Well, it’s been almost a year since my last post. This time, I promise, I will start posting more regularly.
It’s been a year a frustrations on this project. The drafting company took literally a year to get our drawings back to us, even though the only thing they had to design was the roof. By comparison, the engineer got the final drawings back to us in a week.Unfortunately, after two months of negotiation and being very patient, the builder finally came back to us with a quote – which we simply can’t afford. Our beautiful pod-house design would cost more than we can justify spending on it.
So instead, we have Plan B. We’ve been talking to a (lovely and very helpful) man about a house, and it looks like this one we can afford. The plans and documents to send to the council for planning approval should come through today. It’s a prefab build, made in a factory in town then brought in on trucks and bolted together on site, so it’s very quick. The theory is 20 weeks from signing the papers to getting the keys, including all the fit-out – tiling and painting and wardrobes and so forth. It won’t be straw bale, which is a shame, but it will be a house. And it will be beautiful, and give us a space that’s ours, that we can fill with dogs and cats and boardgames and books.
Outside, the fruit trees didn’t do so well over summer. Not being there to baby them through their first year meant that basically none have survived, which is a bit distressing. The next lot aren’t going into the ground until the house is built and we’re up there ourselves to take care of them. In the meantime, we’ve planted 70 fast-growing shade trees, most of them nitrogen fixers, to break up the barren expanse of open ground. They went in just after mid-winter, and are thriving in the wet spring we’re having. By next year I expect some of them to be a metre or more tall. They’re all grown from seed, so they should have good strong root systems.
The chickens are adorable, and very productive. Our fridge is overflowing with eggs – I gave a dozen away on Friday, and another half dozen yesterday, and we have over a dozen in the fridge now. And the quail have finally started laying too. Some days we’re getting seven chicken eggs (from four chickens! How do they even?) and two quail eggs. The quail are still terrified of anything that isn’t food, and freak out whenever we change their water, or put a bowl of sand in for them to sandbathe in, but they’ve stopped freaking out when we just walk past their cage. So that’s something. The chickens, on the other hand, are actual pets now. They run up to the gate of their run when they see me or K, when we get up in the mornings and when we get home form work int he afternoons, pkawking for treats (grass, weeds, bugs, kitchen scraps, anything really). It’s pretty cute.
Rabbits are less of a win, so far. We’ve had 3 litters so far, and no live baby rabbits – although it isn’t really the rabbits’ fault. Her first litter Tsuki had on the wire of the cage instead of in the nest box, so the babies got cold before I found them, and they didn’t make it through the night. But the second and third litters were killed by rats. I didn’t realise until this latest litter, when I came home and went to check on the bunnies (two live babies had been born that morning, in the nest box, and seemed to be doing well) and found a rat eating one alive. As in, eating the intestines of the poor little rabbit while it made high pitched squeaking noises and tried to move away. The rat didn’t even run off when it saw me, just stayed there, blood all over its pointy little face, until I moved towards it. The second baby was already dead. The cage was covered in blood, and Tsuki and Mouse were both anxious and skittish for days. Next time, we’re going to bring Tsuki inside for the first few days in the hopes of getting some live babies.
Our garden is full of lettuce, and I just harvested the sunflowers. Mostly for seeds to grow the next round, but we did eat a few, and they were sweet and delicious. I’m looking forward to the olives ripening around the neighbourhood; this year I’m going to go walking with a bucket and knock on random doors to ask if I can harvest some of the trees around here. It seems such a shame to see so many olives just falling on the ground and being wasted. Maybe I’ll run a workshop on dry-curing them, which is much easier than the brine pickling method.
Anyway, in summary – there is movement forwards, finally. And regular updates will be forthcoming. Stay tuned 🙂