Monte and I have often mentioned that if we were to do this adventure thing all over again, we would put power on our property before doing anything else. Instead, we lived without electricity for over 2 years. It was very very hard. We had solar power, but it was not enough to run a fridge or washing (or coffee) machine. We could not run a vacuum or a kettle. We could use our laptops and for that reason monte could work. I took my hair dryer to work to dry my hair. If anybody saw me doing that they would laugh at me. In winter, when it was virtually impossible to charge our batteries with the solar panels, we charged the batteries at our friends’ house. It was so kind of Tania and Ady to allow us to do that. It was very embarrassing though.
I hated not being able to wash the clothes at home. I hated going to the laundromat, so monte would do all the washing for me on saturdays. It was hard not having a fridge. Living in the cabin, there were foods that we just wouldn’t buy, because storage and cooking was limited. We did have a wood stove and a gas stove on which to cook. We used a gas fridge as well, but that was the size of a small esky.
I love baking/cooking now, to the point where I am a bit crazed about it. I think that this comes from having limited cooking ability when we lived in the cabin. We gained weight in the cabin too. I think that this was partly because of the way we cooked meals (pasta, rice etc), as well as the fact that the cabin was so small (6x6m- the size of our carport!) so we didn’t move around inside much.
As I write this, I feel like a twit. I have just read ‘Slave’ by Mende Nazer. Now *that* is suffering. We did not really suffer. It was an exercise in stretching our limits and testing our strength.
You might ask why we did not have power. Well, we had a plan to have off-grid solar power. However, between moving to Tasmania and building our home, the government grant for solar power was taken away. Having solar power set up would have been more than twice the cost of installing mains electricity. Not only that, but we would still be limited in the power we could use (ie the machines we could run), especially with a family of our size. Therefore, we decided to install mains electricity.
We do have solar hot water though. Often, especially during the summer, or in winter, when the stove is humming along, you can hear the water bubbling away up there. Having solar hot water keeps our electricity bills very low, and because we do not need to run heaters or coolers because of the design of our home, we do not need to use a great deal of power.
Now, when I open my lovely fridge, or, better still, the freezer, or I turn on the kettle – or, better yet, the coffee machine, or I do a load of washing in my fabulous machine, or I turn on the dishwasher, or use my sewing machines, I smile on the inside. Flicking a switch is a marvellous thing. I don’t think I will ever take that for granted again, and if that is the lesson I learned from living without electricity for so long, then it was worth it, I think.
building frames for our home 2009
If life is as rich as the experience we fill it with, I think that my life is pretty rich. Whilst living in the cabin is something I try to forget, the process of building this beautiful home, with our own hands, with the man I adore, is definitely one of the greatest things we will ever achieve.