Day 2

Due to the heat and the children I have only been able to do an hour a day of work on leveling the outside of the house. I’ve gotten a lot done though. Seven wheelbarrow loads of hard packed clay moved already and two small sections leveled. I think we will actually hit our goal. If nothing else I am going to be all muscle by the time we are done with the tires!


The time has come 

As of today we are going to be actively trying to get everything ready to start the tires. We still have to level the ground around the concrete slab and add the concrete where the door is going. Our (my) goal is to be working at least 2 hours a day (weather permitting) until the tires are complete. The ultimate goal is to start the tires the first or second week in August. We will also be needing a lot of help (although we expect this to be completed with no help at all). We need people to help level the ground, pound tires, fill wheelbarrows with dirt for the tires, and the most important is we always need help watching the kids. If you would like to offer help in any way, shape, or form please Let us know!  Also to all of our friends please be patient with us for the rest of 2016. We may not see much of you and for that I am sorry but rest assured that we should be back in full force in 2017! 

So much progress. 

We worked for 4 days straight over the Easter holiday and C’s days off. We finished laying the drainage pipe, started on the water lines, and finished the curved part of the concrete forms. We still have to finish the water lines, put in the conduit, and level out the ground a bit more with an excavator. Then we can finish the straight parts of the concrete forms and lay the gravel. We feel so accomplished. We did have to move the projected concrete date to the end of April, but those things happen, thanks to the weather. We are still on target though. It looks so much more real now, especially since every part of my body hurts from moving dirt and tracking through mudholes. Here is what we have so far (notice the wheelbarrow for prospective…) 

  

Where is this going?

Last night C and I got into a bit of an argument. Nothing to worry about and nothing that wasn’t resolved. I have been having an internal struggle that I have been projecting onto him. I feel like I’m not pulling my weight (and I can hear my friends laughing now). I have always brought in some form of consistent income, but right now I really haven’t. I have been focusing my attentions on raising the kids, keeping the house in order, and building the house/farm. That takes a lot of energy, but truthfully I could fit in more if I wanted to. I feel like, by not bringing in an income, I am taking the “easy way out”. I know that C wants to be at home and I know he wants to spend his days working on the farm and I feel like I am selfishly taking that from him. I’ve been snippy and rude to him because I expect he is upset with me when he’s not. 

Then I went to church this morning. I always seem to get some sort of answers when I go to church. I realized that I am doing so much more than I think I am. Mainly I’m writing. I’m writing this blog of our journey not just as entertainment but also to turn into at least one book when it’s all complete. Right now is Cs time to be the “breadwinner” but once the house is built and the cars and land are paid off we won’t need nearly as much income and most of that will come from the farm, and the rest will come from me and possibly C if he wants to.  

Now onto the farm. 

I am constantly being reminded of why we are building this farm. To help people, but most of the time it’s hard to see what that means. 

I know that the path that has led us here has shown is the struggles people face in a daily basis and has given us ideas on how we can help, but what does that really look like?

Truthfully I have no clue, and I won’t until the house is done and we can focus our attention on where it needs to be. There are so many idea we have brainstormed, but we know we cannot do them all. So we will lay them out and see where God wants us once we have the opportunity to do them. We know we are going to feed people by offering naturally grown produce and pasture raised meat at low prices. We want to help people grow their own gardens, become less dependent on utility companies, and learn to cook from farm to table on a budget. 

Will we help people set up partial grid sustainable energy sources? Will we provide pay what you can services? Will we help develope community garden?  Only time will tell. What I do know is that we don’t want to offer food pantry type services. Food pantries are great. They are a much needed service in every community but they don’t tend to help people get out of the situation of needing their services. We want families to not have to be food insecure by helping them spend less on food and utilities. We shouldn’t be going broke on necessities. 

The joke is that one day I want to be on Ellen talking about the book and how important these services are, because let’s be real for a moment, we can either wait for people to be paid a living wage or we can decrease their spending so that their current wage becomes a living wage.  So let’s stop talking about the problem and do something about the solution. 

 

Preparing for spring

MOur spring plants started to grow which means we needed to bring them outside.  C got up one day and started putting together a greenhouse. 3 hours later and this was up:
 
It doesn’t look like much but it’s 8×8 and holds temperature like crazy. We put a heater inside for the nights it gets below 35 and a thermometer that also measures humidity. One night the breaker blew and it dropped below freezing and we lost some of our plants but it wasn’t many and it’s still early enough to replant them. 

Finally an update!!!

The last you heard we were preparing to lay gravel in the driveway. We did. That Wednesday they came and dumped the gravel. It was a bit entertaining too. 

   
   Here is the gravel being laid nice and neatly.   

 Here is C pulling the gravel truck up the driveway after it got stuck. 
  And lastly the giant pile of gravel that we later had to spread out with the dozer. It was an interesting day but …
We have a usable driveway!!

We are probably one more load away from finishing it but for all intensive purposes it’s done!

Tires

We have begun picking up tires for the earthship. Our projected goal is to pour the concrete foundation by the end of February. To do this we have to have the first row of tires laid and filled.  Our friend’s family owns some sort of freight business or something. Something where they have a bunch of used tires they were needing to move. We were able to get our first row of tires from them, which is pretty darn awesome. That leaves about 950 left to go. Much more than they can provide in the time frame we need them. When it gets closer to the pour date I’ll call the epa and see about getting the rest. 

  

We can officially build

We have obtained the building permit!  We slaved over these plans. We stressed. We worked until they were PERFECT.  We went into planning and zoning completely anticipating they would make us go back and get an architect to sign off on them, which basically would have been someone singing off on what an engineer had originally made that we modified slightly. 

