Monday - April 30, 2012

wow what a day … sooooo many things happened all at once … is was a tractor day … Florin our fantastic tractor bulldozer guy was here for a day ๐Ÿ™‚

the main project was covering the raised beds with earth … where did we get the earth you ask?ย  from our small new lake of course ๐Ÿ™‚ more words and images to come on this ongoing project … when that was done we had him move over one of our piles of hay and a pile of fertilizer we had sitting next to the barn (from last year when our neighbors cows were housed in it) … both to be used on the raised beds.

in the background both our neigbors were busy hand-plowing / tractor plowing, seeding their fields in straight lines … there was a huge contrast between their tried-and-true traditional methods and our mostly-uknown-somewhat-rebellious methods … if our efforts work (as I expect they will) this time next year we will be drinking coffee (or conducting some other strange experiment) while they will be doing the same hard (for them and for the land) work … as they have been doing for years …I’m very curious ๐Ÿ™‚

as he was finishing this part of the work the mayor appeared to ask if he could steal him for half an hour (which turned out to be almost 3 hours) … and got a quick tour of some of our experiments ๐Ÿ™‚ we also had a chance to show him Cutia Taranului so that hopefully he too can spread the word.

when Florin finally returned we fed him (poor guy was starving) and got back to work:

  1. scratching weeds and some top-soil (leaving bare surface) of an area of a field near the raised beds … that is for an experiment that Andreea has in mind … I don’t know enough about it yet ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. closing some of the open ditches from last years water infrastructure installation
  3. digging a new ditch and hole for our grey water treatment,
  4. uprooting lots (~50) young ash trees all around the house.
  5. discovering and uprooting large surfaces of concrete that we discovered just under the surface of the ground.
  6. carrying the uprooted out to the field
  7. digging 40+ holes for the trees in what will be an initial wind-break and property line.

so lots of stuff … very satisfying, rewarding and much happiness … and though the tractor did most of the work we are dead tired … it’s been a long day … the wood-boiler is fired up … looking forward to a warm shower.

tomorrow we plan to visit the market in the morning … then we’ve been invited to another customary post-death-pre-funeral meal at a neighbor whos mother passed away tonight … and sometime very soon we need to go back out and plant all the uprooted trees lying in open holes in the fields … rains are expected during the weekend … perfectly times to saturate the beds, water the trees … all around greatness ๐Ÿ™‚

Bee Week

One of our intended projects for this spring was to get started with bees. One reason is that we consume a lot of honey so it made financial sense to pay once for getting started with bees and then enjoy our own honey for the rest of our lives. Another reason is that bees play a crucial role in gardening and developing a landscape – they fertilize plants by doing what they do naturally … carrying pollen. It’s easy to take them for granted (I did) but without bees there wouldn’t be much food (not naturally anyway).

So this past week+ has been about bees. We had two high-priority projects two choose from: (1) a mobile shelter and mobile electric fence for the chickens and (2) bee hives. We decided to start with the chickens but as I set out to work I changed my (and our) mind to bees. At the time we still did not find a source of bees. This meant I could take my time in building the hives, which I did. Then Levente told us he found bees at a great price and suddenly everything was moving very fast.

Getting Bees

On Tuesday afternoon we went to bring home to bee families. Though there are a lot of beekeepers in Romania there isn’t (at least we couldn’t find) an organized market place for bees. We asked Levente and he asked around until he came across someone that was willing to sell 10 frame colonies. We didn’t want such a large colony … we preferred to get a nucleus colony (a small package of bees wit a queen)ย  – but that didn’t work out. So we went to purchase two colonies together with Levente (who wanted to purchase one colony) and Valentine his brother in law (who is a professional grower who wanted to purchase 7 colonies). Valentine was generous and loaned us two standard hives to make the transition.

It was about a 20 minute drive to get to the beekeeper. It was impressive to see hives that have been working for 60 or 70 years … though he himself admitted that is was time to retire some of the boxes.

When we arrived Valentine was already at work opening hives and checking the colonies. Each hive was opened and smoked to get the bees to retreat inside. He then looked frame by frame to see that there is a healthy queen, good broodย  developing and to check for Varroa mite infestation levels (for the first time we saw a mite riding on the back of a bee – though there weren’t many).

