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Lucy Elder

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since Jul 15, 2013
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Recent posts by Lucy Elder

Vasily Kiryanov wrote:

Lucy Elder wrote:

Helena, I am so heartened to hear you know young Bulgarians keen to keep the village way of living going by actually doing it. This was one of the reasons for my posting here on permies. I have not encountered any but knew there must be some somewhere..

Quite agree about a need to 'belong' especially with a young family. Are their some young Bulgarian parents interested in that idea too? Have you thought of contacting UK teaching colleges where young graduates with forward thinking ideas might come out? Combined with some more trad teaching from local Bulgarian teachers? I found an excellent young couple to keep my children up with basics when we travelled abroad. No pay - gave them the experiences instead of living differently. Worked out well al round.

Can I ask how you met the Bulgarian younger people keen to live a rural life? Are some networking too?



There is an educational/consultancy project - BalkEP at Shipka. They can acts as 'permies hub'. That's the least i can say. Hope to move to BG someday and check it out. Need to convince my wife though... She is very attached to her place.



Vasily, they're lovely people. Absolutely flourishing permaculture garden. Seriously happy plants.
6 years ago

Lm McWilliams wrote:Hi Lucy Elder,

Geoff Lawton talks about algae in water storage tanks, and says that a small amount of green
algae in water storage tanks or barrels is actually a good thing. He says the algae helps purify
the water by consuming the small amounts of organic matter in the rainwater. Have you seen
the video where he talks about this?

Geoff also talks about how heavy metal contaminants do not dissolve in rainwater (or any water)
with a high enough pH. He also talks about using limestome, dolomite, or even oyster shells to
raise the pH of the rainwater if it is too low; having the tap high enough on the tank to allow
particulates/contaminants to fallout, etc.

I don't have any experience with storing rainwater for any length of time, as we are blessed
with ample and regular rainfall, but we want to make the best use of every resource.

I've also wondered if terracotta tiles are still being made in the USA, or if all the 'roof tiles' are
now concrete (which strike me as much less eco-friendly).

Best wishes-



Geoff, thanks for that info. I cant watch youtube videos here as the elec cuts out but what you mention makes sense and is useful to know.

Wishing you luck locating real terracotta tiles. They are lovely. My house burned down but I recycle the tiles in all sorts of ways - including spark-proofing the chimney on my yurt. The tapwater here is very full of lime so catching the rain for s different source is good.
6 years ago


I catch water of a terracotta tile roof here in rural Bulgaria. Again suitable for watering, hair rinsing, dogs, washing when there is a lot of rain to keep running it through. Maybe the prob is standing water. often collects algae etc as well as pollutants. I use rough filters but nothing fancy. If you could catch the water in a contaminant proof vessel it might help. I've used wooden barrel, plastic bidons and metal to date.




Lm McWilliams wrote:

Lucy Elder wrote:I caught water for many years (until Chernobyl) off a slate tiled roof but it was not suitable
for drinking. Useful though for watering and when there was a lot of rain it was clean enough for washing. Smoke
from my chimneys added to the pollution content but the ashes were probably good for the plants..



Interesting. Of course the quality of the rain is something we always need to keep in mind. Not just Chernobl, but
later the Japanese nuclear disaster- and industrial pollution. But it sounds like the slate roof was not contributing to
the pollution in the water off that roof, right? Unlike asphalt shingles, which add a depressing list of contaminates to
the water coming off a roof covered in them. (Not to mention the pollution created during their manufacture and
disposal, in stark contrast to slate.)

Anyone here collecting water from a tile roof?

An aside: we were startled to learn that wood shingles in our climate last at least as long as asphalt. NOT suitable for dry
climates with a high fire risk, of course! In this region wood shingles are typically made from Eastern white cedar, but
apparently other woods can work, too. Bonus: they can be made by hand on the farmstead. There are some interesting
videos on YouTube on this topic. Much more renewable than asphalt shingles.

(Further off topic, I recently heard that a renewed interest in traditional thatched roofs in England has created a market for
straw grown organically, or at least without chemical nitrogen fertilizer, since that straw has proven to last significantly longer.
But water reed (Phragmities australis) from waters not polluted with fertilizer run-off can last up to 60 years- according to
The Thatch Company in the UK. Any asphalt shingles rated for that long?