They handed C some papers to fill out, asked him some questions, we wrote a check, and they handed us a building permit. We have to have our electric inspected so we have to fill out all of that paperwork too, but WE HAVE A BUILDING PERMIT!!! 

C’s reaction: “building permit quest complete. New level obtained.  100,000 exp points gained” 

   

First World Problems

It’s amazing the things in life that we take for granted.  We are so lucky to have power in our home, clean running water, the choice of how we want our children to be educated.  I am visiting this topic because yesterday our cistern ran out of water (or at least I thought it had, it ended up being a malfunction with the pump which was easily fixed) and it got me thinking about how much we as Americans take for granted.  We are so wasteful and many of us dont even care.

It’s funny, it’s almost as if this is my form of fasting.  It’s a way for me to become closer to the earth and to the things God gives us so that I don’t take them for granted.  I am blessed to have these things at my disposal, it’s my job to not be a glutton to them, and to be thankful for them everyday that we have them.

Some of what we do comes from being so poor for so long, but most of it comes from our views on the environment and how we should be treating it.  So here is a brief look at the life we live.  We have about a 300 gallon cistern under the cabin we are renting.  Until we get the rainwater collection set up we are relying on filling the water tank whenever it is empty.  It takes us about 7-10 days to empty the cistern.  Lets look at this critically.  We have six people living in a household that uses 300 gallons of water in a week.  We can run 3 loads of laundry, take about 2 showers each, 2 baths, and wash dishes every day.  How can we do this in a time when most households use 100 gallons of water per person every day?  Technically we should be refilling the cistern twice a day.  We have changed the way we do things in order to conserve more water.  i wash my dishes with a soapy dish towel before i rinse them off.  The water is only on while i am rinsing.  We take short showers.  When the kids take a bath we use the same bath water.  The washer uses less water than other washers.  We also don’t wash our clothes after every single time we wear them (unless they need it, like diapers or underwear).  I have some people who call me gross, I have some people who have stopped being friends with me after finding out how we use our water, and that’s fine.  We have been conditioned over the years to believe that showering everyday, washing your clothes after every wash, etc, was more “sanitary” and that “normal people” do it.  These things have actually been shown to not be better for us, or for the fabrics in our clothes, but we have been conditioned by those who benefit from the profits of us doing these things (shampoo companies, laundry detergent companies, etc).  The one thing that I do is wash my face everyday and the places that i sweat a lot, but i do this with a washcloth.  I don’t care what people think because this is the life I want to live.

We also spend about $200 on groceries every month, nothing is packaged, we have very little food that we waste and what is wasted gets fed to the dog or the chickens.  We throw away 2 bags of trash a month, and hopefully soon we will be down to 1.  Most of what people throw away is some sort of packaging, both food and non food.  If you reduce the amount of packaging you buy you reduce the amount of trash you have.  I feel much better about adding 1-2 bags of trash to a landfill every month than i did tossing 3-4 a week.  We reduce the food waste too by only buying what we need.  Yes, by the end of the 2 week pay period our fridge is looking very bare, but it should.  I find if it doesn’t we tend to not eat certain things that end up going bad.  This way we are forced to figure out how to incorporate these things into our meals, or just not buy them again for a while.  Once our garden is up and running we also will be spending much less on food.

We conserve electricity too.  We don’t keep appliances running during the day except the ones that have to (like the fridge).  We almost never have the tv on.  We also make sure to turn the lights off when we leave a room (or at least try to, our 10 year old is terrible at this).  Although part of what helps is that we are almost never home.  I find that we get cabin fever even if we are home for a few hours with so many of us in such a small space.

All in all our footprint on the environment is very low and we want it that way.  We are always looking for more ways to cut back without compromising on our heath and well being.  I have trained myself to stop and ask “what is the least wasteful way I can do this”.  I recommend trying it sometime.  It really does make you appreciative of the things you have.

Grocery Shopping

We totally overspent yesterday.  We knew we would, and I know it’s going to save us a ton of money in the long run, but it still sucks.  How did we overspend?  Thanks to some awesome friends of ours (you know who you are!) we discovered a restaurant supply store right next to Cs work.  This is where C bought the 50lb bag of flour for $14 the other day.  we bought butter, 10 lbs of flat iron steak, 10lbs of ground beef, 10lbs of pork chops, a huge jug of the good Worcester sauce, 3lbs of Mozzarella, and a large piece of Parmesan cheese, oh and enough olive oil to last us about 6 months.  We spent about $145.  I just about had a heart attach, but after thinking about it a LONG time i realized we are actually saving ourselves a lot of money.  If we send $20-$40 every month on meat we will be buying at least 10-20 lbs of meat, will have a huge repertoire of meat to chose from, and we will only be buying veggies at the grocery store (that is until ours come in).  We currently have about 10 weeks of meat in our freezer.  that’s pretty darn good i would say!! Plus we wont be buying more meat until next month.  our freezer is so full.  We need to get the deep freeze from Cs mom soon, especially before our 25 chickens are slaughtered.  We have enough food to feed us for over 3 weeks.  I’m pretty excited about all this, and NOTHING is from a box or “processed”.  It’s gonna be great once the veggies come in.  We will be spending probably about $50 a month on food if that.  I don’t think we have ever had this much food before.  ever.  We had trouble closing our freezer.  It felt pretty darn good.  Just to think that only three months ago we were striving to live on food stamps.  God is good!  We have a long way to go but we are so much better than we were when we started.