Organic Design (blog)

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Ants and Raspberries

Posted by Nad on 9 de outubro de 2016 at 07h23min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We thought we were going to have a good crop of German raspberries this year because the cutting we planted that we got from Arca Verde really took off! But then the leaf-cutter ants found them :-(

They completely decimated over half of them in a couple of days (along with the lemon tree). We found that PVC pipes with habanero oil on the sides stopped them so I protected the lemon tree and the most healthy raspberries, but there are too many stalks to protect them all, and they're a lot of work too maintain with oil, so we had to let the ants have the rest :-(

Then a few days ago we had some unexpected visitors - Maneco's neighbours decided to come and see our place and introduce themselves which was nice :-) Just as they were leaving one of them noticed the PVC pipes and asked if we had ant trouble - he told us that ants don't like to cross sheep wool and to just wrap a piece around the bottom of each plant and it will last for ages with no maintenance required!

So we went to Ziza's the next day to collect a bunch of old wool off the ground and gave it a try. It's true that they really don't like it, but they're incredibly persistent and still crossed over it. But I found that it's the small hairs in the wool that cause them trouble and that if you part the wool a lot to fluff it up it becomes too difficult for them to traverse. It seems to be working so far, I can see most of them carrying clover again now :-)

Pipes and wool on raspberries.jpg
Wool on raspberry.jpg
Ant amongst wool.jpg

The first photo shows the pipes, and you can also see the wool at the base of the un-piped ones. Notice how much leaves the piped raspberry on the right has? That's how they all were before the ants got them!

The second photo shows a close up of the wool around the base of a raspberry, and the final one shows an ant that crossed over before I had started puffing them up more - even un-puffed you can see all the tiny strands getting in its way. Remember you can click on the pictures to see a large version.

We HATE cows!!!

Posted by Nad on 21 de setembro de 2016 at 08h38min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We got up today to have our breakfast outside in the sun, and there were a bunch of cows there!!!

I chased them out and they went back the way they'd come in - this time they'd pushed their way through the south-eastern gate.

They've destroyed the entire new vege patch set up that we'd been working on to replace the last vege patch they destroyed!

Beth was just starting to get some hope and inspiration back about planting and they've succeeded in destroying that too :-(

She wants to get a gun to shoot them whenever they enter, and I feel like stopping being a vegetarian just so I can feel like I'm making a daily contribution to their suffering!!!

It's a constant battle trying to keep those hideous bloated monstrosities off the land. It looks like we really need to put another fence around the planted area since the main fence is so long that they're likely to regularly find a problem along it somewhere no matter how well we try and maintain it.

Just enough too much

Posted by Nad on 15 de setembro de 2016 at 15h36min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
You might remember my post a year or so ago entitled Too hot to handle! about my home made red Habanero sauce. Beth's Dad's just sent down a bunch more for us in the mail from his tree so I can make some more soon - I'll wear gloves this time!

When we went to Nova Petropolis a few weeks ago I found a commercial one which was pretty hot and had a nice flavour, but yesterday when we went to Caxias I found a new one which you can see in the right-hand picture below (my home-made one is on the left, and the one from Nova Petropolis in the middle). It's quite innocent-looking and it's only because I happened to recognise the name "Bhut Jolokia", which is one of the hottest kinds of chilli pepper in the world, that I even thought to give it a try.


It turns out it's the hottest sauce I've ever found from a shop before, it's at least as hot as the one I made myself, but has a good flavour as well! You can do a search for "Bhut Jolokia" on YouTube to see what happens when people eat them pure, but it usually goes something like this:


New garage in the field finished

Posted by Nad on 12 de setembro de 2016 at 17h24min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We've just finished the new little garage in the field for the new car today. We've been chipping away at it over the last few weeks.

Some planning would have been a good idea though because we forgot to make it wide enough for the car doors to open!

Still, it does the trick even though it's a bit of a squeeze :-)

But we're already thinking of other uses for it now - Beth's making use of the different micro-climates it provides to plant different kinds of trees and vegetables on different sides of it, and I'm thinking of putting a work bench in there so it can be my workshop. We could then make it five metres longer with the new part a metre wider for the car.



The tale of two ladders

Posted by Nad on 27 de agosto de 2016 at 15h19min
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 11h26min
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 :-(


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.


No gherkins forks?!

Posted by Nad on 3 de agosto de 2016 at 13h36min
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 :-)

DIY gherkin fork.jpg

The weekend of cars

Posted by Nad on 31 de julho de 2016 at 17h19min
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.


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.


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 :-)


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.


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.


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 :-(


The light side of the finger

Posted by Nad on 24 de julho de 2016 at 16h13min
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.

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 :-)


Some more photos of the house improvements

Posted by Nad on 19 de julho de 2016 at 12h21min
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 :-)


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