Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicks, Kids, and the House on the Hill

Everything is in motion! Spring springing out!

We hosted about 20 kids from the local elementary school, helping them develop a class project on ecological living. They asked tons of questions, touched and smelled the garden plants, stuck their hands in compost, patted the Earthen buildings, marveled at the dry composting toilets, quizzed the interns, and awed at the rocket stove-prepared lemon grass tea! Gorgeous sharing experience, and our neighbors told us their kids just couldn't stop talking about the "farm at the bottom of the valley."
The same week the children came to visit, our mama chicken hat
ched a proud crew of spring cheepers. More to come next week...
We have been working in the gardens and the fields, and sprouts are popping up everywhere. (photos next entry...)

Also, the new building is underway, being floored and roofed, sometimes simultaneously! Since we are building on a hill, we decided to make it flow with the natural levels of the earth, giving it 3 different floors. Here you see the retaining walls and roof posts:

The roof frames (giant hardwood triangles) were built on the ground and then hoisted up into place.
The hoisting went like this: everyone lift the heavy upside-down triangle together and push one side up (leaving the tallest man on his tippie-toes), and then another coordinated heave and heft to get the other side up. Then the flipping: two guys on ladders, two on ropes, one with a tall stick in the middle, someone yelling orders, pushing, breathing, heaving... and voila! one was up... whew.
...only 6 more to go...
What an experience! A real blessing to have so many hands to help heave and hoist, and then admire it with afterwards.
Next step... hauling dirt in to fill the floor levels, and pack it down with our handy stump-stomper. Now we are ready to put up some Earthen walls!

In between all the building and gardening, we took a field trip out to professor Eric Barney's workshop to see his wacky and genius renewable energy creations. Homemeade wind turbines, water pumps, micro-hydro spinning electrical what-have-yous, and organic yerba mate.
Bonus Photo: Dead Beautiful Things in the Palm of Our Hands

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ah, Sweet Spring...

The equinox is upon us, and spring is in full swing! Flowers everywhere, the greening jungle, life abounds!

In the garden: gorgeous calendulas, fa-fa-fa-fava beans, fattening carrots, peas (still!), renegade cilantro, and more being seeded right now! The flats are full and spring plant-lings are popping up.
Food for the gardens: our delicious compost, sifted with love and worms!
We added fresh topsoil, a bit of sand (since our soil is so clay-rich), hardwood sawdust from the local mill, and two types of compost, plus some homegrown liquid microorganisms.
Aye! spicy peppers-- ones that didn't die back over the winter and are STILL flowering...
We've been keeping busy in the kitchen: making wild plantain balm, camphor infused oil, peanut butter, yogurt and kefir, and many sweets (of course!)
Skyler with his handmade tin can rocket stove-- only small twigs required! And it heats mate water fast!
Bonus shot: Life everywhere.
More photos coming soon...!