NewsWest 9 Special Report: Living Off the Grid In West Texas

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

BREWSTER CO. - Just off of Highway 118 in Brewster County, you'll find a modest 8 by 16 foot building, along with a few accommodations, like a shower, a fireplace, and a cooler.

"I decided I would take it one step further and move about as far away as I could get and that's where I am I think," John Wells, the owner and director of the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory (or The Field Lab), said.

Wells' Field Lab, as the name implies, is part of a plan to live in a self-sustainable home, using alernative energy to power he's everyday needs.

"It's all solar powered," Wells explained. "There are some solar panels that charge some batteries for the house that run my lights."

That's not all. The former New Yorker is also using wind energy, he also has a drainage system for water, storage tanks, and is now building a greenhouse to grow his own food.

When asked how he uses the restroom, Wells told NewsWest 9, a flush toilet is impractical in the area. Instead his toilet seat is connected to a bucket, which is emptied out in a nearby field, and collected for compost. Wells said the compost is perfect for his current greenhouse project.

"I'm storing that up and I'm also collecting Longhorn dung which is all over the place," Wells added.

It's definitely nothing like his home or life in upstate New York, but he said a more simple, out of the ordinary lifestyle so far has fit him well.

In addition to his work outside his house, he also built a swamp cooler inside his home to help beat the heat. His phone and computer are the few items on the grid, and he only uses that to check his email and blog.

"It's a change of lifestyle that just seemed to make sense to me," Wells explained.

It's not a lifestyle everyone may go for, but if you are interested in going off the grid, Wells advises to smart small.

"Just take one little room off [the grid]," Wells said. "Like I have with my computer and some lighting running. I have plenty of power to run a desktop computer."

In the end, Wells told NewsWest 9 for him living off the grid is his own paradise.

"I'm pretty happy out here," Wells said.