Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In comes the big gun!

After on and off discussion about whether we would ask our friend, Alvin, to come in and help us with the excavation, Chris and I decided to pay him a visit today to see what he was up to.

After a house inspection in Clearwater for one of our customers, we loaded up 41 tires at Clearwater Kal Tire and headed south again to Little Fort.

Alvin is a very experienced old time sawmill operator. In his late 60's Alvin has, in the last few years, mainly given up the sawmill racket and returned to his roots, literally. He has transformed his 20+ acres by the North Thompson river into a grain producing farm. He was born and raised in Saskatchewan and I think remains a prairie boy at heart. He grows wheat, barley, oats, alfalfa, and a number of other grains-using no chemicals! He has a grainery (home built) and keeps pigs and laying chickens, feeding them a mix of his no-chemical grains. He and his wife are superb gardeners, planting a tremendous amount of vegetables and fruit every year. We count them among our many "garden" resources, along with Jennifer, Monica, Karen, Florence, Linda and Lee-Ann and Henry.

We surprised Alvin at a late breakfast and got talked into toast made with wheat from Alvin's fields. Scrumptious. (And VERY strong coffee, which we don't drink much of anymore so we got nice and jittery!) We got caught up with the news (we hadn't dropped in to visit since before Christmas).

After an hour and a half I got down to brass tacks and asked Alvin if he'd sowed his fields, and if he had a few days to help us excavate while he waited for all his lovely grains to show their heads.

Alvin began helping us out at our sawmill about six or seven years ago. He was still running his own headrig at the time, but mostly by himself and not full-time. We bought some of his wood and did some planing for him. He eventually became our part time heavy duty mechanic, dirt mover when we were landscaping the grounds (he owns every kind of equipment one would need to move dirt) and it would not be untoward to put him together with my father in the "mentor" category when we were learning how to run a sawmill. We've had many, many good laughs with Alvin and hearing about his upbringing and experience running a sawmill in the good old days and raising four children has been very entertaining and interesting.

He admitted today that he was getting bored and agreed to help us excavate. I think it's more that he likes us and likes to help us and that's o.k. as a reason, too! He charges very reasonable rates and is always in a good mood when he works.

Best of all, he is FAST. Much faster than Chris and I will be, so we are hoping that in 2-3 days we will be able to start placing our first tire while Chris starts pounding. I, of course, will be taking the first photos of the first tires. (Of course).


bakar said...

Most buildings love their environment the way we do. They are attached to the landscape and the neighborhood in a visual and aesthetic bond. Floods and tornadoes can cause irreparable damage to buildings and in extreme cases the entire structure may perish. So, it's a good idea for residents of hazard prone areas to move their houses to a new location that is safe and secure from floods and tornadoes.

Chris said...


What you have said is true.

We chose our building site well above the existing floodplain and is in fact located in close proximity to two other buildings. Both of these buildings have been in place for over twenty years and have not had any problems.

Fortunately we are not in a tornado prone location!


Lee-Ann said...

hey gang, we are down south in the oh so cold vancouver island. we are the 'domestiques' (as henry calls us) for Lana while she is out to save the world (or at least Saanich). I have to say she is doing a heck of a job and the whole thing is exciting and exhausting. Thanks for the call the other day we would have loved to have met Alvin but hopefully another time. Grain farming might be something to work on. I used Lana's grain mill and it is really neat, so it would be cool to also grow the grain.
We'll call you when we get back.

Sandra said...

L&H see you when you get back! Good luck to Lana, although I'm ideologically opposed to her "parent" company. Must be exciting to be part of it!