Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
Our new website

For herbs I don't grow, this is my favorite place!

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
On our site, you will see selected links to books that have been valuable to our homesteading, permaculture, spiritual, health and natural building paths and links to products we use or feel are ethical. Purchasing any of these products through my site will help contribute to our homesteading success and our teaching others to do the same.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

There are flies in paradise

Partridge Pea
(P.S. I don't know why blogger is mushing all the paragraphs together and tired of trying to figure it out!)

Sometimes it feels like we're making progress and other times it feels like we are so behind.  Trying to be simple can be hard at times, but this is where we want to be.  Once we get systems set up though, like being able to pump water, things sure get easier and sometimes it seems easier than the "normal" way of doing things.  It is taking a lot longer to get to the footer stage than we expected. If we had not made the house so deep into the earth, it would have been a lot simpler and easier.  

The depth we are working at for the foundation rubble trench has been labor intensive.  It takes a lot of time to get the trench to the right slope, sometimes with a sledgehammer - but as often as we can, we try to fill in and go up instead of digging down.  The time it takes to slope the trench and get the plumbing in has led to delays and then we'll get an unexpected shower that fills the trenches with water and mud.  There is a shallow drainage trench now around the site which helps a great deal with run off, but thankfully the ground drains very fast.  There are obviously a lot of things we could have done better.  The forecast calls for sun all week and we bought our black line tank today.  The rest of the water will go through gray water lines that feed to mulch beds around the trees South of the house. 

So much has been done though.  Water can be pumped by solar panels, we have power from solar for a fridge and a little window unit A.C. that we've used a few times when the temps and heat index are over 100 degrees, there is wood for cooking, and a barn and chicken coop made out of used and affordable materials.  Small trails that meander around trees have been cut for everywhere we need to go and we hardly ever get ticks now because of the chickens. I haven't had any serious outbreaks of poison ivy or chiggers in quite a while either.  It's so beautiful and is a dream that this is how I spend my day.  I enjoy the physical movement and time with my own thoughts when shoveling and hoeing, tending water and food bowls, turning the compost pile, getting water, work on building the house and the many other things that make up day to day life out here.  We have never built a house before, but I think with the good books we've read and lots of advice from people who have been there - we should have something that keeps us dry and warm. 

Our solar panels were all used and bought in groups of usually 2 or 4.  It took a few years of search on Craigslist to get them all.  I thought some people have been able to hook mix-matched solar panels to a single charge controller, but we haven't figured it out.  Each set is on their own charge controller for now.  They all share the same batteries though and that was our biggest expense.  For some small things, 1 or 2 panels and a single battery are able to operate it without hooking to the main system.  We run the water pump and stereo in the barn off of their own panels and batteries for now since, without a house, there isn't much need for all the panels or batteries at the RV.  From what we understand, the batteries all work together and a mix-matched set with an old battery that doesn't hold much charge will bring down the other batteries that it's hooked to.  These should last us 10 years if cared for properly and maybe by then, there will be cheaper energy storage options, or we will have figured out wind or some other source.  If we ever have to do without power, of course we could.  It is a nice luxury though to have the internet and a fridge.  

Rob Roy helped us figure out that we could reduce the cost of our roof by removing about 1/2 the weight and therefore not needing to buy so much lumber.  On the drawings, we've removed the gravel drainage layer and replaced it with a 1 ounce per sq ft weight Inkadrain drainage cloth/mat.  The soil has been reduced from 6" to 3".  The plan was to plant sedum and chives and other shallow rooted herbs on the roof anyway so 3" should be sufficient. 

We might reduce more cost by cutting the drainage layer of the earthen floor in half from 6" of gravel to 3".  Some books use 6" - 12" of gravel as a drainage layer for earthen floors.  Other books say much less is fine and is recommended.  Our soil is so well drained that I don't think reducing to 3" would be a problem.  We can also cut more costs and be greener by replacing the foam board insulation under the earthen floor with a layer of straw and clay.  There is tons of clay dirt from the excavation.  The waterproofing layer for the floor is recommended by some, and we have it in our drawings, but it is highly NOT recommended by other authors.  So I have a lot of thinking and more learning to do in relation to the floors.  I'm hoping an earthen floor expert will make themselves available to us and help us figure this out.  It seems we are able to find someone more knowledgeable when we need to.  

I've fallen in love with a book called "Mehndi" by Loretta Roome.  I love the art of Mehendi and have been looking for ideas for designs to scribe into the floor.  I saw the book at the library and thought if nothing else, I'd like to use up a tube of Mehendi I have.  The photos are incredible as are the explanations of the symbols.  Page 54 talks about the art of Mandana for drawing on the floor in a similar fashion as on the body.  Wonderful!  A new word and something new to learn about for the floors.  I haven't been able to find the book used and affordable yet, so I might have to check it out again when it's time to do the floor - or zerox a lot of pages. It's going on the home library wish list. 

The first jewel has been planted in the herb garden.  A lady with a crazy, wild, weedy, gorgeous and enviable garden lives about 20 minutes away and gave me a huge pot of mature elderberry.  The chickens benefited from the berries this year.  My neighbor gave me a basil plant and I dug up purslane from another neighbor's garden. I planted the three of them together in the middle of the herb garden area and will work out from there.  When I see it, it reminds me of what is to come.  Herb and vegetable gardens!  Food and medicine!

The work can be hard, but we're out exercising much of the day, getting sunshine.  I've never felt stronger or in better shape.  I see dozens if not hundreds of butterflies everyday along with hummingbirds and all sorts of wildlife.  The road to our house has to be driven slowly so the butterflies will flutter away. We get to hang out with our animals and our work is for us, not someone else.  I used to hate my office job so much I'd say "I'd rather be out digging ditches" and I was right - I do enjoy it much more. 

I wish I had known about this lifestyle a long time ago.  There is still so much to learn.  We are learning while we go, so we're slower than I imagine others are.  My arms get too tired to type much at night which is why I haven't posted in a while.  Today though, with the rain delay and the chicken coop being 99% done - it's a wonderful afternoon to take off, recover and prepare for the big week.
Chicken coop.  Tomorrow will finish wrapping base in hardware cloth.
Here is a beautiful song I've been enjoying by Brandie Carlisle
Have You Ever :
Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
And everything there feels just as it should
You're part of the life there
You're part of something good
If you've ever wandered lonely through the woods
if you've ever wandered lonlely through the woods

Have you ever stared into a starry sky?
Lying on your back you're asking why
What's the purpose I wonder who am I
If you've ever stared into a starry sky
Have you ever stared into a starry sky

Have you ever been out walking in the snow?
Tried to get back to where you were before
You always end up not knowing where to go
If you've ever been out walking in the snow
If you'd ever been out walking you would know


katlupe said...

Jamie, Our panels are all mismatched and run on the same charge controller. Only two of our panels are a pair. What seems to be the problem with your panels?

Ja-Co said...

I'll email you. The solar guy we had helping us and Jeffrey could not figure out how to get them to work together. Thankfully we have good friends like you at solarbaby to help. Will email!