The Farm… at Raven’s Perch

The plan for the farm is evolving and after a really amazing site visit with Hailey Troock from Young Agrarians we decided it would be a good idea to take it slow (opposite to my… let’s just do it NOW default way of thinking)… We are in the final stages of our building process and there is still a lot of time, effort and money required on that front so it doesn’t make sense to spread ourselves too thin by tackling this part of the project at this time. Therefore, this summer we will take the time to connect with those who have expressed interest in being apart of this opportunity, and if that is YOU please contact Hailey (info in her blog post linked below). Once fall arrives we will focus on getting the soil prepped and plant a winter rye crop to help build the soil up. By next April we’ll start getting things ready for the growing season!! Then the real fun begins, can’t wait to get my hands dirty!

Of course a lot will happen between fall and spring. We will need to meet up with those who are going to be living on the land and working the farm with us so that we can do some brainstorming and planning on design as well as discuss all the details involved with co-existing on the property as a healthy and happy community of like-minded people.

Over the winter I personally plan on spending a lot amount of time studying permaculture (I’ve had a book on my wish list for a long time that I’ll pick up soon called Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway). I will also be sifting through the abundance of the amazing farming and business resources provided on the Young Agrarians site.

Hailey’s blog post explains our opportunity very well, and includes her contact information if you are interested in applying… check it out!

There seems to be a real wave of interest directed towards farming right now. There is a greater interest in taking control of one’s own food source and I think it is one positive outcome of this very strange and bizarre situation that we find ourselves in in 2020. Here’s a challenge for you, whether you have acreage, a front and/or back yard, access to a local allotment garden or even a balcony – see what you can grow this summer!

I want it now!

Surrender has certainly been a theme throughout this entire building process. I should have mastered it by now but I still find my self getting caught up in the “OMG the sky is falling!” moments. Yes I meditate, yes I do yoga and walk and do self-care, but sometimes things hit you like a wave and you feel completely tossed around and spit out onto the rocky beach – ouch!

“Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen and all will be well with you.”

Epictetus

The second Nomad shipment arrived with what we are now calling The Nest (the vacation rental) and work began. Then, after only the first day it became apparent that some of the building pieces were not for our build but for a shipment that went to someone else in the area. We had some of theirs, they had some of ours… the logistics of getting the pieces swapped set us back a week which is a pretty big deal at this point of the project! Events were not happening as I wished at all and I did not feel well, not in the least.

We’ve been getting into Stoicism lately and this Epictetus quote reminded me to surrender to what was happening in the moment – not to project what I wanted to be but what was, right here, right now. If we can achieve that state of mind during any challenge we might face, we can at least find peace of mind – and to know that no matter what, all will be well.

This coming week work begins again and when the next obstacle or challenge arrives, which inevitably it will, I will remember this quote.

Joining the Tiny House Movement… almost there!

The tiny house movement is more than just living in a small home (generally considered to be a space less than 400 square feet), it’s an architectural, social and environmentally conscious movement – it’s the ultimate lifestyle choice if you have the minimalist mindset.

A tiny house is either stationary and built on a foundation or it moveable and is built wheels. Many are taking a crack at building their own and it’s incredible to see, that is the way to really keep costs down! On shows like Living Big in a Tiny House you get to see the amazingly creative ideas that people are coming up with!

The tiny house movement is really a unique community and I love how the Vancouver Island based tiny home builder Rewild Homes has built a really great site with tons of resources including BC Land Listings for those looking for a place to park their homes (we have space on our land if you’re interested! Check out this link and if you want to apply fill out an application form here).

Whether you are trying to find a place to park your tiny house on wheels … or if you are planning to build a tiny home with a foundation – it is important to do your research. Many municipalities do not allow it and it can be a real challenge to get permits to build. It’s a bit mind blowing to think that even if you own your property you may not be permitted to build a tiny house on it… wow!

We got incredibly lucky with our piece of property as there are (currently) no zoning restrictions in place that would limit our ability to build a smaller than usual home. Even so, we had to spend a lot of time talking to the local permit office and insurance companies to make our plans understood and accepted. Hopefully if people get a little more vocal the laws will begin to relax and become more flexible…

We chose Nomad Micro Homes because they are architecturally beautiful, they are sustainably built and because they are affordable. Another reason is that the design is adaptable for a variety of needs and this was very important to us.

My post in November showed the concrete footings poured and power/water lines buried. Also, the first shipment of two of the three cubes that will make up our home and guest suite were delivered. Then came a) snow and b) the holiday season. Patience, this is my mantra!

