Bhudeva Tour 2011

So we’ve planning for some time to summarize what we’ve done since we’ve moved out to the village 7 months ago so that we could share it all with friends and family – we’ve too busy working so we skimped on sharing. We kept putting it off till more stuff gets done but we’ve really slowed down and are proud to be doing less and resting more and these are the last hours of 2011 – so now seemed like a good time to do so. The list is really long and would probably tiresome for most people. Some of the things we’ve already written about extensively (to which we’ve added links in the text) and some we will write about in the coming weeks and months as we’ll spending much more times indoors. This post will be a visual tour of the house and around it so it will probably touch on most of the big things. A lot of the stuff will be revisited with more detail – so if there’s anything that interests you please do stick around πŸ™‚

The images start yesterday morning when we awoke to the first real snow – the kind that stuck out an entire day and then some. The first thing we saw when we opened the door were of course (left to right) Indy, Loui and Harry excited to express their love and for breakfast:

Then, we looked up and aΒ our winter-wonderland came into view.

And this is what it looked like outside

Half of the barn was converted into a residential palace for the poultry (ducks and chickens). The dogs are always passionate about helping with the flock because they are dying to get at their food (they love it even though they can’t digest it Β … their poop is simply filled with yellow corn … which the flock take apart and eat … so in the end it doesn’t really matter).

The flock is kept indoors either because of weather (rain or fog … pour visibility gives hunters an advantage … and we’ve already lost a few chickens) or in this case because a new chicken has been introduced to the flock and we want her to get used to the place.

The other half of the barn is an improvised workshop.

In the barn attic we have wood stored for future projects. We decided to purchase a lot (6 cubic meters) so that it would season (dry) over time and be better suited for furniture use (yes, almost all of our existing furniture was built with green wood, we couldn’t get our hands on dry wood – this here in the Transylvania region of Romania knows for its abundant woods). Please excuse image quality – it’s pretty dark up there … and it was a hell of a job hauling all that wood up there (much easier to send back down).

The garage is still an ad-hoc storage space with everything from cardboard boxes, dried corn cobs (which we use for lighting the stoves), dog food, chicken feed, sacks of whole wheat (hung from the ceiling so the mice can’t get at them), one new barrel we managed to get our hands on for future rocket stoves, insulation materials and on and on.

We’ve summer kitchen (small one-room structure) into a winter pantry. We insulated the windows and placed in it a small radiator on the lowest setting to keep it from freezing. It’s got sacks of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsley, celery, beetroot, onions, one last pumpkin) along with walnuts, white beans, a 120 liter plastic barrel with cabbages preserved in brine on top of which are a few pots (mice can’t climb the smooth metal surfaces) containing smoked meats.

Then there are the shelves containing … well loads of stuff … we made loads of preserved cooked vegetable-dishes (called Zakuska), pickles of various kinds … we’ll write about everything we made including recipes.

Then there is the freezer which contains lots of frozen vegetables, meat and backup bread (in case we are too lazy to bake any or don’t get to the village to buy some).

And finally a refrigerator lying on its side used as a mouse-proof storage box for everything that … well needs to be mouse-proofed (vegetables, dried fruits, cereals, wheat, corn-flour … and assorted things).

To complete the tour outside the house there is the humanure hacienda (which still isn’t dog-proofed) and the hay piles we are sinking because the dogs like to climb up and oversee their territories from up high.

The wood pile which includes scrap wood from demolition work, some uncut logs and some cut logs awaiting chopping.

Loui (the little puppy is growing and taking up a dominant position in the pack) popped into the frame as he heard something in the hill behind the house … he ran off and shortly after Indy and Harry joined him … they are odd bunch but they are definitely a pack … it’s sometimes amazing to see their instincts throw them into organized pack behavior.

We keep chopped wood in varying degrees of dryness stored in piles along the perimeter porch of the house.

Which concludes our outside tour and brings us to the house. You walk into a small hall (approximately 3×2 meters) which we’ve converted into a kitchen. In front of you is the door to our bathroom (used to be a pantry)

to the right our living room

and to the left our bedroom.

In our living room the large couch (left of the image) is a new one we built and Andreea temporarily furnished with a temporary mattress, some pillows and fabrics we purchased to make the final furnishings (we also got a sewing machine … so Andreea has her hands full on these winter days). The other “couch” is an old traditional Romanian bench again with Andreea’s superbly improvised furnishings. It too will be replaced by another home made couch. We still don’t have a table – so for now we have a tree stump.