All of the hives he examined were OK and one by one he and Levente transferred the bees from their existing hives into new ones .. frame by frame … transferring them in the same order and same orientation. Bees have very keen navigation and always return to the same place looking for their hive opening … so … together with their hive they are moved aside and a new hive is placed where the old one was. The flying bees automatically return to the old location = the new hive. Meanwhile the frames from the old (set aside) hive are moved one by one into the new hive.

Once the hives were prepared all that was left to do was wait for darkness and for the bees to retreat into their new hives. One by one the hives were closed off and tied off in preparation for the journey back home.

We chose in advance the location for our new aviary … a partially shaded, south facing space with some wind protection. We setup up an ad hoc stand for the temporary hives. We arrived after dark and used the car lights to put their hives in their new place.

Top Bar Hives

Originally we thought to begin our beekeeping journey with two standard hives (do it like everyone else does). However we realized that it would be a pretty expensive and complicated endeavour. We first came across Top Bar Hives at Beesource.com. At first it appealed to us because of its simpler do-it-yourself potential but there wasn’t enough information there to get us started. So we did more searching and came across Phil Chandler and his fantastic work at Biobees.com. We highly recommend Phil’s book The Barefoot Beekeeper in addition to his freely available articles on getting started with beekeeping and download-able plans on how to build your own Top Bar Hive.

Top Bar Hives are part of a more natural approach to beekeeping. There are many benefits in Top Bar Hives both for beekeepers and bees. The one example I have been using most to demonstrate the essential difference is through the question of winter-feeding. Standard industrialized (on any scale) beekeeping is designed for maximum honey yield. This means that most of the honey the bees create is taken from them. Then as winter comes there arises a question of how to feed the bees? “Generous” beekeepers will leave them just enough honey frames … others will leave them insufficient honey supplies that are instead complemented by artificial feed (sugar syrups which are cheaper then the equivalent supply of honey). In natural beekeeping this issue is re-solved by re-framing it … some honey is taken in summer but the rest is left for the bees winter-needs and only what is leftover in spring is taken from them. This is to say that Top Bar Hives are not just a different beehive architecture but they come with a very different approach to beekeeping … an approach that is better aligned with our values, more accessible to us and so much more appealing then standard beekeeping.

Hive Construction

So we built 3 top-bar Chandler hives – one for each colony and one more for a potential split (when a singly colony’s swarming instinct is used to create a new hived colony). Building the hives again reminded me of the different realities of our life here in Romania. In Phil’s instructions it is taken as obvious that properly dried and pre-planed lumber is readily available. Though it is available here too the price is very high … so I’ve been using more readily available and affordable rough-sawn (construction grade) pine. Anyways that’s how I set out to build the first hive.

I also wanted to experiment and build a hive with thicker (2 inch / 5 cm) side-walls to see if that would be better for the bees during our cold (-25c) winter. I quickly learned that unlike our furniture the “simple” top-bar hive requires a fairly high level of planing precision. The follower-boards need to form a tight fit against the sides … and the boards I used were not quite flat … so the fit was not very good. There were other subtle aspects that I learned to appreciate and I managed to get the first thick-walled hive built.

However for the other two hive bodies we purchased (for a more reasonable price) a package of soft-wood flooring panels. Oddly they were cheaper then the planed boards and they were a perfect size. They also had a ready made tongue-to-groove joint which made assembly of the larger panels easier. They seemed too good to be true sitting there alongside the more expensive pre-planed boards. They worked our great and made construction very easy to do (they are 27mm thick so that should be sufficient for the bees).

Phil’s hive construction PDF is thorough, precise, easy to follow and a relatively simple design to implement.

Moving Bees into a Top Bar Hive

Yesterday we finally went to move one colony from its temporary hive into a top-bar hive. We weren’t absolutely sure how to go about it. Most of the instructions in Phil’s book spoke of transferring nucleus (small) colonies. Ours were full 10-frame active colonies in peak activity. From the moment I opened the hive we ran into difficulties.

