Stargazing

Because the Perseids meteor shower was on, we decided to move our “headquarters” outside, right on the top of the watertank, that has a nice and smooth surface. We made an improvised “bed” from a blanket and prepared to watch some nice “falling stars”. Not soon after this, we rushed back to the house, and came back with a new set of things: mainly something to cover ourself from head to toe and to get a solid coat of anti mosquito to our skin because we were devoured by the them.

When we were heading to the water tank, there was a funny moment with the dog. It was already dark outside, and he heard us being outside, but he was not expecting us to be there. So he came up to the back door of the house, was looking for us there and quickly run down the stairs to the front door, searching for us again. Had to call him a few times so he realized that we are “displaced” somewhere we never go after dark.

In the dark, with a small lantern I could clearly see the worry on his face, I think he was considering us clearly deranged doing something so out of the norm. He decided that it’s important to guard us, so he lay down right next to me, and was all ears for all the duration of our stay outside.

But… things doesn’t end here. About 10-15 minutes after watching the sky and not really seeing anything, because the Perseids decided not to show up… Blondy appeared and was also looking at us with a very worried cat face, he probably was wondering what we are doing there. Another 10 minutes later Tibby also joined with desperate look on her face.

We seen about 4 bigger meteors, and a few very small and barely visible ones.

What was amazing to see is the light pollution present on the night sky, coming from the area where the city is.ย  Half of the sky was lit by this, and the stars were barely visible there.

Maybe tonight we will repeat the experience, who knows we might be luckier this time. We actually wanted to go a night before, but it was cloudy that time.

Espalier Apple Trees

A while ago I saw different trees used as a fence and I was just puzzled how they are made. Was happy to see this article about “How to Grow Espalier Apple Trees” because it answered to a lot of questions.ย  I will probably never be able to grow anything like this, because most likely I will forget trimming them in time, but that doesn’t make them lessย  fascinating ๐Ÿ™‚

espaliertreePhoto: Roger Foley

What was actually funny to discover while reading the “how to guide” is that every time I decided to prune a tree, I actually cut every fruit bud! That’s why the trees didn’t produced anything even if they were pruned nicely. Oh well…. next time I will carefully look for the “ringed buds” and not to remove those.

Also there was the very annoying feature we saw many times: somewhere in the middle of the summer, the tree just dropped a lot of fruits andย  I was always upset about it. It turns out to be a totally normal behaviour, this is how trees make sure to have plenty of food for the remaining fruits.

fruitbuds

The plump, furry, ringed buds are fruit buds; leave them alone if you want apples. The smoother bud at the tip can be pruned. (borrowed image from here)

So if you are interested to read more about how to grow espalier trees, I wish you a lot of patience and good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

What an amazing invention! Led bulb with sensor

7W Led Bulb With Sensor

 

We already bought 3 led bulbs. I was not sure how good they are, so we bought 2 very small ones, about 4w each and one with 9 w consumption. I really wanted to see the difference. And it is AMAZING. The 9W bulb replaced a 14W bulb but the light is so much brighter and better than it is no comparison really. Absolutely amazing, I am never going to buy any other bulb than this. Even the small ones give much brighter lights than what I was expecting from them.

But there is MORE!!! Now we have 2 led bulbs that have a built in movement sensor and we switched the bulbs on the corridor and one in the living room. Every time we go up and down the kitchen we have to cross these places and usually have to search for the switch in some corner and of course never find it properly. Okay… I am exaggerating it’s not that difficult to turn on a light ๐Ÿ˜€ but it is much easier if the light turns on by itself right? The replacement went again as follows: 14w bulb was replaced with a 7 W bulb. And what is a good thing… it turns itself on anytime we are there and after 1 minute it turns off. So there is no more “oh I forgot the light up” happening!ย  Of course the sensor turns it off if there is enough daylight and you can also turn it off just as you would do with any normal bulb.

What I really really like is that is absolutely easy to get it on, there is nothing required extra, just screw in the bulb and you are good to go. That’s it. Perfect. Really.