We built two large shelves with large counter-tops to hold all of our books. The LCD screen is for the time being in the bedroom because we spend more time there (it’s very difficult = much work and much wood to heat both rooms … so during these cold days we spend most of our time in the bedroom!!) but it’s place is on the left-hand shelf unit … and it’s Christmas πŸ™‚

Though the walls were painted fresh white, this room suffered from a very smoky stove … so the walls are … well an elegant smokey grayish color πŸ™‚ This is culprit stove which Andreea sealed very well with heat-resistant silicon:

The bathroom is a very small space (1×2.5 meters) – we are very proud of the optimal use we’ve made of it. Front and center is a washing machine:

On the right is our hot-water boiler (wood-based with electric as backup) and our composting toilet.

And on the left is our shower stall – also home made with wood protected by yacht lacquer and a home-made drain built on a wood frame with a pond liner surface (much more on this project in a future post).

Our bed was one of the earlier woodworking projects as sleeping well (and healthy – on the floor there are humidity problems) was high on our list of our priorities. We want to add two dressers and a headboard – though that will wait to next spring.

The cabinet was a huge relief when it was finally completed (doors will be added eventually) since we finally had an accessible, orderly and safe place to store our things. Together with the living room shelves this is where almost all our (non-kitchen) stuff is stored. The stove (on the left) was our first experiment at rocket stoves and it has worked out great. It consumes much less wood (due to very efficient – high temperature burning) then regular stoves and because it is built from firebricks it has lots of thermal mass (unlike metal) – which means it acts as a battery and stores heat which is radiated into the room over an extended period of time. We’ve had subzero temperatures for many weeks and we light it twice a day for a few hours (it needs to be fed regularly) and we have a very warm room all day and all night long.

… and there is the LCD screen sitting on another traditional (and very elaborate) Romanian bench which will also be replaced in the future (it stinks of old and dying … and we are not so passionate about antiques – so it will probably not have a place in the house).

To put all of this in perspective it helps to revisit what all this looked like when we got to work in June – this is what the wall (behind the screen) looked like then:

I particularly like the views across the house – from the living room to the Β bedroom

… and from the bedroom to the living room.

They give me a sense of wholeness that … feels good πŸ™‚

Some other things you can’t see in the images:

  • We have running water … we started writing an ongoing series of posts about that process.
  • We use almost exclusively home-made ecological soaps (the rest are ecological, not yet home made).
  • We consume almost exclusively local produce … most from neighboring farmers (we don’t even visit the local market much) … even an excellent home made wine.
  • We’ve planned a beautiful hemp house that we couldn’t afford to build – but are now looking at an Earthship as a more feasible approach to construction for us. You can see what an Earthship construction process is like in this beautiful animation.
  • We’ve collected many seeds for our first food growing efforts in the coming spring – we are planning to try methods that are very different from local traditional practices. Everyone here has tilled the land and we haven’t … so we are pretty committed to our experimentation πŸ™‚
  • We’ve arranged 200 meters of access road to our property with 40 cubic meters of stones.
  • We’ve collected huge piles of hay from a field and transported them home with a horse and carriage.
  • We’ve witnessed the slaughtering of pigs and have had to slaughter one of our chickens that showed signs of illness.
  • Andreea’s website Feminitate is nearing three years of online presence and will soon cross 1 million page views.
  • Andreea has attended and supported two home-births (both without a midwife present) … one of which I attended as a photographer.
  • Andreea has produced in collaboration with a close friend and fellow-doula a weekend Doula courseΒ which has been taught once in Cluj with excellent feedback … and a second (and maybe 3rd) course is booked in Bucharest this coming February with women in other cities taking an interest.
  • I can follow a conversation in Romanian but I don’t get enough practice to speak fluently … though I manage a bit here and there.

The last 6 months have been some of what of a race as something had to get done before winter set. We made it, with the grace of mother nature, in time. There is still endless work to do … but we can now find a pace that is pleasant and healthy. We have a home to live in and hopefully will have a much better home in a few years. We have grown stronger in mind, body, emotionally and spiritually.

In less then 3 hours this year will come to an end. It isn’t a significant event to us. Many times we don’t know what day it is and we have arrived in a life where for the most part it doesn’t matter. Whenever we get tired and need to rest we make it a weekend – regardless of the day of the week. We haven’t been to the city in weeks and look forward to not going there for many more weeks. We go there to take what we need and rush back to our little corner of the world and work to make it better and better.

