellaciously long night attempting to hunt. This is Day 3 of my three month challenge, and I'm cold, hungry, and covered in squirrel blood.

I managed to use heavy rocks to smash two howling squirrels to their snowy death. Looks like the scene of a horrific crime here, with dark red blood, thick from the altitude, and bits of hair everywhere. I left bloody footprints from my camp to my car. I smell like dead animal. I smell like fear, adrenaline, like the faded memory of failed final exam. I smell like a Paleo chick, I guess.

I have to hunt and gather my own food for three months as part of a bet I made with my best friend, a staunch (and super skinny) vegan. I took the bet because I am 44 years old, was feeling a bit bored with life, feeling a bit complacent. I took the bet because I wanted to get in touch with my native ancestors' roots, because I wanted to see if I could actually make things happen, because I realized that I was incredibly disconnected from Mother Earth, from our food chain. Yeah, it's easy to purchase shrink-wrapped grassfed beef and feel superior, feel strong and healthy. Could I look that cow in the eyes, take her life?

I've managed to gather plenty of piñon, a relative of the pine nut, and now have two squirrels I need to figure out how to cook here in the middle of fricken nowhere. I have to start a fire in the middle of a snowstorm, have to continue hunting and these squirrels are pretty lean. I had to take them into my car with me, as I didn't want another carnivore to steal my earned meal. So I'm staring at torn flesh, at the bits of hair covering my entire front seat, my body, the blood beneath my fingernails. And I wonder if this is what it was like for Paleo woman, if she felt remorse and empathy for her kill the way I do now.

I'm blogging at http://paleoprincess.com and you can find my twitter from there. I update when I can. This connection is kind of slow, but I will try to post a lot of pix later today. Right now I need a nap, need to wrap my head around the idea that I took two fuzzy lives. This is hard work, physical, unrelenting. This is who we are, I suppose. This is what we do.


6832 · March 10, 2010 at 7:27 AM

I would absolutely love to live off the land for three months, in fact I am looking into taking a bushcraft course in the UK next year. I would certainly want to be more prepared than I am now, I would worry about eating something poisonous and I would also pick the most abundant time of year to do my three months!! I think the key would be to learn how to snare animals and get used to eating every single part of them in whatever form that may take.

There is one thing to take walk into nature and appreciate it for what it is and another thing to be out there knowing that you must rely totally on what is around you for survival, your whole relationship with 'the wild' must surely change. I have spoken to many bushcraft enthusiasts who say life is never quite the same again once that connection with the 'land as provider' has been made, there is no alternative but to live a simple and wholly respectful life.

I have thought about the 'livestock' route but just cannot ever see we would afford a big enough place with land to be able to even think about chickens or pigs - and the one thing about the Paleo diet is that larger game was undoubtedly eaten - I would feel much better hunting a deer out in the bush, than killing a beloved family pig! My children would never forgive me. I have to learn how to use a bow and arrow though, as I am not into the idea of guns. Perhaps I may end up more of a paleo-vegetarian for my three months out there and I guess for most people that would be the reality of it.

And that is the wonderful thing about Paleo, it attracts people from all walks of life, some who have no desire to live off the land and others who are totally committed to returning to this kind of lifestyle. All is possible.

I wish Lucky all the best, can we follow her on Twitter? (unless she finds need to eat her phone of course ;))

352 · March 10, 2010 at 5:35 AM

I have a well-worn pocket-sized copy of Walden that I read from time to time. It has been a while since I rifled through the pages, but I still sometimes think "Simplify, simplify".

I imagine that many of the people that are interested in Paleo concepts beyond diet, sleep and exercise would find that Thoreau's words from one hundred and fifty-six years ago still resonate with them.

"Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores."

Thoreau is the classic and iconic voice of those who feel that modern, industrialized society has striped us of a connection to the Earth and added unnecessary complexity to our lives.

His words written long ago near Walden pond about simplifying and living closer to the land are inspiring and well worth reading.

The idea of living simply must be near universal. I work in technology and have always been fascinated with science, but I long ago bought the book Back to Basics - and my wife (a trained engineer) was fascinated as a child by My Side of the Mountain.

If Thoreau thought things were too complicated then, one can only imagine his reaction to our always-on, twenty-four-seven, internet-connected, high-speed, bluetooth-GPS-twitter-posting world.

That said, I am personally interested in Paleo from a more scientific perspective and am narrowly focused on health, diet, exercise and sleep.

As romantic and challenging as living off of the land would be; I am more apt to take Thoreau's words and apply them in my daily life by eliminating whichever unnecessary expenses and complications that I can. I see no reason to actively deny myself the benefits that modern life offers up.

