Saturday, October 17, 2009

Romany Vardo

Reclaimed Space - Austin

Here's another local business that builds houses in their shop using recycled materials, and delivers them to the site.

Tiny Texas Houses

This is in Luling, Texas, right down the road from my weekend place. These houses are built from bits and pieces taken from old houses. Just came across this on the Web. Will definitely have to go over and take a look.

Dee Williams - 84 sq ft house

The video is an interview with a woman who moved from a 1500 sq ft house to an 84 sq ft cabin.

I got interested in tiny houses when I bought a 12 acre tract of land near Lockhart. As much as I love my garden in Lockhart, I decided to move my weekend home to the 12 acres.

It is a peculiar tract of land, only 200 feet across at the widest point, tapering to 20 feet at the far western end. There is not much one could do with such a long, skinny piece of land except grow plants. The gardening possibilities were what sold me on this land.

The eastern end of the tract has slightly acidic sandy loam soil and is at the top of a hill. There is an old farmhouse there, situated in just the right spot to get the constant eastern breeze that cools the house every summer afternoon. The western end, which is on the banks of a creek, has alkaline clay soil. There are three distinct bioregions on this one tract of land, three different sets of flora. I can grow anything here that will survive the climate: azaleas and blueberries at the east end; pecan trees in the creek bottom; asparagus somewhere in between.

I decided to rent out the house in Lockhart -- 1600 sq ft is far more space than I need for a weekend house anyhow.

I bought a used travel trailer and moved it to the 12 acres. At 252 sq ft my trailer is a mansion compared to Dee Williams's house (in the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that Dee's house has a loft that adds probably 50 sq ft of living space, but still). It has things Dee's house lacks, such as a shower and 3-burner stove. I don't think I would be happy with Dee's house, but to my surprise, I love the trailer. It is so compact and efficient! I can get up from my "desk" (which is also the dining table) and take two steps to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. There is even storage space for tools under the bed (it can be accessed through a door on the outside of the trailer). The bathroom is a bit crowded at the moment, because I have a composting toilet in addition to the toilet that came with the trailer. I don't want to use the built-in toilet, but I have not gotten around to removing it.

After having such a pleasant experience with the trailer, I got interested in other types of compact houses, which is how I happened to find the article and video on Dee's tiny cabin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Proboscidea parviflora

Source of image:

Proboscidea parviflor also known as Devil's Claw or Unicorn Plant is a wildflower or weed (depending on one's viewpoint) whose immature pods can take the place of okra in recipes and whose rip pods can be used in basket making and other crafts. The seeds are also edible -- they are better to eat when young, before they develop a hard coat.

The ones growing on my land have attractive pink & white trumpet-shaped flowers. In a severe drought, such as the one we have just been through here in central Texas, they go semi-dormant and renew themselves with the coming of rain.