We Spent a Month Living Off Grid in Plant-Based Paradise

We’ve been living off grid in this plant-based paradise for a week now and we couldn’t be happier. It’s crazy to think we almost didn’t agree to ‘house sit’ this permaculture farm.

It’s even crazier to think that last Tuesday we were still counting the days until we left on our adventure. And now, here we are with everything we own stuffed into a couple of duffel bags.

Our First Week Living Off Grid

Ang holding crazy long asparagus

After a long drive in a small bus with a motley collection of fellow passengers and an elderly driver with fewer social skills than me, we eventually arrived at Numbi Valley close to eleven on Friday night

Saturday morning arrived all too soon and before we knew it we were in the middle of Mission Information Overload, with the pair of us trailing closely behind our hosts in a bid to digest 12 years of farm knowledge in two days.

Thank heavens Sporty is German and a spreadsheet geek.

We spent most of the day wide-eyed and aghast at the sheer magnitude of the task we’d undertaken, but the bottle of Shiraz we’d procured on a quick trip into town later that afternoon helped us relax and enjoy an evening of pizza and conversation under the stars with our new friends and their Canadian guests.

Sunday found us somewhat more comfortable in our new digs, although waiting an age for the kettle to boil on the gas stove when all we could think about was that first cup of coffee was a little challenging.

By lunch we were old hands and come dinnertime we were out in the garden ‘shopping’ for vegetables like it was the most normal thing in the world. It’s hard to describe just how overwhelming (in a good way) it is to be faced with so much fresh produce and such a wide variety as well.

Time to Take off the Training Wheels

Ang and Sporty enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner, proving that living off grid doesn't mean forgoing creature comforts

Monday morning dawned bright and early and clutching our coffee cups and wadge of farm notes (aka living off grid for beginners), we bid farewell to Kath and Ross, who were jetting off to Rome to glean some permaculture farming knowledge from the Italians.

Sporty immediately scampered off to start the day’s chores, while I trotted behind her pretending to know what was going on. Fortunately, my inner-Nigella has reappeared, enabling me to at least hold my own in the kitchen.

To be honest, the vegetables here are so delicious I could channel my inner-hobgoblin and still come away smelling like roses.

A Documentary in the Making

Collage of images: field mouse, Sporty in the veggie garden, and a rather large lizard on a gate pole

Sitting on the couch drinking coffee one morning, I noticed a plethora of field mice darting back and forth in the sandy area in front of the house. It occurred to me that I could set up my camera and record the creature goings-on of Numbi Valley.

After one failed attempt I hit gold when a resident mouse darted in front of the camera to grab a few choice flowers for breakfast and then proceeded to devour its pickings in shot. I could not believe my luck.

I’ve since gone on to film birds snacking on muesli on our kitchen counter, a robin rooting about in freshly turned soil, a lizard sunning itself on a gate post, and Sporty picking vegetables. (At least with Sporty I didn’t have to be too stealthy in obtaining my footage.)

Update 2023: Unfortunately, barring the mouse clip, I misplaced all that footage. Doh! All I have from our adventures living off grid are the photos on Facebook.

What We’ve Noticed So Far

Ang and Sporty in an enclosed veggie garden

The last few weeks in Cape Town were a little wooly to say the least. We spent a fair amount of time at the Mojo Market quaffing wine and eating whatever vegan junk food we could lay our hands on.

By the time we left, we were feeling decidedly sluggish and in dire need of some fresh food and fresh air. Within a couple of days of living off grid, we already felt the benefits of being out here in nature.

We’re both feeling more energetic and relaxed and are sleeping like a couple of logs. There’s also an underlying feeling of contentment, happiness and, interestingly, expansion.

I was worried about not exercising, but it turns out weeding and cycling into town gives you way more of a workout than you could ever get at the gym. Who knew!?

A Living Off Grid Birth of Fire

Ang sitting next to the pool at Numbi Valley

Thursday was our craziest day so far and I’m happy to report that we passed with flying colours. I cleaned the pool and did a stellar job if I do say so myself. In fact, I was so pleased with the result that I immediately fetched Sporty to come and take a photo of me next to the glistening water.

Meanwhile, Sporty was in charge of picking vegetables for a town local and a vegan chef who was cooking for a retreat. I came to help when I was done with the pool, but it still took us until after lunch to round up the order.

We both have newfound respect for the farmers who deliver their wares to our city shelves. Farming is dirty, sweaty work and not for the prissy or faint of heart. Also, you have to check your image at the door, because practicality trumps glamour in this line of work.

Never mind a casual minimalist wardrobe, all you need around here are dungarees and t-shirts. So not sexy, although paired with our minimalist shoes we didn’t look too bad. Oh, who am I kidding, we looked like a couple of country bumpkins.

sporty at numbi valley

That said, it’s super rewarding. We’re loving being outside in nature and especially enjoy feeling tired and achy at the end of the day. But as much fun as it is, neither of us is keen on living off grid long-term. Because hobbit hands and feet.

We’d much rather do our bit for the environment by recycling, disposing of our single-use plastic in ecobricks, and avoiding fast fashion.

You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.

Gordon Hinckley

Living Off Grid Vicariously

Now we’re here I’m regretting ditching all my social media apps because re-downloading them is proving tricky thanks to the not-so-great wifi connection. The joys of living off grid I suppose.

Still, we’re keen to share our daily life with you, so I’ll do my best to upload as many photos and video clips as possible to our Numbi Valley Adventures album on Facebook (don’t tell Cal that we kept our Mostly Mindful page please).

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m off to make lunch for Sporty who’ll be in from the fields shortly. No doubt with the hay stalk in her mouth and humming a Hank Williams tune.