Organic Design (blog)

De Organic Design

New chainsaw

Posted by Nad on 13 de setembro de 2017 at 10h27min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Our small chainsaw's worked really well for us for about five years now, and apparently this is really good luck, because two different people who fix chainsaws have told us that our model (the Husqvarna 236) is complete junk! It's an entry-level model they made for super markets - which is pretty much the kind of place we got it too - shops that specialise in chainsaws and similar tools never stock the 236! They said we've had really good luck though, because if a 236 is regularly used and keeps working for the first six months, then it's likely that it will keep going :-)

But even though it's been working just fine, I have been realising lately that it's just too small to handle many of the jobs we need it for. So when we went in to our regular repair shop to get a water pump, we asked the guy what model he'd recommend if we were to, at some point in the future, start thinking about maybe getting a bigger one... well he said that they just don't make them like they used to, but it just so happened that right then he happened to have a model 257 sitting there that the owner wanted to sell, and the 257 was the best model that Husqvarna have ever made - it's light, powerful, and will last us for thirty years! Luckily we said we'd take it for the R$1050 the owner wanted for it right then, because the next day when we went to pay and pick it up, another guy had just been in saying he was looking for a second-hand 257 for up to R$1500!

Well I got to work with it today and chopped up some of the fallen tree that had tried to kill Beth the other month. I'd had to give up trying to cut it up with the 236, but the 257 made easy work of it - it's really dense wood but it went straight through it all without struggling a bit :-)

New chainsaw.jpg
Using new chainsaw.jpg
Using new chainsaw 2.jpg

New garden bed approach

Posted by Nad on 13 de setembro de 2017 at 10h10min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
We've had some good tips for how to do good mulch and garden beds, first we were told that the mulch should be mainly dry wood chips and should cover the entire range of sizes so that there's nothing missing in the range of lifeforms which feed on different sizes of material. Our first attempt at mulching didn't work very well because we didn't leave the material to dry long enough before putting it through the mulcher so the result was too full of moisture and all matted together. Our latest version looks like this:
Dry mulch.jpg

We also visited some friends in Caxias who have some very productive land and sell their produce to an organic fruit and vege shop there. They have a very similar way of thinking to us (or at least to how we'd like to be!) such as not killing insects and not weeding - just working with nature rather than always fighting against it. They showed us how they do some of their garden beds, and we've tried to follow their example. First we clear an area and then partially bury some small rotting logs, then we cover that in mulch, and put a layer of dried leaves over the top of that. We then put logs around the whole bed to define the boundary and keep the nutrients in. We also put cardboard under the logs so that grass doesn't grow near them so that it's easy to do weed-eating around the bed. We cover the cardboard with dry grass to hide it :-)

Garden bed burried wood.jpg
Garden bed with dry mulch and leaves.jpg
Garden bed finished.jpg

The dog house

Posted by Nad on 24 de junho de 2017 at 07h38min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
We have dog guests so regularly that we decided it was time to make a house for them to stay in when they visit! Especially now that it's winter and they're sleeping outside the door shivering all night when it's cold. Unfortunately they didn't like it and have been sleeping on some sacks behind our house, but I think they'll find it more appealing next time there's a bit of a frost :-)
DogHouse2.jpg
DogHouse1.jpg

Back into the 4x4 team

Posted by Nad on 9 de março de 2017 at 05h27min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
We decided that we need to trade the Sandero for a 4x4 because it's slowly getting more and more damaged each time we go anywhere in it. So far it's only been very minor damage such as all the protection on the bottom being dented and having to have bolts replaced or added, but it would have only been a matter of time before something more delicate on the bottom broke or we lost control and smashed something more major on it. But even more importantly is that now we're going to the city regularly, but it depends on the weather if we can actually leave or not - and visa versa we don't know if we can make it back, we might have to turn around and get a hotel if there's been too much rain here! So we decided to trade it for something more powerful while it still had most of its value.

After looking at a few other options we settled on this twenty year old 3L diesel Hilux from a used car company in Canela, it was quite a coincidence because Beth had just been to a mechanic to ask for recommendations, and a couple of hours later he went to visit a friend who happened to be selling a Hilux that the mechanic thought would be perfect for her! It's done over half a million Km, but it's only had two owners and the last owner had the whole engine replaced so it's effectively done a lot less distance.

It was quite muddy when we drove it back last night, but it was no problem at all - Beth was whipping over all the difficult parts in the road at 60k that we usually had to practically stop on before, laughing hysterically all the way! I drove the second half of the way which has the parts that normally involved a lot of surfing, but the Hilux handled it perfectly only having to surf through the forest at the end - the old Crumpie and Scottie ads are no exaggeration, it was just like that coming back to the land! The forest was no trouble at all, even after it had been raining a lot, it was far easier than it ever had been in Nivinha :-)

Here's a photo of it, we should have a bunch more soon after we give Vaca Velha a try! Update: after a fair bit of rain we decided to go for a bit of a drive to test it out, but it wasn't a very long drive - we almost got through the forest path and then it got stuck in the mud! It looks like the tyres are much too smooth for our conditions :-(

New Hilux.jpg
Hilux stuck already.jpg

At the moment it has Pirelli Scorpian ATR tyres which are 50/50 off-road/on-road tyres, but we need to upgrade to at least the MTR's which are 80/20 or maybe even the Scorpian Mud's.

