All Charged Up!

Foggy day in a Tree

When the season turned, the clouds rolled in, and the hours of daylight dwindled. We were finding our 2 KW solar system was NOT enough for a fridge, washing machine, and hot water heater, especially on a day with NO sunlight shining through the clouds. There was enough for basic charging of computers, our router, and lights, but not for those large appliances 24/7. I have been programmed already to take hot showers on sunny days. Or, get a raging fire going in the woodstove to warm up after a cold shower! The laundry had to wait or we had to choose one thing per day, but not anymore! As usual, Grant figured it out. He got us a couple more batteries. The four batteries we had weren’t keeping up with the energy generated from the panels. He also hooked up the wind turbine. Between those two improvements we have seen a tremendous difference! We call that a win! Also, against our sustainable mission, but solely as a backup plan, we purchased a 3500 watt gas powered generator for emergency situations. We do not plan to use this unless the situation is dire. The generator may come in handy when we are building the earthship since there is no power on the other side of our property. We do not anticipate using many power tools on the build. For the most part it will be a hammer, a shovel, and a trowel. But, I’m sure we will need it from time to time. One thing we need to figure out is if we need a cement mixer and how much power that would use. I’m hoping we can make an adobe mix that we can mix by hand (or feet). We recently started searching for recycled tires (the main building material for an earthship) and reading the earthship building books to begin preparations. The books we purchased are written by Michael Reynolds and provide detailed instructions and imagery on how to build your own earthship from start to finish! The second volume discusses the systems integrated in the earthship and how the components of a self-sufficient home will come together. We found a tire business in Spokane interested in delivering a trailer load full of tires to us for free! They are begging to get rid of them! FREE WALLS! All we have to do is pack them full with dirt. We have been hoarding bottles for wall spacing materials between the concrete to allow light to shine through similar to stained glass and uses a fraction of the cement since the bottles fill empty space, but still hold the structural integrity. We have a large pile of glass pieces to use for windows on the south side of the earthship, which will make up the greenhouse. We found those free on Craigslist in Spokane a few months ago. Hopefully that will be enough windows for the job! I will probably keep on the look out anyway, because it never hurts to have extra glass for spare projects! Grant built a tiny rough model of the earthship. Pictures are below. The milk jug represents the glass dome facing the southern sky. The area between the glass and the building will be greenhouse and aquaponics grow space. The home will be two stories. On the first floor will be the bathroom, kitchen, and office/ living area. The second floor “loft” will be the bedroom and relaxation area. The loft will have its own view of the valley to the south and the stairs to the loft will be in the greenhouse so they can double for picking fruit off of tall established trees. We have a vision, can you tell?? I just want an avocado tree!

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Things are looking up here on at Green Journey Farm. A lot of fun new projects are starting! Grant is continuing work on the yurt so we have somewhere to store supplies while building the earthship.

We are all settled in for winter. The goats and sheep are getting into a routine and enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes our bully new adult Nubian doe, Cinnamon, bites wool out of our sheep, which we are not happy about. She gets jealous if we are feeding the sheep and not her. Muffin the 7 month old Nubian goat doe gives hugs and kisses. She is so sweet.  Sputnik, our Nigerian Dwarf buck, has got to be my favorite, most adorable character on the farm yet. The way he twitches and randomly leaps or skips is just hilarious. Everyday is another gift. We are recharged and excited about our sustainable journey.

Home Sweet Home

Leaving the farm was an interesting adventure. Life is so different here than in a lot of places. It is slower, calmer, and more peaceful. I find my clarity by the water’s edge, feeling the wind against my face or soaking up the sun’s golden rays. I noticed after being in the city for over a week I was overstimulated. I needed uninterrupted time without attention or noise to be with my thoughts. I hadn’t realized that the constant vibrations of city life would be so noticeable to me after only three months of being away. It was nice to get my fill of social time and head back to the hills! Being away afforded me many happy new memories with friends, co-workers, and family along with some sad times as well. My cousin lost her husband last week and my heart is with her and the kids. Also, my grandpa found out he has Myelosplastic Syndrome, which I can’t tell you much about except it is a rare bone marrow illness where the blood cells don’t do their job essentially. This has been a sad time for our family. I took the train to Wisconsin to work for a week in the office and see a Nahko and Medicine for the People show with a couple of friends. I got to spend a week with all my hilarious, fun, and hard working co-workers. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed until I crying. I admit, I snorted once laughing so hard. The concert was a night I’ll never forget and learned a lot from. Their music is my favorite medicine and has helped inspire me to follow my own path. They are partially responsible for us starting Green Journey Farm!

Grant was here at home taking care of business while I was off in Wisconsin. Drako the Dragon is healthy and happier than ever! So, last I shared we thought his illness was related to the decaying meat he ingested, however we found out the next day it was actually Parvovirus. He had it when we got him from the prior owner. The first test they did came back negative, but they just kept seeing all the symptoms of Parvo so they did a blood test. Sure enough, so they ended up going in and cleaning out his intestine. The next day he started eating and improved quickly from there. We are so happy he is home and so is he! The pack enjoys multiple walks a day all across the property. Grant was able to establish a trail that loops around the 10 acre sheep pasture. Besides that, I found so many nice surprises! Little things like the paper towel rack being installed that we had been talking about for months! He got the reverse osmosis faucet installed so we have delicious fresh filtered water on tap! There is new shelving in the shed to use all the vertical wall space and get things off the floor. The chicken coop was revamped to provide more weather proofing. We got 8 more chickens from the neighbor. They are an assortment, but I think there is a white Silkie rooster, a couple Rhode Island Reds, a Black Australorp, and a few others I’m not exactly sure yet what they are. They are staying in a separate coop for now until they get better acquainted with the existing flock. The biggest and most exciting addition since I left is the new windmill Grant installed! He said it isn’t completed just yet, there is some wiring to do. The instructions didn’t come in English so he has to do some deciphering… The list just goes on and on! He is amazing at getting things done! It has been all the little things that we just couldn’t get around to before. Every once in a while you have to stop and tie up loose ends. This place has come a long way from where we began. It is a lot easier to notice after taking some time away from it all. Now, Grant is off on his own adventure to Montana to meet his brand new beautiful baby niece, sister, and parents for a visit! As sure as the seasons change, there are blessings and hardships. We must embrace all the seasons and all of life’s lessons.