Adapting to Off the Grid Living

“Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and see the wildflower in it”. 

Watching TV about people moving off the grid always looks so glam and the way to go. Well it is. Many a hurdle to overcome, but adapting to the situation and appreciating what you have and not stressing about what would be nice to have, is the whole key to living off the grid.

Living off the Grid Botswana

Living at The Plot is amazing, so much better than living in the hustle and bustle of the vibrant village of Letlhakane. However, we are close enough to pop into town for supplies (about 5km to the nearest store). Even though we are nearby it feels like a million miles away.

Now when we hear a strange noise, it is on our property and can’t be written off as “it was probably the neighbours”. We can now hear the rustle of wind in the trees, bird calls and the barking geckos at night. Every evening the Crested Francolin start calling as they come for water and Jacobin Cuckoo can be heard looking for a mate.

So what are the major challenges living off the grid, well the most important one is water. A borehole is going to happen soon. This will make a massive difference to us, as at the moment we have to truck water in or get it from a very kind friend a kilometer away who has a hole.

Water just trickles into our house at the moment from our storage tank and that is only when the water level in the storage tank is higher than our taps. The great rain we have been having this season is a blessing as it has kept our tank full if not overflowing.

This still doesn’t help with showering, but we do have our campsite which is about 200m away, which does have a water tank on a stand and hence pressure for showering. There is also a donkey boiler there for hot water, but being in the middle of summer there has not yet been a need for warmer water.

Even with a borehole we need to pump the water into the house. Our totally inadequate solar system, won’t at this stage cater for that. Which brings me to the next challenge of living off the grid – that being electricity.

Our present system allows for some time on our computers and lights at night. What more do you need, well refrigeration would be nice. We have our camp fridge, but with our small system and permanently cloudy days we are only running it a few hours a day.

Since moving to The Plot, we have not watched any TV, which has been amazing as we have actually started reading books again. What is actually happening in the rest of the world – we have no clue.

The answer is to get more solar panels and batteries, but this costs money. The situation is the same where ever you live, on the grid or off, the more money you have the more comfortable you can be. At this stage we are just going to increase 1 panel at a time, 1 battery at a time.

One thing that we now appreciate is electricity and how much is wasted when you are living on the grid.  An airline once took out 1 olive out of every 1st Class passengers salad – the result is that it saved a fortune. When every Watt counts, all of a sudden you don’t leave your Wi-Fi modem/rooter on when you are not using it; or leave the DSTV and TV on sleep mode, don’t leave your cell phone/mobile on charge once it has reached 100% battery, etc.

The conservation of power should be every household and business ‘duty; this would ease the pressure on power stations and go a long way in preventing global warming.

We are now preparing for the upcoming dry months. It is hard to believe, when we are so lush now, that in a few months’ time we will be dry and the trees would have lost their leaves.  At the moment we are trimming trees to feed our goats. The trees will recover and come back even stronger next wet season.

OLablabur first crops are in. One is Lablab, which is a type of bean. Young beans can be eaten and leaves are similar to spinach or rape. But this isn’t our purpose of growing it; we are growing it for forage for our goats. We have planted in stages so that we don’t get an overabundance in one go.

We have also planted Napier grass, also known as elephant grass. It is a very important forage due to its high productivity. However it also improves soil fertility, and protects arid land from soil erosion. It is also utilized for firebreaks, windbreaks, in paper pulp production and most recently to produce bio-oil, biogas and charcoal.

 
 

With all the wonderful rain we are getting our gardens are looking wonderful. Having more time on our hands has helped them as well. Our little nursery is growing nicely and we are looking to start a commercial nursery with a friend as well as a possibly a wholesale nursery.

Below are some pictures of our new house, we call “housie” owing to its size, and pictures of gardens at The Plot.

We wish you would come and visit. Come pitch a tent and camp at our campsite just outside Letlhakane.

Housie

The Plot’s Campsite, Letlhakane

 

Cailie’s Cove

Others

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Border Opening Celebration: Free camping

To celebrate the opening of our borders I am happy for anyone to stay on my land, just outside Letlhakane, at my personal campsite, for free.

We are on the road to Lekhubu Island.

This offer is until and including the Easter weekend

For more see:  The Plot

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Record Rains – that I have recorded

Let the rains continue to fall; wash away any tears; bring joy to our hearts and bless this little garden

What has been a hard year for most, ended in a very positive way – well rain wise – except we have a leaking roof.

Since I have been recording the weather here in Letlhakane, Botswana, for the last 8 years this season’s rain has been the best ever to date.

In December we had 202mm of rain – this is 47mm higher than any other December rainfall I have recorded.

We have had the highest rainfall in a 24 hour period, that being 96mm beating that of 81mm in February 2016. However I do recall when we had just moved up here we did have over 100mm overnight, but I have no record of that.

Highest rainfall in a month: 202mm this December, over 197.5mm in February 2018

Our season to date (October to end December) rain is 292mm the next highest for this period is 178mm in 2018. Last season we only had a total season rainfall (October to May) of 295mm.

Sue and I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and hope 2021 is a far better one for all. I still haven’t signed any terms and conditions for going into 2021 yet 🙂

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First rains

The bush is so dry and trees are leafless, all except 2 trees on The Plot. But this will now start changing as we had our first rains on Friday night. Only 5 mm and it came with lots of lightning and thunder.

