yurt life

Living Off Grid in the summer (in a yurt in New Zealand)

6 April, 2017

I know I write that a lot “living off grid in a yurt in New Zealand” bla bla and I’m so boring about it. But honestly. It cracks me up EVERY TIME. I get a little bubble in my chest. Like, THIS LIFE. This life in a yurt in New Zealand. See, see how I am actually cracking my self up?! Who lives in a yurt?! (Apart from, like, most of the population of Mongolia?)

Imagine saying to my eleven year old self, born and raised in a concrete jungle, the one with a Jamaican Cockney accent because that’s how all kids speak in South London, the one who was getting bullied almost everyday ‘cos the kids on the school bus drove past her when she was fishing a Los Angeles Raiders baseball cap out of the bin outside the fish and chip shop, imagine telling her that when she is thirty four she’ll have two wild kids, a whole herd of highland cows (or horny cows, as Juno calls them), a very handsome partner, who turns out is actually a bit of a cow whisperer, and a yurt to live in?

We’ve had that thing where the clocks change this week, so all of a sudden it is dusk at 5pm. And it’s cold in the morning, and the mist has begun rolling into our fields. This week feels very much like the end of summer. We have still swum in the river but it has been a feat of bravery, rather than the luxurious heat-relief it usually is.

So I thought I’d do a bit of a summery – geddit, ha. You know. Summary. But like, with summer in it?

Aye, aye, aye.

And I am going to be super real. Like SO REAL. Because I really believe that in amongst this show reel of social media, dotted amongst the swimming with dolphins and the children gulping kale smoothies we need people putting their hands up and saying “We’ve had a horrible bout of threadworm.” So here we go. Fifteen things about our off grid summer fendango. Off grid living in the summer in new zealand in a yurt

1- Threadworm is no joke. Turns out though, that if you live on a farm they DO actually give you a bulk batch of worming pills as per my Christmas wish YAY.

2- Baby cows! We have had two baby cows born this last fortnight, and my days, you have never seen a cuter thing. You can spy the one week old cow in the first couple of seconds of my latest youtube. (Also involves our honey harvest, that time we were evacuated at midnight, cyclones and a squillion cute things.)

3- I thought I would do a “one good thing, one real thing” thing – so now it is the real thing; DEATH. So much death on a farm. I was vegetarian for 22 years. And then when we began living this way I realised that the problem with an unsustainable meat industry isn’t the eating of the meat, but the way the animals are treated for their whole life, and the way they are killed, and the amount that is eaten. So in an attempt to eat even MORE ethically and locally, I began eating the very very happy organic meat we grow on our farm. Beef and Ducks. They are delicious and I am so thankful for them. But in an emotional way I still haven’t really come to terms with it. It’s been two years and when we butcher the animals I feel a bit overwrought.  The other day I accidentally looked inside a bucket and there were all the duck heads that we were due to bury and it haunted me in my sleep. There’s also alot of other death around too. The other day our dog caught a rabbit. She usually just eats them but she began playing with this one and it was absolutely terrified and bleeding so I had to get a spade and, and, I, I had to to kill it.

Ohhhh.

JEEPERS WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS. It is the most horrifying part of our life!!!!!!! I know I’m trying to be real but seriously, Lucy, we are only on number THREEEEEE.

Rein it in, geeez.

4- Sorry, okay, so there is death, but there is also LIFE! Our fruit trees are growing and we get the feeling they will be yielding fruit next year. HURRAY! We also got quite a lot of veggies and that meant for a good few meals we were able to eat solely from our farm which was incredible. I found a whole tiny forest of celery the other day which I didn’t think had taken, and a pumpkin growing in a tree in the forest!

5- But the truth is… I’m actually a pretty poor gardener. I really need to grow in diligence to be a better gardener. We put in a huge effort raising beds and mulching and got in hundreds of seedlings at the very start of summer. And then as summer grew hotter and drier and our hose stopped doing the spinning thing they usually do, the veggies began freaking out and got inundated with moth and stink beetles and I began feeling like such a failure that I couldn’t even look at it anymore which is NO WAY TO RESCUE A DYING GARDEN. It is by grace and grace alone (and a bit of rain) that the kale and pumpkins have begun growing again with the change in seasons.

6- MICE. Oh, they like it inside once the weather turns don’t they! They have wisened to our traps so they chew all night in great bonhomie. Rodents are just part of the picture when you live rurally I think. But they get in my head a bit.

7- It’s felt like some of the community visions we’ve had have begun to really solidify this summer. We’ve had some incredibly beautiful Kindling days (these are days when unschooling families come over to play in the forest – I’ve written about these in the past How To Start an Outdoor Playgroup) and some really potent moon circles. It has been so so nice to grow in community with those around us, and feel as though we are creating a farm where people feel welcome.

8- The yurt has been hot. It was our first full summer in the yurt, last year we moved in to it in mid-Jan and don’t recall any days that were too hot. But this year there have been about ten days where it has been absolutely sweltering. If we remember to hang sheets in the windows (ordinary folk use curtains haha) then it does help, but is then quite dark inside.

9- The solar cranks all summer. It is so nice living on energy produced by the sun. I mean, seriously, get your head around that! The sun hits our panels which then shoots electricity into the computer that I am typing on right now. We can run a washing machine, fridge, computers, wifi, sound system, charge our robot vacuum, kitchen gadgets. All BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL! The sun, I mean, sorry; BY THE POWER OF THE SUN.

