Television on the Homestead

By , October 9, 2014

Living as we do, you may be surprised to learn that we watch television on our “homestead.” As with many other lifestyle choices, we use it in moderation.

We “divorced” our television many years ago while living in the suburbs. I loved to watch television (I still do); my job back then demanded careful listening, and attention to detail. I enjoyed coming home and “crashing” in front of the tube now and then.

We discovered that we paid the highest cable prices in the nation, for no good reason—viewers in our state’s capital paid more for cable than some remote villages! We canceled our subscription on principle.

cat watching moose through window

Our cat watches a moose in the yard on “kitty TV,” the “other boob tube.” (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

When we canceled, we were told that it might take a few weeks before someone could disconnect us. I grabbed the movie schedule and a pile of VHS tapes, and planned recording sessions—no cold turkey for me!

Predictably, I found only one movie worth taping. I programmed the VCR to record it.

The cable man arrived about half an hour shy of the end of the movie. Michelle, who ran a child care center at that time, went out to the front yard and peppered the technician with questions, trying to stall him until the movie ended. He answered every question while continuing his work, and cut off the end of my movie. That figures.

Disconnecting changed our lives. I’m absolutely certain that removing regular television viewing from our lives enabled us to build our boats, and to move to our homestead.

I imagine that since we have satellite Internet access, we could also get satellite television on the homestead, but we’ve never considered it. Even so, as I confessed long ago, we really like to watch movies (see How Sizing Our Battery Bank Led to Uncomfortable Truths About Our Lifestyle). We have a flat screen TV, a nice surround sound system, and a designated viewing area.

We found our excellent flat screen TV for under $300. It’s not large by most people’s standards, but it dominates our small viewing space, and it draws far less power than our older TV did. It also weighs far less, allowing us to haul it to the cabin much more easily.

We refer to all of our viewing as “movies,” but a lot of it is educational. Recently, we saw an excellent episode of a nature series that showed underwater views of humpback whales fishing in our region. We see them often, but this gave us a glimpse of what happens beneath the surface.

Even television news has its value. Ten years later, my perception of the 9/11 attacks is far different from Michelle and Aly’s, because I was on a business trip that day, and saw images of the devastation on the television in my hotel room (see A 9/11 Memory: The World Turned Upside Down). Michelle and Aly have only briefly glimpsed compiled footage long after the fact. To them, the events of that day are far less real than they are to me for this reason. We may know a lot about current events, but we could not pick many news makers out of a crowd.

So, while our nights are spent in other ways, like reading to ourselves or aloud (see Reading Aloud to Your Family), playing games (see A Gift of Time for Christmas: Consenting to Learn Backgammon), working around the homestead or simply talking together, we sometimes sit down to watch television. We see it as entertainment that enhances our life, and we make no apologies for it.

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