Organic Design (blog)

De Organic Design

The tale of two ladders

Posted by Nad on 27 de agosto de 2016 at 12h19min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We really needed a good tall ladder when we first built the house, and one of our local hardware stores had two that could go up to seven metres high! One of them was a wooden one for R$300 and the other an aluminium one for R$600. I really wanted the aluminium one, but I couldn't explain exactly why so Beth decided on the cheaper wooden one.

But something reminded me why aluminium ones are so much better.... what was it again? Oh that's right, after Beth got crushed underneath it because it's so damn heavy that it takes a team of labour workers to move it!

Fallen ladder 2.jpg
Fallen ladder 1.jpg


No just joking! Here she is with the pear tree, and they're both doing really well :-)

Beth with Pear.jpg


But seriously, the wooden one is so heavy that it really is an accident waiting for a place to happen, so last time we went to Canela we decided to get the aluminium one! We also had to get a roof-rack put on so we could carry it :-)

New roof rack and ladder.jpg

Even Stanley couldn't handle the jandal :-(

Posted by Nad on 4 de agosto de 2016 at 08h26min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We've checked every hardware store we could find in five different cities, but never found a good strong garden fork to loosen our horrible compacted soil with. So when we visited New Zealand we got a good strong Stanley fork which is a brand renowned for excellent quality and workmanship.

We carted the thing all the way back here on three planes ad numerous taxis and buses, and finally started using it a week ago! It was really good for a while, but after a few sessions it became clear that even the best fork from the west wasn't good enough to handle our situation out here :-(

BentStanleyFork.jpg

It looks like we're going to have to find or make a proper broadfork which is made to be able to handle the full body weight forcing it through compact soil even if it's full of stones. The main differences are that it's wider so you can do more with each pull, it has two handles so you can stand in the middle to use the full weight and momentum of your body, and its prongs are very wide in the direction needed to resist the force of the earth against it, but narrow horizontally so it cuts through easily.

Broadfork.jpg
Broadfork2.jpg

No gherkins forks?!

Posted by Nad on 3 de agosto de 2016 at 10h36min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
I've recently discovered the horrifying fact that there are some places in the world where you can't buy a gherkin fork - that can be a real problem if you just bought a huge jar of gherkins!

But not to worry, you can chop the outside prongs off a normal fork, file it down nicely and bend the remaining two outwards a bit at the ends - works perfectly and looks just like a bought one :-)

Gherkins.jpg
DIY gherkin fork.jpg

The weekend of cars

Posted by Nad on 31 de julho de 2016 at 14h19min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
This weekend was all about cars. First very early on Saturday morning at 6:40am we set off on the two and a half hour walk along the Vaca Velha track to catch the 9am bus to Gramado, and then from there the 10:30am bus to Porto Alegre to pick up the car that Beth's parents kindly sent down for us from Brasília! After the scare a few weeks back getting my finger smashed and realising how bad it could have been if there was nobody around to take me to the hospital, we started thinking that it was pretty risky here without a working car.

NewCar1.jpg

Then on Sunday, I decided it would be a good idea to give Nivinha a good clean since she had a few spots of dirt on her, and our new mechanic friends were due to arrive for lunch and I wasn't sure if they might want to take her back with them. Here's a photo of the cleaning job half way through, if you look carefully you can see one side is clean and the other dirty.

NivinhaHalfClean.jpg

Sure enough we heard the rumble of their 4x4's arriving soon after, and they promptly set up a Churrasco (Brazilian barbeque), cracked open some beers and got to work. They really liked the new pimenta sauce I found in Nova Petropolis on the way back from Porto Alegre :-)

MechanicsArrived.jpg
MechanicsChurrasco.jpg

It wasn't long before the smell of the meat on the fire attracted an uninvited guest! It was probably a dog that belonged to someone hunting nearby as we didn't recognise him and could hear the occasional gunshot in the forest nearby.

UninvitedCurrascoGuest1.jpg
UninvitedCurrascoGuest2.jpg

After half an hour or so we heard the engine going and soon after that Nivinha was on the move for the first time in two years! A couple of the mechanics took her for a drive through the forest and along some nearby trails to get a feel for her condition, and seemed quite happy with things when they returned.

NivinhaOnTheMove.jpg
NivasGoing.jpg

And then suddenly it was all over, they packed up all the churrasco, got in their cars, said their goodbyes and dissappeared into the sunset with our Nivinha, leaving nothing but half a bag of charcoal and a roll of toilet paper :-(

NivasReadyToGo.jpg
TchauNivinha.jpg

The light side of the finger

Posted by Nad on 24 de julho de 2016 at 13h13min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We went to the hospital in Canela a few days ago to get the stitches taken out, and the doc said it's healing very well. After the stitches were removed he gave me a piece metal with foam on one side which is used to stop the finger from bending so the bone can start to heal.
Finger-Jul23.jpg
SilverFinger.jpg

The bright side of being out of commission is that I've had lots of time to make a good start on my book and I'm really getting in to the flow now. Also it's led to our neighbour Vladimir having to take over the fence repair and he's completely remade it instead of just fixing what was there, so we have a really nice solid fence all the way along that side now!

