Monday, February 07, 2011

Working on the finca

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day for the final day of a short working trip to Coatepec, so we decided to take the whole day and get a few things done.

The first task was to fit the hose connections for the water supply and see if it worked. The sound on the video is pretty faint, so the basic facts are that the well is about 50 metres from the limits of the garden area and work area where we need water (e.g., for watering flower gardens or mixing cement around the buildings. Walking to the well to get a bucket at a time is a pain. The well is about half a metre or so above the level of the land, and so we built a concrete block platform beside the well that gets us up a full metre or so above the land level in the gardens. We bought a large domestic plastic rubbish bin and cut a hole at the bottom into which we fitted a plastic threaded arrangement, siliconed in and wish washers to keep it watertight, that ended with a conventional hose fitting on the outside.

A short section of clear plastic hose was fitted to the bin end, so we can check for water flow from the bin. Another hose fitting connects to a 50 metre length of garden hose, which is threaded into a large hose reel made from timber. We unwound the hose and cut it to the required length -- and can add further hose if required.

Filling the bin gives up to 15 minutes of good pressure. And fitting a shut off device at the watering end off the hose means we can turn the water off when we don't need it. The pressure is not great, but a typical bucket of water -- for a small mix of concrete, say -- fills in a minute or so and when the bin runs dry it still leaves water in the hose, so a top up gives immediate fresh flow.

We were thrilled with the results, and it will make it a whole lot easier and more convenient to do work requiring water, even though there is a certain charm to carrying water by the bucket.

I made a short video of the set up.

In this second sequence, Ana -- one of the neighbours' children -- carries bricks for soaking before they get laid as a garden border. Ana is 4 years old and loves to come over whenever we are on the land. Often her older sister and brother (10 and 8) come as well, but Ana is always the first one there and she just loves watching what is going on and joining in.

A few weeks ago we started laying small brick borders for paths, digging shallow tranches, laying mortar in the trench and then mortaring the bricks together. Ana was over by herself for a lot of that and she'd just watch and imitate and ask a few questions. The next two videos show her carrying bricks from the small building to the "brick soaking bucket".

The second video that follows shows her spontaneously remembering from some weeks previously that we tamp the mortar in the trench down just a little before leaving it to dry. She never asked if she should tamp it, just found a small piece of wood and spontaneously began doing the work.