Vela Creations

Vela Creations is an in-depth resource for off grid living. The site documents our research and experiences, hoping that they might help others interested in pursuing this lifestyle. This blog is designed to document our day to day experiences as we build our new, sustainable homestead. If you are interested in seeing more photos and videos, we have a flickr account at the following url:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


When we moved from Mexico, we had planned to take our dogs, Sam and Sophie, with us. We hadn't even considered leaving them behind, although we did have some misgivings about moving them. The most important issue was that they were both used to running. There was nothing around our old place, and they had gotten into the habit of taking off, sometimes for a couple of days at a time. We knew that this would be a problem where we were going, as there are more people (and roads) around, and we had figured we would have to build some kind of pen for them until we could fence the whole property.

So, when one of the guys that had worked with us on our place told us he really wanted them, it set us to thinking. He had known them both since puppies and loved them, and would definitely take care of them, but were we prepared to go without them? After a couple of weeks of going back and forth, we decided to leave them, which was extremely sad, but probably best for everyone. We're still in touch with our friend, and he says that both dogs and his little kids are all very happy together.

So, after we had settled into to the new place, one of the first things we did was get new puppies. Each kid got to pick out a pup, and they made excellent choices.

Leo chose Chip, a rat Terrior. He's a character and a half, thinks he's human, and spends half his time walking on two legs! Nick chose Candy, a Catahoula. She's beautiful, extremely smart, fast, and a little wild! Both of them are going to make great dogs, and the kids especially adore them.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Marcus Aurelius

"That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees." - Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cattle management

We've never much wanted to have cows ourselves, but it's been kind of interesting managing someone else's.

At the moment, we have them confined to just a couple of pastures, and are feeding them hay and some extra protein. However, in a few more weeks when the grass is growing again, we'll start rotating them through the other pastures as well. We normally move them every couple of days, so that they never graze the same grass for too long without a rest, and the grass is always lush by the time they get back to it.

We divide the pastures with electric fences, which the cows all respect now. When we need to move them, we just drop a fence and call them. They follow pretty easily.

There are 26 cows and 1 bull in all. They will probably start calving within the next month or so. Last year's calves did real well.

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Cattle management

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tree trimming

There are several extra jobs on our to-do list now that we live in the woods. One of them is trimming tree limbs, especially those over the house and around the chimney. The other is sweeping leaves off the roof and from the ground.

Although this results in a little extra work, it has also provided some valuable resources. Both leaves and wood chips are very useful in the garden, and of course we have an easy and plentiful source of firewood.

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Tree trimming

Sunday, January 14, 2018

R. Buckminster Fuller

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." - R. Buckminster Fuller


The insulation in this house left a lot to be desired. Some of it had absolutely nothing (crazy, huh?), and the rest was just R13. So, to bring in the New Year, we decided it was high time we added an extra layer.

For those of you who have never had to crawl around in a small attic space, balancing on rafters, breathing in fiber glass and dust, you're lucky! It is one of the worst and most uncomfortable jobs. It took us three days to finish the whole house, but now that it's done we're happy.

We have between R32 and R38 over the whole space and it has made a big difference to the overall warmth of the house. We didn't get many photos of the task, as we had enough to contend with without a camera, so I just have one pic taken through the attic door.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Black Soldier Flies

For serious composters, Black Soldier Flies, hermetia illucensor, are a miracle insect. The BSF larvae (grubs) love putrid wastes, and are highly efficient at composting them. Grubs can reduce the mass of waste by 95%, leaving a fine compost behind, as well as a compost tea that, once diluted, is an excellent fertilizer for the garden. They don’t like competition, so they give off a distinctive odor to repel other flies. Adult BSF don't eat waste and so are not a pest in any way.

Once the grubs are ready to pupate, they climb out of the compost bin (as long as the ramp is 30-45 degrees), and drop themselves into a bucket, a meal fit for any number of small livestock, like chickens, fish, lizards, quail, and even pigs. They’ll convert 5 pounds of waste into 1 pound of high protein grubs, and they’ll do it faster than you would believe.

At the old place, we had tried repeatedly to raise BSF, but the lack of humidity had always made it very difficult. So, when we moved to the new place, we were delighted to find out that they were already present. We rigged up a small compost bin, and have been collecting BSF ever since.


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Black Soldier Flies

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