I’ve been wanting to blog about our BIG LIST ‘11 for weeks but the further we got from ticking much off that darned table of tasks, the less I wanted to be reminded about it… And then recently, we’ve been so busy working away at getting the jobs done that I haven’t had time to blog!
When we wrote the BIG LIST, we didn’t have Daisy Marmite on board. A small, mischevious puppy with curiosity as sharp as her teeth is not overly conducive to getting stuff done! The action of sweeping anything is fascinating to her, so cleaning up after projects with Daisy attached to the broom has been challenging. We can no longer leave objects within puppy range whilst working. The list of things we’ve turned around to find her hareing off with excitedly currently include: Nik’s phone, lighters, gloves, hand trowels, flower pots, hosepipes and fittings and (most hilariously) Steve’s underpants. Disappointingly he disposed of them before I could take a picture of the shredded bits of cloth that the former M&S tackle-huggers had become! Despite this, here are the achievements to date:
- re-concrete the floor of the toilet chambers, raising the level to meet the drainage pipe
- re-construct the crates and mesh on the chamber floor
- put extended hatch sills around all the openings and weather proof the actual hatch covers
1 & 2 – done. Only one chamber has an extended sill and water ingress in the front of the remaining chambers during the recent rain has continued to reinforce the importance of doing this for them.
- topped off with a new stone wall
After much digging of clay & ramming of earth, the wall of tyres is complete. The stone wall is half finished so only some of the planting has been done (can’t risk wrecking the plants with rocks falling on them!) but so far, so good:
For me, this task won’t be fully ticked off until I post a photo (late summer?) of the completed wall aburst with colour, foliage & tumbling fruits…
Tent Pitch #3
Done. And grass seeds are already beginning to sprout on all 3 new tent pitches.
Done. But not as originally planned. Rather than build an entire new structure for the trusty genny to live in, why not keep it in the workshop but extend the exhaust to be long enough to expel its fumes outside? Steve’s brainwave was made a reality by the clever guys at Auspuh Servis:
A hole then had to be drilled through the workshop wall:
And the modified generator was installed:
It’s quiet. It’s out of the weather, although we still have fashion a surround (we’ll recycle an old tin can) around the hole so that water won’t get into the gap in the wall and we’ll need to sheild the end of the pipe to stop water dripping down the exhaust and rusting the engine. It doesn’t fill the workshop with fumes anymore. This solution has saved us time & money – bravo Stevo! Drawbacks – it’s not exactly portable anymore. But that’s ok.
This was the task that held us up for so long & that I blogged about here. Strictly speaking it isn’t completed. There is still a piece of mreza (thick metal mesh) to erect in place of the tatty-looking and vulnerable (security-wise) stretch of fencing from the upper gate to the new boundary fence. There’s also the small question of the stream-side fence, which is non-existent and we currently have no-friggin-idea how we will secure this. But no goat or cow debacles to report so far this year and we’re hoping that here at least Daisy Marmite will come into her own… although based on her uncouth eating habits so far, she’ll probably just follow them round and eat their poo!
Restore table & chairs
Not even attempted yet, but an absolute MUST if our beloved wooden furniture is to survive another year. This is a job for a run of sunny days when we are living up there but before our guests arrive as the task will be messy & noisy, involving belt sander & the like.
- Sow grass
- Strim, stump, mow
- Re-gravel drainage ditch
1 & 2 – done. Although mowing and strimming will now be an ongoing task. And there are more areas to try to level with the remains of the topsoil that arrived way back then and then to seed. The ordering of gravel has to be done. We can’t put it off much longer. In digging out clay for the tyre wall construction, we started to uncover the terrace wall that is a priority re-build:
This stretch of wall runs along the last 2 grey water baths. If we re-build it well, and incorporate steps, it will give us easier, more stable access to the orchard, flower garden & compost areas. You can see from the picture above how eroded the gravel ditch has become here as the clay has fallen onto it and we’re re-cutting ground level by digging out clay.
Tile the last toilet & grout all loos
Done. Done. Done. We’ve even painted over all the tile adhesive marks and scrubbed the loos to within an inch of their long-drop lives. The only picture I have is of the toilets finished but not cleaned. It does NOT do the job justice so will have to wait for a sunny day for a re-take. Trust me, it looks great – except in the now brown & cream tiled toilets with dark brown wooden toilet holders & light brown wooden toilet seats, the green & blue galss bricks do not co-ordinate well at all!
