Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Officially introducing SoySauce

SoySauce McSmooshins is the kitten for whom we installed a cat area to the pet shed. Here she is, in all her cuteness:

SoySauce sitting on her patio (or would it be a catio?)

SoySauce's interests include purring, pouncing on anything that moves, playing with her buddy Katniss, and sleeping on shoulders:

SoySauce on BA's shoulder

SoySauce's current location (HA's shoulder)

Meanwhile, in more BaHa Ranch news, Katniss (AKA Katnips) hasn't got a clue that she's bigger than Xena. Which is probably a good thing.

Xena exerting her alpha-dogness

And Xena has stopped trying to eat the cat. Which is definitely a good thing.

Xena not attempting to feast on SoySauce, allowing
for a brief moment of inter-species snuggling.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Little Things Make A Big Difference

Below is rain catcher 1 located on the pet shed. After the last rain we had, it and all others are full. My neighbor caught 5000 gallons in one day.

Below is the grey water 300 gallon water catcher. The barrel beside it is also full from the last rain. 
As you can also see, we had satellite internet installed. It is really expensive out here compared to the city.

Instead of doors, we used curtains we already had for the bathroom and bedroom doors. Once the connecting box is in place, we will install wood doors.

The first shed I built is now converted into an indoor/outdoor living area. It is screened in to keep the Texas Mosquitoes out.

Left side of shed.

Right side of shed. We tiled the floor to keep out bugs, and to keep it cool.

Here is a new shelf that I built from looking at an IKEA one. This is in the kitchen area.

- BA

New Little Things To Make It A Home-For Pets

This is a converted shed that we made into a dog and cat house. We used old drawers and left over wood to make a cat bed, food box and a ramp to a kitty door. The dog has her own door on the bottom floor. The kitten's name is Soy Sauce. We found Khalisee a good home and kept Katniss. It is too much to train two big dogs.

The outside we built steps leading up to the ledge for the cat with her own tree to climb from dead Madrone trees.

- BA

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why we love it.

It's rare, but sometimes people ask us, "Why Hill Country? What's so special about it?" Of course, we only get asked this by people who are not familiar with Hill Country...

There are about a million reasons why we love it. It's not far from Austin or San Antonio, where you can find just about anything that you're looking for, but Hill Country is a destination in itself. There are a ton of tourist destinations in the area. There are bed-and-breakfasts with homemade soaps in the bathrooms and candy on the pillows. There are little cafes with live music and foo-foo desserts. There are hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants with the best food this side of the border. There are olive orchards, vineyards, farmer's markets, historical sites, museums, rivers, lakes, quirky artists, cowboys, musicians, hippies, bikers, wildflowers, rodeos, carnivals, concerts, festivals, trade days, old courthouses, friendly people, big skies, beautiful sunsets, and...the list goes on and on.

Then there's the fact that the first time we got out of our car and stepped onto the land that would become BaHa Ranch, we both knew instantly that we had come home.

But pictures speak louder than words, so here are a few pictures of one of our favorite places in Hill Country- the Pedernales river:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Helpful Websites for Green Living from BA

Below are a couple of helpful websites that we used on our project so far.

I have also tiled the kitchen and living room floor, and re-tiled the shower floor.
I will add those pics next week. I added a door sweep to the front door that installs over the bottom of the door to keep water out, as well as one on the front of the door at the bottom. We have been getting sideways rain coming in. The 500 BTU window a/c unit is not very useful, go for the bigger one. We will be using it in the shed for the dogs.
I also installed gutters and a barrel on each of the two sheds to catch rain water.

Septic System
This is a great idea, as long as it is acceptable to the county and you can install your own.
click to enlarge (20)

Wind Turbine
The hub with the blades attached

- BA

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lost and Found in Cow Town

This is a new resident that I found on the way from Fort Worth to the Land. Some Jack*** left them in the median on highway 35. I had to rescue them, then we got attached. This one's name is Khaleesi from Game of Thrones.

This one we named Katniss from The Hunger Games. My wife loves both of the sets of novels.
These dogs are going to be huge. We were worried they would not get along with Xena, she is good with them.  - BA

New Photos of the inside living area

This is a current view of the living area facing the double doors. We put up 3/4 plywood on the doors to insulate the room, and hung thermal curtains. Instead of purchasing a shelf I liked from IKEA, I make one out of left over wood. 

