Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Glen Helen Presentation in T-Minus 4 Days!!!

We are so honored to have been asked to share our story at Glen Helen and will be doing so this Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM.  We plan on discussing why we ditched the house with the white picket fence (literally... it was adorable) and chose to build a home ourselves out of dirt and junk instead!  We'll discuss the ins and outs of an earthship and what makes this lifestyle so appealing to so many.  We'll finish up with an overview of our build thus far and will be sharing our most updated house plans.  We hope this presentation will push other people who are teetering on the edge as we were to make more sustainable day-to-day choices because we are truly the typical American family with a limited income.  If we can make this happen, anyone can!

Please join us at Glen Helen Auditorium (405 Corry St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387) at 3:00 PM.  $5 donation, $3 with donation of a clean wine bottle.  Donated wine bottles will be used in construction of our earthship home.  We so hope to see you there!

From well-manicured lawn with white picket fence to tires and junk...
we couldn't be happier with our choice!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bipolar Build

Our earthship build has been comprised of 68% pleasurable, uplifting, inspiring, memorable times and 32% exhuasting, dysphoric times.  The past couple weeks have been mostly the latter type with some much-needed sprinklings of happy times.  I tend to error on the side of positivity at least where people outside of my close family and friends are concerned and will sugar-coat the glum times.  I feel it is important, however, to let it be known that building an earthship or any other sustainable home yourself is filled with its' fair share of difficult, depressing times.

Having so very little within our control regarding time frame is maddening.  One week it is raining, the next week, the weather is perfect but the dirt is still too soggy from rain earlier in the week. The following week, a piece of equipment imperative to our build breaks down and Zac must halt everything else and work to fix it.  Last Saturday, after having spent every evening after work prepping our old home for the new tenants (who moved in last Saturday), Zac was nearly immobilized in bed and said that he needed to take a day off everything for his physical well-being and for sanity's sake.  And so, he rested a bit and then we took the rest of the day as a family and had the BEST DAY in recent memory.  The next day, he was able to work through some tires with Anthony, our new friend and volunteer.  However, work has been sporadic due to things outside our control and in the past several weeks, only about 40-50 tires have been completed and I feel as though we haven't made much progress.  

Weather is already starting to turn and the Farmer's Almanac is predicting an early and harsh winter ahead.  So today, with no extra hands to help, he felt it would be best to focus his time on beginning to winterize our cistern.  His plan is to build a wooden frame around it and then put slip straw walls around it to ensure that it doesn't freeze when frosty weather hits.  This project will be helpful for our earthship build too as we have (yet again) changed our plans for our bedroom walls and they are now going to be slip straw walls covered with adobe plaster.

He plans on working on this project here and there but was pleased to have gotten a head start on it today.  Zac is going to take off work this Tuesday (September 16th) through Friday (September 17th) to hopefully make some serious headway with our home.  As you may remember, our goal was to complete the tire wall by October 1st and we are still pushing to make this a reality.  If you'd like to come on out to help this week, we would SO appreciate it and will provide meals for you!!!  

And so, we have been struggling as a family the past few weeks to remain positive with Old Man Winter appearing closer than we had imagined so early on in the year.  This sort of thing really has been wearing at both Zac and I and we have found ourselves having to take more time outs than our son to gather our emotions and get ourselves in check.  

I want to be sure that we remain transparent and truly share our experience throughout our build and want everyone to know that should you decide to build such a home yourself, you are in for both the best and worst of times.  We are lucky to have our health as a family but truly, the past couple of weeks have been rough on us.  I know we aren't alone as I've heard other families' similar struggles toward living a more sustainable lifestyle and I know that there is a silver lining to our story.

How we're choosing to look at the cooler weather now is that it will allow Zac some serious rest and recooperation as well as some time to research the plumbing, electrical and radiant floor heating systems that need to be in place before our concrete pad is poured this upcoming Spring.  Perhaps we will feel more prepared for next year's progress and less like the kid in class who is constantly forgetting his homework.  

