Living here, deep in the fynbos, I realize people don’t know what it means to live off the grid.
I was one who dreamed of helping the planet by living off the land! Such were my romantic notions that my brothers and father expressed concern, thinking me to be quite lunatic fringe. A lot of that concern probably stemmed from the fact that I was then working and living at a Buddhist retreat. Eating vegetarian food and meditating and generally engaging in, to them, rather suspect behaviour.
I am super aware of what chemicals we expose ourselves to, both in the food we eat and the products we use on our biggest living organ – our skin. Well, when I put it that way – maybe I am a wee bit extreme..
I did have visions of being self-sufficient. In my mind’s eye, I saw light shining on the dew covered veggies. Myself picking perfect wholesome food from the garden. Gathering eggs in a dainty basket.
Little did I realize what pitfalls lie in producing organic food..
Like rather cute (but very destructive) striped field mice with tiny cheeks bulging with my tomatoes, scurrying out of sight. Or the devastation I return to when we have been away, even for an hour or so, and the local baboon troupe has decided to harvest. The blights and pests that ravage the garden despite the lavender dutifully planted amongst the herbs and veggies. Diseases immune to wild garlic and calendula that should deter them.
As far as those eggs go ..Who knew there are wild cats, whose main joy in life is to wait until the chickens are locked up – easy prey? That one can wake up to limp bodies sucked dry. Only one sole survivor who is alive, because she refused to be come in and preferred to sleep up the trees?
Now let’s talk power. When Jan and I arrived here at Fynbos Retreat, the only electricity was generated by ..well a generator. A ruddy, great stinky very noisy diesel generator. With a reputation for being able to cause physical harm. Or no, that was the previous one –the vicious Lister which spewed out parts during the starting process leaving at least two people with scars.
We had to start the generator when there were guests. Then occupy ourselves meaningfully until we could decently switch it off again. It meant traipsing out in fair weather and foul with torches, coats and sticks to protect us from what might lie in the dark.
Try doing admin when your beloved has to run the generator just so you can pick up your e-mails! Especially when you not the fastest computer fundi on earth and like to take your time to get things right!
Now we are grand… We have solar power and our nocturnal trips to the shed and the small stand-by petrol generator are few and far between. We live an easier life. It is only when visitors ask for hairdryers or heaters that we remember that we are living off the grid. Living the dream.