the homestead (fall 2013) and the RV wood stove
|October 6, 2013||Posted by Mama under homestead, off-grid living|
You’ll have to forgive me. What follows is an insane amount of pictures. 23, plus a video! I don’t intend to make a habit of it, but this week we’ve had some exciting changes that I just had to share with you. As mentioned here, we moved our camper to a different location in our field.
We love it! The view is grand, overlooking part of the valley below us. The leaves are changing colors and it is wonderful to wake up to in the morning. Plus, our camper-home is now the first thing visitors see, with the homestead in our backyard. When the house is built it will replace the camper in the front yard so that is what guests will see first. From our camper we have a vantage point of the entire cleared property, it is closer to the outhouse, and will make for much easier traveling of the driveway this winter.
So, to mark the occasion, I put aside my minor fear of heights and climbed the ladder to get on top of the camper so I could give you a panorama view of what the homestead looks like this fall. We also did some cleanup around the yard this week, putting all the cement blocks together, piles of wood together, picked up around the old camper site (it’s amazing how much useful junk accumulates around here!), and mowed for the last time this year.
While mowing around the old camper site with the abandoned raised beds I grew veggies in last year, and flowers the year before that, I was amazed to see just how much the land has healed. You can see we have this knack for making piles of stuff long enough to kill the grass, and then move them to other locations when we find better places. So what we have left is a yard which is slowly healing itself – grass growing back where it should be, raised beds of dirt slowly sinking down into small mounds. I don’t want to sound like a tree hugger, but it is really cool to see nature take its course.
Looking around at the property, I feel so proud of ourselves for having accomplished what we have this year. Okay, so the foundation isn’t laid, as this is what it looked like last fall and this is what it looked like this spring, it is easy to see just how much we have been able to do together with a little cash and grunt work.
In the picture below, you can see Papa installing the chimney for our new wood stove, which there is a video for at the end of this post.
Now that we are closer to the outhouse it has been getting a lot more use, making trips to empty the compost toilet inside fewer this week.
The outhouse is just one example of how the ground is doing its job. Look at all the grass around it! That wasn’t there last year!
Here you can see where the camper was just a week ago. The wood you see on the ground is made of two overturned dock sections, like the ones we put in front of the camper this week to make a makeshift porch. Eventually we’ll take these old ones out and fill it in with dirt from the pile dug up for the house foundation, but that will be a project for next year I’m sure.
And now that we have a wood stove, we can start chipping away at this wood pile you see below. My dad brought over much of the log pile in front a couple years ago and it really needs to get used. The pile behind it is mostly lumber, some plywood. Some could be salvaged for miscellaneous projects if we pulled the nails out, but a lot of it will be burned.
This year we built our storage shed, start to finish, that holds all of our household goods, like sentimental, holiday, camping things, along canned and dry goods, tools, and some other things you typically find in a shed or attic. The fence around the garden wasn’t finished this year, or the tool shed sided, but those things will get done in their own good time.
I’m hoping next year to have a second clothes line. I manage to get 4 heavy loads hung before it starts taking more than a day or two to dry, and now that the kids are getting bigger we are regularly washing 4-5 loads a week instead of 3-4.
From here you can see the backside of our garden area, with the storage shed, and outdoor shower in the background. All that is left of the garden is some beans still drying for seed and tomatoes which still have a few ripening.
The outdoor shower was a new project this summer as well. Unfortunately it hasn’t gotten much use yet because the evening air was already getting chilly by the time it was done, but Papa is excited about getting a lot of use out of it next year.
For the kids birthday we built them this swing set. My parents bought the slide which we still haven’t built a ladder for, but which the kids use anyway. We also have the means to build a small cabin on the side, and install a basketball hoop and backboard that Papa salvaged from the dump, both of which we hope to install next year.
And this is the part that no one wants to see, the ugly stuff that has no housing, but which is necessary for a homestead. Totes full of winter gear, totes full of engine maintenance supplies, half rolls of fencing, sheets of insulation, the lawn mower and trailer, and the snow blower. I moved it all to this spot because from the camper, or anywhere out front, you can’t see it ::: smile ::: First impressions you know, they count for a lot!
It’s amazing to me, to think that a year ago this side of the property was completely devoid of life. Sure the kids would run down the hill, ride their bikes or slides down, and the chickens would wander across occasionally, but otherwise it was unused. That all changed in June with the kids birthday party, the building of the shed, garden area, and swing set.
Looking from the backyard to the front, this is what you see (the clouds began to clear a bit in time for these pictures). The wind turbine, now 22 feet in the air, supported by guide wires, the camper, with the water tank (hiding behind it of course!), and what we call the incinerator – the barrel we burn junk in. To the right you can just make out the fenced garden area used by my in-laws – the ones who own this land.
Since the gardens have pretty much passed for the year I’ve been letting the chickens out in the day now. They love to scratch up the grass and look for worms to eat. The kids love to play with them, and I am so happy that despite my being the only one to go into the coop and chicken run to tend to them each day that they are still just as gentle with the kids as ever – unless of course one of the kids has food in their hand and then, well, the chickens think it’s for them!
From the backyard on the upper side of the field, standing where our camper was last week, this is what you see. This picture was taken while the chimney was still being installed, hence the chimney on its side and the ladder in the air. But you can see the solar panels set up, and get an idea of the view we have out the front door.
There it is. The homestead.
Papa took a few pictures with his phone of the chimney as he was putting it together. I was supposed to put it in the video, but I didn’t get that memo. Oops! So, here they are. Here’s the cone that goes on the top.
And here’s what it looks like fully assembled, before being put through the roof. The wooden frame fit underneath the square sheet metal, which acted as a support system on top of the roof.
And here is the video we took of what the stove looks like installed, minus the metal flashing and the platform we put underneath. More work yet to be done, but this will give you an idea.
We’re working on scheduling a date for my uncle to come back up with his tractor to dig a trench from the leach field to the foundation site and to our camper so we can lay the pipe before the ground freezes, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.
Papa has also begun taking on extra hours at work, as the company is entering its busy season. With the extra pay we are hoping to begin work on the foundation before Christmas, but we know better than to plan on that happening for sure.
Which brings us to the new change of plans regarding the foundation. We had planned on building a cement block foundation, which entails pouring a footer and putting cement blocks on top. While that method is a perfectly legitimate way of building a foundation, and would be cheaper than pouring a slab, we’ve been looking at the time we have available and decided to go with a slab.
The new plan is, with the overtime pay this fall, to fill the foundation site (which is made entirely of ledge) with crushed rock and level it out, hopefully by Christmas. Then once the ground is dry enough in the spring we’ll have a cement truck come in and pour down a slab. Taking into consideration that we don’t know how much we’ll have for our tax return this coming year, or how our vehicles will be doing at that time, we hope, but are not certain, that we will have enough to build walls next year. Of course those walls would have to be protected, so we may simply buy and store materials as we can afford them until the roof can be put on, using the slab as a safe place to hold wrapped materials, but as they say, we’ll cross that bridge as we get to it.
So! There you have it. What our homestead looks like this fall, and where we hope to be in a year.
This post featured on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways blog hop.