Organic Design (blog)

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Mindinho on the Basil

Posted by Nad on 19 May 2014 at 17:05
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
This little fly thing is called a Mindinho and is one of the many visitors to the Basil and Chia plants. It's very small, only about 5mm long so was difficult to get a detailed shot of it.
Mindinho 1.jpg Mindinho 2.jpg Mindinho 3.jpg

Offroad hitch-hiking adventure!

Posted by Nad on 17 May 2014 at 16:21
This post has the following tags: Our second year on the land
Today we got up early and walked for a couple of hours to the bus stop at Vaca Velha to go into Canela for some groceries and to meet Barry at our favourite cafe, Confeiteria Martha, and have some beers, coffees, cakes, pizza and pastels and to say goodbye. We could only stay a short time because on Saturdays the bus back to Vaca Velha leaves Canela at 2pm instead of 4pm, so we said our goodbyes and left for the bus station at twenty to two.

We decided to try walking back in bare feet after Eduardo had inspired us so much, but we'd only been going for about twenty minutes when we saw a couple of 4x4's approaching. Well walking is good, but we like to always take advantage of a ride for part of the way when the opportunity arises, especially when carrying a heavy load - we also get to meet some interesting locals that way too.

These guys were happy to give us a ride, but they warned us that it would be bumpy and probably muddy sitting in the back, we said we were fine with that and so off we went. It turned out these guys were actually on their way to São Francisco de Paula, but were taking this out of the way route purposely to find the worst muddy rocky road in the area! This road connects our local area where we and our neighbours all live with the bus stop at Vaca Velha on "highway" RS-476. We've done it once in our Lada Niva, and never wanted to do it again! But these guys do this route for fun!! And they know of some other areas slightly off the track that are even worse which they went on - while we were clutching to the sides in the back!!!

We stopped at a couple of muddy ponds so they could film each other going through them and got to talk with them a bit. Once they heard we had a Niva, I think we made some kind of a connection with them, like we were automatically in the same "club" or something :-) We were really happy to hear that one of their 4x4's ran on alcohol like ours! We'd thought that alcohol was a really bad idea because it doesn't work in winter at all, but they said to just mix 30% or so of petrol with it and it'll be fine! One of the guys, Geremias, is a mechanic and was fascinated by the fact that we live all the way out here in the middle of nowhere. They decided to drive us all the way back to our house to have a look at our place and our Niva!

Barry was telling us what good "hole in one" luck he'd had with hitch-hiking (when you get a ride that takes you all the way to where you want to go), but this takes the cake! Who'd ever have thought we'd get a ride literally all the way to our door in the middle of the forest!?!?

4x4 adventure 3.jpg 4x4 adventure 4.jpg 4x4 adventure 1.jpg

Ladybug season

Posted by Nad on 16 May 2014 at 17:49
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 May 2014 at 17:16
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 May 2014 at 15:33
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 May 2014 at 14:58
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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Eduardo making pasta 10.jpg Eduardo making pasta 11.jpg Eduardo making pasta 12.jpg

Fixing the south-west fence

Posted by Nad on 14 May 2014 at 14:33
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 May 2014 at 14:02
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 May 2014 at 14:45
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 April 2014 at 14:48
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