Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Laughing tank

We had Isabella for the day. That was fun! We went and started to fill the tank and got in. Ah! Cool. So we played in the tank for a while, then swung on the hammock. Soon it was time to go back indoors. Too hot. 39 degrees.
So we did some painting, some colouring in, some dressing up and some mixture making (macaroni, rice, red lentils and coloured water) Yummy!

After lunch round about three o'clock we all went down to the tank and sank our hot bodies into the water, and stayed for an hour, just getting cool. Well, Isabella had a piece of insulation to float with and roared around the 2x1 tank. When Isabella and I went up to the house to put the kettle on we could hear R laughing with the sheer pleasure of feeling cool in the pool.

In the garden, the tomatoes have finally decided to ripen, but they are not the big fat juicy ones I thought they were going to be. There are also lots of rogue cherry tomatoes from last year. So sweet. The cucumbers are only just beginning to 'hatch' and I sowed some more sweet corn which is rushing along, in a new bed with lots of manure and that black plastic mulch which is actually quite good for somethings. I was not impressed with growing potatoes under it last year. So many were green because they grew just under the black stuff.

I started to improve the strawberry bed when I found that some one lives in it.... Hmmm a mole or a mouse. That is not good. That is probably why the strawberries were not racing along. I think I will move them and completely redig the whole bed, and perhaps line it with some kind of netting, either rabbit or nylon stuff. Perhaps that will keep them out. I have also planted a caster oil plant as it is supposed to deter moles.

The big rain water tank is getting closer to being finished. R goes down in the evening and does another bit, in the cool.

I decided to go on the maple syrup detox diet and am finding it very boring. I want to eat all those delicious tomatoes! We'll see how long that lasts.

August is the month when everyone goes on holiday, to the beaches near us. I can completely understand. It's too hot to work outside. But the cork cutters do it. They just work in the heat and drink gallons of water (and madronho) and climb the beautiful trees and peel off their outer skin. They can only do it when the weather is hot, otherwise it damages the tree.

Tomorrow I will paint the house with cal (lime) and the new tank.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hot and Sweaty

Friday evening at sunset. The neighbour walks his cows across the shorn fields their bells ringing to the rhythm of their footsteps. A hot tired sound.

It has been hot. Averaging 40 degrees up here on the top of the hill. Inside has been up to ten degrees cooler, thanks to the sheep's wool insulation and some green shade netting we have put up to try and keep the walls from getting so hot. That is where taipa walls are the tops. If this had been a house built in the traditional manner, with rammed earth walls 50 centimeters thick, it would be cool in here during the day, and only after sunset would the heat start to find its way into the rooms. Instead, it is crappy old hollow clay bricks. Still, one day they will be replace with straw bales or adobe.... Dream on.

The garden was looking so pathetic a few weeks back I was beginning to despair, but Laura suggested more water. The magic ingredient! Now I have a whole host of vegetables that will be ready, soon. In fact, we ate our first cucumber this evening, and what a taste! The tomatoes aren't huge, but they are also tasty. The aubergines that I grew from seed are really big and strong.  Now I am scraping off the cut grass from the hill and using it as mulch to try and stop all that precious water from evaporating too quickly.

I went to the Tamera open day a few weeks ago. Tamera is a large community, mostly German, that have a lot of land quite near us. They have done some amazing water retention schemes in the landscape. They had the famous Sep Holzer from Austria to help them design their lakes.They have so much water, all gathered from the rains from the winter. It is inspiring to see. I also was inspired by some of the alternative buildings they have, made from straw bales and other stuff. Of course, it is very well made, expensive stuff. Not so home made as my attempts. But then, they paid experts to do the work. It is still impressive when they tell us that they only had to light a fire twice the whole of last winter. Well worth a visit. The vegetarian lunch is always yummy!  I cycled there and was surprised at how close it is to us. Sometimes, in the evening, we can see a small mushroom cloud over the hill where Tamera is. R reckons it is coming off the lakes!

The tank we have been slowly constructing is almost ready. I have rendered the inside so it is all smooth. Next, we must make the walls level, using an angle grinder... that does not sound pleasant work. Also, in this heat it could be dangerous, due to sparks flying into the dry grass.

Nuno has built us a little splash pool so we can dive in and cool down. I will use it for watering the garden. Permaculture - stacked functions.

There are a lot of things happening around here now that it's holiday season. World music festival in Sines, FACECO, the agricultural show, in Sao Teotonio, and next week end, 'tasquinas' in Sao Luis, where all the local restaurateurs have stalls selling their best menus, and a bouncy castle for the kids and a baile later, so we can all dance off the excess!