Tag Archives: off-grid living

Energy Adaptation

Now that we have upped our overall power potential, we’ve been trying to figure out how to use it most appropriately. Each of us has different thoughts on appropriate use so we’ve had a few arguments along the way.

My priority is having enough energy to teach classes, sometimes up to 6 hours a day. Since I start in the afternoon and work until several hours after dark, I want to make sure that there is enough charge in the batteries that I can complete my shifts. We now have 5 batteries, with the plan of purchasing yet another one with my next paycheck, so mostly this hasn’t been an issue.


Music to my ears!

Of secondary importance to me is power for the washer.  We’ve established a routine whereby wash is done only on days when I don’t have classes because classes are of course of higher importance than clean chonies. Besides, if worse comes to worst, we can still handwash using the lavadero (washboard).


“Doing classwork Mom!”

My son has different priorities. He is working on completing prepa (high school) online, so theoretically classwork comes first. However, he’s having trouble motivating himself to complete the current algebra course, so playing video games absorbs most of his time. Of course, since we are sharing his computer so that I can teach classes, he’s somewhat frustrated with his gaming time allotment. Furthermore, his desktop computer uses more energy than any other item we use. And since I’m already using it 6 hours a day, he is even further limited.

My husband has gone through a strange transformation since the purchase of the most recent battery. He’s become Defender of the Power. Any unauthorized energy use by either my son or me is up for debate. This includes a light left off by accident when a room is empty and charging my kindle. He monitors the voltage as obsessively as my son checks the internet ping, which fluctuates wildly throughout the day.

He’s even gone back to using a flashlight after dark, although for months we’ve been able to turn on a light in the bathroom or kitchen to illuminate our lives. He’s also begun setting up booby traps using our motion activated solar lights. So any nighttime potty trips are apt to become blinded, fumbling experiences, all in the name of saving power.

We have learned that 2 solid days of rain, unseasonable for this time of year, sends us all into panic mode. Not only does the internet give us fits, but the batteries are not able to fully charge for obvious reasons. Therefore, we’ll have to learn to budget our energy use better before the rainy season.

Otherwise, we are enjoying our solar setup immensely.

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Filed under Construction, Electricity issues

Some days are definitely better than others–Ni modo

life better

Yesterday was one of those days that a series of annoying happenstances made a typical day (one with only two or three annoying happenstances) seem like paradise.

We woke up at 5 am. My son’s new school schedule demands it. We are not pleased about getting up before the sun, but we remind ourselves that it is only temporary. Secondary school is 2 more years, so a long temporary, but temporary. Ni modo. (This expression can be translated as It’s no big deal, That’s just the way things are, That’s just how it is, There’s nothing we could have done about it, There’s nothing we can do or Whatever.)

Of course, the day started out on the wrong foot when we realized there wasn’t any water to shower with. Ni modo. My husband generously went outside and filled a bucket from the ajibe (dry well) for my son and me to wash with. The water was cold. It is the middle of October after all. We could only bear to wash our heads, but even that was unpleasant, although it was enough to wake us up completely. The rest of the parts would have to wait until we could get a truckload of water delivered. (See Water Woes) After all, there was deodorant…oh but hold on, both my son and I were out, and my husband refuses to buy his own (he just uses ours). Well, a-stinky we shall go. Ni modo.

During the day, my son lost 2 pesos and therefore, didn’t have enough money for a torta (sandwich) at lunch. As food is life for a growing pre-teen, that made his school day less than optimal, and by mid-afternoon he was irritable. Ni modo.

My day was also annoying. Although I had enough money for lunch, I spent the morning working on the grades for report cards, which is not my favorite task. I dislike assigning a number value to learning, so I had gone out of my way to make the job more difficult for myself by grading everything from attendance and school supplies to the “exams.” All in all, it ended up to be 15 separate evaluations for each student. Ni modo.

I also had a slightly heated discussion with the school director over some proposed changes I wanted to make in classroom management. When my emotions are high, my Spanish is low, so it made the whole process even more frustrating. Ni modo.

In the early afternoon, my hungry and cranky son arrived, and we headed to the store to buy some deodorant. I bought 3 and each cost more than 50 pesos. Fifty pesos is what I earn for one hour of teaching. So I had worked more than 3 hours to buy that particular hygiene product for my family. Ni modo.

From there we went home. The house was a wreck–dirty dishes piled sky high. My husband had an unexpected morning job, so didn’t have time to tidy up. Ni modo, I would do the dishes. So I stacked and sorted and was ready to begin—only to be reminded when I went to turn on the water, that there was no water. Duh! Ni modo. The dishes would have to wait.

OK, time for dinner. We looked high and low, and there wasn’t anything prepared, although there were fresh tortillas. As my husband typically prepares something for his lunch and then leaves enough for us to eat when we get home—this seemed odd and aggravating. Ni modo. Back to town for something quick and easy, ham and cheese for quesadillas.

I returned home and lit the stove–blue flames swooshed out! It appeared that we were dangerously low on gas. Just great! Fortunately, there was just enough to heat the tortillas and melt the cheese–so dinner was saved.

After we had eaten, I continued straightening the kitchen. I went to throw a bit of leftover rice to the chickens but didn’t, realizing that I would be walking into a den of iniquity! What to my wondering eyes did I see but there in the new addition to the goat corral that my husband is working on–was Tinkerbell humping Stinky Chivo while one of the James brothers was humping her. Something was very wrong with the picture. Why was Stinky Chivo not doing his husbandly duties when it was apparent that Tinkerbell was in heat? (See Goat Genetics)

Upon closer examination, I found that Stinky Chivo’s head and leg are stuck in the food trough. Great! As his horns were wedged under the wire and he has some big horns, it took some maneuvering to release him.

The bondage and sexual scandal were not the only evidence of debauchery. The goats had taken the liberty of stripping the peach and pomegranate trees of leaves and bark. Not bad for a morning’s work. It’s their nature I suppose–Ni modo.

So later my husband explained that he didn’t leave dinner because it had been stolen. He had arrived home for lunch with meat and tortillas and heard some commotion in the goat corral. He went to investigate, leaving the goods hanging from his motorcycle handlebars. When he came back out front, only the tortillas remained. He had bought 60 pesos of meat, so that means more than an hour of work for someone or something to enjoy the meal. I suspect it was Chokis. Ni modo.

That evening, after the goats were rounded up again and the horses stabled, we realized we still had no gas to cook supper or anything to cook for that matter. Ni modo. There was nothing to be done but head out for some tacos. Our high-stress day was made all the better with a few tacos de tripa, bistek or chorizo (depending on the family member) and some nopales (cactus) and onions sauteed in grease. Our meal cost $150 pesos, which is a day and a half of work for my husband, so we were appreciative of this particular treat.

Ni modo. Nothing to be done but hit the sack and hope that tomorrow will be better.

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course



Filed under Animal Husbandry, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

My Life in La Yacata–the video


Well, it took all summer and then all of September–but my son’s video about our life in Mexico is up!

If you haven’t already–click on the host’s page Growing Up Around the World and give it a “like.”  Heck, go ahead and comment if you want!

Or if you’d rather see it here–well go ahead!



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Filed under Guest Blogger Adventures, Homesteading, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms