Our sixth year on the land (blog)
|Posted by Nad on 24 December 2018 at 18:11|
|Well we certainly can't complain about our Christmas yield! Things are really starting to take off now, which is a huge relief because we've really been struggling to get anywhere with planting for years now. This has been especially devastating for Beth as she's really put everything she had into the planting side of things, and has been on the verge of giving up many times. She's really happy with the results now and we're both super motivated to carry on :-)
Here we have a lot of corgettes, potatos, beetroot, garlic, broccoli, parsnip and onions. Since I've been away for a whole month I've been able to notice how much bigger things have got too; the blueberry and feijoas are at least another half as big, and the Chuchu and pumpkins are probably ten times the size! All the fruit trees look a lot bigger too, and we have a whole lot of kiwifruit on the way for the first time!
Merry Christmas everyone! The next post will probably be the first for our seventh year on the land :-)
|Posted by Nad on 24 December 2018 at 15:51|
|While I spent the last month in New Zealand, Beth's had to get familiar with a lot of tools that she'd never normally use such as G-clamps and silicone. A few days after I left, one of the new water pipe joints that Antonio made burst and she had to learn to connect it back together more firmly using metal hose clamps. This involves heating up the pipe first using a cheap gas torch we bought for R$30 which can only be described as a flame thrower! Not only did she fix the broken join, she also added a tap so that we can now disconnect the water to the island without having to go all the way to the guest house where the water enters the property :-)
After having mastered the flame thrower she had gained a lot of confidence, and so then went on to make another connection to get water into the house and added a kitchen tap!
Note that whale tails are also generally accepted as indicating high quality workmanship in the case of female plumbers, but you should probably steer clear of male plumbers using this methodology.
|Posted by Nad on 11 October 2018 at 20:14|
|I've finally started the job of closing off all the gaps around the roof of the guest house so that birds won't make their nests in there any more. I've got both sides closed off nicely, but when I tried to climb the ladder on the south end, the wasps suddenly swarmed out and attacked me, I fell off the ladder and they started stinging me! It was pretty scary, so I ran away, but they came after me and they're really fast, I could barely keep ahead of them! They finally stopped following me after I got across the river about a hundred metres from the house. Fortunately I'd only been stung three times on the back of my neck.
But that was a couple of weeks ago now, which is enough time for me to have forgotten how traumatising it was! So today I went back to try again - but this time I was prepared! I made a gambiarra bee-keeper's suit using a sombrero and a mosquito net :-) When I got up the ladder, hundreds of them swarmed out and attacked me, but I didn't get stung at all and was able to nail all the pieces into place successfully, unfortunately Beth wasn't able to get a good photo of them attacking me from inside the house.
|Posted by Nad on 11 October 2018 at 19:54|
|Well it's been a few months since Antonio left - and since my last post! The huge amounts of manure and the regular supply of water have definitely made a big difference, we're really seeing some things starting to grow well now. Here's the beds shown in the last post, there's three generations of carrots, broccoli, beetroot, parsnip and strawberries. Everything's doing pretty well there except that Borroro came and ate all the broccoli, and the strawberries have been the target of leaf-cutter ant attacks. The carrots have good mass and taste good, but are very malformed even though the beds are raised and the soil soft, so we have to figure out what's wrong there. We've started putting orange peel down to attract the ants away from the strawberries which seems to be working so far, and we'll need to put more wires in the fence to prevent the dear and rabbits from getting in.
|Posted by Nad on 19 June 2018 at 21:23|
|It was Antonio's last day on Friday which was exactly a month of work - he was originally going to stay for three months, but the cold was too much for him and he cut the time down promising to return again later in the year. We set off around midday on Saturday, but only got about 100m out of the gate and the engine suddenly died and wouldn't start again. The starter would rev fine, but the glowplugs dash-light wouldn't come on, so I checked the relay for them which worked fine, and then their 80A fuse which was also working but had no current going to it at which point I was out of ideas. Our neighbour Juca came to take a look at it on Sunday and tried to tow us to a flatter area further up where we could try starting it from being towed with a bit of speed, but it was too muddy for his truck which only had two-wheel dirve. The plan was to see if we could find a tow truck to come out, but a couple of hours later Juca rang and said that on the way back his truck had broken down as well! So his son was coming out on Monday with a mechanic friend and they'd take a look at both our cars.
Our other neighbour Remi was heading to Canela early Monday morning, so Antonio got a lift with him in case the mechanics failed to get our car working. He then got a bus from Canela to Porto Alegre, and he's now on the bus back to Brasília which is a 36 hour trip (he doesn't like flying)!