The ups throughout our build this past year have put us higher than ever before; as I imagine it would feel to be manic.  The lows this past year have sent us into some periods of depression.  And yet, I can say, without a doubt, that we would do it all over times ten if it meant living a life we're proud of and can put our stamp of approval on!

Sky and land shot last weekend while tire pounding was underway
_________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, we will be speaking at Glen Helen this upcoming Sunday (September 21, 2014) at 3:00 PM and invite anyone and everyone out to hear about our "Pathway to a Secondhand Home."  We will share our story about why we chose to jump ship on the American Dream, an overview of what an earthship is and what earthship living is all about and we'll close with some information about our build thus far with a sneak peak of our most updated house plans.  For more information, visit Glen Helen's Facebook Page.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Giving Up Your First-Born, Dirt is for the Rich & Other Matters...

In one of my pre-earthship build posts, I know I mentioned that our goal was to be under-roof by winter 2014 so that we could work on the interiors during the cold months.  However, we are looking more short-term at this point, as we realize long-term deadlines have no place in the realm of earthship construction!  Our new short-term goal is to be DONE with the tire wall by the beginning of this October (2014).  We are on the 5th course and will have four more courses after this one to complete it.

Tire pounding goes much more quickly these days as long as all the components used to make it happen are in working order.  The past few weeks have been spent preparing for "the next big push."  Zac repaired our tractor which we use to move dirt and then had to repair it again when it broke down recently.  Then, his truck broke down and that needed to be fixed as we use it every time we make a run to get materials for the build.  After putting out those fires, Zac was able to focus his energy on using the remaining dirt on our property to build up the berm level with the 4th course so that we could start on the 5th course whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Fortunately, that very weekend, we had a volunteer stop by (Thanks, Anthony!!!) who worked tremendously well with Zac and the two of them were able to go through the rest of the fill dirt on our property and build up the berm in basically one day's time!



Anthony- the awesome volunteer who helped us bring the berm up!

Speaking of dirt, we had NO IDEA just how expensive sourcing suitable dirt can be!  We assumed people would just want to get rid of fill dirt and that we'd have no problems finding some for free.  Boy, were we wrong!  Dirt apparently is gold these days and no one wants to get rid of it unless you promise them your first born child.  We have purchased 120 tons of dirt thus far and have paid nearly $2,500 for it.  Our original plan had been to dig a giant hole on our property and use that dirt for our build but that would mean renting the equipment to dig said hole and then hope that the dirt was suitable for our building purposes.

All dirt is not equal for earthship building purposes, my friends... another lesson we've learned.  When working with local geotechnical engineers to test the soil we had on-site and were planning to use for the beginning the build we were told immediately by sight alone, "It won't work!"  It still had too much organic matter in it and not enough clay; which is found deeper down.  Thus, we went to plan B which was to buy dirt as we didn't have enough time to keep digging on our land in search of something more suitable.  Truthfully, I imagine that we could get the dirt we need for our build on our property but both time and money come into play there and to be honest, it is so much easier to call someone up on a Monday, order dirt, and have it dropped off Tuesday!  Pick your battles...

In the spring, I called TONS of local excavators, concrete companies, etc. in search of free dirt and came up empty-handed.  In the past couple of months, I've been so burnt out, I haven't thought of doing it again despite our moaning about the cost of dirt.  I tried my hand again at calling around Monday with no luck.  However, I think we may have found a cheaper source and will try to get the rest of the dirt we'll need for the build delivered next week sometime unless the dirt fairy shows up with a GIANT dump truck to save us.

I wasn't lying... he's certifiably insane!
Now, while I'm so over lofty goal-setting, Zac is still super pumped up and says that he would STILL like to attempt to get our home under-roof by Winter... the insanity is one thing I very much love about that guy!

