You know what’s great about not using our lights? We have somewhere to hang our herbs for drying! I trimmed this lovely lemon balm plant today. A gift from a  friend, and the rest will be planted in the garden.

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Earth Hour 2012

Tomorrow, March 31st at 8:30pm, the residents of The Little Farmhouse will be observing Earth Hour (surprise)!

One hour, of one day… join us and turn off your lights. Be drastic and include your computer and TV screens. Get ready for it now. You’ll need flashlights or candles or a lantern handy. Will you play a family game? Go to bed early? Have a bubble bath in candlelight?

Fid out more at Earth Hour’s website. And in the meantime, let us know your plans!

One Picture of Tuesday Night

The coolest thing about this photo? I didn’t have to set it up at all. This is exactly the scene in our kitchen last night, and I just had to capture it.

Our lamp in action! It is so, so cool. The Mr. came up with the idea of putting it on a lazy susan so we can swivel it around from it’s central spot on our table, giving us light where we need it. It’s good enough to read by. I have a feeling we’re going to be spending a lot of time at this table.

Do you like our “fireplace” in the background? It was my husband’s birthday gift from me. He really wanted it (it’s a small electric heater), and now that the lights are off, I love it, too.

Can you tell what he’s reading? Nothing like sitting around in the dark reading about chickens! The name of the chapter, by the way, is “Suitable Breeding Stock.” It’s going to be a fun Spring.

Happy Equinox

I’m not online – I’m honouring my screentime limit. But I’m scheduling this post to wish you a Happy Equinox, at the exact time of the Equinox in Vancouver.

Here we go. The lights, by now, will be off. I may even be asleep. This after-work time is when I typically want to nap. I’m desperately staying up now in an attempt to sleep earlier later.

I will admit that I am nervous. But also excited. Today my husband was home and really cleaned things up here. There are still things I want to do (move some furniture, pack away some lamps) but it’s okay if they don’t get done tonight – I have 365 days for this.

And I’ll keep you posted.

The Rules Established

  1. All standard electric lights and lamps will be turned off or removed.
  2. Some “unnatural light” is permissable in the form of lanterns – as the lanterns we’ve purchased are both safe and economical and allow enough light for us to do usual evening activities without risk.
  3. The Mr. is working on a basement rennovation project which will not be completed in time for us to begin this experiment. Even in full daylight, it is dark in this room. As I’d like to get it done and he’d like to work efficiently and safely, we’ve agreed to allow for a lamp as needed for the duration of this project. It will kept to daylight hours so as not to affect the “evening darkness” portion of the experiment.
  4. Outdoor porch lights will remain on in the evenings as a matter of personal and home safety, and as a courtesy to our family members who use our driveway as a way to their barn, and are often walking in darkness.
  5. Seasonal Christmas lights on the tree are permissable as I am not willing to give up the festivity, not willing to use candles on a tree, and there will not be enough to light up a room anyway.
  6. A small wind-up or solar flashlight will be available for looking through closets etc. where use of candles would be unsafe. Said flashlight, or possibly small nightlight will also be available during sleep-hours for bathroom visits, as lighting a candle when groggy is just a bad idea.
  7. We are working on figuring out the bathroom for daytime. There is no natural light (window) available in our one bathroom, and we both appreciate morning showers.
  8. Screentime (computers, iPhones, TV) is limited to an hour after dark, and no later than 8:30 pm. Additionally, the Mr. may login to check for jobs (he’s on-call) periodically and before bed.
  9. Screentime ban does not pertain to morning. For instance, if my sleep pattern changes so that I am up for the day at 5 or 6 and it is still dark, I will be allowed to begin my workday if I so choose. Likewise, the Mr. may check for a job if need be (see #8, above). I’ve considered this carefully and think it is probably the best way to keep up productivity – it will allow an 8hr workday to begin as early as desired, leaving any late afternoon sunlight for household duties or leisure.
  10. This will not limit us socially. Our “lights out” goal only pertains to our home – if we are out, we are out, and need not worry about being home precisely before dark. It is understood, however, that we will not use being out as a method of escaping darkness. Screentime also may vary here. A movie, for example, may still be enjoyed at the theatre though it may be after dark during the winter. We agree it is reasonable, however, to aim for a 7:00 show rather than 10:30.
  11. In case of emergency, we will not hesitate to turn on some light as needed.
  12. Rules are subject to amendment or change, but we think this is a pretty good starting point
My apologies for the reposting – I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of an annoying dictionary box without doing so.