First I should say that we didn’t purchase a smoker because we didn’t want to aggravate the bees. We preferred to use a water spray bottle – supposedly the bees think its raining and go back inside. The bees were very aggressive and defensive of their hive and they did not respond to water spraying at all. While I could understand their anger (we were about to mess up their home) my understanding did not matter when I got stung numerous times (through my clothes and gloves) in just a few seconds. I walked away to let the excitement (both mine and the bees settle). I was very proud of Andreea who stayed close to the bees and projected light and love … and didn’t get stung at all (though to my defense she wasn’t the one who opened the hive nor was she standing as close to it as I was).

So improvised smoke (an old pot filled with burning materials and mostly covered by clay roof shingles) – also Andreea’s idea. We then moved to transfer a first frame. Of the options outlined in the book we attempted a sewing technique where the comb is cut completely from the standard frame and then cropped to fit into the shape of the top-bar hive inner space and then sown on to a new top-bar. That didn’t go too well either. Between the sewing and the wires running throughout the comb (wires are typically used in standard frames) the top of the comb practically got torn off. We left it in the hive but in the end decided to take it out and throw it out … it was too clumsy and would have prevented the bees from moving freely inside the hive.

So we deserted that option and moved to a chop-and-crop technique. In this approach the comb is left attached to the top-part of the standard frame (the rest of the frame is cut away). The comb is then cropped to a size that fits in the inner space of the top-bar hive and inserted as is. We used this approach for the rest of the bars.

It was not a pleasant thing to do.ย  The frames were filled with brood (cells with bees in different stages of maturity) which we had to cut through. We also inadvertently injured quite a few bees (and apologized to every one we noticed). Andreea was heart-broken. I was confident that it would be for the better. We also went through a difficult transition when we moved out to the village and we are now grateful for a better life here. I am confident that the same will happen for the bees.

I got stung a few more times in the process. Andreea got stung once. We are both relieved to know that neither of us are allergic to be stings. Andreea got stung by something that looked like a bee (but probably wasn’t) a few years ago and had a very strong allergic reaction … so we didn’t know what to expect. Now we know ๐Ÿ™‚

We also had some difficulty getting the roof onto the hive. The tops of the standard frames were longer then the width of the roof of the hive. TIP: in Phil’s design, change the size of the top width of your hive to match the standard frame size in your part of the world. Some of the standard frame-tops also have nails sticking out of them preventing them from creating a good seal at the top of the hive. We left it as is and will see what to do about it in the future.

Anyways one hive has been transferred. I expect the bees have a lot of cleaning up and rearranging to do. We will leave them along for a week or so and see how they are doing then. We do not want to repeat the process a second time. It was difficult, strenuous and unpleasant for all the living creatures involved. For the 2nd hive we are looking at building some kind of transitional hive as demonstrated Phil’s video … and we’ll most probably be using a smoker!

Was I that Ridiculous?

At one point Loui (our younger dog) got to close to the action and was chased away by one or more bees. It was hilarious to watch. He ran, jumped, barked, twisted and turned as he was trying to get away from the bees. As I was laughing at him I wondered to myself if that was what I looked like when I was in the same predicament ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Thursday - April 26, 2012

After yesterday’s sudden storm we had a beautiful and warm day … all day long. I am in a happy-tired place ๐Ÿ™‚ I completed assembly of two of the new top-bar hives and while I moved on to the 3rd one Andreea applied two coats of boiled linseed oil to the outside of the first two boxes. We set the boxes outside next to the two temporary (standard) hives:

If for no other reason (and there are quite a few) then just for their visual appearance … these hives fit so nicely into their surroundings … compared to the clumsy box-hives. Anyways … what really counts is how the bees will make the transition and how they feel in their new homes. Maybe tomorrow we will also attempt to transfer the bees from one of the temporary hives into their new permanent home ๐Ÿ™‚

I am almost finished with the third-box … but can’t quite complete it because the wide-hole drill bit is … umm … destroyed … so that will have to either (a) wait for out next city visit or (b) be done in some improvised way that I don’t know of yet or (c) be done using a larger diameter (then prescribed) drill resulting in larger entrances.

