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Since writing the last blog we now have 3 bottles of olive oil, not bad going for a heath robinson operation.  It really is surprising what you can achieve with a little thought and ingenuity.  Part of my kitchen looks like a small factory but its well worth it for 7 bottles of our own olive oil especially as we never thought we would get any this year.

 

IMG_0019 (640x480)As for the saffron well I have planted the bulbs I rescued in the flower pots in the ffz they are shooting so I am hopeful.  But it is the from the small walled garden that I got my biggest surprise, saffron!  I had forgotten I had planted some there, the bulbs have multiplied and provided me with saffron, not as much as the main bed but certainly enough for a couple of paella’s. Then Michael began to find the odd bulb here and there so I am getting a fair bit which is more than I anticipated.  It seems that in my usual way of digging things up separating them and re-planting I have spread the saffron all over – wow!!

Cough Cough!

Well winter is here and as usual we are coughing. Poor old Michael has been quite rough but, I am glad to say, is now on the mend, I was a little worried for a while. When we were both really really ill we didn’t get any work done either on the computer or the farm and the olive oil had to wait.  But after a bit of a spell in doors, lots of lemon and honey with lemsip before bedtime, we not only felt a little better but began to get twitchy, the need to be active was very strong. So weather permitting we were wrapped up and out side fiddling around then as the sun began to return ( In the mornings it is so misty, damp and nasty) we started picking the olives again.  This time  mostly from off the ground as the wind had been playing knock the olives from the trees.  After two days of gentle picking and creaky knees despite kneeling pads, there are enough olives in the crusher/mixer to prepare another pressing.

 

Green Living???

Now I have heard loads about ‘Green Living’ and seen the tv programmes most of which show the latest technology but also have the benefits of mains water, electricity etc., on stand by – just in case and this is called green living???  yeh well we live the real green living life!  We chose this farm because its away from the town in the mountains in the middle of a forest (now a National Park) halfway up a valley and its tranquil.  We have learnt to live with the birds and animals ok and snakes, without a mains anything.  WE WENT GREEN – big time!!!

Over the years we have installed a solar system which works well with a generator as back up for when the sun does not shine. This system runs the fridge, freezer, computers and tv, now that is being green.  The water system is simple: it rains the rain water runs into the cisternas then as needed its pumped to a header tank to give pressure and is fine.  I have a washing machine, shower, and hot water via the gas water heater (if it does not rain and we are low on water we have to buy it in) and NO this is not mains this is bottled gas.  Michael had to build a gas shed to keep them in and it was inspected and ok’d. then I had to get certificates for each gas bottle, there is no way you can get round it legally, the new gas bottle (which you can then replace when empty) comes from a registered supplier so as long as you obey the rules you are fine. The gas also runs the cooker and when we first came here the fridge/freezer, but once Michael had the solar system fully up and running we exchanged it for a small fridge and freezer – you need somewhere to keep the ice in summer.

We are not the only people who have done this but most of them have access to agricultural water we don’t.  But hey that’s how we roll up here and we love it.  Some nights we stand and look at the stars they are wonderful we are also looking for the mother ship!!!!!!!  Oh come on, what humans in their right mind would live in the mountains, in the middle of a forest halfway up a valley with no amenities, wild birds (Owls, Eagles, and a large range of smaller  bossy birds) wild boar, (all of who have names) and Sid the snake??????

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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DSCF4146Our new septic tank was delivered this week and got me thinking about how far we have come since we moved here 10 years ago.

We have all read the articles or seen the programmes on tv about ‘being green’, but unless you actually have to do it – and I do not mean installing solar panels & supplying the National Grid with surplus energy, or being near a water supply just incase the reed beds don’t work –  you really do not know what it entails or the cost, we had to learn.

When we retired I decided it was time to move somewhere warm. So we looked at various places, saw our finca fell in love with it and moved here.  What we did not know untill I came to see it, was there was no running water, or electricity or sewage. Water for the house is a cisterna with the header tank I installed which are either filled by rain water or spring water brought in by our friend Manell the Tractorista, which is roughly twice a year and of course we have to pay for.

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Despite all this my wife and I decided to take the plunge and we have not regretted it. Since that time we have been in a state of evolution, always looking at improving our systems.  When you read the “about Michael” on my pages it says we live ‘in the middle of a forest halfway up a mountain on a little olive farm’, and that is exactly it.  Our families thought we were mad but we knew what we were doing.  The getting where we are today has been a journey of innovation, bright ideas, trial and error plus watching the pennies.  We did not have vast amounts of money and have had to save for things before me moved on to the next stage in our ‘green’ evolution. On the whole it has been fun sometimes it has been ‘what the hell are we doing here?’  however, today we have all the mod cons, and with a little Heath Robinson innovation a bit more. So I thought I would put fingers to key board and give you a little insight into what it has meant to really go green. I will start with the sewage as with the arrival of the septic tank the system is finally finished.

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A little info to start: I bought a small generator out from England and for a while this little Briggs & Stratton along with candles was our only supply of electricity whilst we waited for our permissions to build a new casa came through. This is the original Casa de Campo (country house) in which we lived for those months, and the white dome is the access to the cisterna. This typical tiny farmhouse had one window, a fire-place, a mezzanine for sleeping and that literally was it. So what about the loo and sewage system?

We had brought a camping gaz toilet with us from the UK, this was a square two sectioned loo which when flushed meant you had to empty the bottom half. So every so often I had to traipse up to the middle field where I dug deep trenches into which I emptied it then washed it out before re-assembling, mind you the flowers in that part of the field are wonderful….

This little ceremony went on for several months untill the new house and our ‘shit pit’ were built, what a relief not having to do the poo run. I had looked at the various green ways of disposing the waste as at the time of building we could not afford a septic tank.  So the builder dug a large hole in the ground filled it with rocks and boulders to ensure the bacteria had a large biological surface to work on, then it was covered with concrete. This ‘Bacterial Bio Concept’ or (BBC) for short became known as the ‘shit pit’, and untill last week has served us very well.  The concrete cover of the old pit is the base for the septic tank, and as no chemicals will be used it should work perfectly well. The other thing is as we have to conserve our water, we do not flush the loo every time we go only when we poo, and it amazing how much water you can save by just that little action. Something to think on, and no the bathroom does not smell that’s because of the lemons and vinegar.

The one thing my wife had to get used to was NO chemical cleaners or the bacteria would be killed off, the pit would not work properly and it would smell.  We are lucky to have some good friends who are green, and they passed on cleaning and other tips to my wife.  In these days of austerity they are really handy as well as natural, green and eco-friendly. She cleans the toilet with soapy water from the washing up and to get rid of any stains uses white wine vinegar, this also prevents a build up of limescale and helps to keep the toilet shiny white so she is happy.  We have also learnt that lemons which we can pick off the tree do the same job with their natural acid. So there is no need for expensive eco damaging products.  We do not use chemicals on the olive trees because of the birds so why use them anywhere else.  Sorry Harpic and Dettol no go here.

We (well my wife) have learnt how to get the same results but using natural grown things, and are so used to it we do not even think about it unless we have family for a holiday. Then a little info sheet appears and I feel like Sheldon.

A small tip: cut a lemon in half squeeze the juice into the loo after the last flush at night, drop the half in as well and leave till morning, it cleans while you sleep.

This is our life. In the next article I will deal with the water situation.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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