From Victim to Creator – Part 7
A New Beginning
In previous blog items in the “From Victim to Creator” series I detailed some of my on-going journey: I told you a little about my old life in the city, a bit about how I came to decide to stop following my ego and to follow my heart instead. I discussed some of my ideals for my new life and what I hoped it would be like. I mentioned that Lisa and I had purchased a parcel of land in the forest and that we would be building a timber-frame house and living a self-sustaining off-the-grid lifestyle here. Well, the last post in this series was a few months ago and a few of you have sent me emails asking what has happened with all this. So here follows an update.
We are at this point still renting a house. It is 2km (about 1¼ miles) from the land we bought. In the intervening period we have worked hard on our land – physically very, VERY hard – to get it ready to begin building. It was infested with Blackwattle (an invasive alien tree species), which we have been clearing. Our land is now more-or-less clear and the construction of our home has begun (which I’ll tell you about to in a moment).
In the mean time we have been learning all about organic vegetable growing too. On the rented property we have a small raised-bed garden where we have managed to grow some of the most gorgeous, tasty veg. Going organic hasn’t been without its trials though. We’ve had to come to understand that being pesticide-free means getting creative about not getting your whole crop obliterated before you can even begin to harvest. It means learning to work with nature rather than bludgeoning her into submission with chemicals. It also means being willing to share some percentage of what you grow with the li’l critters. So, for example, when we harvest tomatoes and we find the odd one has been pecked by the birds or has a worm in it… then that’s okay. The rest of that fruit goes to be composted and we still walk away with huge armfuls of wonderful produce. The abundance of Mother Nature is just astounding. And best of all we KNOW our whole harvest is pure, good, healthy stuff. Grown with love. Nourished by healthy soil. Untouched by pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
Here’s a picture of me looking like the old city-me could never have imagined looking. I had spent the day on the land working with the chainsaw cutting down Blackwattle trees (hence the chain-saw safety pants). It had been really hot and somehow the sweat on my shirt made a heart-shape. And then, at sun down, exhausted, DIRTY, but happy, I was watering the veggy patch when Lisa took this pic. I guess you can say I had “worked my heart out” that day!
But I don’t want you to get the idea that we do nothing but work. Probably our favorite time of each day is sundown. We almost invariably get a drink and a snack and sit out on the porch and watch God’s light-show. African sun-sets are very often pretty spectacular.
And here is a picture of the same sunset over the swimming pool.
Before I get back to the subject-matter of this blog there is one more pic I simply HAVE to share with you. A few days ago as the sun was setting to the west a rain-storm was developing to the east. The deep red rays of the setting sun lit up the storm clouds and made a beautiful double rainbow. Lisa took this picture which, I promise you, we didn’t modify at all. This is exactly the way it looked:
"Orb" fans might enjoy that one - those bright specks aren't stars.
But back to the home we are building:
I’d like to give you an idea of what the land itself is like. Here is the Google Earth view. The yellow triangle is our land. Take a look and see what surrounds us… it is all pristine, indigenous forest and gorgeous gorges. As far as the eye can see we are surrounded by Mother Nature in all her splendor. Behind our property we have a small number of other neighbors who make up the local community – so we are not completely alone either. There are others who can offer mutual support and with whom we can barter crops for eggs or whatever. So that too is ideal.
Now for a closer view. We were recently offered the opportunity to go for a helicopter flight over the area. Lisa took an aerial picture of our land. This is a close-up crop shot of the space in which we are now building, which I have annotated.
The dam is our source of fresh water. It’s clean and pure and is fed by ground-water spring so it stays full even during drought periods (which can otherwise be a problem in most parts of Africa). Above that, as you can see, we had already begin clearing for the construction of the house.
Then there is an area labeled “reedbed”. This is where I am in the process of building a “constructed wetland” which is a wonderful life-positive way to clean and purify the water effluent from the house. The used water will go through the reedbed and from there it will go to the lily pond where we’ll store it for use in irrigation. I’ll write about this in more detail at some point. It really is an amazing process.
Next is the house construction itself. We are building a timber-frame home. So the first thing that needed to be done was to dig holes for the “stilts” upon which the house is built.
Here is a picture of me pretending I dug all those holes! :-)
Thank God, I didn’t really have to dig them myself! There were 32 holes in total (each at least 1,2m deep) that had to be dug into the rock-hard clay where the house will stand. I am eternally grateful to the men of the construction company that did this back-breaking job. Wow!
Next is an animated “gif” image of the construction process. Each day, just after the builders have packed up and gone, Lisa and I stand in the same three spots and take a picture, capturing the construction progress. Below is a sequence from one of the three perspectives:
The final picture in the sequence is more-or-less where we are now: we have a good strong wooden floor structure with the wall frames standing on them.
We took a walk around inside the house and this is the view from my bedroom looking “though” a window:
What a view to wake up to each morning!
We were very careful to make sure that there is LOTS of space under the house too. One can comfortably walk up-right under the whole house. This translates to an abundance of storage space, work-rooms, tool-sheds, garaging for vehicles or whatever else we’ll need. As we are now growing our own food we are discovering the value of lots of pantry space for preserves, home-canned goods and a root-cellar. I will be putting a trap-door in the kitchen floor which will lead down to an enclosed space under the house for exactly this purpose.
Here is a pic of under the house showing the space…
And that is where we are at with the construction of our new home. I’ll keep you updated as we go.
As the builders carry on with the structure we’ll now begin building our veg garden. It will be a raised-bed garden and we have to enclose it in a strong fence – otherwise baboons, monkeys and deer will devour the lot before we’ve even started. We also have to sink the fence a meter into the ground so that wild boars can’t dig under it. So that is what Lisa and I will be building next. Then, when the builders are done with the structure, we will be doing all the finishing ourselves (building cupboards, painting and sealing the wood, putting interior cladding and ceilings in etc.). We’ll also have to finish the reedbed before the plumbing is finished.
So there is LOTS to do. But what an adventure!
For the first time in my life I am now really beginning, just BEGINNING, to feel like the creator of my own life. I feel like my truest, most heartfelt dreams and visions for my life are coming to fruition.
I am beginning to learn about the tools of creation. But THAT philosophical discussion is for another day. When I have figured it out and am able to express it all coherently, you can be sure I’ll be sharing it with you.
Until then… I wish you boundless Joy!