COSBY—Amber Bradshaw and her family took a leap of faith when they decided to pack up and move to the mountains of East Tennessee.
That decision led to the once in a lifetime opportunity to be featured on the television show Building Off the Grid.
The Bradshaw’s spent most of their life in South Carolina working as contractors.
They longed for a simpler way of life and a different upbringing for their children.
Timmy Bradshaw approached his wife Amber with the idea of leaving it all behind and heading west towards the mountains. His goal was to build their modern day homestead.
“Timmy came to me one day and said that he had it pressed upon his heart by the Lord to buy some land and build a home in the mountains,” Bradshaw said.
“We had never even been to Tennessee before this all happened. We made the decision and didn’t even know what part of the Tennessee mountains we were going to call home.”
The family placed their home on the market and a cash offer was on the table in 24 hours.
Amber and her family packed up their home of 23 years and headed out on their new adventure.
They spent a week driving around the various mountain communities in East Tennessee before finding the perfect spot in Cosby.
They placed a bid on the 40 plus acres of property and the deal was closed within 14 days.
Little did they know, this was just the beginning of their big adventure.
The Bradshaw’s had dabbled in the ways of off the grid living for years. They cut their cable television over a decade ago, and have gone without simple amenities like a microwave for over eight years. The family even makes their own medicines and lotions.
Amber said that these baby steps have led them to the life they’ve always wanted.
“I’ve had a homestead website for about eight years, and grew up in the country,” Bradshaw said. “My husband grew up in the city, but that wasn’t really the way he was raised.
“Most of our adult life was spent in the city, but about a decade ago we decided to get back to our roots. We started raising our own chickens, goats and bees.”
Amber created an online farmers market in her community where she helped facilitate the sale of farm grown goods. Most of the non-profit sales went to feed the hungry in the area.
Being self-sufficient has always been the family’s goal.
“We realized that we were just working to pay the bills. Coming here and building our mortgage free home has been perfect. That was one of the biggest things for us, was to be more self-sufficient and live without any kind of bill.”
Shortly after they arrived and started to plan their new home Amber received an email from the producers of the show Building Off the Grid.
Amber’s website led them to her looking for leads on individuals who were building a self sustained home off the grid.
“I had just rebranded my website and had taken over another when I was contacted by email,” Bradshaw said.
“It came out of the blue and they were looking for off the grid builders, which is exactly what we were trying to do. This was perfect timing.”
The production company asked the family to be a part of the show that features families from across the country who are building off the grid.
Amber said her family had never seen the show before, but decided to participate after asking God for his guidance.
“We prayed about it and we have always tried to think of everything we do as being a faith based mission. Our money was going quick and we knew that we had to get started. If we didn’t build now we knew our money would run out.”
Among the stipulations to be included in the show was a short build time. A very short build time.
The Bradshaw family had to build their dream home in a matter of 3 months.
The entire build process will be featured in an upcoming episode of the show.
To complete their build the family had to battle mother nature and sickness including the flu.
All the work was done by hand without any outside assistance.
The final day of shooting for the episode took place just after Thanksgiving.
Amber was proud to say that all of the lumber used on their home was milled from the timber on their property. They used other recycled wood and tin for the roof of their home.
“We wanted to be as frugal as possible with our build,” Bradshaw said. “The way everything has worked out has been a true blessing for us. We were able to build a two story, three bedroom house in shortly over three months.”
The home also features a kitchen, dining room and a family room. They also managed to build a smokehouse on the property as well.
With the build process coming to an end, the Bradshaw family is already looking to the future.
They hope to build small cabins on their property that can be used for vacations as well as church and mission group retreats.
Amber wants to help spread her family’s way of life.
“Our intentions are to promote agritourism and our way of life. People could have a nice stay in our cabins as a vacation, or come to learn about foraging, raising livestock and farming.”
Amber hopes that people will come to learn from her family and gain the knowledge that has been lost over the generations.
“There is power in knowledge,” Bradshaw said. “If there is anything we can share to improve someone’s quality of life, then we want to share it.”
The final pieces of the solar power system are currently being installed on the Bradshaw home.
This will help with the every day duties they have to perform like washing their clothes by hand, cooking on a wood stove and filtering water they collect from their creek.
Amber hopes to sale livestock in the future as well as farm fresh eggs. The family wants to play a bigger role in the community. Amber said she wouldn’t change anything about how the past few months have played out for her family.
“This was the first time in my life that I wasn’t planning my future. We have really enjoyed the way things have turned out and I wouldn’t change a thing. None of us want to go back to the lifestyle we had.
“This has been a journey of faith, and we hope we can become a bigger part of the community.”
The Bradshaw’s episode of Off the Grid can be seen on Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. on The Discovery Channel. It can also be seen on Feb. 12 on the DIY Network/HGTV at 9 p.m.
Their family’s journey can be followed on Amber’s websites at www.myhomesteadlife.com. Amber’s other website, www.thefarmerslamp.com, features recipes, tips and encouragement for those seeking a self-sustaining lifestyle.