Your hosts Katherine and Andy crept over the border into Wales nearly 20 years ago. We are located about a mile from Rhayader.
We lead a fairly self sufficient life style, enjoying home grown food and home made
electricity. There have been many ups and downs and some failures along the way but this is what you learn from.
Andy and Katherine are of the Joni Mitchell generation and the song Big Yellow Taxi (see bottom of the page) could be an anthem for their lives.
We keep “stuff” and reuse it everywhere we can and apart from household waste, recycle only as a
last resort. One piece of timber was in our possession for 30 years before “coming in useful”!
At 300 metres above sea level the weather conditions that can power the turbine in winter can also lead to challenges in gardening! However, we love good food and enjoy homegrown vegetables
almost all the year-round, even on a high hill in winter with wild winds blowing.
After making the life-changing decision to move to rural Mid Wales and needing some extra
storage, building a polytunnel seemed like an excellent idea - until the first storm which ripped the cover to shreds and exposed us and the polytunnel to the realities of a Welsh winter. Not to be defeated, and after creating a shelter belt, another polytunnel now gives us an extended season for growing that includes sweet and chilli peppers, tomatoes and aubergines while outside the raised beds give space for potatoes and onions, leeks and peas, beans and brassicas. As well as the
apple tree, a large fruit cage provides an abundance of raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants as well as strawberries.
The Year of the Slugs was memorable. Creating the garden disturbed a large area of old grass land and new crops acted like a beacon for every single slug inside 2 miles and at night the hills were alive with the sound of chomping.
Nature soon established a balance and after the birds
levelled off the slug numbers, they have never been the same menace.
However, this is no hair shirt life style despite being off grid. 90% of the year we run an electric energy surplus all made on site from PV and wind turbine, more than enough to supply the underfloor heating in our home. Andy;s proudest achievement is the wind turbine, a number of prototypes were made and Andy learnt how to weld, before creating the working unit that powers our home in winter.
The first set of turbine blades were hand carved from wood although the current set are factory made from fibre glass that has been repurposed. The alternator that
creates the electricity has 12 coils of copper wire which were all wound here on a jig on the kitchen table. 32 high power magnets are bonded to two steel disc which are attached to the wheel hub from a small truck.
You can find out more about our journey in our blog.
Thanks to Joni Mitchell 1970 and why haven't we learnt anything yet?
Hey farmer, farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees.
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
-Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi, 1970