Choose color scheme

Category Archives: self sustainability

  • Water & Chickens

    Creating a path to the brook & infrastructure to move water around.

    IMG_1212

    Filling up using a drill pump.

    IMG_1221

    Getting back into chickens after almost a year. The first residents of our non-temporary farm, we’ve come a long way.

    IMG_1237

    IMG_1248

    Quaint.

    IMG_1219

  • 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

    IMG_0403

    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.

    IMG_0482

    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

    IMG_1039

    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 :)

    IMG_1127

    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.

  • House – Many Things over a long week end

    Too tired for details.

    Opening up the top of the roof for air flow, dust is slippery

    IMG_0222

    While I’m up there doing panoramas

    IMG_0219

    Prepping for a sandbox

    IMG_0231

    600kg of sand later

    IMG_0255

    Filled the gussets with 2 bys, roughed in electrical, insulation & vapor barrier on 2 upstairs gable walls

    IMG_0264

  • House – Baffle Vent

    That’s about it for today :)

    IMG_0215

  • House – Roof Rakes

    I enclosed the ones connecting to the inside of the house so bugs wouldn’t get in. Screen was stapled over the ventilation holes.

    IMG_0203

    IMG_0207

    The field was just mowed, a glimpse of how nice a place it’ll be once we’re out of the chaos of construction.

    IMG_0200

    IMG_0208

  • House – More Windows

    Small 2nd hand windows for now, all framing will allow for a bigger ones later on.

    IMG_0189

    Custom cut cedar trims, me likey

    IMG_0193

    Let there be light

    IMG_0195

  • Footage from above of the beautiful place we’re calling home

    Thank you Jared :)

  • House – Roof Rakes & a couple of Windows

    After a week long break I’m getting back into it. It may seem backwards to do the roof rakes after putting the roof on but I had to make a time management decision while I had everyone helping last Saturday.

    IMG_0153 1

    IMG_0174 1

    IMG_0165 1

    Other adventures included snakes & phantoms.

    IMG_0170 1

    IMG_0156 1

  • House – Sheathing done!

    Mike, A.J., Peter, Sarie, Mike, Helen, Jason, Ian, Jody, Merritt, Chris, Jess, Larry, Matt all came to help us sheathe the 2nd floor and the roof. Both daunting tasks I couldn’t take on without a ton of help. Today was very humbling in the amount of help we received, but also in feeling like a lot of folks are behind us to help us realize our dream. We will be forever grateful and will pay it back, or forward.

    IMG_0130

    I didn’t take a lot of pics but I’ll get more from someone who did :)

    IMG_0098

    IMG_0117Great, amazing day, we were almost as stressed leading up it as for our wedding day. It’s borderline emotional to see this project you poured your heart, soul, sweat and blood into turn into a home.

    IMG_0125

    Special thanks to Mark & Matt for their giant ladders. I’m sure they’re bummed about missing all the fun.

    Oh and I lost 10lbs since this all started 45 days ago, not that I care but it’s impressive considering how copiously I eat.