Anyhow, we are planning a HUGE work weekend coming up (this weekend; August 30th, 31st & September 1st) and have a small handful of people who have sold us their souls for various parts of the weekend.  With that said, if you'd like to come on out and share the beautiful work weekend with us, we'd love to have you out!  We plan on working all day each day (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and on Saturday, we're ending the day at the Clifton Art and Music Festival (literally across the street from the land).  We will be renting the ginormous air compressor I've spoken of in past posts and in assembly-line style, plan to work through the rest of the 4th and 5th courses of tires; if not begin the 6th!

If you've come out to help in the past, I assure you, work is much less physically demanding than it was in the when you helped out (unless you are Zac wielding the Ergo-Tamp, of course) and goes much more quickly!  So please join us a day or two this weekend if you have the time.

We will be working from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM each day and the address is 2687 S. River Rd. Cedarville, OH 45314.  Online directions are a bit off, but we are essentially on the corner of S. River Rd. and State Route 72.  We have the first gravel drive on your right once you've turned onto S. River and you can see our shipping container from the road.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lesson #85 in Building an Earthship: Always Expect the Unexpected!

It's been quite some time since I've provided an update on our progress in building our earthship home as we are feeling, more than ever, the weight of all the different hats we wear in life.  As I mentioned in July 23rd's blog post, we were dealing with the threat of losing our beneficial use of tire permit granted by the EPA if we didn't make the extra tires on our land disappear in a matter of about a week's time.  On top of that, Zac had come down with a mystery illness and was down and out for about a week though he had to continue to work as he doesn't get sick leave or paid time off.  As an aside, we later realized we purchased some organic peaches that were part of the recall due to listeriosis and his symptoms matched up with those perfectly.

Fortunately, once the "EPA push weekend" rolled around on July 26th and 27th, he was feeling much better.  With many new and old friends' support, we were able to put many of those tires to use and move the rest in time for the inspection on July 30th!  I just received the letter Monday from the EPA restoring us to compliance.  As much of a rebel as I'd like to seem to be, I must admit, it is good to be in the "powers that be" good graces once more!
Another dragon slayed!!! 
But, that weekend unfortunately didn't progress without incident.  No, that would be too easy!  On July 26th, after we had just began to pick up steam on the 4th course, the tractor's axle knee literally broke off; rendering the tractor useless as it couldn't run without this part.  Fortunately no one was injured and we were so grateful for that.  We had to laugh because "expect the unexpected" has become a saying we've been living by these days.  In order to remain sane while building an earthship, one must roll with the punches.  And so we did.  With the tractor lying idly by, we fortunately had enough hands to help and used buckets, wheelbarrows and shovels to do our dirty work.  We carted dirt to the tires to be Ergo-Tamped and then a team of people followed up the Ergo-Tamp by leveling and marking them as "good to go"!
Thank you SO much to all the lovely people who came out the July 26th and 27th
weekend and helped us steer clear of troubles with the EPA!
Once the weekend was over, Zac took a look at the damage on the tractor and found that an entirely new axle knee was needed.  After scouring local farm junk yards with no luck, we were able to find the part online... all the way in Alabama.  Due to having a tractor out of commission for two straight weeks, were unable to make serious earthship progress but still made use of the time!

