During the last two years we have been getting our electricity from our solar system which was a big help in getting things done. In the end it is much easier to use a table saw and chop saw and all the other electrical tools than doing absolutely everything by hand.
After having lived without electricity for a year in 2013 and getting a very small and simple system later on, we learned so much about our energy usage. With the awareness we gained we realized that we wanted to live with electricity being a luxury and not a necessity. We learned that every energy producing solution has an impact on our planets environment and that energy conservation is a key factor of sustainable living.
We can now really appreciate the bigger solar system we have since the spring of 2015. Big reason that we were able to get it was the support of Kevin Pegg from Energy Alternatives who helped us with setting up our system and even donated batteries to us. It wouldn’t have been possible without his help.
Kevin knows what he is talking about and if you are interested in alternative energy solutions check out his web site and/or give him a call. http://www.energyalternatives.ca/
Summer came and went, and with it a bunch of our volunteers. Thanks everybody! We put up some walls, making it look something more like a building inside. The glass bottles added a nice touch and some much needed light in the back library room (perhaps better as a movie room… we shall see). The floors got leveled and tamped, insulated with foam, topped up with some sand, and then leveled and tamped again. They look great and we had a dance party in August to help tamp them down some more (not sure if we just made the cob walls dustier, but who can really tell?)
The rocket mass heater is pretty much finished thanks to Martin, our rocket engineer. More on that to come.
We have a solar pump now which pumps up water from the pond to a tank on the hill
that gravity feeds the garden, and soon to be hugelculture beds. Lots of rotten logs were collected and loaded up in our little quad trailer for the hugel beds, as well as lots of manure from our generous neighbors next door. The quad trailer suffered a little from the heavy loads and mishaps on our driveway, but with some care it shouldn’t be fatal.
Although the soil in the field is nothing to be ecstatic about, our garden did fairly well,
and we had lots of squash and hopefully lots of onions and carrots for the winter. We used the earthship greenhouse and just put everything in large pots since we don’t have greywater beds yet. The cucumbers were fruitful although short lived, and the tomatoes seen to still be going strong.
Chris is proud of his sea serpent for the building above the rootcellar.
Some nice chainsaw artwork there. We had a volunteer carpenter, Tom, who did a lot of work on that building, occasionally assisted by others. The building is meant to be a woodshed with a pulley dumbwaiter to lower bulk items like wood and potatoes into the rootcellar hallway.
Kale wrote a grant for an earthship greenhouse in the nearby reserve of Glen Vowell or Sik-e-Dakh and has been working hard on that all year. With some help from local volunteers in Glen Vowell and others, they successfully demolished an old hall that sat on the site and are reusing a lot of the materials for the greenhouse. Some more tire pounding and seven stories later, they are ready to start framing. With any luck, there will be all sorts of food growing in there next year for the community of Sik-e-Dakh.
And on the wild food end, we jarred another winters supply of salmon
this year and managed to clean out the smokehouse of garden supplies in time to smoke a few fish. We also got oodles of blueberries and huckleberries, and chose to freeze and dry a lot rather than just have jam, although we made a lot of jam too 🙂
And now the mushrooms are out, mainly pines, and we’ve been finding, eating, and selling them.
We are open to adding more members to the community, so if you want to be a part of envisioning and creating this project, check out our vision and send us a message.
There are sure to be more things we did that aren’t mentioned, but that’s about the jist of it.
Oops, we’re a little late to be writing about Spring, it’s almost summer here now. We got chickens again, tilled up some new land for potatoes and garden beds in front of the earthship, built an herb spiral, did some major clean up around the property, went mushroom picking, and built a sauna. Community members are very satisfied with the sauna. No better way to relax after a hard day than to meditate and trash talk in the sauna and then jump in the pond.
Today we officially moved back into the outdoor kitchen. Apart from the old, smoky, and somewhat jankety wood stove, it looks great.
Planting will continue in the next weeks as we try to fulfill a lot of our food needs with foraged and grown food.
We are gearing up for our volunteer camp in June and July to continue work on the earthship. Chris has done some nice work on the siding and now that we have all moved back outside, the earthship construction will begin again. Still looking for volunteers if you are interested! We have a lot of cob to do, framing for the house, pentagon, and root cellar, and the floor to lay. Below is an invite to the camp.
We wrote this in the winter and sent it out but unfortunately many people told us they did not receive it. So here it is!
Jan 5, 2015
TCUP here wanting to say thank you to all you volunteers who came out over the past year and helped make our dream into a reality. Now that dayllight is down to about 8 hours a day, we have slowed down for the winter we are snuggled up in the upstairs of the Earthship! We have been reflecting
on all the work that had to be done to get here, and feeling gratitude for those who have helped us. We couldn’t have done it without you.
