This day started earlier then usual when we went out to meet the second truck of stones for our section of road. I thought we would have spare stones left over but there was just barely enough (we could use a few cubic meters more to fill a few weak spots). The really friendly and professional tractor driver (from our village) called us back soon after the stones were delivered (just in time!) and a couple of hours later he was here to flatten the piles of stone into what looks more like a road. We now have a relatively rain-proof access road – how wonderful!
We took advantage of the tractors visit to also bury a couple of large tractor tires that were lying around (we arranged them as a small two level pond – Andreea’s brilliant idea – our first constructive landscaping intervention), to pull out a few large cement and wood posts that were stuck in areas we had already cleared, to close a part of the water supply pipe that was still open (there is still more to be closed … long story) and to dig a shallow ditch for rerouting the electric cable that goes to the pump towards the main house (where we hope to soon have a decent electric panel).
I did some more wood chopping … then Andreea and I continued to work around our new pond. Rains are expected this weekend and it would be great if we could already channel that water into the ponds.
I drove out the village to change some euros but both banks were closed so instead I got us some ice-cream … made the trip worthwhile 🙂
Tomorrow we are heading out to the city to do some shopping (materials for the rocket stove, a rain-water collection barrel to feed the ponds, etc.) … Friday evening we are expecting delivery of our wood order … which we will have to stow away promptly to keep out of the rains.
Oh … and I forgot to mention that the day before yesterday we had a surprisingly fruitful visit from the long-expected Internet provider technician. He was surprisingly useful and constructive (not typical of Romanian service providers) and if all goes well we will have last-mile-wireless (we don’t have any communication cables that reach our place) Internet sometime during next week. They will be setting up an antenna in the town center, a second antenna on an electric pole along a road that leads to our place and from there there should be the required line-of-sight to place an antenna on the roof of our house … so all in all … almost everything is coming together and it looks like (given a lot more work still ahead of us) we are heading comfortably into winter.
Wrapping up an odd day. Started with a visit to the market … mostly for some local cheese but we picked up a few other things – including three! kinds of tomatoes. The prices of food are ridiculous here … it is a huge value gap between the value of food in our lives and the amount of work that goes to growing and making it. I am reminded again and again that I would happily grow and process my own food but given the value gap I am not very likely to do so for anyone else.
Oh and we were lucky to run into a market seller who had only cauliflowers … large ones … and we purchased another batch to cut up and freeze for the winter. We missed the local produce so we were happy to run into him.
We also picked a package I ordered with a good saw and a couple of quality chisels for wood working … great to finally have these tools at hand. They arrived just in time for the wood that should be arriving any day.
I did some wood chopping after two days of rest. We then proceeded to build a first simulation of our intended in house rocket stove. We did not yet have the materials for the burn chamber and without that there’s no point in testing it. We stuck in an old metal pipe for kicks and that did part of the trick.
We finally put in the order for stones to pour over the road to our property and a first truck arrived. Unfortunately the brought wrong size stones – they brought small pebbles and we need larger river-bed rocks. So the first truck went back and another one came back later and poured stacks of rock down the path. Tomorrow a second truck will come and then we need to fin a tractor to level the road for us and that will be done … finally … and it looks as if just in time because long awaited rains are expected this weekend.
Indy tried to kill Harry again and that really puts a veil of agitation over us … only now the nervousness is beginning to fade. We aren’t doing what we should be doing to keep the dogs in check. Even Loui (the puppy) is starting to act up … also showing aggression towards Harry!
Finally we went on a short walk to pick up from fresh milk (still warm from the cow) … back home … warm stove and warm soup await us.
Rest … today was a much needed and much appreciated day of rest.
Yesterday we finished the last 2 Zakuska … the last of the big cooking efforts.
We were extremely happy to not-cook today.
We’ve been having a hard time finding a steel barrel … so we’ve decided to build our rocket stove from almost all firebricks. I spent some time at the computer redesigning the rocket stove … and it’s looking good. We now need to get ~60 more firebricks, two steel pipes and a steel top plate … and we are good to go.
I hope the wood we ordered arrives soon … I’d like to get back to working on the things we need. It’s already October, fall is in the air … then November gets cooler and December is freezing. It feels like there isn’t much time left and still plenty of work to do.
So, the purpose of our road trip was to visit Andreea’s aunt in a village called Bacau, an hour+ drive south from her home town of Piatra Neamt. Her aunt had prepared some things to get us started in our new village life and though we weren’t crazy about the long trip involved we decided to go ahead and make it. We spent a first night in Piatra Neamt and the next night in Bacau and then headed back home.
