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Mum & Dad's 2018 holiday in Brazil begins!

Posted by Nad on 11 March 2018 at 08:23
This post has the following tags: 2018 Holiday in Brazil
Mum & Dad arrived in Brazil the day before yesterday! I forgot to take the camera when we left the land and I've also been changing over to a new Purism laptop that they brought over from New Zealand with them, so the blog has started a couple of days late sorry!

They flew from Auckland to Santiago (Chile), spent a day there, and then flew another six hours across the continent to São Paulo, and then took another couple of hours on a connecting flight to Porto Alegre. Meanwhile, Beth and I drove from the land to Canela where we unpacked all our luggage into the apartment we've rented for the week, and then I caught the bus to Porto Alegre about three hours away to meet Mum & Dad at the airport. Their plane arrived right on time and we were on our way to a hotel about half an hour after I got to the airport. The next morning we had breakfast at about 9:30 and then got a taxi to the bus station to get a bus back to Canela. We all arrived in the apartment at about midday :-)

Chile to Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre.jpg
Mum & Dad at Canela flat 2.jpg
Mum & Dad at Canela flat 1.jpg

We've just been relaxing and going out to nice places for lunch and dinner, but one thing Mum and Dad did do here in Canela was visit the Caracol Falls and go on the gondola which gets some very nice views of the falls.

Caracol waterfall gondolas.jpg
Caracol waterfall.jpg

After that we went to lunch at a nice buffet called Paradouro Rural which is a few km out of Canela to the north, they have good traditional Gaucho food as well as a good vegetarian selection for Beth and I, some nice speciality beers and some free Cachaça ;-) They also have tables overlooking a really nice view of the valley, those eucalyptus in the background are around eighty meters tall! It's amazing that it's only 40km from our land, but yet there's tropical fruit there that's really thriving like papaya and banana.

Paradouro rural 1.jpg
Paradouro rural 2.jpg

Unfortunately, on what was to be our last day here in the apartment in Canela, it was pouring with rain all night with thunder as well. We thought this probably wouldn't be a very good situation to go to the land in, so we've extended our booking until Monday, and then we'll go straight to Caxias from there. We can do a day trip to the land if the weather picks up, and stay there for longer after Caxias. So meanwhile we've set our selves up for some rainy days in the apartment :-)

Computer family.jpg

New house design for 2018

Posted by Nad on 5 March 2018 at 18:28
This post has the following tags: Our sixth year on the land
Oops! I should have posted this a month ago! The bad feng shui in our house has been driving Beth crazy12345 so after getting some emergency interior design advice from our friend Irena, we bought some new furniture in Canela and made some long overdue changes!

2018 house interior 1.jpg
2018 house interior 2.jpg
2018 house interior 4.jpg
2018 house interior 3.jpg
2018 house interior 5.jpg
2018 house interior 6.jpg

Guest bathroom started

Posted by Nad on 4 March 2018 at 17:48
This post has the following tags: Our sixth year on the land
We've been so flat out with so many different things that we haven't made enough progress on the guest house and Mum and Dad are arriving in less than a week! So when the neighbour Vladimir and his friend Bento offered to get the bathroom started we were very happy to accept :-)

They got the main structure and roof done, and half the walls (that was all the wall boards we had), and they got all this done in just one day! The structure is positioned facing north so that I could put the old solar panels on it, but unfortunately only one of them is working now - still a single 150W panel is fine for lights which is the main thing.

Vladimir and Bento building bathroom.jpg
Guest bathroom structure done.jpg
Power to the guest house.jpg

We're on satellite now :-)

Posted by Nad on 9 February 2018 at 08:35
This post has the following tags: Our sixth year on the land
We were in a few days ago for a few bits and bobs when we noticed shop which did satellite internet connections. We'd tried to get satellite a few months ago, but found that we really needed to have our solar system upgraded first, and also the guys didn't want to install it on our house as they said it was too weak :-( they said we needed a strong pole supported by a concrete slab installed before they could come back. Well we told this to these guys in the shop and they thought it sounded a bit suss, so we showed them photos of our house and they said it would be no worries to attach the dish support to the wall like normal :-)

They came and did the installation yesterday, it all went very well except for the fact that the bandwidth provider's system was down and they had to stay here for almost six hours talking to various companies on the phone and waiting for them to return calls!

Finally at 9pm we had a connection! It's working at about 20mbps which is about 15 times faster than we were getting over 3G from VIVO - actually we were getting 3-4mbps from VIVO, but their service has been steadily declining over the past year or so.

