Jeff has always wanted to live off grid, ever since we met almost 25 years ago I remember him talking about it and thinking it sounded exciting. When we moved to Ohio a few years ago we had the opportunity to buy an Amish farmhouse and give his dream the chance to be a reality. I was totally on board and ready for the adventure. I never could have imagined what would mean to our family.
Living without electricity, we gain more than we sacrifice. Sure, we have a few toasty days over the summer without air conditioning and I can't use my crockpot, but the things we gain as a family far out weigh the few discomforts. Of course we don't have an electricity bill and we are never affected by storms and power outages, but it's SO much more than that.
No electricity means:
No microwave, making it harder to reheat dinner so we all eat at the same time, usually sat around the table talking together.
No TVs in the bedrooms, we spend our evening time together not separated in our own space. Yes, even the teenagers choose to spend time together! I will say we do have a TV in the living room, it runs off our solar panels. We do not get regular TV, we only watch movies. After movies (sometimes the next day), we talk about themes and promoted dialog in the movie we watched, it's surprising how often the movie is geared to have the viewer rooting for the thief, lier and adulterer.
No kitchen gadgets. This one is an interesting adjustment because I really enjoyed my bread maker. However, removing the tools that seem to make cooking easier has made me realize they take away the skills of real cooking and replace with a reliance on a gadget to cook. There's not much can't be done with a cast iron skillet and elbow grease. The kids are learning to cook and bake with simple equipment, I'm proud of that.
No bathroom electronics. I always get asked how I do my hair. I don't and never have paid much attention to my hair. However we have hooked the blow dryer up to our generator on drivers license picture day! I also have a hair curler that's powered by one of those gas capsule things should the need for curly hair ever come to me. When Jeff mows his beard and hair we do that outside with the generator.
General technology, the kids have tablets and phones. We charge them through the solar panels. Our phones are the only way we get news if we wish to. I can tell you the world doesn't stop if we don't know about every tragic event. I would even say we are better off and keep fear in its place by not hearing the news. For those interested in God stuff ask Jeff and I how we often "hear" the news.
No electric heat- this is my super favorite thing about being off grid. I love to watch Jeff enjoy keeping his family warm. His pursuit of this begins at the end of the summer with getting our firewood supply, cleaning and repairing the chimney. There is something so wonderful about seeing Jeff in his element keeping the fire going 24 hours a day. He loads the fire up before he goes to bed and on the coldest nights gets up in the small hours to restock. Our kids (well two of them), have inherited the joy of fire starting and maintaining. Sofia is usually up first on a morning and takes the embers to resustinate (Websters needs to add that word, it's even fun to say) the fire, she's fantastic at this. I'm glad for this because it never enters my mind to even check on the fire, the city girl in me wouldn't even give it a passing thought until I was shivering and then wonder why. The kids job is to bring in firewood, they don't like it and long for warmer days, but they do it and I appreciate it. They usually work as a team bringing enough for a day or two at a time. Depending on the weather, they may bring in more if it's going be particularly wet or cold.
No air-conditioning, ok so for a few moments in some days we are plain hot. However, until fairly recently so did our ancestors and it didn't kill them. Also, a good portion of the world is still without a/c and manage just fine. I think the broader picture of a/c highlights a great error in the path of America. Comfort. We seek comfort, hold it in high regard and have it as an unshakeable goal. Comfort replaces our desire to go and do. As a Christian my hearts desire is to share the hope I have because of Jesus BUT comfort tells me "they may not want to hear and you'll be rejected". I throw comfort out the window by choosing no a/c but its about more than that, so much more. If we bring our children up to be uncomfortable they won't be confined by the goal and may very well reach dynamic higher goals!
We very often hear people say they wish they could live off the grid, it's their goal and dream. My biggest piece of advise is turn the TV off, log out of Facebook. In the quiet you will hear a beautiful stillness and from there your journey can begin.