Organic Design (blog)

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Ladybug season

Posted by Nad on 16 de maio de 2014 at 15h49min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
May is ladybug season, we have hundreds of them all over the house and on many plants. They're really good because they keep the pests under control. We have at least three different kinds, the traditional red ones with black spots, "Brazilian ladybugs" which are green and yellow like the Brazilian flag, and another kind that are yellow with black spots.
Lady bug on chia.jpg Brazilian ladybug.jpg Yellow lady bug 2.jpg

Barry leaving

Posted by Nad on 16 de maio de 2014 at 15h16min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Barry left this morning so we're by ourselves again now, but we're going to Canela tomorrow for some supplies so we may catch up with him again at our favourite cafe, Confeiteria Martha. We took a couple of shots of Barry as he was preparing to leave. The second one shows the fire pit that we cooked the Pinhão in Sapeco style, which still has some Grinfas in it, then behind that Barry is standing next to a baby Araucaria with a young one directly behind him and a large old one in the background.
Barry leaving 1.jpg Barry leaving 2.jpg


Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 13h33min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Unfortunately Eduardo had to leave today as he could only take a little time off work, but before he left he wanted to show us a really good way of cooking Pinhão called "Sapeco" (not to be confused with Seppuku!). This method is really nice because it's about cooking the Pinhão with the tree's own fallen leaves ("Grinfa") and nothing more. He went into the forest for half an hour and collected a couple of barrow loads of Grinfa and about a hundred Pinhão and then we stacked the Grinfa up in a big pile with an indentation in the top to pour the Pinhão into.
Sapeco 3.jpg Sapeco 4.jpg Sapeco 5.jpg

The Grinfa are extremely easy to light, even when they have moisture on them you can get them going with a lighter or match with no need for anything else like paper. It's best to light it at three or four locations around the base so it burns evenly. Once it gets going it's like a volcano with really thick smoke and gets really hot. After a few minutes it's all burned and collapsed down, and you then scrape the cooked Pinhão out of all the ashes to eat them. We all had them for breakfast with Chimarrão :-)

Sapeco 6.jpg Sapeco 7.jpg Sapeco 8.jpg

Shortly after our Sapeco breakfast, Eduardo packed his things and left, but promised to return soon with some other friends who he said would also be really inspired seeing how we live out here. Just last week we were thinking how hard we've been finding it out here, and came to the conclusion that what we really needed was to find some good local friends who really share our ideals and values. Well the universe definitely seems to have heard us and promptly manifested a solution! thanks universe!! - and thanks Barry for introducing us :-)

Italian day!

Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 12h58min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
On Monday Beth and Eduardo went to the neighbours, Antonio and Donna Belinha to buy some eggs because Eduardo wanted to do home made pasta for lunch tomorrow. Since Eduardo had also bought Polenta for breakfast we decided that we should have an Italian day! This also meant we could have coffee for breakfast since it would be a special occasion and because they'd also bought milk with the eggs :-) Eduardo is of Italian decent and showed us the traditional way to make really nice pasta and polenta. In addition to all this nice traditional food, Italian day involves shouting loudly at each other in an Italian accent while waving the hands around a lot!
Eduardo making pasta 1.jpg Eduardo making pasta 2.jpg Eduardo making pasta 3.jpg
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Fixing the south-west fence

Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 12h33min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Eduardo's a civil engineer and knows heaps about concrete and how to use it really efficiently. His arrival was really timely because we'd just bought a sack of cement for a few projects around the land, but we haven't worked with concrete before and didn't know the best proportions and how much sand and rock we could get away with adding to the mixture. The most urgent job was to make a better solution to the south-west fence because the sack of rocks idea really hasn't worked and is also very messy.

My new idea was to make a long concrete pole with wire hooks all the way along it. The bar would sit on the river bed under the fence going all the way across and then vertical lengths of barbed wire could attach to the fence and the hooks in the concrete bar.

We started by carrying all the cement and tools to the site which is quite difficult because it's very muddy. Beth and I were amazed that Eduardo walked through the grass and the forest in bare feet! this was really inspirational for us because in New Zealand we have bare feet all the time, and feel that it's really important to be in contact with the Earth and it's also really good for raising awareness and for the nervous system. We'd thought that this was something that really wasn't practical in Brazil due to all the poisonous spiders and caterpillars, scorpians and snakes, but Eduardo had the attitude that as long as you're aware and can see where you're putting your feet there's no problem! so we're going to start being in bare feet a lot more now :-)

When we got there, I made a trench in the ground as a mould for the concrete and filled it with lengths of twisted wire for reinforcing. Eduardo and Barry collected stones and sand for the mixture, then we mixed it all up with water, poured it into the mould, evened it all out with a trowel and stuck loops of wire into it for attaching the fence to. Now we just have to leave it for four days and then try and manoeuvre it into position!

Fixing south-west fence with concrete 1.jpg Fixing south-west fence with concrete 2.jpg Fixing south-west fence with concrete 3.jpg
Fixing south-west fence with concrete 4.jpg Fixing south-west fence with concrete 5.jpg Fixing south-west fence with concrete 6.jpg
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Barry & Eduardo visiting

Posted by Nad on 14 de maio de 2014 at 12h02min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
My long time friend from New Zealand, Barry, arrived on Saturday the 10th. He's been cycle touring around Brazil for a few weeks, he started in Rio and cycled over 1000km to our place, visiting São Paulo, Florianópolis and Cambará on the way here. He also invited his friend Eduardo from Caxias to come too who he met on one of the cycle touring sites, Eduardo arrived the next day on Sunday the 11th.

