Off Grid Living.

In Gardening, Off the beaten track., permaculture, sustainable living on September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Our friends Elaine and LJ live on a 7 acre smallholding about 10 miles away from us. Living the good life for about 7 years now their wooden clad house is warm, cosy and welcoming despite having no mains electricity or water, things most people can’t imagine living without.

Electricity for the house comes from solar panels and a wind turbine atop this pole. Sorry, I cut off the wind turbine, crap pic, anyway you get the idea! Water is gravity fed from a well on their own land, some rainwater is also collected.

There are 2 polytunnels for vegetables and also an orchard. Slowly this land which was only ever used as grazing for cows is being converted to a haven for wildlife. No chemicals are used here, nature rules. Elaine and LJ call their philosophy “Permaganics, a combination of organic and permaculture techniques.”

Their 2 donkeys Floyd and Bowie have the run of the land that isn’t being cultivated, about 4 acres. I think the names reveal a little about their owners musical tastes too!

 Willow cuttings planted last year have taken well, they help to divide the land into separate spaces and take up excess moisture from the ground. More will be planted over the coming Winter. Willow grows easily from cuttings planted in frost-free weather in Autumn or Winter. Here they have been formed into overlapping semi-circles to form a “fedge”.

This willow lined pathway leads to a magical woodland area. One can imagine Nymphs, Fairies and maybe even Leprachauns having their abode here. They will not be disturbed.

This pic was taken walking back to the house from the woodland.

In the orchard the Apples are ready for picking.

  1. Well done son and elaine together you can achieve anything. I always look forward to staying with them in their lovely home. love to whiskey and jingy. mum xxx

  2. sounds wonderful when you are younger, I looked at a house on the Scottish mainland that had water from a spring and the burn ran a generater I loved it but as I was already over fifty I was worried how I would cope if things went wrong as I got older,
    I love how they have planted the willow I have heard of a fedge but never seen one before I hope they won’t mind if I copy cat, just today I was looking at the long straight stems that have grown on the coppiced willows (the ones the winds didn’t get),
    as others have said solar panels cost,

    re you and Janet and windturbines, we had a big and long battle here when they wanted to build nearly 200 across Barvas moor they were at the time the largest to be built, I made a quilt about them as they would have been approximately 27 times the height of my house, it was said every house along the moor would see at least 50,the RSBP were against them, there was a European directive against them and finally the Scottish goverment said no, our local council approved it! none of those councillers were re-elected, Frances

  3. A labour of love from 2 of the world’s most wonderful people. I have never seen or experienced anything so tranquil anywhere else in the world. A place such as this is a rarity sadly in this modern world but if even just a few people can acknowledge it’s beauty and grace then there is hope the world truly could be a better place

    Tiggz xxx

  4. Ooh I love a good willow fedge – gorgeous. I’m very jealous, and the donkeys are very comical.

  5. I applaud your friends for the way they live their lives. Here we can’t put solar panels on our roof because it’s a listed building. I doubt people would really see them! My total support for wind turbines has been tested somewhat in Montrose where Glaxo Smith Kline (mega rich pharmaceutical company and big employer in the town) want to put up enormous wind turbines on their site. It’s in town and they would be 100 ft higher than the church steeple and they get government help to do it. We’re near the Montrose Basin nature reserve famous for it’s migratory bird life. Something wrong somewhere….
    Keep wind turbines small and/or Site carefully.
    Are all the apple trees in the orchard as good as that? Ideal if you have the space.

    • Thanks for your comments Janet. It is one of my ambitions to visit Dungeness one day. Crazy that you can’t put solar panels on your roof. The government should be encouraging that sort of stuff instead of letting big corporations like Glaxo Smith Kline ruin the landscape. The same rules seem to apply here, big companies get away with huge crimes against the environment while the ordinary Joe-soap is pushed to the brink with regulation and taxes. On the mountain opposite our place there are now 60 wind turbines, that is just overdoing it, but again big bucks rule. At the moment here we are also fighting the threat of hydraulic fracturing, see 2 posts back, this abomination will ruin this whole area if it goes ahead. Several areas in UK have also been licensed for this.
      The apple trees are not all laden with fruit in LJ and Elaine’s orchard but several have very good crops indeed.

  6. That willow is so cooperative– its willow soul is supportive of off the grid living, clearly.

    I would enjoy the details on the wind turbine– we would love to build one.

  7. Hi Bridget,
    What a fantastic place and a fantastic way of life.

  8. I’d like to eventually get into more off-the-grid living. I think what your friends Elaine and LJ have done is brilliant. Fair play to them. I have also checked out the pricing for solar panels, and have asked around, but sadly, the price is usually around two thousand euros and upwards. I love Floyd and Bowie, too. Donkeys are so lovely – if we had more space and more land (we only have a little less than one acre) and if we lived a lot further back from a main road, we’d not only have more cats, but more dogs, goats, chickens, sheep, cows and most definitely donkeys. Thanks for sharing this little peace of paradise in the northwest with us, Bridget, Elaine, LJ, Floyd and Bowie.

  9. Those apples look good! And the ‘fedge’ is very cleaver and unique. I think more people would love to live ‘off the grid’ but those solar panels are very expensive. Unless I’m not looking in the right place! Thanks for this glimpse. It shows what’s possible!

  10. It looks a like a perfect getaway lifestyle Bridget, a way of living that most people would give their eye teeth for.

  11. Are you sure it’s not heaven, because it looks like it to me!
    Jane x

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