How back to basic is acceptable for you?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Thunder5Ranch, Oct 17, 2016.


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  1. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+

    This is very often a real debate here! For myself I like going very basic and bordering on primitive. My wife on the other hand wants a higher level of technology and dependence on outside things. This has lead to some very intense debates over the years. Whether is be spending $15,000 to have a power line or $32,000 to have a city/rural water line ran down to our place. I obviously lost those debates :) My little 600 watt solar, 900watt wind turbine, generator, jump the truck to the battery bank in a pinch electric system met my needs. And fuel for the generator cost considerably less than the 15K run the line and now $250-$350 monthly electric bill. Water came from a 150 year old shallow well that never runs dry and has great water quality and a roof top collection system that fills a 2500 gallon cistern and I used 125GPM 12v pumps to move the water. She did not like the idea of drinking water from a hole in the ground or that ran off of barn roofs. It does not taste right was her chant for 3 years until I caved. For hot water I simply put a 28 gallon pot on the wood stove and dumped the hot water into the cold water in the tub, or a smaller pot for doing dishes. Also did all of my cooking in a old kitchen wood stove/oven or on the living room wood stove. It did not take long after getting married to learn that wood stoves and cast iron cookware are Barbaric. Now we have a 240V power sucking monstrosity that I cringe at using. I did not even own a TV had gone since 1985 without a TV. I admit I do enjoy the computer but still spend more time with my radio. Just can't generate any interest in the TV or more exactly the constant bombardment of filth that comes out of the idiot box in the SE corner of the living room.

    I imagine most folks have these same debates to one degree or another. Either in starting a more basic living or bringing a new spouse into the equation. I admit things like the grid electric make things easier and instead of 1 deep freeze I can now power as many freezers and walk in coolers as I want (For a price of course). I could just pull a hydrant handle to water the livestock, instead of going to the well or cistern and clamping the pump onto the battery. I have found though the cattle won't touch the treated water until it has sat for 5-7 hours. They walk over sniff the trough, snort and walk away. I suspect it is the chlorine and other chemicals they are smelling in the water and they just wait for them to evaporate out before they will drink the treated water. The well water they don't hesitate to start sucking down. The Garden plants grow better, greener, bigger, and faster with the well water, but of course I am not poisoning them with chlorine and all the other goodies in **Safe** water.

    I must admit that prior to my second marriage, life was simple, my only consistent bills were for internet and the property taxes. On the other hand there is something to be said for companionship and occasionally a helping hand with some jobs. The cost of that just happens to be grid electric, water and that damn TV and Cell phones..... Something else I don't have a use in the world for :)

    So how advanced or primitive are you willing to go to make a spouse happy? How advanced or primitive do you require to be comfortable personally?
     
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  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Life gets difficult when you try to define comfort. Bodily comfort is one thing, psychological comfort is yet another question, and the two are (to an extent) interdependent; there's a balance to be struck --
     
  3. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    I have lived off grid, prior to solar power, gensets, wind energy etc .... I do not want to live off grid unless I have too.

    People don't realize how much time is spent on subsistence living when you have to haul your water, go to bed at dark and feed 2x a day plus ride horses (and I like horse) but the whole thing wears on your body. We live easy today and I like that. Now.... having said all of that, I have back up plans but I hope I never have to implement them
     
  4. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey+

    There is no definite answer to how many modern convenience's a Monkey can enjoy, but it sounds like you have a system in place that you could fall back on, should the need arise, that would provide a level of creature comfort that many in such a crisis would have to forgo.

    Personally I live a very rough lifestyle compared to the norm, but my wife and I are used to it and comfortable with it, we could even do with less and still be good.
     