Zac was able to install the first piece of plumbing that will eventually connect the three 1,700 gallon cisterns to our indoor plumbing.  We are going to be harvesting rainwater from our roof.  That rainwater will be filtered and then deposited into our cisterns at which point, it will be utilized in a normal manner delivered by the traditional plumbing inside the home.  So while this was a necessary step in our build, it was about as far as we could get without having a large earth-mover working for us.  We could have plodded ahead with shovels, wheel-barrows and buckets as we had to the rest of the "EPA push weekend", but it didn't make much sense as we'd be killing ourselves and wouldn't have gotten very far with just two people.  This is where modern advances such as machinery come in handy!
The scene from our build the big EPA push weekend.  That large orange thing is the GINORMOUS air
 compressor we have to rent to power the Ergo-Tamp.  We are almost done with course 4 and have
begun laying out the 5th course and filling the tires with dirt!
Last week was all about our chickens.  Our gals are nearing egg-laying age and so it was time to give them a proper place to lay their eggs.  Utilizing scrap materials Zac had salvaged from construction dumpsters and that had been donated to us by people we've met along the way, he was able to fashion 8 lovely nesting boxes for our girls to choose from!  Then, he installed a rainwater harvesting system hooked up to their coop's roof so that we never have to dip from our own water supply again to quench their thirst.  The rainwater harvesting system was also completed using all secondhand materials (aside from screws) and according to Zac, that made the experience even richer!
The fold-up-top nesting boxes
Rainwater harvesting system for lucky chickens
Happy chickens roosting on a fallen log on our land.
Mendez the head rooster is looking over his ladies!
The tractor parts finally arrived Monday only for us to find out that one of the parts sent was incorrect.  The correct part was sent out yesterday so we're expecting it to arrive tomorrow or Friday.  Our hope for this weekend is to work on building the berm up again so that it is level with the 4th course and then fully finish out the 4th course of tires.  We are diligent about building up the berm at this point as it adds to the structural integrity of our home.  From the 4th course up, each course of tires is set back into the berm 2 inches to offset the pressure the North wall would otherwise receive if it were completely upright.  By stepping the courses back, the wall then shares the load with the berm.  So, we have to ensure that the berm is compacted as we build up each course of tires from here on out to ensure we are building a structurally sound home.  This isn't a feature of a traditional (if that word can even be used) earthship home, but we chose to eliminate the u-structure from our earthship in place of a larger U that had additional supports.  This saves us a great deal of time and energy as that means far fewer hundred tires that need pounded!  The picture below from MiddleEarthHome.com shows how many earthship homes have been built so far with the U-shape tire walls.

LOTS more work!!!
In the midst of all this, regular life must also continue and so I've been neglectful of social media sites and this blog because I've been holding down the Craig Family Fort.  I've been spending my time trying to potty-train our sweet little guy, manage our household, run two Etsy businesses and maintain some sanity along the way... though, I think sanity is overrated.

Our original plan to be under-roof by Winter is looking unlikely, but no matter.  We're just pleased that we're moving forward with our dream of living more sustainably as a family and are proud to feel like we're really living life for the first time!

_____________________________________________________________

The next blog I'm looking to post will be about pounding the perfect earthship tire with step-by-step pictures!

Also, if you're interested in getting some hands-on experience in building an earthship home, we welcome you to come out and help us some weekend soon!  We work Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM.  Please email me at SecondhandHomeProject@gmail.com for more details.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Threats to Our Family Dream

Last week, we received a call from the EPA stating that they performed a site visit and noticed that we still had loose tires stored on our land and as a result, were in violation of the Beneficial Use of Tires permit granted to us in April.  We just emerged from the rainiest June in 120 years but are also limited by the fact that we can only make real progress on the weekends because Zac has to continue working a full-time job throughout our build.  They are willing to work with us, but we have to have this issue resolved by next week as they will be doing another site visit and if we are not in compliance, we could lose our permit and thus, will not be able to build our home.

We are doing our best to remain positive as we firmly believe in the saying "if there is a will, there is a way."  However, since last Wednesday, Zac has been pretty ill and has continued to do his best to continue going to work (he doesn't get sick leave with his union) and work on getting us prepped and ready to go for this upcoming work weekend & potluck.  He thought he was feeling better Sunday, but he began feeling badly once more yesterday and finally surrendered to going to the doctor.  They were concerned and said that if in two days he isn't feeling better, he needs to go to the emergency room or have a battery of tests performed by a gastroenterologist as soon as possible.

I so admire my husband's strength throughout all of this but I'm finding myself maddened that he can't just take off work and cease building our home for a week to rest and take care of himself.  We have this EPA deadline that threatens our ability to live our dream out as a family and I have to admit I'm feeling beaten down and fired up at the same time.  Despite the fact that there is 40% chance of rain this entire weekend, we still plan on pushing ahead as we have no choice... absolutely no choice in the matter.  We have to make sure we are in compliance and will stop at nothing until we are.  If it rains, we have a backup plan to deal with the tires on our land and could certainly use any and all help in reaching our goal.

We welcome anyone and everyone to come out this weekend to lend a helping hand, learn the skills to build an earthship home for FREE and share in a potluck meal with us at the end of both work days!  If you are coming from out of town, you are more than welcome to camp out on our land.  Or, if you're local and just like to camp, we welcome you as well!  Just please let me know ahead of time so we can ensure you have a space set aside (you can email me here).

We'll be working from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM both Saturday and Sunday (July 26th and 27th) and the address is 2687 S. River Rd., Cedarville, OH 45314.  Online directions are off the mark so to clarify, we are essentially on the corner of S. River Rd. and SR 72.  We have a long gravel driveway off of S. River Rd. and have a shipping container visible from S. River.  There is a cornfield on the corner of S. River Rd. and SR 72 that partially blocks the view of our land from that corner.

We invite anyone coming out to stay for the potluck dinner at the end of the day.  We will provide a main dish for everyone (vegetarian friendly) and ask everyone coming to bring a side dish, salad or dessert to share.

We are incredibly fortunate to be able to be making this life change right now and appreciate all the love and support that has been shared with us along our journey so far.  We know that we will make this work somehow.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Divisionary

It's hard to fly in the face of conformity.  I don't mean to sound like a martyr or some self-righteous angsty whiner but it really is hard.  Making serious lifestyle changes that go up against the status quo is exhilarating but exhausting at times.  Choosing the life we have for ourselves and working to build an earthship home with a child in tow, no less, has some people thinking we're crazy.  Interestingly enough, however, we've received more positive feedback and support than negative so far.  Though I suppose those who feel negatively about what we're doing are keeping it to themselves or not expressing it to our face.

Perhaps I'm just paranoid... Scratch that, I am absolutely, unequivocally being paranoid. And again, it isn't so much what people have or haven't said to us because nearly everything we've heard has been positive.  I think it has more to do with the values and beliefs that have been instilled in me by a consumerist, "keeping up with the Joneses" culture.  While I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the road we're taking as a family is the right one for us, there is always this menace of a voice lurking in the background saying "you had a nice, stable life for yourself and your family.  You were movin' on up!  Why change anything when changing is hard?"  Because Obnoxious Voice, remaining stagnant is more difficult than changing.  Because changing is exhilarating and just feels right.  Because I'm enjoying life more now than ever before.  Because I want my son to grow up knowing where his utilities and resources come from and be a thoughtful, mindful individual.  Because we weren't meant to be so disconnected from nature.  That's why, you nagging, greedy voice!

When waste, excess, destruction and greed are packaged in nice, neat, shiny convenient packages, it is difficult to see how making more convenient choices day to day can be so destructive though all these choices add up and are indeed harmful to all that is living.  As the fable goes (or approximately so): A frog placed in boiling water would jump out.  A frog placed in lukewarm water that is slowly heated would cause the frog to doze happily until it is too late and has boiled to death. It is common for people to believe that we have made progress in the past 100 years and are now more civilized than we have been in the past.  I would argue that standpoint endlessly.  While I do certainly believe that some of the medical advances and scientific discoveries have engendered a higher quality of life overall, I also believe that many of these so called advancements have led us to become more distanced, reckless and unhealthy as a culture; creating an imbalance that many aren't comfortable addressing.  We're slowly boiling ourselves to death.

