I think I may have related some of this information somewhere in my blog previously but a while ago (sorry I'm a little tardy on this) Susan at e-i-e-i-omg! asked me how long we lived without electricity when we moved up here. So here are the details again. Feel free to travel on to some other more interesting blog if this is old stuff to you.
When we moved from Illinois, we settled on 80 acres we had purchased a number of years previous to the move. The land had originally been homesteaded (in the true sense of the word) in the early 1900s but had then been abandoned since 1917. The original settlers had cleared some land for pasture, hay fields and gardens. They lived in a very small log cabin while they built their house which burned down, sadly, sometime in the 1940s, long after the family had left the land.
This piece of land was almost 20 miles outside of our little town and the first year or so we had NO neighbors anywhere near us. There was also no electrical service available.
But where there's a will there's a way. We started out living in a 10' x 50' mobile home we had had moved up to the property from Illinois. The trailer was nearly 20 years old and had next to no insulation. (Yup, fine structure to live in in a part of the country that gets down to 30 degrees below zero in the winter.) But our living accommodations and the related trials and tribulations could fill many blog posts.
We did this not only with our daughter who had just turned two when we came up here but with a small herd of dairy goats, one donkey, a flock of chickens and 3-4 horses. No, the animals weren't in the trailer with us; the only structure on the piece of property was the original hand-hewn log barn which we fixed for the animals by putting a new roof on it.
Back to our lack of electricity. For light, we started out with Coleman camping lanterns. We had three of them. I can easily recall the hissing sound they made. The fumes probably weren't the best for us to breathe either, but then the trailer had enough gaps and cracks to let in plenty of fresh air.
Next we graduated to good old-fashioned kerosene lamps. At least they were quiet and created a little softer ambiance.
Hubby says we then found some Coleman lanterns that burned kerosene (rather than white gas) but I don't remember those so I don't think we used them for long.
Next? Aladdin lamps. Wow, they gave a lot of light. Wow, the mantles caught fire easily. I can't tell you how many times one of us had to grab a lamp and rush out the door before anything inside caught fire. I am still not fond of Aladdin lamps.
We had an L.P. tank of gas for our combination wood/gas cook stove so when we could afford them, we bought two wall mounted gas lights. They gave off so much heat that we hesitated turning them on when it got dark in the summer time. Our tin can of a house that was so cold in the winter, did a good imitation of an oven in the summer.
Then . . . ta-dah! . . . hi-tech set in. We bought some old, used telephone company batteries and a used (very used) Onan diesel generator that when fired up scared wild animals for miles around. Each Saturday we would start the generator which would then charge up the batteries. This enabled us to run 12 volt fluorescent lights off the batteries for a week. Best of all Saturday was bath day! We filled a galvanized tub with water (by hand with buckets of heated water) and hubby rigged a small motor that would pump the water up and through a shower head. It wasn't pretty but it sure was an improvement over the sponge baths we had to make do with the rest of the week.
We kept refining the system as we could but it wasn't until we had lived there for 12 years that it was possible to get grid power brought down our road. By that time there were two other full time families living within a couple of miles so we all went together to get electrified.
Until we got power brought in we were living without running water, of course. I've always said I'd rather do without running water than without electricity. I had my own efficient system set up for water but now marvel at all I did when each and every drop of water had to be hand carried in from the well. But inadequate lighting was difficult for me to deal with. For much of the year, it was depressing because I couldn't see well enough inside unless it was a very sunny day. Trying to accomplish anything before the sun came up or after it set was nearly impossible.
But we survived and I honestly think it made us stronger. If nothing else, because of what we've done and been through, we're probably better equipped to deal with anything that might come our way. Plus our daughter was raised seeing a family functioning very well and happy, thank you very much, in circumstances that most people today have never even experienced.
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