… anyways about to have a dinner with our first home-grown freshly picked salad leaves ๐Ÿ™‚

Sudden Storm & Resiliency

I was having a (mostly) fruitful day in the workshop working on the top-bar-hives (our bees were very busy today getting oriented in their new world). Though the day was for the most part partly cloudy with plenty of sunshine … at one point … from a distance we saw dark gray clouds approaching and they arrived very fast. Then, all of a sudden, a storm broke out … intense winds and a powerful hail-storm … within minutes there was no visibility. I was still in the workshop with plans to continue working … but the rain blew into the workshop … so I quickly closed it and ran to the house.

I’m inside now and I’m stuck with one powerful image. Our western windows are covered with white-looking stains … these are flower petals that came off a tree in the hailstorm. That means that we won’t be enjoying much (if any) fruit from this tree … most of the flowers were destroyed within just a few minutes.

We have been reading a book called The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe. The first part of the book goes into detail about the kinds of challenges that modern day food-growers have to deal with and then goes on to outline mitigating strategies that lead to resiliency. When it comes to climate Carol suggests that the obsession with global trends like global warming are irrelavant to gardening (despite global warming, the last decade has been one of the most climatically stable and abundant periods in the last few thousand years). Averages don’t mean much to plants and gardeners … extremes do.

It took a few minutes of hail to almost wipe out most of the food-production of a tree. Last year it took one late frost to kill all the flowers on local prune trees – no prunes were to be had. We have an orchards of hundreds of trees behind the house … and we didn’t see a single fruit. Prunes were very expensive in the markets – we had to buy some to make some jams and compote.

It’s one thing to read about these forces and another to witness them at work. We managed to cover our little improvised green-house just as the storm hit us. A few minutes later and we could have lost all of the fragile plants growing in it. It continues to be an englihtening process of discovery for us: direct experience draws a very different picture then abstract theoretical concepts.

Sudden Explosion in Bhudeva Residents

It’s almost 10pm and we just got back from a long day – we just arrived with two bee families. I don’t have much capacity to write … but did feel compelled to put out this one image of the two temporaryย  bee-hives. The coming days we are going to bust with completing their new top-bar-hives and then transitioning them and allowing them to settle into their long-term ๐Ÿ™‚

Cutia Taranului: Reaching a Younger Generation

There seems to be in Romania a widespread movement of younger generations moving away from village life to a promise of a better life in a city. As a result most Romanian villages are either aging or altogether dying. When we moved out to a village we were moving against the currents typical here in Romania (though we are happy to say we are not the only ones). Given the typical village life here in Romania, where people are slaves to the land and animals, I can understand young people wanting to move away towards a better and more comfortable life. However I believe that such a life can be had in a Romanian village and that it is much for feasible, sustainable (and to me – pleasant) then city life.

During the first week of Cutia Taranului’s launch we were contacted by a few young people who were asking about Cutia Taranului for their peasant parents. We were very happy to witness Cutia Taranului evoke renewed interest in peasantry amongst a younger generation.

Yesterday we met with another peasant family who took an interest and invited us to learn more about Cutia Taranului. They first heard about the project from Ildi & Levente (who were the first peasant family on Cutia Taranului). But it turns out that it was their 25 year old son who lives in Cluj-Napoca who was the one who prompted them to contact us and give it a try. He was with us when we met with them (he comes home to the village on weekends). The meeting went quite well and their son had a supportive role in it. The couple were in disbelief … they simply could not imagine a regular customer base without the hassles of the expensive market place. It, to them, was just to good to be true (it almost is) … even though they’ve heard about it first hand from Ildi and Levente who’s boxes sold out in a week. Their son’s presence was very supportive.

Fortunately he also spoke english and at one point the conversation split. Andreea was speaking to the couple while I spoke to their son. He shared with me his admiration for the project and even spoke about moving back to the village. HE SPOKE ABOUT MOVING BACK TO THE VILLAGE. I cannot describe in words what I felt … it was a physical sensation … a vibration moving through me … maybe joy? pure joy?

