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: http://flickr.com/photos/35090117@N05/collections/

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winston Churchill

"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong." - Winston Churchill

Monday, February 12, 2018

Starting seeds

It's cold out today, so we figured we'd work inside on a couple of seed related projects.

The main job was prepping seeds of various nitrogen fixing trees, namely Black Locust, Mimosa, Palo Verde, Bird of Paradise, and Esperanza. These are needed throughout an orchard to help feed the other trees and plants, and they also provide food for animals. The problem with most nitrogen fixers is that their seeds need to pass through the digestive tract of an animal in order to germinate. You can replicate this effect using acid (similar to the acid found in the stomach), but we prefer to nick the outer seed casing by sanding or grinding it. So, we got out our Dremmel tool (useful for so many jobs!), and used it to grind into the harder seeds. We then put them into a tub of hot water and will soak them overnight before planting them in cone-tainers.

The second task was planting some annuals in flats, which will later be transplanted into the garden once the risk of a freeze is past. These include things like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, cucamelons, tomatillos. This is a much easier and faster job, but it did require that we braved the outside for long enough to fill the flats with soil!

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Starting seeds

Friday, February 9, 2018

Nursery

We are going to need so many trees and shrubs for the acres that will become our orchards that it would end up costing an absolute fortune. So, we figured out a way to take the financial burden off our plans: have a nursery. We can buy plants in bulk, and then sell half of them to fund the ones we want for ourselves. Anything we don't sell can always be kept and sold next year as a bigger tree, or planted into our own orchard. Win, win.

We bought a kit for a tunnel greenhouse, which is 50' x 14'. Once it was assembled, we laid a weed barrier down on the ground and then started to fill the space with plants. We bought everything as either a plug or bare-root, and then had to transplant it all into pots and bags. Next step will be to set up an automatic watering system, but for the time being, Abe is kind of enjoying walking up and down the paths with a hose, watering his babies by hand.

All of our selections so far are adapted to our area, and produce some kind of food, whether for us or our animals. Here's the current list:

 

  • 100 x Chinese Chestnuts
  • 240 x Pineapple Guava
  • 50 x Loquat
  • 50 x Stone Pines
  • 10 x White Mulberries (the other 90 were planted directly into the ground)
  • 80 x Apples (Anna, Mollies, Granny Smith, Ein Shemer)
  • 80 x Plums (Methley, Santa Rosa, Damson, Scarlett Beauty)
  • 60 x Peaches (Lafeliciana, Loring, Redskin, Suwanee)
  • 144 x Fig (Texas Everbearing, Celeste)
  • 144 x Blackberry (Arapaho, Natchez)
  • 144 x Grape (Alachua, Dixie)
  • 144 x Blueberry (Palmetto, Farthing)

There's a few other odds and ends in there too (like roses and gojis), which brings us up to a grand total of 1300 plants that we have bagged and potted in the past two weeks.

We have plans for a whole bunch of other stuff, but they're going to have to wait for a month, as we are running out of space in the greenhouse! Once it warms up a little, we'll be able to move a bunch of these outside, and then we can start round two!

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Nursery

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Cabin

On our place, in between the house and the workshop, is a cabin.

It's 32' x 14', with a small porch to the north. It's a framed building, with painted siding on the outside and unfinished on the inside. One of our tasks is to turn this shell into a guesthouse, with a bedroom, living room, and bathroom.

This week, we framed up the bathroom, which is 8' x 6'. We haven't put the door in yet, although it's ready to hang (in its frame) once we have the bathroom interior done.

Because it's planting season, we won't have much time to work on the cabin over the next couple of months, but we hope to spend a day or two on it each week.

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The Cabin

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mulberries

There's an area in between the cabin, workshop, and rabbit barn that seems like a great place for a garden. Unfortunately, the soil isn't that good and there's a lot of shallow roots from the oak trees that shade it. So, we decided this would be the perfect spot to do a coppice garden.

Coppicing is when you can cut a tree or shrub way back and it will regrow, bushier than ever. The white mulberry tree is one that is excellent in this capacity and makes a great feed for our rabbits. We will also add rows of black locust trees at a later date.

We have planted 100 of the little trees, about two feet apart in rows that follow the contour. It's pretty hard to see them at the moment, as they are dormant (therefore have no leaves yet) and small, but they should become more visible in the Spring.

If they perform up to expectations, we should be able to coppice them every three months, and once they mature, each plant will produce about 5 lb of leaves per cutting. They are high protein, similar to the nutrient profile of alfalfa. This is a renewable and long-lived form of producing a high protein animal feed.

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Mulberries

Monday, January 29, 2018

Basketball

Although the boys had sports at their last school, they never got to compete. The schools in our rural area were so small that they only had one team each, which was usually selected out of the older grades.

Here, there are sports outside of school that you can sign your kids up for, and both Leo and Nick really wanted to do basketball. So, practices started a couple of weeks ago, and the first games were this Saturday.

They both had a blast. They lacked confidence at first, seeing as they had a lot less experience than the other kids, but they got into it and were doing really well by the end of it. The went on to spend the rest of the weekend practicing (we have two hoops set up in the workshop bay, one for each kid, at the height that they need). They are looking forward to practice tonight with the team and next Saturday's games!

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Basketball

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Camry

We've been looking for a Toyota Camry for a while now, but they're pretty hard to find, mainly because the good ones get snapped up so fast! But this week, we found one we liked, and, miracle of miracles, it was still available.

It's a 2009, in good condition, and has relatively low miles. It drives great and is very comfortable, with a lot of space. We're all super happy with it.

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Camry

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