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:

Friday, July 31, 2015

Birthday Boy


It was Abe's birthday last week and we all had a wonderful day. We did absolutely no work (beyond the bare minimum of chores, like feeding ourselves and the animals). Instead, we spent the day playing games, eating cake and cookies, lounging in bed, surfing online, etc.

presentOne really cool thing about this year was that both boys are now of an age to get excited about other people's birthdays. So they wanted to make Abe something. They took the frame of an old picture and made it a new backing out of cardboard. We then used plastic folders for the front, into which they put pictures that they made. They really enjoyed it and were both very proud.


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Birthday Boy

Thursday, July 30, 2015

John Muir

"There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation's braggart lords." - John Muir

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jane Austen

"To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment." - Jane Austen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Alfred Austin

"Tears are the summer showers to the soul." - Alfred Austin

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Josiah Gilbert Holland

"Nature is the master of talents; genius is the master of nature." - Josiah Gilbert Holland

Saturday, July 25, 2015


"I know the joy of fishes in the river through my own joy, as I go walking along the same river." - Zhuangzi

California drinking water: Not just vanishing, but also widely contaminated

California drinking water: Not just vanishing, but also widely contaminated

On using high tunnels (from the usda-nrcs)

On using high tunnels (from the usda-nrcs)



DIY Earth Sheltered

DIY Earth Sheltered -

Good to know! A rope

Good to know! A rope -

Homestead Survival:

Homestead Survival: -

It's food drying sea

It's food drying sea -

The Homestead Surviv

The Homestead Surviv -

How To Make A Solar

How To Make A Solar -

What Is Papercrete?

What Is Papercrete? -

Compost Heat Your Ho

Compost Heat Your Ho -

Latex Concrete, the

Latex Concrete, the -

Those with the best

Those with the best -

DIY firebricks. Burn

DIY firebricks. Burn -

Homemade Aluminum Ca

Homemade Aluminum Ca -

Nigerian goats area

Nigerian goats area -

Grow more protein in

Grow more protein in -

Forget Shipping Cont

Forget Shipping Cont -

How To Make A Moonsh

How To Make A Moonsh -

Why can milk? Hmmmm…

Why can milk? Hmmmm… -

How To Tan A Hide Us

How To Tan A Hide Us -

How to Build A Shelt

How to Build A Shelt -

Raise your own Tilap

Raise your own Tilap -

Step by step instruc

Step by step instruc -

Best DIY Solar Panel

Best DIY Solar Panel -

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blaise Pascal

"The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble." - Blaise Pascal



Rain season has started and the place has exploded. We have an almost endless supply of beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash, purslane, greens, herbs, and onions. We can even start to dig up new potatoes whenever we want them. We also have raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, and plums. The apples, peaches, and figs aren’t ready yet, but will be soon enough. Many of our other trees haven’t really started to produce yet, but that’s something to look forward in another year or two.

Although everything is lush and beautiful, there is a slight downside for me. I am kind of a tidy freak, and Abe usually doesn’t interfere with my need to keep things organized and neat. However, he puts his foot down as far as weeds and overgrowth are concerned. My inclination would be to take the weed-eater to everything, to keep the paths looking tidy, but he won’t let me :( Of course, he’s absolutely right, seeing as that growth takes care of almost 100% of the rabbits’ dietary needs right now. Each day, I am allowed to cut (tidy) just a small portion of our jungle, which is fed to the rabbits and ducks. Of course, it’s not very satisfying for me, as the stuff we cut first has grown back well before we can finish the rest of the area.

Oh well, I guess I only have to put up with a messy property for a few months of the year, so it’s not too much of a burden. And there is a slight ray of hope. He wants to try silage (fermenting the grass as an animal feed). If that works out, he may let me weed-eat everything all in one go, so that we can ferment large batches of weeds at the same time. Thank-you, silage!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Robert Bridges

"I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I'd see the summer garden in rainbow clouds." - Robert Bridges

Chickens and Guineas


We have two large chicken groups, which we keep mainly for eggs. One set lives in the forest garden rows that haven’t yet been planted. Their job is to eat bugs out of the compost piles and to spread that compost once it’s ready. The other group lives in a pen by the barn. They have access to underneath the rabbit cages, and they are constantly scratching through the manure for maggots and discarded food. Each day, we let one of the two flocks out to free-range.


We have a few hens who are almost constantly setting nests or raising chicks. Once they are setting, we put them into the nesting/hatching stall of the barn, along with any duck that is setting. After the chicks have grown a little, the family gets moved to the pen by the barn. The hen will generally not allow her chicks to free-range for a while longer, keeping them under the rabbit cages and teaching them how to scratch for food.


