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As the CREST13 Resource Center, our journey to becoming self-sustaining has been a great learning process, one that has initiated a total reprogramming or retraining of our mind back to the cycles of nature.We have been astounded by the depth of feeling that arises in our heart from knowing our home is powered by the sun, our water is supplied from the sky, and our footprint upon our great Mother Earth is minimal. We never imagined there could be such an abundance of joy in such simplicity of being.
Four years ago we were living and working in the city enduring the gridlock of peak hour traffic. Our days were spent at a desk inside an office staring at a computer. We enjoyed all the delights of the city; live theatre, fabulous restaurants, cafés, botanical gardens, organic stores and gas ducted heating! We were happily entertained by all that city life has to offer. We were following the 13 Moon calendar and living a spiritual life yet we were very absorbed in the 12:60 frequency. We had no idea how our lives were about to change.
It all began with a directive from Spirit in the form of a dream; a very vivid and detailed dream giving the address for this place. Two weeks later, the day the property was listed for sale, synchronicities ensured the dream was taken seriously. So it was that we found ourselves with 20 acres of harsh bush land 90 minutes west of Melbourne – not exactly the lush rolling hills and picturesque waterfalls we may have imagined and certainly not the warm, mud brick home we had envisioned. However, apart from the telephone line and internet access, the property was completely off the grid running effectively on solar power – this excited us!!
We still remember the nervousness and trepidation of those early days wondering if it was ok to put the lights on at night or should we use candles? Is there enough water in the tanks to have a shower? We had no idea of the transformation in consciousness and lifestyle that lay ahead for us.
The transition has been so much more than simply moving from the city to the country. It’s been a transition from living on the grid to living off the grid; from mains electricity to solar power; from mains gas to bottled gas; from mains water to rain water; from gas hot water to solar hot water (imagine winter!); from ducted heating to a single wood heater; from ducted air conditioning to not enough power to run any form of air cooling; from rubbish collection to driving our rubbish to the local tip; from delivered mail to mail collection from the post office; from supermarkets and fresh food stores at our doorstep to growing our own food; from having all amenities and services close at hand to having minimal services half an hour or more away; from holidays taken at a whim to holidays requiring serious planning to account for animals and gardens. But mostly it has been a transition from dependency on external systems to meet our physical needs to trusting in the cycles of nature and in Spirit to provide.
So there have been many adjustments to contend with most of which pertain to the forces of nature. Waiting for a sunny day to vacuum the house or to catch up on that basket of ironing. Having really short showers during the summer (dry) months. Being careful not to run two appliances at the same time. Having night showers in winter to allow time for the wood fire to heat the hot water. Chopping wood and getting it into the shed before the winter rains come. Realising you don’t die without air conditioning even on a 43degC (109degF) day! Adjusting your wardrobe to the climate rather than artificially heating or cooling your climate. Trading stilettos for blundstone boots and collar and tie for hard yakkas and flannelette shirts! Replacing trips to the store with a walk through the gardens to select fresh vegetables for our daily meals. Saying goodbye to electricity bills, gas bills and water bills!
This whole process has initiated a total reprogramming or retraining of the mind.All of our automated responses and conditioning simply didn’t work in this environment and quite naturally dissolved over time. It was like learning to walk all over again but the ground you’re walking on is no longer flat. Since neither of us had any previous farming or gardening experience and certainly no experience with living off the grid everything required new learning. We simply had to release all our conditioned ways of living and learn how to live in harmony with nature. In doing so nature responded and continues to nurture us in ways that can only be described as like living a fairytale.
Our learning has been intense and vast and continues to be an on-going process. There have been squeals of delight upon seeing the first almonds on our tree or the first apple taking form. Likewise there have been tears at forgetting to open the greenhouse door on a really hot day and losing all our seedlings so lovingly nurtured into being, or cries for a chicken lost to a belligerent ferret. We have collapsed into peels of laughter after the shock of seeing our wayward Hilux wind up in the water tank. Many times we have dragged ourselves into the house in a kind of drunken stupor brought on by the sheer exhaustion of shoveling earth or chopping wood all day. Yet each is a new experience unique unto itself and one which only serves to bring colour to our world.
There have also been some delectable discoveries. Like, freshly laid eggs poached on home made sourdough bread with a side of freshly picked spinach sautéed in our home grown garlic tastes so much better than any of those city café breakfasts! The taste and energy of home grown food is far superior to anything bought in stores. The greatest discovery is the feeling of sacredness for all beings including and especially the trees and plants who share this space with us and the inexplicable feelings of connection and protection we feel for each and all that wanders upon our land.
There are times, usually on a 43 degree day or towards the end of a long, cold winter, when we momentarily contemplate moving back to the city remembering the ease of having everything available at the flick of a switch. However, the joy in our hearts from living as we do quickly dissolves any such thoughts as the kangaroos come in to drink from our dam and the kookaburras burst into their mighty laughter.
At the CREST13 Resource Centre we have explored a range of different types of alternative and temporary housing such as straw-bale houses, bagged earth domes, geodesic domes, yurts, tipis and portable buildings. We’ve acquired quite a lot of knowledge about solar energy and now have a computer program that allows us to track our usage and maintain an optimal system. Getting hot water to the house, especially during winter has been a journey unto itself. We have studied permaculture principles and learned how to direct the flow of water. Worm farms, composting, propagating, sowing and harvesting are an ongoing learning process as is learning how to convert and preserve the food we grow. We have a bio-diesel plant and produce our own fuel. Bee keeping is next on the agenda and so much more. We’ll share in more detail in the next issue.
Love and blessings,