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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Without Electricity

I've been thinking about electricity lately...or rather the lack of electricity.  I've been gathering together winter emergency supplies, like I do every fall.  When you life in a rural area, winter storms can do more than prevent you from going anywhere.  They can knock out power, which in our case means no pump, thus no water, no toilet flushing and no heat.  I've been perusing different emergency preparedness websites in order to double check my preps.  So far, so good.  Some easily prepared and heated foods that we cook on our camp stove, extra water, and blankets.  If there is a power outage that lasts more than a day or so, we are out of our element because we still have no source of secondary heat.  It really makes me think about what we would do in a real power grid emergency. 

We lived for a year with no electricty, back in the year 2000.  We lived in an Amish built house with a handpump, an outhouse, oil lamps, and a pioneer built woodstove.  It was hard, it nearly broke us, and I am supremely glad that I did it.  It certainly makes me appreciate the ease of turning on lights, or having water poor out of a spout at the twist of a tap, in our currrent home.  However, I do fear that in general, society is loosing a skill set that once gone, will be difficult to regain.  How many of us out there can start a fire without a match or lighter?  Who knows how to fell a tree with an axe?  Who knows how to build sturdy and long lasting items using only handtools.  How many of us know how to preserve food in a root cellar? 

Thankfully, I have a lot of resilient and knowlegable friends who, through our mutual love of history and/or self-sufficiancy, have mastered many of these past skills.  I have friends who are weavers, spinsters, rug hookers, basket makers, garderners, brewers, seamstresses (by hand, not sewing machine), blacksmiths, carpenters (using hand tools), etc...

I am working on learning to spin, basket weave and sew by hand.  What skills are you learning?



  1. This was once one of my goals in life, was to be able to live as self sufficient as possible. While we still had electricity, we were lucky to live comfortably through long days without it... even our record player did not require it (hand crank) or one of the washing machines I had at the time. It's a wonderful thing to have, and while it's more work than many are used to, it's something I would have back in my life in a heartbeat!
    Someday... I do hope to build my own floor loom, while I have never learned how to weave fancy and have found it quite tedious (same over and over), am thinking it would be neat to have just the same :)

  2. Well, lets see~ My husband and I laid a wide board pine floor---no instruction---just common sense and trying! We put a heart shaped window in an 18thc. door using a pane of antiques bullseye glass, and I installed old beams in my little kitchen by myself!
    (And yes, I do the work on the projects just like he does.)
    I do love construction, I have discovered over the years, and all the many years of work on my house alone gave me much satisfaction.
    I do wish I had a loom---always wanted to learn weaving!

    (You can see the results of our projects at the above sites!)

  3. Mary,

    You do beautiful work too. I just love your house, especially your new doors. I also love your beautiful gowns. You're seamstress/tailoring skills are wonderful!


  4. hi Kate,

    I am getting geared up for a summer of weaving household textiles. Some new clothes for mum, Pierre and I will be in order too.

    What are you up to these days?