We continued to speak and I shared with him my belief that he could both make a living here and do aย  great service to his community. I believe there are many small producers in villages in our area who do not have enough produce nor the organizational skills to create an effective offering. However, if someone like him would come out here and organize a kind of peasant-collective … that they may actually be able to organize a very rich offering of peasant-boxes. He listened carefully and I sensed him taking it in and … well another seed has been planted … now I am curious to see what will grow from it ๐Ÿ™‚

… and of course … if you are in Cluj-Napoca please stay tuned … we expect to announce in the coming days another 30 boxes ๐Ÿ™‚

Inspiration: Sepp Holzer

If you haven’t already been touched by Sepp Holzer’s inspiring life and framing then this relatively new production with available subtitles (after you click play a “cc” button will appear and you need to click it and then ”english” to activate them) makes for a good introduction. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Arrived in my life complements of Paul Wheaton

Tires Together

One of our core projects here at Bhudeva is building our future house. We have been doing a lot of research on sustainable and ecological construction and we have been facing many challenges in bringing existing knowledge into context for our life here in Romania. Our latest design envisions a mostly underground house that will provide us with a year-long steady temperature of 21c without any energy inputs (neither for cooling in the summer nor for heating in winter). The core of our design is based on the concept of Earthships. At the heart of Earthship construction are massive walls built of tires that are packed full of earth.

So for many months we’ve been looking and asking around about tires here in Romania and this is what we found out:

  • Most tire dealers and repair shops sell some used tires that barely have treads but can still just barely be driven for 15-20 ron a tire (just to be clear – they are sold to people with old cars who can’t afford new tires).
  • Tire dealers are required to “recycly” through the state (represented by licensed operators) a certain amount of tires to offset new tires that they import.
  • The dealers are paid a symbolic 50 ban per tire collected from them.
  • Most of the collected tires are then sold off to different uses . Some are recycled (yey!!) into products such as car mats … however …
  • Many (we suspect most) are sold at a premium of 10-20 ron per tire (purchased in quantities of tens of thousands) to cement manufacturing companies (and their likes) who use them as fuel (boo!!) – it seems that a single tire contains a equivalent of 7.5 liters of oil!
  • We know of at least one giant pile of tires in Cluj-Napoca that is just sitting there slowly decomposing in the sun. We assume that other such piles can be found all over Romania.

Used tires is a waste product we (especially those of us who drive cars) are all responsible for creating. The concept of Earthships (built with earth-packed tires) was born out of recognition that this huge source of waste (available all over the planet) can be put to good use in creating houses (which it would seem are also needed all over the planet). Any recycling of tires requires high energy inputs (often starting with shredding). The thought of all the toxicity released when tires are burned as fuel (a single tire contains a equivalent of 7.5 liters of oil!) is mind-boggling. When used to build Earthships the tires are used as is and because they are completely buried they do not decompose or release any toxic gases (which they do when exposed to the sun).

Whenever we speak to someone in Romania about needing tires we quickly encounter an opportunistic greed. Regardless of the “asking-price-per-tire” we would also need to find a solution to sort through tires and have them brought over to our place which incur additional expenses. All this caused us to rethink about construction with tires – suddenly it seemed that concrete blocks that easily snap together would be much cheaper (and way faster to build with) then working with tires. However we really don’t want to resort to massive construction with concrete … so we scratched our heads and though of you … yes you ๐Ÿ™‚

Inspired by the awesome waves of goodness we encountered with the introduction of Cutia Taranului we decided to once again try collaborating with you – our fellow Romanians. Also in the spirit of Cutia Taranului we realized that the best way to get tires would be to go around the existing system rather than through it. It boils down to this … the next time you buy tires we would like to ask that you keep your old tires, don’t leave them to be used opportunistically as fuel.

Now look at your old tires … what do you see? Look closely … you are holding a personal invitation to visit with us at Bhudeva including at least a pleasant conversation, a tour and a tasty cup of herbal tea … and best of all you have become a contributer to a unique experiment in sustainable construction taking place here in Romania.