Preparing Supplies

Why yes, we are still planning on turning off the lights – and we’ve agreed to begin on the spring equinox which in our timezone falls on March 19th just before 10:14 pm. In case you needed to know precisely.

And so today, in prep, we bought this awesome lantern from Lee Valley Tools.

Now, I know. Technically, though not plugged into an electric socket, this is artificial light. We talked a lot about this and whether it would be antithetical to our purpose, and eventually decided it was a really practical and fair solution. Having tested it out tonight, we know that it provides enough light for us to sit at a table and read a little or play a game, but that it doesn’t really light up the room. So based on that, we deem it okay.

Basically, one little tealight generates enough heat to run eight LEDs. It’s very safe (the tealight is completely enclosed, and the lantern itself very stable), and very economical (only one tiny tealight). In addition to general safety, it’s important to me to be able to do thinks like prepare a meal with enough light to work by. While we can romanticize this entire idea of ours, modern work life does not allow me to do the chopping and prepping of our evening meal during daylight hours. Have I mentioned that safe supplies are a priority for us?

 

We like it. Actually, I think everybody should consider this lantern a good addition to their emergency supplies, and we definitely look forward to using it when we camp, too. It probably won’t be our only source of light. They are a bit of an investment ($100 each) and so there will be a need for secondary solutions. But it’s a really good start to our project.

Oh, we also picked up a card-game version of Cranium. We seem to think that games and such may become part of our regular evening routine.

A Somewhat-Ridiculous, Totally-Cool, Year-Long Experiment.

There’s something I’ve been considering for the last couple of years. It occurred to me one night when listening to a friend talk about how much artificial light can mess up our sleep schedules. I’ve never been a great sleeper – by which I mean, I’ve never slept well at night (I can nap with the best of them, but I have a feeling this is because I’m chronically sleep deprived).

So I started wondering… would my sleep patterns change if I turned off the lights?

(And by now you’re all wondering “is she kidding?!” No. I’m really not.)

Of course, I’d have to limit “screentime,” too, though it’s impossible for me to cut it out completely right now. I know that a downfall of mine is playing/working/social-networking until well past midnight. By the time I feel ready to go to bed, my brain is wide awake and buzzing.

When we moved to the little farmhouse last March, my craving for simplicity and even darkness only increased. We are here on a road with no streetlights. It is relatively quiet at night (though we can hear the African wild dogs from the neighbourhood conservation centre, who are probably howling at the coyotes who run wild). I’ve thought about this every equinox and solstice for at least the last 2.5 years. At a period of time in my life (NOW) where my insomnia is worse than ever, I couldn’t help but consider this again, and this time I got really excited…

After mulling it over “for real” and mentioning it to my husband a smattering of times, I decided to really convince him this past weekend. He agrees it’s worth a try. I’m married to a man who is always up for adventure. But even so, I’m not jumping straight into it. I want to aim to keep the house lights off for a full year, and I think that the spring equinox is the perfect time to start. It will be a gentler transition than plunging ourselves into darkness in the middle of winter. But we’re still negotiating the timing and rules – he wants time to finish a basement project first. I want to mull over the best way to blog about this. And, we have some supplies to collect. I want to make sure this is done in a reasonable manner, with more regard to safety than just having dozens of candles around the house.

I’m sure you have questions, and I’m sure some people will have questions that will trigger things I haven’t yet thought of. So please ask them here and in a few days I’ll put up another post answering them. I’ll start with the easy one:

WHY exactly are we crazy enough to try this? I claim that this experiment will see us sleeping more, sleeping better, and generally healthier. It will save us money, get us in tune with the cycles of nature, and strengthen our marriage. I believe it will make us more relaxed and generally… happier. I’ll explore each of these in more depth over the coming weeks and check in on them often.