A family who lives in an impressive off-grid self-built “clay” home have paid no bills for over a decade—saving them about US$55,000 (CA$70,000) a year.
Misty Murph’Arien, 36, and her husband, Bryce, 46, have become homesteaders—self-sufficiency experts—since moving into a remote Canadian forest 15 years ago.
The couple, who have daughters, Sage, 7, and Aurora, 5, are almost entirely self-sufficient, cooking their meals on a wood stove, getting their food from a vegetable farm and a range of animals, their electricity from solar panels, and their water from a well.
The couple met while working as chefs in Hamilton, but quickly realized they weren’t suited to living in the big city.
Misty, from Dundalk, Ontario, said: “From the moment we met, we instantly knew we wanted to live an alternative lifestyle.”
After visiting Bryce’s grandmother’s cob cottage in rural Durham for 54 weekends in a row, they eventually moved there in 2006, falling in love with the rural lifestyle.
“Bryce’s grandmother’s cottage was so peaceful and we were constantly disappointed when we had to leave and go back to the city,” Misty said. “I’ve always suffered with intense migraines but when we moved to the countryside they started to become less and less frequent.
“Six months after moving they’d stopped completely and I’m convinced it was the noise and the city environment which had been the cause of my discomfort.”
For the first three years, they spent time learning how to lead the homestead lifestyle, before going out on their own and buying a piece of farmland in the local area in 2009 for CA$37,500 (approx. US$30,000).
“Rural living immediately made sense to us, and the idea of being completely self-sufficient was really appealing,” Misty recalled.
The couple spent weeks cleaning up the land, which was covered with trash and abandoned materials. They then took four months to build their “cob” home—a natural material made of clay, sand, and straw—for just CA$10,000 (approx. US$8,000).
Every summer since the move, the family has expanded and improved their home. Misty homeschools their daughters and teaches them a traditional syllabus with the addition of key primal skills, animal care, and building techniques.
In order to make their earnings, Misty and Bryce run a small catering business in the local community. They get around by cycling, walking, or traveling on horseback, as they don’t have a car.
Bryce claims the reason their family is financially stable despite their lack of consistent income is their low-cost, self-sufficient lifestyle.
“We’ve worked out over the years that our annual living costs amount to approximately CA$15,000—and that’s with raising two kids,” he said. “We try to be as self-sufficient as possible, farming and harvesting all the food we eat.”
Most of their food comes from their own cows, chickens, and ducks, as well as a vegetable patch. The couple grows all the traditional orchard fruits and produces a variety of nuts and vegetables, which they harvest on a weekly basis.
They do get the occasional shopping delivery to the nearest road but state that it is only for a very select range of essential items.
“I think the difference with our lifestyle is not so much what we do, but why we do it,” Bryce said. “Of course, we do have to acquire money, but the focus of our day is finding the most sustainable and fulfilling way to live.”
According to Bryce, most people spend the majority of their time working to afford the necessities of life. However, he and his family, he says, spend their time working to acquire these necessities directly.
“Granted its not a life for everyone, but it works for us, and, as a family, we’ve never been happier,” Bryce said.
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.