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/

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The FunFort

This year for Christmas, we built the kids a house and now they're moving out!

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/324-funfort.html

Friday, December 14, 2012

We won again!

We won the grand prize on the "Sew Warm" contest with our "Make a Rabbit Fur hat from scratch" howto.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/322-won-again.html

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guinea Pigs vs Rabbits

(image from Wikipedia) Guinea Pigs are raised throughout the world as meat production animal.  They are fairly efficient, and have a lot of benefits.  Let's take a look at how they compare to rabbits.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/320-guinea-pigs-vs-rabbits.html

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Won!

We have just been informed that our cistern article won the Instructables "Be Prepared" Contest!

Read More: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/317-won-competition.html

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Duckweed

We just collected a bottle of duckweed, which we have dumped into the barn's tank.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/316-duckweed.html

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rocket Mass Heater

We have just finished building and installing a Rocket Mass Heater, and it works great.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/315-rmh.html

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vote for Cistern Howto in Instructables Competition

We have just finished a full howto on our new cistern, and we've entered it in a competition.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/314-vote-competition.html

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bugs

Prey Mantis. One of our favorites.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/312-bugs.html

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Heat Exchanger

One of the things we've been doing in the lead-up to winter is making our heating system more efficient, starting off with a new heat exchanger.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/311-heat-exchanger.html

Friday, November 2, 2012

Catch-up

I haven't blogged in two weeks and thought I'd do a general catch-up on what we've been up to.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/310-catch-up.html

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vacation

We just got back from a vacation to see both sets of grandparents.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/309-vacation.html

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pigless

We just butchered the last of our pigs.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/308-pigless.html

Cistern's Done

The cistern is now finished and has water in it!

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/307-cistern-done.html

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bee Swarm

We caught a swarm of bees and brought it home.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/306-bee-swarm.html

Cistern walls

The new cistern's walls are up. We're just waiting for the rain to stop, so we can put in the liner and make the roof.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/305-cistern-walls.html

Friday, September 14, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pool

We finally put up a pool that we've had since March!

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/303-pool.html

2nd Cistern

We have started work on a new 6,000 gallon water tank for the main house catchment system.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/302-2nd-cistern.html

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fishing

We caught some more fish for the barn tank.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/301-fishing.html

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Catching Rain

The barn now has a roof and gutters, and has caught some rain.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/300-catching-rain.html

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Barn Frame

The frame of the barn is now up and welded in place.  Everything is now ready for the covering.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/299-barn-frame.html

Back to School

School's started again and Leo is happy as a pig.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/297-back-school.html

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Barn Beginnings

Construction of the Food Web model system has now begun. It's exciting!

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/296-barn-begin.html

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tank Retaining Walls

The tank walls are now held against the pressure of the water contained within in.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/295-tank-walls.html

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Apple Juice

We used the crate of apples we recently collected to make almost three gallons of delicious juice.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/293-apple-juice.html

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tank Overflow and Sides

We got to spend a full day working on the barn tank today, without kids.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/292-tank-overflow.html

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Canning Pickles

We canned the cucumbers we were given the other day - made two quart and two pint jars.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/289-canning-pickles.html

Friday, August 3, 2012

Share the Seeds

We gave a friend a bunch of seeds in Spring, and he just returned them in kind...

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/287-share-seeds.html

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Plums

We are inundated with plums from a tree we planted three years ago.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/286-plums.html

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swimming

A beautiful sunny day, so we decided to go swimming in the barn tank.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/284-swimming.html

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Overflowing

With a little over 10" of rain this year, all our tanks are overflowing.

Read more: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/281-overflowing.html

"Free" Plants

Seeds are sprouting all over the place, even ones we didn't plant.

Read more: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/282-free-plants.html

Barn Tank

We have started work on our Food Web's water supply. It consists of a 7,000 gallon rain catchment system. Here's a summary of its construction so far.

