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/

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Property Updates

I haven't written much about the place recently, so I thought I'd do a little update on how things are doing.

Building
We haven't done any building since we finished the bathroom and hot water system. We really have everything we need, so no need to hurry on to the next construction projects, at least until well after the baby is born. We'll probably make the pantry (a big cupboard in the entranceway) and another shelf or two, but that's it for the next couple of months.

SANY7201 Hot Water system
This has really changed our lives and is the greatest luxury on the place. There have been a couple of small issues to work out, but Abe figures them out and fixes them. Unless it's cloudy for several days or unless we use the floor heaters a lot, our tank temperature sits happily at 130 degrees and will almost burn you!

Compost Heater
This did not work out as well as we had hoped. Although it heated Leo's wall a lot at the beginning, it does not do so steadily. We will have to tweak the idea to make it more effective. At least we''ll get a big old pile of compost out of the experiment.

SANY7207 Pigs
The three pigs are growing at an incredible rate. They more than doubled (and one of them almost tripled) their weight in the first month we had them. We made a pasture for them and they love to run around in it, root up the dirt, eat grass and play. When you arrive, they come running up to be petted, scratched and fed scraps. They consider Leo one of them. Photos

SANY7213 Chickens
We replaced most of our chickens a little while ago with some young layers. They have recently started to produce eggs. So far we are getting about two a day, but that will increase with Spring. It's Leo's treasured job to collect them (although he is only allowed to carry one back to the house).

SANY7227 Rabbits
The rabbits are amazing. We have kept a lot of the best females to pad out our breeding stock. We now have twelve females, four of which are still not ready to breed. By March, when they are all of breeding age, we will be getting a litter a week. Right now we have a little over 40 of them, of all different sizes!
They are truly the easiest animals in the world to keep and a joy to watch. Photos

Gardens
We didn't plant anything for winter outside. There was a lot going on at the time and we decided to let it go for this year. The inside dining room planter is on the other hand doing great, with all kinds of herbs, greens, carrots and garlic going crazy. We will shortly be doing soil blocks for the living room one.

Road
For the grand old price of $15, we got our road graded the other day. Most people don't understand what this means, but to sum it up for you, our road is long (2 miles), dirt and was in terrible condition after the rains we got this year. It now feels like a super highway, and my increasing belly is very grateful.

Beds

SANY7192 To all those that contributed to the Leo/Nicky bed fund, thank you so very much.

We have bought and installed the new bed, and it takes up most of the bedroom (we are currently in what will one day become Nicky's room and it is not designed for a king size!!). It is unbelievably comfortable, and Leo loves it as much as we do. We can all three be in the bed and have to crawl for miles to cuddle, so we often congregate in the center.

SANY7197 Leo also loves his new big bed (our old one). It was especially great while he was sick. I could sleep with him and we both had plenty of room, although his preferred sleeping position is wrapped around my neck stroking my hair (something he has loved to do from the beginning).

Thanks again folks.

Happy New Year

Happy New year to everyone, and hope that 2011 brings you all kinds of happy events and memories.

Ours promises to be as good, if not better than 2010, but it did not start well. We had a bunch of people come and visit us after Christmas, and a couple of days later Leo got sick.

SANY7184 Started off with a high temperature, sleeping a lot and wanting to be held whenever awake. It then progressed to painful stomach cramps and diarrhea for several days. We didn't get anything, so must be something we already have resistance to (like Rotovirus).

Leo drinks so much water that dehydration (the biggest danger in such an illness) was never a worry. However, it was horrible watching him in pain and not being able to do anything. There is a medication you can give for the virus, but most reports say that although it relieves some of the symptoms, it usually makes the illness last longer, and is best to avoid if you can.

One thing that really upset him was that we had to put diapers on him for the worst days. He cried and cried at that, so we took it off, but then soiling his pants upset him even more and he relented.

What helped more than anything was hot water. I brought in my laundry tub and set it up by the fire. He sat and played for a long time in the hot water and hot room, and it seemed to really help him relax.

Thankfully he is now doing a whole lot better. A little weak still when he tries to do too much, but he'll soon be back to normal.