  5. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+

    Oh I get that, and that this is very subjective to each individual. What is balance for and comfortable for me, might be sheer misery for the wife... OK no might be to it :)
    I grew up off grid no electricity, no running water and the log splitter was whomever was old enough and strong enough to swings the axe. We drug the logs out of the woods with mules and used a 2 man cross cut saw to whittle them down. Even in the 70s and 80s there were a lot of areas in rural America that were very far from modernized. Still are if you go far enough off the beaten path. So solar and wind with gen/truck back up is easy street from my perspective, at first 12v inc. lights and now 12v LEDs and inverters and freezing meat instead of canning, salting and smoking all of it.... yeah piece of cake again from my perspective. Having a big diesel pick up that can pull 30k-35k loads beats the mules pulling one log at a time and chainsaws and log splitters beat the cross cut and swinging the axe or worse the sledge hammer and wedges for the knotty pieces.
     
  6. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+

    It really is not the back up it is the life I choose and enjoy. Just wondering how much independence of the system others would give up to make a spouse happy :)
     
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  7. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Clean running water and a working flush toilet (possible and even easy with running water) are the minimum. Now, add hot running water and I'm good.

    Wife grew up in a house built in the '20s. Wood heat, kerosene lights.
    I think she would be very unhappy to lose grid-connected gas, electric and water and sewer. But we both could do without - at least 'till we could get to civilization.....
     
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    There is "Primitive" and there is "Off-Grid".... One means you give up Modern conveniences, and the other means you Generate ALL your own Power.... We live Off-Grid, far out in the Alaskan Bush.... We have most of the Modern conveniences, like Telephone, Tv, Internet, In-door Flush Toilets, and Hot & Cold Running Water.... These things can ALL be done, out here, because over then last 30+ years we have built them up, and learned to be as efficient as possible, in our consumption. When we first moved here, I bought a PreProduction Prototype of the Trace UB3624 Modified Seine-wave Inverter w/ 800 AmpHours of Batteries, to power the cabin. AlaskaChick, wasn't convinced it was a wise investment, but went along with it.... By running this, we only had to run the Genset, 10 hours a day, and we put ALL the Kerosene Lamps, in Storage. That Inverter now runs the Winter Shop, and we have a Trace 4024 Seine-wave Inverter w/1200 AmpHours of Batteries, for the cabin, that is 15+ years old. Momma now says it was the best investment we made. Nostalgia is nice, but it is a whole lot more practical, to Turn on a Light Switch, than hunt around, in the dark, for the Matches, to light up an Aladdin Lamp in the middle of the night, when something goes "Bump".... I spend about 2 hours a week on Domestic Potable Water.... Our Water System is documented here on the Monkey, in the Off-Grid Forum, w/Pictures... We can pump from North Creek, if we have a dry Winter, but that has only happened, once or twice, in the last 15 years, since we expanded our Rain Water Collection and Storage Systems. Also documented here in the Off-Grid Forum. Our Heat, comes from the Open Pot Fired, Diesel Fueled, Cookstove, that also makes ALL the Domestic Hot Water, via a set of Copper Coils, in the FireBox.... The cabin was built in 1908, and we have to supplement our Heat, with a Wood Stove, when outside Temps drop below 25F... That Wood Burner uses Outside Air, for Combustion, so we don't waste a lot of Heating BTUs, burning the Wood. I spend a couple of weeks every summer, logging our Firewood. We keep our woodshed, stocked, about two years, ahead of use, so we are burning well seasoned wood, in the winters.... We have four Freezers, that get Stocked Full of our winters Food, on the last Barge of the summer, in September. We know there isn't going to be another until May, the Next Spring, so we get what we need, in and stored, before that. Each fall, we have 18 months of our regular Food items, stored away, and that does NOT count the Years Supply of Preps, of Backup Staples, in Longterm Storage. We were both, brought up in this LifeStyle, so it is just a slight modification, of how we were raised. There is Primitive, but we chose Comfort... and we are Comfortable.....
     
