Wednesday, September 14, 2011

House progress

The house is progressing nicely, soon the roof will be added then the walls, all this should happen in the next few weeks. We are still planing to move in by the end of december.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we decided to build with rocks as it is so very abundant all around us, that does however mean the use of plenty of concrete to bind the rocks.
The foundation is rock and pure cement, but the binder between the rocks in the walls will be a mix of cement and mostly lime.
One day a truck arrived filled with huge tree trunks, both Miguel and I felt so sad, how can we claim to be building sustainable if we use 50 year old trees in the structure.
Apparently they are sustainably logged, when the woods reach a certain age the owner is allowed to cut an area, he must replant three trees for every one cut and then they must not be touched for 50 years. Still makes me sad though:(
It does makes me happy that there are rules in place for these practices even here in Mexico.
Another change, one of many, is that we are back to constructing a roof made of ferrocement 
( a lighter cement, sand and water mixture) as oppose to the traditional palapa roof (thatched roof), which for the longest time we felt certain was the best choice.  Many reasons for this change of heart, the main being the ability to catch water. 
We are building one or two huge cisterns (about 20.000liters) to hold the captured rain water, with the idea that we will be able to store and supply all of our water usage from the rain.
Another thought was that the palapa will need to be replaced every 7 years or so, that is if a hurricane does not get at it before that.
And so even more cement...
Much of the building materiel is not 100% ideal, but I comfort myself by the fact, that this will be a strong house that will last a long time. It will supply our water needs, we will reuse all our greywater to grow food and plants around the house. The blackwater will be composted and used in the garden on none edible plants.
The energy use will be supplied by the sun and to start out the stove as well as the refrigerator  will run on gas. 
So while I cannot say that it will be the perfect "green" house, certainly it is a big step further from where we came, and another step in the right direction.

Here is the house site just a few weeks ago, digging down to the bedrock for the foundation.
Lots and lots of rock everywhere

 Foundation wall underway
 spaces in the circle are for the 8 wooden posts that will support the roof
all the wood trunks were left in the front of the property and moved one by one by hand, by 12-14 men. It took 3 days to move them all.
 center beam and all remaining beams raised by hands and strings..

 Keenan loves the building site, and helps when ever possible, his favorite these days is to mix his own "cement" mixture
 these walls will be the basement that will house the cisterns and also provide for storage space
 Last I saw the structure this is where it was at, that was 4 days ago, I imagine the cross beams for the roof have been added by now...more to come later
A few images from around the land.
The clean up of the cenote is well under way, this Sacate tree, (also known here as the bubblegum tree, because the sap is where the original gum came from, the children have chewed it, and it is just like gum only without the sweetens) had fallen presumably in a storm and had to be taken out..
 cleaning first the tall grasses, and then the sediments, all that we take out of the cenote is reused to build soil in other areas of the land, and to make compost
and we had our first baby chick hatch


  1. it's really fun to watch your life shape up! So different from mine, but equally wonderful! I'd never heard of a cenote before, and I'm so glad I know what they are now!

  2. What a wonderful adventure is unfolding for you! Your new home is looking so beautiful already just with the poles and foundations! Do you ever feel like pioneers, starting out in a new land a long time ago? It certainly looks like it when I see your colourful pics! And I love how you have so many willing helpers to lend a hand to create your new home.
    I have learnt over the years that I can only do certain sustainable things in my life and at different times those things are different too - there is always a season. Other people can make other healthy earth choices according to what they are able to do , and for all of us thats ok - we are all different . So whatever you are doing now, is GOOD!!! And the rest doesn't matter - for now!! xx

  3. Evi, I completely agree with your thoughts on the different seasons of our lives. I think I am too hard on myself sometimes in regards to the expectations I have. I much appreciated your words!!

  4. Whereas I love trees deeply, and I believe that the best way of living is with nature instead of against it, I also believe that the people, who are just as native to this planet as trees and water, must be able to live so that they are both safe and at least reasonably comfortable. I'm not sure we can attain a purely "green" life because we are contrary creatures. We don't really fit into the natural systems - not with our dreams and our drive to create and our opposable thumbs and our problem solving kills. I don't believe people showed up on this planet by mistake - I believe we are supposed to be here - and I think our purpose here includes learning how to work with beauty and natural systems instead of inventing ways to cripple them.

    I think Evi made a great deal of sense. I think the point is not to live "green", but to live responsibly and with awareness - both of the needs of earth and the needs of the people around us. I am actually more concerned with learning how to teach people the good things that come of civilized education - how to use the systems of nature to prevent hunger and disease - how to negotiate solutions without war and local violence - how to read and fish and plant effectively. How to support themselves without using drugs as a cash crop.

    What you have to do to make a house that will be safe for the children? If that's the question, then I'd throw green totally out of the window, myself. But you are doing the best you can to be true to the purpose you have adopted, and still take care of the family - and if that isn't balance, I don't know what is.

  5. I agree with you Kristen!
    That we all learn to live in harmony with nature and each other, that has to be the ultimate goal!
    Being involved in this project has certainly given me a larger perspective on what it might mean to be "green".
    As always I truly enjoy your thoughtful comments!!

  6. K, I really wish I had your way with words~~ you have put it so eloquently that I can only nod and say - YES!! I agree!

  7. Thanks, you guys. I have been off visiting grandbabies; now sitting still and bathing in the light of the windows my beautiful friends open for me on the wide and wonderful world!


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