January 1, 2021

Kentucky a centre for off-grid living

A Kentucky couple, who have been off-grid for more than five years, have set up a website to discuss the lifestyle.

Mark and Emily McCafferty tell their story on AccidentalHippies.com. The couple bought 16 acres of land and built a nearly 1,200-square-foot house that uses a combination of energy sources, including solar panels, a radiant heat system, a wood stove and propane. The house also features a rainwater catchment system.

According to a study by outdoor services provider LawnStarter, the Bluegrass State was the top state in America for living off-the-grid, which is defined as having a home that’s not connected to a utility company or co-op for a power source.

Kentucky ranked well across the metrics, LawnStarter said in a release. Besides having laws allowing for an off-the-grid lifestyle, the state received top marks for the number of rural health clinics per 1,000 square miles. According to ruralhealthinfo.org, the state has 252 such clinics

Other strengths included the state’s cost of living and its high marks for solar power potential, a temperate climate and sufficient precipitation.

Off-the-grid lifestyles are gaining in popularity. A 2019 study by Accenture noted that in some markets, residential and commercial demand for solar panels could top 15% within the next 15 years.

However, according to the experts, the lifestyle is not for everyone.

“In short, be ready to devote 100 percent of your days to your lifestyle,” said Gabriel Durham, the sustainability coordinator for the University of Houston’s Office of Sustainability. “Video games become farming, work commutes become hand-washing laundry, going out to see people becomes chopping firewood.”

Emily McCafferty said in a blog post on the site that living off the grid does not mean disappearing from society altogether. Instead, for them, it’s more about being mindful of the footprint they’re creating.

She states on her blog that people who may be interested in living off the grid should start creating self-sufficient habits in their current residence.

“Learn how to bake bread, mend clothes, can food, wire circuits, build from scratch, and so on,” she wrote. “There are hundreds of great homestead skills you can learn right where you are. The more prepared you are going into an off-grid building project, the better off you’ll be.”

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Schoolboy sets up sheep business after renting neighbour’s land

A 13-year-old entrepreneur schoolboy has set up a farming business after renting a neighbour's land to rear his flock of sheep.  Young farmer William Banham fed, watered and wormed eight animals before taking them to be slaughtered and selling on the produce.

William, of Long Bredy, Dorset, who’s not from a farming background, started out at the age of six, learning the ropes and determined to be his own boss.

He was just 12 when he found a patch of land to start ‘Will’s Lambs’. When he’s not attending Sir John Colfox school, he braves all weathers to single-handedly feed and water his flock.

William said: “I was determined to work for myself, not for somebody else.

“I don’t think any of my friends have their own businesses – sometimes they joke about it, but I think mostly they’re quite impressed.”

He doesn’t come from a farming family, but has helped out on a farm from the age of six. And while many adults are squeamish at the thought of where meat comes from, Will’s attitude towards the realities of life is mature beyond his years.

“I know I’ve given them the best life possible so I wasn’t too sad about taking them to the abattoir. You just have to accept that’s how it is.

“I also want to make sure every part of the animal is used, and will be selling the sheep skins.”

His mother Caroline said: “William would have me drop him down there at 6am – he’d stay there for 12 or 14 hours if he could.

“During lockdown, every morning and afternoon he’d have to go and check the sheep. “But he’s never failed to get up, he’s been really responsible.”

Feedback from customers has been ‘amazing’, according to Caroline.

“Everyone has been in touch to say it’s a great-tasting product. Will’s just got this amazing spirit, he gets things done.

“He’s quite self-motivated when he wants to do something. We’re really proud of him, and the fact he’s done everything himself.”

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