If we spend our time concerning ourselves with attaining more wealth and power, we lose our connection with everything around us.  We spend more hours at work than with our families at jobs that we only like some of the time (if we're lucky) because we have bills to pay.  When we do get a raise at work, we buy a bigger house, a nicer car and start having other people take care of our household because we don't have time to.  We eat poorly because we don't have time to make proper meals and instead consume food that is robbing us of proper nutrition and supporting unethical food production practices.  We take the easy way out and use pesticides, antibiotics and other convenient quick fixes for pests, illnesses and household problems instead of rooting for the cause and changing our lifestyles.  We have children but don't have time to teach them how to live mindfully and rely on under-funded and backwards school systems to raise our kids for us.  It is easier to buy something cheap at a big box store to meet our needs or hire someone to do something for us than to take the time to learn a new skill or find a more permanent, thoughtful solution to an issue that has presented itself.

I believe that we as a culture are stuck in a rat race though I respect the fact that not everyone sees it this way.  Instead of chasing wealth and power in an obvious sense, I would argue that real power and wealth lie in oneself.  For example, when you take the time to fix that broken household item on your own instead of pitching it and buying a cheap piece of junk from a big box store that will break soon anyhow, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment and feed the power and wealth that sprouts from knowledge and confidence. You can't put assign a monetary value to the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from preparing a meal made from food you've produced on your own land!  

While going out and spending money may feel good in the moment, I have found that it is certainly fleeting.  My greatest thrills have come within the past several years because we've been choosing more sustainable day to day choices.  Zac set up a rainwater harvesting system on our micro-cabin which provides some cleaning and showering water while we work on the earthship.  You can't wipe the smile from my face when it rains because that means we now have more water to use... for free... that hasn't been processed with harmful chemicals and delivered to our home at a ridiculous cost.  We did that.  We made a catchment system to harvest that water and I get to reap the benefits when I go to use it to wash off my hands at the end of the day.  No amount of money can touch that feeling of accomplishment. 

I've found that our sense of confidence and power has grown with each household project we've taken on ourselves and with every sustainable choice we've made.  I feel more confident as a mother to our son as I know that we are equipping ourselves with the skills to provide him with a tremendously rewarding life.  

I know that strongly worded entries can annoy and anger some but I feel that challenging the status quo is not only important but absolutely vital.  I'm writing this blog entry as a reminder to myself that despite what is pumped into us by our society, more sustainable personal changes can be made and one can live a life they are truly proud of despite any reservations or concerns they may have.  We only have this one shot at living a life we love.  Why waste it going along with the herd?

I heard this song today and every time it comes on WYSO, I find myself turning the radio up and singing it at the top of my lungs (much to my son's chagrin, I'm sure).  The song is titled Divisionary by Ages and Ages.  In a band biography on Partisan Records' website, Tim Perry, bandleader of Ages and Ages, explains that the word divisionary was made up by the band to describe "a group whose vision of 'right' is upsetting to the existing power structure." And so I share the video and lyrics below with those of you who are also fighting the good fight and choosing to make more mindful choices in the face of a buffet of convenient, yet destructive alternatives.  


DIVISIONARY

Do the right thing do the right thing
do it all the time do it all the time
make yourself right, never mind them
don't you know you're not the only one suffering

I see you up again wandering so diligently 
crossing your t's as though it weren't irrelevant
they say formality, this is what they really meant:
they can be the walk and we can be the pavement

Do the right thing, do the right thing
do it all the time do it all the time
make yourself right, never mind them
don't you know you're not the only one suffering

So what you're up against all the disingenuous
They wave you along and say there's always room for us
But we know better than that to take'em serious.
Still don't let'em make you bitter in the process

And when the light is up, this is how oughta be
We'll make it alright, they'll come around eventually
They say it's nothing but that ain't the reality
They may take us on but they can never take us easy

Cuz they ain't moving, they're just moving around
So if you love yourself, you better get out now

I hear a higher calling
Better here than there I guess
so long

Friday, June 27, 2014

Earthship Time Zone

My comparing building an Earthship home with being a parent to a newborn is not spent.  The white flag is raised.  We are relinquishing any and all control over our lives and our schedule to our demanding, whiny home to be that we are completely and totally in love with and dedicated to.  It feels as though we live in a different time zone entirely.  No matter what plans we try to make for the weekends to come in working on our home, everything is dependent upon an array of variables that we have little to no control over.  Thus, we must find some way to make progress with the time constraints we're dealt.

