Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Living off grid, a 24 hour view!

This was our day in our lives over the weekend.  I was going to write it as a blog post, and Alan blooming well beat me too it.  So here you go, I'll share it with you.  Treasure your central heating, carpets and lights that go on and off at the flick of a switch, but we'll think of you in the summer!

Alan Parks and Lorna Penfold live off grid, with only solar panels for electricity, so if the weather is a little cloudy for a few days the electricity is limited.  Here is a rundown of a fairly normal day, off grid for Alan and Lorna.

8.30am Look out of the window to see it starting to get light. Clouds again, and the electricity is off for now, who knows when it will come back on.

8.35am Dogs wake up and start mooching about. Alan gets up to let ‘the boys’ out. Geri is sound asleep. Back to bed for a quick snooze.

8.40am Hear movement. Lorna gets up to find Geri mooching about having pooed on the move all over the floor and weed as well. Geri gets thrown out. Might as well get up.

8.45am Electricity still not on, and the weather is threatening rain, but the dogs are excited as it is walk time. The two big Spanish mastiffs are first up (with five dogs we have to do two shifts). Alan has Blue and Lorna has Arthur. Keep an eye out for stray dogs or fresh horse poo, just in case we are pulled this way and that.

9.15am Return and swap dogs. This time it is Geri (our 14 year old Collie crosss from England), Carlos (a stray who found us) and Miliko (thrown over our fence as a puppy, with a dislocated hip and broken jaw from being hit by a car). Wait for Miliko to calm down, and stop running in circles.

9.45am Return from walk, and have to drag Miliko past the alpacas, who have been here since here arrived, as he will not walk past them. Electricity still not on.  Have some breakfast, porridge to warm up, as there is no central heating and no carpets on the floor. Cold.

10.30am Still cloudy, but electricity comes on for a while. Try to turn on laptop, to make sure all is ok in the world and with the family. Alan goes out to feed alpacas and let the chickens out of their house. Chickens are already out of there house having had the door blown open by the wind. Two are in the hay barn, and two are outside the fence desperately trying to find a gap to scramble back in. Alan goes out to round them up, two cars go past just as chicken makes a mug of Alan and evades capture.

11am Alan returns with clothes covered in mud, but no solar electricity to do any washing and no sun to dry anything so keeps muddy clothes on.

11.30am Electricity goes off again, as sun still has not made an appearance. Spain in the winter can be cold and horrible.

12 midday With no electric we resort to manual tasks, cleaning, digging, gardening, maybe writing using an old fashioned pen and paper.

2pm Dogs barking madly. Chickens are out again. Go out in to the rain to round them up. Two sit down waiting to be mounted by a cockerel (me I guess), but the other two run away. Corner them eventually and grab hold of them, throwing them unceremoniously over the fence. Turn to walk back to the house to find two old Spanish farmers parked in their car laughing at me. Nod acknowledgement and retreat in to the house, post haste.

6pm After an afternoon of intermittent electricity, we decide to use the generator for the evening (costs too much in petrol to run all day), and allow ourselves a bit of television. Watch the news to find the UK has ground to a halt because of a few flurries of snow, and laugh at the irony.

10.30pm Go out into the rain, to turn of generator, and using a torch negotiate way past the evenings dog poos, and turn of generator and go to bed. Dogs are settled.

1.30am Something disturbs Arthur who is on guard at the front of the house. All the other dogs hear Arthur and decide something is up. After five minutes of shouting at the dogs to ‘Shut up’ in all sorts of language, they settle down again.

1.37am Ok there must be something up, Arthur is going mental, so Alan gets up, grabs a torch, puts on three layers of clothes and goes to investigate. After looking thoroughly around the property, Alan decides it must be that the alpacas strayed too close to Arthur’s area and he was telling us. Nothing else untoward going on. Shut Arthur in kitchen which means he is ‘off duty’ and settles down. Wide awake now, Alan lays in the darkness, unable to read or to go to sleep.

3.30am Having drifted off for a while both Lorna and Alan are awoken by the sound of a dog vomiting. Both grab torches and jump out of bed in the vain hope that they might be able to get to it before it happens and throw dog out. Get there to find dog standing staring at vomit on sofa, considering re-eating it. Shout, wave arms about and throw dogs out. Geri is oblivious. Remove cushion and cover, and throw cushion cover out. Wash hands and go back to bed with the smell of dog vomit in the nose. Lay awake for a few more hours.

8.30am Hear Geri jump down from sofa, jump out of bed to find more poos, spread about the room, but manage to throw her out before she wees. Go back to bed.

8.45am Alarm goes off, here we go again. Clouds in the sky, no electric. Bring on the summer and the unbearable heat. Please.

To hear more about Lorna and Alan’s life in Andalucia, check out or download the book, Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? By Alan Parks.

Sad looking Santa, in the rain!

No comments: