We purchased a small piece of land in south eastern Alberta near the Cypress Hills in the 1990’s as a summer camp to experience the quiet solitude of the rolling grasslands. We loved going to Latin America and this area of Alberta is about the sunniest place in Canada so we whimsically named it La Finca del Sol, or the Sun Farm.
This little retreat proved surprisingly rich in wildlife because of a small creek that passes through the area. In wet years the creek runs fairly consistently, and in dry years, it’s gone by mid-summer. But it does not seem to make that much difference as we’ve been treated to watching a full cast of prairie characters from coyotes to elk, mule deer, and antelope. There are plenty of northern harriers to prey on ground squirrels, voles and deer mice, not mention the thousands of small birds that seek protection in the trees. We get amused listening to raspy gate hinge sound of introduced pheasants and get a kick out the antics of gray partridges gravelling up on the roadside. Most magnificent are the short eared owls who make their nightly patrol of our little land, often flying right up to us to really give us a checking up. In 2016 we made serious plans to develop a small, super sustainable house here using natural materials, fulfilling a life long dream to be able to live in a natural setting with as little imprint as possible.
Surveying started the process, followed by a geo-technical analysis to determine any constraints to building sites. The next step was a house design using passive solar and modern straw bale technology. The house will use a wood frame construction and a super insulated slab foundation with European building plaster for exterior and interior skin. There are many other features combining natural and mechanical technologies that I’ll write about at a later date.
In 2017 we aim to start and finish construction.