February 12, 2015
I am living in a metal and rough-hewn lumber shed at the moment….can you believe it? We plan to put tarps up around the shed to give it additional space to store all our stuff and have workspace until we are able to make yurts/yurpis which will be mainly bedrooms. This land is very hilly and we will have to level up some areas to put the yurts. We want to locate them down the hill by the two babbling brooks. I do my washing and baths down by the creek now. It is way rustic but very picturesque. This piece of land is already very beautiful, so I look forward to the positive changes that we want to make over the years.
Two other neighbors have plumbed pipes into my creeks and my spring so they can gravity irrigate their farms and get house water. The two unsightly pipes are an eyesore. The neighbors were nervous as to how I would handle their use of my water especially since it is the middle of the dry season now and they sell their vegetables to make a living. Gary told them that we wanted them to have the water but that they would need to bury their pipes. This morning three neighbor guys came over planning to do just that. We told them that we needed to clean up the banana stalks that have fallen in the creek first. Then we would let them know when to come over and that we would help them bury the waterlines. We want to engineer it at a little better level than the local norm. They seemed very content with that.
So far all the neighbors and their kids seem like really great folks. One of the kids, Joel (pronounced Yo-well in Spanish), who is about 12, has come over many times. He has become a regular to Gary’s school of unusual and strange knowledge. He sometimes brings one or more of his brothers along. Gary showed them flint and steel and how to spark the flint with a steel file that has been ground smooth on one edge. Gary gave them each a piece of flint that he had gotten from his friend Jerry in Oregon. The next day, Joel was back with one brother. They brought flint they had found here while helping their dad move gravel in the creek. Gary was very happy since the flint was of decent quality and he considers it an important survival resource. The creek was small, so we are probably within a thousand yards of the source of the flint.
Our neighbors are also very curious as to how we are terracing the land since they work on major slopes everyday to maintain their gardens. Beto, our closest neighbor ran into the guy who sold us the land, Cledis. Cledis asked what we were doing. Beto said we were digging. Cledis asked what we were digging. Beto said…..ummm, I’d better send you a picture. Our extensive carving of the hillside seems to have become impressive over the weeks. All our neighbors are younger than we are so they are shocked to see two old folks out sculpting a hillside.
They see me out with Gary with my pick-hoe chopping away and they stop to ask questions. Gary tells them what our plans are and they respond positively but I am sure they won’t believe that gardening without chemicals can succeed until we actually have the garden producing. They must think that we are putting way too much work into our set up. But after preparing my land with terraces….the subsequent years will get easier for us and our neighbors will be spending the same amount of time every year chopping weeds (instead of digging them out by the roots like we are). And they will be working on the same steep slopes year after year while we will have easy-to-work-on terraces.
I never would have believed that I would be capable of shaping a steep hill with a pick-hoe, but if you have the right size tool and it is kept sharp….it is amazing what you can do in two or three hours each morning before it gets too hot. I was exhausted the first week or so, but it has become kind of enjoyable since you see major progress in the shape of the land every day that you work it. It gets you in pretty good shape fairly quickly.
Once we put in our digging time we have been continually organizing things and trying to get everything in the shed or stacked in totes around it. We will put up temporary tarps around the shed to extend the roof-line to protect the totes and give us more workspace.
When finished with digging and organizing, Gary has been making a lot of yeast bread in the cast iron skillets over the propane campstove. We often give Beto one loaf to share with his kids. Beto has been helpful by letting us fill our water tank from his water line. The springs are at the bottom of the property and the shed is at the top. Beto also found a neighbor who will sell us 50 to 100 pounds of seed potatoes. Anyway, Beto and his three kids love the bread. We overheard his daughter say, “When is that man going to make some more bread”. The bread in the store around here is often stale and you might only be able to find a loaf about the caliber of Wonderbread. Most of the neighbors have never had homemade yeast bread, so it is a rare treat.
I could talk on and on about my glamorous life ;-)….but I will save some stuff for another blog…..