I met Glen Trayer in the fall of 2008. We were engaged in January of 2010 and decided to look for land in the Northwest.
In March we put an offer on a piece of property in northern Idaho. It was tucked back in enough that the realtor expressed concern. He said, “It would take special people to want to live in such a place.” To this day I think it is safe to say he still thinks of us as “special.”
Glen and I learned early in life to take advantage of opportunities and enjoy the good things in life. When something comes to mind we don’t waste any time making those thoughts a reality. We left many people shaking their heads and placing bets in the rural Pennsylvania farming community in which we resided. We were living on a 150-acre farm at the bottom of a 2-mile long lane, surrounded by cornfields with a river running not 200 yards off of our front porch and at the foot of a beautiful mountain.
We had both grown up on farms and this was a beautiful location, but we wanted something more.
Glen had traveled as a professional bull rider for 11 years, worked in Cody, Wyoming, guiding pack trips into the backcountry and guided hunts in Saratoga, Wyoming. He knew his heart’s desire.
My dreams were the same. Having experienced the traditional farming lifestyle, I yearned to share a more remote version with my son, Austin. The wide-open space of the farm had helped his high functioning autism and given him a place he felt comfortable enough to venture out of his autistic shell.
On April 4th we gathered in front of our families on the farm where Glen was raised. We celebrated Easter Sunday, his 30th birthday, and we wed.
On April 12th we closed on our property sight unseen in the northern Idaho wilderness. We may move fast, but we do our research and were relentless in making sure everything was in order.
On May 1st we held a reception to celebrate our wedding and to say farewell to all of our friends and family. On May 16th we pulled out. Glen, his cousin Jonathan, along with the two dogs, were packed tight in the GMC, pulling a heavily loaded down 24-foot gooseneck trailer. Austin and I along with Mr. Bear, his hamster, were nestled in the loaded 26-foot U-Haul. Five days later we arrived.
WAY OFF GRID
We met up with our realtors for the guided tour back to our property for the first time. The disbelief was written on their faces. They just couldn’t believe we intended to stay on our property so primitively while we built our home. Asking us one last time, they said, “Are you sure about this? Remember there are no power, water or phone lines!” To us it was the perfect overgrown wilderness home.
Our land was better than we could have ever expected. Our goal was to live off-grid as traditionally and as self-reliantly as possible with horses, chickens, a greenhouse, an orchard and bees, utilizing the land, plants and resources around us.
We backed the trailer onto our land, detached the truck and had dinner. Our first night we slept in the back of the trailer with temperatures in the chilly 30’s.
Our 8′ x 14′ canvas wall tent was erected and would remain our temporary lodging until our home was built. The woodstove was much appreciated, making our tent cozy and warm. The coyotes were music to our ears and sang us to sleep every night.
On day four we picked up the backhoe to dig our footers, septic holes and hole for our satellite internet. I am a bit of an oxymoron. I am a pioneer, living traditionally off-grid and I own my own web design business. The benefits are that I can work anywhere there is an internet connection. I may not be able to leave my property in every season, but I will be able to provide an income for my family.
Glen is a master craftsman and has a brilliant mechanical mind. He put his traditional furniture and blacksmithing business, Rocking GT Designs, on hold until our building projects were complete. His chainsaw went to work immediately as he cleared our building lot and Austin assisted in the construction of the outhouse.
Although cooking on an open fire would have been nice, there were too many responsibilities so our grill with a side burner worked great for quick, but healthy meals and the necessary coffee. The food was unpacked in the mess tent and a tarp was placed over the cooking area because northern Idaho is known for its rainy spring season. We built the shower house, which has now become the trapping shed.