Now we have an amazing power/water pump ‘shack’. It is steel clad which is really important in this environment where forest fires are a real threat. Seeing this structure in place was an exciting day for us, to see something physically built on our property!

Even though we have chosen to have our home on a foundation and will build some outbuildings such as a cold storage and perhaps a work-out space, our home itself is about 340 square feet with two sleeping lofts. We are both passionate about living with a minimal amount of “things” so we do our best to make very conscious purchases. I think our main weakness is books and we have quite a few between us!

Now that the second shipment arrived, the suite can now be framed up. Once it’s at the same stage as the main home then all of the finishing work will progress with both. The final push!!

Adapting to the new norm

In my last post I shared thoughts on how being adaptable can help us to navigate through stressful times and how learning to be ok with change can help us to be calm and respond to situations despite the fear or uncertainty that we may feel. To seek out solutions instead of focusing on what is wrong.  We may even find that we learn how to thrive during times such as these.

The way that we carry out almost every activity in our daily life has changed in such a short period of time, and just the other day I encountered a new one. Our bank appraiser came by the property to asses the progress made on our home in order that funds from my construction loan may be released to me. He let us know ahead of time that because of the COVID-19 situation, he is only permitted to perform drive-by viewings from the road, he can’t actually drive or step onto the property.

When he arrived, we spoke to him from across the road and he instructed us on what photographs he’d need to see in order for him to complete his report. Below are some of the photos we took and you’ll see a lot of work has taken place in the past month. The siding is completed, the windows are in, the roof on and soffits installed. Last week the electricians made a lot of progress and this week I believe the plumber is coming in. Then begins the fun stuff like drywall!

Adaptability and embracing change has been my friend throughout the length of this project and we still have several months to go. So many delays and moving timelines to manage along with the tedious and often stressful task of juggling finances. The money aspect is one which has forced us to re-evaluate the original plan again and again … and yet again. Sure there is stress within this process and yes I have shed tears of frustration at times wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. However I truly believe that with each requirement to change we have come to the most incredible way forward and I don’t think we would have got here without everything “negative” and “challenging” that has happened along the way!

We are very fortunate to have a property outside the ALC which allows us to be creative and to play with lots of different possibilities. The part of the property that is down the hill and through the cedar forest from where we are building the Nomads is a big beautiful open field. Some of our ideas have been to find a partner to build a boutique micro-brewery. Another was to build a really cool house on stilts like the Sol-Duc. We also thought about building several live/work studio homes for people in the area, or a business centre for the local community.

And then… COVID-19 came along and here we now are at the end of March in a Brave New World, the strangest of days. So within a few weeks and with all the uncertainty surrounding everyone and everything, all of the plans that we had considered got thrown out the window and we had to re-evaluate our plan.

One morning, about a week ago, while I was doing my idea machine “workout” I had the seed of a thought which, while later brainstorming it with Steve, germinated into something fabulous – the idea to marry my love of tiny homes with my interest in permaculture gardening together to build something for ourselves and for the greater community. The plan to invite between 3 – 5 experienced permaculture designers/ farmers who will park their own off-grid tiny home on wheels on our property began coming together.

lower field

Then the question became… how? How do we reach out to find these people? Where to begin? Well, about a year ago I had joined the Young Agrarians organization and while I hadn’t been actively participating I did remember that they have a B.C. Land Matching Program so I started by reaching out to them. The other part of this plan involved reaching out to ReWild Homes, a builder of tiny home on wheels located on Vancouver Island. They have a resources page which includes a lands listing for tiny home owners to find a place to park their homes. I’ve connected with two amazing human beings who are helping me to make this dream a reality!

The vision and plan is to bring like minded people together to build a model or blueprint for sustainable living. We must change the way we live, it has become so apparent in these last few months that we must not, for the sake of this planet, continue being consumer focused and that we need to take control of our local food sources – to become more self sufficient.

We human beings are only stewards of this land, we don’t “own” it, we are only temporarily taking care of it for the next generation as well as for all of the creatures great and and small that share the land with us. It’s shocking – in a horrible but also good way – to see the beneficial affects of the slow down of industry is having on our planet. Blue skies and clear waters in places around the globe where this hasn’t been the case for as long as local residents can remember.

I believe it behoves us to take this global life altering situation that we’ve found ourselves in and make a change for the better – however that might look for you. To go back to the way things were just doesn’t, in my mind, seem to be an option! If you were to change just one thing, what would it be?