Little Sable is doing well and is now just over a week old.

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Latest addition

Sue and I witnessed one of our milk goats giving birth on Saturday. Making it even more special is that it is a little girl.

We have named her Sable owing to her black colour, with white face markings

PS I have updated our weather page for your interest. https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

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Botswana Is The Best In Wildlife Conservation

According to WorldAtlas Botswana tops the list of countries that are doing the most to protect wildlife.

It is really not difficult for us to get reassurance of why we live here, but once again we get it.

For the top- 10 list see: Which Countries Are The Best in Wildlife Conservation?

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This last month

A regular visitor

This cute yellow mongoose comes to where ever we are sitting to get chicken bones we leave out for it. It is becoming so relaxed around us and it comes within 2m.

yellow mongoose at The Plot, Letlhakane, Botswana

A bit of colour

The bush now is very dry and most trees have lost all their leaves. Below are pictures of some of the plants giving some colour during this season.

Birdlife at The Plot

Presently with no water out in the bush, birds are attracted to the few water points we have at The Plot, so bird watching is great (see our bird list)

Weather update

Cold, cold and more cold. June this year was the coldest June we have personally ever recorded since we moved up here 8 1/2 years ago.

Things are looking a bit more warmer at the moment. Chilly mornings and nights continue, but during the day, out in the sun, it is shorts and t-shirt weather.

I have updated our weather page for those interested

Coronavirus for us

Botswana has been very well led during this epidemic and restricted infections to only 227 confirmed cases and only 1 death. Most of our confirmed cases were/are truck drivers coming into our country and a lot of these have returned to their home country.

Rumour has it that Letlhakane has had a case, but I can’t find any official proof of this, so I am not sure if this is genuine or not.

Life for us, under present restrictions, means we need to wear masks in public places and shops. Before entry into a shop your name, temperature and contact number is recorded.

Botswana does have, however, a petrol shortage owing to truck delays at our borders, so we are under petrol restrictions. We can only refuel with P250 per car, which is roughly 30l. We have had days here in Letlhakane where there is no fuel at most garages and hence long queues at a garage that does – up to a km.

 

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Another update

Full rivers:

With good rains in Angola highlands over the rainy season the Okavango, Chobe and Zambezi Rivers are all in full flow. The Zambezi has also caused major flooding in Zambia as well.

The photo below, of the Chobe River, was taken last week, by Stanza Mbanga Molaodi of African Bush Lovers Travel & Tours Safaris.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and water

Present Covid-19 situation for us

Lock down is a thing of the past, however we are still in a State of Emergency, which will still be in place until the end of September.

Botswana has been divided into 9 zones, all movement within a zone is allowed. Movement across zones is by permit only. Basically all businesses are open again and schools go back this week.

On the important side; the sale of alcohol is allowed under strict regulations. We can now buy alcohol from Wednesday’s to Saturday’s. So tomorrow we can enjoy our first lemonade for over 2 months.

The sale of tobacco is still not allowed. But some restrictions have been eased as we are now allowed to buy lighters. 🙂

Weather

We had our first taste of winter here in Letlhakane, late last week, we froze with temperatures dropping under 10C.

I have updated our weather page for those interested. https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

 

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Catch-up

Weather:

Winter is creeping in quickly – Mornings are very chilly. We have already had a few days recording under 15C.

Mopane Tree

Beautiful colours of the Mopane Tree in autumn

The bush is drying out, the Lowveld-cluster Leaf has started loosing its leaves and the autumn colours of the Mopane can be seen all over.

 

It would seem (as should be) that our rainy season has come to an end – even the rain gauge has been packed away for winter. It has been a dismal wet season and it is the second lowest rainfall we have recorded since we have been living here in Botswana (now 8 1/2 years).

See my updated weather page at: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/letlhakane-weather/

Rivers:

With the whole world focusing on the devastating Coronavirus an amazing natural event is easily be overlooked. The waters of the Okavango, Zambezi and Chobe Rivers which comes from the highlands in Angola are at their highest levels for years.

Okavango River:

After travelling some 2000 km from the ‘Water Tower’ in the Angolan highlands, the first waters of 2020 Okavango flood have finally reached Maun. This years floods are the highest recorded for the last 5 years.

Let’s hope that the waters continues into the Boteti River and fills Lake Xau (see: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/so-where-does-the-boteti-river-go/ )

Zambezi River:

The Zambezi River only just touches Botswana, forming the border between ourselves and Zambia for a distance of 150m – the world’s shortest international border.

However it is in flood – in fact it is rising to levels that makes it the biggest flood since 1977/78. There is now a second wave of the flood en-route and water levels at Chavuma (on the Zambezi at the Zambia/Angola Border) have risen by 523% compared to the same period last year. This could be the biggest flood since the Kariba Dam wall floods of 1958. Kariba will probably fill.

Botswana Coronavirus Update:

Botswana has recorded 24 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and we have unfortunately lost 1 person to the virus. Below is our latest breaking news – which is wonderful.

No photo description available.

We have moved into the easing of lock down restrictions now, however still no tobacco and alcohol

😦

Businesses have started re-opening, but are only allowed 25% of their staff force at this stage.

I have 2 staff, so I am battling to work out which half of which staff member I should have.

 

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Cool lockdown game

Somebody leave a case of beers and a carton of cigarettes at my gate and I will attempt to guess who did it.

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