Incidentally, as iconic and moving as the words in Walden are, few people know that Thoreau's 'isolated' cabin was a short walk from his parent's home which he visited regularly, eating homemade pies and dropping off dirty laundry. He idolized the American Indians, seeing them as a nomadic people more in touch with the earth, and perhaps they are; but he was never a nomad or survivalist.

Still, there is an undeniable draw to the idea of living simply...

1219 · March 11, 2010 at 6:41 PM

I have thought about the 'livestock' route but just cannot ever see we would afford a big enough place with land to be able to even think about chickens or pigs

This lady did it right within the heart of the inner city: http://bit.ly/cbktfN

470 · March 11, 2010 at 4:57 PM

I have been off-grid for almost 8 years now, and I can say, it is totally possible.

Although we are not strictly Paleo in our diet, I believe a family of four could easily support themselves on less than an acre of land, animals included.

One thing you learn from this sort of lifestyle is efficiency is everything, mostly to reduce cost, but also to reduce workload. I spend about 3 hours a week with the animals, about 3 hours a week in the garden and orchard, and the rest of time doing whatever I want. It definitely suits me much better than the 9-5 lifestyle.

We have a 1000 square foot home we built ourselves, a full solar and wind power system, rainwater catchment, rabbits, chickens, and goats, and about a 1500 square foot garden. We've built this system up slowly over about 3 years, and we are continuously adding things.

I realize this lifestyle is not for everyone, but for us, it makes sense. We work for ourselves, and we enjoy our life in our corner of wilderness.

For a Paleo lifestyle, anyone could greatly reduce their food bill and have grass-fed meat very easily. 3-5 breeding rabbits will keep you in meat all year, and they can be raised in the same space it takes to park a compact car. Fish are also very easy to raise, and combining your aquaculture system with a bio-filter that also serves to grow vegetables can be very efficient for space and time.

In any case, everything about living off the grid has been done before by many, many people. Do your research, and there will be no need to re-develop the wheel. We document our experience on our website: http://www.velacreations.com and there are many other resources that can help.

Best of luck to everyone!

4059 · March 10, 2010 at 1:07 PM

I've been hunting, fishing, experimenting with foraging, and learning various bushcraft skills for several years now. I'd love to give it a try sometime, but I wouldn't want to get fired and divorced.

The thing is is that it's not easy if you haven't been brought up to it, and it is not safe or comfortable. Ever read Into the Wild?

1822 · March 10, 2010 at 3:44 AM

I have no interest in giving up the benefits of civilization. It's only the negative stuff that I'm trying to eliminate: things like grains, sugar, industrial food processing, etc. I enjoy my car, the Internet, fresh water, hot showers, a nice bed, modern music, my clean and warm home and even my gadgets, and don't see any reason to give them up.

Of course, going on a short hunting or camping trip can be fun, but even then I try to bring as much with me as I can. However, 3 months is much more than a vacation!

0 · December 24, 2013 at 2:58 PM

After reading 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' By Barbara Kingsolver I have always wanted to be more self-sufficient. I don't see a problem with raising your own meat to eat, or going to your local farmers market (walk or bike, or ride your horse or donkey cart, don't drive!) to supply your cabinets with food, it's still living off the land in my opinion.

237 · December 24, 2013 at 2:05 PM

There's this little thing that gets in the way....my job. Money doesn't grow out of thin air. But seriously, what kind of job lets someone go on a three month vacation? I need to get one of those...

0 · December 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

"Living off the land" I feel doesn't negate raising a reasonable amount of captured/acquired small animals such as rabbits, birds (lets assume ducks, pidgeons, quail/grouse, maybe game hens if you're lucky), pigs...

When I hear that phrase (Living off the land) I equate it to living self-sufficiently. You raise what you need to survive comfortably without waste. Grow what you need and what is in season. I've been there and done that through most of my very young years. We always had goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens... sometimes ducks. And of course a garden. A lot of it was due to lack of money, not the modern health craze. I was very happy with my childhood in that respect and REALLY look forward to being able to build my rabbitry, eventually get some hens, some ducks, and keep my garden going year-round if I can.

Though if you wanted to define it as strictly only eating what you can catch and forrage on a day to day basis; sure. I'd give that a try so long as I can take my bow and sidearm with me. :) Could I do it feasibly right now? Nope. I do remote IT work, so I gotta be connected most of the time.

993 · December 24, 2013 at 2:08 AM

If i had to, I could

736 · March 14, 2010 at 1:47 AM

I kind of did this a few months back. http://castlegrok.com/shtf-survivalmonths-challenge/

1098 · March 10, 2010 at 12:53 PM

No interest in totally living off the land unless I have no other options. I'd love to live in a place where I can raise all of my own veggies/fruits, have some livestock, and hunt. We currently live in the city, but we hope to change that someday.

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