20080830

Hatch Chili Festival


Hatch Chili Festival
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It was a real New Mexico kind of Saturday for me. I rolled out of bed and took my bike to the local farmers market. Then I returned to clean the trailer and grabbed the grease car. I drove about 40 miles south to Hatch for their yearly chili festival. It felt kind of like a ghetto carnival combined with town fair. The quantities of Chili and related products were impressive.

20080829

The Urban Homestead


The Urban Homestead
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have put together a incredible summary of their LA based self sufficiency. This book covers food growing for the newby gardener, chickens, cooking, weening yourself from utilities, and making your bicycle a primary form of transportation. The hands on experience that they share through their own mistakes and successes is invaluable.

Burrito Summer


Burrito Summer
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I've been trying to use my sun oven as frequently as possible this summer. Cooking outside greatly reduces our need for cooling our home as well as our gas bill since we don't need to use the stove/oven. This burrito dish has been one of my favorites for small groups of people. The burritos are cooked exclusively in the sun oven.

Recipe:
- 1/2 cup rice
- 1 cup water
- pinch of salt

- 1/2 cup beans
- lots of water

Beans and Rice go in separate pots in the sun oven and cook for a few
hours at 300F.

Toppings:
- cilantro
- tomatoes
- peppers
- red onion
- goat cheese
- asiago cheese
- add cooked rice/beans

Wrap in aluminum foil and heat assembled burritos for 20 min at 300F.

A Hunter is Born


A Hunter is Born
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our cat, Scardy has finally caught a lizard. It is really amusing to watch our kitty chase after these little guys. I was surprised to see Scardy walking to his shady spot under our cistern with a live lizard in his mouth. He has been torturing the poor lizard for the last 15 minutes. I told him "don't play with your food".

20080827

Concentrated Solar Power (CSPs)

Concentrated Solar Power (CSPs) are the great hope for clean global energy. If 11% of New Mexico were covered with CSP plants we could power all of the United States. I put together a mindmap showing the major players in the CSP world.

NYC

Weeeee! I'm in NYC catching up with old friends. They're goofy as usual. I love them.

20080821

Okra?

I never ate okra before but since I've grown it I tried this lovely recipe. It's garlic, soy butter, onion, tomato, okra and chic peas spiced with cumin and cardamom. Yum!

20080819

Couch deconstruction

I always wondered what a gutted couch would look like. My friend Andrew Martinez recently made a killer chair by deconstructing a big old stuffed on (see my article "under rusted stars" two issues back in Craft Magazine). So I dumpster dived a vintage round chair and began taking it a part. So far im pulling a lot of staples!! To be continued.....

Mustard

With mikey in Seattle I'm getting all my little projects done like painting our utility room mustard so that this painting that I was gifted would have a great home.

20080817

Almost harvest

Veggies are trickling in almost at the rate of our diet, though I do expect everythings about to be ready for pickin.

20080816

Off to Seattle


Off to Seattle
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I am taking a short trip to Seattle this week to visit my folks. This could be the last plane trip I take for quite sometime.

20080814

Volunteer Melons


Volunteer Melons
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy pulled our first honeydew melon this morning. It came from a melon patch that sprouted from our compost fertilizer. We have already found 10 melons inside this one patch. There are 2 cantaloupe and 8 honeydews. We have melons all over the yard in other locations as well.

20080813

City Kitty with Sun Flower

Our black cat Scardy has been fascinated with plants this week. I watched him chow down on parslane and bermuda grass in the yard. He was checking out the leaves on our little sunflowers this morning. Perhaps another snack.

20080812

Equalization


Equalization
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Just because I have been unemployed for 2.5 years does not mean that I can sit around on my butt. I was refilling the water level on 24 of our lead acid batteries at 8pm this evening. It is not difficult, but certainly uncomfortable and I always seem to get battery acid on myself in weird places. Today I think I got it on the back of my neck. These batteries store the energy from our PV solar panels and can sustain us for about 5 days (in theory) if we had no sunshine at all. My actual experience is that just to get these batteries to a raging boil and fully equalized takes one week of us switching over to grid power and not using the batteries at all.

Remesh the DDU


Remesh the DDU
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our first Dome Dwelling Unit has progressed from the rebar stage into the second stage which is remesh. Wendy and I hung 120 square feet of remesh with wire ties. The work was surprisingly easy this time around due to our usage of scaffolding. On the battery dome we had to climb on ladders which led to neck pain and slow adhering of remesh.

20080810

Cistern Stucco Drying


Cistern Stucco Drying
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
After about four hours of drying this is what our cistern looks like. It is still pretty damp to the touch. I suspect it will take a few days to get crispy. Not sure if we will paint it or do a thin cement color coat.

Cistern Stucco (Applying)

The primary goals of stucco'ing our water cistern was to block the light and keep the tank a little cooler. Both of which will help prevent the growth of algae and bacteria. A secondary part of this project was to try our first clay based papercrete mix. We started each mix with a bucket 3/4 full of shredded wet newspaper. Then we added four handfuls of clay and lime. The resulting paper stucco was very sticky and easy to apply.