The slow times of winter are appreciated and we have been taking advantage of the slower pace and working on TCUP visioning and planning. We have acquired a kitten and have two fires burning in the woodstoves to help make our amazing new home homey and a balmy 12 degrees inside while it is -20 degrees outside.
Timber has been inspired to carve spoons and other kitchen items while hiding away inside. Sweet gum has crocheted some shorts and skated on the pond for the first time after some shovelling. Kale is enjoying winter(snow!!!) and trying to spend as much time in the mountains as possible. Martin is working and hankering to design our whole permaculture paradise. Carl is off visiting family in Quebec. Flap Jack is out in the mountains gearing up to set up a trap line. And dear old Darren has moved to Old Town for the near future and hopes to work on making the cabin his home in the spring.
Well that’s about it for us. Hope you all are doing well, wherever you are. We miss ya’ll! Come out this summer and help us finish the earthship if you are in the area or feel so inclined.
Lots of love from TCUP!
The Common Unity Project
It’s a mad-dash to get ready for winter here. First was the roof, which is complete except the gutters and some windows. Now we’re nailing up salvaged plywood, shoving shredded news paper (cellulose) insulation into the wall cavities, and doing landscaping to drain water away from the house. We hope to get two stoves installed this week, and move into the upstairs before the big freeze. It’s good motivation to get your house built when the alternative is sleeping outside in the cold. We’re busy bees getting our Hive ready for the winter.
The garlic has been planted, over 3000 cloves, and now, alas, we have to say goodbye to our chickens, for they’ve been pecking around and taking dirt baths in the garlic beds. We didn’t plan to have chickens over the winter anyway, but now that the time is come, we are sad to see them go. Some of us, anyway.
The garden is coming to a close, we’ve collected the last of the squash and tomatoes and all the seeds we can handle. Now we will be collecting leaves for mulch.
After walking in the forest to enjoy the fall leaves, we’ve come back out into the field to see an outline of a house in the distance. Who would have known. It’s starting to look like a home.
Thanks to all the volunteers for making this happen. We’ve had a lot of great help this summer, some of whom can be seen in Maloud and Chente’s video. And this week, we will be saying goodbye to our longest standing volunteer, Ems, who has been with us since April. Goodbye, thanks, and come again!
Unbelievable as it seems, we finally finished the tire wall on the 10th row…only to find out that we’d gone too high and had to undo a whole course of tires – a bit of an anticlimax! Still, we got over it pretty quickly once we realized we wouldn‘t have to pound tires anymore and would be moving on to other jobs – and with a timber framing workshop and a truckload of concrete all happening in the same week there has been plenty to do. We’ve dug holes, built forms, cut, bent and tied what seems like miles of rebar, as well as put our new cobbing skills to good use to fill in gaps between the tires.
Summer seems to have arrived in the garden all of a sudden, and we’re gorging ourselves on berries from the garden and the wild every day.
We extracted a bucket of honey from the hives, and we’re definitely enjoying all the bees hard work! It’s been hot and sunny for weeks and there’s nothing better at the end of a dusty work day than an ice-cold swim in the creek, followed by pizza cooked in the cob oven and an evening with friends playing music by the fire.
This week is the timber frame workshop, so we’ve got a dozen extra people in camp and power tools running all day. Some beautiful pieces of wood for The Hive are emerging already.
After weeks of sun, it started raining on Monday and hasn’t really stopped, which has put a bit of a dampener on our concrete-pouring plans. We’re ready and raring to go, so now it’s just a waiting game…oh well, we might as well put our feet up and watch an epic sunset or two while we wait.
Timber for root cellar with their pins
Entryway to the root cellar!
Hot day in the kitchen!
So our summer tire pounding volunteers have arrived and after one month we’ve dug a drainage ditch, covered it back up, dug out another ditch for the tire course, covered that back up with gravel, pounded 4 courses of tires complete with vapor barrier, insulation, and backfill. We took a little break to make a cob oven, learn about rocket stoves, and beef up Mr Rocket (see picture). And all the while the garden is going strong, though a little neglected. The haskap cuttings from last year have sprung up, the broccoli transplants look promising despite the deer nipplings, the potatoes are finally in the ground, and we have some new beds of raspberries and strawberries by the pond. We moved the bees to be closer to us in the field, and after some angry adjusting, they seem to be taking to their new spot. Time to take out honey soon! We could use some more hands on the tire wall as some of our dear volunteers leave soon, shoot us a message if you’re interested! Also, the permaculture design and mapping course is this weekend with a free intro to permaculture session Friday evening at Senden Agriculture Center, 6-8pm.
oven in making
get in there
stomping on cob
bench has begun!
learnin bout rockets