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, March 31, 2017
When we first made our concrete roof, we covered it with a fabric mesh and waterproofing paint that is supposed to protect the concrete for 5 years. That was 8 years ago. So, we figured it was high time we put another couple of coats on the roof, and that's what I've been doing while Abe was digging hundreds of holes for trees.
Instead of using the mesh again, we used a waterproofing paint with added fiber, applied with a big broom-like brush. I did two coats, each painted on in a different direction from the other (the first coat had brushstrokes going up and down, the second with the brushstrokes at a 45 degree angle from the first). The trick (aside from being on a bright, white roof in the blazing sun!) was in the shingling. You start each coat at the bottom of the roof and work your way up to the top. That means that the top part is painted on top of the layer below, just like shingles. Now, this wouldn't be a problem with a normal roof, but ours is a little complex. There are several levels of roof that all flow down to the same gutter downspouts. It meant I had to position strategic ladders before starting to be able to get down from places other than the main access point.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Another example of a Water Retention Landscape after lots of rain handling the water very well in Tamera, Portugal
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
I love this time of year. As it warms up, everything has started to bloom and leaf out (we already have tons of tiny fruit growing on various types of plants!). The only downside with the season is that it means a LOT of work! There's planting, transplanting, watering, mulching, etc. And it's all made a million times worse by the fact that Abe has been seed crazy ever since the cows got into the property last year. He has literally planted more than a thousand seeds this past year, and they all have to be tended.
So, this week, he decided to get a friend to help him. Between the two of them, they transplanted hundreds of trees and shrubs, repotted a few hundred little saplings, and planted several hundred more seeds in cone-tainers. The work was made a little harder due to the fact that it is starting to get hot, and we're not quite used to it yet. Still, the reward is apparent every time you walk through the orchard, circle drive and animal pens. This place will be truly amazing once all this stuff gets big!
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
On the 21st, there was a party at school. Moms brought different food and drinks, and the kids dressed up in costumes.Nicky wanted to be a bear, and Leo went as grapes. The latter regretted his choice, as it was a lot harder to play when covered in 40 balloons, something that had sounded so much fun to him in theory. Still, we took it apart after a little while and he handed out the balloons to everyone.
One of the most surprising events of the party came from Nicky. Our local kindergarten has now reopened (there wasn't a teacher for the first few months due to an accident), and the kids came to the party. Nicky played mostly with them, and he had a blast. He later declared that he wanted to return to kindergarten. I was a little hesitant at first, because there aren't any other kids his age (they are now going to school in the nearby town), and because he is easily keeping up with first grade work and so might be bored. However, as the days passed, he didn't change his mind. He said, "I've never been the big kid before", and that actually makes a lot of sense. He's the youngest brother and is by far the littlest/youngest in school (being only 5), so I can see it might be enjoyable for him to be the big kid.
I talked to the kindergarten teacher and to his current one, and we're going to try it out for a couple of weeks. If he likes it, fine, if not he can always go back to Leo's school.
Sucks for me - I was enjoying having them both attend the same school, as it meant only one set of meetings/fundraisers/cleaning, etc. Oh well.
Friday, March 24, 2017
We have been here for almost 10 years, and during that time, the land and soil have improved significantly. We still have a lot more to do to get the place to where we would like it, but at least we know we're on the right track, judging by the significant increase in local wildlife. We now have whole flocks of birds (including several cubbies of quail) that live on our place that weren't here before, there are lots of deer tracks throughout the lower half of the property, and the increase in horny toads is astounding. We're on our way to creating an oasis.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The pigs have been working: plowing and leveling two new rows of the orchard. They actually did a fantastic job, and could probably have accomplished it faster if we'd have moved them more quickly from section to section.
Once they had done their job, we sent the kids in to move a few rocks to the retaining wall part. Abe then installed irrigation, which consists of a couple of pipes that span the length of the rows with drippers every couple of feet. They planted a bunch of plants for the rabbits, including parsley, alfalfa, and chia, and then covered everything with a thick layer of mulch. Many of the little plants are starting to sprout.
