Follow-up on laundry...our bedding is too big for bucket washing, so I've been hanging sheets and blankets out and spot cleaning. Which is a good use of time and water, it turns out, which I never would have chosen if we had a normal electric washing machine. My perspective on clean and cleaning is rather circumstantial, it turns out. More on that another time.
I shook and hung out all our bedding today and looked forward to a clean bed tonight. We went out to use the internet and do errands and it took forever - turns out everyone is shopping today to celebrate tomorrow's holiday (May 1 is the holiday here).
While we were out it rained, which was not in the forecast, and we fantasized that it wasn't raining on our mountainside. But we came home to wet blankets at dusk, and the best way to dry them is to touch them, so we're in bed with wet blankets. We gave Max the single dry blanket and Hannah and Booker have towels between them and wet blankets - they're so tender! We did have dry, clean sheets.
I wanted to turn on the van for a little heat, but we're low on gas. The pick-up, which we're using for errands, had trouble on the way up the hill tonight. So tomorrow we'll stay home and I'll dig all day looking for places without feet of limestone, and Phillip will build a chicken tractor. And if it doesn't rain too much I'll be making something with chocolate - we need to cheer up!
Two buckets make up our washing machine. I got this navy blue one a few years ago and used it to save water, electricity, and explore a simpler life. The problem in Indiana and Pennsylvania was that I could never get the clothes wrung out enough so they would get mildew-y stinky on the line.
That is not a problem here. The first clothes I hung on the line were dry by the time I washed the 4th bucket load. Which is small, by the way, a full bucket in this washing machine is 2 t-shirts or 5 pairs of underwear.
There's a slotted tray at the bottom of the bucket to keep the clothes a couple inches off the bottom, theoretically cause the dirt all settles there, so this keeps the clothes out of the dirt. I don't think that makes sense, cause I'm using the plunger as heartily as I can, and I'm sure that pulls the dirt up through the tray. Other than that, any bucket and any plunger would be equal to this task.
I got the sky blue bucket here to facilitate rinsing, so I can use the same wash water a couple times, then turn the rinse water into wash water, and so forth.
Wind, as is so often the case here, is the biggest challenge.
I spent hours this week burying buckets (again, buckets, but this time they hold posts in concrete) that we're using for shadecloth because the wind keeps taking them down - sometimes onto the van. We wonder when one will land on a dog or person! Only two buckets-with-posts are still unburied, and that's because we don't know where they should go yet - it's a lot of work to do twice.
I took this video a few days ago, so we can compare this look to future views as we make changes on this landscape. I climbed a brick wall to get the view - worth it, but a little scary. We'd like to get a ladder, but it would get stolen so quickly, and make stealing our stuff even easier.
Here's a sample of the beer festival we went to last weekend. National had the best beers, though we only sampled 1/2 of the breweries there.
Any different than a beer festival in the US?
Sorry I went so fast, I need to improve my cellphone videoing skills.
We decided to put our toilet in our tent for privacy. This means I can call it a püp tent, which is almost cute enough to make up for how uncomfortable it is. We can't sit up straight, which makes cleaning up and getting dressed really annoying. Soon we'll put together a teepee-style toilet room.
In the meantime, the dogs apparently know it is a pup tent, and the boys like to go in for some cool and quiet. All three dogs follow me in when I'm using it, and paw at the bags of wood shavings, which contributes to the challenge of using the toilet.
Phillip and I held on to the newlywed romance of pretending we simply don't poop. Well, when he had a bowel obstruction the topic came up, but in general we live in a poop-free fantasy. Until the poop tent. We're leaving its windows open cause who wants to be in a tiny, breezeless space with a toilet?
And then the other day I didn't sit far enough back - hard to find proper position when crouching in a tent so I had to clean my own mess out of the pee diverter. I was too annoyed not to tell Phillip about it.
See, this toilet works because under the seat are a bucket and a big funnel. The funnel is in front and also called a pee diverter; it's nested in a 2 gallon jug which gets emptied as often as we feel like it (daily is good).
Everything else should drop into the bucket and be sprinkled with something absorbent like wood shavings, dry quickly thanks to the exhaust fan (which Phillip pulled out of a computer headed for recycling). Once the bucket is full (how will we decide what counts as full, I wonder?), we can put a lid on it and wait a year, or add some worms or microorganisms and wait two weeks, then use it as compost. Way cool, or disgusting, or both.
The pee is separate so the rest dries faster. Plus the pee is already ready to grace the land as is--or diluted with water if you're pouring it on your vegetable garden--adding essential nitrogen.
I've seen a version of this in India and the US: two separate outhouses and you go in one to pee and the other to poop. Gotta know and control your body very well. And best when you don't have a stomach bug, like I do.
We'll let you know how this unfolds.
Good dogs make good neighbors?
I met a neighbor when his dog came into our terreno under our gate. We'd been told an animal was coming in, and could see how it/they'd dug away the dust for easier passage. So we attached tree protectors and visibly closed the gap. But this border collie met Booker through the fence and had no trouble nosing under to sniff up close. Something there is that doesn't love a wall.
