Building as I can afford it

I guess by this time in my life, most people would have a tight house, be well organized, with all the comforts of home. There are times when I wonder if hiring out my body full time for money, going into debt for thirty years, and building everything right away might have been an easier route. I guess everyone does what they do according to what they know.

For me building this house has been a continuous stop and start affair. Get a little money, buy some parts, move the project forward (sometimes sideways). Right now I’m lowering some of the temporary walls, establishing the permanent top plates and getting ready to set the real roof in place.

The house is a yurt design, but for a while I was still thinking about a more geodesic approach. Now that I have the roof lumber on site with more permanent walls in place, I guess the yurt design is the one I will use- maybe the geodesic will work for a greenhouse.

Anyway, I build with screws, which facilitate changing my mind (the walls started out over 8 feet tall).

This also makes temporary walls and supports easy to construct and easy to remove. Many of the temporary roof boards have never been cut and many have no fasteners except gravity.  So they lay up there in an overlap fashion, resting quietly on temporary walls, waiting for me to get off my ass and finish the job.

Today I unrolled a piece of rubber roofing that has been repurposed many times in earlier structures and cut it in two so I can carry it up the ladder and use it as a quick cover on the central flat roof supported by the yoke of the yurt (no I’m not deliberately trying to be funny).

The point I’m trying to make is, I heartily endorse going slow with large investments, and especially endorse not going into debt any more than necessary,

Yes, occasionally a bit of debt might be useful if it really improves water supplies (as in renting a backhoe for earthworks) or some other investment with really good paybacks, but make sure to have a source of funding that will ultimately pay it back, and do so as quickly as possible. It’s no fun being in servitude to the bank.

 

 

Work vs Health

Often my old Puritan work ethic tells me I’m lazy and I start to push things a little faster, work a little longer, without so much care as I might give taking it a little slower.

Putting a roof on this place–a real roof that is,- has been in my mind for some time. about 1/3 or more of the house is still under tarps in one way or another, and the whole roof is really a temporary structure that has amazed me it has lasted as long as it has with only minor repairs.

So this summer was the time I had set aside for the roof–or at least the more substantial roof framework and a covering that will last longer than the next heavy wind. And while I have steadily been accumulating materials and clearing work space, this recent dry spell has shifted the project into high gear–sort of.

I still take lots of long breaks, spend time at the pond sunning myself, fighting with the Japanese beetles, keeping water flowing to the plants, etc. Anyway, the point is that I find myself getting a bit too psyched up as evidenced by an accident late in the day today.

I almost always wear light weight water shoes, mostly just light cloth with a sole, and that was what I was wearing this afternoon when I was using my circular saw- the one I have to start the generator for and cuts 2″ boards like butter.

This and that and I came to the end of a run and finished that last cut and set the saw down before the blade guard went all the way back over the blade. The saw was still spinning, caught into the wood and jumped off onto my foot.

So now we have gone from industry to injury and I mention this to remind myself and suggest to others that working when tired is not a good idea, and especially when working with power tools.

I won’t really know till tomorrow just whether the last push was good or bad with regard to what I actually was doing. Sometimes last minute work can actually cost more energy the next day, and even cost loss of materials- or  like today an injury that could be much more serious.

Likely I will recover,

the goldenseal I’m using is older stock, but should be good enough for this cut. As you can see from the pictures it continued to bleed freely after bandaged and inside a sock. The bleeding actually helps to clean the wound, plus the fact that it was not too deep means an antibiotic like goldenseal is really just a precaution. But should you ever be in a dire situation, the potency of your herbs might make a big difference in how fast you heal. Goldenseal should be golden, not as dark as this, taste should be very bitter.Goldenseal is one of the plants I consider vital to have growing nearby. This plant has been tortured by the dry spell and I actually haven’t paid any attention to it all summer, but right after taking this picture I watered it and plan to keep watering it as long as it is this hot. Ordinarily this plant would be in a more deeply wooded area, cooler with more shade so once environments get more stable and heavy machinery has done it’s thing, I’ll go out looking for a more suitable place.

So maybe the accident had a good outcome, I remembered to water the goldenseal:-)   Perhaps that’s another reason to mention this incident, a chance to remind everyone that medicine is another basic requirement, so cultivating or encouraging plants that serve medical functions is always a worthy enterprise.

 

Anticipation

There’s lots of philosophy about anticipation and expectation, and often these things are seen as negative, or distracting. Be Here Now  expresses such a philosophy, and as far as it goes it can eliminate unproductive worry, releasing the mind from circular reasoning that accomplishes nothing.