This is the view of the front door which is solid wood. I recommend  having at least two people to move this. I purchased this at Habitat Restore for about $40.

This is our fridge and appliance set up until we add the other boxes. They are sitting on an IKEA Varde stand I purchased in their close-out area. The fridge I bought online from an auction site. - BA

BA's Plumbing Update

This is the Pressure Tank and water heater I purchased from Sears outlet online. They were new in box at a heck of a deal. The pump is on the left from Harbor Freight at $119 minus the 20% off coupon. TIP: purchase the insider track club membership from Harbor Freight, it will save you tons of money. I purchased a 2000 watt inverter for $89.

Above is the cistern from Tanks for Less on the left. On the right is the shower I need to finish. If you have any suggestions for the ceiling, let us know.We love your feedback. I had to purchase sand to place under the cistern to level it.

Until last week, I did not know how to plumb a house. With the aid from neighbors, great ones at that, I was able to connect our new 2500 gallon cistern to a Harbor Freight 1 HP pump, a 38 gallon pressure tank, and a 20 gallon water heater. Unfortunately I listened to the Home Depot person first, which cost me a day of work, and more money than I needed to spend. When my neighbors came to help, I took back all of the PEX and Sharkbite fittings to Home Depot and purchased regular 1 inch schedule 40 PVC and all the attachments at 1/4 of the cost of the other stuff. Don't waste your time on the expensive stuff. Also, when buying plumbing materials, buy extra. It will save you from making 3 trips to Ace hardware, and 3 trips to Home Depot like I did.  Of course there were some minor dripping at places that was easy to fix. There is a place where the cold water line to the house, from the cistern is leaking. I am blaming that on Blanco Electric and Plumbing since they are the ones who decided to install mobile home tubing instead of PVC for the house. Now, I am having them come back out to fix the leak. It it hard to go from that type of tubing to PVC. I purchased the cistern for $884 plus $70 shipping from Tanks for Less out of Austin Texas. Great company. They also had the 2 inch to 3/4 inch connector that I needed that Home Depot did not have. I was also able to wire the water heater up after trial and error, and a smart neighbor. Next, I plan on building a shed to protect all of these things from reclaimed wood from the concrete blocks we had built. I was able to take a real shower last week. It was awesome. There is a lot of little things that I have to do inside and out. Make it easy on yourself and keep a running list. Mine keeps getting bigger and bigger. Next we have to install a window and a skylight in the bathroom, make a way to open the double doors and attach the wood to them, build a tire wall to house one side of the septic system, install a real toilet, finish some tile on the shower, do something with the bathroom ceiling and closet, attach some more trim boards, paint the ceiling, and tile the kitchen back-splash. Whooo! I am going to be busy. All this and working full time and going to grad school for a teacher's certification. They do say that once you have a house, the work is never done. - BA

Monday, June 25, 2012

Deer in the Headlights

Here are some pics of deer recently feeding on our land.
I am excited for October, goin' to be a good season.

Below is the spike that likes to eat twice a day.
 Below is an 8 point buck

Below are the two 8 pointers

 - BA

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Updates from BA

Shower Time-If your wife or significant other tells you to hire a tile person, DO IT! This was the hardest part so far of the entire project. I will pay someone for the master shower next time. For those of you who think you can do this kind of house building on your own, I would consider the already pre fab shipping containers ready to go. It might cost twice as much as we have spent, but it would be worth it. Start out with a prefab, and then add on yourself. I still have 3 pieces of tile to put in, as well as the skylight and the ceiling. I am not looking forward to it.

Taking Time Out To Play-
As a bow hunter, it is impartible that we keep up our archery skills for the Zombie Apocalypse. Here are some pics of some fun activities on the ranch. If anyone knows where to get cheap mannequins, please let us know. I want to have a Zombie Archery Range. Ohh, what fun!

I had just got the deer to come eat at our feeder filled with yummy protein, when the wind knocked it down and took out the timer and the solar charger. Look at my post to come this weekend with pics of the great deer we have, as well as some local critters. I will be fixing the feeder in the next couple of weeks. I think I will also put out water for them. We have two 8 point bucks, two 6 point bucks, a spike, and 3 does. I will also post a you tube video on how to make a wind turbine, solar water heater, which I built this trip, and one on homeade septic system building. Check back soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It’s not easy being Green.