Read More: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/280-barn-tank.html

How-To List

We are now up to 40 How-to articles. There are more that are instructional by nature, but these are the ones that are step by step directions.

Read More: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/279-howto-list.html

Overflowing

With a little over 10" of rain this year, all our tanks are overflowing.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/281-overflowing.html

"Free" Plants

Seeds are sprouting all over the place, even ones we didn't plant.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/282-free-plants.html

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Food Web Campaign

We have just launched a crowd-funded project through Indigogo to fund our upcoming book and sustainable farming model: Food Web.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/277-food-web-campaign.html

Abe's Birthday

Today is Abe's birthday.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/276-abe-birthday.html

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Transformation

The difference a couple of weeks of rain can make to our views.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/275-transformation.html

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wild Grapes

The wild grapes that grow locally are now ripe, so we picked some to make jelly.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/274-wild-grapes.html

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chispito Theft

We have just been told that someone is unlawfully selling our Chispito wind generator plans on Ebay.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/272-chispito-theft.html

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Professor Tour

Yesterday, a group of 20 odd university professors came for a tour of our place and off-grid systems.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/270-professor-tour.html

Planting again

Right before the 2" rain on Wednesday, we planted a bunch of seeds in the garden, and now they've all come up.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/269-planting.html

Friday, July 13, 2012

Swinging Again

With all the rain we've been having, we decided to put up the swing again in the kitchen.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/267-swinging.html

Beautiful Rain

The rains have started. We have had rain every day of July, and we are loving it.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/266-beautiful-rain.html

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Launch

Well, after considerable time and energy, we have finally finished our new website.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/241-launch.html

Self-cleaning Tank

In the event that it might actually rain this year, we have been doing some work on our water system, including a self-cleaning overflow.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/239-self-cleaning-tank.html

Worm Bin

We finally got around to building a flow-through worm bin. It didn't take very long to make and is already working as it should.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/238-worm-bin.html

Huge Litter

Just recently, we went into the rabbit barn and found a nest of 19 baby rabbits, all wriggling around together.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/237-huge-litter.html

Sam

We have a new addition to the family, a Border Collie puppy called Sam. He's calm, happy, loves the kids and learns super fast. Should fit in just fine.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/236-sam.html

Leo Update

Leo's now a couple of months over four, and a handful and a half. The changes at this age aren't quite as marked as those of a baby, but they're still significant.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/235-leo-update.html

Nicky Update

Nicky is now 14 months old and is changing so fast it's hard to keep track. It seems like he's now more little boy than baby.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/234-nicky-update.html

Hay

Down by the river, the grass and weeds are already super tall. Once a week, we've been cutting it for the animals.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/233-hay.html

Grape Cuttings

Several weeks ago, we took some cuttings from a grape vine and rooted them. We dipped each cutting in some rooting hormone and put them in a mix of perlite and dirt.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/230-grape-cuttings.html

Ocotillo

Ocotillo blooms make a great tea, a little like hibiscus. They're only out for a short period of time, so make the most of them.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/121-ocotillo.html

Mint

We are now back into mint season. All along the river it grows wild, a thick fragrant carpet. We have a bag of it in the fridge that we continually restock.

Read More: http://velacreations.com/blog/item/120-mint.html

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Apologies

I just wanted to apologize for my total lack of blogging recently. We have a bunch of stuff going on (like Leo turning 4!!!!), but what is taking up most of our time is a total revamp and remake of our website. Until that's done, I won't be blogging. But there will be a bunch of new blogs, article, howtos on the new site when we go live. Until then, be patient, please...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Community

SANY1025 Tragedies happen, unfortunately, and this week saw one in our village.

One of the boys in Leo's class lost his father three years ago in a river flood. Last week his mother died too. There are four children now orphaned.

The kids have been taken into new homes. Three of them (aged 1 1/2, 8, 10) have moved in with relatives who have no children of their own. And Leo's friend (aged 6) is now living with a different relative (because they are particularly close), who has several other children. The two homes are near to each other, so it is almost like staying together.

