Rebecca and David are running the Freedom Kit with the Hybrid Inverter at their family homestead 'Fodder Farm' in Owhango.
How did you set up your kit, and where have you got it installed?
We set our Freedom kit up ourselves (as we do with everything!) in our North/Northwest facing valley. The panels are on the roof and the batteries and inverter etc are in a small purpose built shed near the house.
What are you running on your kit? What are you not running?
We are new to having our system turned on but, but we’re currently running lights, a Samsung low power fridge, a chest freezer, a washing machine, a vacuum and other small kitchen appliances, internet, charging for phones, tablets, and laptops, tv and DVD player etc.
Heating, water heating, and cooking are done via a gourmet woodstove with a very efficient wetback, plus a gas BBQ and a gas double burner.
Water is gravity fed to the whole property.
What was it that appealed to you about homesteading? Why did you choose this lifestyle?
We were both fortunate to be raised rurally and while, for a time, we both also left this life to live in town, it was always in us to return to the land. But it was through exploring healthy living that we really came to embrace the Homesteading way of life - the raising of animals for food, fiber, and fertilizer etc., the growing of fruit, vegetables, fodder, and forage for ourselves and our animals, and an awareness of what we eat and what we use in our home and on our skin and hair - leading to us making most of what we eat and use ourselves. But also we are driven by a need for independence, self-reliance, and the knowledge that if some major event or crisis was to happen we would be able to cope here on our small farm.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
16 years ago our eldest daughter was born, and at an early age she was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay. Life was not easy and we sold our 7 day a week business to focus on family.
Today she still is a little child in her mind but she has changed our world for the better in so many ways. A couple of things that she has certainly re-enforced in us, is that you don't need much to be happy, it’s better to have time than lots of money, and if we want something done then we should learn about it and do it ourselves.
Why did you choose solar over a generator or something else?
We chose solar as the property we bought was already not connected to the grid, and we wanted a set up which would provide us with enough power, with no other weekly or monthly costs.
Why did you choose GridFree over another company? How did you find us?
We decided to buy a kit, so we searched online and liked the way GridFree laid out what you should be able to run off each system, plus each kit was priced so you knew how much you would have to spend. They were also quick to answer any questions and, having been in business ourselves, good customer service is something we really appreciate.
What’s been the best part of going solar?
For the first 5 months on our property we lived with very little power, just a couple of 150W panels, a single battery/inverter box, and a small Honda generator. This taught us to appreciate the power we had and to not waste it - an attitude we already had for other aspects of our life. Now we have more power, and a fridge that is actually running! It is a great feeling to know it is our resource, just another way we have become self-reliant.
What’s been the best part of homesteading?
The very best part is that we feel absolutely free, we can get up in the morning and choose what we want to do today. We are our own boss!
Another thing we love is the constant learning, to a point where we know we can pretty much fix or sort out anything we set our minds to.
We also really enjoy sharing our life through our Facebook page Fodder Farm, and our group Homesteading New Zealand. We have met some really great people and hopefully encouraged many more to live this way, even if it is just little steps towards their own independence.
Do you have any advice to other people that are planning to go off-grid?
If you are looking to buy a property and live off the land, water would have to be one of the most important elements, firewood would be another.
Then think about how you want to live, how much power do you need. What resources does your land have and what is the best use of them? Then research, learn, and understand, because this is going to be your resource and your responsibility.
Photos courtesy of their 14 year old daughter, Summer.