Sorry if this info is available elsewhere; havn't yet had the time to read all the topics in detail.)

6 years ago

Helena Davies wrote:Hi John & Lucy

There are a lot of young Bulgarians interested in moving to the village, we know a lot of people who want to, the question is how to make it work financially, buy land or a property, have money for repairs. And then you still need to make a living! Thank goodness for the internet which allows us to make a living from almost any place now, and to share all the knowledge and ideas. We live here with a few people now, and we have quite a bit of interest of others who also want to settle here. Where there is a desire there is a way! This is a regular village, actually a quite well developed one, but still surrounded by lots of space and stunning nature, close to a vibrant city, and with quick internet connection available. I don't know what your situation is, but we are mid thirties and have just started a family, and when you have a child, you really realize it is so important to be part of a "tribe", to have regular contact with other like minded people. For your child to be part of a community. We really enjoy our contact with all the pensioners but they generally like the way they are doing things right now and find our ideas (like mulching) a bit strange. Why conserve water when you have a tap with running water? We are also very interested in homeschooling, because we are hoping that will give our children more of a free thinking mindset but again we think this is best done in a group and with other children Like you say, we still have on foot firmly into the old ways, and are more and more experimenting with the "new ways" (which are sometimes actually the old ways ).



Helena, I am so heartened to hear you know young Bulgarians keen to keep the village way of living going by actually doing it. This was one of the reasons for my posting here on permies. I have not encountered any but knew there must be some somewhere..

Quite agree about a need to 'belong' especially with a young family. Are their some young Bulgarian parents interested in that idea too? Have you thought of contacting UK teaching colleges where young graduates with forward thinking ideas might come out? Combined with some more trad teaching from local Bulgarian teachers? I found an excellent young couple to keep my children up with basics when we travelled abroad. No pay - gave them the experiences instead of living differently. Worked out well al round.

Can I ask how you met the Bulgarian younger people keen to live a rural life? Are some networking too?
6 years ago


John, pre and during the communist/socialist era here the villages flourished, apparently. V hard in the distant past but some methods are centuries old and still going - cheese and yoghurt making and fruit tree growing for instance - bar some new sprays.

I am v fond of my neighbours but do wonder what the reaction would be if someone came along offering cash for - say - a gm crop. Wretched oilseed rape has already caused some local probs - but it is not acknowledged that there is a problem if there is money involved..

My hope is that some young Bulgarians will join and spread the permie movement. Must be some out there. Otherwise - and oddly - the villages cuold become havens for those fleeing frmo the West - where we HAVE learned to value land where we can grow enough to live. Topsy turvy world.






John Polk wrote:I have been in similar environments in various corners of the world.

To me, it seems like the larger, and more centralized the government is, the more you will find these pockets of 'independence'.
The politicians, in order to stay in power, concentrate almost all of their energies on the larger population centers, and practically ignore 'the outside world'. People have learned through generations that their small community is far more important to them than the centralized system, that has never helped them. Things continue pretty much as they did in 'grandpa's days'.

Even here in the U.S.A., much of the rural area is dominated by older folks. The younger generations have watched TV, movies, magazines that depict the urban centers as areas of wealth and opportunity. It is a strong lure to attract the youth out of the rural areas, into the fast, exciting, and wealthy lifestyles of the bigger cities (and the Rat Race).

A sad thing about this trend is that many of these farms have been in the same family for many generations, and many of those children want nothing to do with that land. What will become of those regions if the next generation wants to abandon them for 'the easy life'?

Many of these regions are leery of outsiders. Perhaps, with time, they will realize that many of these villages almost need expats to keep them alive, if their children have no interest. I think that if "we" fit closely into their communities, they will realize that we are an important part of their future. They will see a value in what we are trying to accomplish with years of hard toil.

6 years ago

Helena Davies wrote:Hi Lucy!

We also live in Bulgaria We have lived here for 4 years now, first in small village in the Strandja region, south of Burgas near the Turkish border. This village was very small and very self-sufficient as you describe (30 people). About a year ago we became parents, and we have moved to another, more developed village somewhat closer to town and "civilisation", in the Veliko Turnovo area. We have settled here because friends of us with similar "Weird" (= eco/green ) ideas already live here, we really liked to be out in the woods on our own, but we also felt we were missing community and frequent contact and sharing with friends with similar interests. So here we are Whereabouts are you?

