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Ben's blog

  • House – rudimentary plumbing


    No more emptying buckets outside! As I said, when starting form scratch the slightest improvement can be a huge victory.

  • Apple tree discovery

    We thought we were going to have to wait 10 years before we could produce apples but it turns out that our land came with quite a few apple trees. We took a good hike and sampled every tree we found. A good few were tart, some just not usable and a couple yielded good surprises. It also seems to be an excellent year for apples and so we find ourselves with more apple than we’ll know what to do with before we even planted a tree. They need a few more weeks to yield their exact flavor but it was a nice appetizer :) It’s cool that these trees make apples that are unique to the place. We will graft the couple of good surprises in due time.


    Some of them will definitely need more breathing room


    Branches falling down under the weight of yumminess


  • 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


  • Roaming chickens

    We finally let the chickens explore their whole area. We kept them pretty close to their coop for a while so they’d learn where home it. We’re getting better at this this is the most seamless chicken integration we’ve had. No loose chicken, no running around in the forest, no stubborn roosting habits. We know how to foster good habits now and it’s making everyone’s lives a lot easier. They now roam around all day and go home on their own at night. It’s a pleasure to open their door in the morning and see how happy they are to satisfy their instincts. They are still fenced in for now but on a large area that we’ll rotate. In a few weeks they will probably be ok with no fence but then the predators might be an issue.

    Go my minions, keep that grass down for me.


  • Solar – little steps forward

    It’s been hard to finally get to wiring what I have for a solar install. I’m still fuzzy on some of the science and I want everything to be perfect for the big launch. Necessity and having all the gear sitting there is making me reconsider. This afternoon I decided to wire the basics and deal with the imperfection.

    What we have now are 2 panels in parallel, a charge controller, a 35Ah deep cycle battery and the load. No inverter, no clean wiring, no fancy instrumentation to measure everything.


    What this gives us is the ability to use a 12V DC socket and 3 USB ports, even when the sun is not shinning :) This isn’t much but as I said earlier, when starting from scratch everything is a huge victory. It sounds trivial until you realize how much everything we do now is either 12V DC or USB powered. The charge controller comes with its own USB port with which I tested powering a Raspberry Pi.

    I’m so exited about generating my own electricity. Solar is really beautiful, much more so than I thought it would be going in. I’m really amazed that these panels just sit there and make electricity. I’ve always known that but I’m actually using this electricity, I find myself contemplating the system for a lot more than its function. It feels like getting something for nothing, while not burning fossil fuels, while going straight to the source, while being independent, while drinking a beer. I’m a fan.


  • Coyotes

    Sometimes it takes guts to take a leak.

    This one is sound only


    I dropped a skunk a few nights ago that had become a little too comfortable with the crawl space under the house. I’m still impressed at how fearless it was with me; it showed almost the same level of not giving a shit about anything I’ve seen in porcupines. Renowned defense mechanisms lead to carelessness apparently.

  • Getting ready for a small solar install

    With a couple of panels given to us and $190 worth of equipment remaining. We should be able to get enough power to keep things charged and and modem running. First housing is needed, I’m green at this and if it’s going to burn down, it won’t take the house with it. This “shed” will also be where the phone line terminates for our internet needs. This way no need to run unsightly wires to the house, and power is right there for the modem.



    The research I’ve done shows that there are many ways of doing solar and way too many variables to keep track of. It really seems like everyone has got their own way of going about it. So for now I’m keeping it small and simple, then I’ll develop my own way given our circumstances :) Who knew “terroir” could be applied to solar energy?

  • Blackberries

    Are all over the place right now, it’s hard to take a walk and not end up full.


  • I like how an orange nose

    has come to universally mean “neutered”.