I See You

Workers

 

Please allow me to give a little attention to my love. He is the reason we are able to live here and to build our dream home. Thank you with all of my heart Dave. I love you.

 

I See You

 

I see you working.

I see how tired you are from working 12 hour shifts for 5, sometimes 6 days in a row.

I see you getting up at 3 a.m. even though you only had a few hours sleep.

I see you trying to hold on, to keep working a menial job, that doesn’t challenge your intellect.

I see you rushing home from work to do thousands of little things that have to be done to survive here.

I see you missing most birthdays, concerts, festivals, reunions, grandkids’ games, concerts, and church because you work every weekend when everyone else has time off.

I see you taking your vacation time to build our home.

I see you trying to better yourself, for us…and me.

I see the pain in your eyes when I’m sick, or hurt.

I see you get frustrated that you don’t have the time, or energy, or money it takes to build such a difficult home.

I see you work on another new plan to get you and us to the next level.

I see you struggle with negative thoughts, anger and other emotions that come so easy because you are exhausted.

I see you being my biggest cheerleader, my confidant, my friend.

I see you holding me, even when you want to rail at whatever, or whomever made me cry.

I see you always believing we will be successful.

I see you never giving up, even when we both want to.

I see you loving me through it all.

I see you…..

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A Year In the Life

 

 

 

A Year In the Life

(A glimpse of 365 days)

Earthship Blog post #17

 

I’ve been avoiding my journal and my blog for several reasons. One, I’ve been tired, another I’ve let negativity rule how I feel. I’ve been wallowing in self-pity- things with the house have almost come to a stand-still.

I had big dreams to spend out first Christmas here in our new home. That wasn’t to be, then I dreamed about maybe having the next Christmas in our home, but we might not make that either.

We’re in the process of building our funds back up. We are looking at several ways to do that, and it all takes time, so I am learning about patience.

I’ve been reading other’s blog posts about their journey to build an earthship as well, and it has helped me to understand this is not just building a home, but building a lifestyle and building a home that will not only shelter us, but will provide food and water as well.

Being a baby-boomer doesn’t exactly help either. We have been conditioned to expect instant gratification in all things. If you don’t have the money right now, go borrow it, or better yet, put it on a credit card. I know my grandparents didn’t expect to own things they didn’t have the money for. They saved and scrimped or just made-do without. They never went to bed under the stress of tremendous amounts of debt crushing them.

Dave and I are both go-getters, we have rarely had to wait for the right time to do anything, or certainly not wait for God to give us the go-ahead.

Now I’ve gotten off the pity pot and I’ve renewed my attitude, energy and excitement. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our share of ups and downs even now as we speak. I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery four weeks ago. (No insurance, by the way). We have had devastating news about my brother and his cancer. But all in all God is in charge, he is good and he loves us as his children.

 

Okay, all that said, now let’s get down to the year in review. Good and bad….The top 5

 

 

 

 

 

#1 A) The first day/night we arrived on the property it had to be at least 100 degrees. We had no electricity, no water and we found out the fridge didn’t work either. Oh, and to top it off, we had to borrow a camper to bring up here. I sat outside in the shade with the wind blowing fiercely. Honestly it felt like we were sitting inside of a blast furnace. I had a horrible headache and I couldn’t face trying to fit 3 adults, 2 dogs and a cat into a tiny trailer for a night of sleepless heat. We went to a pet friendly hotel for the night.

B) We now have a lovely (sometimes feels very crowded and cluttered) camper. Solar panels provide electricity, with a back-up gas generator. We have a water tank which Dave takes on a small trailer down to the town to fill up water for us. It costs $0.50 per load, plus gas, and his time. Our fridge works great and I’ve learned how to shop to be able to stuff everything for a week at a time into it.

 

#2 A) We had to figure out what to do with my son and his kids, nothing to do, no TV, no toys. He had a job at a motorcycle shop so I watched the kids for him, we had very long days, but the kids seemed happy once they settled into their own camper which he and I bought from a guy in a nearby town. It’s small but they seemed to be happy to be on their own a little.

