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A well-designed small house makes life much simpler!

 
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Location: Finland, Scandinavia
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Rich Rayburn wrote:Kaarina,
our wood sheds get maximal wind effect, although with a little less science involved. 😊



Well, this shed is not your average shed.we usually have sheds with spaced planks.

As I am an experienced sailor, I know how wind flows. I was impressed by the design. It does direct the wind in an ingenious way. The incoming wind gets squeezed into a tunnel and flows faster. After the tunnel, it gets separated into a whirl (sorry, english is not my mother tongue)

But just brilliant.
 
Kaarina Kreus
Posts: 199
Location: Finland, Scandinavia
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Kaarina Kreus
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If you take a walk between tall buildings, or in a narrow mountain pass, you will notice that the same effect is working: The air becomes compressed on the windy side of the buildings or mountains, and its speed increases considerably between the obstacles to the wind. This is known as a "tunnel effect".
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Kaarina Kreus
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Rich Rayburn wrote:Kaarina,
Thanks for that little science lesson on the wind tunnel effect of your woodshed. That's really quite interesting, is this a standard type of construction used in Scandinavia as I've never seen it in the states. 😊


I have never seen it in Scandinavia either. But when I thought about it, I was IMPRESSED. I discussed the construction with my and he said it is ingenious: to use air flow principles to optimise air flow inside a building.
Sorry for my poor english but I hope you get the point.
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Kaarina Kreus
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Rich Rayburn wrote:Kaarina,
That's really quite interesting, is this a standard type of construction used in Scandinavia as I've never seen it . 😊


No, it is not. We  usually have basic sheds.
My father, an industrial engineer and professor emeritus, was quite impressed. He said it is about time we started usind air dynamics in buildings.

He is 82, helped me to build the shed. I wish I can live up to that!
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gardener & author
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Thank you for sharing so much detail about your beautiful small house. Really lovely photos.
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Kate Downham wrote:Thank you for sharing so much detail about your beautiful small house. Really lovely photos.


Glad if you found them interesting, Kate.

I just want to show to all folks on this permies site how you can have a perfect home in really small quarters. And without electricity, running water or plumbing. I honestly live happily!

I am a professional chef and prepare really laborious dishes. I cook delicious sauces for hours, make Sachertorte with glossy chocolate topping, make lasagna the Italian way... The kitchen is so good I can prepare any dish!


 
Kaarina Kreus
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This year my target was to
1) plant slowly growing fruit trees and berry bushes.
2) build (=I bought the house fully constructed) the house and make it liveable.

The wood shed was not on the list as I thought I cannot afford it, but my father paid for it as a birthday present.

So this summer I planted 100 fruit trees and 300 berry bushes. Next year I will start the vegetable and kitchen garden. I spent a week clearing the site. This picture shows the site after I toiled on it and after the neighbouring farmer spread the tons of compost, leaves and horse manure I had waiting.

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After I cleared the site
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After
After soil was spread
 
Kate Downham
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We had no running water for 3 years and our solutions were not as elegant and beautiful as yours. A well-designed home like yours can make it so much easier to live without these things.

We also cook only with wood - it takes more thought than flicking a switch on an electric stove, but is so much more satisfying.
 
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Wow Kaarina that is really inspiring.
I am amazed at what you can do on a wood stove, but then... perhaps being a chef is a bit of a head start. At least once you cross the low tech Rubicon.
I love the pics of your house and site. They really do inspire me.
Your father rocks! What a beautiful and amazing present. I think many homesteaders here would be interested in your woodshed plans and  the techniques involved. The way the structure is designed to play with the wind in order to achieve maximum drying is really ingenious. And it looks stunning. Go Dad!
hugshugs from late springtime new Zealand, where we have had much rains and the first flower is appearing on my tiny new elder tree. I have 7, raised this winter from cuttings. Five of them are already rocking it in the garden.
Please continue to communicate the awesomeness,
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Kate Downham wrote:
We also cook only with wood - it takes more thought than flicking a switch on an electric stove, but is so much more satisfying.



Dear Kate, I know a wood stove can be challenging for cooking! You never really know the amount of heat.

In restaurants we had the same problem. The morning shift would turn on the huge cast iron stoves, and they would be on until the evening shift turned them off. No way to adjust the heat! So all professional cooks use trivets. Sometimes several.
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Kaarina Kreus wrote:
As I have no electricity, petroleum lamps and led "candles" that work with rechargeable AA batteries.



How do you recharge the batteries if you don't have electricity?
 
