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20-22 Mar 2016

olive trees
Self seeded olive tree - cheer up Dave

Following on from Josef and Jens visit, we've been doing a lot of walking around the land, observing, enjoying.

On the southern terraces we've counted 13 self seeded olive tree saplings - Josef was very excited about these, and all the other plants that have grown since we bought the land. We haven't tilled or ploughed and when we walk we avoid all the tiny plants giving them chance to grow up. After years of this we have masses of pioneer plants all re-generating the soil.

The shrubby vetch is one of them, underneath is a nice layer of mulch it produced itself making a perfect place for other seedlings to sprout. Even the ants have been helping us, aerating the soil and making mounds of very nice mulch. So they do have their uses even though they can be a right pain in the kitchen!

Shrubby vetch making it's own mulch
Ants have their uses!

As we walk I also avoid treading on the snail shells and even the lichen growing on the rocks!

Lichen and snails
Lichen and snails

Bob's house

Do you remember Bob, our friendly Redstart? Well, I think the original Bob has long since gone, but we do have Bob replacements, we may even have a Bobette.

One sleeps underneath the beams on the front face of the earthship, evident from the poop on the ground below the beam (so good for the soil). I looked up what they like to nest in so Dave could make a nesting box for them. We may have to reduce the size of the entrance a little so larger birds can't get in, but we thought we'd see if there was any interest first.

Redstart nesting box
Bob's nesting box

The first terrace repair

Our first job to help keep any rain water on our land is to repair the rock terraces. These were built many years ago, well before we got here, and haven't been repaired for a long time. Well, we were a tad busy building the earthship.

It was a little bit daunting to start with as we've never done this before, but once we started it went really well. It took about 5 hours over 2 days to repair this one. Good exercise!

The photo below is a before and after shot. I was a bit worried about snakes and spiders but all we saw was one small lizard, who quickly scampered away and a centipede. The centipedes here can give you a nasty sting if you scare them, but this was asleep under a rock and happy for us to replace the rock and leave him to get on with his nap.


The start of a rock garden

After the floods of 2012 we made swales all around the earthship to re-direct water away. I started to plant into the big one nearest the entrance last year. Then last week after a lovely gift of 3 succulents from Maggie I started to create a proper rock garden from the swale. It's still a work in progress, but I'm happy with the start.

rock gardens
The start of a rock garden

Yippee rain!

This year has been very dry with only 6mm of rain so far (last year we'd had 50mm by this time). There have been lots of predictions of rain, with no follow through. We've even stopped looking at the forecast as it's so in-accurate. So when I bumped into a fellow permaculture gardener on Sunday and she said it would rain on Monday I took it with a large pinch of salt.

Yesterday morning the clouds rolled over and I studiously ignored them, they're not going to give us anything. Oh how I love to be proved wrong - suddenly the heavens opened and hail started to fall! It quickly changed into a nice dump of rain - 9mm to be almost exact. That's 800ltrs in our main tank and 700ltrs in our irrigation barrels - yippee!

Note to self: need better water proofs. Both Dave and I were soaked to the skin, literally, even though we had rain coats on.

We were far too busy to take photos of the rain, but later when it stopped we did take a walk to the lowest point on our land and found rock pools in the desert!

Rock pools in the desert

Boohoo leaks!

The paradox of wishing for rain is that it highlights where the roof repairs Dave made a few weeks ago need more attention.

I knew full well when we chose a bitumen roof covering that we could be giving ourselves a headache. But given the circumstances it was the best solution at the time.

To be fair, it was put on 5 years ago and it was only the end of last year that it started to leak, AND we hadn't done any maintenance on it. But none of that comes to mind when the drip drip starts inside and we're rushing for the buckets.


I didn't sleep well last night, the excitement of the rain (it doesn't take much these days) and getting up in the night to find more drips and search for more containers left me bleary eyed when Dave brought me my usual morning cuppa in bed. The next thing I knew I had a stone cold cup of tea and heard an elephant on the roof. Well, it sounded like an elephant.

I dragged myself outside to find Dave on the roof. The weather report had predicted more rain this morning so he'd already pumped 800ltrs of water from the roof tank to a holding tank and got halfway through repairing the joints we think are the problem. This is the good thing about building your own home - you have a head start to know how to repair when things go awry.

So, the predicted rain hasn't happened, I'm ignoring the clouds again and Dave is about to go out and do a rain dance - even if we don't have rain that'll keep me happy!

Bye for now....

Dave repairing the offending joint

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