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Category Archives: miscellaneous

  • 2nd time in less than 6 months

    That we get hit with completely unforecast high winds; like last time, old timers tell me they’ve never seen something like this. We lost many trees, and among other things, the solar panels went flying. I will definitely take this new reality in consideration for future building projects.

    The only photo taken during, it didn’t last very long but it was completely insane.


    The aftermath, the forest is a mess of huge trees having domino’d on one another


    Right at the edge of the field, looks like the storm has made some decisions for me.

    IMG_5585Well fuckIMG_2797

    Fortunately, none of the panels were cracked. We were back online on battery the same evening and I brought back 2/3rd of the panels the next morning (which is plenty in the Summer). I bought ground anchors and will modify the panel holders for more strength. It’s amazing they moved, they weight a ton.

  • Robin eggs

    Towards the end of Winter, we’ve had the great privilege of observing a robin build a nest in a small pine right next to the house. We’d see it pick dry grass and go in the same tree over and over again. We found the really quaint nest it built.

    Working on the beehives a few days ago, which are close to the nest; the robin would take off and start chirping in alarm relentlessly until I left. This happens every time we get close to the nest.

    We soon found the reason why:


    I really like how the inside of the nest is made with finer material. Thinking about mama robin choosing carefully each piece of grass anthropomorphizes the bird.

    All in all, it chose a pretty horrible spot for a nest: a very small pine well within reach of predators and close to humans and bees. But it’s very very accessible for us to observe :) we try not to intrude too much. And we’ll definitely keep the predators away.

  • The next level of slacktivism

    IMG_3708Funny thing is that inside are the cereals.

  • Swoosh

    It’s hard to tell what happened last night, let’s just say we felt like the roof was going to be ripped from the house. We felt every gust of wind move the house, I have never experienced anything like it. We slept downstairs with the windows covered that’s how bad it was. Everything was a mess outside the following morning including things I never thought could be brought down by the wind.

    No bees in it yet thankfully.


    Fuck you wind! Not the outside shower!IMG_3519

    I ended up outside in the middle of it to weight down a couple of things, it was surreal. Today at town meeting, I’ve talked with other people from our hill who experienced the same crazy night.

  • I pimped my ride

    I absolutely cannot wait to get some snow.IMG_1847

  • Moving brush

    Centralizing brush piles to have a big bonfire.

    Let’s see how much of it I can grab with the winchIMG_0133

    Not bad, this is fun


    Adding non treated wood scraps from the construction for good measure


  • I like how an orange nose

    has come to universally mean “neutered”.


  • Well, we’re in

    That’s it, we moved into our little 16’x16′ 2 story gambrel. It’s far from finished inside but it’s dry and cozy. For now it’s a little bit like camping which is quite ok in the Summer.

    We love the outside shower


    It’s a very interesting process to start from scratch and one that we wanted to go through. The smallest improvements we make have a drastic impact on our lives and are cause for celebration. The shower above started as just a solar heating water bag, we added a platform, then something to hold the bag, then a couple of walls.  It will soon have a water tank perched above. We are currently going through everything in our lives and carefully deliberating what we really need. And it turns out, we don’t need a whole lot.

    We’ve been without plumbing or electricity for the past 3 weeks and it barely registers as an encumbrance. Sure we have extra chores related to this (emptying buckets, charging batteries, doing dishes) but the simplicity gains largely offset them so it’s pretty much a wash. I’ve been messing around with a couple of solar panels and it opened my eyes to the world of 12V DC power which boating or RVing are familiar with. I’m starting to see that 110V AC is for a specific type of use (centralized power generation, distance distribution, high use) and that it doesn’t fit well the new world of high efficiency devices with batteries. It makes no sense to burn coal and loose 84% of its energy through conversions (coal->motion->electricity->transmission->charger) so you can charge a low powered DC device.

    Picture bellow, charging a tablet, a cell phone, a USB shower pump/head, cellular internet access, and lighting with 1 solar panel.


    Everything we need has its own battery, this is why running straight from a solar panel with no charge controller is fine. The battery bank and charge control is delegated to the devices. Truth be told, I will probably have a battery in the final solar design for the convenience of being able to charge things at all times of the day, especially in the winter. I’m still figuring things out, but one big discovery is that power inversion to 110V AC and the loss that comes with it is far from necessary. It does mean no big appliances like a dishwasher or clothes dryer. For refrigeration there exist pretty neat 12v DC fridges but it’s not the type with 2 doors and an ice dispenser.

    We still have major projects to complete before the Winter, because when the cold and the short daylight hit, everything we’ve learned is off the table.

    • we need a good roof
    • more insulation downstairs
    • a chimney and hooking the cookstove to it
    • septic installation

    I recently spent a good chunk of time on the roof finishing the rakes, making a few last cuts and flashing it to get it ready for the roofers… Yes, we’re buying our way out of this one. Hours spent doing high altitude acrobatics and a few good storms will do that. We need a real roof fast and I’m sick of being up there. This means we’re also getting a standing seam metal roof with no punctures into the underlying sheathing. I’ve learned how much harder gambrels are over conventional roof designs.

    However it’s hard to resist that New England barn charm


    Now we are hypocrites in some regards; there are things that our household doesn’t support right now. We get potable water from outside. We do laundry outside. Lastly, we use gas to power equipment (generator, chainsaw, ATV). We’ll be addressing the first 2 soon but our reliance on gas is unlikely to go away unless we start rearing horses. Which, I really don’t see happening anytime soon.

    5 years after giving up motorcycles, I get to ride again in the good name of Utility :)


    Overall this is an awesome experiment to go through. There’s a lot of self discovery, learning, eye opening, liberating & fun going on. I can’t believe we’ve been in there 3 weeks already.