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Dear Kaarina,
Wow and wow and wow! This has truly been one of the most wonderful, inspiring ongoing posts! What an incredible home, shed & farm you’ve built! So beautiful, practical, efficient. I’ve learned so much from your photos & descriptions as well as everyone else’s. Inspiring!
Do you plan to build any greenhouses since you must have a short growing season?
What are your next plans other than a big garden?  
Thank you & please keep this thread updated w new developments!
 
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Kaarina,
Such a beautiful little place! Everything you need and nothing you don’t. I think that’s my dream cabin…
We have lived 4 years in our skoolie home and have downsized/adjusted well except for the moving around part. 3x in 4 years. I’m ready to settle down and enjoy our own little piece of land and maybe rebuild an old shed or barn for my longed for studio/art space and the hubs can have his work shop. We micro homestead wherever we land and are ready to expand on that a bit. The bus has been a blessing and we’ve made it what we wanted but it’s time for more work space to head into retirement in a few years. We want to be able to earn enough to keep ourselves doing and creating and sharing what we love. Thanks for sharing your home and ideas!
 
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Love what you did Kaarina.
Do you have plans or drawings that you could share?  
 
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Do you have a “chamber pot” in the bedroom for nighttime use? My grandparents had a chair with a seat that lifted and inside was the pot. It was emptied in the morning but saved them from having to go out to the outhouse when it was dark and served as a chair in the day.
 
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Looks bigger than 200 square feet. I once built a cabin that was I think 268--but that was for just me, a hexagon with a small rectangular loft. Now I live in a 1400 square foot octagon I built with my husband--I think it's bigger than we really need but he wanted it this big. We also have an outhouse, a nice composting on with a pair of more distant "poo bins" to dump the buckets in. I've noticed that potential visitors are often scared off when I mention the outhouse. But I consider running water and sink pretty necessary--I once lived with a yuck bucket, don't want to do that again. Hot water I don't consider a necessity--we also usually have water heated atop the woodstove in winter but here winter in only 3 months or so. The main thing I wanted to comment on is the electricity. I lived without electricity for five years--and I find it interesting that when I read my journals from that time, they were full of whining but none of it was about living without electricity. My current house has an off-grid solar electric system--we use 2 to 3 kilowatt-hours a day, which is ten percent of the US average--and we have all the luxuries. But. For Katrina, a fridge may not be necessary or worth it, but I remember kerosene lamps and kerosene lamps SUCK. They stink, the wicks are always needing adjustment and they're a fire hazard. They also rely on fossil fuel, with its environmental problems and the likelihood that it won't be available some time maybe soon. Our lights are LED and only draw between about 3 and 24 watts. We also have fans for the hottest times in summer--most people here have AC, and we don't need it because we built our house on a ridge, against tall trees to the west so it's in shade all afternoon in summer, and cool air traverses the woods, with transpiration cooling, before rising into our windows and through our open house before it moves on out the cupola. On the days that are still too hot,we found we don't need box fans--my husband made some fans out of pairs of fans taken out of computers (he does electronic repair). They only draw I think it's 3 or 4 watts, and are tiny but adequate. So I'm suggesting that if your tiny house has solar access, consider a very small, DC-only system. One panel would probably do you.
 
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One way to see if your house ideas are realistic in a rural setting where you are hoping to grow much of your own food, is to look at what the local farmers lived in.  Especially the poorer ones.  Someone who was well-off might have built a bigger house than they really needed just for show, but if they were poor, they will only have built what they really needed, and no more.  
 
master pollinator
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Ed Ball wrote: How do you recharge the batteries if you don't have electricity?


Not sure what Kaarina does, but here's my answer!

I DO have electricity connected and still like to use similar fake candles for a soft easy light in the evening, especially near bedtime. I use rechargeable batteries and a USB battery charger, powered by a small solar panel. Even here in the UK winter with our grey days, the batteries in the charger have recharged by the time the ones in use are running out of power.

One could argue that the embodied energy in the batteries and charger are such that it's less environmentally friendly than using an electric light, but I need the solar panel and battery banks anyway as we're likely to have issues with power outages this winter, so may as well make use of them! In Kaarina's case, the distance of her house from the road suggests that even if she wanted to connect to the grid it would be prohibitively expensive.
 
H Schweitzer
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Here’s a few pix of our skoolie…
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tiny house interior converted bus
Bus
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tiny house converted bus
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tiny house interior wood fire stove converted bus
 
Jane Mulberry
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Gorgeous bus conversion, H! Really nicely done!
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Ed Ball wrote:

Kaarina Kreus wrote:
As I have no electricity, petroleum lamps and led "candles" that work with rechargeable AA batteries.



How do you recharge the batteries if you don't have electricity?