I’ll get off my soap box now but leave you this a final note: if you, or someone you know, is a farmer (particularly versed in permaculture) who wants to participate in realizing this vision I have for our Winlaw property, you will share in the harvest, sell at an onsite weekly market and have the opportunity to run workshops and lectures on the property to demonstrate the value and importance of permaculture gardening. If you are interested in participating in any way with this project please feel free to reach out, send me an email at info@ravens-perch.local.

On being adaptable

We humans are experiencing a very strange time right now and I think we can all agree that this event will have everlasting ramifications on almost every aspect of our lives.  I believe that some of the changes will be very positive and some perhaps not so much – time will tell.  

In light of this reality we find ourselves in it makes me contemplate how we must now, more than ever, learn to be adaptable and cultivate the ability to go with the flow and change quickly. Adaptability to change is going to be a very useful skill to have and there are a lot of really great books out there that offer up tools on how to achieve this skill. One that I’ve got on my “to read” list is AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For.   

I have a sense that there are business owners of all descriptions who at some stage during this challenging time may make the call to adjust their whole way of doing business or perhaps even make the jump to a new career based on new arising societal changes.  

Change is inevitable, the only constant in this life, this world, is change. Every breath we take we are a different person and the more we accept and surrender to this fact the less stress, anxiety and fear we will have.  When we accept that change is inevitable we can more easily respond to challenges with clarity of thought. 

As you know I have a great interested in numerology and astrology – I’m also fascinated by personality tests such as Myers Briggs and Insights. Because of these interests, and with respect to all that is going on right now I have a) a pretty good sense of my self and what makes me tick and b) an awareness of others and what makes them tick.  

Because of my personality “type” I know that for the most part, I find change stimulating. Also the idea of being in a room full of people brainstorming and coming up with ideas and solutions to a problem is an exciting prospect for me.  On the flip side, I know that spending long periods of time focusing on detailed work isn’t exactly a stimulating prospect … I can do the detailed work if need be but only for short periods of time.

The person on the complete opposite spectrum to me would want to take time on their own to analyze the details and research all the options in depth. This person would not be comfortable with having to make split decisions and would find being pushed to make quick changes disconcerting and stressful.

With this current situation pushing people into potentially very uncomfortable places it is interesting to see the different ways in which we respond/react. Will we struggle more or will be struggle less, will we look at it as an opportunity to shake things up, will we see things in a positive light and seek solutions or will be focus on the negative and only see the problems?

Surrendering to changing situations can help manage those stressful anxious feelings that can sometimes overwhelm us. If you’re someone who typically struggles with change but would like to become more adaptable to help cope, you could try making some small changes in your day-to-day life. For instance, if you always walk or drive to work/ grocery store/ rec centre/ friends house the same way each time, maybe try taking a different route from time to time. If your immediate response to a suggestion from friend, manager, partner is “no” or “I don’t think so”, maybe try saying “yes” or at least “I’ll think about it”. Look for circumstances in your life where your go to response would typically be to dig heels in and switch it around. You might surprise yourself and you may find that you become more willing and accepting of changes than inevitable come your way. In stressful and challenging times becoming a little less stuck in usual patterns can help us to see beyond our fears.

Those are just some thoughts that have been swimming around in my brain while being essentially house bound. In my next post I’ll be sharing my journey through adaptability with respect to property development.

I hope everyone out there is doing well and taking care of yourself and loved ones (human and furry).

NOTE: The example that I presented above with respect to personality types is a generalization of only two types. It is important to never pigeon hole anyone based on personality tests… they’re just tools to help us better understand our self and others … and ultimately to best serve our self and others with more understanding and compassion.

Breaking Ground … hard frozen ground…

If I knew how much work it would be to develop a property would I have gone ahead and purchase raw land? This is a question that I’ve asked my self many times and lately others have been asking it of me as well.   My answer is, quite honestly, I don’t know!  At this point in the game there’s no going back and I am 100% thrilled about the project …. but with the financial stresses and many delays it’s definitely been a challenge to keep a calm mind. I’ve gone into panic mode a few times in the past year but thankfully have good friends to talk me off the ledge… it will all work out, it will be ok, you will come out the other end and forget all of the challenges and struggles.

The interesting thing is, is that when I reflect back I can really see that everything has happened as it should. All of the delays that cropped up gave us time to make some really great changes in our plan.

