Solar Powered!

We are having solar panels installed today! Right now our solar guy is in my room hooking up the entire system to the house – and once he is done, we have power. Well actually that just happened! Which is super crazy – the truck was here yesterday, and now we have electricity without the noise from the generator, for the first time in over 3 years! No more generator – unless it is cloudy for more than 3 days in a row. I don’t know how many of those streaks we’ve had of those in these last 3 years… We’ve had one cloudy week this winter (we’ve had plenty of cloudy days, but seldom more than a couple in a row) – but I think that is the only time I remember… Maybe that is a little optimistic – but if that stat holds we will need the generator once every 3 years. Nah – I don’t think that will hold, but let’s see. This is a big milestone – a really really big milestone. 

Panels arriving yesterday

It will save us a lot of money – since Marcus has needed electricity for his job 8-9 hours pr. day…  Those savings will then enable us to move forward on a lot of other projects around here. Which will hopefully make us self-sufficient in food at some point. We should have done it from the beginning – but hindsight is 20-20, and we didn’t and now we have and that is good 🙂

The inverter??? (gosh and I pretend to be an engineer…)

I am super tired – stayed up way too late last night, and woke up at 5:30 (as I do now with this new diet), did yoga, meditated, made breakfast – woke up my son and had breakfast with him, went to Granada to the dentist (have found a wonderful holistic dentist that make the drive worth my while), back to pick up my daughter who was on a sleepover so she didn’t have to tag along. She was super tired and grumpy too – too little sleep on sleep overs… So I think I will lay down on the couch and enjoy the luxury of electricity 🙂

And the panels were up!

Oh – I just wanted to add this little picture: The fig-tree that died last year has sprouted from the root. To me it represents everything that we were struggeling with last year, which comes to fruition this year.

A little fig-tree sprouting from the root of a dead tree

Permaculture Malaga – Reducing the Need for an Income

One of the basic ideas in Permaculture is to reduce the need for an income. There are many reasons for this; if we don’t have to go to work every day we consume less, we have more free time to spend with our family and friends, to build community. We also don’t contribute as much to unethical tax-spending, we contribute less to an unethical monetary system if we have less need for money, and we have more time to volunteer for community work etc.

When I stopped working we cut away an income that was corresponding to buying a small car every year. Back then we were big time consumers – two engineers with high incomes, big apartment etc. etc. We had a big car, ate take-away many times a week, spend a lot of money on clothes, gadgets, vacations etc. Some of these things simply just had to go if we were to have me stay at home. I was easy to make these cuts – as soon as we made it known that we would accept 2nd hand clothes, the bags of clothes started pouring in through the door, since I was no longer stressed out of my wits cooking from scratch was so much easier, and the amount of take-away days plummeted to almost zero. We took fewer and cheaper vacations etc. etc.

But the BIG expenses were still there – we still had the car (ask my husband about his relationship to public transportation – not very permie there 😉 ), we still had the mortgage, we didn’t grow food, we used immense amounts of money on electricity and heating (we lived in Denmark). But with one income (albeit a big one) we were living very very comfortably.

Now we are trying to reduce the need for money even more. The primary reason of this is to build resilience: In Rich Dad/Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki defines wealth as the period of time you would be able to sustain your current lifestyle if you stopped working tomorrow. And that has at least as much to do with how much you spend as it has with how much you earn and put away. When you get to a place where you make more than you spend, that is when you have a surplus – which in some interpretations is where the third ethic of permaculture comes in “return the surplus”, ie. you can reinvest in people care and earth care.

My in-laws were extremely frugal in their lives – it was the way they were raised. This frugality has enabled us to own the house we now live in 100% in a very short time. This eliminates the mortgage-payment or rent – which were 10.000 dkr/month (ca. €1300) when we lived in Denmark and €750/month when we lived down in the village in our rented house. To most people, that is approximately what they earn after taxes… Not long ago in our culture, having a mortgage wasn’t the norm. One of my friends told me that it used to be the norm in Spain, that when people got married, their wedding present would be their first house. These days parents will say with pride “I will leave nothing for you, I will have spent it all!” The reason they are proud is of course that they know that their kids are strong enough to take care of themselves, but the down side to this thinking is, that most couples need two incomes to pay off a mortgage in their younger years, when they actually need to have time to establish their family, and spend time with their kids. Imagine starting off your life together not owing anyone a dime! This is what my in-laws have given us the opportunity to experience, and we are trying very hard to spend the present in the manner and spirit it was given. It means that should Marcus lose his job tomorrow, we would be able to get by even if he doesn’t receive unemployment benefits, and even if he can’t find a job immediately.

Next up is electricity and heating. Once we have the money we will install solar panels, and when that is done, we will no longer have any expenses for electricity – which right now is one of our big expenses as the house is off-grid and we use a generator to power it up (which has in turn taught us to think about when and why we use electricity).

Heating is too, as there is not heat source in the house, and we are learning that indeed a stone house is cold in the winter in Andalusia – we need heating, even if it is just a little bit of it. Right now we have a gas stove, but since we have some 200 olive trees that need pruning once in a while anyway, we will build one or two rocket mass stoves: One in either end of the house (I know that if the house was smaller, we could make do with one – but that is just not us).

The last really big expense on our budget is food, and since we value high quality food, it is a big expense – we find it very very difficult to cut costs here without feeling deprived. This means that growing our own food is number one on our list for next year – that is the project we will focus on. We will start out with growing the vegetables and fruits we eat most of – potatoes, oranges, peppers etc, then eggs and meat, hopefully rabbits, and a few pigs.

Bit by bit we should be able to sell the surplus, but being able to feed your own family is like printing your own money: It is tax-free, inflation free – and most importantly free of pesticides, penicillin, MRSE-bacteria etc.

What would your life be like if you did not have to pay a mortgage, electricity, heating or food? Can you imagine how much freedom you would have, to design your life just like you wanted it? If someone gave you the opportunity to get that tomorrow, what would you do?

Our ruin

Yesterday we payed the first of 4 instalments on our new house – well house is a big word to use, since it comes virtually without a roof, and new is only that it is new to us because parts of the house is more than 200 years old.

Right now we have many things that we need to set in motion: We need to get a permission to renovate the house, we need to find a building constructor who will take on the task of renovating the house, we need to secure the west side of the house  against erosion before the rain starts in September – and we need to take action on making this place a dream home for our 7 year old boy, who now fears that he will loose all his friends.

Now – finding a snakeskin on the site definitely helped a lot! And the fact that there are 2-3 acres of trees to climb helps a lot too. And 5 different species of grasshoppers in the course of a 10 min walk did not make things worse either. But falling on his way down the mountain did not add anything either. Thistles did not contribute much to the love of the place – but with the right tools we will get rid of most of them, we hope. But we will need to have friends in and out of the house as much as possible too. Fortunately Marcus and I are not hermits, and we love to have people around. We have invited the home school group to come and use our space as a meeting space, possibly have a garden and a playground there for them to build and play in. We are inviting our old and new friends to come and help – as good friends come in many ages, sizes and colors. We want to host work aways (so if you want to be one, let us know), permaculture interns, workshops and permaculture design courses (in English and Spanish, for families and children). We will have a dog and a cat, and rabbits and chickens, later on sheep and bees – and Miriam wants a red horse (and a giraffe and a zebra – but no lions), we are hoping to convince her that a donkey is just as good. We hope to have life happening in our little valley – so much so, that when we don’t have any one around it will feel like little islands of peace, not like isolation.

We plan to green the valley – collect water, sink it in, plant trees – we want a-bun-dance!

But first we need to renovate the house… find a builder – get that renovation permit, get going.

Og en meget dyr hestestald

Vi har været ude og kigge på hus i dag. Lidt nedslående og også lidt opløftende. For vi har set et hus vi kan lide, i et prisleje vi synes er realistisk. Haven er ikke helt stor nok synes vi (3000 m2), men det går (hvis man kan få den ned i pris kan man måske endda købe grunden ved siden af, som der ikke var noget hus på, men til gengæld masser af oliventræer).

De andre… var bare små! 65 m2 uden mulighed for at udvide. Den ene dog med den mest fantastiske have (og den var 4000 m2, mere i retning af hvad vi leder efter). Men altså, vi kan jo for pokker ikke bo på 65 m2…

Men det bedste var det sidste sted vi så: Det var en hestestald! Jeps en fin hestestald, med en vognport og et fint saddelrum (der var tilmed kogeplader!) og toilet. JoJo! Og lidt land var der da også, med to-tre frugttræer på. Altså det meste var asfalteret, resten var grus. Men det var da land, man kunne måske have en hest gående derude… hvis man altså er spanier og ikke bekymrer sig om hvor ens heste går… eller noget. Men så var prisen til gengæld til at forstå: €215.000. Og de var helt uforstående da vi gik igen med det samme – jamen der er toilet! Flot, en stald med toilet, til over 1,5 mill. DKR – har du hørt at det er krisertider? At bunden er gået ud af boligmarkedet?

LOL, men måske hvis vi var desperate?

Ese casa!

Advarsel: Dette bliver ikke et et blogindlæg om hvor skønt her er. Her er skønt og dejligt og solen skinner og fuglene synger… Men i nat regnede det og det regnede ind i Marcus kontor og ind i ungernes badeværelse. Og det var koldt, alligevel slukkede jeg for varmen, for den sidste air-con blev brændt af pga regn gennem taget. Faktisk slukkede jeg for alt elektricitet i hele huset, for jeg var sgu bange for at noget brændte af – og jeg hev mine unger ind i min seng og så lå jeg der og følte mig alene (Marcus er ikke hjemme).

Og her til morgen er der så håndværkere i hele huset – de har reparteret taget den sidste uge (ironisk ikke?) og de har ringet til deres chef og deres chef har ringet til sin chef… Og nu mener de så at regnen er kommet ind fordi ejeren har bygget et halvtag, som regnen løber af og som har lavet sprækker i væggen, bla fordi han har
Lavet en dør i en bærende væg, som ikke er blevet forstærket hen over døråbningen og oven p dette har han så lagt et tag… så der er kæmpe store revner i væggen – hvor al regnen trænger ind – siger de.

Egentlig er jeg ret ligeglad… Det er ikke mit hus, de skal bare fixe det, hvem ‘de’ så er… Men jeg kan se dem ligge i en juridisk kamp der tager et par år eller 5 om hvis skyld det er og hvem der skal betale. Og i mellemtiden er der ingen der gør noget – overhovedet.

Vi kan selvfølgelig bare flytte ud… Men vi har lige pakket den sidste flyttekasse ud og Lucas er lige blevet meldt ind på den lokale skole og skal starte til september… Jeg gider ikke flytte!

Jeg vil sy baldakiner og plante chili og tomater og glæde mig til at poolen åbner om 2 uger i nyde at Lucas spiller tennis og fodbold m. Naboens søn ude på vejen. Det er dét jeg vil – ikke bekymre mig om vand i elektriske indstallationer.

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