As the structure of the house begins to get finalized, we turn our attention to water and electricity. I realize some folks might have put that earlier in the game but we have a lot to learn. For one, I keep getting confused about the math involved with wattage. Thankfully, Ed leads that charge (yes, I’m being punny). The well is in and attached to it is a solar pump. The only thing left is to mount the panel and connect things up. Well, all the inside apparatus too.
The main solar panels are ready to go up too. Meanwhile, Ed is working on the best way to connect it up.
All this said, we are getting closer to realizing life with less access to power. So daily I wonder how we will comfortably do this or that … because comfort is still important. For example, how will we prepare and early morning cup of coffee or tea in the summer? Winter is easy since the wood stove will be hot. Or what will be the best use of limited electricity in the kitchen in general? For the next few months, this will be the focus of our energies (yup, punny again … just can’t help it!)
With the (late) arrival of actual winter we finally turned our attention back to the hill house. Almost all the walls are up inside. And we started some stone work outside just before it got too cold. The sheepherders stove works wonderfully and heats the home quickly. This week we finally ordered a small 12 volt fridge (Sundanzer DCR10) which means we can finish the kitchen cabinetry and look for a sink that’s the right size. So … progress. But, sadly, we had to cry uncle on the windows. The windows were our first purchase. $75 for 15 windows and we designed the house around them. However, they have become our Achilles heel. The rest of the house is super energy efficient, but these windows leak not only cold air but sometimes rain, as well. Next Monday we buy replacements and start ripping out drywall to put them in. Life is always an experiment at “Do-Over Farm.”
This fall Ed got into making sauerkraut and kimchi. What a treat! We ended up buying both a sauerkraut crock and a kimchi crock but not much action happened with the kimchi crock. It looks pretty cool, though. Doesn’t matter … every batch was delicious!
But I travel light when we take the canoe out. After weeks of oven-hot days that made it hard to get motivated midday, yesterday treated us to a much appreciated thunderstorm (well, Jake didn’t appreciate it really). So this morning the scene on the water was breathtaking. Heading into the sun we looked through a gentle mist rising off the water. Green hills beyond and a great heron flying low across the water, silhouetted against the brightened mist. The new breezes refreshed our baked skin and soothed our spirits.
This has been the wettest spring many can remember around here. Everything is squishy and it is unpleasant to do much wearing anything but boots. But the future crop of berries seems like it will be bountiful and we’ve even got grapes growing in unexpected places. Summer hit this weekend with temperatures in the high 80s and everything seemed to grow a foot overnight … especially weeds! Sigh. However we have already enjoyed many meals from the garden and forage. Asparagus, Good King Henry, Dandelions, Nettles, and just this week, new radishes! Plus all the lovely herbs that continue to please.
Our timid ducks have found their groove! Once the first snow melted they busted out in style … literally. They pop over their fence daily and wander all over the back fields laughing at us all the way!
Looking back on the last few years, we like to give ourselves some positive perspective by reminding ourselves what we didn’t know a few years ago. On the Nature Bats Last blog, Guy says when he embarked on his project he could barely distinguish between a “screwdriver and a zucchini.”
While both Ed and I came into this with some gardening skills and a few carpentry skills, we now know we had barely scratched the surface. I won’t even get into the new skill sets we have acquired here or the new tools (the right tool means everything!!). The vocabulary we have gained is telling. In my former life I had no need to know what classified as a brassica or what juglone is or the difference between a brush-hog, skidder or bucket loader. If you had asked me what an indeterminate tomato was I would have said a tomato that can’t make up its mind. I wouldn’t have ruminated about what a ruminant is … never giving much thought beyond distinguishing carnivores, omnivores and herbivores, much less what kind of herbivore!