I guess that's what happened. From our homestead we can't see the gate (we're considering remedies cause this is a drag, but we also don't want to hang out exposed at the gate). I noticed Booker and Hannah were both gone from my side and that's unusual, so just as I was getting up to investigate I heard Hannah barking and saw her running toward the border collie smelling Booker.Hannah?! If you know her you know she's afraid of dogs and would rather hide than have to sniff one.But she was clear, "get out of here" and ran toward him (but didn't get too close).
I saw a boy a few meters down the road and called out "Hola, buenas tardes, is this your dog?" And just as I realized I'd switched to English he was speaking back in English, saying it was his dog.
We stuck up a conversation through the chain link fence, even shaking fingers through a diamond. I should've let him in but we lock the gate with a long heavy chain wrapped around and around and then stick a padlock through it, so it's awkward.
Emilio, age 13, lives next door with his older brother and parents. I learned about their previous dogs (some sad stories) and this border collie, Torce, named "twist" for the way he held his head crooked and one ear was crooked as a puppy.
As Emilio and I got acquainted, Torce got to know our dogs. The boys love him but Hannah kept vigil out of smell range.
If you read a previous post you know that dogs were the impetus for meeting neighbors a couple weeks ago with abundant negativity. I'm relieved that a good dog encounter can precipitate a pleasant neighbor meeting.
Torce came back four more times that day, and Hannah took off running and barking at him again, but maybe just once.
Assuming she warms up to him I don't mind if Torce comes over, he's adorable and gentle. But what if our dogs follow him out? They won't understand traffic and might not understand how to get back in.
The next morning I saw another dog was coming in curious, so I started bringing rocks up to fill the gap. Concrete will be better since we all need to drive through this gate, and so a strong dog doesn't just dig it all out.
I haven't been eating much since I've got some bug, and it gets hot quickly here. Standing up with rocks I had to grab the wall to keep from falling - after the fifth time I quit. There are so many people working in the sun all day here and I'm sure a bunch of them live with stomach bugs, so I want to gain some endurance (and I think we better filter the water we're using to wash our hands and dishes, cause that's probably my problem - we are sunning the dishes though!). Work on the gap continued in the cool of the day.
Perhaps Emilio recounted our pleasant exchange to his mother because when she next drove by and I was in view, she stopped to chat and, I'm relieved, speaks fluent English (they spent a year in Canada), since I haven't made much progress with Spanish.
So we've met half the neighbors on one side, two more sets of next-door neighbors to go. Thanks Torce! Cause it is challenging to meet neighbors when the only shared space is the road, no one has front porches or any living space near the road, and somehow I have the impression that showing up with a plate of cookies would be totally weird. But we are really weird, so I just might try.
The two 3-gallon shower bags we got for Christmas are working perfectly. It's sunny enough up here we could probably shower every hour from 12-4. Morning showers are cold, but maybe we'll experiment with putting hot bags in a cooler or sleeping bag and see how long that keeps the heat.
The only strong and tall enough place to attach the shower bags so far is the van. Yesterday I installed a tarp as a privacy wall, but the wind blows it up so these showers are only private if neighbors aren't trying to see what we're up to. So 3 gallons is more than enough water for a shower because we're rushing. I think I'll wash my hair after dark.
Soon we'll erect a teepee-style shower cabana which will solve the privacy issue but also provide flexibility, since we can carry it wherever we want to water the land.
En el terreno
We had a fun weekend with my uncle and his partner, planning to move out to the land Sunday. Over Chinese lunch (comida, so 4pm) Edith said she didn't think we should go yet, that we wouldn't be secure and should stay with them or at a friend's airbnb-style house, until we could get some hut built. As we talked more, with my uncle's translation, we learned that she's not worried about our own safety so much as our stuff, that she expects anytime we leave for more than an hour we should expect someone will try to steal our stuff.
We do plan to build a shack and have an idea about security (hint:root cellar) but that will take a few days. And once we move any of our stuff to the land we have to stay with it. And the trek between their hood and the land is about 20 minutes and includes muffler-stealing roads.
So we moved out and we'll try to not both leave until we have some sort of secure space. The good thing about theft here is that if we come amidst a robbery we can expect the thieves to run (not fight) but the seriously lousy thing is that people will steal anything: clothes, dishes...not just the "valuable" stuff like tools and electronics. We'd been expecting to secure the "valuable" stuff (and tried to bring as little as possible) but if our clothes and cooking pots are stolen that will be such a hassle.
Of course, this land is a glorious place to be tethered to. We do like navigating Spanish together, and we'd rather be together all the time, but being stuck to this spot is still a treat.
We moved over, as in, drove the van with all our belongings, Sunday evening in time to get minimally situated before dark. I have many more fun photos but can't upload them through the weebly app, so when I go somewhere with wifi I'll post more.
Why El Terreno Reverdercer?
This land we're relating to on the outskirts of Morelia has life, thirsty life, hungry life. As we spend time here we'll be shaping the earth to slow water, slowing erosion, watering life deeper into this land. Permaculture is one way to name the harmonious living we're striving for, but it's simply a new name for the way life usually lives, interconnected and thriving.
In a couple days there will be a big old green van and three old dogs and two happy vagabonds living here.