Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holy Cow.. in the jungle!

Her name is Paloma. She just moved in. She´s 7 months pregnant (due in December). She´s getting used to us and the farm. I´m wooing her with banana peels and dried corn (her favorite!) Now she lets me rub behind her ears...

But this cow business is all new for us!! Learn as you go... The neighbors are letting me practice milking on their cows. (I am also making lots of cheeses, yoghurts, and other milkty delights!)

In the meantime, Marcelo and a neighbor are putting up the outside walls of the cabin. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, so we can keep working... and move in soon!

FYI-- the outside wood is Eucalyptus, the hardwood heart of the tree that the paper and plywood businesses usually toss out or burn.

We also transplanted 90 little trees this week, as part of our reforestation project... just in time for the rain!!!

And, of course, we must take time to enjoy the dipping spots in the river. Playtime is very important in the jungle farming world.

Bonus photo: lots of these long-legged hoppers loafing about the kitchen lately...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oxen, Compost and Birds Nests

In the last couple of weeks, we´ve been busy (as usual).

We finally finished the Earthbag wall in the kitchen, and of course, painted it red (with lime putty and oxide pigment.) The kitchen was somewhat put together, but then we took it all apart to start working on the floor to get it level and prepped for rock-and-cementing it... We didn´t take pictures of that mess.

The first friend to find the wall!

And with the help of our super volunteers, we built a new and improved double sided compost bin!! We used old pallets and some creatively recylcled things from a local junkyard. So far, so great!

Also, Marcelo and a neighbor used oxen to cut up and haul old fallen hardwood trees from the forest, and take them up to our local sawmill. We are having the trees cut into boards to use for building the inside walls of the house (and other future projects). This is Minero and Fasero-- they spent a couple of nights with us in the valley. Though not very social (they don´t like hugs much), they sure were hard workers!

And it seems our volunteer popularity is growing, so this week we grew to a big family. We have been doing lots of craft sharing. We are using vines from the jungle to make baskets, carving peices of wood into tools, making macrame hangers... and loads more. We love to learn new things, especially when we can use the materials in the jungle.
Of course, springtime means lots of feathered company. This is a Surucua Rojo-- a spectacular bird who moved into a dead tree near the spring. She and her partner take turns guarding the nest and looking at us walk by. We also have been discovering birds nests in our backpacks, the seed boxes, and other tucked away dry places in the toolshed-toilet house. Some we let stay, but others, well, we have to encourage them to move outside. It´s always fun to see who shows up every morning!

On one of our night hikes, we followed the croaks of this little guy and found him by the babbling brook.

Ode to Marcelo...

We celebrated his birthday this last week, with a big asado lunch shared by our friends and volunteers. Marcelo confessed (post-vino) that he feels a little left out of the blog, being that we never post photos of him. So, happy birthday, mi amor. This part is all for you...