Archive for September, 2010

It’s been a while since an update. Honestly, I’d been hoping for more news to report but again we’ve been at the weather’s mercy and progress has been dreadfully slow. We had our killing frost late last week, so that’s it for the growing season. Thankfully we did manage to harvest most if not all of the vegetables prior to freezing. Not what we’d call a banner year but we did enjoy fresh produce all summer long and have quite a few potatoes, onions, carrots and squash to put away and dip into as fall progresses. Not to mention many lessons learned to carry forward into next year.

And, of course, we’re still building. We were counting on being further along, but with torrential rains and freezing the season isn’t exactly building-friendly. Nonetheless we were out in layers of winter clothing this weekend and did manage to get some work done prior to, once again, getting rained out.

The plan is to get the two main domes up to the second floor level and close them off for the winter. One is done and we’re busting our asses to get the second done before first snowfall, hoping against hope that the prediction of snow for tomorrow is off by about two weeks. We also have to complete several rows at the front entrance in order to seal it off for the season.

I had planned to be working on the front entrance stairs today but… You guessed it- rain. On a more positive note, if we do manage to get a couple of weeks of decent weather I suspect that’s all it will take to meet our (adjusted) goal. And we have some really neat ideas that we’re moving ahead with for the second floor in the living room and what would amount to a wraparound storage shelf for the kitchen.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of our home in progress. With any luck (and a whole bunch of work) we’ll have many more in the near future!

Stairs have since been started but not yet completed

Several more rows required before entrance can be capped for season

Only 3 more rows needed on the living room

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We’ve met a lot of new people in the course of our building and gardening adventures. Preppers, doomers, natural builders, gardening enthusiasts, permaculturists, homesteaders, as well as a whole new wave of people “dropping out” for various reasons. It’s quite the ragtag community.

Not everyone’s “in it” for the same reasons, but the goals are similar- to rely more on personal efforts for such things as food and energy, and to do so in a sustainable fashion. I have to say, of all the circles I’ve run in over the years or groups that I’ve found myself a part of, this community is the most impressive of all.

Most of our community we’ve met online and I look forward to the new blogs on most recent adventures as they go up. It’s just amazing, what people are capable of when they have a determined endpoint. Stories of people building with natural materials, reusing waste in the most inventive ways, learning about water treatment and power production, successes and failures with polycultures, not to mention the interesting political conversations… It’s really heartening to know that so many are on the same path, and working really hard to be part of the solution.

I don’t know how you’d class Shane and me. We started off with a retirement plan of sorts. Our intention was to spend as much of our lives “living”, rather than working towards an arbitrary end date at which point we might foreseeably enjoy our time left. And with that plan in mind we came to the realization that in order to properly ‘retire’ from the game, we would need to provide for ourselves those things that we currently pay others to provide for us. Simple enough idea, if rather more difficult to implement. But only difficult- not impossible.

We’re not environmentalists by any means. In fact, we really don’t want to be associated with that particular group, knee jerk and short-sighted as they so often are. But we do take our responsibility to the environment serious. In our minds it is not only possible to lessen our negative impact on the environment, but to improve it in small ways.

We’re also not doomers, or religious at all. Nor are we really preppers- though I quite strongly believe that the shit will hit the fan- not if but when. And who knows on how many fronts, but undoubtedly we can only go so far on the energy train we’ve already run into the ground, and food shortages (whether due to lack of said energy for either production and transport, or natural disasters as we are seeing all over the world this year, or the mismanagement of our land) are as much as a sure thing. And don’t get me started on the rise of fascism around the world and in our own backyards.

We can’t quite yet be classed as permaculturists, though we are working towards it, and my own lack of gardening experience has been glaringly obvious in previous posts so I don’t qualify as an ‘enthusiast’ by any stretch, though I do approach my misadventures with enthusiasm.

We are, I suppose, homesteaders with a vision. Off to a rocky and somewhat comical start, but homesteaders nonetheless. I guess that’s as close as a category we’d fit as any.

But I digress. Our common ground and values far outweigh our differences. The community that we find ourselves a part of is amazing. And surprisingly tight. I don’t think we could be any more supportive if we lived next door to each other, rather than communicating primarily online. Anytime that I find myself lacking in inspiration, knowledge or enthusiasm, the community is right there- inspiring, sharing information, funny personal stories or encouragement. We’ve even occasionally been surprised by donation of materials for various projects.

While we use the phrase “self-sustaining” to describe much of what we’re doing, and planning, it’s rather misleading. Self-sustaining in that we plan to provide for our own food, energy and shelter- certainly. But buoyed by a community of like-minded individuals without whom we would surely find ourselves lacking. For all of our differences, the common thread is a surprisingly strong bond.

Down the road, we’ll most likely welcome work traders as well. There’ll be so much to do, between gardening, and tending animals, and the bees… The two of us could pull it off, but it would be a more comfortable load for four or five people- leaving everyone with plenty of downtime. We know that some people are unable to purchase their own property, and as such can’t provide for themselves off the land, so it seems a reasonable trade. And will no doubt lead to even more interesting friends and lifetime bonds.

So to all of our friends in our newfound community- thank you, for everything. We’re on the right road, and so long as we’re traveling together I think we’ll be just fine.

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Okay, so I’ve already copped to the fact that I’m new to this whole food production thing. As such, I don’t know what I’m dealing with in some cases. I need help.

My potatoes are of particular concern. We’ve gotten quite a lot of good ones but “something” is drilling into them and I don’t know what it is let alone what to do about them. Another potato issue is a complete mystery to me- they’re growing quite normally and no signs of insects boring but have a hard, almost scaly, looking skin. I can only assume that this is some kind of potato disease but again- no idea what or how to treat for it.

And finally, I neglected to mark off lots of what I planted. I have a bunch of these quite large squashes but don’t know what kind they are, and whether they should be picked now. I think (???) that I planted butternut and spaghetti squash, possibly a third variety- can’t recall. Would this be the spaghetti squash and if so, is it ready?

Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!


Dude- what are you?

potato problem

Mystery squash

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