This Life is For the Birds

 

This Life is For the Birds

Earthship Post #16

April 2017

     I finally got a visit from a robin and his mate. I miss the robins we had in town. These only stayed for a day or so, then moved on to greener grass. (Literally). We don’t have much grass and no trees for them to nest in.

We have had a very colorful blue bird. He is shy and stays down by my dad’s cabin when he visits. I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of bird it is. I had just about settled on an Indigo Bunting, but my brother told me it’s a Mountain Bluebird.

Spring is here and once again I have green lawn envy. We have some green meadow grasses poking up through the ground, we even had grass growing in the tires we’ve already filled with dirt. It’s not quite the same.

I’ve been given a sweet gift of more birds visiting in the past few days. Right now I’m listening to the sweetest bird song I’ve ever heard. It’s loud and clear and when I tried to look out the windows, I couldn’t spot it. It must be on the roof of the camper.

There’s also a poor little bird that has started courting an allusive little bird that hides in the mirror of my son’s truck. He is obsessed with his own image. He hangs on the side of the truck looking at himself- sings to the reflection and when he flies to the back of the mirror to see the other bird, it’s gone. He rests on the solar panels and calls for his soul mate to no avail….So sad.

I love how quiet it is out here. I can really hear the bird calls. There are so many different sounds. I’m familiar with the flute-like call of the Western Meadowlark. They are the most abundant bird here. They also chatter to each other and nest on the ground. I can’t believe they do that since there are so many predators here. I guess they must be fairly safe though, because there are a lot of them here. I hear the neighbor’s rooster, ring necked doves and even crickets. It’s amazing what you can hear if you turn off all the noise.

I’ve spotted another Golden Eagle soaring higher and higher towards the foothills. A new bird was here the other day, a Copper’s Hawk. I wish Dave’s bird book wasn’t packed away. Oh well, there’s always Google. Now we have beautiful Swallows catching bugs in the fields.

There’s such beauty here, but you have to take the time to slow down and look for it. Tiny wildflowers, blooming cactus, even the flowering weeds bring a little color to the routine browns and sage green. Different birds visiting, soaring and singing.

Dave has always told me, “A place is blessed if birds are drawn to it.”

 

Matthew 6:25-26

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

My hope for you is that you filled with peace and free from worry. ❤

 

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Just a Little Q and A Time

earthshipfrontdoor

I’m caught up with myself (at least for now) on my posts so I asked a few of you if you had any questions. Here are a few, hopefully I can answer them and if not I’ll try again.

earthshipgreenhouseexample

  1. What will the square footage be? The living area will be approximately 1300 square feet with another 700 in the greenhouse. We plan on having the greenhouse be part of our home as much as possible. It is separate (doors and windows) in order to control the temperature in the actual home. It would become too hot in the summer to have it open. The earlier models of earthships had the greenhouse and living areas altogether, but it became so hot it was almost unlivable. Hopefully keeping them separate has solved that problem.
  2. If the earthship is underground, how does the septic system work – do you need a pump? No we don’t need a pump, the septic system was designed by an engineer and it is gravity fed. (You know what rolls downhill) 🙂 The earthship is not underground. It is burmed on three sides (the tires will be covered with cement and some dirt).                                 earthship underconstruction
  3. How do you smash tires? It’s typically called “pounding tires”.  On the first layer you put a thick plastic cover inside the tires for a moisture barrier. Then on each layer after that you start with cut out cardboard inside the tires. You then fill each tire with dirt and use a sledge hammer to make sure its full in every nook and cranny. When the tire bulges, its done. Just an aside, when the tires are full, they become like giant bricks, solid. Assuming they are part of the walls, do they have to be the same size? They are the walls on three sides and the front part of the greenhouse as well. And, yes, they need to be approximately the same size, so they are level on each layer.
  4. Will you have a cistern? Yes the plans call for five, but we won’t have enough room for that many, so we’re planning to put in three in. How will you keep the water allergy free and clear of contaminants? The plans for the earthship call for catching rain/snow water off the roof into a rock filter system then into further filters from there. Although the state of Colorado repealed the law that said you were not allowed to catch rain water, they’ve put a stipulation on it that you can only catch it for outside use and I believe around 100 gallons. So, we’ll continue to haul our water for now. There are other rules about gray water as well, which is vital in the plans for the water of an earthship. After using water in the sink, washing machine, or shower, its supposed to go to the greenhouse planters where its filtered by another system and used to water the plants. From there it’s pumped back to flush toilets. Some models even take it one step further and use the black water to leach out and water the landscaping outside. We’ve decided three uses is enough. 
  5. Will you have electric outlets in every room, just like new construction? Yes and light fixtures as well. We’ve already talked to an electrician and he’s familiar with what needs to be done and when.
  6. What prompted you and Dave to do this? This is a question we get asked a lot! I’m sure they are thinking “Have you two lost your minds?”.  In an earlier post I explained how we were swimming in debt and it seemed we weren’t making any headway at all. We had consulted a debt consolidation company and were working diligently to get everything paid off, but still the stress was overwhelming.                