The guineas pretty much free range all the time. They have a huge territory, well outside our own fence-line. Their job is to hunt for bugs like grasshoppers. They roost in the barn and eat a little of the feed that we put out each day, but generally they are pretty autonomous.

Right now, we have several guineas that have nests under various Juniper trees around the place. We also have a chicken that is setting a nest of guinea eggs and another hen that has just hatched out some chicks.

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Chickens and Guineas

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walter Gilbert

"We are embedded in a biological world and related to the organisms around us." - Walter Gilbert

Old Photos


VegasUsSince moving all the tools and materials into the workshop, I have been gradually reorganizing and cleaning the space in the rapidobe storage room. It's been an ongoing job, simply because there's usually something more important to do that takes precedence. Today I went through all the memorabilia boxes (old notepads, journals, photos, etc.), and I found a disc with all of our old photos on it, which we had thought was lost. Needless to say, we have spent a very nostalgic afternoon reveling in our youth and past!


The Bus

Our first home together was an old bus. We had removed most of the seats and replaced them with a bed (single at first until someone gave us a double), a sink, stove, shelves, and rack for clothes. A hail storm took out most of the windows, so we had them boarded up with plywood. We had a solar panel and wind generator for power, satellite for internet, and had to haul water.

Grey Water garden

Our first building project was a grey water garden. It was our first experiment with wicking beds, but on a large scale. We built a rock box with a sotol stick roof and screened walls. We laid down plastic on the ground, then made gravel pits with pipes going through them. The dirt then went on top. This produced a very lush garden for the middle of the desert.

Power House

Before building the house, we decided to experiment with a much smaller building, namely the powerhouse. We played with cob (hand sculpted adobe), forms, and ended up inventing the T-Brick. These were T-shaped forms that we placed directly on to the wall. The vertical part of the T covered the gaps left on the wall by the forms, while also keeping the wall plumb.


We then moved on to the main building. We have photos on the site and flickr of the roof, walls and interior, but we thought we'd lost the first phase, the foundation. It consisted on trenches filled with gravel, with a three foot tall rock wall.


It was at this point, in April 2004, that we got married. I guess we figured that if we could live together in a bus in the middle of nowhere, and then build half a home without any money or amenities, we could be happy for the rest of our lives. We had the wedding on our property and it went on for several days. Everyone brought something to contribute to the food and festivities, including tables and chairs. I wore my mother-in-law's old wedding dress and Abe wore a Jedi suit I'd made him :) It was a blast.

Some photos of the property

I much prefer where we live now, and our home is beautiful. However, it was wonderful looking back on our time in Terlingua. There is something truly magnificent about the desert, and it was a time that had a deep and lasting effect on our lives.

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Old Photos

Our Wedding

Power house

Estrella Vista Foundation

Grey water garden

The Bus

Around the place

Duck Invasion


It took us a long time to find Muscovy ducks near us, but the effort has finally paid off. We now have a full on flock of ducks, and more are on the way. They are beautiful creatures, and very gentle. They eat rabbit viscera as if they were starving, and can catch flies right out the air.

We have a total of 21 ducklings, 4 or 5 of which we’ll be keeping. We weigh and sex them at 5 weeks old, and then again at 12 weeks. We have several that are 6 lb and we’ll soon get to taste the apparently delicious meet.


Now that they’re all getting bigger, we have started to let them out to pasture during the day. They move as one and are very easy to herd.

We also have two ducks setting nests at the moment. One is near the end of the 35 day incubation period, so she has been moved into the nesting/hatching stall of the barn, where she won’t be bothered by the rest of the poultry. The other has been on the nest less than two weeks and is still in one of the other pens. We’ll probably have to move her soon.



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Duck Invasion

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Robert Smithson

"Nature is never finished." - Robert Smithson



Most of Leo’s friends have already lost several teeth, but he still hadn’t, which was starting to worry him. So, when a new tooth appeared a few weeks ago, he was super excited. The only problem was that his baby tooth hadn’t fallen out yet and so the new one was coming in behind.

It kind of freaked us out, but after a search online, we discovered it was quite common and is called “shark’s teeth”. People say that the baby tooth usually comes out on its own and then the adult one will gradually move into place.

toothfairyAfter a couple of weeks, when his baby tooth still showed no sign of coming loose, we took him to the dentist. She decided to pull it. Leo was a little scared, but was very brave and it all went smoothly. She told him to start trying to move the baby tooth next to the one she pulled, as it was likely to do the same.

He was very happy to have lost his first tooth and was thrilled when the tooth fairy paid him a visit. It begins...

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Monday, July 20, 2015

H. P. Lovecraft

"But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean." - H. P. Lovecraft

Raising Chickens and

Raising Chickens and -

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