  9. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    I am almost completely "off grid" as far as gas and electricity go, other then water and internet, we do pretty well up here. I am working to get off the water, and the internet and cell phones would be about the only "outside" things we have. Having spent most of my adult life in the service deployed to some pretty primitive places, I have found what is acceptable to me during "normal" times and what I can get by with if I have to. It helps that my Lovely Bride grew up even more self reliant then I did, so she is quite well versed in doing with out! Granted, she is hooked on things now, but she could pull the plug and not suffer for long! I think it all comes down to a mind set of accepting the minimums you can agree on, and what you can come up with to make even the most simple life style enjoyable! In my mind, I can be happy with every thing I currently have on my property and I could go completely off the grid for ever and not loose one bit of my Life's enjoyment! My Bride is very close to that as well!
     
  10. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+

    Lights, Running Water, Septic lines are nice additions. Even the hot water heater is nice. Does it matter how you achieve those things whether solar, wind, or generator or even grid power? Personally I like the hand pump to the cistern for bath and dish water more than the faucet, but turning the left handle on the faucet and having instant hot water is very nice when you don't want to wait a hour for a bath or to do the dishes. Water systems are not a problem here, part of the reason I chose this land is over half of it sits on top of a aquifer that is very close to the surface. Can dig down 3-4 feet in the middle of August and the hole will be full of water in less than 20 minutes. Complex water systems in a low iron, high sandstone and limestone area, where the water runs out of the ground in a few spots, not required and water conservation is not something I invest a lot in. So the public water lines and paying for water every month is my biggest annoyance.
     
  11. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    Funny the hot water issues we all have! I came up with a really nifty trick when I was building my steam boiler for my 2 cylinder Steam engine, I copied the big boiler and scaled it down to provide instant ( kinda/sorta) hot water for the house needs, and the big boiler can boost this when needed! I ran 60 feet of copper tubing round the inside of the boiler and then steel pipe to the kitchen and the two bathrooms! I can draw stream water as long as it gets filtered first. As soon as the Gov, gets all it's teeth out of my ass on all the permits and inspections, I can go off the water supply and use only my stream and small holding pond to provide all the water I could ever want or need! My bigger boiler is to run all the "power needs" of my home and shop's. I also have a water wheel that runs a 4 stage generator for 8500 watts of power rectified to A/C and I can use this to power all my electrical needs EXCEPT heat, or serious electrical draw like running my Welder!
     
  12. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Being spousless, it's pretty much an academic question for me. What kind of negotiating might be necessary to get the primitive vs modern technology balance right, for the both of us, may not be known until the circumstances arrive. To me its not an either- or proposition. Circumstances beyond our personal preferences may dictate the degree to which our technology application becomes primitive...it may come down to elements of both degrees of the primitive/modern technologies spectrum.

    Priorities might come down to

    1. Survival: Those things that are essential for staying alive, (not being able to see the latest sitcom offerings on Netflicks is not a survival requirement).

    2. Convenience: Those things that make life much easier and enable one to live without having to invest significant time, energy and tedium in having to operate or process necessary household and farmstead activities.

    3. Comfort: Those things that offer a degree pleasure and enjoyment of life and living.

    4. Luxury: Those things that may be resource intensive; may be expensive in consuming resources; are uncommonly or rarely available, and give one a sense of self satisfaction, or social superiority, just by the mere fact of having them.

    Any partner who is likely to suffer profound psychological deprivation by not being able to access electronics, electricity, grid supplied gas or water would probably not be a good fit with me. Adaptability rates highly on my comapatbility scale.
     
  13. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    For Us, it was a matter of like life styles and like interests! I hunt and fish, and gather for fun and a serious hobby! She likes to cook and prepare meals and to can and preserve! We both like a simple way of life, we do not like large public places, we prefer a small get together with people we know. What really brought out the best in both of us was a shared awakening as it were, a eye opening that we both found, and we found that we had the same goals, but different back grounds, and come from two very different parts of the world, but we both share medical backgrounds, and that combined with every thing else, we could have every thing we both wanted because we are mutually supportive! It also helps that we remain best friends first and foremost, we fight together, instead of against each other, and combined with all the above, we make a formidable team!!!
     