He has done an unbelievable amount of work on the land in the short time he was here. All the fences around the whole land are replaced or upgraded and many new fences have been erected within the land as a secondary measure against cow-entry around the important growing areas we've planned. He's then made holes filled with manure and lime and garden beds through all these areas, as well as laying a huge network of probably a kilometre of pipes (many of them buried) all around the land so we can irrigate the new planting areas. One of the most important lessons we've learned is that we've been doing things on too much of a small scale, for example one of our typical mulch beds would use maybe three wheel barrows of manure and another three of mulch, but his ones use about 15 wheelbarrows of manure and 7 of mulch. We've been seriously under-watering everything too as we assumed the environment was wet enough that it didn't need much, hence all the irrigation pipes.
We took it to an auto-electrician since the mechanic said the problem was electrical and we showed them the part in question. The guy established that some wires had broken lose on the part which he also didn't know the purpose of, and figured out where they all connected and then everything worked fine again - including the glowplugs and their timer, dash-light and relay! We're at our favourite hotel in Caxias now, and will be staying for a few days for a bit of a rest :-)
Update: I found on the Toyota wiki that our engine is the 1KZ-TE engine (a 3L SOHC diesel) and I was then able to download a workshop manual for the motor and discover that the part nobody knew the purpose of, that had the wires break off and needed the hose temporarily unplugged from to get us to the city, is the turbo pressure sensor which is connected to the intake manifold. The engine control unit (ECU) detects the intake manifold pressure as a voltage from the sensor, and uses this for correction of injection volume control and injection timing control.
|Posted by Nad on 8 June 2018 at 17:27|
|A few weeks ago I found this insane company called Viciado em Pimentas who grow some of the hottest chilli peppers in the world! The guy who founded the company, Fábio Tuma, spent a year developing their own special hybrid chilli plant called VICNIC-1313 based on the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Scorpian Moruga - it's hotter than the Bhut Jolokia, but he couldn't beat the pure Carolina Reaper!
I ordered a big selection of their products when I found their company on the net, but they're only just arrived due to the truck strike. You can see my selection below as well as a photo of Fábio and his punnets of pain!
As well as the standard insanely hot sauces, I also ordered a couple of mustards, a ketchup and a barbeque sauce each with an added chilli bite! They also threw in a special free present - some strawberry jellies sprinkled with coconut - and of course they too have a serious chilli aftershock :-)
|Posted by Nad on 7 June 2018 at 14:40|
|We just paid a thousands bucks for nothing but a big pile of shit - literally - R$1200 for sixteen tons of chicken manure! Actually we gave the guy an extra couple hundred because we ordred it when we were in Canela and told him we'd head home first and let him know if the road was ok for a big truck. Well it seemed ok, but when we returned to meet him and guide him back the road had somehow got much more slippery - so slippery that even the Hilux was sliding all over the place in some parts! Still, he took it slow and got there in ok in the end, but there was no way he was going to do the last kilometre, so we're moving it the rest of the way a trailer load at a time.|
|Posted by Nad on 3 June 2018 at 15:12|
| Beth's been getting really efficient at chopping firewood! Not only that, but she's the only girl I've seen who actually uses the axe with proper technique - there are many videos on Youtube showing women doing a good job chopping their wood, such as barefoot girl, tiny girl or no-pants girl, but their technique is awful! Here's a description of proper technique, and as you see from the video on the right, Beth's really got the knack down pat :-)
Beth loves chopping firewood for dissipating agitation, and especially on cold days to warm up - like Henry Ford said, "chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice!"
|Posted by Nad on 25 May 2018 at 19:22|
|We now have a guy called Antonio living with us for a few months to help us get things moving on the land. He's been working for Beth's parents for a few years and they highly recommended him to us since he's been wanting to earn some extra money and also have some peace and quiet :-)
He's unbelievably fast and strong! The first job was to rebuild the south fence which was in a terrible condition. But it goes through about 250 meters of dense bush, some of in is thigh-deep in mud and water. I thought this would be the first week's job, but he had cleared the entire 250 metres of bush with just a machete on the first morning, and the fence was completed before the end of the second day!!! He's made and repaired many more fences since then, including about a dozen counter-masters which are used to make a firm ending that has wires pulling on only one side. In his first week, he's also cleared huge amounts of overgrown grass and made many holes filled with manure and lime ready for planting fruit trees!
Just when we thought things were starting to move smoothly with a week of fine days and we were ready to place a big order of materials to be delivered by a truck, all the trucks in Brazil have gone on strike!!! Petrobras wants to raise the price of oil even though the rest of the world is lowering oil prices. It was the last straw for the truckies and they took action, now all the cities throughout Brazil are in a major crisis, there's no petrol in the gas stations and many supermarkets are out of common items! Luckily one of our regular truck guys said he had enough gas that he could still do a delivery, but after he called in the morning to confirm the damn cell phone tower went down and we couldn't answer him!!!
|Posted by Nad on 5 March 2018 at 19:28|
|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!