So, the latest news from Raven’s Perch is that in mid-October we got our permits to go ahead with the build and just this past week Jessie and his crew broke ground. They had to work against cold weather to get the trench dug and water/electric lines laid … temperatures at night dipping down to -9 degrees Celsius.  All this has been done – lines to the small cabin, lines to our home and a third line to the edge of the slope that will be used for the property in the lower lot at some future point. 

The concrete was poured Wednesday and will take a few weeks to dry – it is covered with insulated tarps to help it along. The first Nomad shipment is due this coming Thursday which is very exciting news! Once the concrete is ready then the crew can start assembling the first two cubes which will make up our home. Because of the weather it may be spring before we gain occupancy … even though the homes should go up within a matter of weeks. I’ve surrendered control of any particular outcome so (as I talked about in an earlier post) what will be will be.

I’m so glad that we didn’t know what we didn’t know just over a year ago when we first walked onto this piece of property! I’m glad I didn’t let fear of the unknown affect my decision – I’m glad I was “The Fool” and stepped off of the cliff ready and open to have an adventure. I’m learning so much, not only about project management and property development, but about myself.

The Fool represents new beginnings, having faith in the future, being inexperienced, not knowing what to expect, having beginner’s luck, improvisation and believing in the universe.

Since I am back in Victoria now for a few months, Steve is sending regular photographs (the pictures in this post are by him… thank you Steve!). I’m hoping to have a tree mounted camera in place by the time that the guys start assembling the Nomads so that I can witness the construction via time lapsed videos!  I’ll be sure to share them with you.

What’s in a Number?

A few years ago I took Numerology course with the amazing teacher Brenda Lawrence through the Inner Quest Foundation in Victoria, British Columbia.  The field of Numerology isn’t new, it was begun by Pythagoras way back in 569 B.C.  The theory is that each number carries a certain vibration that equates to certain qualities which can predict a persons personality among other things. According to Numerologists nothing happens by accident, everything happens because of numbers.  Mathematics  explains the whole of the universe and we, as human beings, are made up of particles of the whole of the universe… so it all kind of makes sense. 

I am fascinated with and love numerology and the insight that it can provide into self, relationships and even homes.  The funny thing is that me and math (or numbers) did not have a happy start – I barely passed grade 9 math, repeated grade 10 math  and then gave it up after my second time through. I tend to be somewhat dyslexic when it comes to numbers as well so it makes me chuckle that I am so very drawn to this subject.

So now, to the point of this post – when I bought the property it’s recorded “address” was PL-NEP20007 Hoodikoff Road. I could guess what the first number was going to be based on the neighbouring lots but beyond that I didn’t know. Thinking I had to wait for all of my permits to be issued before I received a number, I patiently waited. It wasn’t until I spoke with Bruce (the milling guy) that I realized I could apply any time.  That afternoon I made a call to the regional district office and  Bob’s your uncle they said I’d have a number in a few days!  

When the email arrived it stated that I had not one but two address numbers… This, apparently, because there are two individual structures on the property and the address numbers are useful in the case of emergency.  Using my knowledge of numerology, I immediately brought each of the four digits to single digits and ended up with one address (5631) being a “6” energy and the other a “4” energy.  We will be using the address number that equals “6” because it’s more in line with our hopes and dreams… (read at the bottom of the post if you’re interested in what 6 represents). 

We will often be referring to this property as simply Raven’s Perch as it is a big part of our project so that in itself carries a huge amount of weight when it comes to understanding the vibration that we will be imprinting on the property… Or, wait! Did we pick the name or did the property “speak to us” and reveal it’s name?  That’s where the metaphysical esoteric intuitive arts get all mind warp-y and why I find it infinitely intriguing!  Anyway, I digress… I did the numerology on the name (for those new to the topic, each letter is associated with a number and once you’ve worked out what numbers align with each word you narrow it down to a single digit). Raven’s Perch is an 11/2 and the 11 particularly resonates with me and this particular property because the moment we first saw it we both felt an instant pull and we even agreed with each other that this is a truly magical place… (read at the bottom of the post if you’re interested in what 11/2 represents).

The intention is to use the property not just for ourselves but to have people stay in the guest suite (hopefully to use it as a retreat from the outer world due to it’s beautiful natural setting), to run workshops on the land related to gardening and natural healthy living (we’re setting up tree stump seating in the forest grove), and who knows what other ideas are yet to be borne. Since we do plan on making it a very active place, these numbers will not only influence us as stewards of the land but also will influence those who come to visit! I will be interested to see how people end up responding to the land and their experience on the property.

You don’t have to know about numerology and understand it for it to work. You’re already living and breathing it!    All of the above to say, I am thrilled with the address that I received!  Below is just a very brief description of the numbers 6 and 11/2.

