Sunday, June 24, 2012

Getting too hot to work...

37 degrees today.
We are making progress on the dome, but it is slow, due to the heat and  having other things to do.

I did a whole row of earth bagging by my self one day.  It was slow, but not too hard.  I realised I can fill the bags much more quickly using the black rubbery builder's buckets.  That was very satisfying.  Bim and Billy helped me do a row the next day and between us we did a row in two hours (instead of five).  It's a great shame they are going back to Bristol!  The building is now over a meter high and as solid as a rock.
One of the guavas I grew from seed has lots of buds and flowers on it.  I wonder if they self pollinate.
We went to Pega das Pias on Friday.  It's so lovely to sit in the shade of the big poplar trees by the edge of the water and watch the blue damsel flies and dragon flies hovering over the surface.  When swimming up the cool sweet water we saw some large turtles sunbathing on the rocks, and small leaves floated on the water like boats. A group of women from Tamera sat in another shady bit and one had a two month old baby, still curled up and so fresh and wonderful!  It's such a precious time as a new mum, when you have good supportive friends around you
It's the season of the popular saints.  Every village and town has some kind of party and procession to celebrate their saint, and some villages are decorated with paper flowers.  Sao Teotonio is usually outstandingly lovely and well worth a visit.
The fields are being harvested at the moment.  Big rumbling machines are turning the hills to straw corduroy!  I would like to get some straw for mulch as it works very well.
I ate a strawberry from the garden that was so sweet and hot from the sun that it tasted just like jam!  The cherry tomatoes are beginning to show through the green foliage, little red beacons.
Having water on tap is wonderful.  All the plants are appreciating it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Village life (and death) and other random acts

Recently, after the church bell rings out nine times, telling us it's nine o'clock, the bells continue.  Another funeral.  They seem to happen in batches.  Groups of people dressed in black walk up to the church, carrying flowers.

 R is very good at using the market.  He came back with a pineapple and some carapao, and spinach and coriander.  Shopping locally is good for everyone.  Less fuel wasted and local shops stay open, and people walk, and talk to each other.
We sit upstairs in our sunny room and look out over the goats on the hill, and the rooftops of our neighbours, and feel the heat of the day beginning.  Yes, summer is a coming in.  The hills are beginning to turn brown and dust rises up on the tracks. 
Today, up at the land, we noticed smoke in a valley south of us.  A helicopter vaiantly doused it over and over again.  A siren was heard in the distance.  The bombeiros on their way.  This is the season when we all have to be vigilant and careful.  A dropped cigarette could mean disaster.
I had a very satisfying day moving the compost heap.  First I had to decide where to move it to.  It was a bit too close to the bender and the earthbag building site.  Wafts of rotting fruit and vege were beginning to impinge.  So I carted it off to the bottom of the garden, where all good compost heaps should be.  I made the heap by piling old rafters up in logcabin pattern and then fill it with twigs then straw, then all the rest including more straw and horse shit.  It's looking really good.  I used a wheelbarrow load of the black gold for a patch of ground that I had just cleared of potatoes.
Later, after the intense heat of the day eased, we did a bit more of the earth bagging.  We are now on the fith row.  I will soon need a ladder to get up on the wall.
Finally, I am thinking about design.  Maybe I should/could actually design the garden in a permaculture way.
It is my habit to just do something and then do something else and stick a bit of this here and then a bit of that there.  Random acts. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Earth Bag Dome Begins To Take Shape

We have done two rows of earth bags.  They are filled with a mixture of lime and earth, mixed in a wheelbarrow and then shovelled into the bags.  It's a bit like knitting, in that when you've started it's hard to stop. 'Just one more row'.  The big wooden bit is a form for where the door will go.

We have also got water and electricity.  Bim and Billy have been helping by digging a trench.  Hot work. Yesterday we could water the garden without having to choose which ones were the lucky ones, every plant could have some :).  Even have a stand pipe.
And finally, a big yellow lily has opened up near the compost loo.  Happy days.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh God, We're half way through the year!

The days are shooting by and we haven't been doing all that we thought we would do this week, partly because we diecided to try out a two week 'Turbo charge your life' thing which involves drinking gallons of fruit and vegetable slurry.  It's actually very tasty stuff, and you do feel more alert, but the lack of carbohydrates can make hard digging and lifting feel too much.  R says I look much better, but that makes me wonder how 'bad' I must have looked before!
No, but seriously, it is a great thing to do.  No bread, butter, cheese, alcohol, red meat, potatoes.  I love it.  I do miss the odd glass of wine, but not too much.
So not a huge amount of progress on the building front.
I have harvested one patch of potatoes, as they were looking rather poorly.  Not a huge bounty, but they look perfect, considering it was a very dry winter, and I haven't watered any of the potato crop.  The rest are doing well.  Most are growing under black plastic netting, and it really does keep the soil moist.
My sons have been helping, digging a long trench (150m) from the site to the new water connection.  Yes, we now are connected to agua de rede.  It's amazing.  Just turn on the tap!  Still have to carry the water down to the vege garden until the boys have dug the trench. :)
The guava I grew from a pip (they germinate very easily) has flowers/fruit on it.  And the banana that I had lingering in a pot for a couple of years is shooting up since it has gone into the ground next to the bender.  It loves it.  Also, because I gave it plenty of straw mulch, it has not needed watering since I planted it a week ago.
The avacado seeds that I had put in the earth here and there are coming up.  I'm not watering them - they have to survive on their own.  Well, with a bit of mulch.
 Watch this space!
We intend to get on with the store room earth bag building this coming week....