At some point we will begin posting more regularly, but for now we feel just guilty enough to post updates occasionally.
This spring and summer was an exercise in patience as we slowly tackled the last remaining items on our building permit. We had some options on some of the items and some interesting discussions about how to address them.
One of the biggest items on the list was our responsibility for decommissioning the Nutshell. When we sold our previous property and paid off all our debts we decided to renovate the office on our business property and live there while we planned what we were going to do. Our business property is zoned for a dwelling so this 600 square foot became our home, for much longer than we anticipated.
When we applied for the permit to build the earthship ten feet away from the Nutshell, we had to sign a declaration that we would decommission the Nutshell, in essence, our zoning allowed for only one dwelling, not two.
There were different ways to do this. We could simply disconnect the services from the Nutshell. This would be the electrical connection, the water lines and the septic. By doing this, the Nutshell would be an auxiliary building and we could cross this off our list.
However, the Nutshell was smack-dab in the way of our southern exposure and although it was only January when we were discussing this, we decided we wanted the sunshine over the coming months.
So down it came.
We were committed to recycling and reusing the materials that came out of the Nutshell so the process was a lot slower than it could have been. There was a lot of useable insulation that we gave away and some boards that were in fabulous shape. Some we gave to family for project, but most we are keeping as we build other components of the earthship. We removed every single nail and screw in the building and collected them in buckets. Not only did we not want to injure ourselves later, the Nutshell was situated right in the middle of what will be our front yard and we didn’t want to be picking nails out of our garden for the next 20 years.
This took us months to demolish, much longer than we wanted. But it was completed and we moved on to other items.
These included: guarding the stairs into the earthship. Because our planters are empty and about 3′ deep, the drop from the top step exceeded code requirements so we used lumber from the Nutshell to make the nicest ugly stairs we could. We also had to guard the planters on both ends of the earthship (the one behind the kitchen sink was guarded by the pony wall the appliances stand against.). Instead of hand rails around the planter walls, we built a false floor and covered them with plywood. All material from the Nutshell. We also had to finish paperwork. Chris, as the engineer, had to submit final schedules for the building. We installed an island range hood as per code. We spent about $400 on this as we could not find one used.
We are now finishing the flashing on the front operable windows and have to do the same for the east and west door openings.
We are getting close. Life happens all around us. Katie and Helen have become interested in acting in a big way and have together been in several films and live-stage productions. I took part in the Tough Mudder in Whistler in June after training for 6 months through winter and early spring. Chris completed a spring triathlon in early May and July 1st we took the kids and hiked the West Coast Trail.
We are talking a lot about how to begin earning our income closer to home. We see the rush of expenditures slowing down on the earthship once we clear the permit. Chris is talking about sustainable energy proejcts again like gasification and solar hot water systems. These are things that really turn his crank and if he can make a reasonable income from this we can move back to working closer to where we live. I am in the midst of writing a very short ebook and another rather longer e-book and I am not sure when I will finish these. We are talking about new methods of intensive gardening within the parameters of permaculture. We are learning a lot about hugelkulture and starting to get excited about having a garden again, as our raised beds were right in demolition zone this year.
Chris has embarked on a conservation project and has reduced our electrical consumption from 42 KWH per day to between 17 and 22. We still have a ways to go before we start to consider how and when we want to move off-grid. I think we have decided one of the fastest ways to reduce electrical consumption is to institute a solar hot water system to the earthship.
The kids keep getting older! We are trying to focus on family time these next few years and to do all the things we talked about doing “when the kids were older”. That time has come with startling swiftness.
We have lots of photos posted on our FB page, The Darfield Earthship. I am still using my severely disabled computer so I cannot upload photos. We also have three teenagers and limited internet….so uploading photos usually has to wait until we are piggybacked on somebody else’s connection. Here’s the link if you would like to see photos…there’s an album specifically for photos about getting rid of the permit and demolishing the Nutshell. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Darfield-Earthship/144283802260961