I have been a lurker here on The Sietch for a couple years ever since I started thinking about alternative building and alternative energy and began seraching the net for any and all information on the issues. Recently my wife and I have taken the plunge and settled on a house plan, design and philosophy. We are building a smallish (<1200sf) two story strawbale home using a hybrid stickframe technique and unique passive solar design. Our main source of active heating will be from an EPA woodstove and standing deadwood from the family woodlot. This dry seasoned wood has been propped up in the woods since Hurricane Juan made the marathon trek up to Atlantic Canada and devasted many of our non hurricane environemnt trees. We are hoping to build a house that is comfortable, inviting, low consumption and built to last while using local and low pollutant causing materials. And we hope to inspire and educate others by hosting free informational and hands on workshops to those interested in learning and helping us out all along the construction process, and as we are building 95% of the house ourselves, the help will be needed!
We have also committed ourselves to a few sub-projects that we are going to try and perfect and implement into our house such as a chest fridge (some of you may be familiar with Tom Chalko’s example from his page and as reported on Treehugger.com) with a custom rack system to make the low chest orientation easier to deal with. We are also going to be using some reclaimed glazing units from a local office building construction site that were being discarded as they were ordered the wrong size. Finally I am working on some convenience projects for my Dad’s off grid cabin such as a water ram pump to bring up water from a nearby stream and a solar water heater for dishwashing purposes.
Our second longterm goal is to raise organic vegetables and perhaps goat and/or sheep on our 3 acre lot along with apples, pears, plums and peaches and setup a food sharing cooperative with the local rural community. There are already hobby scale meat chickenand duck producers in the neighborhood and some other veggie growers, we hope to expand the idea so that by sharing what you grow you get to sharing in everyone else’s harvests and thus have fresh local seasonal food most of the year.
Finally, we want to eventually quit our day jobs and open a campground/nature retreat and teach people about growing their own food, respecting nature and thinking about the connected systems of the earth that connect all we are and do.
I hope my contributions make a difference to some few people out there!