There were sacks of flour, corn (full seeds + roughly ground + thinly ground into corn-flour):
We had some plants including mint and garlic:
We had ten week-old chicks:
We had 7 ducklings and a mother duck:
… and more (there was a small gas tank …). When we got home we found one of the sacks had punctured. In the past I would have been infuriated at this … now I just scratched my head and moved on (over coming weeks we would add cement and dog hairs to the mix):
When we got home we had to improvise a temporary shelter for the chicks and ducks:
Which soon after led to my first wood-working project – a mostly improvised cage to keep them together and safe.
which included a small bowl of water with a ramp leading into … that one of the ducks was quick to use:
At nights we moved the chicks into an cold coop that we had used until recently and in the days we moved them out into the cage. The ducklings were comfortable to usher in and out because they stayed close to their mother – so wherever she went they did too. The chicks were more unruly (and still are) because they were hatched in and incubator and did not have a mother hen to guide them – making things more difficult for us.
On the way back from Bacau through Piatra Neamt we made a stop to freshen up and see Andreea’s father again shortly. As I was waiting for Andreea in the parking lot I looked in wonder at the contents of our car. 18 months before I was standing at the same place (during my first visit to Romania) and I could not have imagined then that I would be back and in this situation. Yet there I was … crumbling bread and pouring water into a small plastic container to feed chicks and ducks!
All these past days we’ve been very busy still making food preservations … we’ve finished with the tomato sauce (~40 liters of it), made another batch of the miraculous winter salad, a failed Zakuska which will hopefully keep is a nice complementary dish to cooked rice, prune compote and jam, more pickles (this time of cauliflower, carrot and peppers).
Today we decided to start the day with a bit of movement before sitting down for more cooking … so we went and harvested walnuts from three trees on our property – one tree nice and and large nuts, a second young tree with a little medium sizes nuts and a third large tree with many but small nuts. We hope to have time to do some pruning and coppicing of many trees this autumn and to see if/how they come to life. We’ll probably be using a lot of the wood for constructing our first large raised beds.
I spent the better part of the day splitting open the green shells of the walnuts – my hands are well stained (though we have quite a few experiments planned t actually use the stain for numerous applications!) and the shells accounted for about half the volume and weight … but still have a very nice crop of nuts for the winter. At some point I also started taking care of more eggplants and peppers that were roasting on the rocket stove. Andreea was busy expanding our next-year-seed-reservoir by adding eggplant, garlic and thyme seeds … we already have tomato, peppers and basil set aside (all from fresh crops).
We’re starting to see the end of the winter food preservation process … still planning to make another batch of prune jam, pear compote and jam, two more Zakuska (both of which we started preparing for today) … oh and we finally got a 120 liter plastic barrel we are going to fill with pickled cabbages.
It has been called attention that we have some kind of wood-infestation in the house … mostly in the older furniture we haven’t tossed out (though we will soon) and (unfortunately?) a bit in some of the visible beams. It seems to be slow acting … but we do need to look into it. We finally ordered a large batch of wood for furniture and construction (long story I will tell in detail) … should be delivered in the coming days … so I am looking forward to picking up with more carpentry … there are quite a few more things we need to get done for winter.
3 days have flown past … the 20kg of roasted peppers have finished their journey and become a large load of delicious Zakuska. Another large batch of Zakuska with onions, eggplant and peppers is also ready and slowly cooling down.
We also created a wonderful thing called a winter salad which includes finely chopped parsley roots & leaves, celery roots and leaves, carrots, green peppers, red peppers and dill … all mixed with a lot of salt to keep it preserved. It’s a ready to use cooking mix … we’ve tested it already and it is amazing. Chop an onion add some of the mix and you are good to go (it’s already salted too!).
Today we had guests over (a lovely couple who are preparing for a home-birth and have asked Andreea to be there with them as a doula) … so we didn’t get as much done as we had planned. We did managed to prepare another large batch of tomato sauce.
After tasting everything its getting harder to avoid eating it daily.
The rocket stove continues to rock day after day … amazing productivity with very little wood!
oh … and the dogs (the big ones) practically tried to kill each other the other night … not a nice ending for a long day of work.
Today we focused on peppers … from the big load we got yesterday evening.
Andreea chopped some up for freezing and preparation for other dishes.
I stood at the rocket stove all day and roasted 27.5kg of red peppers … a whole lot. I continue to be in awe of the efficiency of the rocket stove. At the end of the day it was really burning hot (got a blister when I pulled out one of the rear bricks to clean it out) … I had boiling water for a bath in minutes.
We got another batch (28kg) of tomatoes – the last from our next door neighbors … waiting their turn at the Squeezo.
I am dead tired again … now going to sit down together with Andreea to eat, watch a movie and peel all those peppers.