    I prayed to God and begged to keep my home. I would do anything but give up the home we’d built together. We had memories of grandkids and kids and I loved my home. Still I kept getting the feeling we should sell our property.                                                                                                                                      

      I began to do research on alternative type homes, including tiny homes. I didn’t think I could hack that in this climate, maybe if we were in Southern California where we could live outside as well as in. We looked into cob homes, earth bag homes, and a number of other things as well.                                                                                                                                            

    We found videos about earthships on YouTube and Dave had been to Dennis Weaver’s home in Ridgway and thought it was pretty cool, so that began the tiny idea. I was still not convinced, and had several long talks with God to help us find another way. It was not to be.                                                                                                                                                    

     We started getting our home ready to sell in March of 2015. I felt an urgency that I was sure meant we were suppose to sell it quickly. That same month my parents purchased this piece of land we’re now on.  With no utilities, this seemed like the perfect fit to go off the grid.  Long story short, we didn’t get it sold for nine months. Nine discouraging months.                                                                                             

    As far as to why this type of home? It’s self-sufficient and once we get it built, it will be so affordable. No heating or cooling bills, not even any electric bills! We’re doing this without a net, (no mortgage) so it will be slow going, but I think in the end so worth it. Thanks everyone for your questions. Let’s do this again soon.

     

     

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You Don’t Have to be Crazy to Live Here…We’ll train you

 

twirlysky

Earthship Post #14

March 6, 2017

 

Wow! What a crazy week!!! It started with Dave waking me up at 4:15 Tuesday morning telling me the lights on his car weren’t working and I’d have to drive him to work. I dozed off and on the 35 mile trip till I switched seats and drove home.

Then the day was full- son filling out paperwork for his new JOB! Yay! We had a quick lunch, then I drove my granddaughter to pre-school, grocery shopping with the little guy, more errands, pick up granddaughter, son and head home to cook dinner. Then, back to pick up Dave from work! Yikes!

Almost every day was just like that, or some version of that. Thankfully, Dave got his vehicle fixed so at least I didn’t have to drive him everyday.

 

clothesline3

 

 

 

Dave got my clothesline put up on his day off, so Saturday I headed to town to the laundromat. In the meantime the winds had started picking up. We had a high wind advisory for Sunday- I guess the winds arrived early. Still, I was determined to dry the clothes on the line. I jumped the gun a little, the poles weren’t yet secured enough and the lines drooped. When the winds picked up it was like a giant sail. My son braced the poles so I could finish drying the clothes.

I felt pretty smart transporting my baskets in the wheelbarrow until my cell phone rang and I ran inside the shed to answer it, because it was too windy to hear. The wheel barrow blew over with all my clean clothes in the basket inside. I wasn’t about to drive back to town and start all over and at least they were dry- so I just picked them up, shook the dried weeds and dead grass off and put them back into the basket. I only thought the wind was bad that day….

Then Sunday arrived….

The winds were fierce, blowing and gusting. The wind blew last summer, but this felt worse. I was sure we would lose something important, (like a camper, or a small child).  None of us got much sleep that night. When I went out to survey the damage the next morning, I noticed one of the dog’s water buckets had blown over to my son’s camper. When I walked back, I saw the dog house was gone. I walked down the hill and found it, but the pillow inside was gone. The trail left by the pink stuffing led me to an empty cover. I’m glad none of the dogs were harmed in the making of this adventure. We lost most of the insulation around the skirting of our camper. Now to start picking that all up.