Beth's had to take over a lot of my jobs now, but there's a bright side to that as well which is that she's learning to use a lot of tools that she was a bit timid of before even though she wanted to be more independent. She's been using the post-hole borer in the field and chopping up fire wood with the chainsaw and axe :-)

BethAxe1.jpg
BethAxe2.jpg
BethWithHoleBorer.jpg

Some more photos of the house improvements

Posted by Nad on 19 de julho de 2016 at 09h21min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
I think we've finished our new feng shui improvements which we've been chipping away at since we got back to the land. Here's a few photos so you can see things from all the angles.

I've made a stand for my tablet to make the desk tidier and to prevent me from having to be hunched over to see the screen when I work, and Beth's varnished some old wooden crates to use for the vegetables under the kitchen bench and the shoes next to her desk. We've also finally felt like the place is in a tidy enough state that we deserve to have our nice cosy rug in the lounge area :-)

NewLoungeLayout.jpg
NewKitchenLayout.jpg
BethsNewDeskArrangement.jpg
AransNewDeskArrangement.jpg

I've added these latest photos the our house article to bring it up to date with the current state.

Winter interior decoration

Posted by Nad on 11 de julho de 2016 at 13h41min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
It was a horrible stormy day today with torrential rain and lots of thunder and lightning all day and last night. We were pleased to see that there were no leaks even after hours of very heavy rain and a friendly visit from the river :-)

Beth decided that since she couldn't do any work on the new vege patch that we'd do some interior decorating instead. So the first job was to connect up our new sink with a pipe so we could actually use it instead of just looking at it! We have a plug that only allows liquid to pass through and that goes through a PVC pipe straight across the lawn into the swamp - we'll bury the pipe soon so it's tidier.

KitchenSink1.jpg
KitchenSink2.jpg

The next job was to put up a curtain to hide the messy content in the loft shelf. We've also put the bed the other way round and put a book shelf up along the edge of the loft with some material over it as a divider so nobody accidentally rolls out of bed onto the floor below!

NewLoftDecoration3.jpg
NewLoftDecoration1.jpg
NewLoftDecoration2.jpg

Don't call us, we'll call you

Posted by Nad on 10 de julho de 2016 at 12h02min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We've been noticing ever since the recent tower upgrade that we'd occasionally receive TXT messages on our cell phone in the house, so we decided to stop being so antisocial and get a phone! Here in Brazil you can get cell phones that look like ordinary land-line phones, but they can run off mains or an internal battery and they have better reception than a normal cell phone. These phones also allow connection of an external antenna, so we installed our old net antenna on top of the house so we should have a reasonably consistent phone connection!
PhoneAntenna1.jpg
PhoneAntenna2.jpg
PhoneAntenna3.jpg

Due to our power constraints, the phone won't be permanently running though, so we'll only be calling out on it usually and not receiving calls unless it's a nice clear day :-)

Never let a good crisis go to waste

Posted by Nad on 7 de julho de 2016 at 16h31min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We adopted Winston Churchill's policy, "never let a good crisis go to waste", by taking advantage of the need to hire a car and visit the doctor over the last few days, to buy some more supplies. Most importantly was a huge bottle of gherkins, and a few other bits and bobs such as a new solar battery :-)
Gherkins.jpg
SecondSolarBattery.jpg

Ouch!

Posted by Nad on 3 de julho de 2016 at 06h48min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Yesterday I was putting in a new fence post when my finer got pulverised with the sledge hammer somehow!

I knew it was going to hurt so I clasped by damaged hand with the other one and was horrified to feel the end of the finger moving about loosely in the end of the glove!

I ran back to the house, and on the way I was imagining the damage, it felt like half my finger was hanging off and I didn't know what state the other fingers were in either. And worst of all if no neighbours were home I may have had to suffer here in pain and loose the fingers completely. For the first time I was really scared of how isolated we are :-(

When I got back to the house I took the glove off carefully and found that it wasn't as bad as I had imagined, it was only one finger seriously damaged, and only at the very end. The ring finger on my right hand was a real mess at the end and snapped about where the nail starts.

Fortunately Vladimir, our closest neighbour, was home and drove us to the hospital in São Francisco about an hour's drive away. They didn't have a bone specialist there though so they just bandaged it up better and put anaesthetic in it since it was really painful by then, and sent us on our way to Canela about half an hour away.

The bone guy at Canela hospital took the nail off and stitched it up and reckons I won't have to lose the end of the finger. He said a new nail should grow back too, but I have to see him again Monday to know for sure what the situation is.

I'm Not really sure how my finger was in the way, but it's a powerful lesson about how we have to be much more careful, and account for the fact that the brain's not working properly after doing a lot of hard physical work! It's also a lesson about how we really do need a working car out here, because a real emergency could happen at any time, and it may well be the difference between life and death :-/

Typing with broken finger.jpg
SmashedFingerXRay1.jpg
SmashedFingerXRay2.jpg

Click to see the gory details