Also the inevitable feelings of loneliness and 'loss', at leaving everyone (especially the Wife and Kids) behind are very strong too. I'll try not to dwell on this side of things too much - the negatives - but I did say I'd try to write about ALL my experiences; the good and bad. I think it is important for others, who may be contemplating a similar 'adventure', to know what to expect from it. And if I can help show the 'warts and all' of it, I hope this helps.
My warts (none too massive or on the end of my nose yet luckily) are mainly psychological. Yes, the physical side of things is demanding and difficult at times; but its the stuff going on inside the head that seems to be taking the most 'toll'. Whether its missing family and friends, or the 'isolated' perception and not being able to pop to the shop for something; the complete change in location and lifestyle can really mess with your cranium.
Don't get me wrong, the move was welcomed, necessary and exciting and will be all we hope it to be (I hope!), when we are both here, but the early stage(s) are proving much more of a challenge than even I had anticipated. So, how have I been filling my time; apart from undertaking the small design job, I have for a couple of hours each day?
One of the first jobs that needed doing, was to finish off a small outbuilding, located right near the house. It's purpose is to store wood and other items, that need to be easily accessible. Also, the Stone Barn - a perfect workshop - was full of said wood and other things, meaning there wasn't enough room to 'work'.
I found the timber, left by the previous occupant and set to, putting a back onto the outbuilding. All went well, until I ran out of the wood (that was intended for the job) about ⅔ of the way up. Not a problem, if you can take a quick trip to B&Q, but... All I could do was to find anything I could use, utilising that 'make do and mend' attitude, that is so important here.
Job complete, but not as pretty as it could have been, and 'wood store' relatively dry (I have since noticed the roof does leak, so another job to try and fix at some point); I was able to move the fuel store into it. This then meant I could clear and free up the Stone Barn, as planned. This is still an on-going job, but is getting there.
With the help of a very knowledgeable neighbour, we did a bit of an 'audit' on all the electrical resources, having had a couple of outages, in the first few days.
Firstly, we needed to see what sort of condition the battery bank was in. Having topped up the water, in the batteries - some of which were rather low - we then had to isolate each battery and test its output, in Volts. With the system isolated, each one was disconnected and tested, with a voltmeter. Of the eight batteries, all seemed good - phew! But, in doing it, we noticed that two of them were rather warm. In my naivety, I thought - what's the problem? But, of course, batteries should not be warm. We left these two out of the system for a bit and re-tested them. Sadly, they were 'spent' and needed replacing (see the photo, left) with a readout in the "10's", this showed them to be dead - needing a healthy readout in the "12's". Luckily, my neighbour had a couple we could use/buy. They are now in place and seem to be working fine.
On to the Hydro, which was under-performing a little. All this needed was a smaller nozzle, where the water is pushed through on to the wheel. A giant plastic bolt proved a challenge, finding a big tool (no Alan Partridge quote necessary). Now we just need some rain, for it to flow faster - the weather has been unnaturally kind, with dry sunny days up until today.
Lastly, (with the Solar just ticking over without issue as they are want to do) we turned our attention to the Wind Turbine. This was making a slight 'clattering' sound and the pole had a curve in it too. For this task, I called in the resident (and world) expert Hugh. A great guy, very knowledgeable and helpful. With his assistance we took down the Turbine, balanced it (a very similar process to wheel balancing - putting lead weights on to one propeller) and then, once raised, straightened the pole using the guy lines.
Things seem to be working nicely now, with (weather dependant) lots of "dumping" going on. This is where excess generated electricity (that the batteries can't take, being full already) is "dumped' to some heat-dissipation elements. The intention is to hook this up to a water heater and other 'luxury' items, in due course; so the electricity can be used, instead of dumped. Another project to tackle soon...
The Yurt originally had a chimney, protruding from the top and centre. But the perspex circle had perished and cracked. Once delivered, the repaired top, needed to be reinstated; along with the chimney.
This proved to be a very tricky job for one person! Lots of throwing of ropes and running around to catch them, before the wind took them out of reach, followed by pushing the chimney through a small, rubberised hole; all on the top of a ladder, leaning against a slenderly built Yurt, was lots of 'fun'.
Once it was all up, I realised that the chimney was rather wobbly and only then noticed some wires hanging down from the chimney top, which needed to be attached to more guy lines, for stability. But it was now a long way up and across, to reach them. Eventually, Krypton Factor style, I managed to get to them through the inside - falling off the ladder at one point. But it was the least dramatic ladder-fall in history, as I actually landed on the bed!
So, the Yurt now has a heat source again, ready for the cosiness of Visitors. They just need some facilities to use now too.
To finish up, there' are the more green-fingered jobs, that we have made a start on.
As mentioned, in the previous post, we had done a small amount of seed planting, in the greenhouse. But where to put the seedling, when they are ready?
There seemed to be a perfect spot behind the greenhouse. Now, I know that Permaculture states to try and have the veg plot(s) close to the house, but that task is just too daunting at present. So we have decided to keep the 'growing area' near and around the greenhouse and orchard, for now. It is well fenced in (from rabbits and other veg eaters) and has a water source, with the compost bins close to hand. For now it seems to be the most logical solution and is another example of 'best laid plans' and adapting to what you have.
So, a bed was dug out. If you can believe it, this is the first time I have ever had to dig over an area. Its hard work! Having dug it over (digging in the grass for 'green manure'), I covered it in compost, emptying one of the bins. This was good as there wasn't a spare compost bin for my own 'manure', from the composting toilet, so a relief there's somewhere for it to go now! Then covered it all with black matting. There it'll stay for a few weeks, until the worms have dragged the compost down a bit and any grass and weeds die off. Should be about the right time to plant things in it then.
A couple of people have said you have to be careful, you don't try and do too much, all at once; for fear of 'burning out'. At first, I thought this was nonsense; then I spent this last week here! Now I'm an advocate of this philosophy. There's so much to do, but (unlike the previous life) there's so much time to do it in.
I hope you don't find this post too negative, but more of a realistic and truthful account of how a total change of life(style) can affect both the mental and physical aspects of a person's being. I'm still fighting the good fight and know that, in the long run, its a wonderful and amazing opportunity. The hurdles should gradually get smaller as time goes on and if they don't my strength (both mental and physical) will grow to meet the new challenges that arise.
I hope, in the next post, to regale the what, why and how, of converting a small shed into a fully functioning Toilet and Shower, for visitors to use, whilst staying in the Yurt. So until then, "Bidh mi 'gad fhaicinn".