It was really good to catch up with Barry who I hadn't seen for a few years, and great to meet Eduardo who's really local to us and shares so many ideas and values in common with us! they taught us a lot about how to cycle more efficiently to go further while expending less energy, and what the best and lightest weight clothes, tents and sleeping bags are.

After Barry cleared a spot in the bracken, they pitched their tents ready to settle in for the week :-) I installed some hooks for them to hang their bikes on since we have mice around who love to chew plastic and rubber things!

Barry with weedie.jpg Barry & Eduardo's tents.jpg Barry & Eduardo's tents 2.jpg

Cows again!

Posted by Nad on 1 de maio de 2014 at 12h45min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We were only back two days and then we saw a cow in the garden! how could this possibly be when the whole land is fenced off now?! by the time we'd got our boots on it had disappeared and we couldn't find it anywhere. But the next day there were two more! this time I ran after them when they ran off, and I followed them through the forest to the south-west corner of the land where it turns out there's no fence across the river!

It's a difficult area to fence because the banks are a metre or so high and there's nothing very low to attach fencing wire to. We decided it needed to be fenced off asap, so I got to work on it straight away. First I put a normal four-wire fence across joining the existing fences, and then to fill in the metre or so of gap in the river below this new section, I connected vertical pieces of wire attached to four sacks of rocks sitting on the river bed. The best ones are made with wire mesh, but we only had enough for two, so another is plastic mesh with some wire to support it and one is a large chunk of metal pipe.

Rock sack.jpg Southwest fence.jpg

It was a really horrible job! it was a cold overcast day and I had to wade into the mud and cold water which filled up my boots. Every time I needed to attach wire to the east side, I had to walk about 50 metres up stream to get to a point where I could get up the bank, then go back and attach the barbed wire all with soaking trousers, socks and boots!

Nasty work 1.jpg Nasty work 3.jpg Nasty work 4.jpg

Blue bees

Posted by Nad on 26 de abril de 2014 at 12h48min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We have at least five kinds of bees on our land - apart from the usual honey bees and bumble bees we also have carpenter bees, tiny black bees and tiny blue bees. Today I finally got some good shots of the tiny blue ones which range from about 5mm to 1cm long. The flower it's pollinating is Basil which is a very small flower about 5mm in diameter. The Basil and Chia have really taken off in our garden and are absolutely alive with many kinds of butterflies and all the different types of bees. This is really nice to see considering there's so many bees dying around the world from pesticide consumption and monoculture farming which makes their immune systems weak as they need a variety of different pollens to be strong and healthy.
Blue bee 1.jpg Blue bee 4.jpg
Blue bee 2.jpg Blue bee 3.jpg

Back to the land after our holiday!

Posted by Nad on 24 de abril de 2014 at 15h20min
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
We finally got back to the land yesterday! we caught a plane from Brasília to Porto Alegre which took less than two hours (it would have been 36 hours on the bus!), and then got the next bus from there to Canela which was only about twenty minutes after we arrived (buses to Canela leave every hour from the airport). The plan was to stay the night in Canela at Donna Eloi's who owns the main front house at the place we used to rent in Canela, and then meet with our neighbours who were going to be in Canela the next day and could drive us back to the land.

Unfortunately that didn't quite work out because the neighbours ended up not going to Canela, so we had to stay another night and arrange something else. It turned out that our old flat is empty so we actually stayed in there for a couple of nights :-) As a back up plan we called our truck guy Tonho to arrange going back with him and ordering a whole bunch of wood and roofing panels etc to take with us, but again the plan fell through! This time because it rained the whole night which would mean the roads were too muddy for the truck! So we decided to just leave the heavy stuff we didn't need at Donna Eloi's and get the bus to Vaca Velha and walk back.

It was a bit nerve racking because in winter the days are short and we needed to make good time to get there before dark. We made it just as light was fading and needed to use our cell phones to light the way through the forest at the end! Everything was ok with the house and we got a good night's sleep :-)

The next day we were quite surprised to see how much the vege patch had taken off! And also to see that all five bananas that Beth's parents had brought a couple of months ago had taken off - we thought only one had survived! Here's some photo's showing the vege patch in January compared to now, and one of the bananas.

Vege patch Jan 2014.jpg Vege patch after the holiday.jpg Banana after holiday.jpg

The really big bushes which weren't even visible before the holiday are Chia which we're growing to harvest the seeds from as they're very healthy and good for digestion. They're currently the centre of attention in the vege patch which hundreds of bees, ladybugs, butterflies and other insects all over them. In particular the red butterflies really like them and there must be at least twenty on each bush. Here's a couple of photos showing some of them.

Red butterflies on chia 2.jpg Red butterflies on chia 1.jpg

Back in New Zealand

Posted by Nad on 12 de abril de 2014 at 14h23min
This post has the following tags: 2014 Holiday in Brazil
I hadn't heard anything from Mum and Dad well after they should haven arrived, so I sent a worried email. A few hours later they replied with the following final holiday drama!

What a journey home!!!!! We got on the plane at Santiago as planned at 11.55pm, there was a bit of revving and the plane moved away from the terminal, then the captain said we seem to have a mechanical problem we are going back to the terminal. Well we sat there for about 3 hours and then he said that we were going to a hotel for the night. That meant we had to get our luggage off the plane, go through customs and immigration and then get to the hotel. So at 4,30am we got to bed with the alarm set for 8.30am as we had to be at breakfast by 10.30. They were supposed to pick us all up at midday, but of course they didn't arrive until nearly 12.30. Anyway, we then got on the plane to take off at 4.10, however after a few revs and such like the captain said he was sorry but there was the same problem as before and they were waiting for the mechanic everyone burst into spontaneous laughing. Eventually after 2.5 hours, we took off, everyone cheered and clapped lol!