Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Companion Planting

I came across an article from Mother Earth News on companion planting today. The idea seems to be instead of planting things to "drive away" certain insects, plant items that attract birds and other insects that will eat the problem pests. I'm planning to plant cream peas and okra this summer so I'm thinking I'll plant some sunflowers with them and see how things work out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Exterior Panels

First off, here is an article that I LOVE that someone shared on Facebook about a guy who lived in LA and NYC and moved out to the West Texas desert to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. It's so inspiring to see people who live in the desert succeeding.

I'm so excited!!! We finished drying in the house this past weekend minus the front door and plastic covered windows. We'll start buying those in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, this weekend we bought some exterior insulation for the house that will eventually be covered by metal siding. We also got gable vents for the attic, a breaker box for the electrical, electrical sockets, and a chain saw so Tony can spend this coming weekend cutting down trees for the electric company so they can run their lines. In case of rain I wanted to make sure that we didn't lose any more time, so now we have interior projects we can fall back on with the interior electrical and plumbing equipment.

On Saturday, Bubba helped us finish the last couple of rows of insulated panels on the roof and put on a roof cap. Here's the roof cap and roof. Next step will be to get the green metal roof panels. Not sure how soon we'll do that.

Here are the other insulated panels we got for the walls. We decided not to go with the same panels we used on the roof because it takes so much time to put them up and they are fiberglass which is a pain to cut. We itched so badly the past couple of weeks from them. Cost wise they worked out about the same, they just don't have the same structural benefit the SIPs (structural insulated panels) as what we used on the roof. The house is structrually sound though so we figured we didn't really need the extra "stability".
A close up of the panel, it's just a thick foam with the company logo sheeting on one side and aluminum foil on the other. If you are doing a brick or stone exterior the foil side is placed facing out to reflect the heat that the brick and stone absorb. For other exteriors the foil is placed facing inward to reflect the heat or air conditioning back inside depending upon the time of year.
We also got the 2nd living room window put up. These windows make me happy. I'm estimating that just from the windows and sinks that Tony's mom and step-dad have given us that they salvaged from past home improvements and real estate remodels they've saved us at least $1k.
Gable vents installed on each side of the house and gables sealed off.

Putting up the exterior wall insulation. In the distance you can also see all the smoke from the grass fires that broke out all over Oklahoma between Friday and Sunday. This was on Sunday before it started raining that night.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I'm dying to get my hands dirty and start gardening, but anything I plant here in Texas I won't be able to harvest before we move to Oklahoma and anything I plant in Oklahoma I'm not there to tend. I plan on starting cream peas (similar to black-eyed peas) and okra once we're in Oklahoma since they love the heat, and it occurred to me today to start a few herbs that I can easily take with me.

I know I've mentioned before that I am interested in square foot gardening and in Oklahoma it will be our only option since we'll be living on a mountain. I have a book I've been reading, but today I came across an article that broke the info I've been searching for down to the bare bones and it's so unbelievably easy it's mind blowing. http://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/natural-landscaping/square-foot-gardening.aspx

Basically I'm going to need a mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 blended compost. From there if plants say to thin to 12", 1 plant goes into a square. From there plants to be thinned to 6" get 4 per square, 4" gets 9 per square, and 3" get 16 per square.

Now I'm trying to decide if I want to do long rows or 6 to 8 - 4'x4' boxes... Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The ugly panels are back!

So it's been a while since I made an update. There hasn't been anything dramatic to show over the past month, so I thought I'd wait until I had something significant to post. There was also all the cold weather in February that made it hard to get any work done but now that things are starting to warm up we're seeing progress.

Davis Buildings in Stigler finally had some insulated panels in stock that we've been waiting on so I picked them up Friday and we got most of the roof done last weekend. Quinton & Diane's son, Bubba (Quinton Jr.), was a tremendous help getting the panels laid. I'm extremely grateful for him. This coming weekend we'll finish the roof panels and get started with another type of insulated panel we're getting for the walls (Polyisocyanurate Insulated Sheathing).  
The weekend of February 26 & 27, Tony worked alone on the house and put plastic up over the windows like in the photo above and started on the plumbing and electrical inside. The way Tony is doing the plumbing is by installing pvc conduit pipe, which is also used for safely running electrical wires through a house, then he will then run PEX pipe (in the photos below, blue is for the cold water line and red for the hot water line) through the conduit so if there is ever a water line break we can just pull the bad line from a central location instead of having a water leak somewhere in the wall. The PEX is also more flexible and easier to run than copper pipes, is cheaper, and has been shown to be less susceptible to corrosion than copper so long as it's not exposed to sunlight which can quickly make the PEX brittle.
All the electrical he's done so far is putting electrical boxes in place. 
I wasn't feeling well this weekend between nerve pain and a horrible migraine so Tony was sweet and let me kind of do my own thing, and I worked on knitting some seed stitch cloths that I can clean with, which I actually used to do dishes and scrub down a porcelain bathroom sink Tony's mom gave us from a rent house she owns and recently did renovations on. The sink had some paint and rust on it, which the paint came right off, but I still need to do some work on the rust which thankfully isn't bad.
I also spread some grow anywhere grass seed around the pond, where we plan on planting some trees (like a redbud) later in the spring. 
This Friday we're going to pick up the insulated sheathing like I mentioned above and I'm also going to get my front door, I'm so excited!!! The door in the link is the wrong size but it's essentially what we're getting, one w/a window since that wall won't have a window and the window has the mini-blind built in so there is no cleaning involved. Yay!