Possumhaw: Living off the grid


Shannon Bardwell



You've probably been waiting to see what the Lehman's Non-Electric catalog, mentioned in my last column, has to offer.


In 1955 Jay Lehman's goal was to provide authentic products to Amish communities and others who want to live simply, with or without electricity.


Consider that 1955 was the introductory year of canned Coca-Cola, TV dinners, seat belts and the opening of Disneyland; the same year Lehman said, "My idea was to preserve the past for future generations."



The catalog features gadgets for purifying, locating, drilling and operating home water systems, whether collecting water from lakes and streams or deep or shallow wells or cisterns. "Drill a well in one afternoon," Lehman's advertises.


Next are heating appliances, for warmth or cooking. The wood stoves have names like "The Sweetheart," "Baker's Choice," and my favorite, "The Pioneer Princess." A heat-powered fan is available to sit on top of your wood stove to redistribute warm air, "reduce hot and cold spots in your room with little trouble and no extra energy."


There're toilets. You can't imagine all the toilet systems -- "waterless, self-contained, composting toilets." They feature "electric and non-electric toilets."


I asked Sam what was electric about a toilet. He couldn't think of anything, but upon further reading your composting toilet may come with a fan for "optimizing composting, evaporation and compost finishing."


If you have questions about how to create compost from your toilet there are books, "Humanure Handbook" and "The Septic System Owner's Manual," for gravity-powered septic systems that are quiet, natural and energy-free. If there's anything you want out here in the Prairie it is a quiet septic system.


Refrigerators are run without electricity by utilizing LP gas, natural gas or kerosene. Some refrigerators can switch between gas and electricity -- nice for power outages or "living off the grid," as they call it.


Lighting and parts include the famous Dietz lanterns, used since 1840 on Mississippi showboats, New England whalers, steam locomotives and horse-drawn trolleys. "Stays lit in any weather."


There are lamps that illuminate by burning olive oil, vegetable oil, liquid fat or grease.


There're gardening, farming, canning, steaming and cooking utensils, also supplies for making homemade soaps and detergents. My favorite items are the health and beauty aids.


There are implements for shaving with a straight razor and "strop." I always thought that was a "strap." A disposable razor sharpener guarantees up to 45 shaves per blade. I think I get that anyway.


Grandpa's Pine Tar Conditioner for hair, Grandma's Lye Soap, Melkfett's Vaseline Soap, Natural Nasal Cleansing with the "Neti-Pot." Hey, we already have one of those!


The health remedies include salves, soaks, balms, liniments and poultices. "Vomit No More Medicinal Tea" is certainly a good thing to keep in your purse.


I'm thinking the Pioneer Princess wood stove with the fan just might be on my Christmas wish list.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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