SANY1028 Both families are very poor, so we all got together to see if we could help with the practicalities of a swelled household. The kinder garden moms went round all their neighbors asking for contributions. Our village consists of about 50 households, between two and thee hundred individuals. It is not a rich community, and yet people did not hesitate to give. The response was overwhelming. You can't really tell from the photo just how much food was given, but it filled bags and bags and bags. The picture of the back of my truck was just half of it, as everything was divided between the two households.

Abe posted this story on his facebook and was equally overwhelmed by people wanting to give. Mailing stuff to us is not an easy thing, but if you want to help, find someone locally that needs it (I'm sure there is no shortage, no matter where you live). The silver lining of this story, for us at least, is a deep pride in knowing that our community cares and will come together when the need arises. Hopefully that will count for something for these kids.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Terlinguoids

SANY0835 We had a visit at the beginning of the month from a few friends from where we used to live. Among them was our dearest friend, Cynta, the lady who in fact performed our marriage ceremony.

It was great seeing them all. Terlinguoids are the easiest of house guests. They are very low demand, bringing all their own bedding and happy with anything. It was a fun visit, and Leo of course loved the extra attention.

Smoker

SANY0795 A couple of weeks ago we smoked the hams and bacon from the pig we butchered. They had been curing for 2 weeks and they came out absolutely delicious.

SANY0826 Abe made us a smoker beforehand. It is cut into a hill. The fire area is downhill, with bricks around it and backfilled with dirt. There is a piece of stovepipe that leads rom the back of the fire box to a levelled out area uphill. Over the top of the stove pipe is a metal barrel with top and bottom cut off. He made a rack for the meat that sits inside the barrel and a lid to cover it. The smoker worked great.

For photos of it's construction, click here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Mexico

DSC_0019 We have just returned from a trip to see Abe's parents. Though the journey was long and hard on us all, it was worth it. We had a great time.

SANY0738 Leo loves spending time with his doting grandparents. He follows them around like a doting puppy and leads them like a little Hitler! Like at home, he loves to feed the animals, but up there he also got to ride them. At first, he was a little scared of being on a horse, but he asked to do it again and loved it. After riding in front of Abe for a little while, he then got on by himself and Abe led him. He continues to talk about it constantly.

We also had a belated Christmas, which of course Leo loved as well. Amazing how quickly a child learns the appeal of presents!

Nico had a great time too. A whole new house to crawl around and get into trouble in.

SANY0699 Unfortunately the weather was cold and windy for a lot of the time we were there, which limited the time spent outside. But it did eventually clear and we got to go to a park. Nico went on a swing for the first time, which he thought was fantastic. I guess we'll have to set up the toddler swing we made for Leo, so that Nico can have some more time gliding through the air, especially as it is now wind season and so cannot go outside as much as the boys would like.

So now we're home and settled back in. We have a huge long list of things to do, as always, but it'll all have to wait until the wind dies down.

Click here for a whole bunch of photos.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Freezer's full again.

0037 Last week, we butchered one of the two pigs we've raised for this purpose. Abe killed and processed the carcass by himself. I bagged and weighed the meat, and then the following day I rendered the lard and made the sausage. We have the hams and bacons curing.

It was a tiring two days, but it all went very smoothly. We ended up with 100 lbs of meat, and boy is it good! What with the pigs and rabbits, we never have to buy meat, although we do sometimes buy fish for variety. Next year we hope to introduce fish to our homestead.

0041 The number of pigs on the property is dwindling. We sold Gloria this week, and we may have a buyer for a gilt and our boar. That will just leave us with the one remaining butcher pig. We'll then be pigless for a while (until June, when we get two feeder piglets). It'll be sad to have no pigs around, but it just seems better for us to buy and raise two piglets than to have the whole breeding operation here on the property. Leo's teacher is the one who bought Gloria, so we will be able to have two of her piglets each year, which is great.