Needless to say, we survived. Cranky and restless, but unscathed.

 

March 22, 2017

 

What a crazy two weeks we’ve had. The weather has been gorgeous! Record high temperatures, beautiful blue skies, things finally shaping up around the compound.

We’ve had a few hiccoughs- our black lab attacked our red heeler and we had to take him to the emergency vet. On top of that, we had to try to keep them separated to let him heal. The attack was over food, but the lab has had seizures all his life and we’re thinking he might be affected by those as well. Oddly enough, they missed each other. Rico the heeler, stopped eating. So after a week or so, we let them eat together again. They seem to be okay, but we’ll have to watch them from now on.

Yesterday was great! We finally found a company that could provide internet. They quickly installed it and voila, we’re up! We’ve tried the whole wi-fi (Hot spot) before, but it was so pricey for such a limited amount of data. I’m so excited to be able to post my blog, or even just check my e-mail without having to run to the town library. That certainly wasn’t something I’d planned on when we moved out here. Now, to get a way to do the laundry….

One of the solar guys came out and checked our system out to make sure we are okay. We’re doing fine, he tilted the panels up to catch more rays for the summer. Yay!

Spring has arrived early and the peach trees down in the valley are bursting with gorgeous pink blossoms. Life is good, God is greater than all our trials and fears.

 

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be made complete, not lacking in anything…

 

 

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Give me a Home Where the Deer and the Antelope play

Dark skies

Earthship Post #13

February 16, 2017

 

We’ve had such great weather these past few weeks, I’ve gotten spoiled. Dave mis-judged the weather, thinking we could dodge another hard freeze. So, last time he filled up the water, he got double the amount we’ve been getting. We couldn’t use it all at once, so it sat on the trailer in the tank. Luckily, even though it froze overnight, it’s been warm enough to thaw out during the day. We don’t want to do that too many times, or it could damage our tank. Things you learn as you go.

Since the weather has been so warm, Dave and our son have started pounding tires again. This is a very slow process and I have to admit I was very discouraged about the lack of progress we’ve had so far.

Workers

The grandkids are here this week and are playing outside every minute they can. They’ve found a much more fun use for the tires, climbing and playing. Dave and I went to town and when we got home, both of the kids were sliding down the dirt berms while their daddy pounded tires. It makes my heart smile to see kids running like crazy, covered in dirt with their hair flying and dust covering their clothes.

As we pulled onto our “road” home, three does passed in front of us and quickly moved to higher ground. Later this afternoon, while the kids were playing outside, three more moved right across the ravine. So exciting for them. I think it was the first time they’d seen them. Our five year old granddaughter loudly proclaimed, “Deer are my favorite.” At least for this week.

Psalm 42:1

As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

earthship13

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Water, Water Everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink

January 5, 2017

 

I woke up early to the sound of something pelting the roof of the camper. I thought it was probably rain, because when I went to bed it was 40 degrees, then when I checked 10 minutes later, it was up to 43.

I was wrong! It wasn’t rain, it was snow. The wind has been blowing steadily, so instead of inches-we have snowdrifts. Now as I look out the window…it’s snowing sideways! I’m fighting a nasty cold, so I’m planning on staying inside as much as I can today.

January 9, 2017

It snowed off and on all day yesterday, covering all the bare spots from the storm before. It’s beautiful, but I’m suddenly aware that too many days like this could prove very tricky for us. When my son and I took his kids to town we were met with a slippery road all along our trail to the turn-off. The main road wasn’t much better.

I let Dave know he wouldn’t be able to go get us water, probably for a few days. We’ve been rationing water since the last fill up almost a week ago. I bought water jugs to fill in and we’ve been drinking bottled water since we’ve moved up here. Once we have a chance to empty them, and get the water tank filled, we’ll fill the jugs for back-up and to use in the bathroom. It’s amazing how much water you use to flush a toilet. Seems a waste…(Pun intended).

