Off Grid and Free Reviewed By Bani Sodermark of
Bani Sodermark

Reviewer Bani Sodermark. Bani has a Ph.D in mathematical physics and has been a teacher of physics and mathematics at the university level in both India and Sweden. For the last decade, her interests have been spirituality, healthy living and self-development. She has written a number of reviews on Amazon. Bani is a mother to two children.

By Bani Sodermark
Published on March 3, 2017

Author: Ron Melchiore

Publisher: Moon Willow Press

ISBN: 978-1-927685-21-1

Title: Off Grid and Free

Author: Ron Melchiore

Publisher: Moon Willow Press

ISBN: 978-1-927685-21-1

                                            Partnering with Nature

This book tells the story of the author’s love affair with Wild Nature. It is an ongoing love affair that started during the seventies when there was a groundswell of interest in returning to the land.That interest was the trigger that led to the adventures described in this book.

Post school, the author worked several jobs in the electronics industry. The monotony of a fixed daily routine weighed heavily upon him. So when a supervisor mentioned “homesteading”, as an alternative to a daily job, the idea caught the author’s imagination. He began to actively search for a place to call home and found one in a 120 acre woodlot in northern Maine. His parents helped him financially to secure the property in his name and he began working on it.

At the start of his homesteading experiment, Ron Melchiore kept his regular job while camping on the site during weekends and vacations. His family was very supportive and was always there to lend a hand whenever they could.

With a little help from his family and others, Ron Melchiore built the house that he was to live in for twenty years. He learnt basic skills like pouring concrete, carpentry, electrical wiring and plumbing and set up a solar panel with a car battery for his electrical needs. For water, he installed a hand pump using which he could draw water from a pre existing well. He also arranged a sewage system for his personal use.

Post construction of the house, in his quest for self-sufficiency, Ron planted a garden in which he could grow a wide assortment of vegetables, He also planted a number of fruit trees. The fruit that could not be eaten was used to press cider. He also did a stint on animal husbandry with chickens and  a pig and planted some wheat and rye with the desire to grow his own food. Grain production, however, proved to be too onerous for him to continue and he gave up the task.

Some months later, he also took the opportunity to earn some much needed money as a commercial logger, cutting selectively the diseased and blown out trees from the adjoining forest.

During one of his trips to his hometown in Pennsylvania, Ron met  Johanna, his wife-to-be. Both were interested in out-of-the-box living and so when the logging job got too tiring, they decided to walk the Appalachian trail.  This was followed some years later, with Ron bicycling across the United States.

After the bicycle trip across the United States, Ron and Johanna were on a camping trip in the wilderness.They wondered if it was possible to live longer in the wild, near a lake and forest all the year around. These musings led to a search for the ideal place and they found it at a remote site in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. The rest of the book recounts how they found the perfect place to build their house, how they built it and the challenges of living in a place, only accessible by float plane. All this while being as self sufficient as possible.

The challenges of living were many. One of them was dealing with the raging forest fires which devastated large tracts of land. They faced two such fires, one in 2002 and 2010. Luckily,their property was saved. Other challenges involved dealing with the constant presence of wild animals, especially bears foraging for food. Finances were also a problem, and Ron arranged a part time job as the lone caretaker of a campsite.

The later part of this book is exceptionally interesting as it throws light on the human side of Ron and Johanna. As they describe what a typical day looks like for them, one gets the impression of their being very much in tune with the rhythms of nature. That they are living a life in which they are progressively becoming one with Nature, a part of something bigger than themselves. A sense of their being in the right place at the right time, that is reflected in the fact that their worldly needs are few and that they trust in their ability to fullfil those that remain.

This book  makes for an inspirational reading. It is quite anecdotal and easily read,  while being laced with a puckish, tongue in the cheek humour.  There is a lot of practical information in it for those who dream about living in greater harmony with Mother Earth and sense a oneness with her. More and more people are doing so,  in this book they will find answers to many of their questions.

Warmly recommended.