Hi all I have not posted before, but have done plenty of reading around here and have learnt a tremendous amount from all of your generous sharing of knowledge. I have been involved with permaculture for almost 10 years, still consider myself very much a learner. I took the 2014 online Geoff LawtonPDC which i loved. 4 years ago my partner and i sold our Auckland city property and bought a 1 hectare field and set about creating our permie paradise. We have a catering business and the plan is to grow as much produce as we can for this. We are now well into building a passive solar house with architect Graeme North, who is well known in the Earth building community. I always thought that when we got to this stage I would have involved many people and shared much of our journey, as i have loved reading the journeys and lessons from others, but so far I have not because this journey of ours has coincided with the deterioration in health of both my parents, who live in england, and this, the actual year of building has been terrible. Vascular dementia and disability goes on and on and on and when you think there is nothing worse that can happen, well, it does. I have just returned from the Uk and am wondering if i need to get back on the plane as more nightmares unfold and my poor brother carries the load. (for which he is thankfully not bitter - I moved to NZ 20 years ago, but from which he is certainly broken). I have fairly half heartedly maintained a Facebook page of the build and much of the permaculture set up and so I feel I should share this at least. I have been unable to find energy to rouse a large crowd of volunteers to have many jovial mud walling parties (as i imagined!) Currently speaking to anyone in the world feels very hard, grief can be very isolating I am finding. But I have read enough on here to feel that it is a kind and safe place and I think that sharing something will make me feel better than just constantly taking all your information and contributing nothing of my own when I am up to my eyeballs in permaculture and love all it entails.
So the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Terra-Matana-1167184733296416/ I hope that linking worked. We were extremely fortunate in owning a house in the city that tripled in value over 14 years and as such we have had money for this project. The house is a hybrid of straw bale, light earth and weatherboard, very much designed for the site it is on. Straw bale on the back / southern side and western side for insulation values, wooden weatherboard on the exposed front and east as we are high up on a ridge (but tucked into the hillside) and the wind and rain that come howling up the slope in winter would do no favours to earth walls. We have large overhangs all the way around, large clerestory windows to let the winter sun through to warm the internal light earth walls. We will be on grid initially, but looking at pv options and costs and they are coming down all the time. We are installing a large cast ironwood cookstove that in winter will heat water and also run hydronic underfloor heating if it's not sunny. We have just had a pre-lining inspection done by the council so the next few weeks will be putting on weatherboards, installing the windows and doors and continuing to build our internal light earth walls. When i say we - I should clarify that I am no builder and neither is my partner, we have one main builder who has helpers when necessary and we get involved with more menial jobs when not working or running a family. We feel tremendously privileged to be able to do this and sometimes i look around and can't believe this will be our house after all these years of hard work and planning, it is coming to life before my eyes, so there is much joy in this. I guess it feels like it has been quite a lonely journey in some ways though, this sort of project is still seen as unconventional and a bit weird. Maybe this is why I am posting now - on this site all we have been doing the last 10 years will seem entirely sane and normal
So sorry to hear of your families struggles. I have lost my parents in the past 5 years and it was hard traveling to help take care of them. If you ever need support please feel free to post here at permies. As you know there are many kind and caring souls here.
Your new home sounds wonderful, if you find a few moments we would love to hear more and pictures are always a plus.
All of my prayers and good thoughts are headed your way.