  14. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    I can put up with a lot, but I draw the line at crapping in a hole and taking a bath in a bucket. I gotta have indoor plumbing. Everything else is negotiable.
     
  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    You pretty much nailed it, BT. With modern inverters, plentiful solar panels, and ever more efficient charge controllers it's much easier to set up an off grid residence than it was, say in the early '80s. The only other real requirement is a reliable water source (s). Indoor plumbing, a remote location and available game is nice also.
     
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  16. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    We did not have a furnace growing up. I still remember those mornings waking up and seeing my breath. The fire would go out over night and it was nippy. It is the way it was. Yes, I always wished we had central heating like the other kids but we couldn't afford it. I have a furnace now and love it but I could go back. My goal is to get back to wood heat 100%.

    I have been having water issues and my realtor suggested the other day that I tap into the local water line and run it down to the house at about 20-30 grand. I asked her why would I spend that money to run town water vs drilling a new well. That discussion stopped quick because she is more city then me plus she thinks chlorine is okay. It highlights a difference because I see a well as a plus just not in chemical free water but in case things collapse, I would have a water source.
     
  17. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    I know I can live without conveniences...I have done so.

    That said, I will enjoy every convenience/comfort possible as long as I can. I see no reason to do without when modern conveniences are available.
     
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  18. Thunder5Ranch

    Thunder5Ranch Monkey+

    I got lazy with the coming of grid electric, or maybe pushing 50 I am not as tough as I was at 20-30-40 :) But I installed a 240v ceiling mount electric heater, and wired a switch for by the bed. Fire burns down over night, wake up flip the switch hide under the blankets for another 15 minutes, get up and stoke the fire in warmth instead of shivering :) That to me is well worth a couple bucks electric on a cold morning. Crazy how much it cost to run water lines, just so you have poison at the tap. Thinking at some point of putting in a outside wood boiler, but I sure wood miss my old box stove.
     
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  19. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    We lived in town but her friends never came to visit. my friends would visit.
    Moved to the desert and I loved it, still only my friends would visit .
    Wife insisted on moving back to town so her friends would visit ,
    and still never happened .
    Some one convinced that an illusion will make them happy, will never be satisfied.
    She's gone , I live alone now and more simply.
    I shut off the water heater the other day for 2 reasons ,
    1. save gas for important things.
    2. going solar
    I like being on solar and only using city power for serious needs ,like welding and running an air compressor and other machinery.
    Most all my lighting is DC LED battery solar supported .
    I like having my chickens and fish and gardening .
    It's my cup of tea.
    I can still watch my movies I've invested in through the years ,DVDs and VHS numbering in the thousands.
    I have all the music I want ,because it is an investment I made years ago as well.
    I know folk that throw away the old and embrace new stuff,f but when the new stuff fails they got nothin.
    I can appreciate old tools, but it's no fun cutting a piece of ply wood with a hand saw. I can but it's not fun.
    We have improved tools because the demand for them exist. other wise you'd be using stone tools for scraping hides to make clothing still.
     
  20. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey++

    I'm easy. Cardboard box shelter, canvas as a luxury, pine straw mattress, newspaper blankets, water from gas station faucets, wash basin bathing, wood heat, cold canned food, good eating from restaurant dumpsters, Coleman lantern light, and bicycle transportation. I lived that way by choice in my late teens and was completely happy, although sometimes miserably cold when I got up into Ontario.

    The spouse on the other hand... Smart phone, cable TV, electric heat and lights, newer car. She does use my cast iron pans now, and has always been good at cooking on coals. Tolerates my Coleman lantern lighting outside. She enjoys the monster pantry and ability to have stuff on hand, but is not a big supporter of experimental wood heat.
     
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