Organic Design (blog)

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Simaltaneous failure

Posted by Nad on 15 November 2016 at 14:30
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Yesterday when we were meditating there was a sudden crashing collapsing sound nearby. At first we thought it was a tree falling, but then realised that the fire wood storage house had collapsed!


Then after the meditation I went in to start some work, but the net wasn't working - and it wasn't Vivo's fault this time because I couldn't reach the router at the top of the hill. It was working fine from the mid-point in the field, which meant that the segment through the swamp had failed - not unexpected really since it had suffered a lot of damage in the giant swamp rat attack of 2014. I had done a fairly thorough repair job on it, but it had been damaged in so many places that I didn't expect it would last very long. Rather than try and find the problem and fix it again, I decided we should head to Caxias and get new pipe and wires. We picked up a 300m box of LAN cable (R$350), a 100m of power cable (R$114) and a 100m of PVC pipe (R$150) - we got 3/4" this time instead of 1/2" since it had been so difficult to get the cables through last time.


The job went pretty smoothly this time, we had the fishing line through in less than half an hour and the wires pulled through pretty quickly too without any trouble like the fishing line snapping or disconnecting from the cables. I haven't buried the 10 metres closest to the house where the river goes past when it floods yet, I'll probably do that in the next day or so after fixing the wood storage.

I got a photo of the monument when we were in Caxias this time. We were standing at the base of this monument when we took these other two photos (middle and right below), the middle photo was taken the first time we went to Caxias with Candido when we first bought the land, and the right one we took a couple of years ago on the way back from a cycle trip with Eduardo.

Bike ride with Eduardo 14.jpg

Another interesting thing we saw was these recycling rubbish collectors - they usually have a horse or hand drawn cart, but these guys had done some major gambiarra on an old car. They've sawn off the roof and put an extra story on it for a guy to stand in and put the rubbish in below him! That contraption would be soooo illegal in the west! :-D


Five years in Brazil today!

Posted by Nad on 11 November 2016 at 16:25
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Today is 11/11/16, exactly five years since we left New Zealand!

We celebrated with a bottle of our Heles beer which you can only get from Fassbier, our favourite bar in Caxias. It's a tiny semi-private bar run by a German guy who never realises that I'm not speaking German when I say "Euzen falazen ze alemaozen" (Izen speakenzen ze Germanzen)! We're drinking the beer out of jars because we've noticed that it's all the fashion now in the west, all the most expensive smoothies are served in jars like this nowadays :-) Beth made some Brazilian Bolinhos to go with the beer which is deep fried rice cakes :-)

Here's a picture from our celebration, and next to it a picture from Java House in Devonport on the day we left five years ago, it's a receipt for my last coffee in New Zealand which is dated at 11:11 on 11/11/11.


The art of tight fences

Posted by Nad on 10 November 2016 at 10:07
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Out in the country you need to be able to make a good tight fence - it's similar to how people who like camping need to know how to make a good fire. After the great cow attack of 2016 I started making a secondary fence around the area where our planting operation is situated along the northern border to the land. Beth wanted this fence to be a really high quality tight five wire fence. So we bought 1500m of wire and I got started with the western side which is a short 50m stretch.

I put the master posts (the ones on the end that need to bare the full force of wires on only one side, or on uneven angles) about half a metre deep into the ground and hammered the dirt in around the post with the sledge hammer.

But when it came time to tighten up the wires with the new wire-tightening tool we bought last month the problems began. The master posts didn't remain vertical as the force of even one wire being tightened up was easily able to move the posts in their holes.

So re-bored the holes, put the masters in again, and this time tried puttint another 8x8cm eucalyptus post at 45° sledge-hammered in to the ground at one end and lodged into a groove cut into the master at the other end.

This time I was able to tighten all the wires, but after I tightened the lowest one, the top one was loose again, so I tightened that one up some more, but the force then became too much again and the 45 was pushed further into the ground allowing the master to lean again!

So I re-bored the hole again! This time I hammered a eucalyptus peg 30cm into the ground with a groove cut into it to prevent the 45 from moving. This worked a lot better, but when I started to really tighten the wires up a lot, the forces caused the 45 to lift the master out of the ground as shown in the photo below. The purple arrow shows the direction of the force the wire tightening caused due to the 45.


After this I decided I'd better do some research. First I looked around at the other really tight fences and I found that there's a complicated looking configuration that all the good fences have in common. I figured out how it distributed the forces, and I asked the neighbour Devalso about how to do it properly too. He said that this configuration is called a Contra Mestre (Counter Master) and it's much stronger than using a 45° brace. He also said that the master posts go a full metre into the ground and have their hole filled with stones that are hammered down using a heavy iron pole with a thick flat plate on the end. Here's a picture of a contra mestre.


In this photo the fat pole on the left is the master, and the smaller pole on the right is the counter master (usually another fat master is used here too, but it's considered to be over-kill). The horizontal brace connects the two so that as the tight wires pull the top of the master toward the right, the force is transferred to the counter master which also tries to move toward the right. But the counter master can't move that way because its top is connected by very strong tight wire to the bottom of the master. This wire is at 45° and plays a similar role to a 45° brace but is in reverse - it resists a pulling force instead of a pushing force. This is superior because the forces are mainly distributed in a horizontal direction with only very little upward force on the master.

Devalso's going to come and show me the correct process for making this configuration next week, and in return I'm going to help him design a house for his sheep because he hasn't done any building before, but I'm quite comfortable in that area now after building two small houses and a garage :-)

Bitcoin in our neighbourhood!

Posted by Nad on 3 November 2016 at 16:22
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
BTC in SFP.jpg
We went to São Francisco de Paula for a couple of days to visit our friends at Arca Verde. It was a nice couple of days, and some of them may come to visit us here some time now that we have a car. On the way there we did a little bit of exploring around the back streets looking at what kinds of places are for sale when all of a sudden we came across a "bitcoin accepted" sign! Unfortunately the guy wasn't there, but we'll pop in again next time we go there. It would be really awesome to find some local bitcoin contacts, and it's really good to see it making an appearance here :-)

At last a bit of rain!

Posted by Nad on 17 October 2016 at 14:58
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Finally had a bit of rain today, but Beth doesn't let that get in the way of her morning stroll! The plants are all looking very happy as well (the ones we can see at least) This is the view from our window this morning, and the state of the road to our house through the forest!
Beth on flooded road.jpg
Flood view from window.jpg

Ants and Raspberries

Posted by Nad on 9 October 2016 at 06:23
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 September 2016 at 07:38
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 September 2016 at 14:36
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 September 2016 at 16:24
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 August 2016 at 14:19
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