Sunday, 13 September 2009

Six months in .. but not in yet.

Here's the current view of the lawn and chicken run, from the living room.

Just been musing that it's now been six months since the shell of the house went up.

We've been pretty busy since then (and also frequently pulled away from the build to do other things). Sam has been doing great work, but morale does wane at times - it really is a lot of work for just the two of us (and just him doing heavy work). Guess I might have been a bit over ambitious and quite optimistic. We are really quite tired by now - but it is still all worth it.

Some things have gone really well, like making new friends, playing in the polytunnel, and eating from it, of course. One of the best things has been having the chickens and ducks, especially now they are free ranging. They are a constant source of amusement, whether they are using the remains of the sand pile as a giant dust bath, chasing insects across the lawn or trying to sneakily gain entry to the tunnel. The chickens have really come on since we first got them. Their faces have great colour now, their beaks are now brown (rather than white) and have grown back and their feathers are improving really well. See for yourself.

Here's a pic of the bed by the tunnel, the sunflowers are the same variety as those in the tunnel in the last post. The wind has been quite fierce at times, (hence the sunflowers are not 11ft tall like in the tunnel), even over the summer, so much so that I'm considering using windbreak netting.

People have been telling me recently how getting the shell up is the 'easy' bit .. and it is after that when the costs really soar. I can well understand what they mean. It can be frightening how money disappears (and there's always something I forgot to budget for).

One thing we had planned on was using renewable energy, preferably by being off-grid, using a hybrid wind and solar system combined with a battery bank. That plan for electricity from renewables had to be shelved and leaves us now having to wait a minimum of three months to get conneted to the ESB (grid). So, it will be an interesting time ahead with just the generator for a while longer (was ok in summer with long days, may be more challenging in winter). There may even be a time when we have to stop the build until the electric is connected. Fingers crossed we'll manage ok. (The solar hot water needs electricity to work so we'll only have cold water for a while longer). At least the wood burning stove is now ready for action.

Eventually, we'll get some renewables for electricity.

We'd originally planned to be 'in' by September and although we aren't there yet, it is getting ever closer (I daren't say a deadline, let alone go for the 'we'll be in by Christmas' idea).

For now, there is a rumor that Sam might just get the toilet plumbed in soon :)

While the good weather stays we'll also be busy plastering the outside. Pictures next time.

polytunnel progress and more roof antics

Here's a taster of what is going on in the polytunnel these days. Thankfully the squashes are starting to lose their insistence on scambling over the paths but they are producing grand fruits now, like this pumpkin potimarron.

The russian mammoth sunflowers are living up to their name and have reahed the top of the tunnel and have tree trunks for stems.

Of ourse, I am starting off more seeds, to fill gaps left by peas and brassicas (see the 'blue banana' squash growing along the bench - good in risotto so I hear .. I'll remember to invite a large crowd for dinner that night!)

The butternut squash are a bit behind. Fingers crossed they'll cath up.

My best surprise has been the green nutmeg melon - we have four, hidden behind brocolli and so unattended, but they've done fine and are very tasty - even ripened well and are even sweet.

Corn on the cob is fab too.

Brassias were ridiculously large, especially the leaves, but all came through with good heads in the end.

Of course, we've not been without incident. Last week my pop corn got badly infested with aphids (I swear I hadn't seen any the day before) which took some time and effort to sort (washing up liquid and brutality).

Also. outside the polytunnel, the pond has some sort of green gloop. Not quite sure what it is, but will feed it to the compost heap.

In the house there has been some progress.

Here is the ceiling starting to go up.

Here, Sam starts making holes in the roof again ...

... to fit the flue for the stove (note the re-appearance of Neil, our able helper back for more punishment)

Here's Sam on the roof, removing tiles.

Now, job done, saluting his fine erection .. of the flue.