Saturday, 27 December 2014

Moving into our earthen home

It's been a month since we moved in and it feels like this is where we have always been. It's so much a part of us, I feel like it's almost part of my body I have spent so much time putting it all together. It's been quite a journey and now it really begins! living the life we have imagined for so long, there is still a lot of work to be done, setting a system in place for all our needs and finishing off on the building, but we are there, we are in!

I finished the earthbag retaining wall around the house, it could do with one last layer of plaster

So after having tried out earthbag building on the retaining wall I built a small storeroom using the smae method. A rubble trench foundation then the first course of bags had gravel inside. 

The next two layers were stablised with a bit of cement so I did a damp prrof course before carrying on with earth filled bags.

This is the framework for layering clay to make  built in clay shelves for extra storage

The plastering is quite a big job

The top of the storeroom I used glass bottles to try the technique and to let some light in, there is no recycling or rubbish collection in this area so whatever you can reuse is great. I collected the bottles from our friends who had been saving these up and who run a great lodge close by 'Sable Sands' 

I moved everything in before it was finished as I needed the storage space

The photos below you can see we are getting settled into our new way of life.

Our wonderful new edition to the family 'Whiskey' who came from the SPCA in Bulawayo they are doing an amazing job and there are so many animals who need a good home.  
Making washing up liquid. After asking around alot for a non-toxic source of washing powder and liquid I found out from a neighbour that the sap of an indigenous tree of which we have many can be used for washing! I have not seen any documentation on this  'commiphora mossambicensis' It's great so I can use the grey water from our washing up and clothes washing straight to the mulched areas around the fruit trees as I had hoped. 

This is the sap that I have pounded and then mixed with hot water and lemon juice

It's planting time as the rains have arrived, Millet,sorghum, beans,groundnuts, pumpkins,ochra...
The indigenous fruits are ripe and it's been fun to experiment using them in different recipes. They are such an important source of food and vitamins for everyone in the community especially at this time of year when the food saved from the last season is almost finihsed and new crops have only just been planted. 
The 5000litre water tank has been overflowing and is our main source of water, I need to build more storage for all the water so we can collect every drop.

This stunning photograph taken at night is by my talented husband, as are a few  of the others in this blog. Here you can see the solar lights working so well.