10- Within a week, this week of changing seasons, we have begun having electricity woes. We just loooooove technology. We love playing music and using our computers. It’s possibly the least off-grid part of our life but it can be so rough (and gross – DUCK HEADS) that having music play is such a balm. But this week we have gone back to having to be really quite careful about our electricity use. Meanwhile, we are working on a hydro-electricity project which could be incredible.

11- Our Airbnb yurt has been booked out solidly all summer. We have had SO much fun seeing families stay and enjoy the farm and the river and the fairy kingdom. It’s been a proper lovely thing. We would definitely suggest to people who are homesteading or living on a farm that they consider putting something on Airbnb, it’s a way of both sharing your beautiful land with others and helping make memories whilst being an extra income stream.

12- We are selling our bus, Berty Boo Bum. Now that we live in such a beautiful place we just don’t need to take our bus on missions as much! Which means we need to let it go to people who will really get the most out of it. Lemme know if you want a bus, right? We have bought a caravan to do up as a replacement, which also kind of belongs in the bad category cos we REALLY don’t need another project. EEEEEEEP! The things we do. Living life on a whim. Out on a limb. And a wing. And a bit of a prayer.

13- We found a new sieve (you know, you drain your peas with them) at a secondhand shop and it doesn’t have flakey paint or rust in it and it is such a delight to use! Same with our new tin opener. How good are tin openers that WORK?! It’s the little things, hey peeps.

14- We had this strange experience at a beautiful little festival, there was a flash flood and we were all evacuated in the middle of the night. But the really strange thing about it is how it kind of effected us all afterwards. We were thrust into this really intense, volatile emotional state. I can’t exactly pin it on the evacuation, but we have had all of these meltdowns out of the blue and I wonder if it comes down to some deep relationship with a sense of safety. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that, yep, we live this almost bucolic life in some regards but we still have these exhaustingly emotional days.

15-  We have had quite a few days this summer where we have been swimming in our river or on some sort of adventure on our doorstep and gone “We are so fortunate to live here, to live this life.” It can be hardwork, relentless (although certainly living with another family helps that sense of relentlessness) but the flip side is waking up to the sun soaking the mountain, spending heaps of time together as a family and feeling a solid connection with nature.

So there you go. 15 things about our off grid summer. Clearly not designed to make anyone want to do it! But hopefully giving you a true picture of all the good things and all the bad things.

PS Want more nature loving stuff? My latest book is designed as 30 short readings you can do each day over your morning cup of tea to help you fall in love with nature. See more here!

PPS See Living In a Yurt In the Winter and Inside Our Yurt House and Living Off Grid for One Year for more writing and things.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Lala 6 April, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I love the reality Lucy, and no, dead ducks etc is not too much to share 🙂

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 7 April, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Thanks Lala, good to know sometimes I can keep it really really real and not scare too many people away! hehe xx

  • Reply Jenna 6 April, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I love your honesty Lucy. So many times I wait for your YouTube vids as a little escape from my life. Or a little inspiration to do things differently. It’s so good to be reminded that no ones life is perfect (except for all those people on Instagram…theirs is) and living off grid is by no means easy. I still long for it though…..

    I found your take on meat eating really interesting. I turned vegetarian just after Christmas. I find it quite difficult. I have eaten meat all my life and I am the only family member who doesn’t now. My main reasons are the damage it is doing to our planet in sustaining this level of meat production, the affects on our health with the chemicals that are used (both on the food that the animals eat and directly to the animals to make them grow bigger quicker) and the poor animals. I am trying to avoid supermarket meat when buying for the family and buy local organic, free range but I still can’t get my head around the fact that even though they may have been loved and cared for during their lives…..we ultimately then send these happy animals off to be killed ☹️. I think of the clip in Captain Fantastic when they are on a road trip and the daughter is going to kill a sheep with her bow and arrow but she can’t do it because the sheep is just standing there in a field. Maybe if we had to hunt our food I would be able to eat meat again but for now I will stick to vegetarianism.

    Thank you for another little insight into your world xxxxxxxx

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 7 April, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Yes, I don’t think there is a very clear way, it is all pretty muddy :'(
      I havent seen Captain Fantastic but can’t wait too! x

  • Reply Laurenne Hopkins 8 April, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Ahhh yay I’ve been dying for a farm update! It also so makes me feel better that you have lots of the same ups and downs and struggles as we do, total rollercoaster of massive highs peppered with ‘what the hell are we doing’ moments, right? We are just adapting to all the insects here, we all have a few, but Caitlyn is absolutely bitten to death, bless her! And yes the mice, they ate lots of and hugely crapped all over literally everything we owned while we were living in the caravan and storing it in our outbuildings – been such a slog to sort through stuff and clean eveeeeerthing. It’s a good excuse not to hold onto crap though, looking at the positives.

    I’m with you on the death too – we’ve had a respiratory illness sweep through our chicken flock and lost a few to it and many were ill and needing care, then this massive freak out when the vet thought it could be bird flu, it’s been really stressful. The animals and the sense of responsibility for them is bigger than I thought!

    Totally inspired us with the Air BnB stuff though – we are selling the caravan we lived in while we did the house and going to try and get a wooden chalet, or a yurt. Have you guys thought of having wwoofers stay and help out next summer? We have had a few now for a couple of weeks at a time and its been a wonderful experience. Might be a good help with some garden stuff? Having some extra hands to get stuff done has been amaaazing.

    L x

  • Reply Becky 12 April, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    great stuff Lucy and so interesting but oh the duck heads!!!
    Becky recently posted…A simple leaf craftMy Profile

  • Reply Abena 8 November, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    How’s the hydro power plan going? We are in the stages of planning a move into a 5-6m yurt, so your blog has been a very interesting read!

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