May 28, 2012

Grow This!

Grow This!

Facing the realities of our situation [like lack of fencing protection from goats, groundhogs, rabbits, and what not; the house fix being a first priority; that two people plus jobs, chores, and random upkeep needs makes everything take so much longer; that it takes time or money to build soil…and probably both really] still hasn’t daunted us from growing stuff!

Check out on the right you’ll see a row of pots lining the ledge of our storage porch. We have black raspberry, oregano, basil, tomatoes, yellow bells, bibb lettuce and my favorite, globe artichoke all growing here up out of the way of nibblers.

On the left two pics, you’ll see a neat discovery that if you plant the bottom 1-2 inches of the bunch of celery you buy at the store, it will regrow, and you can eventually harvest a few stalks at a time as they continue to regenerate!! these lovelies grace my new kitchen windows, and are photographed at 1 and 1.5 weeks of growth (left to right). Amazing no?!!

May 14, 2012

New Outlook on Life* (*the yard)

New Outlook on Life* (*the yard)

Well we finally got a few more windows in the house. It’s a pretty self explanatory deal… old not quite a window and certainly not right for the space came out and two “new” double pane windows that do open and close went in. Can’t tell you what a bright luxury it is! See for yourself!

April 16, 2012

Update from the Post-Apocalyptic Wonderland

This one goes out to you, Jesse, our #1 blog fan! Happy Birthday!

We’re finally getting back into the swing. We never intended to take on this project and then pause it to take on someone else’s project. But that has finally come to a completion and we can focus on our own forward progress!

So our first undertaking on the homestead was Operation DeStinkify! We couldn’t head into warm outdoor weather as the stinky neighbors, and so the septic field had to go in. Tony dug all the trenches to reveal that the ancient existing septic field had been bypassed with back corrugated plastic drainage pipe leading down to the creek running at the bottom of our property. Someone at a later date cut a road down to a lower section of the property cutting the drainage pipe in the process. When we started using the septic again, it just oozed out of the pipe onto the drive.  So, tony installed proper drainage pipe in trenches, and we’ve almost filled it in.

Next we need to get the BMW up and running and saving us gas money for the majority of our trips! That’ll help a bunch! We also need to continue getting rid of stuff and sorting what we have. We’re looking at temporarily putting up a portable carport and tarping it all in so we can access our supplies for future projects in an out of the way location. I’m thinking the north face of the house is a good, semi protected place to put it. It’d go a long way to have everything in one place. I’ve had that dream for a while.

So while we’ve been thigh deep in shit holes, with a lot of work, we’ll come up smelling roses… or garlic!

December 8, 2011

Just about a year down

Approximately a year has passed since moving onto this property. I can hardly believe so much time has gone by. So time for a little new years reflections… Here are some of the thoughts I have about what we’ve done so far and where we go from here:

We moved during winter into a ramshackle house with no wiring, plumbing, or electricity… which totally makes us crazy. We made it through the cold season with a single portable kerosene heater despite our lack of proper windows or insulation. Living here like that didn’t feel all too different from the 2 room apartment with shared bath we had lived in 6 months prior to moving here…. only we didn’t have to share our bathroom!

I can honestly say that our dreams, before and during that winter, for a sustainable lifestyle had much grander designs than our time, energy, or budget have allowed! I don’t feel ashamed for thinking large, and in no way do I regret this choice as I’ve learned so much and feel a greater since of capability and strength, but this year we must strive for a more realistic set of goals… maybe we won’t do EVERYTHING on this one property (at least not within the next year). Doing it all at once just won’t fit in the category of “practical reality.” Ah well!

So even scaling back our goals for this year, we still feel passionate about the direction we’ve headed and will continue to head. We just need to do it with a sense of reality and patience with ourselves. On our extremely limited budget we have managed to rough out a bathroom and kitchen,replace 5 of 8 windows, built a bedroom which involved some structural work, fixed and installed our wood stove (and use it now that the weather has gotten chilly again… boy it’s wonderful!), sorted through a bunch of stuff (I think we’ve sent 5+ boxes to the family yard sale, have taken 2 trailer loads to the dump, and have stacked the bad wood from the house to burn for winter warmth), fixed another person’s house, and done a bunch of gigs and jobs throughout the year. I feel proud and accomplished already!

This coming year looks great to me! Our cost of living is so low that it doesn’t take much to meet our basic needs. The house gets more and more homey every week, and how can you not feel excited about that? I just started a compost pile, and I feel so good about not putting viable items into the trash… hello nutrients! We still need to work on our bad habits like smoking cigs and drinking soda… they completely do not fit into our ideals or future lifestyle, but damned if they aren’t entirely addictive, and finding a successful method to quit still eludes us, but we’ll keep on quitting until it sticks!

