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/
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 30, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
We just got home after spending the week at Vickie's. We all had a great time, especially the kids. Of course, the huge tree laden with presents drove them a little nuts, and it was pretty much a full-time job keeping them distracted.
We played games, made and decorated cookies, made and hung Christmas decorations. They also drew pictures for Santa, rode their bikes, and played with toys (we let them open one present between them on the 23rd and one each on the 24th - to spread out the excitement and help with distraction!).
Christmas day itself was great. Santa visited everyone in the house, and then we opened the presents. The kids had so much to play with that we barely heard a peep out of them all day. That allowed the adults time to chill, after cooking and cleanup! Dinner was delicious, and games afterwards were fun. It was altogether a really lovely holiday.
We also got to Facetime or chat with almost all of the family, many of whom are spread out across the globe. Wish we could have seen everyone in person, but internet at least provides the next best thing.
We hope that all of you had an equally wonderful Christmas, and wishing you a very happy 2017.
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
I planted a winter garden a few months ago, but the cats kept using the nicely turned soil as their bathroom and all the little plants were buried or dug up. So Abe made a couple of wicking beds that are closed off with greenhouse plastic (they used to have a frame and everything beforehand, but they were destroyed when the cows broke into the garden in June).
He has two beds that are at different stages (planted a couple of weeks apart), and everything is doing really well. A few of the vegetables are even starting to produce. Between the two beds, there are radishes, carrots, cabbages, beets, peas, collards, spinach, chard, broccoli, turnips, onions, Brussel spouts, and kale.
Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
On the 30th November, a duck hatched out 5 little ducklings. It’s her first time as a mother, but she has proven very attentive. Despite the chilly mornings, she takes them out of the barn every day and shows them all around the place. They are now a few weeks old and are the cutest little things.
The other mother duck is an old hand at the mothering business. However, this is the first time she’s had chicks! She stole the nest from one of our hens and guarded it very jealousy during the incubation period. We were worried that she might kill the chicks when she discovered that they weren’t ducklings, so we were ready with a home-made incubator in case we needed to whisk the eggs away from her. However, when the first one hatched out, she treated it as one of her own, so we let her be. She now has five healthy chicks.
The boys have been spoiling all the babies rotten. They take them handfuls of mealworms several times each day. As soon as the chicks hear the boys open the barn door, they come running to their gate and start jumping up and down. The kids are delighted, and claim that the chicks love them just as much as they love their mother!
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The other day, we had 14 rabbits to process. I was inside, turning the meat into various cuts, as well as chunks and mince. Abe was outside at the butcher station.
Leo has often liked to hang out with Abe while he butchers, learning about the internal organs and helping when he can. However, this time, he took a far more active role. He ended up skinning and gutting many of the rabbits all by himself, and was apparently very good at it.
Also, while they were working, they talked about the role that hunting and butchering has played in various cultures. Leo became fascinated at the mention of how hunters, as a sign of prestige and accomplishment, would eat the raw liver of their kill. He decided he would like to try it, so he removed the liver of the animal he was working on and took a bite. He claimed it was delicious. Yeah, yeah, I know - not everyone’s cup of tea, BUT I was really proud that he was so willing to try a new experience, especially one that would turn the stomach of many people.
There was a downside to the day, we were all so busy that we never got any kind of photos of Leo’s latest accomplishment. Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
No Electricity? A Low-Tech System Keeps Things Chilled. Mohammed Bah Abba's pot-in-pot coolers help rural Africans preserve perishables.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
After having little luck with growing grapes in our soil, we begun to look for plants that could fill the same roles within our forest garden. Goji seemed to fit the bill and had various additional benefits.
The Goji (or wolfberry) is a vining shrub of the nightshade family (as is the tomato and potato). Its leaves and berries are both edible, and have been used in China for thousands of years for its various medicinal properties. It is now often sold a "super food", usually as a dried fruit, in health food stores, and is a high value product to farm. It is also water efficient, tolerates high heat and poor soil, and survives freezes.
Last year, we bought several cuttings to try out. We had them growing in pots inside the house over winter and then planted them out during spring.
When our neighbor's cows broke into our land and gardens, we thought we had lost all our gojis (as they were all eaten down to the ground). However, not only did some of those plants grow back from the roots, but we also discovered a couple of plants that had sprouted up in our inside garden (from where the roots from the potted cuttings had touched the soil through their bags!).
About 10 days ago, Abe cut back the two gojis that we have growing inside. He stripped the leaves off all the prunings, cut them into 5" chunks, dipped them in rooting hormone, and struck them in some potting soil. He put them all in a plastic tub with a lid on to preserve the humidity. After just a few days, almost all of the 200 sticks began to leaf out. There is now, 10 days later, a veritable mini-forest.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
This Nonprofit Is Saving 4,500 U.S. Apple Varieties. An Oregon group is cloning thousands of lesser-known apple varieties for future generations to enjoy.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
In England, the "Advent calendar" was always a big deal. When my sister and I were kids, it was a little door that we had to open each day to reveal a picture, and even that was exciting back then. That progressed into a chocolate treat each day, and we thought that was about as good as it gets. But then, one year, my sister made me an even cooler calendar. She filled a box with 24 little gifts hidden under some kind of packing material. Each gift was attached by a string to its numbered day of the month. It was a great idea, and that's usually what I try to reproduce in some form or another for my own kids. This year, we bought a pack of 24 Lego superheroes, which are each wrapped up with a number on them. The kids are so excited (to the point that we have to shout at them to get them to shut up about it!!!!!), and it has really kicked off the season.
For some reason, I am feeling especially festive this year, and am almost as excited as the kids. We put the tree up, and turning on its lights each evening fills the dining room with a warm and fuzzy glow. I've already bought and wrapped up a present for each of the teachers, and for all the kids in the class I teach at school. We've been making decorations to put up in each of the kids' classrooms (the moms will be getting together this week to decorate them). We've been baking lots of cookies, and we eat them while watching Christmas movies!
It's strange, but when it was just Abe and I, we really didn't celebrate Christmas, and I didn't miss it at all. Now though, with the kids at just the right age, all the joy and excitement have come flooding back. Gotta love this season.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
How to Setup, Prepare & Plant A Straw Bale Garden With Ease: A 5 Chapter Beginner's Guide to Straw Bale Gardening
Saturday, December 3, 2016
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