Kermit the Frog was right. Really, it’s not easy being Green.

First of all, getting home insurance has been a huge hassle. It’s not like we have any expensive antiques or fancy jewelry, but if we lose what we’ve built so far, then we lose everything we have. So we need home insurance.

Here’s what we found out: innovation is not looked upon kindly by insurance companies. We keep hearing what a great thing it is that we’re doing – building our home ourselves, figuring out how to do things, recycling when we can – but we were turned down by several of the big companies because we weren’t using a general contractor or following a traditional plan for building.

So praise God for Germania! We are now insured as a homestead/small farm. The representative who came out to assess BaHa Ranch was very interested in our project and loved the idea of a container home. He said that we were paving the way for insurance companies to come up with some type of standard for insuring homes like ours, because more and more people will be building this way in the future.

Secondly, it’s not easy being green because of these little guys:

I don’t particularly want scorpions in the house, nor does BA. Outside, they’re fine. We moved into their territory, after all. However, cohabitation with these little creatures is just not going to work out. If anyone knows of a chemical-free way to keep them out of the house, please let me know! We found three scorpions inside Box 1 and launched an all-out chemical attack with some kind of pest spray inside and some kind of granules outside around the perimeter.

Third, it’s not easy being green because of the lack of information on how to do the projects that we need to do. We asked for advice once at the help desk at Home Depot – advice on how to combine two used windows into one space and mount them in wood on a metal box – and the Home Depot guy said “Oh, we’re not allowed to give advice on anything weird like that.” Now, to be fair, this was a Home Depot in Dallas that we went to prior to moving. The help we’ve received at the Home Depot in Dripping Springs has been absolutely wonderful, but the point is, everyone is just guessing with us because no one has any experience on how to build a container home.  But hey, at least in Hill Country, they try to help us out.  

Fourth (and here’s the biggest conundrum of all), we want to help the planet heal by cutting way down on the amount of natural resources that we consume, and moving to the country has been a big, big part of that, but now that we’re in the country, we have to use more gas to get anywhere!  In Dallas, we could walk to several places, and a short drive gave us plenty of choices for shopping, entertainment, etc. Now, we have to drive everywhere. We’re trying to conserve gas by combining errands, shopping at local farmers’ markets, and planning routes in advance, but I still feel guilty every time I start the car.
Peaches from local farm

So no, it’s not easy being green, but it’s worth the effort. Some things are getting easier as we get used to them, like conserving water to a fanatical degree, using the least amount of electricity possible (our electricity bill was $33 this month - and most of that was from tools we were using for construction), holding my nose when I empty the greywater tank, filling the solar water tank for our showers, taking all the lights outside daily to charge – it just becomes routine.

And we’ve settled into a routine now that is perfectly doable. We have everything we need, for the moment, and we’re done spending money for a while. The only other projects that we’d like to get done by the end of this summer are:

1.        A septic tank (because the RV toilet is a routine that we just can’t tolerate for much longer)

2.       A large water tank and pump (because right now we have to take our five-gallon water containers to town and fill them up about once a week)

3.       Paint for the ceiling (which is the only thing, cosmetically, that isn’t finished yet on the inside)

And hopefully that will be it for a while!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another quick update...

Here I am on a borrowed computer once again. The internet seems to be a rare bird in our neck of the woods - most people use air cards or satellite internet, so we're still trying to decide what kind of service would be best for us. I somehow got grout in my eye this morning, but I'm such a trouper that I'm going to post a quick update for ya'll anyway.

The bedroom, with it's bright bird and tree theme.

I painted the kitchen wall to match the smaller wall of the living room.

I added sticky vinyl floor tiles to the sink counter to further waterproof it.

BA building our Ikea kitchen cabinet, after assembling and mounting our fold-out table (on the wall in front of him).
Say what you like about Ikea, but they do know how to design for small spaces!

Smallest closet I've ever had (and I have to share it with BA!)

Living room

My carpet from Habitat.

The Ikea cabinet.

Used records from Half-Price Books. BA did this, and I love love love it!

Other side of cabinet.

My purple, black-out, insulated curtains.

The rug brings it all together!
And that's it for now! I'm logging off this borrowed computer - we're at a barbeque at my father-in-law's house, and I don't want to seem antisocial! I'll post more when I can...