Fruit trees and expansive garden will have to wait, as will animal friends like cats dogs and goats. We still intend on having chickens, but like the other animals, we need to make sure that we can take care of them well and often, but they will be the first warm blooded additions to our homestead (thanks to Gabriel, my  mom). Truth learned this year is that it’s hard to tackle everything and the things that require regular attention can become difficult to properly tend in the morass, so we’ll scale back for next year and will slowly grow from there. (Also it turns out that the garden plot we selected just doesn’t get enough light, live and learn).

We do need to tackle our water waste. We had the septic cleaned out months ago, but when we wash clothes or take a shower, there’s an odor in the back yard… yuck! After much discussion and contemplation, we decided to install a grey water system instead of replacing the septic. By reducing the load on the tank, leaving it only for the toilet, we should be able to solve the smell issues and be much more “green” in our water use. We will also attach rainwater to the system for additional goodness and potable water savings (it’s not about money, it’s about doing the right thing). I will post about that process as we get into doing it!

This year we’ll find a balance between the idea of something and the reality of doing it. That’s my resolution. I guess we all have to grow up sometime. This is my time! I’ll become a farm girl still, just have to ease into it! Keep your eyes peeled for the next post where I’ll cover some of the specific goals for the coming year and include some tips you may find useful or inspiring (hopefully) too! Great love to all and stay warm!

November 16, 2011

Looking bright!

What was once an everything room is now a gathering space with a beautiful view!

Hey, so I’m sitting here while Tony is in Boone working on a house, the weather is cool and overcast today, and it’s got me reflecting on the past few weeks. It continually amazes me at how time flies! But we have a lot to show for it finally, and the outlook is bright and shiny… thanks to our “new” windows!

The rot has been replaced by a new window!

Tony has replaced all but 3 of the old windows (I’m generous in calling them that). The solar gain is amazing! The view is wonderful! It’s so exciting! The drafts through the house have become much milder, and more of the house is accessible now (especially since we had to shuffle a bunch of stuff). A little more insulation, and we’ll put back the old paneling and be done with it for the season so we can finish some other stuff… ah the work is never done!

the old stove rusty and brown

I didn’t sit on my laurels during all this! Not only have I been finishing a pile of paying gigs (they do add up!), but I also took our donated wood stove, scrubbed it clean and coated it with thermal paint. Now that it’s in place, I believe it was worth the extra work… what do you think?

North living room with the new to us wood stove and windows to replace the pretender!

November 16, 2011

Starting a new look!

Enter the new bedroom to an inviting glow controlled by... our FIRST (working) LIGHT SWITCH!!

The view right before sleep, and as we wake... puts a smile on my face!

Our new look starts with the (mostly) completed master bedroom. We’ve had the pleasure of sleeping in that room a few nights now, and it feels divine! Ok, so we don’t have doors or trim or carpet for that matter, but that doesn’t matter, it still feels like a palace to me (especially after the last year)! Here’s a peek at that!

A lot of closet, ALL of my clothes fit in there along with most of Tony's clothes too!

November 1, 2011

Master Bedroom Sheetrock

sheetrock almost finished, including book nook and "tray" ceiling

 

Sheetrock almost finished, including book nook and “tray” ceiling.

October 19, 2011

A little bit further now…

I won’t bore you with pictures that make little sense because it’s nothing but 2x4s… waiting will make for better impact anyway! Suffice to say that we keep making a little progress here and there. Tony keeps triumphing through using what materials he can from on hand; really an amazing feat! The new bedroom window went in, and at 1/2 the size (for privacy) we have 2x the light and weather protection! Insulation and wiring goes in tomorrow, and when the sheetrock gets up i’ll take some more pictures to show you, it should really look like something by then!

October 12, 2011

Firm Footing

Well quick post to update you all on the bedroom, we now have a firm subfloor in place thanks to the man of the house! He’s currently plugging away at the ceiling and walls so I’ll continue to update you as we go! (I’m still rapidly printing away to stock venues for the holiday season!)

Ceiling under reconstruction

Finished Subfloor

October 9, 2011

Mastering the Bedroom

Tony has made great progress on the soon-to-exist Master Bedroom. We, first, removed all materials and junk. Then tony tore out the old rotten/damaged parts (and parts we don’t need), gutting it down to prepare to put in new floor joists. Fitting all the new around all the old proved quite a challenge, but not too much for my man!

Step by step the room takes shape

Now he’s plugging away at laying the plywood subfloor, which has its own complications. Then the wall structures will go up (closets/doorways) and the new window will go in. I can’t tell you how excited the thought of our first opening and closing window makes me! Then we’ll sheetrock and paint, and then we’ll have a bedroom (novel notion, and super thrilling!)

It takes many small batches of ink to ensure quality and produce a stack of stuff!

Meanwhile I still make strides at my cottage industry… currently printing a ton of stuff to stock up my online and local retail locations. It makes for full days, but well worth it for eventual self sufficiency. I appreciate all the support I can get in making a living from the homestead, and any more you have to offer… Like: Share my online shop with your friends and co-workers… GomiConstruction.etsy.com 

Thanks for all the continued love and interest in what we do over here from everyone! Have a great week!

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