Abbie Schramm is an animal lover, so a couple years back she and her husband Luke searched for a bigger place to build a farm and raise the animals she loved. They found 80 acres of good property located between Pequot Lakes and Leader in northern Minnesota and named their farm B&B Farmco. B&B Farmco is located off the beaten path, so far into the woods that it would have cost Luke and Abbie Schramm a lot of money to bring in power. So Luke did some research, ordered some components online, rolled up his sleeves, and--while they were building their house--built their own little power system next to it with solar panels, a generator, and a battery bank.
The Schramm house looks pretty much like a typical modern home with a refrigerator, stove, washer/dryer and microwave, but they pay close attention to their energy consumption. They make sure to shut off the things that aren't being used and only draw major energy loads when it's sunny. Abbie says, "Our system can't handle a whole lot on days that are cloudy. I don't wash laundry at the same time that I'm vacuuming the house."
Besides Luke and Abbie, B&B Farmco is home to their two sons (ages 6 and 8), some Nubian goats, a variety of chickens, Jersey cows, horses, and (every summer) Red Wattle pigs. They use propane to power their water heater, stove and dryer.
Abbie has a business making soap, lotions, body butter, lip balm, and herbal salves. She uses their abundance of farm-fresh milk to feed the family, make soaps, help grow the pigs, and make cheese. This spring the couple is tapping maple trees with the hope of adding maple syrup to the line of products they sell.
Luke and Abbie have ambitious plans for the spring and summer: Turn the solar shed into an enclosed and heated shop to keep the storage batteries warmer, install a couple residential wind turbines to provide more power on cloudy days, put in some fruit trees, disc a 20-acre field for hay, and do some gardening.
You can hear our interview with Luke and Abbie Schramm below: