Thursday, February 5, 2009

“Off-the-gridder” finds a job

I’d like to clarify the concept of “off-the-grid” in order to give a clearer picture of our experience. There’s the off-the-grid reality of our esteemed neighbour Mr R (who is fast becoming our guru of self-sufficiency). His setup includes 40 water tanks with a storage capacity of 230,000 litres, 62 solar panels capable of operating a small factory, 4 wind turbines, large dams containing thousands of tilapia fish, fruit and nut orchards, worm farms producing litres of liquid fertilizer per day and more vegetables than his household (of 2) can consume. Not to mention the hundreds of quails, ducks and fowl which produce protein rich eggs and “waste” which in turn feed the fish. (Needless to say, his property is surrounded by a serious electric fence).

Our current living situation on the other hand:

12,500 litres of water storage for a household of 5 (the current level which is about 2%, equating to enough water for 3 days), 5 solar panels, one tomato plant (which got raided by baboons last week), 3 very small moringa trees and 2 avocado tree shoots (grown from pips). Although our sprout yield is almost enough to survive on and I harvested a handful of green beans yesterday, we clearly have a long way to go!

And don’t think we are immune from any of the economic fall out affecting the rest of the world’s population. The fine art photography market (which constituted at least half of our income) has taking a knock and our commercial clients are applying the expenditure brakes. In an effort to get onto the land, we are building (tiny and modest) and excavating a dam which in turn leads to an ever-increasing bond. But there is light at the end of the tunnel: I’ve finally found a full-time accounting job in town!

The thought of having a boss after 8 years of being self-employed is quite bizarre, but strangely comforting. I’ll have to ditch the hippie wardrobe, get up early and adopt the lifestyle of “fine upstanding citizen” (whatever that means!). My intention is to bend like a willow tree and embrace the change with gratitude and joy.

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