Thursday, 22 August 2013

The first Wooffers

Yesterday I welcomed my first wooffers - actually I borrowed them for a day as I am not yet set up to host having no functioning bathroom, kitchen or accommodation to speak of.  I called on Pierre, a local young organic dairy farmer for help with the exterior earth rendering of the house as it was proving rather physically demanding to do it myself what with hauling heavy buckets of earth mixture up a three story scaffolding with just a one wheel pulley.  He offered to come for the day with two young woofers who are currently staying with him.

For those unfamiliar with the term WWoof - it means 'Worldwide Opportunities of organic farms'.  It is a system of exchange whereby volunteers offer commonly 4 to 5 hours of work a day in exchange for accommodation and food.

Sophie and Gina, two young English woofers, were great company and heroically tackled the tasks of mixing up slip and treading a mixture of clay earth, sand and chopped up straw to make the render that we then applied by hand to the east wall of the house.

 Above:  Gina using the drill with bit to mix up a slip of earth and water to apply to the wall before rendering to help it stick.
 Above:  Pierre and Sophie preparing the render of clay earth, sand and chopped straw.
 Above:  Sophie and Pierre brave the rickety scaffolding to apply the render
 Above:  Sophie and Gina putting the finishing touches to the render
 Above:  I think they enjoyed themselves
Above:  The east wall with its lovely new earth render
Above:  Sophie inspects the render
Above:  Sophie quickly mastered the technique of applying the render by hand.
Thank you Pierre, Sophie and Gina.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The dry toilet

So this house has no toilet or sewage system at the moment.  I have fabricated a temporary dry toilet using one of the old wooden barrels that was originally used as a bird cage.   I got the idea from a neighbour who is an organic cow farmer. I bought a decorative plastic cover to go over the metal grating that is the door and used an old chair that was here, lifted off the seat and bought a plastic bucket that miraculously fitted exactly into it and popped a wooden toilet seat on top.  The roof is covered with a sheet of plastic nailed around the rim:

Above:  Dry toilet in a barrel.

Above:  Laura proudly posing next to the dry toilet in a barrel.  The first visitor to happily use it.
I initially used sawdust donated by a local saw mill to add to the little gifts left in the bucket but a visiting carpenter pointed out that there was a strong smell of petrol emanating from it.  He explained that there is lot of oil/petrol that would have leaked into it during the sawing process.  What a shame - I had already filled two pallet bays with my contributions and was looking forward to spreading the end result around fruit trees in a few years.  I now get sawdust shavings from this carpenter that has no oil/petrol in it.
As a temporary mesure it is quite a novelty but I still haven't got used to emptying the contents into the compost bays (constructed out of palletes stuffed with straw to keep curious animals at bay).  I like the idea of recycling the waste but there must be a more pleasant way of dealing with this .... research to be done ... to be continued.