In the library. The closest library is 3 miles by bike. It is open with your library card and pin code 07-20 all week.
Actually, my mobile also gets charged there. And my rechargeable headlamps. And my powerbank.
Rechargeable batteries are a godsend!
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The library newspaper room
The library newspaper room
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Terresa Funderburk wrote:Do you have a “chamber pot” in the bedroom for nighttime use? My grandparents had a chair with a seat that lifted and inside was the pot. It was emptied in the morning but saved them from having to go out to the outhouse when it was dark and served as a chair in the day.



Actually I do, but it has been just outside the house. To protect my sensitive nose 😄

Now that the winter is really starting to bite, I might rethink. Mu butt freezes on these outings 😄
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Jamie Spreng wrote:Love what you did Kaarina.
Do you have plans or drawings that you could share?  



My interior differs from this a bit. The wood stove is in the middle for maximum warmth. And I took away the foyer windows and replaced with shelving. Also I did not want a bedroom door because it requires space for opening.
Filename: mummonmokki_pohjakuva-(1)-(1).pdf
File size: 58 Kbytes
 
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I'm not a tiny house type of person, but I like looking at what some accomplish in a small space.

My house isn't overly big, but my shop is eighteen hundred square feet. Aside from work areas to assemble things, every square inch is spoken for by a tool or piece of equipment (cabinet saw, re-saw bandsaw, scroll bandsaw, scroll saw, sandblast station, electroplating station, etc.).  Every time I bring in a new piece of equipment (e.g., sanding-carving station, lathe, welder, long bed jointer), a whole lot of rearranging goes on.  In the end, I have as much packed into my little shop as many of the bigger shops have. I only have to pull one or two items out (when reasonable, everything gets casters) to use the item (i.e., carver, router table, router crafter).

Looking around at the photos, this and many tiny homes like it have as much going for them, square footage aside, as homes several times their size. Accordingly, it's obvious a whole lot of planning AND re-planning went into it.

If I were starting anew, on a place to live, there are a few things that would be a must:

(1) Thick walls so I could insulate them well.

(2) An attic I could be sure did not give up any of that protection from the elements gained at the walls.

(3) Drawers rather than lower cupboards, so I didn't have to remove anything to get to the things at the back.

(4) A heck of a pantry - probably tied to a root cellar.

(5) A daylight basement approach to some or all of the construction, so I could take advantage of the relatively stable ground temps for heating and cooling.

(6) A lot of cabinets, many with glass doors, to minimize the complications of dusting.

(7) A LOT of stolen ideas from pages like this, to crank up the efficiency.



 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Kelly Craig wrote:I'm not a tiny house type of person, but I like looking at what some accomplish in a small space.

My house isn't overly big, but my shop is eighteen hundred square feet. Aside from work areas to assemble things, every square inch is spoken for by a tool or piece of equipment (cabinet saw, re-saw bandsaw, scroll bandsaw, scroll saw, sandblast station, electroplating station, etc.).  Every time I bring in a new piece of equipment (e.g., sanding-carving station, lathe, welder, long bed jointer), a whole lot of rearranging goes on.  In the end, I have as much packed into my little shop as many of the bigger shops have. I only have to pull one or two items out (when reasonable, everything gets casters) to use the item (i.e., carver, router table, router crafter).

Looking around at the photos, this and many tiny homes like it have as much going for them, square footage aside, as homes several times their size. Accordingly, it's obvious a whole lot of planning AND re-planning went into it.

If I were starting anew, on a place to live, there are a few things that would be a must:

(1) Thick walls so I could insulate them well.

(2) An attic I could be sure did not give up any of that protection from the elements gained at the walls.

(3) Drawers rather than lower cupboards, so I didn't have to remove anything to get to the things at the back.

(4) A heck of a pantry - probably tied to a root cellar.

(5) A daylight basement approach to some or all of the construction, so I could take advantage of the relatively stable ground temps for heating and cooling.

(6) A lot of cabinets, many with glass doors, to minimize the complications of dusting.

(7) A LOT of stolen ideas from pages like this, to crank up the efficiency.



Your list of things you want in a house looks very much like my list!  I would add,

8. a construction method that would prevent rodents and insects from taking up residence inside my walls.

9. And an efficient form of wood heat (preferably a rocket mass heater or another masonry heater).  

10. Water collection to supplement the well.  

11.  An insulated woodbox on the outside of the house, but inside an attached woodshed, which opens through the wall so the box can be loaded from outside the house and the wood accessed from inside the house next to the stove (friends have this setup at their house and I love it).  

12.  A cheese cave.
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Kate Downham wrote:Thank you for sharing so much detail about your beautiful small house. Really lovely photos.



