I’ve been back in the city for several days and researching many items on alternate energy. It was hot and uncomfortable while I was there so I wondered how the Amish survive in this heat. Before leaving for the city I stopped at one of the Amish farms to get some vegetables to bring back. I noticed they were using LED lights on their buggy and I was curious about their battery management techniques. I have a similar problem trying to keep my digital camera and laptop computer battery charged while off grid.
I wish I could post some pictures here but I didn’t want to offend them by taking any. I haven’t had any breezes at my place but it was cooler at their farm. The farmer told me there is an art to selecting the right place to build a house. They found a good location, part of my problem is being buried in the forest of trees where the wind often doesn’t get to the ground level.
I asked how they keep their batteries charged and he took me out to one of the barns. Inside some of his older children were busy on woodworking projects using a lathe. This lathe and other power tools were powered from an underground jack shaft with belts attached to turn the machines. Outside the barn a diesel engine was running that drives the jack shaft. He bought the old diesel engine from a scrap yard and said that he got it for next to nothing. The diesel engine has a generator with battery for the starter motor so they use this circuit to keep their buggy’s batteries charged.
Sitting beside the diesel engine was an old refrigeration compressor attached to another end of the jack shaft. There was a compressed air line running around to a large household sized propane tank. This tank was used as their air storage tank and supplied air to their shop inside. They also have a water well and he has an air bubbler jet well pump to supply water to the house, livestock, and irrigation for their garden. A setup like this would solve many of my similar problems particularly when electricity is needed for a water well pump. Of course I am needing a well drilled first.
I asked one of the Amish women how they keep the eggs and produce cooled. She said that they have a root cellar and a kerosene refrigerator. I grew up with a cellar at home and they work very well keeping things cool in the summer and storing potatoes and canned vegetables throughout the winter. I’m imagining suitable places on the property to consider building a root cellar when I get back down there.
Because of this I have been doing a lot of research into how living with a reduced electricity demand could be possible. One of the biggest energy demands is from running electric motors particularly those attached to compressors like chest type freezers, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Staying cool in the summer is a concern but before long the problem will be staying warm in the winter.
I am working on prioritizing the things that I can do in the short term. One thing I would like to do is start preparing some soil for a garden in the future. Something I can easily and hopefully inexpensively start is a vermiculture compost using earthworms. I am starting a profile on the vermicomposting web site at http://vermicomposters.ning.com/profile/VinceThompson. I started the plastic tub method to get my worm bed going. I have ordered worms from a company in the Kansas City area at http://www.WindsweptWormFarm.com
I appreciate the time this Amish farmer took to explain things to me. It gave me many things to think about. We discussed their lifestyle and how they survive. It is their community that helps them exist. Many helping each other when needed. Our culture doesn’t always work that way where we often have to find ways on our own and struggle for our existence. One thing the Internet can do is to help bring a community together based on our interests. Many sites have helped in my research and I hope that I can help others. I miss the Internet community when I’m off grid and find high speed broadband Internet access is sparse. Sometimes I find living in the rural Ozarks area is like living in a third world country where Internet access options are sometimes better there.