Friday, September 5, 2008

The Blessing of Living Without Electric Lights & TV

Last week, our old house gave us a challenge that we are running with. The old fuse box finally gave out on 3 of the 5 circuits. Of course, they were the most used ones! Our kids' bedroom, the kitchen, and the livingroom now are without electricity, with the exception of the stove that was on it's own circuit. My husband & I have never had electricity in our bedroom, being that it is located in the 1890 portion of the home. We have always used a heavy duty extension cord to bring power to the alarm clock and lamp. Now, the refrigerator is on a heavy duty extension cord until this weekend when we will be moving it to the pantry which still has electricity.

We are giving ourselves until next payday (in 2 weeks) to be certain, but it looks like our decision is already made. Instead of replacing the fuse box with another large one to have electricity throughout the entire home, we will be buying a small one that will provide electricity only to the essential areas. The kitchen needs power to the stove since I am only able to use my wood cookstove during the cooler weather. Three months of the year, we need the electric stove. I also need it for all the baking that I do year round and for my canning as it provides a more constant level of heat than the wood stove provides. The pantry must have electricity as we are moving the refrigerator and eventually will be putting a freezer in there. It is also the room where our laundry & water heater is located. The clothes dryer and washer are being kept as a back up for the times when the weather is stormy & I can't hang it out on the line or when the arthritis in my hands is too painful to hand wash the laundry. The water heater will remain also as a backup for when we have our solar water heating system built. There are often times when the skies are overcast enough that the solar system may not provide water hot enough for our needs. The only other electricity that our home will have is a single outlet in the kitchen for any small appliances, such as my wheat grinder, and in the livingroom for the computer and my sewing machine. As I am able, I am wanting to start converting as much as possible to the non-electric versions. I have an old sewing machine that once I have a treadle base, I can convert it into a treadle powdered machine. A hand-crank wheat grinder is an investment that I have wanted to aim for also to allow me the ability during power outages to still be able to mill my grains for cooking/baking.

The change to using oil lamps for all of our lighting has been rather easy. We don't stay up late due to Joe's having to be up early for work. The major adjustment has been the lack of TV. That has also been something that after the first few days has become easy to do without.

The one major adjustment that I have had to make is in getting all my work done in daylight hours. There are some things that I can manage with the light from oil lamps, but doing dishes and other cleaning is best being completely done before sundown. I have also learned where I can place my oil lamps in the rooms to provide the best lighting.

Our daughter, at 2 yrs old, has also been making adjustments. Instead of wanting to watch Veggie Tales or Disney DVDs in the afternoon, she is coloring in her coloring books, playing with her toys, or looking at her other books. Often, I catch her sitting near her 5 month old brother with her books and "reading" to him. They are interacting much more, entertaining each other.

At their young age, the change to limited electricity and not having a TV will be easy. They will grow up not knowing anything different. Abbie plays outdoors more, which we love to see. She won't grow up vegetating in front of the TV with her only exercise being changing the station or playing video games. Having 20 acres of land to run and play on, the kids wil grow up loving the outdoors and getting plenty of exercise each day.
We are also spending more time as a family doing things together.

Having the electricity act up has turned into a wonderful blessing. I thank the Lord for the grace He has shown to us through this opportunity to make these changes.

2 comments:

Tim and Lisa Reitz said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences! I think you are doing something that the majority of the population would never consider...but is a great option! We are currently on-the-grid, however we plan in the near future to move out of town and use renewable energy as a source for electricity in our home. I really like your ideas of keeping electricity only in the rooms that require it! I think the hardest time to adjust would be in winter (we live in Wisconsin) since it is dark the entire time we are at home (and light when we are at work...go figure). I think I might go a little stir-crazy sitting around the oil lamp for several hour....or being stuck in one room. I'm excited to hear more about your trials and tribulations with this! Thanks again for sharing. I stumbled along your blog and am having a good time reading it!

-Lisa
onthefox.blogspot.com

Oklahoma Prairie Mom said...

Thanks! I am glad that you found the blog and are enjoying it. I have enjoyed writing it and never realized just how many people actually do find and read it!

We are loving the change in our lifestyle. The dark doesn't bother us. We are planning to get more family games that we can play together and with our little ones as they are old enough.

An option you can have is to choose the room that you want to keep with electricity. If you notice a room where you spend most of your evenings, you can choose it to be with electricity. You can have a multi-purpose room with the computer and other forms of work & entertainment all in the one area. That will help to keep the boredom in the evenings at bay.