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/

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rabbit shed update

I never blogged the work we did to the rabbit shed before we left on our trip. Last I wrote we had put up the frame.

over the next two days, we put on its roof and the asphalt board walls, painted the inside, and lined the floor and inside walls with chicken wire (to stop the rabbits burrowing out).

We are about to start working on it again. We probably have just a day or two left and we will be ready to get the rabbits.

For more photos, click here.

Sundanzer

When we upgraded our power system, we bought an old Viking electric chest freezer and changed out its thermostat with that of a refrigerator. It was our first free refrigeration and we were delighted. However, it was not that efficient and we found our batteries would often be fairly low, especially as the weather heated up.

That problem is now solved. We just bought ourselves a Sundanzer Fridge. These are made specifically for an off-grid system, and you sure can tell the difference. Our batteries are full all the time - the fridge barely even makes a difference ( pulling the equivalent, all day and night, to a couple of hours of a light bulb).

It was more expensive than a regular type, but its efficiency will more than pay for itself - cheaper than having to buy the solar panels required to keep up that old Viking.

Augie's graduation

On May 15th, Augie, Abe's brother, graduated from University. We went up there to watch the graduation and to see the family. I know that is a long time ago, but for some reason I have been feeling very lethargic ever since the trip, and have barely been able to do regular chores and things that have to be done, let alone a blog! Oh well, time for catch up.

It was an extremely eventful, but fun, trip. I'll keep some of the details to ourselves - suffice it to say, Augie made it a memorable day (or night). We got to catch up with him, Emily and Roeland, Jim and Vickie, and Faye. There are a couple of photos and video of the graduation (click here), although not many and not great ones. And then we didn't get the camera out again for the rest of the trip, which is a shame.

After the graduation party, we headed up to Jim and Vickie's for a couple of days relaxing and visiting before making the long ride home. Leo really seems to love spending time with his grandparents, and once again I find myself wishing we lived closer to our two families.

The day after we got home, tired as we all were, Leo gave us a special treat... his first proper tantrum. It's not the first time he's cried and stomped his feet a little when he didn't get his way, but we have always been able to calm him down or divert his attention. This was different - this was an inconsolable crying fit that lasted for close to 20 minutes. It was pretty exhausting. He went to sleep straight afterward!

Other than that, Leo is doing great. He is mostly happy, with a few brief exceptions. He hikes a lot, runs all over the place, adores the dogs. He is playing a lot more on his own now and his imagination is really kicking in. If you let him, he will climb on EVERYTHING, and I mean stuff an adult would hesitate to do. He takes every opportunity to ride people's horses with them. All in all a handful. Terrible Twos, here we come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Little Devil


SANY5076
Originally uploaded by velacreations
Thought this video was kinda cute, so...

As a small backdrop to the video: we don't give Leo much sugar. He never gets sodas; we try and avoid the High Fructose Corn Syrup type foods; his desserts tend to be fruit, nuts, home-made cookies, etc.

However, he does get a bite of his dad's candy every once in a while, and needless to say, he loves it! He quickly learned where dad keeps his stash.

The other day, he asked if he could get up on the kitchen counter. No problem - he helps me with dishes, so being allowed on the counter is normal, but he usually heads towards the sink. Not this time...

For more photos of Leo over the past couple of weeks, click here.

Opening up the Bees


SANY5048
Originally uploaded by velacreations
We opened up our new hives at the beginning of the week. We wanted to increase the brood box and check on how they are doing. It was a little invasive for them, but kind of cool for us. We will be further increasing the brood box, as we plan to do a Perone hive, but future increases should not be as intrusive.

Here's a video of Abe describing what we're doing.

For more photos, click here.

Garden Paths


Although not yet finished (as the rabbit shed is more of a priority), I thought I would post a photo of the new garden paths.

The garden started off on a slope. On top of that, we are continually adding compost and mulch, so the soil is growing. These two factors had led to each bed spilling over itself and making it difficult to maneuver the garden. So we decided we should spend some time rectifying the problem, as the garden is a place we spend some time.

I made a small brick retaining wall on the uphill side of each bed (downhill side of path), and then filled in the path with rocks and dirt, making them nice and level and easy to walk on. I then used Juniper branches to retain the downhill side of the beds. It's much easier to get around now, and allows space for the beds to continue to raise.

For more photos, click here.

Rabbit Shed


For the past couple of days, we have been working on the rabbit shed.

It is a 20' x 10' building (and will eventually have outside pens too) - enough space to house 12 does, 2 bucks, babies and all their feed and bedding.

With the land leveled and the post holes dug, we raised the 20' wall panels that Abe had welded into place. We then leveled them both. Once everything was level and square, Abe welded the connecting walls, so that the whole building is a nice, strong, welded box. We then poured concrete in the post holes.

Next week we will put the metal roof and asphalt board walls on.

Pretty productive couple of days, especially considering how damned hot it was.

For more photos, click here.