A little later in the year, we plan to add hundreds of Mulberry and Black Locust trees. We will coppice these and feed them to the rabbits. We are calling these two rows of the orchard our Fodder Rows, as they are exclusively for the rabbits.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
Our old dog waterer was a five gallon bottle inverted over a bowl. It worked great, but we were having to fill it up every few days. Not a big deal, I know, but we do ever strive for efficiency!
This new one is a metal basin that is filled from a hose. It has a float valve built in to maintain the water level at half full. Right now, we have the hose connected to a 30 gallon tank to test it out. We'll eventually connect it to a larger tank and gone will be the days of filling up dog water!
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides destroy soil, ecosystems, and a third of the crop is still lost to pests, just as in the many millennia of farming before chemicals.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Here Are the Three Main Challenges Facing U.S. Agriculture Over the Next 50 Years. Luckily, there's an inexpensive and easy-to-use solution: soil.
Friday, March 10, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Monday, March 6, 2017
We had been expecting the piglets for more than a week, as poor Potter's milk had come in and her belly was dragging on the floor! Every day we would go to the barn hoping she would finally push them out, but nothing. And then, on Saturday, it was clear she was going into labor. We checked on her every half hour, and on one trip there were 3 piglets already out!
In all, she had 9 piglets - 6 white, 3 black. Overnight one of them died (the last picture). Not sure if he just got away from the others and got too cold, or if he got squished. It can happen. The rest all seem to be making it around fine. Another couple of days and the risk of losing one will greatly reduce. They are all cute as can be, and so small.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Friday, March 3, 2017
Thursday, March 2, 2017
- Victor Hugo
- Painting roof
- Under cover potatoes
- Turning your extra raw milk into cheese in 10 minu...
- Quick Run Down of my Friends Off-Grid Solar Rig.
- Getting started with hatching & selling chicks for...
- Oregon State University is offering a free online ...
- Another example of a Water Retention Landscape aft...
- Pierre Schaeffer
- Planting out
- James Agee
- Saint Augustine
- Spring party
- Google Tool Calculates Your Roof's Potential Solar...
- How to make Cider with an AXE! Part 3 Dressing the...
- This is a blog about succulents, good tips on how ...
- Hardwood Propagation - DIY Bottom Heat Technique (...
- Transplanting tomatoes - spring must've sprung!
- DIY A19 LED Bulb Growlight Completely from Scratch...
- Dog Waterer
- Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides destroy s...
- We can’t vertically farm our way into a techno-uto...
- $150 Greenhouse - Can it handle a blizzard!?
- How Geoff Lawton Helped Me Understand Why I love P...
- Kudzu—it's not just for goats anymore.
- Google: 4 out of 5 US homes have solar power poten...
- How To Drill A Well In Your Own Backyard!
- Rabbits: Cute, Cuddly, and Capable of Feeding Vill...
- Anatole France
- Tom Allen
- Laurence Sterne
- Should Agriculture Be a Required School Subject?
- Top 10 question to ask Before Going OFF GRID
- We need farms that support farmers AND the environ...
- Sap To Syrup
- How to make your own bokashi composter
- March Homestead Tour
- Here Are the Three Main Challenges Facing U.S. Agr...
- The Winter Cover Crop Part II: Green Manure
- SCOBY Fruit Leather, Kombucha & Kale Smoothies, Wa...
- Hand Digging Ponds - In-Depth Discussion
- Jean Giraudoux
- Saul Bellow
- Orison Swett Marden
- Mary Shelley
- Comfrey Planting, Dividing, Expanding!
- It's March! Sowing panic sets in! Got my first bee...
- Depression Era Tactics for Self-Sufficiency
- Like start-ups, most intentional communities fail ...
- Teen Entreprenuership and Farmer's Markets with Am...
- 7 Essentials TIPS for Raising Chicks
- Millions of Americans facing 'megadrought' as Colo...
- Mini Jersey Cow - The Perfect Miniature Family Cow...
- Long-Term Conventional and No-tillage Systems Comp...
- In nature’s lap: These five Indian families gave u...
- Very small scale water harvesting with swales.
- Luther Burbank
- Pierre Bonnard
- Edmund Burke
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