This is what I am talking about: 7W E27 Sound Light Sensor Automatic Warm White LED Lamp Bulb 85-265VAC

Tefal Fresh Express – 150 Watt

Tefal Fresh Express - 150 Watt

 

We lately eat quite a lot of vegetables and I make various salads. Tefal Fresh Express – 150 Watt is on the wishlist ๐Ÿ˜€ because I really want a similar gadget! I was also looking at ebay, maybe I find a good offer there, but so far was not really available. What is interesting that I found this exact same looking machine made by Tefal and made by Moulinex. I have no idea about the two companies history or why the two gadgets are exactly the same but it was just strange. I was pretty sure those are 2 different rival companies ๐Ÿ˜€ There are also a few cheap makes and models, some look good some look bad, and some have quite a lot of good ratings and half the price… Unfortunately none of them ships to Spain and the ones I found here was not shipping to PO box. Which is absolutely annoying. Because we don’t have a normal address here, only PO box. So it is such a disappointment to want to buy something and than there is no way to get it here. Anyway I will get one sooner or later, they are low on power consumption so this little gadget can be safely used with solar energy only when there is sun. 150w is totally safe to be handled by the batteries and anyway I will use it for only short periods of time. It is rather boring to cut and slice all the vegetables we eat ๐Ÿ˜€ย  andย  I really hope this would help me make food much faster.

Bad weather

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For nearly two weeks (as far as I remember… it might have been more or less) we had such a bad weather here! Many days were as foggy as in the picture, the rest of it was raining and after a while everything was wet. It was way to cold for what I expected to be.

This whole 2 week period of time was just bad from every direction. Or just the weather was so ugly that everything turned to be depressive and annoying. Or it was just a really bad period… Every day something really annoying happened, and than by the time we thought it’s over, something else hit us on the head. And of course if there would have been sunny outside.. you go out, have a coffee on the terrace, play with the dog and half an hour later you feel much better. But going out was not an option, it was pouring and everything was wet.

The car was also suffering because of it. Imagine that the inside of the car got wet and the radio started up by itself a few times one day when we went shopping. Brrr… glad it’s over, however it had one good side too: the water tank is now almost full (the big one) so there won’t be to much worry about the water for quite some time.


A few days ago, the bad things just continued… this time it was the dog’s leg. He managed to injure it, don’t ask me how or what he did because I don’t know. He was just limping and was swollen, and had an open wound too… We were planning to go to the doctor but luckily by the next day he was shown signs of improvements and today he was already naughty and because he was already showing signs of selective hearing we knew that he is on the way to recovery (he is partially deaf when healthy, you have to yell at him no matter what to take you in consideration ๐Ÿ˜€ if not he will pretend not to hear what you just told him… )

I had to put a Scalibur collar on him… unfortunately there are ticks around and I already took out 2 big swollen ones! Today I also found a nasty tick on him but this was notย  swollen any more. He will surely get a few, and probably the cats will get a few and everybody gets a few… I am pretty sure that this collar does some good, at least the nasty bugs are not feeding on him as obviously as without it. And than there is the sandfly’s issue and as far as I know this is the only collar that offers some protection against those nasty bugs. It was quite a shock to me to find out about them when we arrived here and was and continue to be worried ๐Ÿ™ Nasty nasty creatures.

Cold!

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A few days ago was very nice and warm outside ๐Ÿ˜€ I was pretty sure the spring is here. But apparently the spring decided otherwise. There is cold outside, and now we have fire in the wood burner again.ย  Who would have thought ๐Ÿ˜€ I want summer, I want sun and wand hot days one after the other. ๐Ÿ˜€ But the spring is just around the corner. My plants started to recover from the winter, the banana slowly has a new leaf, the ficus also shows signs of awakening and more importantly the coffee plant that almost died looks like it will going to make it.

 

Off-grid tips and tricks

Not sure how long this list is going to be. I would like to share a few off-grid tips and tricks that we learned since we are here.

Take short and effective showers

-this might be obvious, but many times people forget that the water is not “unlimited” and while the water is running the pump is also running using electricity.

Shower during the day

-living totally off-grid means that you have limited electricity. To avoid using the precious power stored in the batteries after the sun is not providing anything, your best bet is to shower while the sun is still up. This way you will use the sun power for the water pump

Use LED lighting

-it’s not the cheapest yet, but there are all sorts of NEW led bulbs and lamps available on the market for a while ago. While a new “eco bulb” will use about 10watts of electricity, the even newer LED bulbs can get away with 2-3 giving you extra light with less consumption. There are normal shape led bulbs available, so you don’t need to change anything else.

Don’t let the fridge open to long

-it’s another obvious advice… but it’s very important. The fridge is the biggest power hungry home machine you will ever have, so it’s important to keep it close. Always check if you closed the fridge, check the back of the fridge to be clean, and to have enough room for the air. If you can, invest in the most power effective fridge out there. The new A+++ models can save about 60% of electricity mainly because they keep the cold in much better than previous A+ models. However… these are more expensive

Don’t let the water flow when not using it

-another very obvious advice, but sometimes people just don’t realize how much a leaking tap consumes. Another way to save a bit of water is to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.ย  Before living off-grid it just didn’t occurred to me how much water is wasted while washing our teeth. It’s not a terrible amount for a person, and a day, but if you take in consideration that every person does this once or twice a day you can get to a serious amount.