For our house we are going to need about 2000 tires (though we have other structures planned … so we will try to collect much more). Tires come in different sizes which are indicated with a combination of numbers printed on them. All you need to look at is the first number – the one that has the letter “R” in front of it. We need tires that are labeled as either “R15” or “R16′”. The larger “R16” tires will be used for the base of our walls and the “R15” tires will be used on top of them for most of the wall.

Lastly … since we are talking about garbage ๐Ÿ™‚ย  We are also going to need empty cans, empty wine bottles and used cardboard boxes. So if you are already holding on to tires an invitation to visit Bhudeva then pleaseย  hang on to these things you may be tempted to throw out ๐Ÿ™‚

Since tires are not often changed this initiative may move a bit slow so … please do spread the word to your family and friends ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Land of Peasants

I am writing this post sitting in my parents living room in Israel after watching Andreea in a live appearance on Romanian TV to speak about Cutia Taranului (I’ll update this post with the vide of the interview once it becomes available).

Since we launched Cutia Taranului we have been swept up by waves of goodness. All of Ildi & Levente’s boxes have found a home with families in Cluj; kind friends wrote about the project with their unique personal perspective and helped to spread the word (thank you Sam, Nora and Gina); a TV and news crew came out to inquire and help spread the word; we have been contacted by people from all over Romania asking when boxes will be available in their cities; we have been contacted by other peasants and are slowly helping them put together additional boxes (40 more boxes for Cluj will be announced in the coming days); Ildi and Levente have discovered a supportive and embracing group of customers new family amongst their fellow Romanians in Cluj; we have discovered that this country that is looked down at by other countries and too often its own citizens as being poor and corrupt is able to demonstrate qualities of trust, faith and support that have touched my heart and sent shivers down my spine … and I could probably go on and on.

However there is one interesting feedback that has popped out 2 or 3 times that surprised me and I believe deserves to be addressed. There are people for whom the word “peasant” comes with negative connotations … for them peasants is equated with a simple, primitive and poor life. As a result, when we speak of “peasants delivering fresh food directly to your doorstep” these people perceive us as patronizing … as if we, the foreigners playing “little house on the Romanian prairie” are taking advantage of the poorness of peasants.

In Romanian the word for peasant is Taran (spoken “tsaran”) for men and Taranka (“tsaranka”) for women. The meaning of that word is not “simple, primitive, poor people who live a shabby life in a shabby house growing their own food”. The meaning of the word is “man of the earth”. The Romanian language is not particularly pleasant to my ear, it’s a fairly “functional” language, it doesn’t have the depth of Hebrew – my mother tongue. However it has this one beautiful word that simply means “man of the earth”. I look forward to earning the right to label myself as “man of the earth” and I have nothing but awe and respect for people who are “of the earth”.

Romania is literally a land of peasants. It’s not an opinion, it’s not a romantic description … it is a fact. Practically half of the Romanian population are peasants. It isn’t a land of wonderous cities (it is a land where cities are basic functional creatures of necessity that rely on and support peasants). It isn’t a land of industries (however it was once the world leader in production of hemp and hemp products). It is a land of peasants. So much so that I have a feeling that when industrial forces swept across the planet during the previous century, some core quality of Romania (it’s nature?) resisted. Even now when it is under attack by unrelenting foreign financial powers, it, in its own way, is resisting change (though I am not sure it will be able to hold out much longer).

Maybe this is why in many ways Romania is a “backwards” country – where the village market parking lot is packed full of horse-carriages and not cars? Maybe this is why it has historically manufactured Dacia cars which are ridiculed by the west but perfect for a land of peasants – cars that are simple, cheap, long lasting (you can see many very old cars moving around Romania) and super easy to fix for local village technicians (qualities that were for the most part lost when Dacia became ambitious about expanding into European markets). Maybe this is why Romanian population is in decline – as if preferring to fade away instead of betraying its true nature?

After Andreea’s interview the show aired a story about some 40,000 euros of EU funding that, if I understood correctly, were intended to support local farming. I was amused (and slighty offended) when they used the images they shot for Cutia Taranului (at our place and at Ildi & Levente’s home) to illustrate their point. In that piece two people were interviewed, both officials who work in government agencies charged with distribution of EU funds to farmers and peasants. Both were wearing suites and ties and looked, to me, like aliens in a land of peasants. THERE, in them, I could sense a lack-of-interest at best and patronizing attitude at worst towards the “simple, poor peasants who should be grateful for the EU funds that come to their rescue”.

