Perhaps I should have kept my broken gearbox as a flowerpot! My daughter Holly, pictured next to a square foot type flowerbed, made from the broken track of my excavator. I would say very green in recycling a piece of rubbish but I am still smarting from buying a new set of tracks AND a reconditioned gear box for my old Mercedes - both on the same day just before Christmas...
Pictured behind from the left is the new eco kitchen, the compost toilet and the volunteer accomodation - now double lined with a small woodburner and lit by a 12 volt solar system.
I opened the door of the campervan on New Years morning to find:-
a) We were parked on a verge in the middle of Albufeira.
b) A young girl with one shoe in her hand was howling her head off. I think she had just finished drinking and wanted to borrow 50 cents to make a call as she had lost her bag and phone on the beach. I smiled and with my new resolution told her to run away ( NY resolution number one, stop being nice to anyone and say exactly what I feel..)
c) My girlfriend had lost her phone, presumed missing in action on the same aforesaid beach. Big search, obviously stolen, evidently part of an international ring of New Years Eve Pissed On The Beach Phone Stealing Ring. Found this amusing as it is normally me who does such stupid things.
Strangely, the phone turned up a couple of hours later in a saucepan in the campervan cupboards (can't have been me, mr safety conscious could it....) Strange how you look at things differently just because it has clicked into 2009. I have an overwhelming urge to organize, sort and tidy - and these are just the kids and girlfriend, just wait until I hit the garage!!)
At the start of 2008, probably with an equally sized double sledge hammer of a hangover, and in a dodgy hotel in Istambul (threw that in so you think I am jet set white trash when actually I am very anti planes), I decided to give myself ten years. Not lifespan or jail but ten short years to change my lifestyle so that we could support ourselves near enough self sufficiently at Quinta Stuart. Ten years to become low energy, net food producers, sharers and humble enough not to WANT to wake up in a mafia owned Istambul hotel room where even the bathroom was the colour of nicotine.
So 2008 was a very positive year and I feel happy that the clock has ticked down to only nine years to D Day. I won't comment on climate change or peak oil, there are enough blogs on these subjects - suffice to say change your lifestyle now, if only for me!
Projects achieved in 2008.
1. Compost toilet.
After travelling around, I knew that I had to build a really smart loo so that girlfriend and two daughters would use it and that it would be an inspiration to the leagues of Doubting Thomases also known as my friends.
I built the two chamber system, with a good vent, massive chambers and big enough for several hundred books, pictures , blackboard, view and solar powered light. It has surpassed all expectations and even the posh in laws and a forty strong gardening club loved it.
The librarian hard at work...
2. Compost heap.
An easy construction of two square wooden frames against the corner of a tall stone wall. Works well and we put everything except for bones and the ash from the woodburner in it - the ash stays as solid soggy lumps. I just emptied the first chamber, it was about six months since we put anything into it. The compost is generally good but a bit woody - I had to throw a few bits away but ended up with six big wheel barrow loads to plant some new walnuts with.
3. Grey water.
I rerouted all the shower and kitchen water so it fills a seperate tank before the main septic tank. If this 800 litre tank overfills, it automatically runs into the septic tank. There is no filtering as all my land is level, but using only eco products, we pump the water straight onto trees. it whiffs a bit so I don't use it for my vegetables.
4. Chicken tractor
I had ducks and geese as well, but all they did was eat and eat, so I gave them away - very pointless keeping these guys when you are a vegetarian!! The two chickens are great, two minutes a day to feed and regular layers of fantastic eggs. Their run is on wheels so we move it to weedy area and job done. From terms of economics, a two euro bag of food lasts a month. We get around 36 eggs a month... probable worth about ten euros. We let them out now and again but they tend to hammer my seed beds and small veg. seedlings and don't lay any more for the early parole.
I will explain about all my planting in next weeks blog. Must go and sort something!