Interesting to note that within the Tarot, the number 11 is associated with the Major Arcana card “Strength” which in turn is also associated with Leo the Lion in Astrology (which is coincidentally my birth sign).  

Here’s some information about 6 and 11.
5631 (equals 6) This number is the vibration of love, service, compassion, creativity, and artistry. It is said that a 6 house is a home with heart.  It is a great home in which to raise a family and these homes are often filled with children and animals. The 6 house is conducive to its owners hosting intimate gatherings with friends as opposed to wild parties.  Those living in a 6 home can have a tendency of becoming a bit reclusive or not leaving home because it’s so wonderfully harmonious!  It is a great home to run a service-based business, particularly one that is heart-based and/or has an aspect of healing. It is an address in which artists and teachers will thrive.  Under the influence of this number a person living in a 6 house will probably make some wonderful friends and have much enjoyment as it is the most favourable number for harmonious co-operation.   

Raven’s Perch is an 11/2. First of all, looking at the number 2 – this number is known to bring balance to life. This number is excellent for those who love to derive happiness from the little things in life (such as a tiny home!). It is also for people who are kind, generous and believe in creating long-term relationships.

Looking next at the number 11 – homes with the energy of “11” are extremely powerful, intuitive, and they hold an almost magical energy as well as irresistible charm and allure. In this place you will find your intuition and psychic abilities awaken.

 

Greatness Takes Time

I’m back in Victoria, we didn’t get as far along as I wanted to this summer with our build due to some delays with the delivery of the Nomad home components… seeing these words on the side of a building made me pause and reflect that everything is going to work out as it should and will probably be even better than I expected and as the saying goes, everything that is worth having takes time and doesn’t come easily.

I have a memory of my godmother Kathy singing a song to me … Que será, sera – Whatever will be, will be – The future’s not ours to see – Que será, sera – What will be, will be … this song has been looping around in my mind lately as well. I need to remember my own advice when I’m teaching my yoga class! B R E A T H E

One really cool thing that I got to help out with on my last visit is the milling of some of our cedar and fir. A local guy named Bruce came to the property next to ours where our wood is being piled and brought his portable milling equipment. The process of milling with this equipment is interesting to watch – hydraulics make it so that one person can manage the job! I think Bruce was pretty happy for the company and help though, made things go a little quicker. I was sad to have to leave before the job was done.

Wood-Mizer portable sawmill

The wood needs to be stacked so it can dry and we will likely use this for future projects like a carport next spring.

I’ll be heading back up to the area in mid-September and hopefully get a little farther along before the ground freezes and snow flies! But whatever happens, and however long it takes, I am incredibly grateful for this little piece of paradise that I get to play on for a time. Each time I visit I fall more and more in love with it – making new friends in the neighbourhood, watching the wildlife, getting to see the land in different seasons.

Stay Present

I’m back in Nelson for a visit and just visited the Raven’s Perch property. There’s been a lot more work done with respect to clearing – it’s a huge job! We now have our new driveway which we’re thrilled about, it creates a nice entry onto the property. A few more trees will be felled in order to provide us with enough material for our projects – and a bit to sell to offset the costs of milling.

It’s been busy on the “administrative” front as well… permits, banking, contracts signed – at times it has been somewhat overwhelming! I am often glad that I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into because I might not have done it!

Staying present and in the moment is really important and I’m glad I have a solid spiritual practice which includes meditation and yoga to keep me grounded. But even so, under stress the mind wants to take control, leap forward into the future and throw in all the “what if’s”.

I will post a few video’s on my YouTube channel during the next week … hopefully you’ll take the time to watch and if you like what you see give it a thumbs up and follow me! Things will get even more interesting once the Nomad’s are delivered and construction starts in early September.

But in the meantime! The Present is pretty awesome, and I am grateful.

Getting Started at Raven’s Perch

A lot of site prep has been going on at the property and we are hoping that by the end of the summer we’ll have our tiny homes in place!

I was out on the property the other day to check out the latest bit of clearing taking place and while I was there I decided to create my first video which I’ve loaded on my YouTube channel. As this is all very new for me it felt a bit odd standing in the middle of the woods all by my lonesome talking to my phone … well alone, until I realized that there was a good sized black bear hovering in the bushes not that far from where I stood!

Please – gulp – watch the video and if you’re interested in following along this journey of our development of tiny homes and then further on when we delve into permaculture and other fun stuff please subscribe!

Making space for the tiny homes!