Monday, June 21, 2010

The Simple Life...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The "Simple" life

Everything is more difficult when you don't have grid-power. You have to deal with things "normal" people never even think about. When we didn't have any power at all dishes were a 3 hour ordeal. First, I had to haul the water. Then I had to heat it up on the wood cookstove. Next, I had to try to get it to the right temperature - which is an art. For some reason, the dish soap seems to disappear ridiculously fast when you do dishes this way, so it always appears that you are washing dishes in dirty non-soapy water. Of course, the minute you are "finished" with the dishes, it is time to make lunch or dinner, or somebody has to have a drink, so you are never really truly finished. I'm pretty sure that I spent about 6 hours a day trying to keep up with the dishes back when we were living the "simple" life!

We have made progress. After a generator to run the well pump, and a hot water tank for hot running water (we were living the life!) dishes became pretty normal. Normal, that is, until the pressure tank ran out of water, and I had to run outside when it was blizzarding with a 20 mile per hour wind (reducing the temperature to -32).

My husband recently (within the last 6 months) hooked both of our 3600 watt inverters together so they can run either 120 and 240. Revolutionary! We now run our well pump off our batteries. We can do really neat things like take showers or baths, do the laundry, flush the toilet (the kids are having a hard time with this one) and do dishes any time we want! We do have to keep an eye on the battery voltage and charge if the batteries are too low - otherwise the inverters make a hideous noise and want to jump off the wall. I feel so spoiled. And to think, some people can't do the dishes when the dishwasher is broken!

That brings me back to my point for today. Our batteries were pretty low (22.3 volts - we have a 24 volt system) and I needed to charge. I had laundry to do anyway, so we filled up the generator with gas and got laundry started. We happily went about our business getting the house chores taken care of , the outside chores done and had started school. The generator was chugging away, we were pumping water and suddenly the inverters quit charging, the lights started pulsing, all of the appliances started turning on and off. I had to run into the bathroom, turn off the inverters, wait a few minutes, turn the inverters back on. Nothing. Turn the inverters off again, flip the DC disconnect, check all of the breakers, turn the inverters on again. Nothing. Put my boots on, go outside, check the breakers on the generator, go back inside, turn the inverters back on (again). Eureka! It worked. Finally, back to charging as usual. Being off the grid requires you to think. No simple turning on the light switch and having light. We make our light. There are times that I have to be an electrical engineer, a diesel generator mechanic and a plumber all in one day - that on top of being a school teacher, home-maker, small business entrepreneur, wife and mother. Who has time to "work"? And they say we live the "simple" life!
Please don't think I am complaining. I wouldn't change a minute of my life. I do have moments of weakness that I think how easy it would be to live a "normal" life, but then I regain my sanity. It's the simple life for me.

I'm just Livin' the Dream!

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