Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Trench is Dug!!!

I was feeling a bit defeated by the trench I have been digging for the past month. I began to think that I needed a pick=axe with a man attached to it...

But today I went at it with the giant crowbar and broke up the stones and dug it out and then went round fine tuning it with a level, so it runs down to the outlet.

 I even put the yellow drainage tube in, just to see how it looked. Oh it looked fine! This feels like a major break through.

Now I am impatient for the gravel to arrive. Since the men were working on the eucalyptus at the bottom of our land, there is good access through a big valley/field, and I am hoping the gravel and sand will be delivered to the site, so I don't have to take it load by load from the top of the hill... It's a long way and very steep.

But the ground has to be dry so that the lorry doesn't get stuck with two tons of materials.... Exciting. I can hardly believe I am really doing this.

Next, I will fill the trench with gravel and then start on the foundations. Big stones. There is an old, abandoned, quarry near the village, where there are some very good stones for the taking. I have already collected big stones from around here. Lovely white quartz, I think. Big and round and some of them are full of crystals which glitter in the sun.

While I built the foundations I hope that the carpenter can make up a door and a window for the south side.

Meanwhile, the rest of the stuff goes on. The baby chicks are looking like mini grown-ups. The cabbages are filling out, and the broccoli is nearly edible. I have moved the strawberries to the fruit bed under the black fig. I think they will do well there. I ate one this morning. Not bad for January.

Where are the swallows? Usually they arrive around now.

Isabella riding bare-back. That's ma girl!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

And Like Magic, They Appeared

We had Isabella to stay the night, after an afternoon of riding and getting to know Mr T. Sunday morning we took the dog for a long walk and when we returned there was a pile of long straight poles at the top of the hill! Fourteen of them. It felt like a gift. Isabella and I immediately got down to a bit of peeling, and managed to do four before lunch, even though there was a blisteringly cold wind from the north. I finished them off the next day and they are now stacked off the ground and covered where they can dry out for a few months.

The men are still cutting the trees down below, so today I went down and asked them how much they wanted and they said they were in exchange for having access to the trees! That made me very happy.

I have been digging more of the trench. Slowly cutting through the rocks.

While it was raining I went down to my house in Sao Luis and started to give it a Spring clean, ready for the new season. It is such a nice house. I whitewashed the kitchen area. And since Laura lives opposite I had the pleasure of her and Olivias company for a while, upstairs on the lovely wooden floor in the sun.

The chickens are doing well, despite the marauding pigs... and R has made a beautiful dresser for the kitchen, using olive wood branches here and there. How lucky am I?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Things begin to happen on the borders..

I had asked the neighbours if we could cut down a couple of eucalyptus trees, to use as roof beams, but it was complicated. Anyway, they are now all being cut down and sawn into 2.20 m lengths for pulp mill... It will make a big change to our view, and it is quite noisy and messy. We had said that it would be all right to use the bit of land just above the trees, so now it is covered in brash and branches. I had asked them if they could keep back a few poles for me... so we shall see.

I have been planting potatoes and peas and sowing carrot, leek, cabbage, coriander. You never know, they might come up. We have had a lot of heavy showers but when the sun shines it is warm. The compost is steaming away. I am a bit concerned as my source of used straw may be using it all herself! Well, for mulch for her potatoes... So I have been working up the courage to go and make inquiries to buy some. It can be straw that has got wet or has grass growing through it, it's still good for compost.

The days are getting longer and the little daffodils are popping up and smelling sweet. The baby chicks look more like chickens now. They eat what the rest eat and wander around the hillside peeping and cheeping. The other day I found a large mother pig near the hen house. She had been inside and had eaten all the food and knocked over the water and eaten the eggs... Hmph! I don't like that. We chased her and her three babies off the land, but no doubt they will be back. They are left to forage and the owner doesn't seem to care.  R has suggested we take one of the babies and turn it into sausages, etc. but I don't think we will...

The grass is growing and I have been busy weeding. We planted some trees just before Christmas and they are looking well. They have buds on them.

The digging of the foundations is continuing... It is hard work. sometimes it feels hard work just to get down there and get started. But when I get into the swing of it, time passes and mud has been moved (and rocks). I have made it a bit narrow and will probably have to widen it to be bigger than the walls I intend to build on top... Oh, just to think of all the gravel we will have to shift down the hill to fill the trench makes me tremble. But I have collected some larger rocks and think I can use some of them, too.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Some photos

The beginning of the foundations.

The view from the west side of the house.

Bonnie and the cockerel.

Our friendly hen.