Friday, May 11, 2012

Comments on a book I read

About a month ago I started reading the book See You In A Hundred Years.  It was a fun story about a couple and their two year old son.  The couple decided that they needed a break from their crazy life so they came up with a plan, and a story.  You see, the husband is a writer so he had the idea that he could write about their new life.  They decided to live like it was 1900.  In reality 2000 was just ending and they were heading into New York City.

They bought a property in Virginia with a house and 40 acres.  They spent six months preparing for their big move back in time.  They pulled the wiring out of their well so it would only be able to be hand pumped.  They remodeled the house to bring it back 100 years earlier.  They kept the phone service but unplugged the phone.  That way they wouldn't get calls but could make one if there was an emergency.  They cancelled the electric service so they couldn't use lights or a refrigerator.  They cooked on a wood stove and had a second wood stove for heating.  They were going to sell the car but ended up just parking it in the pasture.  They bought a draft horse and a wagon.  They also purchased goats and chickens.  They stocked the pantry full!  They bought all the items they thought would be necessary including an antique coffee grinder.  Money didn't seem to be an issue, which always makes things easier. 

They did have food that they'd purchased, if it was also available in 1900, but their plan was to eventually support most of their eating with what they could produce themselves.  After battling bugs and drought they got their garden to grow and produce food.  They learned how to milk the goats and produce goat cheese and butter.  They even learned how to drive the wagon but they had bicycles and used them sometimes aswell. 

Their community was amused and also intrigued by their experiment.  This family made friends and brought the community together.  Many of their friends would come bearing gifts of home made food.  They did learn new skills like canning and butchering although they preferred not to butcher or hunt.  In their one season they canned 100 quarts of tomatoes, 100 quarts of green beans, and 150 jars of other vegetables and fruits.  They were given 8 bushels of apples and made 14 gallons of apple cider with their antique cider press.  They stored  1 1/2 bushels of potatoes plus pumpkins, onions, and winter squash in the cellar.  They expected this food to last for 6 months. 

I did like the book and think it would be good for someone who lives in the city and doesn't have any of these "country" skills but plans on bugging out into the country somewhere.  You'd have a steeper learning curve than this couple because they spent several months preparing to go back in time and they had lots of money. 

They did break their 1900s living a couple of times.  The biggest was when the wife wasn't feeling well.  She used their phone to make a doctor's appointment and hopped a ride in a friend's car to go to the city to see the doctor.  They relished when friends would visit or when they'd go visit someone and get to drink cold beer. 

When they started off they had a romantic view of living in the past, which I think most people share.  Every once in a while I think that I wouldn't care if the electricity were turned off here at my house.  I'd prefer to keep the propane for cooking, water heating, and heating the house rather than having to spend the time and energy cutting wood but electricity, I could probably more easily get by without it.  After all, do I need TV or Internet or refrigerator or freezer?  Right now the dishwasher is running and so is the washing machine.  Give them up?  On second thought, perhaps I'd like to keep some electricity!   

All joking aside, the book gave a good look at some of the pitfalls of leaving modern society for the not too distant past.  If TSHTF and things really go south, I think I would have an easier time than this family because I have experience in so many of the skills that they knew nothing about. 

I think our issues would come down to money.  If TSHTF I don't know what the  money situation would be like.  For the family in the book, if something broke they'd write a letter to the repair person who would then come by and fix it.  They had plenty of money to pay.  They also owned their property outright.  I don't.  That's always something on my mind.  Some of the readers of this blog and of other blogs I read live without electricity and other modern conveniences.  They do this willingly but I don't think any of them are well off, like the author of this book.  Lack of money definitely changes the experience.    

Long story short, they made it through the year.  Every skill was new and for the most part they did not enjoy their new lifestyle.  When the year ended they made the decision to stay in Virginia rather than return to New York but they turned their electricity and phone back on and I wonder, with the time passing, if they continue to can or garden or even have animals.  


  1. I also wonder how they are now years later. What have they chosen to use and what not to use? Good reminder of the book.

  2. Thank you for the review, just ordered the book from my library.