Nissa loves the country life. She has over 20 acres to roam on (though her favorite spot is right by her daddy's side!).
We managed to get our hands on an old log splitter for $150. It needed a new pump, which cost about $35, and with some soldering and minor retro-fitting, Alex can now split our own wood. This will save us enormously on wood costs: we can either cut our own (downed) wood, or we can buy from locals who have cleared some land (usually for blueberries) and are selling big, uncut logs.
This is the beginning of our chicken coop, to be completed spring of 2008. Since we didn't quite finish it this past fall, we decided to store our wood under the protective roof. Here is the start of our "stash". Before winter set in, we would have it completely filled with wood (which would all ultimately be used up in this particularly cold and long winter).
Now that we have our 1948 Farmall C for mowing, we now use the riding lawn mower as a utility vehicle. Alex built this long trailer that attachers to the mower, and we can quickly and easily move wood, tools, and other odds and end around our land.
This is the small greenhouse that Alex built last summer. We covered it in rather cheap plastic covering that came on a roll, but was not UV-coated, and , well, we learned our lesson. But the end of the summer it was in shreds. We now have a new and bigger greenhouse that will be covered in polycarbonate, so we are going to cover this in the same roofing material which is on the chicken coop, and use it as a utility shed for tools, etc.
This is the battery and inverter that Alex has connected to the three small solar panels in the other photo.
Our favorite trips have been camping, both in tents and in our VW camper.
This structure will be the wood shed for the winter, and in spring will be converted to a chicken coop.
This little tractor is perfect for hauling loads of wood, moving materials, and taking the garbage to the dumpster. It also mows, but we only use it for finishing off small, tight spaces.
We stopped here to grill a roadside lunch out of our VW camper while traveling through Wyoming.
The pier in South Haven is a great spot to watch the sunset.
When the sun is shining, there are always chores to be done. Here's Mom cleaning the awning to the camping trailer.
Here I am walking in our 20 acres of woods. We got buried in snow this year- great for snow shoeing!
We are currently experimenting with our handmade windmill. This one does not catch the wind enough (we think the blades are too narrow) and so will have to be modified.
This is our first attempt at a solar water heater. The copper tubing is pained black, and coils through the inside of the box. Plexiglass covers the box, and a thermometer has read over 200 degrees F inside the box on a sunny winter day. Can't wait to see what happens in summer!
This is Alex's first design for a windmill, which will have to be modified a bit, to catch the wind better.
We connected these three small panels, for a total output of about 12 watts, which is just enough to run a few energy-efficient CFL lights in the pole barn.
You can see there's still snow on the ground, but the chickens are coming in two weeks, so we have to get started on converting the firewood shelter into a chicken coop. Alex is cutting the planks here.
We purchased these unsplit logs in the late fall from a neighbor, who cleared his land to put in blueberries, and so now Alex has to split them all. A lot of work!
This is our compost bin, made of recycled plastic, with an archery target as a weight on top to hold down the lid in the crazy winds that we sometimes get here.
This is our rain water collection system. Right now, it's empty for winter, but in a few weeks will be connecting the pole barn gutters so that rain water will run into this tank. At the bottom is a valve, to which we connect our hoses, and a small pump, and we can water the garden from that. Alternatively, we can add fish emulsion fertilizer to the tank of water, and fertilize the whole garden using our hose. We purchased this old transport tank off of Craigslist- but not knowing what was transported in it originally, we had to clean it out very well, even though it appeared quite clean and had no residual odors of any kind.
Alex and our neighbor, John, are sweeping out all the wood chips left behind from the firewood that was stored here this winter before adding more planks to the walls to convert it o a chicken coop
Alex (right) and Glen (left) are talking about the repairs Glen just finished on Big Red (Alex's name for our 1968 Farmall C Tractor). Man, is Alex happy to get her back!!
We decided the greenhouse needed to go where the trailer was, so it was time to move the trailer. Good thing we have the tractor (which, by the way, pulled a UPS truck out of the snow the other day during a blizzard- man, is it powerful)! Once the trailer is cleaned and readied for the upcoming season, we're moving into the woods so we can camp out there once in a while.
At first we thought we would use these 4" x4"s to make a base for the greenhouse, but after a year in the pole barn, they had become too warped. Oh well, the greenhouse will just have to go right on the asphalt.
If only these instructions made more sense....
At least the greenhouse frame is starting to take shape... But it's going to be awhile still before we finish. What a pain this greenhouse is! We totally underestimated how long it would take to put up.
Our cats love to sit under the grow lights, looking out the window. They also love to steal the soil pods and carry them around the house (and yes, that is as big a mess as it sounds). And I've noticed a few nibbles missing from some of the lettuce leaves....
Nissa comes with her own personal snowshoes. Those lab paws are amazing!
Gosh, I love my dog!! (And by the way, that's one of the new Corn PLA Water Bottles in my hand. Very cool!!).
Today is March 20 and it's time to plant these babies in individual pots (we planted the seeds on Feb. 28). If we weren't in the middle of an early spring blizzard, they would be moved to the greenhouse. But of course, the greenhouse isn't finished yet, interrupted by the snow storm....
This late season storm has also interrupted the completion of the chicken coop. I am so ready for the snow to end!
OK, I was just trying to be artsy here. It's just a bird feeder, covered in snow in late March.