sgian at netscape.com
sgian at netscape.com
Fri Jul 2 22:05:16 EDT 2010
As far as electricity goes, for a catastrophic event that takes out the grid for an extended period of time, even if you have your own alternative system, where are you going to get light bulbs, replacement electric motors, consumer gadgets, etc. If there's no grid, there's no electric or electronic industries.
Better, thinks I, is a personal economy that uses electricity but does not utterly depend on it. We've had some practice at this being on the grid of the 3rd World Electric Co. Inc (American Electric Power). In the month of December we were completely without power a total of 16 days. The rest of the months have been an improvement but every little squall and thunderstorm puts us without power typically for 24 hours at a time.
Our homestead economy has centered around using electricity for those things for which there are no alternatives: the internet, watching DVD's, the radio, etc. For those things that work better or at least just as well without electricity, we forgo it. Knives instead of food processor, wood range rather than electric, sink instead of dish washer, etc.
For some things we use electricity but stay in practice and supplied to do without it. We use an electric washing machine but occasionally use the tub and wringer to stay in practice. Electric fans to cool the house in the summer, but spend time under the trees as often as possible. Electric lights but lamps, lanterns and candles on hand and used from time to time just to remind ourselves we can.
> I can't imagine hauling water for everything, everyday, all
year long the way I know some have (Lynn in SC comes to mind) at my
age. Now mind you, I feel pretty good now at almost 50, but I am under
no illusions about how much labor hauling water takes.
The one "weak" point in our setup is water. The household's source of water is two springs that feed a cistern some 1000 feet away and 75 feet lower than the house. A well pump delivers the water. When the electricity goes out, no water. That's a minor problem. What was NOT a minor problem was the two years of Biblical Proportion drought that dried up both springs for months at a time. Nothing to pump no matter how much electricity one has.
Now the usual 'off the grid' think comes up with all sorts of suggestions for alternate water sources: rain water, windmill pump to lift the water from one of the three creeks (that did not dry up), ram pump, etc.
But having had to actually live under these conditions, you quickly find that your mindset has grown dull with water on tap all your life. In practice you DON'T haul water. Instead of hauling water to your activities, you haul you activities to water. We took the laundry to the creek, we took the animals to the creeks, and while we hauled water to wash dishes, we took large pots to the creek for washing. And ourselves.
You find very quickly when you carry the water how little you really need for washing a sink full of dishes. Likewise for processing food and washing socks etc. etc. Haul water for a while and you become an expert at using it.
We killed chickens today and they are aging in the fridge. I am going to can them rather than freeze them. In fact I will be canning a lot of stuff this year we don't usually can: blackberries, peaches, wild greens, fish, rabbits. We will salt all the pork and we are tending to make hard cheeses that don't need refrigeration. I'm not about to give up the fridge or the freezers, but I want to have more of a hand in the alternatives.
> I do have a
old two man saw blade that we could re-handle, but wow, that would be a
The handles or the saw do you mean? If the saw, let me suggest once again that the notion of how hard it is to saw wood by hand is much more gruesome than the actual sawing. It doesn't take all that much more work than a chainsaw, but it takes considerable more skill and planning. If the two-man saw is leveled, set, and sharpened properly, it is not much work at all buck huge logs. There hasn't been a working chainsaw on the place in nearly fifteen years and yet we do all our heating and cooking with wood we have sawed by hand.
I think that our geezerdom would make us much more inclined to saw our leg off than prevent us from sawing wood by hand.
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