And something else
that's adding to our culinary pleasures is, of course, the mushrooms. There's little better than fresh pork, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, all of which we have in abundance.

9 months

0035 I haven't written anything on the kids in a while. It seems like time is just flying by and I only realize just how fast when I look at how long it's been since I last did a blog!

The past few weeks have been a blur of sleepless nights. First of all, Nicky had his top front teeth come through. Then we all got sick. Leo started it off with a stomach bug. He was throwing up so violently that he got an infection and had to take antibiotics for the first time in his life. He was in a lot of pain for almost two weeks, mostly because he then got a cold and the cough really hurt his stomach.

A few days after Leo, Nicky got sick, although he seemed very happy when he was puking all over us. It was the cold that he suffered from most. Abe and I got the stomach bug only, but those couple of days when we were all down was pretty bad. Now everyone is pretty much over it, though tired. Although it does seem like Nico's teething again, with little white lumps to the side of his front teeth. Is this the time we're supposed to send them to live with their grandparents for a few years?

So, what's been happening with my two growing boys?

Leo still loves school. He's moving along well with his new skills, some fostered in kindergarden, some here at home. He colors inside the line, can cut and glue by himself, can write many of his numbers, can count well, is starting to recognize several written words. He loves, and is good at, jigsaw puzzles and cards. He's still a little bit of a terror at times, although he does seem to be getting better. Our biggest problem with him is that he adores Nicky and wants to play with him all the time, but keeps forgetting that he's still a baby. As Nicky gets more mobile, Leo thinks he can play like a big kid, and he pushes and tugs him and invariably makes him fall over. He pushes too far at times and Nico will cry, which makes Leo TAKE OFF running, shouting "it was an accident".

0040 As for our nine month old baby, the last two months have seen vast improvements, most noticeable of which is the fact that he's mobile. He can sit up from lying down, crawl, pull himself up to standing, sit back down and take some steps around the furniture. He will also let go of the furniture and balance unaided for a little while before we have to catch him. He can - and does - go everywhere now, even trying to climb the stairs. Of course, this new mobility has resulted in his first accident and cut. Nothing serious, a small cut by his eye when he fell against a shelf, but we know it's a taste of many more to come.

He's also getting far more vocal. He says mama and papa to each of us, and has a whole array of sounds that he throws together in a constant babble. He's also starting to do a couple of signs, for "eat", "drink" and "boobie", which goes to show where his priorities lie. He is a great little eater, and has some of our food at every meal. He seems to like everything we've tried him with.

He now does most of his pooping on the potty. He doesn't tell us when he needs to pee, but he does push whenever we put him on the potty, and even if there's just a little pee inside, it comes out.

He loves Leo, and the two of them play more and more together. He follows wherever Leo goes, and so, of course, Leo likes to lead him to places he shouldn't go.

He's also getting funnier. He notices when something he does makes people laugh and he'll do it again but more emphatically. His funniest joke, in his mind, is when we tell him "no" - he'll look at you, grin real big and do the thing again. When we tell him no firmly, he'll often look at you, lip quivering for an instant before he starts to cry, just devastated that we might be cross with him.

0026 Leo was always really good as a baby about not putting things in his mouth. This is not the case with Nico. He puts anything and everything he finds in his mouth. This is only made worse by the fact that he is getting very dextrous. He can pick up the tiniest thing imaginable and maneuver it perfectly to where he wants it to go.

Sleeping is his biggest downfall. He's just not very good at it! Oh well. I'm sure that one day I'll get to sleep deeply again. Leo was the same when he was little (although even he was better than Nicky), and he now sleeps great, just waking up once in the night to pee.

But above all the changes in him and sick or teething troubles, he remains the sweetest, calmest, happiest little baby.

I'm afraid I didn't take many photos this past month, but what there is is here.

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