Tuesday, February 23, 2016

OUL Episode #7: Gearing Up For Spring Planting

In this episode of "Our Underground Life," we get something done that I've been wanting to do since moving onto our rural property - we get the peach/nectarine trees out of their pots and into the ground! The plan has always been to eventually get them in the ground, but it became imperative last year when I found out that the trees had all lost their mini-dwarf root graft and were trying to be full-size trees!

You also get a look at my not-too-impressive winter garden, but in the next month or so it should be a fairly decent spring garden.

Enjoy the show, and please share it if you do! Thanks. :)


Sunday, February 21, 2016

OUL Episode #6: Burial Of Our Earth-Sheltered House, Part Two

In case you missed Part One, click here to see how the burial process of our earth-sheltered house began.

If not, watch the video below to watch the progress and see how excited Jerry was when we finally got the whole structure completely covered!

I have to say, I am enjoying the quiet around here with no more big machines running back and forth at least half the day. Benjamin misses them, but, oh well.

Time to get planting now, so stay tuned for what we're adding to our homestead this year. :) And please remember to share this video, thanks.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

OUL Episode #5: Burying Our Earth-Sheltered Home, Part One

I know you were born wondering how to bury and earth-sheltered house. You will finally get your answers in today’s post.

You’re welcome. ;)

You need a lot of soil.

We had several decent-sized piles of soil from when Troy excavated the area where our house was built. In case you haven’t been following my videos on the construction, he excavated into a gentle slope, carving out a level place that ended up being four feet high in the back.
But that was nearly enough soil to bury our house with. Not even close.

Some people who build earth-sheltered houses simply dig up pits on their own property to make up the difference. Others have to buy topsoil and have it shipped in.

We almost had to do it – and the house would have cost us thousands of dollars more! But, we were nice to the rich guy(specifically, his property manager) next door. As a result, the property manager let us dig up all the soil we needed to bury our house.

You need expensive equipment.

Namely, you need a backhoe, bulldozer, and dump truck. Nice for us that Troy happened to have all three. And even though we ended up paying him more than anyone had estimated we would, he is still the most affordable machine guy around where we live.

If you want to learn how to operate this kind of machinery and then rent it, it will probably save you some money. But it will cost you dearly in time, stress, and labor. Take that into consideration.

You need lots of water.

I was appalled when I discovered that this so-called environmentally-friendly home would require thousands of gallons of water to bury. When you’re building up the berms along the sides of the house, you have to water in the soil every foot or two. If you don’t, then within a year of burying your house you will lose an entire foot of depth of soil. That means you lose a lot of the insulation value of the house.

You need a big pile of Styrene (rigid foam) and six-mil plastic.

After waterproofing the house with liquid rubber and letting the material dry, a layer of six-mil goes over that. Then, after the first foot of soil goes over the top of the dome, you put down a layer of Styrene, and cover it with yet more six-mil.

We needed 50+ 4X8-foot sheets of Styrene on the top of our one-module dome.

How we did it

At the beginning, Troy used the subsoil obtained from our property during the excavation. After that he used the free “soil” we obtained from the property next door, most of which was shale. First, he built up the berms on the west, east, and north sides of the house. They each extend out about thirty feet from the house.

Next, he began carefully pushing shale onto the top of the dome. I say “carefully” because the concrete dome won’t support the weight of a bulldozer until there is at least one foot of dirt on top of it. After he got the dome covered with the first foot, he paused to help us layer the Styrene over it. We had to tape them together so that they wouldn’t slide down the slope.

It also ended up being windy the day we did it, so we had to put rocks on top of the Styrene to weight it down.

Over the Styrene went another layer of six-mil, mainly to help hold the Styrene in place, but it also adds an additional protection against water leakage.

He had finished probably about two-thirds of the job back in late October when a rat got into the engine of his backhoe and chewed up wires. We’d had rain for several days, during which time the machines just sat on our property, and open invitation to little critters that wanted a dry place to build a nest.

So when Troy showed up after the soil dried up some, he couldn’t start his backhoe. Even though he discovered the rat and its nest, neither he nor his mechanic thought that the problem was related to the rat. Only after replacing several parts to no avail, and two and a half months after the breakdown, did the mechanic finally figure out that the problem was damaged wires.