Remembering the past and anticipating the future, however, is the way science works. Water flows at right angles to contour, and you may not be very productive trying to predict or worry about yesterday’s weather,  but you can certainly dig a trench that will take future water where it can serve you best.

Life is really an ongoing learning experience that teaches us what to expect and how to prepare. The most fascinating part of the learning is that the more we learn, the more we know there is to learn and the less we actually know.

Bill used to say the older he got the less he knew, and I can see that in my own life as seemingly disconnected vistas suddenly reveal they are very much an integral part of the landscape in the immediate vicinity. Not only does that connection add to the unknown, but the details of the unobserved vistas as well.

I may not live in a tropical climate, but I can see elements of that occasionally in my own climate. Dry lands may be a long way from here, both in distance and rainfall, but understanding those dynamics can add greatly to the way I manage my own environment.

It is in fact reasonable to anticipate all eventualities to some extent when it comes to preparation. I would not expect a 3 year drought, but organizing my property to be prepared for one is always going to be a benefit, even if the drought never comes.

Today I hooked up the pump at the Lower Gully pond and started filling the water barrel at the greenhouse. As the barrel filled I used it as a water source for my main water supply and started irrigating everything. The promised rains have not come and the days are getting hotter, so the water is absolutely necessary to prevent failure of crops. That is the difference between having peppers and tomatoes or not.

Often at this time of year I would expect the weather to dry up, so reaping the benefit of all that saved water because of anticipation and preparation is a joyous thing. In fact it is every bit as much a spiritual experience as Being Here Now. In fact, I think I’ll go out and be here now in a world that is better because I took some time to remember the past and prepare for the future 🙂

 

 

 

 

Living Permaculture A Day at a Time

Most of us looking around at the world today can see things are changing. While change is the only constant in the universe, still the changes we see happening seem to be ominous in many ways and foretell a bleak future if they continue. My personal perspective is optimistic about the future of life on this planet, even though that wasn’t the case a few years ago. A few years ago I saw the flywheel effect of carbon in the atmosphere as already past the point of no return, and it would take so long to reduce the Greenhouse Effect we would all be gone before the Earth was able to cool down again.

Certainly there have been external changes in the physical world, many of them ominous with tar sands oil and fracking and new countries joining the fossil energy consumer market, demanding ever more of already strained resources. So the reason for my optimism and new sense of purpose can only be explained in one word, “Permaculture.”

The idea of well thought out human systems that mimic nature in their efficiency and sustainable nature has never quite been put together in the same way as in Permaculture Design. Even though this country seems focused on using things up and throwing them away, this is not the whole picture of the world today.

To get a better picture we need to go deeper than the media controlled by big business. We need to look at those systems outside the traditional consumer economy which don’t get as much attention.

Some people have not yet heard that there are projects reversing the movement of deserts around the world. Fruit and nut trees are growing in bleak landscapes with little rain and salted soils, large desecrated eco systems have been restored to functionality and are examples of hopeful news that doesn’t sell newspapers.

It is my aim to share my experiences as I play with many of these principles on my own homestead, plus there will be numerous links to other sources for those who wish to study more about specific topics. If I can encourage people to take a Permaculture Design Course, or get involved in planting gardens and food forests, then this website will be well worth the time and energy it takes to create and maintain.

Above all, I hope that you will take the time to look at other Permaculture sites. Permaculture is highly individualistic. We all will grow and evolve over time, so the specific systems I might set up today may be quite different from another Permaculture Designer. This website represents a direction to travel, not a finished process.

Bill Mollison, the founder of Permaculture is quite emphatic that this is all OK.

He told students that once they satisfied the basic course “no one can tell you what to do, and don’t you let them.”

This opens Permaculture Design to it’s own evolution, and yet after being translated into multiple languages, traveling through hundreds of countries and all different climates there is still remarkable agreement when Permaculture Designers come together in international conferences.

We are infected with a vision of saving the planet so it remains hospitable to life in general and human life specifically. Permaculture ethics and principles become a part of a vision that infects our souls and transforms the most mundane tasks into acts of worship given on the altar of service.

Bill Mollison was not a religious man, and said many times he never wanted eternal life and thought it was a terrible punishment. And speaking only for myself, I don’t think about a personal “after” life as I dive into these projects, I’m just trying to learn how to build sustainable systems that will serve the Earth, me and all those who live after me. I can only hope that something I do will last a thousand years as a blessing to future generations.

Oh, I forgot the most important principle, “If you’re not having fun, you’ve got the design wrong.”