Dave de Basque

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since May 08, 2015
Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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Recent posts by Dave de Basque

I did test #1. Clicked the link to buy with PayPal. Bought with PayPal. Was returned to a permies.com "Please log in or join Permies to complete this transaction" page. Clicked login and logged in. Thereupon was a bit of a glitch in my humble opinion, it dumped me onto the main forum page rather than back to the page with the video I (the hypothetical innocent customer) wanted. Since I been aroun the block a time or two I deftly managed to navigate back to the page I wanted, which was not too hard as it was number 3 or 4 on the main forum page at the time. But if I had arrived from an external link and was not familiar with permies.com and its structure, I might be totally lost and perhaps royally pissed. Anyway, once I found my way back to the page I was able to play the lovely video with no probs.

Another small fix I might recommend. I detest streaming and download everything. I see there is a download option you set to $4.00. I would have appreciated being beaten over the head with the fact that what I was paying for was a streaming option, which I would have turned up my nose at, and being given, right then and there at decision-to-purchase time, a really really blunt-instrument-to-the-forehead obvious choice of getting the download option, which I would have gone for.

Hope this helps dominate the world.
Hi Maureen, I always love hearing what you're up to!

I think you are progressing, a lot! Doing more with less is what the future is all about, isn't it?

Terracing the hillside going down into the toilet bowl sounds like quite an undertaking, and a very good idea! Any chance you can post a photo? Are your terraces perfectly level (or as much as you can make them)? Or do they tilt back into the hillside or down into the ravine, or to one side or the other to run the water a bit? Are you pretty confident the terracing will survive the rainy season?

You seem to have gotten back into the animal business very quickly after previous reverses, good on you! How far away is this shop you're renting? You always describe your property as being so far from everything!

Anyway, glad to have you back!

6 months ago
A few more bits of wisdom from our dearly departed Bill Mollison: a good fire shelter is totally and generously earth bermed, top and all sides, and the entrance has an earth-bermed dogleg, it's not just a door you enter straight on. Inside are buckets of water and blankets at least. Placement is in the "fire shadow" of your house or whatever other big obstacles you've got around, meaning in the center of the opposite side to where a fire would likely come from, assuming you know (i.e. which direction do your hot, dry winds come from?)

Another tidbit: Most wildfire victims are not burned to death but baked, killed by the radiant heat that hits in advance of the fire. Thus all the earth berming. So a deep cave would be a nice place to hang out.
9 months ago

Burra Maluca wrote:I wouldn't rely on being safe though - I've seen places where the fire has jumped quite a long way.  It would only take a fairly small bit of burning twig to be carried over your property and land in the wrong place to cause major problems. 

I'm glad you're such a smart cookie, Burra, we're lucky to have you here. Yes I think firebreaks are like security theater at the airport. They make you feel warm and fuzzy like you're safe, and you can get on with everyday life living in your little bubble. But in reality they don't do too much, you need a very multi-pronged approach. And if a fire tornado forms in advance of a fire and touches down on your property, it's toast, period. But less toasty toast, perhaps saving your patooty in the process, if you have prepared your land really well in advance. And another great warning from the PDM: if you are downwind of a fire in the next valley, i.e., the wind is blowing over a range of hills or mountains towards you, you are f**ked, that is the worst situation you can be in (other than dead), and at the greatest risk of the formation of fire tornadoes in advance of the fire. If you're all the way on the valley floor, and especially at the mouth of the valley, the risk is quite a bit lower.

Back to my other rant about eucalyptus. Why did no one ask the Australians before planting? Any Aussie can explain to you in glorious detail the behavior of eucalyptus in a fire. Hello, it is the 21st centuy. Google it. These things are not a secret any more.

