Wednesday, October 27, 2010
TEOTWAWKI Lifestyle Change
One of the things my family and I have learned being off the grid for the last ten years is that it's all about lifestyle change.
When we used to dream about being off the grid, we would talk about having a 3.5 KW solar array, a 2.5 KW wind turbine, a gravity fed water system and a "backup" 15 KW diesel generator. We would have so much extra power that we would charge the power company to buy our surplus electricity and we would have such an awesome set-up that, rather than having a plain old standard refrigerator, we would go with a walk in cooler. We had it all figured out. And then the lights went out.
The reality of life was that it was life, not a dream. Our dreams gave way to the cold, hard truth and no longer were we the heroes of our own story. Rather than Livin' the Dream with our 3.5 KW solar array, 2.5 KW wind turbine, gravity fed water and 15 KW generator, we started out with a 5 KW Generac generator (that lasted roughly a week), a 35 gallon barrel of water with a spigot on the bottom and two Coleman lamps. Oh, and a camping toilet set up in a corner of our shed.
I would love to tell you that we gracefully accepted our reduced circumstances and turned lemons into lemonade, but sadly, we sucked on some pretty sour lemons before we figured out a crucial component of our post-apocalyptic lifestyle. We had to change the way we did things.
We had to completely change the way we treated our clothing. I did all of the laundry on a galvanized tub on the top of our wood cookstove. It was impossible for me to keep up with laundry for a family of 5 (now 7) that changed their clothes every day. We had to change the way we wore our clothes. Our Sunday best was saved for Sunday. Only. We could wear our Sunday best numerous Sundays before they required a trip through the galvanized tub. The rest of the time we wore our "grubbies". Unless we tromped through the mud, we could wear the same clothes every day for almost a week. We had to do things like wash our face, hands and feet before bed so our sheets stayed clean. We girls would wear aprons so that our clothes didn't get filthy. The guys wore coveralls over their jeans. We learned that we couldn't live a 21st Century life in a 19th Century existence. We had to change our lifestyle.
As Sir Knight and I talk to friends about preparing for uncertain times, one of the common themes we hear is, "We are going to have a 3.5 KW solar array, 2.5 KW wind turbine.......". And our response is always, "you might want to be thinking about a lifestyle change".
Looking back, there were a few simple things that we could have done that would have eased our transition from "normal" to "off-grid". We could have spent a number of "lights-out" weekends. Turning the power off for a few days would have given us a glimpse of what non-electric would have looked like long term. We would have known what kind of lighting worked best and what to expect with no refrigeration. We would have known what "pacifiers" we were really dependent on and had the opportunity to wean ourselves. Hind-sight being 20/20, we would have gotten a James Washer and practiced doing laundry by hand. We did everything the hard way and really, we could have put more thought into basic necessities and made life far easier on ourselves.
The more planning we do to ready our families for uncertainties the better off we will be, however, the realities of life are that it is impossible to plan for every eventuality. You have to take a good hard look at how you currently are living your life and be prepared to change just about everything. TEOTWAWKI is not for the faint of heart. It will require fortitude, perseverance and a willingness to do what it takes. It will require you to look at any given situation and change your lifestyle to match your circumstances. You can make the transition from your "normal life" to your "TEOTWAWKI life" much easier with a little pre-planning, a little thought and a lot of realism.
Enjoy your 21st Century life while planning for your 19th Century existence. We did everything the hard way. You don't have to.