Tiling the steps
Not even started yet although we’re considering trying to get Steve’s Dad, Gerry, into it as a project when they visit soon. I reckon he’s a dab hand at tiling. Realistically though we may only get one set of steps tiled this season as it has to be done when there are no guests due to inevitable ensuing inconvenience and mess.
Grey water system made optimally operational
- Dig out baths & replant
- Dig up irrigation pipes
- Re-build stone walls and protect pipes
We’ve made good progress with this task. The baths were totally clogged with over-developed roots that had been greedily feeding on grey water goodness for half a year. The first task was to dig out the problem baths. This was no mean feat! Check out the straining muscles on this poor face as Steve desperately tries to heave out chunks of the bamboo:
All the baths needed attention, barring the first bath which we’d dealt with at the end of last summer and which didn’t have any ferocious bamboo planted in it! The pictures below barely illustrate the mental-ness of the bamboo roots but…
At least 3 of the baths were completely dug out, de-rooted (made up word alert?!) and washed out. Gravel & stones were replaced, all clay removed as far as possible and fresh commercial & home made compost added to top the baths off. Drastically reduced clumps of reeds, bamboo, sweet potatoe flowers, umbrella plants and mint were put back in the baths.
Unsurprisingly, Daisy Marmite was fascinated by the smell of the grey water pipe pieces that we had to dismantle in the process of clearing & re-planting the baths:
We’ve elected not to dig out the irrigation pipes in the raised beds. Water seems to be flowing away reasonably ok in most beds. Enough to dispose of the excess grey-water safely anyway, which was one of the key objectives of the design in the first place. We may have to give a few areas of the beds special attention though, to compensate for blocked irrigation pipes. Timing-wise, it’s too late now anyway. Each bed now has green stuff growing away in it. The only bed with no irrigation pipes dug in will be the one that brassicas and other veg over-winter in and the rest will have their pipes dug up, flushed through and re-set before next year’s sowing & planting.
The re-building of the stone wall along the last 2 baths is tantalisingly close to completion. The topping off of the longer terrace wall from the building all the way down to the 3rd bath is much more of a mission and may not be tackled for a while. Since the grass has grown over the pipes here they are more protected & less likely to move anyway.
Re-palm boundary fence
Most of the fence has been patched up. We have enough palms to cover the agricultural mesh on the section over the stream that is a big green blot on the landscape when viewed from inside the camp. But in order to do this, we’ll need to construct some kind of platform over the stream at least 3 metres high and stable enough to work on comfortably. Hmmm.
Tile splashback area around gas cooker
We’ve got as far as choosing the tiles. Our stocks of tiles are seriously low these days. This is a good thing as we have managed to use so many in various ways and have created tons more space in our basement area as a result too. But it does mean choice is limited. It’s a stroke of luck that we have just enough of the same tiles (with a single tile to spare!) to continue the splashback already in place around the sink. Fingers crossed we don’t break any!
Once the splashback is in place, we can further improve the kitchen area with:
- the addition of a small wooden unit that will support extra work surface alongside the cooker
- a bespoke work surface (hopefully home-made but, at a push, purchased) to fit snugly over the floor standing units & into the corner
- a pole (material as yet undefined…) to hang pots & pans off above the cooking area
And whilst we’re talking about the kitchen, there’s another small (?!) task that’s new on the list. The construction & erection of a piece of canvas (hopefully made from the remains of our ex-Yugoslav Army tent that Nik & I salvaged) that can be fitted into place over the doorway and last stretch of open, non-bottled-window. This should help reduce the amount of water that floods in when it rains.
Hurrah for us and the progress so far and this doesn’t even include a load of little things like:
- sorting out the basement
- finishing tiling edges and corners left incomplete until now
- neatly enclosing in trunking, the leads for connecting the solar-powered fan from solar controller box and to the waterless urinals
- a major workshop tidy up
- endless ongoing planting tasks
Here’s to the BIG LIST diminishing and to volunteers this season helping us tackle projects not even on the list yet like:
- re-building endless terrace walls
- maintaining, cultivating & improving the whole 4,000 sq metres of upper woodland, currently in disarray
- building an outdoor bathroom
- re-directing the water run-off from the drainpipes into the ditch
- constructing/ begging/ borrowing (?!) some rainwater collection devices for the building and/ or the workshop and water tank
- solving the problem of how to provide our veggies some shade from the relentless summer sun
- filling in & levelling the ground around the side of the building where the steps leave the shower/ toilet area
- painting the workshop, the compost toilet area and the compost tea tank
Diminishing? Oh wait, I just made the BIG LIST even BIGGER, Damn.