Monday, December 30, 2013

Beginning the Hard Work

Alexandre came with his digger on Monday, just before the big storm. There were black clouds and a strong wind from the South West, always a harbourer of rain... I stood and watched and felt the rain trying to start. I guided him and he made big piles of earth and levelled the site. I was very excited because it feels so much more real when you actually do something big like this. Then the storm came and we stayed indoors for Christmas with the wind bashing the roof and the rain being pushed through the window... But we had a good fire burning and some Irish Whiskey to sip. And I did a bit more dreaming and thinking about how I will build my little house.

The storms have abated and today I went down to the site and made a circle two and a halve meters from the centre. I marked it with stones and stood back. I felt nervous. Can I make something that size? Am I capable? I went up for a coffee. Later, I went down again and started to dig with the enxada (hoe-type of tool). I'll just do a bit, I thought to myself. Just get a feel for it... and after an hour or so I had nearly got round the whole circle! Some of it is very hard, full of rocks which I split with a giants crowbar. It's not deep enough in places, yet, and it's not the full circle, yet, but I'm doing it! Bonnie enjoyed running along the trench and dicing with death near the iron blade...

The baby chicks are doing well. They have moved into the new hen house and I am in the process of dismantling the old one.

R has been pruning more olive trees and peeling the usable branches. The wood is so strong and beautiful, we hope to make furniture and other things with it.

New year is nearly upon us. Time to get the Irish whiskey out again, I think.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So, I love to build stuff...
 So I built a new capoeira (hen-house). The old one (above) was beginning to be rather raggedy and weather worn, and I was tired of having to stoop to crawl into the 'beduin-style' tent. The new one is an 'A' frame covered in chicken wire and tarp and shade netting, with a person-sized door! Yippee! I made nesting boxes out of old paint tins and one of the hens is laying eggs on the straw inside. The other hen has produced TWO baby chicks, one black and one yellow. They are in the Beduin tent for the moment.  We are so happy to have finally managed to keep them alive. I had decided to leave her alone completely, this time. No interference at all. OK so there were far too many eggs that didn't make it and I had to throw away, but two chicks is enough for the moment.
The cockerel comes and stands proudly by their pen to watch (It's true. He is an amazingly good, caring cockerel. I've learnt a lot about the male species from observing him!)

This is the shortest day. It's been beautiful and sunny and I have started to dig a patch for potatoes or chick peas.  I fill up buckets with the stones and take them down to the 'site' of the mud house....(for the foundation ditch).

R has been tackling the brambles around a huge olive tree which he is rescuing. It looks so much better, already. It's hard to believe that when we first came here two years ago there were brambles EVERYWHERE!

When it's clear skies and warm sun during the day it's usually cold at night, but we keep cosy by the stove and lie around with a hot puppy on our laps. Rather nice when she's sleepy. With a glass of Polish vodka and a slice of stollen, that's the Christmas spirit.

The picture at the top is the view in the morning with the clouds. (We get excited when we see clouds!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mud house dreams

I've been working on my studio... and built the model in a morning. Very exciting and a good learning experience. It really helps to visualise the real one.

R has chopped down a pine tree. He used an axe. We stopped for a coffee and when he went down to finish it, he realised the wind had done it for him. He said that was permaculture in action! I went down in the afternoon and sat astride and peeled it. I got very sticky with the resin which began to blister up from the peeled trunk. It feels HUGE and I feel nervous about using it as the main beam for the studio. But as it dries it will get lighter.

I really want to build a house using mostly materials from around here. The earth is perfect. I made some sample bricks using different mixes, adding sand and straw in different proportions and the best bricks were made from the earth on the site and a handful of straw. No need for sand. That's good news as I really didn't fancy lugging barrow-loads of the stuff downhill.

A view of the village from our house as the sun rises on the frosty fog. It doesn't get as cold up on the hill, never below five degrees, but down in the bottoms it gets to freezing. We are all hoping for rain as it is getting dry. I had to water the cabbage seedlings today. With rain the temperature usually rises.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December already!

It's an unfinished picture.
From a beautiful day of clouds and Jacob's ladders streaming out from silver lined clouds and shots of blue.

December is upon us, cold like a knife, in the early morning. Frosty leaves in the garden. But nothing damaged. The greenhouse stays at least four degrees warmer and yesterday I sat in there and relished the 25 degrees of captured warmth and thought about passive solar heating for my studio, which I intend to build nearby. With a bit of careful planning you can get the sun to warm your house in the winter, when it hangs so low in the sky it can reach in.

The Man is back and tackling the bramble regrowth and making me a work table. Something solid to put the wool carder on, or the sewing machine, etc. and I have invested in a Jotul woodburner. What a difference!