July 2020

The colors of a maturing chilli pepper

I can see from this very same blog that you were last updated on our guest house build several months ago. It was supposed to be ready for December 2019 for our friends from Sweden to inhabit during their visit. That was actually wishful thinking. Then we aimed at having it ready for this winter, for us to inhabit during the humid Uruguayan winters. Turned out to be wishful thinking as well. Luckily the weather has not been too cold for too many days and, when heated with our wood stove, our tin can is somehow warmer than it was before. My extremely bad and impossible running theory being that the insulation is better now because the fibers in it are completely soaked with water… But, no matter how much I love to complain about living in a tin-can (so much fun to call it that), I would not chose to be anywhere else. I don’t know if it is luck or just the advantages of a small country that takes some things seriously, but the whole virus lock down period has been quite easy on us here. It was sad in the beginning. All feeling weird in town, not saying “Hi” and feeling really restrained by not being able to kiss and hug, so most of us just hid behind our masks and looked down and got over with whatever we had to do as fast as possible. But now we are used to the masks and we are not so afraid anymore and of course, there have not been any cases in the town at all. I really hope this stays like this.

The “Quarantine”

My 2 favorite set of feet

The kids were home for three months and we figured the time was right for a much delayed project of a “tree house” where they can play and have all their crafts and projects that don’t fit in their room. Magnus made a sort of diary out of it that went mostly on facebook. It was so good that it became too time consuming so he stopped. (Do check it out at his facebook page if you’re connected). The work has been slower since they started going to classes again and we all got into new routines but I am hoping they will advance during the holidays. Once the last plaster dries its time for the final layers, main door, sod/earth on the roof and setting up the veranda. Magnus will probably build the door, and for the veranda we had a really nice trip into the forest where the kids themselves chose and cut the shooting ligustro (Ligustrum lucidum) baby trees. A very invasive species that we are trying to find uses for. The shoots will be tied or woven into some kind of trellis veranda. We’ll see. Both love to go to the forest, especially Tristan who really enjoys the walking, discovering, chopping and just being. I’ve promised them a trip with a Flora of Uruguay at hand, I am terribly embarrassed as to the lack of knowledge of the flora here.

The Guest House

As for the guest house, despite the exceeded amount of wishful thinking lots of things have actually happened. All the walls are up (the bales were just fine even after 3 years of storage under a roof) and some even have more than the first layer of plaster on it. The water and electricity are there and all the plugs and sockets are set up and waiting to be installed (more plaster coming). Almost all windows are either built or recovered (bought at auctions). We are hunting for a door and there are many layers of plaster left to do on walls and floors.

The farm and life around its chores (aka paid work)

Teaching online is a bummer:]

We were lucky enough to get two weeks by the sea in January by the beautiful Uruguayan Atlantic coast and I started working again as an English teacher in February so it was a short break for me compared to what I had gotten used to. This has taken away a lot of the time I had to work on the farm and just as I was managing to get rolling again, the pandemic came. Contrary to what one would think, this meant so much more work for us teachers! I had two crazy months trying to adjust to new students who I barely knew in a job that I barely know in normal circumstances and which I had to do on extremely weird circumstances and online. Insane. When i finally found a rhythm it was back to school again PLUS online. Killer. A little bit here, another bit there. Very hard to teach English speaking only English to kids who only hear it from you for short periods of time and some of those being through a screen. Me no like. The only reason why I am managing to write this now is because something amazing called winter holidays luckily was established despite some disagreements on the matter (why would teachers need holidays when they have been doing nothing for 3 months??? Some think we have been drinking mate all along apparently)

Now i have 1 ½ week ahead to try and catch up with my house and my farm.

This said, I did start with a free online permaculture course and this has gotten my neurons working nicely. So I finally took the courage to start changing the setup (which I was never happy with) in the farm and I am in the process of changing the direction of my beds and not making them straight. But the main reason why I dared to do this is also because I have managed to get access to horse bedding that I can pick up once a week, and which I will compost and add to the soil. I am hoping this will reduce weeds and increase yields significantly. Also, the summer was very dry so weeds did not get that out of hand as previously, so growing food rather than random plants doesn’t seem like such an impossible task anymore. Last but not least, I am taking a more relaxed approach to all of it. I really want to get better yields because I have people asking for veggies so the market is more than there, I just need big amounts of it and in a somewhat continued supply rather than a bit here and there.

A pick-up truck and a trailer full of horse GOLD!

We also got some chickens. Actually inherited them from a friend (I like them too much to buy them and support the breeding industry). Some are older than others but they are laying hens so they do lay eggs. The kids have the responsibility of taking care of them, and whatever gets earned from the sale of eggs, goes to them. They have to give them water, food, let them out everyday (they are in a coop during the night to be safe), and they also take 4 random ones to the chicken tractor approx 4 times a week. There the chickens work on weeding, scratching and fertilizing. They get a layer of alfalfa hay, horse bedding and oat seeds and stay there for some hours. Then they join the others in the garden. It is a slow process because I feel bad having them there too often and for too many hours but they help a bit and they seem happy in there, they actually are quite good at expressing discomfort these chickens, I never thought I would be able to tell, but there is no doubt about it.

I leave you with some random photos and until next time when I will try to have more pics of veggies and veggie beds to show my work. I have actually not managed to take any pictures, its really hard to take good ones.

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