We need a sh*tload more of permaculture designers and we need them fast. If we are the only people on the planet that can put 2 and 2 together, then... whatever... but there needs to be a lot of us really quickly before the whole f*ing house burns down! Please take a PDC and get to work everyone! (My wild opinions only, your mileage may differ)
9 months ago
Eucalyptus trees in a fire are basically like gasoline. I'm amazed that they're allowed to be planted in fire-prone areas like most of the Iberian peninsula. Hopefully this avoidable tragedy will cause enough outrage that the politicians give this one a re-think.

Pages 451-497 of the Permaculture Designers Manual are great as far as planning for wildfires, at least in the long term.

In the short term, I think it's important to have hopefully at least two escape routes planned, and keep observing and keep on the news constantly for changes of wind speed and direction, and fire intensity (if intense it creates its own wind/fire tornadoes). And especially, know where the fire is, and don't only look at how close it is to your house, look at how close it is to your escape routes. If you ever start to have doubts about your escape route, it's time to get the hell out unless you've got a serious fire shelter built and plan to stay. Double and triple if you're downwind and the wind speed is picking up, and/or the humidity is low.

Hope everyone comes through this OK. Burra, I've really appreciated your photos of past wildfires in your area showing how fires stopped at the border of eucalypt forest and a permie-style farm. Very inspiring!
9 months ago
omfg, I'm off in la-la-land doing Geoff Lawton's PDC at the moment and trying desperately to catch up. I was going to do the $200 thing for this KS and was so sure this ended on the 26th. Ha, ha, and it ended 45 minutes ago! Any chance for a latecomer? Could I bribe you with apples or slices of pie? Sorry I've been so out of it!
9 months ago

Maureen Atsali wrote:The dirt is a bucket of fun.  Sticky clay.  As you can see it's still in clumps from the boy who plowed it by hand with a jembe.  What you can't see in the photos is the invasive grass.  I don't know the name of it, nor do I know if its found all over the world, or only here in east Africa.  It grows a long root horizontally under the soil, branching about 5 feet in every direction, and sends up a clump of grass every six inches or so.  If you just pull the grass from the surface, it breaks off, and the root remains, and it will send up new shoots overnight.  The root for itself is like a steel wire, and it will choke out everything if you don't remove it.  And the grass is useless because the animals won't eat it either.  The locals just chop it as they plow and till it under, but that's like cutting the head off a dragon so it can grow two more.  All the pieces left in the soil continue to sprout and spread, so now you have 10 invasive roots systems instead of one.

And this plot is full of that grass.  Usually as I work in lines with my forked jembe, I snag them and pull them out, throwing them on the surface so the sun can bake them dead.  I also break up those clumps as I go..  But its slow work, and the husband wanted to finish getting seeds in "faster".  But I will work on it when I put in the beans and start to weed.  In the places where I have done this consistently for a few seasons I have mostly eradicated the nasty invasive grass, and friendlier weeds have moved in.

Maybe it's nutgrass? Someone on another forum was just complaining about it ...

11 months ago

Maureen Atsali wrote:Reevaluating my goals...

From the start my main objective with the farm was to be as self sufficient as possible.  Basically I wanted to feed my family.  Last year, we pretty much achieved that goal, eating almost exclusively from what we raised on the farm.  I was still buying tea, honey, salt and cooking fat.  (If I was really motivated, I could keep bees, plant oil palms, and grow tea... Then all we would really need is salt.). Occasionally the mono diet would make me nuts and I would splurge for store bought stuff... White rice, a loaf of bread, chocolate!  We had lots of animals, but since that's my main source of farm income, we were selling them rather than eating them... So my diet had become unintentionally almost vegan.

A little back story here: I have been obese most of my adult life.  I was over 300 lbs and a hardcore diabetic when I came to Africa.  Within weeks of arrival my blood sugar stabilized, and I was able to go off all medications, and over the course of a year I lost about 120 lbs, effortlessly.  I kept it off for 5 years and through two pregnancies.

But last year, I started to gain weight again.  And while I am out of strips to test, I think the diabetes is also back. (Ants in the pee bucket probably means sugar in the urine!). I was kind of mystified... I am working harder, physically, than I ever have in my life.  Most people would say I have an uber healthy diet. 