I want to encourage people to rethink how much space is necessary for living happily❤. In the area, less than 20% of houses had running water or sewers in 1973!
Twenty years earlier, most houses had one or two rooms for a family.

The cost of building was:

- 32.000 $ for the house
- appr. 2000$ for all furniture, dishes, pots&pans, bed linen&blankets, carpets. I spent a year slowly collecting them from flea markets for pennies! I made a decision all dishes have to be white so they match, and pots either stainless steel or cast iron. Amazing what you can find as outcasts!
- 4.000 $ for the water station
- 3.000 $ for the wood shed
- 2.000 $ for the other shed

The 10 acres cost 44.000$.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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We have lived 'tiny' before, and I'd happily do it again, but our current house, while small at 676 square feet in the house proper (plus a couple of enclosed porches, and a low-ceilinged attic), is probably just about right.  Growing as much of your own food as possible does have extra space requirements, not only for storage, but also for extra equipment and space for processing.  And in our situation, there are two people living in the house, but we don't sleep together (my handicapped youngest lives with me) and need some space (she's autistic and, much as I love her, she drives me nuts sometimes!).  

Everyone has to sit down and figure out what their personal space needs are before they just assume that a tiny house will work for everyone.  If your family spends a lot of time outdoors, you can get away with less 'living' space in the house, especially in a mild climate.  Big porches and other outdoor living spaces can be helpful.  One person who is out of the house all day and buys their groceries weekly may need a lot less space than a larger family who is growing and preserving all of their food at home.  A family with several homeschooled children and a parent who works from home may need separation of space so everyone can focus on what they need to focus on without disturbing one another.  And so on.  No two people, no two families, have the exact same needs in a house.  

One nice thing about starting with a tiny house is that you can add on as you find you need more space, and can afford to build it.  
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Janette Raven wrote:Wow Kaarina that is really inspiring.
I am amazed at what you can do on a wood stove, but then... perhaps being a chef is a bit of a head start.


I agree 🙂. The only difference between a professional and an avid home cook is techique.

As a chef, you know the WHY. How ingredients behave, and HOW to achive something. Basically, all recipes are just variations of some basic techiques.

So after you know the techiques, you can pretty much cook from the meagrest leftovers. Too many cooking programmes and cookbooks fail to explain the why. Thus people are dependent on recipes.

 
Kaarina Kreus
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This is a shed with two rooms. The other one will be for dry goods that are not affected by frost or heat. Everything in sturdy packaging like tin, enamel,  wood or thick plastic. Mrs scrooge thinks rodents have to find their own food....

The other half is for garden tools, honey extraction equipment, preserving tools (like mason jars, cider press, juice cooker), the water pump+generator etc.

At the moment, the shedt is a mess with everything stacked on the floor.  I want to see what I end up keeping there, and only then build the shelving. It is so easy to think you will need things in a certain way, but ending up using the space quite differently.

In the back, you can see my firewood pile before we built the shed. 😨
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Kaarina Kreus
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Kate Downham wrote:
We also cook only with wood - it takes more thought than flicking a switch on an electric stove, but is so much more satisfying.


Yes! And the beauty of it: while your food is simmering or baking in the oven, the house gets heated and you can enjoy the flames ❤.
 
Kaarina Kreus
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William Bronson wrote:I like the idea of a small, well thought out home, but I don't see the advantages of doing without electricity, especially for tool use.


Will, I do have a generator and water pump. Scurrying water to 100 fruit trees and 300 berry bushes almost broke me this summer.
But I also have several headlamps which use rechargeable batteries or can be charged. Whenever I go to the village, I spend a couple of hours charging them in the library. Time time flies: I read, maybe browse the net.
 
Kaarina Kreus
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Gaurī Rasp wrote:Dear Kaarina,
Do you plan to build any greenhouses since you must have a short growing season?
What are your next plans other than a big garden?  
Thank you & please keep this thread updated w new developments!



I will do plastic hoop tunnels. A greenhouse is too expensive at the moment. But I can start seedlings in the sauna, which has a dressing room with huge windows.
Personally, I love root vegetables for cooking. They store well, have amazing taste and are pretty sturdy against cold.
 
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You have such a charming and inspiring home Kaarina, thanks for sharing!
 
master steward
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Kaarina Kreus wrote:

Terresa Funderburk wrote:Do you have a “chamber pot” in the bedroom for nighttime use?



Actually I do, but it has been just outside the house. To protect my sensitive nose 😄

Now that the winter is really starting to bite, I might rethink. Mu butt freezes on these outings 😄



Have you tried the Composting Toilet?  sounds perfect for your situation:

https://permies.com/t/190101/Composting-Toilet
 
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William Bronson wrote:
I like the idea of a small, well thought out home, but I don't see the advantages of doing without electricity, especially for tool use.