Warm greetings!



Hi Helena, lovely too meet you here. I'm miles distant but would love to stay in contact. No other foreigners here and while I admire the village 'system' I obviously don't feel entirely part of it. I'm so delighted to hear there are other permies here. Have met none so far though some nice folk who grow their own.
6 years ago

Burra Maluca wrote:Hi Lucy!

I'm in Portugal, not Bulgaria, but in a very similar situation. My village, like most of the villages in my area, is composed almost exclusively of old people, many of them too old to work the land much now but all who are still able will grow as much as they can of their own food. It's been a huge learning experience for me experiencing how the village operates, what they will help you with and share with you and what they will expect you to do for yourself. I think what I love best is the way everyone shares their surplus - they will take eggs from us as most of them no longer keep chickens, and they will also take seedlings and fertile eggs to hatch, and they will shower us with figs and cherries in return. They will also think nothing of asking for help when they need it, but they never expect us to help with ordinary day to day stuff as everyone is expected to do all that themselves. It's taken a while to get the feel of all the unwritten rules, but it's been a honour to be part of their system.

Has it been like that for you in Bulgaria?



Yes indeed, a humbling learning curve. But I'm on the edge of two systems rather than 'belonging' to either. I suspect my 'own' people may be part of the permie and Transition movements - all over the world.

Here there is still semi-segregation. I work mostly with the poorest families who would otherwise have no employment. it fascinates me that among the maxlata (ghetto) population there ARE young people with just one ambition - to get a piece of land and use every square centimetre of it to grow food and raise chickens and a pig etc. But these are from the largely despised gipsy and Turkish population. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in 30 years time to see who lives in the villages and works the land. Expats and gipsies? We from/in the West have learned the value of owning a piece of fertile land and more of us are opting to go in that direction. it seems to be the opposite here. Sad - and such a waste of good land..
6 years ago
Where I live in rural Bulgaria few people in the village have cars, but some have horses and carts used for everything from hauling grass for hay, water for watering,
logs for heating, people to visit other people and to take loads of fruit and veg around.

I realise that in cities a lot of horses and carts aren't an ideal option. Buses better as they carry more people. But what about in small country places?

Does anyone here depend quite heavily on horses for transport/work rather than owning them for leisure? Ture, they need to eat but do do most forms of transport. And the manure is a bonus.
6 years ago
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Power-Just-Doing-Stuff/dp/0857841173

Many of the people here on Permies are already involved in activities which make them 'Transitioners.' But in some parts of the world entire towns are
doing this and models are appearing for how to power not just one, but many schools with solar and raise serious money via Shares launched for Jo Public
to buy.

Recently there was a post on permies about the need for a coherent plan. May I suggest people take a look at the burgeoning Transition movement and who knows,
there could be a coalition. Though giving things those kind of names may not be necessary as both Permies and Transitioners make things happen on their own - individuals, families, groups - and whole areas from
Brixton in London to a raft of initiatives in Brazil.

The Power of Just Doing Stuff is a quiet, unassuming little book and an easy read. But it packs a revolutionary punch if you act on the ideas, even in a small way.
6 years ago

thomas rubino wrote:Hi Lucy; Kinda hard to say but it sounds like your inverter has died... Is your solar panel hooked directly to the battery ? Is the inverter hooked there also ? Try disconecting your inverter then let the solar panel do its thing. I think that you will find that your solar panel is working just fine( in 33 years offgrid i've never seen one totaly quit) Inverters are being mass prodused these days sadly mainly in china. They have a definate life and thats it! If your in a yurt then try 12vt led lighting , hardly any power use at all, no inverter required. Otherwise it will be off to the inverter store where i recomend going with a magnum energy inverter or an outback inverter. Yes they definetly cost more but as the old saying goes (you get what you pay for) If you can't afford a good inverter then just buy the cheepest (PURE SINE ONLY) one that you can afford and save your $ up to replace it in a year or two. The only other thing, could be your battery but its not likely.Almost all batterys can be opened up to check electrolite (fluid) If your not sure then have it tested in town. Good Luck enjoy being self suficiant ! Tom



Thank you both so much. I will disconnect the invertor and see what happens. It is wonderful to be able to DO something, not just feel helpless. Sun is forecast so I should not have to wait too long to see what happens.
6 years ago