Saturday, June 2, 2012

Saturday Picture Day

It being hot and me being worn out, I'm going to take it easy today. I walked around and snapped some photos and I'll share those with you, but that's about as much thought as I'm willing to put into anything on such a day. I'm sitting here in my workshop in front of the fan and sipping iced tea at 10am. I expect a call from the president soon wondering why I'm not contributing to the GDP today.

 We've gone crazy with the fermenting foods. We've had success with salsa so far and now we're trying cucumbers to make pickles and a cucumber relish. I didn't follow the recipe exactly (was missing some ingredients) so I added extra apple cider vinegar mother in order to (hopefully) compensate.

 I didn't get down here in time to grow garlic of my own, but a neighbor has some really great stuff for sale. We'll use some of this and save back cloves to plant in the fall. It's a heirloom variety that does well down here. The cloves are small but extremely pungent. Eating one is a manly act.

 These are the tomato plants that suffer from neglect and lack of water. I moved them up to the back porch thinking we'd see them more often and water them but, alas, now we just ignore them more closely.

 The unfinished root cellar. I need to spread the dirt more evenly now and across the front as well as put a door on it.

The big hole where our home is going to be. 60' X 40', we're going to be living in a mansion. We're still working up floor plans but I've got some of the earthbags in to do a test run for my workshop. A good floorplan will be critical for an earthbag home this big. With properly spaced interior walls I won't have to buttress the outer walls and the crossbeams will be properly supported (every wall will be loadbearing). But I also have to arrange it so that the main living areas will have natural light in some way or our partially underground and earthbermed home will be like living in the land of the Mole People.

 Giant pile of building material. We got it cheap. It's part of what came out of that big hole in the previous photo.

 I'm slowly (when I feel like it) gathering up rocks and starting to line the paths between where the new house will be and the workshop and bathhouse.

 Future site of the Possum Creek Knifeworks workshop. It will be about 18' X 15' and sandwiched in between these trees. Made from earthbags, of course. We're building it first to iron out any flaws in the earthbag construction process.

 My private contemplation area. It overlooks the fields, mesquite groves, and gardens and there are beautiful flowers blooming all around me while I sit and reflect upon the world. (Home Depot, I expect a check in the mail since I'm advertising your buckets.)

 The drip irrigation system (and Sam the sneaky camera-hound). It's really picked up this part of the garden. Each bed with a completed irrigation system gets about 10 gallons of "waste" water per day. That's dishwater, handwashing water, and occasionally someone's bathwater. A septic system is a criminal waste of resources on an off-grid homestead.

 Cantaloupes growing like crazy in the "back to eden" beds. I haven't figured out a way to build a drip irrigation system in the sprawling spirals in the eden beds but the plants I have growing there don't seem to need much water. They're going like gangbusters.

 Watermelons in the eden beds.

 3 of the 4 bee colonies I installed earlier are doing well. This one appears to have absorbed many of the bees from another colony though and that smaller one isn't thriving. Still, there's workers and a laying queen in there so they may pull through. Either way, I'm thrilled to be a beekeeper again and I'm hoping that these guys survive.

 At the bottom of our 10" deep pond is a 4" deep hole carved out of the quartzite. We tried to get through that rock layer to dig the pond out deeper but without success. The quartzite is one solid layer and extends down maybe 30 feet or so. It's metamorphic and non-porous so it holds water very well. It's almost like we have a giant stone reservoir instead of a pond. Incidentally, the guy who dug out the pond pointed out the value of this type of rock and its proximity to the surface. Between the sandstone boulders and layer of quartzite, there are a lot of companies that would love to buy up this property and use it for construction and decorative stone mining. Something to keep in mind if we ever get driven out somehow, but for now I'm more concerned about the first foot or two of topsoil and how to get it more fertile.

 The view from the pond back towards the cabin. At some point I hope that our home will start looking more like a homestead and less like a military encampment but we love it here and for our 6 month mark I'm amazed at what God has helped us to accomplish.

 Buttercup, one of our hens, has decided to go broody. She's sat on a pile of 10 eggs since the 27th so far and aggressively defends her spot against all other hens (and me). Anyone attempting to dislodge her gets a serious pecking. We'll see if she manages to hatch out any young. I keep wanting to interfere but I need to have faith in God that He endowed Buttercup with enough natural instincts here.

The workshop bench needs a serious cleaning. I didn't put any knives under glue today so I guess cleaning will have to suffice. It's an easy task to accomplish.

Well, that's the farm! We're still here on the land and thriving. I've got some fermented salsa that can be eaten today so I'll have to run into town for some corn chips. We can go through a quart of good fermented salsa in an afternoon so the three jars I have won't go very far. Need to make some more but I'm almost out of salt. When I get some more salt I'll get back to work on pickling some zucchini and making more salsa. It's a family affair and everyone has a role in the food preservation. It's a fun time.


Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks for the tour!

InvalidID said...

Ernie ol' man, I do believe you need a larger pond. Also, about this quartzite. Do I see a quartzite handled knife in the future?