Creek nearly doubles in width with rainfallI achieved my goal by my goal date of 12 July 2010! I'm now part time in the King Valley and somewhat started on my three projects. Well, I'm at least very focused on them all, seeing as I'm part time.
I celebrated on the day with a bottle of local, King Valley champagne with my parents on Monday 12 July. Then on the following weekend I bought, ironed and hung curtains throughout the farm house I'll be living in (if I can find a housemate). I bought some heavily discounted curtains that have a special backing to help insulate the house. They block out the sun in summer, and keep in the warmth in winter. Some curtain sets were only $50 which makes me wonder why I haven't bought some for my very cold Brunswick house that only has ineffective venetian blinds and no heating in my bedroom.
The other activity top on my list is organising insulation for the roof. I have had a quote from a local insulator who can spray in wool. For around Wangaratta, R4 is recommended (the higher the number, the better the insulation effect). Around Melbourne, somewhere over R3 is the recommended minimum.
Passive solar heating is also important. The bedrooms and kitchen are on the north side: the sunny side for those who live in the southern hemisphere. When I walked into the front bedroom, which had the winter sun streaming in, it was warmer than the living room on the south which had the fire going. I actually double checked to see if the electric heater had accidentally been left on. No, it was passive solar heating. The amazing sun.
Of course, you wouldn't want this in summer. You can avoid overheating in summer by having a verandah or, to involve permaculture design, a deciduous vine over a pergola which will give you shade in summer and allow the sun in during winter (plus yield fruit). Just be careful on how far the verandah juts out: you just need it far enough to cut out the summer sun which sits higher in the sky. But not jutting out so far that the winter sun, which sits lower in the sky, is cut out too. If the sun doesn't hit the window, it won't warm the house. There is actually a mathematical formula for this and it isn't too tricky.
What it comes down to is being comfortable. And it doesn't need to be costly, it should save you money and effort (e.g. having to chop wood). A good guide for building is Your Home Technical Manual.
I haven't done anything on the plot yet, just tidied up the area around the house to start a vegetable patch there. It has access to water, so I'll begin there as I get the plot organised. The Black Range Creek is flowing well: quite swollen and has knocked a few trees downstream in its haste.
Silt deposit from flooded creek