[Homestead] Visit to an Earthship !
cayadopi at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 11 11:53:36 EST 2009
A la freecycle..........
The trip for the windows is a success, although they will have to be disassembled into smaller units so that I can use them without needing a crane to lift them. The 6x8 windows actually are 5 smaller panes, and will work great. Going to try to get some labor tomorrow to help me bring them home.
He's also giving me canning jars, chickens, rabbit cages etc.
He's from S. Carolina (Hurricane Hugo area), and his wife has live here most of her life.
This 67 y.o. built his home - an Earthship. Much of his place looks like a total junk yard - but he has had 19 cancer operations over the past 10 years, and admits he focuses his efforts on growing his food. He is not quite a homesteader in the desert, but as close to it as he can be. What luck to find a like minded person in my general area.
Earthship: Some walls are rubber tires, some are aluminum cans/styro/aluminum cans. The walls a R-40 rated....It was windy and chilly yesterday when I visited; I was instantly too hot the minute I walked in the house - 70 degrees without heat. They do have a wood burning stove they use briefly in the a/m to take the nip out of the air. It stay cool in the summer.
He used 1/3 caliche and 2/3 sand plus weeds to make the plaster for the walls. And one wall was made of homemade adobe brick. Composting toilet. Part of the building is sunk down into the ground. The home certainly wasn't "stylist" but most definitely functional. Big kitchen and big pantries for canned food, the living area a couch a tv and 2 huge desks for their computer (his and hers).... She enters a lot of "on-line contests" and won their awesome stove, couch and other items in the house.
He does all the gardening and canning (as she allegedly has some kind of health issues/alergies that prevents her from helping). He grows potatoes successfully (says not to stack the tires though - too hot here) Grows just about everything, and says that there is a local farmer market that we can selll excess too. Says last year he accidently grew too much squash and wound up selling his excess for $2,000, which paid the taxes and his electric bill, plus more.
He isn't currently on solar. She won a very large $$$$ prize item a few weeks ago - the item will be put up for auction and he'll be able to purchase his solar system, and then some... Something he couldn't afford to get before.
The large windows are placed in a way to allow maximum sunshine in that hits a concrete floor to heat provide radiant in the winter - and it was too hot as I've been used to much cooler temps, and when the sun shifts in the summer, no sun comes in.
He isn't finished with the place, and has been building it one piece of scrap at a time over the years, but I was definitely intrigued by the place. It made a lot more sense than other homes built even it if was quite "unusual" in layout.
They told me about another way to refrigerate without electricity - keeping items in wet sand (similar to the keeping things in an ice chest, just using water cooled by the night desert air). Good for about 3 days.
He proudly showed off all his canned goods,,,,, chicken, meat, dove, potatoes, you name it, and gave me one jar of his homegrown strawberry jam.
I saw very little food on the shelves that was store bought.
I saw a grain mill in the kitchen - and they grind their own wheat. He told me the local feed store sells 50# sacks of wheat.
He stores wheat, corn, rice, etc. in 5 gallon pails.............. 2" of grain on the bottom of the pail, then dry ice, then fills the rest with grain,,,, sets the lid on top, waits 2 hours, then seals them up tight. Said something about the dry ice killing off any pest eggs that may be present..... That way the food keeps for long periods of time. I dragged my dad with me, and my dad asked him about getting larger containers (keg size) for food storage. He said no, because once the container is open, it takes too long to eat it and food spoilage/bugs can become an issue. He told me where to get the 5 gallons pails locally; they sell them "cheap" as the crop pickers use them. (He told me the price, which is defintely cheaper than I used to pay in the city when I owned a business which required me buying those pails by the truckload to produce some things we sold.)
BEV - Can you explain the chemical process of this dry ice thing to me? Clueless here...
Other things I observed, He had tons of tires along the fence lines filled with soil. I asked if for potatoes,,,, no it was to divert flood water around his property away from his gardens.
His many chickens were not cooped.... which surprised me because of coyote here. He said they get away easily and roost in the (few) trees on the property. She told me they do find lots of bugs and other things to eat, and after the gardens are done producing they let them in the garden area to eat up whatever they want.
He did attempt to build a root cellar. I noticed a mound of dirt which I though was natural at part of the yard. He dug the area down where the house, and this mound was part of the slope back up and out of that area. Turns out he used more dirt filled tires there and built himself a root cellar into the sand to store potatoes in. But he says it didn't work, that for some reason the potatoes loved it in there and sprouted like crazy. Will try to find out more about that.
(He gave me this tip to start potatoes - put whole potato in a paper sack with either one whole apple or one whole banana. Close up the sack. Wait until the eyes sprout, then cut into pieces, let those pieces dry out - then plant.) Does that sound about right?
He also told me about one of the desert cactuses, which there are hundreds around me - that there is something sweet inside the flower that is good to eat, and the seeds pop like popcorn. I will take him a flower in the summer and have him "show me".
To my dismay, I found out that one of the mountains just north of me is a volcano.... as are 3 just south of here. :-( dang..... I so much want to be in a zero natural disaster area............. LOL.
They also felt the same earthquake I felt in the spring of last year.
He told me that 2 years ago all the mice have disappeared from the area, and says that the little animals leave before a volcano.... LOL.
Anyway, it was sure fun to meet these two - although mostly it is the husband's projects, as the wife doesn't do much,,,, she doesn't even cook or wash dishes (claims allergies....)
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