We would be unable to live without electricity for this reason. Too many indispensable power tools (and the well pump)! We do have many smaller ones that are cordless, and 8 months of the year can mostly recharge them using solar. We also need refrigeration in summer, the washing machine, and gain much heating/cooling efficiency by moving air with fans. I think to live with no electricity would require a community where you have different people each doing their particular trade, and then you swap services. Lighting would be candles made from beeswax. Just hand pumping water for livestock is a lot of work. I don't mean this in any critical way, but charging batteries somewhere isn't doing without electricity, it's using someone else's. But it would probably be easy enough to have a stationary bike with a generator for what little it takes to charge headlamps and a laptop or cellphone. I knew a couple who lived in an army tent for a year while they built their house, and they ran 12 volt lighting and refrigeration from their tractor battery, which got recharged with near daily use. Living with out at least some electricity leads to a lot of extra work, or at least a lot of lost time due to darkness.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Julie Reed wrote:

William Bronson wrote:
I like the idea of a small, well thought out home, but I don't see the advantages of doing without electricity, especially for tool use.



We would be unable to live without electricity for this reason. Too many indispensable power tools (and the well pump)! We do have many smaller ones that are cordless, and 8 months of the year can mostly recharge them using solar. We also need refrigeration in summer, the washing machine, and gain much heating/cooling efficiency by moving air with fans. I think to live with no electricity would require a community where you have different people each doing their particular trade, and then you swap services. Lighting would be candles made from beeswax. Just hand pumping water for livestock is a lot of work. I don't mean this in any critical way, but charging batteries somewhere isn't doing without electricity, it's using someone else's. But it would probably be easy enough to have a stationary bike with a generator for what little it takes to charge headlamps and a laptop or cellphone. I knew a couple who lived in an army tent for a year while they built their house, and they ran 12 volt lighting and refrigeration from their tractor battery, which got recharged with near daily use. Living with out at least some electricity leads to a lot of extra work, or at least a lot of lost time due to darkness.



I've lived a pretty good chunk of my life without electricity or running water, both as a child and as an adult with my own children.  I could do it again; I would happily do it again IF we were properly set up for it.  But it is definitely limiting in some ways, and a lot of extra work.  Electricity is how we replace the servants and slaves that ALL of our ancestors once had (every culture had some form of servitude and/or slavery).  I'd rather not have servants, and definitely would never have slaves, so I'm happy to have electricity to do some of the work for me.
 
Julie Reed
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Electricity is how we replace the servants and slaves that ALL of our ancestors once had



Very true! My Grandparents all grew up with no electricity or running water. They lived subsistence lifestyles- had huge gardens, cows, chickens, pigs, hunting and fishing, collected berries and wild apples, used woodstoves and kerosene lamps and candles. I remember my father saying that they depended heavily on horses (their 'servants') and how much harder life would have been without them. Days were spent working, many evenings sharpening and repairing tools and clothing. He LOVED fishing because he said it was the one thing where sitting relaxing was not considered laziness, because it produced food.
My first summer out of high school I helped build a small cabin with all hand tools. The boards were milled with a chainsaw, the only powered thing on site except a battery radio that kept us sane. After you use a handsaw or brace and bit day after day, you really appreciate power tools!
 
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Regarding the necessity of electricity to accomplish your daily household and shop related tasks.
It's easy to forget that up until the 1930s or so most of rural America, and that includes most of the farming community, did not have electricity and accomplished their daily tasks, home or farm related without electricity.
We built our log home without any electricity whatsoever, 40 years later it still has no electricity.
My wife accomplishes all of her household tasks cooking, canning, sewing etc, without electricity.
I have a complete woodworking shop outfitted with all of the hand tools, drill presses, lathe, power Sanders etc, operate either by hand (me) or by treadle power (also me).  We also have a blacksmith shop and welding capabilities (gas welding).We don't go to bed early because it gets dark, we have beeswax candles that we make here and we also use kerosene lamps and small solar lamps that recharge in the window.
Almost all of the tools that we use for all of our daily work are probably around 100 years old and will last for hundreds of years more if maintained, most electrical items have a very limited lifespan and employ a large amount of infrastructure and waste in their manufacturer and also an equivalent amount of waste in their disposal at the end of their short life span.
Doing work manually is not only good exercise, it's also good for the environment.
My wife and I started doing this 40 years ago and at 67 and 65 respectively we're still enjoying immensely doing things without electricity.
Rick and Rose.
 
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Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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