Our heating system is working fine. Even our son’s camper, which isn’t exactly a four season rig, is doing great. We haven’t had any frozen pipes. Of course the tips from friends and my parents about skirting and insulating were invaluable.

This whole experience is an eye opener about all things with nature, weather and off grid life. When you live on the grid snow and ice are inconvenient, but at least you can flush your toilet and take a shower if you want to. We’re working out a system for taking showers every other day. Not too bad (at least I don’t think we smell too bad.)

This morning we were met with a different challenge. A freezing rain has been pounding the camper all morning. My car, and more importantly, the solar panels are covered in a thick sheet of ice. Luckily I don’t HAVE to go anywhere, that is unless we run out of fuel for the generator. The weather is gray, cloud covered, and foggy so probably not much solar gain today.

I’m hoping Dave can get us water and gas when he gets home from work tonight. It’s all fun and games till the gas runs out.

To make things worse I’m still fighting that nasty cold. I feel a little lonely as I listen to the coyotes call through the fog in the middle of the day.

 

January 24, 2017

It took me a while, but it finally hit…The winter blues. There have been hints of it before, but I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with everything while still fighting this cold. I’ve been sick for a month now, with the cough deep in my chest, keeping me awake coughing all night.

I have the blues every winter, usually January and February are the worst for me. It hits me when the weather is cold, usually without the beauty of snow. The brown grass, the bare trees and the gray skies prove to be a challenge for me. We’ve had plenty of snow up here, then it melts and we’re left with MUD. Let me say this now, I can’t stand MUD. I know, I’m in a bad place for that. I’ll learn to live with it, but I don’t like it.

I’m finally getting the hang of water rationing. With our back-up supply of water jugs in the power shed, it’s helped a lot. The shower thing is a bit more difficult. I wash my hair in the kitchen sink and am learning to take sink baths every night. I let Dave have the shower water, he works hard every day, I don’t.

I watch the weather religiously, trying to time my daily trips to town, and to try and figure out when Dave can get us more water. Do you see a theme here? We can manage just over a week between fill-ups now. I love that we have friends and family/sister that offer showers and a bed if we need it.

So, as I sit and look out at the gray day, I’m reminded once again that things aren’t nearly as bad as I perceive them to be. We have warm bed, (a new mattress by the way), food, family, and views to die for. I still am not sure what God’s plan is in all of this, but I’m sure he’ll see us through all the way.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

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Hold On Baby, It Might Be a Rough Ride

snow-on-the-mesa

November 29, 2016

 

We survived the first snow, but the melting afterwards has been a challenge. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I smelled wet wood- that can’t be-

Then, two days later as the water was pouring off the roof of the camper, I noticed the mattress and pillows were wet. Water was coming through the window (or walls). I don’t know which! I called my son over to help me pull up the mattress. Sure enough, the mattress was soaked and the wood board underneath it was wet. We propped up the mattress to let it dry.

I drove to town, bought some sealant, two plastic shower curtains, and another mattress pad. Came home and attempted to patch a crack around the window sill. A little difficult with the snow melt running off. We managed and hopefully that will fix the problem.

December 7, 2016

Snow on my solar panels

You could say I’m torn

I love the white diamond sparkles on this early winter morn

But snow and no sunshine make a troublesome pair

When my panels don’t charge enough, it makes it hard to bear.

So when I thought off the grid an adventure everyone should try

I have to remember how hard this life can be, and sometimes it makes even me cry

 

December 29

 

Dave gave me a star chart for Christmas and tonight it was clear enough for us to see lots and lots of stars. Sirius twinkled green and white- gorgeous. We picked out the north star, Orion, Pegasus, and some others. It’s so weird how electric light can affect the sky. The further away from our little town we go, the more stars we can see. Love it!

 

December 31, 2016

As we come to the end of a very difficult year, I find myself looking back and wondering just how we survived. We sold our home, the one we built together, had to move eighteen plus years of stuff into three storage units. We moved into a borrowed camper (thank you Morelands! You saved us from staying in a tent.) We laughed, we cried, we gained, we lost. We loved, we fought, we had joy, we had sorrow. We prayed, we cursed (that was Dave) we questioned, we moved on. As I look towards the new year, I have hope. I feel God’s presence in our lives and I know since this was his plan all along, we’ll be fine, no matter what the future looks like.