Info.svg HughesNet Brazil connects us to the Eutelsat 65 West A Satellite which covers mainly Brazil but also other south and central American countries and the Caribbean. Eutelsat (European Telecommunications Satellite Organisation) is a European satellite operator who have 40 geostationary satellites in orbit, ours was launched in March 2016 by a French Ariane 5.

The new wood fire

Posted by Nad on 4 February 2018 at 06:54
This post has the following tags: Our sixth year on the land
We really love our 'Coski, but we decided that a much smaller one would be better for our tiny house, and also one that's optimised more for heating the place up. So last week when we were in Canela we picked up a small cast iron one with a glass door.

At first we couldn't understand how it could work since we couldn't see any place for the air to enter, and the store owners had no idea that fires even needed air! Eventually we noticed that there was some open space around the ash box underneath.

But then we we got it home and gave it a test run, the fire would only stay alight with the door open! A few second after the door was closed and it would go out and smoke would pour out everywhere!

We were almost ready to take the thing back saying that it was a total design failure, but then I thought it may be best to try it with a chimney first. Well it turns out the chimney's essential, it worked perfectly after we stuck one on the back! It seems that the design relies on the chimney to create a constant airflow outwards so that new air is sucked in through the bottom :-)

New fire 0.jpg
New fire 2.jpg
New fire 1.jpg

Back to the land for 2018

Posted by Nad on 3 January 2018 at 07:41
This post has the following tags: Our sixth year on the land
We just arrived back at the land after spending Christmas and new years in Brasília. We were only gone for two weeks but everything's extremely overgrown, so there's a lot of weed-whacking to do over the next few days.

We missed out on some of the first blueberries, but there are still hundreds of new ones growing. The potatoes that we planted directly in the mulch in Bed E were ready too and were almost a success - they were really easy to find and remove and didn't need to be washed, but for some reason, only one of them was a reasonable size, they hadn't developed and were only tiny, so there's still something missing in our process there.

Bluberries ready.jpg
Tiny potatos.jpg

Rest in peace Fluffinha

Posted by Nad on 9 December 2017 at 08:44
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Our beautiful dog Fluffinha passed away on December the 7th 2017 :-(

Fluffinha (pronounced flu-feen-yar) was only seven months old and came down with a sudden illness. Maybe she ate a poisoned rat at the neighbours or a dangerous mushroom, we'll never know. She was so healthy and active one minute, and then suddenly felt very sick and vomited. We thought she must have eaten something too rotten and would recover after she got it all out, but the next morning she looked really bad, and she went off into the swamp to die! A thunderstorm came in and we tried to find her searching through the thick bush in the swamp in the pouring rain. We thought that if we could find her in time we could take her to the vet, but it was impossible to find a hidden little dog in such a big swamp full of dense bush.

We all prayed for her and sent positive energy for her to recover and come back to us, or go in peace if it was already too late. Amazingly she showed up at Beth's meditation cottage the next morning! She was in very bad shape, we took her into the house to dry her up and she vomited and had a seizure. We rushed her to the city to take her to the vet, but she died on the way.

We drove back slowly and buried her in one of her favourite spots in the shade by the vege patch. We buried her in her blanket with her favourite toy - one of our old work gloves which she used to carry around to different places and chew.

Her life here was so short, but it was such a beautiful place for a dog to live and she had a really happy life here, it was like a paradise for her. She was such a light in our lives too and she'll always be in our hearts.

Here's some recent pictures of Fluffinha that were taken when the three of us went to our local waterfall a couple of weeks ago.

Fluffy at the waterfall 3.jpg
Fluffy at the waterfall 4.jpg
Fluffy at the waterfall 1.jpg
Fluffy at the waterfall 5.jpg
Fluffy at the waterfall 2.jpg

And here's some pictures of her when she first arrived with her mother Menina back in May. Menina's the neighbour's dog who used to come and visit our place. She had a couple of puppies one day and would come and visit with both of them, Fluffinha and Pepino. Fluffinha had chosen to stay here with us almost as soon as she arrived. When Menina left or went for a walk in the forest, Pepino would follow her, but Fluffinha would stay here in the island. Even when we went to visit the city Fluffinha would always stay in the island waiting for us to come back, and come running to greet us when we arrived!

Puppy and mother visiting 2.jpg
Puppy and mother visiting 1.jpg
Puppy and mother visiting 3.jpg
Puppy and mother visiting 4.jpg

You can see some other pictures of her throughout her short time here with us here.

