Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 Dreaming ...

This year we have been dreaming of taking our permaculture design to a new level. We spent most of the last 12 years putting the core of our design in place, but there were several large elements that we didn’t get around to starting, and many, many details were left unfinished. This was not a bad approach as it gave us time to observe and assess how everything worked so far. We have now developed quite a large list of modifications and new projects that we are planning to start in 2011. It will be another busy year but we are excited by the thought that more elements of our permaculture plan will come to fruition. (Many of these projects were on our drawing board back in the 1990’s, so we have been very patient.)

Somewhere to park the car
We have a garage attached to our house. However for the last 10 years we have used it for a multitude
of other uses and the car only ever got a look in once. The garage space is just too convenient a workspace, so it has become a workshop where we house our tools and the materials that we need on hand. Our solution is to build a steel shed where we can keep our car and trailer parked undercover. However like most of our infrastructure it will have many more functions as well. We will attach our woodshed to it (see below), have extra storage areas and in the future we may use part of it for milking goats. The fact that it is 20m from the house and made of steel, means that in a fire situation, our cars will be under cover and we can store fuels away from the house. The cars will also be protected from hail damage. We have applied for the planning permit (a ridiculously convoluted and complicated process) and hope to commence building in the next few months.
The garage turned into an Art Gallery
New Woodshed
We have a wood combustion stove and wood heater, and soon will be the proud owners of a stationery steam engine that runs on wood fuel. (More on this in a future post.) Our existing woodshed is not quite big enough to develop a system where we can continuously store enough dry wood to run these three appliances. At present when we add more wood to our woodshed we have to shift the existing pile forward so we can add wood at the back, which gives it some time to completely dry out before we use it. We will relocate the woodshed to the side of the above garage and develop a system that ensures a continuous supply of dry wood.

Our existing woodshed
The hothouse will be relocated north of the new garage. This site is a bit more protected from wind, and allows us to water the plants with rainwater collected off the new garage roof. We can use the existing hothouse site to grow more nut trees and/or create an area for goats to graze.

Relocation of our solar system
The panels will stay where they are but we will shift the inverter and batteries down next to the house. This will necessitate the laying of a heavy cable but we will maximise the use of the trench digger, by laying electric cables to outbuildings so they can have an electrical supply.
Having the batteries and inverter under shelter and close by, will enable better monitoring, ease of maintenance, better security and should ensure they have a longer life. They will also be adjacent to our new steam engine setup, allowing for 24v input directly into the batteries.

Access Tracks
Our 400m driveway has coped very well over the past decade, but after the recent heavy rains it is in desperate need of rejuvenation. The main need is a grading of the surface to reform the camber and clearing out the gutters on each side. Regrowth after Black Saturday is seriously encroaching on both sides of the drive. Whilst we have the equipment on site we will also upgrade the access track to the solar panels. A non-flammable driveway surface will create a firebreak around the solar panels and improve our ability to hold back a fire on this side of the property should we ever need to do so again. This track would also provide vehicle access to our zone 2 gardens.

Interpretation Centre
We originally obtained building and planning permits to redevelop our old barn several years ago, but other events prevented us moving ahead with the project. So this is probably the biggest of all the jobs we have on our list and this year we hope to get the concrete slab in place and perhaps start infilling the mud brick walls.

Our list of dreams continues in the next post.....


HAZEL said...

That all sounds so, so exciting. it will be fun to watch it unfold. It also makes my little outdoor living area with a pizza oven seem like a doddle.

Vibe said...

Guess what??! We are dreaming too! By next year if all goes well, we could be in a position to buy a little bit of land and start our own self sustainable lifestyle type of organic farm!

Andrew and Heather said...

Thanks for the comments Hazel & Vibe.
We are not sure what a doddle is Hazel, but if you already have an outdoor area with a pizza oven you have us drooling. In the next post you will see that we hope to put a pizza oven under our verandah too. Perhaps we can swap recipes when we get ours up and running.

It is great to hear about your dream Vibe and we look forward to hearing how it all unfolds. We don’t know about you, but just having the dream in our heads is exciting. We are already enjoying sitting under our verandah and watching the night skies ... in our heads.

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