Our forth year on the land (blog)

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At last a bit of rain![edit]

Posted by Nad on 17 October 2016 at 19:58
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

Feliz anniversário Beth![edit]

Posted by Nad on 29 December 2016 at 13:05
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Ontem foi aniversário da Beth! Nós tivemos um dia simples sem viajar para qualquer lugar, foi perfeito :-)

Beth cozinhou um bolo com coco, chocolate e framboesa em cima.


The Araucária tree[edit]

Posted by Nad on 27 December 2016 at 15:56
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
Um documentário lindo sobre o árvore Araucária.

Raspberries for christmas[edit]

Posted by Nad on 24 December 2016 at 13:02
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We're really pleased that we took the time to save a couple of the raspberries from the ant attacks because they've been amazingly productive. It turned out the cotton wool wasn't very effective (and neither was tin foil which was another method we'd been told stopped them), but the PVC pipes reduced the majority of them, and putting habanero sauce at the top of the pipes when they get particularly crazy works very well. In the last week or so these two plants have been giving us a whole punnet of raspberries every day!
Pipes and wool on raspberries.jpg
Christmas raspberries.jpg

We've found that putting a mixture of yeast and sugar in the path of the ants seems to work very well too, they take some of it back to the nest and the yeast bacteria competes with the fungus that they use all the leaves to produce for food. They have no way to get rid of the bacteria once it starts to grow and have no choice but to close down the whole nest and start another one somewhere else. One big nest about a cubic metre in size has recently been abandoned, but it's important to keep putting the mixture around otherwise the new nest will go through a very productive phase as it grows in size.

It's not a very harmonious solution, but until we figure out a better way it's going to have to do. We've been told that they only go crazy and completely destroy plants like this when there's something out of balance in the environment, so maybe as we make the land more fertile and productive it will help fix the balance and we can co-exist with the ants in harmony - but for now the yeast-nuke stays.

Leelee getting a bit too friendly[edit]

Posted by Nad on 5 December 2016 at 19:27
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
The other day I was in the hammock eating a hamburger when I noticed some movement on the ground under me. It was Leelee eating the bits of bread that were falling on the ground. This all seemed ok, but then he suddenly jumped up onto the hammock and tried to eat my leg!!! I managed to move the side of the hammock so he fell off onto the ground - he wasn't behaving aggressively, it was more like he just didn't understand which things could be considered as food and which couldn't. Today he's visiting again and hanging around on the door mat - here he is trying to get inside through the mosquito net :-/

Leelee trying to come inside.jpg

The new mulcher[edit]

Posted by Nad on 2 December 2016 at 19:38
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We collected our new mulcher today from a small town just out of Caxias do Sul called Farroupilha which turned out not to be so small - it looks like it's almost as big as Caxias! But Wikipedia reckons its population is only about 70 thousand, whereas Caxias is about half a million - still, a lot bigger than we were expecting. We chose the store in Farroupilha because they were R$400 cheaper than the next best offer in Caxias.

I got the thing assembled with only a couple of minor problems - I had to bash a couple of bolts with a hammer to get them to line up with the holes and then I had three nuts and bolts left over at the end - but I figured they were probably just spares and the manual was all written in Chinese or Portuguese or something...

It was a bit of a drama at first because we got it started no problem, but as soon as we started pushing some serious foliage in there the engine stalled! This thing's supposed to have the strength of seven horses!!! Luckily we realised after a few minutes of cursing dodgy Chinese manufacturing practices, that we'd forgotten to turn the gas inlet valve to open, so it had been operating on the gas already in the mechanism. After adjusting that, starting it again, and giving it a few seconds to get itself together after having its protocols violated, it sounded a lot better and started mashing stuff up really well :-)


Simaltaneous failure[edit]

Posted by Nad on 15 November 2016 at 19:30
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![edit]

Posted by Nad on 11 November 2016 at 21:25
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[edit]

Posted by Nad on 10 November 2016 at 15:07
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![edit]

Posted by Nad on 3 November 2016 at 21:22
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 :-)