Rest in peace Fluffinha, you'll always be with us in our hearts and we're so glad to have had the chance to spend this short time together in this amazing paradise :-)

Blender gambiarra

Posted by Nad on 2 December 2017 at 10:30
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Beth thought that now that we have so much power, she may as well get a decent blender! But the first time she used it (to try and blend up my vegetarian burger mix so I don't starve during her retreat!) it smashed the cup when trying to blend the fava beans! So she took it back to the shop when we went to Caxias yesterday and today she tried using our old blender which worked for a short time and then the motor burned out!!!

It could seem that karma was telling me that I shouldn't have my vege-burgers, but I'm not listening to such nonsense, instead I found a suitable sized socket from my socket set and used the drill to turn the blade - easy! :-)

Blender gambiarra 1.jpg
Blender gambiarra 2.jpg

That was a great success!!! Well at least it was for about five seconds... then the plastic spindle broke due to the excess torque supplied by the power drill :-(

But karma shmarma, all that's needed is a more extreme form of gambiarra!

Blender gambiarra 3.jpg
Blender gambiarra 4.jpg



Forest cottage ready for Beth's 2017 retreat

Posted by Nad on 30 November 2017 at 13:06
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
Retreat with tent 2.jpg
We've been slowly making a tiny A-frame house in the forest for Beth to do periodic meditation retreats in. Last year it was just a platform that she put the tent on to sleep in.

But this year we've managed to get a lot more done, although it's been a bit of a last minute rush. We decided to make our own doors because we couldn't find anything nice that fitted, and getting them made was going to take more than a month! We bought some nice wood for it and they turned out quite nicely in the end - we've just finished getting them installed :-)

First cottage door done.jpg
Cottage doors open.jpg
Cottage w burned oil.jpg

Last year I felt really nervous with Beth sleeping in the tent in the forest by herself, but I think I'll feel a lot better with her safe in the little cottage :-)

New solar system

Posted by Nad on 7 November 2017 at 05:40
This post has the following tags: Our fifth year on the land
We made out first panels (2x75w) at the end of 2012, and then made another two 150w panels about a year later. These have served us very well, but we've finally decided to replace the whole set up with a completely new and more powerful system.

First I took all the old panels and structure down. The first pair of 75w panels were in pretty bad condition! one of them had stopped working completely, but amazingly the other was still putting out about 75% power even though all the wood was rotten and the cells were all broken! One of them disintegrated and fell when I was lowering it down with a rope, but luckily the glass didn't break. The second pair of 150w panels were still operating pretty well, but the glass in both of them was cracked, the first by super-hail and the second due to the roof and wood slowly bending out of shape.

RIP v1 panels.jpg
V2 panels still usable.jpg

The new set up involves 6x260w panels with a 1Kw charge-controller/inverter unit and two 240Ah batteries. I had installed the controller and batteries a few days before, and after spending the whole morning removing the old installation from the roof, I only had time in the afternoon to get one pair of the new panels installed. The next session a couple of days later I got the rest of the structure ready for the remaining four panels. I had to raise two of the bottom ends of the vertical metal bars up a bit to compensate for how bent our roof is! Unfortunately this will mean that the right pair will be at a different angle than the others, but it's better to ensure that the panels are sitting nice and flat than to have it looking perfect.

V3 controller and batteries.jpg
V3 panels, 2 of 6 installed.jpg
V3 panels, structure ready.jpg

I had to wait a week before I could finish the installation because our panels are 35mm thick, but the clamps only support 40mm panels even though the shop sold them all together. The manual said that the claps work for both sizes of panel but I couldn't figure out how that can be, the only way I could get it to work was by raising the panel up with a stack of washers! I went back to the shop and asked how the clamps can work for our panels, and after trying to figure it out they came to the same conclusion as me - that they need to be raised up - the odd thing is that nobody had ever reported this problem to them! I got a bunch of 5mm steel pieces to raise them up more reliably than the washers.

Panel needs raising.jpg
Panel raised better.jpg

The final session to get the last four panels up ended up taking all day and I put my foot through the roof twice! I've just covered the holes with some spare roofing panels for now and will have to nail them in properly later :-( I was just using metre long planks of wood to sit on to try and distribute the pressure to protect the roof, but it wasn't enough, I found that putting the aluminium ladder flat on the roof was much safer and worked well.

Here's a couple of photos of all the panels up and running :-) We can now use all our power tools, the spinner dryer, washing machine and even our vacuum cleaner directly from the inverter!

V3 panels installed 2.jpg
V3 panels installed 1.jpg