Scorpian ATR
Scorpian MTR
Scorpian Mud

Beth's forest retreat underway

Posted by Nad on 20 de janeiro de 2017 at 09h00min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Beth's doing a short retreat in the forest where she'll be fasting and meditating for three days and nights. I made a small platform for her to put her tent on in case there's any flooding, but the weather looks like it's going to be quite clear. She's finished her first night this morning - I don't know how it went for her (since we won't be seeing each other until it's finished), but I felt quite anxious with her being alone in the forest all night :-(

Each morning and night I go a few metres into the forest where there's a tree that Beth's tied some material onto, I untie it and put it on the ground so she knows I'm checking on her, and when she sees it on the ground she ties it back up again so I know she's ok. This morning the material was tied up, but had a note in it saying she wanted me to leave a blanket there :-)

Retreat with tent 2.jpg
Retreat with tent 1.jpg

Beth's almost scary forest retreat

Posted by Nad on 10 de janeiro de 2017 at 09h31min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Beth wants to do a ten day forest retreat soon, but because it can flood we decided to make a platform that she can put her tent on safely. Later I'll make the platform into a small A-frame house so retreats can be done more easily without a tent.

We found a nice spot that didn't have any dangerous looking branches overhead. I cleared the area and made some poles to put the platform on, but then got I delayed with finishing the new wood storage.

Beth's forest retreat started.jpg


It turned out it was very lucky I got delayed because right in the middle of the time Beth would have been doing her retreat there, a large tree fell straight over the area right on top of the front two poles!!!

Fallen tree in retreat area 1.jpg


After I started clearing it all away I found that actually if Beth had been there she wouldn't have been harmed because the small tree that we'd left in front of the area had diverted the main heavy falling wood away from the where the platform wood have been! It would have been a real scare but it looks like no damage would have been done. None of the poles had been damaged by the incident.

Fallen tree in retreat area 2.jpg


Finally I got all of the fallen tree cleared away and got back to work - you can see the small protecting tree to the left in the picture below :-)

Retreat area cleared and work continuing.jpg

New wood storage usable

Posted by Nad on 10 de janeiro de 2017 at 09h16min
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
A few weeks ago our firewood storage collapsed and we decided to design and build something more permanent. A few days ago, it was complete enough that we could dismantle the collapsed one and move all the wood into the new one.
WoodStorageCollapsed.jpg
New wood store.jpg
New wood storage usable.jpg

It's not complete yet though, I'm going to put vertical supports on the front as well so the wood can be piled up higher, and also put shelves over so that a second pile can be made above the existing ones while still allowing for good air flow.

Feliz anniversário Beth!

Posted by Nad on 29 de dezembro de 2016 at 07h05min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Ontem foi aniversário da Beth! Nós tivemos um dia simples sem viajar para qualquer lugar, foi perfeito :-)

Beth cozinhou um bolo com coco, chocolate e framboesa em cima.

Beth35th.jpg

The Araucária tree

Posted by Nad on 27 de dezembro de 2016 at 09h56min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Um documentário lindo sobre o árvore Araucária.


Raspberries for christmas

Posted by Nad on 24 de dezembro de 2016 at 07h02min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We're really pleased that we took the time to save a couple of the raspberries from the ant attacks because they've been amazingly productive. It turned out the cotton wool wasn't very effective (and neither was tin foil which was another method we'd been told stopped them), but the PVC pipes reduced the majority of them, and putting habanero sauce at the top of the pipes when they get particularly crazy works very well. In the last week or so these two plants have been giving us a whole punnet of raspberries every day!
Pipes and wool on raspberries.jpg
Christmas raspberries.jpg

We've found that putting a mixture of yeast and sugar in the path of the ants seems to work very well too, they take some of it back to the nest and the yeast bacteria competes with the fungus that they use all the leaves to produce for food. They have no way to get rid of the bacteria once it starts to grow and have no choice but to close down the whole nest and start another one somewhere else. One big nest about a cubic metre in size has recently been abandoned, but it's important to keep putting the mixture around otherwise the new nest will go through a very productive phase as it grows in size.

It's not a very harmonious solution, but until we figure out a better way it's going to have to do. We've been told that they only go crazy and completely destroy plants like this when there's something out of balance in the environment, so maybe as we make the land more fertile and productive it will help fix the balance and we can co-exist with the ants in harmony - but for now the yeast-nuke stays.

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