Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mini Eggs, Hairy Men, and Fall Garden

The fall equinox just past, and our summer is officially over, although the warm temps and sunny days have far from ceded. We are long overdue for some rain, but are taking advantage of the nice days to do some labor of love.
We just put in our fall garden-- hand-plowed (double-dug) beds enriched with our first batch of homemade compost, Paloma poop, and some fermented leafy anti-bug juices. Before planting, we built a fence around the beds with "costaneras" (leftovers from the sawmill up the road) to keep the chickens and dogs and cows out!
And our old friends Minera and Fazera (the giant white oxen) were back (with our neighbor Claudio) doing some work in the yerba mate.Over the elephant grass and through the woods, in the cart we go!
We collected tons of elephant grass to use as fodder, and to dry out for use as matter for the compost bins and to experiment with in our adobe brick mix. And of course, there has been the usual goings on... egg collecting from our chickens (we get lots of different sizes) and we are building them a new larger coop right now. And milking Paloma... who has tamed down enough to get about a gallon (4 liters) of milk every morning. She behaves herself so long as we give her a heap of elephant grass to distract her. Meanwhile, Suki is growing so big and strong, and so tame that she nuzzles up to just about anyone--even Amanita the cat! We have just about finished the last details of the cabin (I know I keep saying that). Most recently, we built an inside staircase out of a fallen hardwood tree--- it is ten thousand times better than that pokey pointy ladder we were using for the past few months! Now we can get up to our look-out tower bedroom with style (and ease.) Other news... the mystery jungle plant is here again, this time with an inside view of fruit and seeds. Not the Kiwano, as some folks suggested. What could it be??
And Marcelo has shed a layer of long curly hair and is back to his clean-cut disguise... he can now meditate in hair peace.

This photo is actually from way before, but it has good, goofy memories in it. Us and our beloved volunteers, who help make this project and homestead possible, and fun! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yoga, Stick Bugs, and Chickens

The last of our summer garden has been harvested (mmm... pumpkins and squashes!) and we are just about to start digging our fall beds. We are getting to know the land better now, and have a good idea of where the plants will be happiest with plenty of sunshine this winter. Hopefully, we can put in a little greenhouse over the beds too.

Anybody know this mystery plant (the photo below)? The seeds were given to us at the annual provincial seed exchange, and the plant and fruit are wonderful vining delicious delights, but I have no idea what they are called! Any help out there??

The Yoga Platform is in use! We have a roof, a floor, an entryway, some stairs up, and a few half-walls showing the gorgeous jungle all around! There is still some fine-tuning to do, like shelving, a door, painting, and sanding, but so far so "AUM-y".

The stone-adobe bathroom is still in process, with the stone foundation walls almost finished. Next we will put up a temporary roof (to protect the structure from afternoon rainstorms) and start on the earthen and recycled bottle part of the walls. !!

Chicken update... 5 new little hens and 3 big ones were donated to the farm recently, which brings our total chicken population up to 14 (not including the 2 newly hatched chicks which "disappeared", either at the paws of a curious kitty or in the jowls of a lurking jungle lizard. . ) Since the little white chickens are tree-dwellers, it´s hard for us to find their eggs. Occasionally we hear the "BAK-BAK-BGAWK!" egging call and can track down their nests. Hopefully the 3 new big chickens will be more faithful to their coop and make our egg-harvesting easier!

The well hole is also coming along. We hit a layer of hard rock, and then stared at it scratching our heads for a few days. In the meantime, while reading one of our books, we came acroos the ingenious idea of lighting a fire in the well, then once it was really really hot, throwing cold water over it to break the rock (poor man´s dynamite?). So, we tried it... and it worked! It´s not magic and poof! easy now, but we can chip away and get big chunks, and have even hit a porous layer and water started to seep in from the sides! So, we´ll keep digging and maybe light another fire... slow going, but it´s coming.

The rain of late has brought hot, humid days, refreshing evenings, and tantalizing rainbows. Look closely at this one--- it´s a double!