Monday, October 17, 2011

No running water, No electricty, a little more detail

By far the most popular reason people are brought to our site is by searching 'living with no running water or electricity.' And although we are currently living with all the amenities I thought I might talk about our lifestyle prior to our leaving the farm. I think it fascinates and confuses people as to why we would want to live this way. When we started dreaming of our farm, we knew we wanted to live simply, not necessary with out running water. The land where we were to live had neither running water or electricity and to get both of those it would have been a steep investment, one that would have cost more than we could afford and would have prolonged our start into farming. We decided that we would start living without. We figured we would slowly start to acquire these finer things in life. Living without would give us an idea of how we wanted to live- whether it be the traditional well and septic, and being tied to the grid or something more sustainable.

In June of 2008 we moved into a 32 foot travel trailer. The hardest part about that first summer was not having running water for the animals. By the barn there was an old non-working sand-point that we had to re-install in order to get water for the animals. The goal was before winter, so in the mean time we collected rain water runoff. We were lucky that first summer to have many wonderful rain days, although haying was made difficult.

Seems like the thing that peaks curiosity is bathing. We choose a location for the travel trailer that was hidden from the road and other building. We did this because we like our privacy, which worked out well for sun showering. We would collect rain water put it out in the sun to heat the water up, and that is what we used for bathing. It is a wonderful feeling being outside with the sun and the breeze on your body, we continued to sun shower when we had the house too. We had a wash tub that we would fill with water for the kid, and I would also wash diapers in the tub. Later in the summer we bought a kiddie pool, and would sometimes use that like a big bathtub.

That fall Chuck started building our house, 384 square feet of luxury! Moving from a travel trailer that felt like living in a hallway to the house was wonderful, it felt huge in comparison.

The barn on the property had electricity so we could run the sand point and our freezers. In our house we had a propane stove and a propane refrigerator, out of an old RV. At first we lived with no lights, using only oil lamps and the sun. We built the house with passive solar in mind. We moved into the house in October, the sun was setting much earlier and by December we could not stand it. The house would be dark around 4, and we found ourselves getting sleepy. Oil lamps were more like mood lighting! So we had to put in some lights. We used a boat battery as our source of energy and put two socket up one on either side of the house. It was fantastic! Cooking dinner became so much easier. We then would take the battery to the barn to charge it. At first we used regular light bulbs, then in 2010 we switched to the compact light bulbs this made a huge difference. We went from charging the battery a few times a week to a few time a month. Our goal was to get some sort of solar charger hooked up to the battery so that we would not have to haul it to the barn to charge it.

We also had a generator for running the washing machine and dryer, and later the water heater. When we ran the generator for laundry we would also charge our laptop. The generator was loud but so useful to have. There were several times a storm came through and our neighbors did not have electricity and we never knew. The washing machine and dryer are both Bosch, and I love them! The washer plugs into the dryer and the dryer plugged into the generator. You only had to have cold water, there was a setting that you could use that would heat up the water. This was fantastic, since we did not have hot water, and I had diapers to wash. At first we ran a line from the sand point at the barn to our house. Later we put a sand point at the house that we would then use. The sand point at the house was put into our root cellar along with a water heater. Above the root cellar was what we call the coop it housed our bathtub, our laundry machines and our composting toilet.

The toilet- yet another thing that people are curious about. This one has been an adventure. As we all need to go- and have some place to do it. In the olden days farm houses had an outhouse, not such a big deal but we were not sure that is what we wanted. Although we knew whatever we did it would have to be outside, as our house was just to small. At this point we looked into composting toilets, nice, compact but expensive. Then we found The Humanure Handbook, we decided then to make our own composting toilet. There is tons of information to be found on the web, one to check out is Humanure Headquarters.

For heat we had a wood stove, not such a big deal to heat such a small house. We were plenty warm, even though we did not have insulation in the walls yet. We probably went through more wood then we would have, but still we did not go through that much wood. Leaving the farm for an extended time in the winter was made difficult as there was no secondary heat. Anything that had water in it or was liquid would freeze, eventually the goal was to have a heater of some sort, just to keep things from freezing. We did have a small propane heater in the coop, and thought about something like that for the house.

Now that we are back living among the amenities I do miss living simply, however it is nice to have warm water when you need it.

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