B) After 18 months of trying, my son finally got a good job. The only drawback is, he has to be out of town for weeks at a time and can’t be with his kids. This past weekend he, and another guy he works with, rented a house. The kids are thrilled to have their own brand-new beds and to see the toys again that have been in storage for a year.

 

 

#3 A) We had dreams we would rush right down to the county and get the necessary permits and get everything started as soon as the dust settled on our dirt road. Many visits to the building department and fees, and more fees, and more time spent there, we were sadly disappointed that our plans were rejected. We finally contacted the architect Michael Reynolds, and he went to bat for us with the county. We got approval, but with many changes. Some of those changes will cost us thousands of dollars, but we’ll deal with that later. We had to have our septic system engineered. We paid our fees, got things started and were off. Then when the money dried up and the winter came, it all stopped.

B) After all the headaches and frustrations, we have a gravel drive-way and road (we had to pay $1800 for approval to put in a gravel driveway). We have our septic system (even though they won’t give us the final inspection till the cisterns are in). That’s okay. We have our solar system up and running. (I love this part) renewable energy. So, all in all we have our infrastructure, minus the water.

 

 

#4) The weather….Each time we faced something new, I was concerned and even a little frightened. The first night that a thunderstorm moved through, I spent the night awake counting the seconds between the thunder and lightening strikes. Sitting in the middle of a dry grass field would do nothing to stop a grass fire from devouring our little compound.

The rain while cooling, would leave greasy mud in our clay soil, making it difficult to drive out. In the road leading to our property there was a huge dip in the road that would become a small pond whenever it rained. We learned to drive around it.

The snow, while beautiful, would lead to treacherous, icy roads out of here to town. It usually melted the next day, but that only meant we would have soggy, slick mud to wheel through. My son and I were headed to a funeral in January when we got stuck in our driveway. He put some rocks down, and I insisted that I drive us out so I could make sure I could do it on my own.

B) I learned if it’s snowing, move my car to the area least likely to get me stuck. We just got a new load of gravel, so we will be able to drive out a little easier. Building our driveway and road last fall helped a lot. All the neighbors on this end of the road seem to band together and do what they can to maintain the road that the county refuses to work on.

Rain, snow, and now heat again, are something we have to deal with living this close to the earth. Once we get our home built those things won’t be quite as hard or harsh.

The one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet is the wind. When it gusts up to around 50 miles per hour or more, I worry that even the solar panels might go. We have only had about 3 really bad winds, each time I end up searching for items that weren’t tied down. This last wind took the inside of my son’s camper door off. (It was propped open and the wind tore off the fiberglass.) Wind has always made me nervous.

 

 

 

#5 A) Living (or as my daughter says camping) full time here has its ups and downs. We’ve had to replace our toilet twice. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

We had water running in through the window in our bedroom, leaking all over the bed and mattress during a thaw of ice and snow.

We had a difficult time with moisture in the cupboards and on the walls, during the winter, enough that I had to wipe them down in the bedroom multiple times at night.

Our generator stopped producing electricity, which we need to run our A.C. during these hot, hot months.

We lived without the internet for 9 months. Yes, I said lived.

Our families don’t come for special occasions. Some have never even visited.

Sometimes I don’t have enough water to do the dishes. (darn) or take showers every day.

I have to drive to town to do my laundry every week.

My home is covered in dust and dirt daily.

BUT!

 

 

B) Just look at our views. I wake up every morning and look out the window at the sunrise, and go out every evening and watch the sun go down and thank God for this opportunity to have this adventure.

We made it! One year in and we survived. I know we haven’t faced every circumstance that may yet arise, but we are here on our own land and we have the chance to do something different and fresh and brave. Are we even close to being done? Nope, but we aren’t ready to give in yet either.

 

 

 

Thank you all for supporting us on this journey. I know we don’t always have earth shattering things to share, but we are here and we are grateful for every day we have to be here struggling, laughing, crying and loving. Without your interest and kindness, we might not have the courage to push on.

Ephesians 1:16 “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

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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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