Toilet

Use grey water to flush the toilet. This is not easy to achieve, but if you do, you will truly be able to use the water “more than once”.ย  There are plenty of videos on the net showing how to get the water you use in the kitchen and for shower, filter it with some natural filters (dirt, sand) and collect the grey water for toilet usage. This makes it possible to have clean water in the toilet, so it won’t stink and won’t be greasy either.ย  In this video you can see some “earthship” housesย  and everything will make sense. However it’s not always possible to do it, but if you consider building a new off-grid house, it’s a good idea to apply it.

Learn to plan the groceries

-living off-grid usually means to live “far away”. This also means that if you don’t have a “normal” day to day job, most likely you won’t have reasons to go to a city or a shop every day. In order to save yourself the trouble, make sure to plan ahead, have some ideas of basic food requirements and buy in bulk whatever you can. Keep a basic food storage, so you are not required to go to the store every day.

Learn to cook

Living off-grid sometimes requires you to be creative. Learn to cook and to be able to make “something” from “nothing” that will keep your belly full. Living off-grid sometimes means to have a broken car or no other means for transportation, so you have to invent some recipes that will be good for the family members. If you forgot an ingredient, have an idea what to use instead or how to replace it with what you have and still make a delicious food.

Satellite internet

If you constantly need internet, there is a fairly good solution… Satellite internet became FAIRLY cheap lately, however still be prepared to dig deep in your pocket for quality that was good 5 years ago. However if you don’t have any other choice, satellite internet is most likely available, at least in many European locations. It’s really a compromise… but for the time being it’s the best solution you can most likely get. If you have 3g-4g signal or long range wifi available go for it instead of satellite. They will be faster than satellite internet in most of the cases.

Always watch for electricity usage

– while living off-grid these days can be so normal than any other modern city house, it’s still very important to be constantly aware of the electricity. How much you have available, depends on how many solar panels you have and how many batteries, how strong the generator is. But you have to remind yourself day after day that you have limited resources from this. So every time when you power up anything, be sure that the system can handle the load. Try to forget the iron, waffle maker, and hair dryer… and many many heavy power hungry tools. When you fire up one, most likely will need the generator. And remember not to fire up everything at the same time, because you will have a lot of trouble. Even if your generator is running, make sure that there won’t be a system overload. Plan your electricity needs and top it a bit, don’t buy the “oh this will just fit” system for your house. You are always need more electricity that you can have ๐Ÿ™‚

This is it for now, if I remember other important things, I will continue the list.

cabezal para desbrozadora

I learned something new today ๐Ÿ™‚

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We wanted to change the “head” of the grass trimmer. And it turned out that the bolt was screwed on so tight that everything else broke, but the screw is still in place. We can’t get the blade down. We couldn’t use the gadget with this blade either because it’s damaged so it was a no way out situation. Until… we damaged it so now the situation is very clear. We have to buy a new head. But it took me quite some time to figure out the Spanish name for this and now all we need to do is to order one online. However I guess my husband will have to speak on the phone with the shop to get the exact match. But I am very happy to see that this part can be replaced!

Another busy day

I woke up at 7 and immediately went to walk. Mr. Blondie and the dog was my companion… it looks like Blondie makes a habit from this. I find it cute and I encourage him to come.ย  Good thing that I went… there was a wild boar hunting in this area, and there was a sign! I never seen the sign before… but usually the guys called when they were coming to this area. Truth is that I haven’t seen anybody on the terraces in front of the house, so maybe they were on the other side of the valley. And didn’t seen a car… Usually there is a hunter who parks the car near the gate. Like last time… he parked the car on my plants! The gate was open and he put the car aside so it doesn’t bother anybody… but he probably failed to notice theย  things I planted there. Anyway now the gate was closed so he couldn’t come in and mess around. Anyway I will put some “guides” for the dumber so next time even if the gate is eventually open… they would see that something is there.

I prepared breakfast, a nice tuna salad… and went back to bed. For some strange reason I was tired. Not before I gave food to the cats and dog, and made sure that the dog is safe for the period while the hunters might be in the area.ย  About two hours later I woke up and went out to do some things around the house. Mainly to continue with the big carob tree… It will give us about 2-3 more days of work until everything is cleaned up and nice.ย  Right now only 2 big branches are left that hold the body of the tree still in the air. Tomorrow will be the day to cut them off.