Living off-grid – the dark times

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Today, we’re returning to blog posts from the community. We want to show you how it is to live off-grid – the highs and lows and the unexpected joys and frustrations. Today’s post is from Mel, who featured as the main voice in the Save Steward Wood film.


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This winter -as with all winters in the woods – there is a cross-over period from solar power, which powers our homes and community during the summer months, and water power, provided by our faithful micro hydro and the blessed stream which flows down through our land in the winter and spring months.

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We tend to call these periods ‘The Dark Times’ as we run out of power altogether. These dark times can seem romantic at first, gathered around candle light, talking and playing games – and it is – for about a week or so! The reality is a little frustrating. I often find it a challenge to coordinate our lives in the woods with society and culture around us. If I lived solely in a little bubble where I went to bed when it got dark and rose when it got light maybe the dark times would go unnoticed but my reality is that I have one foot in both worlds. I also spend a lot of time in our society and culture centred around the electric light. I naturally stay up late and rise late (I also haven’t tried telling my children they have to go to bed at 5pm, but I’m not confident it would work too well…) I can’t easily read by candlelight, jigsaws are surprisingly tricky (and often result in burned hair) and reading instructions on games can be a pain.

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There is also the issue of candles. Delicious beeswax candles are expensive, paraffin candles smell and soy based ones probably come from GMO soy, not to mention they all give off harmful hydrocarbons as they burn.

But would I change it? No I wouldn’t. Whilst I am glad to have the luxury of electricity derived from the elements, I am acutely aware that it is a luxury – an indulgence we have come to expect in our 21st century lives. But it is not permanent. That is what I love to be reminded, the message I want to pass on to my children. Don’t take it for granted. It can so easily be lost, so lets talk, sing, play games and not forget how to wash our clothes and fell trees by hand- these are disappearing arts and we loose them at our peril.

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That’s what I tell myself during these Dark Times…


Remember, you can watch our film and read all about our project and the current situation over here at the crowdfunder page. For more about this part of the campaign to save our community and homes, read this blog post.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support – together, we can make an amazing breakthrough for low-impact living in the UK!

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