Then I had the lightbulb moment back before Christmas.  The farm diet is extremely high in carbs.  Sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, starchy banana and maize make up the bulk of our calories... And I think my insulin resistant body just can't process all that sugar.

So I have been thinking about how to change the farm so that I can still eat... Without overloading on carbs.  The answer I came up with is to focus more on livestock.  Still grow the starchy veggies, but let the animals convert it into energy I can safely consume.  The problem is keeping more animals means we need more infrastructure.  Another problem is that we sold off almost all of our animals to pay for Alex's surgery.  I have a handful of chickens and ducks left, a couple of goats, one rabbit and one cow.  So I feel like I am starting from scratch.  When we moved from my mother in laws compound to our own last year we had to leave behind the big chicken coop, the goat house, the pigsty, and the rabbit hutches.  So we have to build all those structures.  (Currently the chickens and ducks sleep in the chicken tractor, the cow and the goats sleep in the unfinished bathroom!)

Money, money money!

Hi Maureen,

First, congrats on this thread and your accomplishments (the real ones come from failures!). Not to mention your great and laid-back observations of cross-cultural issues that are not always easy to deal with! You've got nothing but my admiration.

Anyway, I think you're quite right about the starchy foods. Vegan diets, whether voluntary or enforced by circumstances, can get very high in non-fibrous carbs if you're not very careful. I gained a LOT of weight in my first 6-month stint of veganism. So I'm pretty sympathetic to your plight.

After a bit of researching, my own light bulb came on and I realized that besides fibrous vegetables, nuts and seeds are possibly the best focus, as they can offer a good bit of protein and low carbs. So I looked up tropical nuts and seeds and after a bunch of less useful websites I found this one:

Edible Nuts and Seeds that Grow in the Tropics

I don't know how many of those things you could get seeds or seedlings of, so I thought I'd send you to the original page. Are the biological controls in Kenya strict? And does the postal system work well? I ask because you might be able to contact these and other tropical permaculturalists around the world and they might be willing to just send you some seeds in the mail.

Another page had an analysis of protein per calorie of tropical nuts and seeds and found that pumpkin and squash seeds came out at the top of the heap. And since you grow them already... I don't know what the ages of your "day campers" are, but maybe some of them are old enough to shell nuts and seeds for you?

Just an idea or two. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to hearing about your ongoing experiments! All the best to you.
1 year ago

paul wheaton wrote:
script blockers:  probably not something normal people deal with.  and if you activate one, you are used to that level of fiddly.  Yes?


paul wheaton wrote:
download:  it seems you are pretty tech savvy.  I think we might be able to add that in sometime soon.  I have some ideas.

I am very tech savvy except for the immense gaps in my knowledge. The download thing would be way cool. I think you're a swell guy.

paul wheaton wrote:
Since I cannot buy stuff from myself, maybe somebody can video the experience so i can see.

I can't at the mo, so I hereby convoke all the powers of the universe to converge upon you, you the meek and unassuming screen video capturer who is now reading these humble lines, to powerfully act through your skilled body and loyally and swiftly assist the Duke of Permaculture in this most noble endeavor he has proposed.
1 year ago
I rented, and from Spain.

I bought the cards first and had essentially the exact same experience.

A few add-ons: The second time around I'm liking the hyper-efficient "purchase and straight back to the thread where you started" workflow better. Still think it might freak some people out but it grows on you. Maybe another slug of text right below the purchase links on Permies could prepare you: "Once you purchase on PayPal, you will be redirected right back to here, where you'll be able to watch the video." Or something like that.

I had to disable script blockers to get the video to play and watched a few minutes. Nice camera. Nice video. Nice overalls.

Logged out, closed Firefox, deleted regular and Flash cookies and logged back in, and the movie was still available to play.

May I add I hate streaming, hate hiccups, and would prefer the download option for the future. If it causes headaches can I take them off you? I don't use Netflix. I know.
1 year ago