Sunday, October 28, 2012

Of Flowers and Mud

So many colors popping up around us! Full bloom of spring in the jungle. How many eye delights can one find?!
The duckling (yes just one) has arrived! Hatched perfectly healthily under mama chicken, now she is learning the duck version of chicken ways, and likes to show off by swimming in the water bowl.
The mud building project has been steadily growing upwards.

The bottle wall of many colors:

The adobe bricks getting slotted for holding the old car window in place:

The middle wall with the built-in furniture:
Nope, it's not earthen human shackles we're building, but in the meantime, the shelving holes serve many purposes. Ill-behaved (returning) intern “learning” devices? :)
Mud meatballs in a bucket. Mmmm...
Transporting buckets of mud, balancing over planks of wood on the unfinished floor-- just an extra challenge to keep us on our toes.

Even our smallest visitors catch the spirit of mud building!

The old meets the new!
  And voila! The structure is complete. Now onto mud plastering- our favorite!!
Back to the Nature around us... The bananas are in flower, and fruiting up for the summer.

 Cauli-flower power!

 Dill in flower.
In the in-between times, we bottled (and sampled) our mulberry wine. It's good now, but we saved a bit to let it gather more flavor and umph.
  We have also been keeping up with the growing garden, and experimenting with sheet mulch bed making.
 Gathering herbs for our bug repellent balm.  Calendula, rosemary, camphor, pennyroyal, lemon balm, citronella, eucalyptus, and a few more.
The kittens are in that ridiculously cute phase, venturing out of their little love nest, crawling all over each other, and wibbly-wobbling onto the great big world of the porch. Here's mama Monkey keeping her watchful eye over their explorations.
Caterpillar season is upon us again, and butterflies are bursting out of cocoons all around us.
Can anyone identify this flowering wild plant?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Info en Español

Disculpe!  Este blog esta en ingles, pero estamos trabajando en el sitio web para informacion en español. 

Si necesita alguna informacion especifica, por favor escribinos un mensaje al correo electronico


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Going to Extremes

Wow!  What a time we've had lately!  All the extremes have been blessing us with learning and growing.  So, we are in springtime, which means that all the tips of trees are budding out, seeds of giant jungle vines are dropping to the earth to plant themselves (below is a "Monkey's comb" seedpod), and the garden is bursting with new life too. 
But, wouldn't you know it, a little surprise came our way in the form of an overnight unseasonal frost!  Here, the oregano gets a tickle of ice on its leaves:
Luckily, we didn't lose much in the freeze, since we quickly covered the freshly transplanted tomatoes and other little plantlings with plastic bottles.  The cold spell also gave us a chance to build a hot fire for our wood-burning water heater and take deliciously hot showers, much appreciated. 
The cold quickly subsided, then came the heat.  We worked hard and fast, knowing that once the heat and humidity rises, so does the chance of rain.  And we still needed to roof our adobe building!!!  We finished the tongue-and-groove woodwork in the ceiling with the help of some friends and the interns.  We covered it temporarily just in time to get three days straight of serious tropical rain! 
Glory hallelujah for the plants and garden! And for us too, since we got to do some workshops in the kitchen making soaps and salves and talking about herbal medicine making.
When the rain stopped (or seemed to pause a bit), we jumped back to the roof work.  Constantly checking weather reports for the best time, we finally decided to just go for it one day... We laid the plastic vapor barrier on the wood, the wood frame was put in place, and we started mixing our slip straw insulation.  All hands on deck and the heat and humidity rising, we knew the storm was coming, but we couldn't stop there.
So we mixed and passed buckets and mixed and passed buckets until we filled in the insulation layer.  Then, THUNDER!  OOh, we had to hurry and get the roof aluminum up or all our work was going to wash away!  Squeezing the roofing between the trees, passing it up to the people up top, hurry hurry! Working it into place, next piece up and ready, times ten pieces, and then some wood planks to hold it all down... whew! and then came the raindrops falling on our perfectly timed roof!!! Wow, we couldn't have cut it any closer.  But alas, all went up, the roof is safely installed, and we can continue our adobe building without the fear of water damage.   
And the mud walls are already going up...
As you can see, it's very serious business this earthen building stuff.
Now, in the inbetweens of rain showers, the garden is sprouting, the waterfall and rivers are full bodied and flowing, and the butterflies are abounding.
And who likes rain more than our fungal friends?  Here are some Judas Ears mushrooms we harvested near the garden, and later ate in a tasty nettle-shroom soup, accompanied by fresh bread and good company.  
Our Hugelkultur beds are also bustling with post-rain joy and bursting with squash-lings.
Somewhere in the middle of all this rain and freeze and heat came about 50 children from a local school along with their patrons from Buenos Aires.  They toured our mud cabins, the gardens, the community spaces, and even did a 5 minute meditation on the sounds of the jungle in the yoga shala.    

 In other news extremes, here is Monkey in all her pregnancy lethargy:

 ...and in her postpartum bliss.  Three little kittens born in the earthen pizza oven right in the middle of the kitchen!
A gorgeous time of extremes also brought us friends from Ecuador, Chile, and northern Argentina to share their indigenous wisdom through workshops and plant medicines.  Thank you to the Universe for all these challenges and blessings!