Monday, November 24, 2008

Creatures Galore

The temperature is rising, and summer is on her hot path in. We are getting up earlier and taking afternoons off, cooling ourselves in the river and under the trees. We still have lots of projects going on, some more spontaneous than others...

Recently, the film crew of a Hungarian reality show (who are making something like Fear Factor here in Misiones) gave us some of their "discarded" local creatures. We brought them out to Mama Roja, and then released them into the jungle. The giant iguanas ("Golden Tegu Lizards") scurried away happily, with a little glance back over their scaly shoulders and a wink, and the fat toads ("Cururus") plopped their bellies into the river. The lizards have made several appearances around the farm, and one of the toads hangs out in the garden slurping up all the grasshoppers. They fit in just fine at Mama Roja.
Oh, and under the three fat toads in the bottom of the bucket was this little fella, who has been heard croaking by the tents in the evenings.

We are also visited by a myriad other creatures, curious as to what the bipeds in the jungle are up to now. The mantises are particularly entertaining and lovely, and give us little dance recitals in the kitchen.

All those wormy fat hairy caterpillars that we have been trying not to brush our skin against are morphing into gorgeous butterflies. We are working on matching up the caterpillars with their winged state.

The baby birds in our shed have hatched and chirp chirp chirp all the time now. The mama and papa bird had squeezed their nest right between some books and the shed wall (we had already kicked them out of nesting in the seed box and a backpack...) So, we temporarily closed a section of the library and donated it to our feathered guests. They don´t seem to mind us one bit. In fact, one can usually watch feeding time while sitting on our comfortable Mingo (our toilet, which is still in the shed for the time being...)

In between creature watching, we work on other projects in progress. Like the Cabin, which is still inching along, and considering that it is being built without the luxury of power tools (all by hand), I´d say it´s progressing quite nicely. This past week, we´ve been working on the odd-angle cuts in the Eucalyptus logs and putting in the interior walls and ceiling. It is becoming really homey in there (yes, we are still in our tent in the house...) or maybe I am just getting used to the sawdust and partial walls??

The garden too is receiving lots of love. This past week, we made tomato supports and cucumber trellises out of the bamboo we harvested. And we have started to eat some of the beans, the cukes, and lots of herbs... and they are delicious!

Next week, we start working on the earthen oven (which is Kimberly´s birthday present), making adobe bricks, and introducing ourselves to our new chickens! We made a coop (which is a moveable chicken tractor) and today we should be receiving them from our friends. Yippee! Photos soon to come... stay posted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Cup Runneth Over...

A salute to the dry corners of the earth, wherever they are (cause they ain´t here.) The last month has been, let´s just say, a wet one. True, it has been interspersed with days of glorious sunshine and perfect temperatures. But the Uruguay River swole over 12 meters (!), which means our little creeks who feed into it also grew. Our cute little Babbling Brook which runs just by the campsite grew into a water-bellied barage of swift-moving energy, which stole a beer and challenged our bucket-fridge. Luckily, we all survived, staying "mostly dry" under the roof, and deepened our appreciation for sunny days and dry winds!

Paloma, the cow, also survived, and even enjoyed the refreshing rainstorms (as you can see by the smile on her face in the photo below.) We are getting more used to each other now, and I dare say, she likes us. Well, at least she has stopped headbutting us, mostly because I bring her treats like banana peels and corn cobs, and let her lick salt off my hands.

Rambo, on the other hand, did not quite know what to do with himself on those rainy river days...

The Cabin: We´ve moved in!! Not to say the cabin is finished (blasted rain!) or that we are not in our tent anymore (cause we are)... Actually, we are in our tent in the cabin. So, I guess we have a partially enclosed tent platform that we live in. But soon it will be a real non-tented cabin with windows and walls and even a loft and floor! We are inching along, but now that summer and dryness are predicted, we should be out of the tent soon enough. (The photo is pre-tent set-up...) Oh, and we installed ur solar panels, which work even on cloudy afternoons. We get enough electricity to run our kitchen light, a small radio, and charge all our batteries, and then some... Halallujah!

The gardens: We have several, all experimental, and in-progress as we speak. There are hoed and bermed beds, potato tyres, sheet mulched beds, untilled earth beds, and broadcast wilderness kamakazi beds... Our inspirations: all the books we have and are reading (by experts and the like), and our generous neighbors and local farmers. Learn as you go, as usual. So far, so good. The only problem is that the grasshoppers and the cutter ants have taken a particular liking to a few corners, and we have to "organically encourage" them to move elsewhere (like that delicious jungle that surrounds us!)

These are some of the culprits who munch our chard...

Speaking of creatures... this is full on butterfly season, which also means caterpillars!! They are everywhere! And most of them are hairy and itchy (from the juices on their tiny hairs). Some are totally impressive in size and color, and will certainly be gorgeous gigantic butterflies one day.

Bonus photo: A walk through the woods to one of our swimming holes...