What a Drag


What a Drag
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our papercrete mixer had not been used in over six months so we experienced some dragging of the wheels. The papercrete around the differential had hardened, but soon after we got into the street the wheels began to turn freely.

Back at It


Back at It
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I did a small paper/clay mix today in the old tow behind mixer. It felt good to go back to our old routine of waiting for the mixer to fill with water.

20080809

Roasting Green Chiles


Roasting Green Chiles
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We live about 40 minutes north of Hatch, New Mexico. Hatch is well known through out the southwest for their green chiles. Our farmers market featured a local green chile roaster this morning.

Okra Flower


Okra Flower
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This Okra plant in our back yard has a crazy looking flower that is about to open.

20080808

Sunset (the band)


Sunset (the band)
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Blonde Bill and his band Sunset stopped by this morning to load up on grease for the west coast tour. I've never seen a Mercedes so loaded down as it left my place with 25 gallons of WVO.

20080807

Kumbucha round 3

Our first kumbucha batch was tasty but lacked carbonation due to our dispensing it in glass bottles. The second did not have enough sugar and tasted like foot. This third round which I bottled today is looking good. It's sweet and before bottling had a little carbonation. I used plastic water bottles I collected which have a tighter seal than the glass and I hope to have high carbonation after it sits for a few days. I squeezed some air out of each water bottle causing a dent after filling so that I will know when there is carbonation by the swelling bottle. Fingers crossed.

20080806

Dolma Oil


Dolma Oil
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I have a thing for Dolmas. I should be making my own, but I have been buying them from Trader Joes. They come glass jars packed with oil. I have been saving up the oil and dumping it in my grease car.

Luke Iseman


Luke Iseman
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We finished lathing out water tanks with some help from Luke Iseman of Austin, TX. Luke had contacted me earlier this summer threatening to stop by. Wendy and I watched one of his youtube videos which showed a pallet being cut on a table saw then dangerously falling over. I liked his reckless experimenter approach so we agreed to have him over for a visit. He also has several interesting instructables.

Cucumber Melons?


Cucumber Melons?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy was digging around our garden with a friend from Austin (Amanda) and found this crazy thing. A hybrid melon fruit. It tasted okay and had a real nice look to it. Lots of people had warned us about cucumbers and melons being too close. They will cross pollinate and give you something wacky.

Mowing the Weeds


Mowing the Weeds
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Using a scythe is called "mowing". Wendy has been reading "The Scythe Book" by David Tresemer. She swears this book is one of the most incredible books she has ever read.

European Scythe


European Scythe
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our scythe arrived this week from Scythe Supply. They make custom fit scythes for all sorts of grasses and weeds. Ours took nearly six weeks to get here the whole time we were worried about rattle snacks hiding in our yard. We had to glue the handles and attach the blade ourselves. This mean waiting 24 hours before using it so that the glue could fully cure.

Damn! Mold


Damn! Mold
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our pink oyster mushrooms have been contaminated with a mold. I had
ordered these with a neighbor and his original batch showed signs of
mold upon arrival. We were told by fungi.com that we can have a
refund and that it was probably the straw that they used for
inoculation that was contaminated.

20080804

The Grand Tour


The Grand Tour from Mikey Sklar on Vimeo.Wendy and I recently put together a little tour of the work we have accomplished at our homestead over the last two years. Our friends Jay and Ryanne from RyanIsHungry had sent us a similar video two days ago. Wendy is trying to behave like Ryanne.

20080803

Solar Hot Water and Distilling

I was listening to the audiobook "Earth - The Sequel" while pulling weeds. During the solar concentrator section I realized that it would be trivial for us to build a powerful water distiller and home hot water heater.

20080802

Irrigation Zone #3


Irrigation Zone #3
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Every bit helps. We quickly assembled a third irrigation zone to one of our east facing raised beds.

Pink Oyster Mushrooms


Pink Oyster Mushrooms
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We went in on a order of mushroom spores with a local farmer. My pink oyster mushrooms showed up today. I hung them in our Papercrete dome. As long as we avoid contamination we should have some crazy looking edible mushrooms in a month.

20080801

DDU Water Systems


DDU Water Systems
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our Dome Dwelling Units will have a variety of water systems. Only city and grey water will be available at first, but we need to leave place holders for the others.

Frog


Frog
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We found this friendly little frog in our mulch today. I was digging a trench for our irrigation tube and this guy showed up. A real cutie.

Irrigation Zone #2 Complete

After a few more hours of sweat labor and a emergency trip to the hardware store for elbow joints we finished our second irrigation zone. It is working. Finally we will save ourselves a hour of watering every other day.

Dome Dwelling Unit Features

I made this abstract image on my cell phone this morning. It shows the locations for windows, sky lights, outlets, hihats and the door.