Almost two years nine months

I read through the last post I did on Leo, when he was two and a half, to see what I had written. He's now about to be two and nine months and not much has really changed.

SANY7106 His speech just keeps getting better and better, becoming more easily understandable to people beyond his parents. He's using some simple verb tenses, prepositions, conjunctions, adjectives. He will often sit down and chat away to himself (or some toy) for very long periods of time. His toys even have long conversations with each other, via their puppeteer.

He's at the stage when he repeats EVERYTHING you say, no matter how long and complicated. The longer your sentence is, the more he'll stammer over it, but he gets it all out eventually (if unclearly). He is also getting better with the written aspect of our language. He repeats the alphabet back to you, saying every letter extremely well except L (for Leo) and N (for Nicky, which he pronounces Micky) - I guess we made pretty poor choices in kids' names! His favorite letter is W, which he thinks is very funny.

SANY7165 Spanish also improves whenever we visit friends and other kids. The strange thing to me is that he will instantly use the language with which someone addresses him, and doesn't seem to confuse the two. Whenever someone comes to the house, he likes to be the one who goes outside, shakes their hand, holds the door open and says "Pase-le" (come in), which of course people find adorable. Unknown visitors, who come to see what we are doing here, are all referred to by him as "Peoples" or "Peoples and kids".

His memory is something that continually amazes me. We'll see, do or say something that triggers something in that little mind of his that happened months ago. At times, we struggle to keep up, and we'll look at each other a little confused. But then we remember what he's talking about, and realize how glorious a young mind and memory is! A couple of weeks ago, I was going through family photos for a calendar I put together and he could remember so many of their names. It doesn't surprise me that he would remember grandparents and some of his aunts and uncles, with whom we skype with and see in person fairly regularly. However, when he saw, for example, his uncle Bruce's photos (whom he has seen a total of two times in his life), he instantly beamed and shouted "Bruce" - I guess Bruce made a big impression!

SANY7203 He sings more and more. He loves any movie with a song and especially ones he can pick out words from. Whenever we go out in the car, he usually starts the journey naming all the things he can see (tree, rock, horse, cow, bird, sun, etc.), then lapses into a song of some unknown origin.

One huge advancement is his independence in the toilet area. He can now pull up and down his own pants, and has, over the last month, learned to "pee like a man" (ie. standing up. Like any other man, he only gets one or two drops of pee on his pants!). So we are no longer needed for his bathroom needs. Great.

SANY7188 He is getting more and more stubborn and defiant. He's into a stage of testing his boundaries, and we find that a lot of our tricks and bribes no longer work. I'll be cooking and hear a very firm "no" in answer to an order from Abe (like put that knife down right now). I'll look over at the two of them and they will be staring each other down (in a way that frankly makes me love each of them even more!). Of course Abe always wins, which is hard for the little guy to accept, but there are times when he just can't be allowed to get away with things. Defiance is one of those things that is very frustrating for a parent to deal with, especially when you are trying to tell them something for their own good. It is however a trait, a spark, that I like to see my son has, he just needs to learn when and how to use it. (Remind me I said that some time in the future when I am screaming and ripping my hair out that Leo deliberately disobeyed me, again, in some matter or other!!).

He is very interested in my growing belly and likes to kiss, pet and talk to it. I've already started preparing things for the baby (a little early for nesting, I realize), and Leo points and things and says "when Nicky comes". It's going to be interesting to see how he'll handle his little brother in the flesh. When his little playmates come up here to our house, Leo is very courteous, sharing all his toys happily and even showing them ones they hadn't noticed. Hopefully that's a sign of good things to come.

SANY7122 Christmas was a blast with him. Abe and I never really celebrated it much when we were on our own, but now we have started again. And it's a lot of fun seeing it through the eyes of a small child. Leo put cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve and was amazed to see them gone in the morning. He looked at the empty plate and presents with a look of awe rather than excitement. "Santa come. Santa flies." He then got to open his gifts, and spent the WHOLE day engrossed in playing with them. He still talks about Santa, but knows that he's now gone home, to where it's cold. We can't wait til next year!

For more photos, click here.