Buh bye 2016- good riddance….

Hello 2017, I’m happy to have a do-over.

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Let it Snow on our Parade

first-snow-earthship

Earthship Blog Post #11

November 17, 2016

First snow! It’s been a dry fall- not even much rain. Yesterday we set record high temperatures – close to 70 degrees. Today….snow. The old adage, If you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait ten minutes, is so true.

It’s mostly raining on us right now, a little hail and sleet, but the ridge to the south and the foothills to the east are turning white.

Tonight the temperatures are supposed to get down in the teens- which is average for this time of year. Dave is filling up our water tanks-trying to get all the water out so it doesn’t freeze whatever is left. We’ll fill up water jugs for the dogs’ water then just dump the rest. That’s hard for both of us, given the scarcity of water, but it’s only $0.25 a load- so it’s not the money, just the idea of it.

I still have a few windows to cover with plastic and I need to get some foam to put in the vents.

It was cloudy all day yesterday too, so not much solar gain. We ran the generator last night to charge the solar batteries. The batteries went up almost 20% in about an hour. I’ll probably be doing that more and more as winter sets in.

We need to go to town today- I’m not sure we should leave. I’m not so sure about our so called road and if we can get in and out okay. Mostly I’m not sure I want to leave. I love this kind of weather.

A few hours later

After the delight of the snow piling up, the harsh realities set in. The inverter on the solar system went out. We’re not sure why. My son started our microwave-we were using the generator to charge the batteries, and it surged and the power went out. When we went out to the power shed to investigate, Dave smelled something burning, then nothing. We called the guys from Mountain Power Solutions but they were stuck up in the mountains three hours from here. The soonest they can be here is 2 days!

When we found out the guys couldn’t be here for two days to help us, we decided we needed more fuel for the generator. We drove out on our trail/road with no problems. Then when we got to 39 Road a well meaning neighbor on a tractor was not only scraping the snow off the road, he was also scraping any road base and gravel there was. (Which is not much since the county doesn’t maintain the road.) We got to the top of the hill and Dave couldn’t stop as we started back down. Luckily the guy on the tractor got way over so we could go on by without hitting him.

When we got down to the main road, there was a lot less snow, then when we got to town there was only a little snow on the grassy areas!

November 19, 2016

One of the guys from Mt. Power Solutions will be out this morning to take a look at our system. We’ve been running the generator to charge our camper batteries because along with the 3-4 inches of snow came the season’s coldest temperatures. I have an app on my phone that reports the temperatures in Palisade. We estimated the difference in temps between here and there is anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees using the temperature gauge on our Durango for a measure.

Neither Dave or myself have slept very well since the power system went out. I wasn’t sure how long the camper batteries would last with the heaters running all night in order to keep our waterlines from freezing. Dave worried about the dogs. We’ve moved their kennels into one of our utility sheds. It’s well built, but not insulated. We both checked them several times and they were okay.

I sit here listening to the noise of the generator, thankful we have it otherwise we’d have to give up.

Yesterday I went to my daughter’s house to watch my granddaughter. I thought about having a little pity party, but that doesn’t really do any good. I sure enjoyed the nice warm house. I turned on the hot water on to wash my hands, turned lights on if I wanted to see, microwaved my lunch and began to feel sad about the upcoming holidays. It’s not that I’m not living in a big house with all the amenities, it’s that I don’t have the room to have everyone over for a big meal. Dressing up the table, house and ourselves. Sadly, this year I’ll have to depend on others hospitality.

I’m finding myself thinking about our old house, full of memories (and heat), but have to stop because I’m afraid I’ll start crying and won’t be able to quit. I realize not all memories were good. But, as a person sometimes does, remembering holidays you tend to look at the bright side. These memories are filled with happy, toasty thoughts. I’m working through these feelings. After all, I still have heat, food, love and God’s direction. I’m unsure about what that is, but he’s here with us none-the-less. This verse is something I’m working on. Not there yet…

Philippians 4:11-13

…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it’s like to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

 

 

 

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