Troy finally showed up again in early February – three months after the last time he’d worked on our property – to finish the job. He put down a couple feet more shale, then topped everything off with about six inches of topsoil.


A lot of work, and – of course – it cost more than we thought it would. But it finally got done!

The video that follows, the fifth episode of “Our Underground Life”, is part one of two about the burial of our house. If you have boys in your house that get a kick out of watching “mighty machines”, invite them to have a look, too.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Blogger Deleted My Blog!

Yesterday morning, I awoke to a very disturbing e-mail from Blogger:

Hello, Your blog at has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: PHISHING. In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible. For more information, please review the following resources: Terms of Service: Blogger Content Policy: -The Blogger Team

The thing is, just before that Google had made me reset my gmail password, giving me the reason that there had been suspicious activity on my account. Apparently, when someone hits one of your Google products, a red flag goes up everywhere (although I didn’t hear anything from YouTube. Go figure).

Anyway, of course after reading that e-mail I freaked. Phishing? I don’t know how to phish, and besides, I’ve always hated having to mutilate a worm with a hook.

I read the Terms of Service for Blogger, and couldn’t figure out what I might have done wrong. Then I got mad at Google for number one, not telling me what was wrong and number two, giving me a chance to fix it. They simply deleted my blog.

The only thing I could come up with was that they were now forbidding Blogger users from asking people to opt-in to an e-mail list. In order to download the Take Back Your Life e-book, you need to sign up for my list. But if that were so, they weren’t saying so in the TOS.

I did several online searches, and came up empty. Except that I found that Blogger's automated checker sometimes finds malware and spamming where there is none.

All I could do was go back to my Blogger dashboard, click the “appeal” button next to the name of this blog, and hope for the best. I thought I was going to have the opportunity to write out something, but all I got was a message that someone was going to review my blog and I would hear back from Blogger in the next few days.


I huffed about it for a while, and in the end just decided that if I lost all the blog posts, oh, well. Maybe God wanted me to ditch it.

After lunch, I got online again. And found this e-mail in my inbox:

Hello, We have received your appeal regarding your blog Upon further review we have determined that your blog was mistakenly marked as a TOS violator by our automated system and, as such, we have reinstated your blog. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused in the meantime and thank you for your patience as we completed our review process. Thank you for understanding. Sincerely, The Blogger Team

Thank God.

So, here we are again, back in the saddle.

But really, Google, don’t you suppose you ought to fix those bugs in your automated system?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yes, It Was Crazy...Here's My Compromise

I hope I'm not going to hell for all the good intentions I've had in my life.

I'm just not going to be able to put out a daily show on YouTube. God has called me to teach and to write.

Yes, YouTube helps me with the "teach" part, but I am much more inclined to write. I need to focus on where my heart leads.

So here's what I'm going to do: whenever we actually have something interesting going on or I think of something I'd like to teach you, I will do a video.

Uh, kind of like what I was doing before. ;)

But this time, I am going to put my videos under the umbrella of "Our Undeground Life" show, and try not to go more than seven days without putting one out. I am not going to put myself under pressure to create a compilation of our daily lives every day, and not just because I'd rather be blogging.

Frankly, I think the videos have already started getting boring.

If this news disappoints you, thank you for being a raving fan. :)  But you have to know that this morning, I was on the verge of taking down the four episodes I'd already had up and never do another show - maybe another video - again.

Perimenopausal mood swings SUCK. But it's so nice for J and B that they don't last all day. ;)

See you 'round.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

OUL Episode #4: Two Rants, And Some Exciting News! (no, i'm not pregnant)

Today’s episode of “Our Underground Life” is EXCITING! Not going to tell, you guess. ;)

I will reveal this: I go on two completed unrelated rants (turns out it was the day before my monthly period started, so I’ll lay the blame there), we visit our neighbor’s cat (hear my huffing breath after having walked up the mountain!), and Missy dives into a boot.

Enjoy the video, and please share it! Thanks. :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

OUL Episode 3: Solving A Storage Problem, A Partial Walk Up The Mountain

In today’s episode of “Our Underground Life”, I solve a kitchen storage problem, once again by repurposing furniture. You get a peek at how crazy our son can get, follow us on a walk through the property adjacent to us, and see Jerry and me in a candid moment. (Okay, not so candid because I asked B to pick up the FlipCam and film us, but we don’t exactly look our best.)

Enjoy the video, and share it! Thanks.