Case in point: We had hopes last weekend of being able to move the remaining dirt in our dirt pile blocking the driveway to the berm so that perhaps we could rent a compactor this weekend to begin compacting the dirt for the berm.  "HAHA" said mother nature and other forces out of our control.  We obtained a great deal of rain last week which made moving dirt around Saturday nearly impossible.  But, even if we hadn't had all that rain, the tractor we just bought broke down on us.  Thus, Zac had to spend all of Saturday fixing it.

Not unlike our first few months with our sweet son Elliot, Zac and I have had to adjust our expectations of what it would be like to build our home and surrender to the process completely in order to enjoy it.  While this is particularly difficult for me to do (did I mention I'm kind of a control freak?), Zac has been coaching me along and we have been having a LOT of fun lately despite the obstacles that continually present themselves.  

Last weekend, when the tractor was rendered useless for the day, we focused on changing our perspective and had one of the greatest days overall as a family than we've had in a while.  Zac felt incredibly accomplished fixing the tractor and taking some time to explore the inner workings on our new machine.  Elliot and I went grocery shopping, took a walk around Clifton, visited a local Alpaca Farm, and made a dinner fit for kings!  Walking up our gravel drive from our walk, we saw Zac off in the distance on the tractor brush hogging the land around our chicken coop.  As we got closer, we saw that he had a huge maniacal smile on his face.  He was SO happy to finally be brush hogging an area where Elliot could walk around and play safely.  While we finished up dinner, he continued working outside and came to dinner (outfitted with the same wild grin) saying that he had also cut trails in the remaining 2-3 acres at the edge of our property and that we should take a walk together after we finished eating.

Thus, we all went out there together and had the greatest time exploring the trails Zac had blazed earlier that evening.  He pointed out some of the larger trees he cut the trails around that will provide us with shade many years down the road.  He also showed us the gorgeous patches of wild flowers all about.  It was so gratifying to be able to take a walk on our own land and enjoy the spot that would eventually envelop our Earthship home!  

The next day, Zac spent the morning working on the finally hooking up the rain harvesting system on the micro cabin as we have been frustrated that we haven't been able to capitalize on the loads of water from the sky we've been getting.  He only hooked up the back portion of the roof to our cistern as the front will require a great deal of cleaning and prepping before we'd be able to harvest water off of it.  Monday evening, the rain rolled in and the feeling felt similar to what I used to experience as a kid on Christmas morning.  HOORAY!  We would be harvesting some of this water to be used for our purposes instead of just letting it drain off!  (Note: We don't have this water set up to be potable at this time and anytime we're working on the home or are at the land together, we bring in our own drinking water).

It is the most basic of things that are bringing us joy these days and that fact alone is incredibly freeing. Fixing something with our own hands, taking a walk around our own land, sharing a meal as a family, harvesting rainwater.  We have never felt so full.  With this joy, it has been easier to let go of my lists and schedules as each weekend we have laid out to work on our home, something will come of it.  No time is wasted and eventually we will live in our dream home.  In the meantime however, I will embrace living in the "Earthship time zone" and soak up the happiness that lies in the small things.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Other Miscellaneous Updates:
  • We ended up purchasing the ErgoTamp (pneumatic tamping device that cuts the tire pounding time from 40-60 minutes a tire to 5-10 minutes)
  • We have put all of our items from our old home into storage so that it will be ready to be rented out within the next month hopefully... goodbye money pit!
  • We are looking into purchasing a walk-behind compactor instead of renting one for use throughout the construction.  Our plan would be to sell it when we're done.  We're so sick of putting out gobs of money and would rather try to recoup some of our investment at the close of our build.
This weekend, we'll continue working on the berm and laying out the fourth course of tires.  Our hope is to be able to begin compacting the berm within the next couple of weekends.  If you're interested in coming out to volunteer for a FREE skill building weekend, please email us to set up a date!