Andreea had plans for us to go to the village to see the local firework display but those plans have changed. We have both showered. We had a wonderfully simple meal of rice and lentils, home made pickles and beetroot. We are in bed in a warm room in a clean house. We will soon hold a cup of dark red home made wine and, like many other days, watch something – a movie or a few episodes of Weeds … and then go to sleep … until tomorrow morning … when the calendars will show a new year but we will continue living our peaceful, abundant and constantly improving life πŸ™‚

We feel blessed (and tired – which are not mutually exclusive) and wish you all find your own passionate paths of inspiration πŸ™‚

 

10 Replies to “Bhudeva Tour 2011”

  1. Hey Ronen (and Andrea),
    So happy you found the time to write that post and send it to me, I now can catch up with how you are and what you are doing (and I've been wondering lately what's going on with you).
    It seems you're very busy and it feels good to live the way you want it and not the way the society want it. Wishing you a pleasant and meaningful new year and looking forward to catch a conversation with you some of these days.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Adam πŸ™‚ It's a bit further north then Elkosh but the view is even better and according to Andreea so is the meat … so we need to make plans for another bar-b-q πŸ™‚

  2. Buna ziua la an nou draga Andreea si Ronen,

    Ma bucur enorm sa vad cat de frumos povestiti despre viata voastra. E o adevarata relaxare sa va citesc. Prin ceea ce ai postat aici, faci omul sa isi doreasca si altceva de la viata.
    Va imbratisez cu mult drag si va doresc un an nou plin de realizari.
    Va pupam.

  3. Good evening Andrea and Rhonen, it is such a pity that we have not yet been able to visit you at ''Bhudeva''. Bob's jeep gave us some trouble and we are not able to drive long distances. Our mechanic is a busy man! But we will visit you as soon as we can, may be with Horatiu (who keeps promising to take us to you ahaha, he is also a very busy man). In the meantime, we are happy to be able to follow your homemaking experience on this blog. Yes, you seem to have a nice cozy home and I am sure that it will develop in something even cozier as the weeks go by. I was also very impressed to read about Andrea's work. Next time she does a workshop in Cluj, I would love to know more about it.

    Enjoy the winter in your corner of paradise. Take care of each other and continue to bring joy around you.
    God bless your home!
    Love xxx Nadia

    1. No pity … just just hasn't happened yet … we look forward to your visit with Horatiu. We now have an actual living room were we can sit comfortably with guests πŸ™‚ We look forward to your visit. I hope the stars align soon for you, your mechanic and Horatiu πŸ™‚

      Indeed the house is cozy … though it takes some work to keep at that way in this cold winter … it is teaching us a lot about how to make our future house πŸ™‚

      By the way … there is no need to put quotes around Bhudeva πŸ™‚ Its a name just like Romania or Cluj … it's what we call our home πŸ™‚

  4. Dear Ronen and Andreea
    We have both just looked at your lovely home and yard, and barn and animals. You are very rich indeed and have made the place beautiful, your own, and you've given it a future. I'm sure your buildings and land are as happy as you both sound.
    I immediately admired the old Romanian sofa and then read that you find it old with smells of dying. It sounds and looks right up my street! If you are passing, throw it out this way!!
    We were very impressed with your shower and your lime plaster or is it mud plaster, lime paint work? And the stove in your bedroom made of fire bricks. Did you make it?
    All the best to you, your animals, and your lovely place for 2012, Sara and Douglas

    1. Hello Douglas & Sara,

      Thank you for stopping by to have a look πŸ™‚

      We hope to find a protected place for the bench outside somewhere … but if that doesn't work out we'll give you a heads up on it πŸ™‚

      The shower was a project that came with the sin of pride πŸ™‚ I will write about it extensively and how it came to be πŸ™‚ The stove in our bedroom is a rocket stove and yes we did build it (you can follow the link to its story in the post). The lime plaster was done by local builders before we moved in since our first attempts at fixing the walls failed miserably (we had a lot less knowledge then we do now) … but they didn't do that great a job. Eventually this house, if it is to stay on the face of the planet, will need a major overhaul – but that is a thing of the future πŸ™‚

      Wishing you a warm winter and hoping to cross paths soon.

      Andreea & Ronen

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