Then … ๐Ÿ™‚ there was another live english speaking interview (I could barely follow it because of the simultaneous translation) with an english speaking professor and a colleague from the UK. They were praising Transilvania and its food and spoke about food-tourism and all sorts of things – they love the place (Transilvania) and support and promote it. It was a very positive and supportive interview. One of the last questions presented by the interviewers was something like “What would be your one recommendation for us to grow in this direction?”. The answer was direct and simple “support your local producers”. I most definitely agree ๐Ÿ™‚

I am so relieved and proud that we were able to establish our life in the village and to breathe life into Cutia Taranului without any EU or other public funding (which we did consider when we first set out). Call me crazy but wouldn’t it be fantastic if Cutia Taranului could reach peasants and city-dwellers all over Romania? If it could recreate a traditional and sustainable coexistence of village and city? If it could remind Romanians of the natural abundance that is available to them? If it could recreate a sense of personal security (for both peasants and city-dwellers) in these unclear and unstable times? Wouldn’t it be super-awesome-cool if instead ofย hemorrhaging money to greedy foreign banks, Romania could softly gravitate, literally from the ground up, towards a natural economy that would enable it to get over its past mistakes (pay its debts) and keep its copper and all its other god-given natural resources?

 

Springing into Spring

I have fallen behind reporting on our most recent happeningย  … not because there haven’t been any but because there have been sooooo many.

We were blessed with a local gypsy worker who was all around excellent. He has helped us quite a bit over recent days. At first he helped us to clean out the area in front of the house. This included more destruction, cleaning and organizing. We now have a large open space and a huge and fairly organized pile of scrap wood.

Then we asked him to stay another day and help us clean out the large prune orchard behind the house. It was overgrown and overpopulated. We took down many unhealthy trees and provided better space for the remaining trees. Meanwhile I used the tree cuttings to build large Sepp Holzer style Hugelkultur raised beds of which there are 5 … with plenty of wood still hanging around (more on this project in a separate post).

Then we had him help us fix the rear (north wall of the house). It was in bad shape and we decided not to deal with it last year. Then a few weeks ago Andreea noticed a cool draft of air coming in through the wall above her head. So the wall has been fixed and hopefully will hold out for a long time (more on this in a separate pose).

Amidst all this work we finally launched Cutia Taranului. It has been amazingly well recieved. Waves of goodness are spreading out and coming back to us. Ildi & Levente‘s boxes have almost sold out. We have had requests for boxes from people all over Romania. We have also been contacted by other peasants who wish to join the project to sell their produce. We are overwhelmed by the waves of good-will this project has stirred. Andreea has spent many hours responding to emails and speaking to people. Next week, while I’ll be away in Israel, Andreea together with Ildi and Levente will be interviewed for both newspaper and TV. Fantastic energy.

During the weekend, right after the launch of Cutia Taranului, we were visited by some friends from the city together with some really nice people from organizations that are working to support peasants in Romania.

Cutia Taranului is another loud and clear confirmation that we are finally on our correct path. We are catching up with our Dharma and where there was once bitter friction there is now sweet flow. A true blessing.

Today I started out with some wood chopping but realized that I am physically tired. So I went back inside and got back to doing some coding – something I haven’t done since SweetClarity. I’ve begun designing and building a web-application that will enable us to better manage and organize the information that is rapidly accumulating around Cutia Taranului.

I am beat but very content ๐Ÿ™‚

Monday I am flying to Israel to visit my family (for the Jewish Passover holiday) in what is an almost historic family reunion. I’ll try to see some friends … but otherwise intend to rest. We have many things we want to do when I get back. This year is very different from last year. Last year we were in a race to finish preparations for winter. This year there is no race. Ahead of us is a vast space of exploration that we can now travel through and enjoy at our own pace. We are heading into a nice life ๐Ÿ™‚