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, November 17, 2011

Attack of the tomato

SANY0119 We can barely keep up with the cherry tomatoes and herbs that grow in our grey water planters inside the house. We have had to cut them back a couple of times, but they are determined to take over the house. However, their aggressive behavior took on a whole new meaning when we noticed that they have broken through the silicon seal of the window to escape outside. It seems the house is no longer enough for them, they want the whole property. SANY0146

For more photos, click here.

Milestones

This week has seen a couple of fairly large milestones for our boys.

Nico has been saying his first word: "Mama" (said a little like a bleating lamb). At first we thought it was just babbling, but he consistently uses it at the right time, ie when he wants me to pick him up. Leo's first word was "wawa" (water), which we found very appropriate for a son of ours. However, I have to say that I like Nico's first one more!!!!

As for Leo, he loves games, like Lotto, so we have started playing cards (Uno - where you have to follow with the same color or number) with him. He is very good at it. He's getting really good with numbers. He recognizes and says them all, plus he can count a number of objects up to ten. Along the same lines, he is also starting to tell the time (digital), although he hasn't really grasped the length of minutes and hours. For example, he'll ask if it's lunchtime. We say, "lunchtime is at 1, so what time is it now?" "12.07". "So, is it lunchtime?" "No." However, he'll then repeat this line of questioning each time the clock changes, which can make the hour until lunch very long.

The other day Leo had a crook in his neck, so was laid up for a day. He starting getting bored with movies, so we played him all the movies we have of when he was a baby. It is uncanny how similar the two of them are, although there are definite differences, both physical and in personalities. Here's a few photos, Leo on the left, Nico on the right.

boys

For more photos of this month, click here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

6 months old

SANY0103 Well, 6 months old now. I won't do too long of a post, as it feels like I only just wrote the 5 month one.

He weighs in at 8.5kg (19 lbs) and measures 65cms (26").

He has 2 teeth now and continues to drool like crazy. In addition to the drool, he has his first cold at present, so gunk seems to be oozing out of every part of his face. Poor little guy. That time of year, I guess - Leo brought it home from school and then Nico caught it (Abe and I didn't seem to suffer that badly though).

SANY0109 He can now sit on his own, and can play for a pretty good length of time. He reaches for everything, is getting pretty dextrous, chatters away, giggles at all our jokes.

He is starting to eat chunkier food (rather than just puree) and more of it. The other day he had his first cookie type food, which he can pick up and eat on his own.

He loves to stand, and is starting to cruise a little - holding onto something and taking little steps. He stumbles a little with the steps, although he is very steady when standing still.

For photos of this coming month, click here.

Grubage bin

SANY0064 A while back an online friend sent us some Black Soldier Fly Larvae. We put them in a bucket that Abe rigged up to meet their needs. However, their population has been growing, and so Abe has just finished making them a bigger home, out of a half barrel.

Black Soldier Flies (BSF) are the homesteader's new best friend, as useful as earthworms. The larvae eat all kinds of "putrid" or stinky waste (like rotting meat and manure of any kind) and they eat it FAST, before it even starts to smell. Then, as the grub gets ready to transform into an adult fly, it will walk up a ramp and drop itself conveniently into a collection vessel, which makes a great, high protein treat for pigs or guineas (or other omnivorous livestock).

You want to allow some of the larvae to make it to adult stage, so that your population will continue to increase. However, do not assume that "fly" is synonymous with a household pest. These flies exist only long enough to reproduce. They do not eat, and so are not interested in coming into your house. What's more, they see other flies, like the house fly and fruit flies, as competition and so secrete a chemical that deters them from laying eggs anywhere near them. So, once your BSF population is established, you will see a marked decrease in other competing flies.

SANY0093 We have not yet started to feed our pigs these grubs. We are trying to get our population well established before we harvest them. Once they have settled into their new home, and have converted rabbit, pig and guinea poop into more BSF, we will begin that process. Pigs, of course, eat anything, but it is protein that makes them grow faster and that represents the biggest cost in feed. Fresh BSF larvae have a protein content similar to soy meal (45%). Once the BSF are in full swing, we will empty the contents of the self-harvesting bucket into a solar oven and pasteurize them (to make sure any bad bugs contained in the poop are killed) and give it to the pigs. Apparently, they love them!

For more photos of the Grubage bin, click here. We will shortly post a full how-to on the website too.