Humans of Solar: Christina & Peirce Baehr
10 Aug, 2021
We speak with everyday Tasmanians who are living off sunshine.
— with Peirce & Christina Baehr
Peirce: I’m originally from the US. Christina grew up here, her parents are both American but she’s been in Australia since she was one. We met randomly at my parent’s house in Los Angeles, hit it off and were married in 2007. When we moved here we had a long-term vision to open an off-grid hospitality ministry. We found a good plot of ground here in the Huon Valley and opened in 2018. Pilgrim Hill is a Christian ministry: we supply low-cost accommodation for travellers—mostly fruit-pickers—from Europe and Asia.
We really love the location we chose for the hostel and it was extremely cost prohibitive to be able to connect to the grid. Besides that, off-grid technology is completely and totally doable. It’s not been difficult at all.
The traveller season runs from October to the end of May and then we close for winter. Most of our travellers are young people on working holiday visas, and they’re out during the heart of the day which means that’s family time for us.
Christina: We have a big family—seven daughters and a son, aged from baby to 12-years, and we homeschool.
A lot of people are really shocked that we can have such a big family off-grid. We do pay a lot of attention to the weather. We have tonnes of power in summer so we can run our heat pump dryer, dishwasher and washing machine three or four times a day. In winter we have to be more careful.
Peirce: It’s best, of course, when it rains overnight and it’s sunny during the day! There’s been a tiny adjustment at the beginning, but it’s not been difficult being on solar. When it gets to the heart of winter we do have to run our generator, but that’s the extent of it.
Christina: You get this really strong sense of feeling grateful for the weather. If it’s raining, the tanks are filling up. If it’s sunny, the power’s filling up. I enjoy that a lot.
There are lots of lifestyle choices that we make that are to do with how we should live on the earth. Composting, keeping chickens, buying meat locally, being careful of what we buy.
It’s also a selling point for the hostel. A lot of the people who come and stay with us have never lived rurally. They might be from a big city in Asia or Europe. We have a veggie garden for the hostel and I’ve taken travellers out and shocked them by pulling a carrot out of the ground. They’ve just never seen anything like that in their lives. Being off-grid is a really fun experience for the people staying here.
Peirce: We just have to warn them not to use their hairdryers at 9pm!
Christina: The biggest thing for me is raising the kids off-grid, because they get a really strong sense of where things come from. In the Western World, we tend to be disconnected from where things come from. We take it for granted. It’s like magic: when I want something I turn a switch and it’s there. Living off-grid is magical in a different way because the kids get to see that their power is coming from the sun. It feels amazing to be able to harness the power of the sun to run the things that you need to do life. That’s really special.