Permaculture Malaga – 6 months on site

– or the days that make us stronger

I have a way of getting through some of the rough times I meet in life, when I think I can’t take any more I repeat “this is what makes me stronger, this is what makes me stronger, this is what makes me stronger”. The past 3 days I haven’t had the energy to do that… And yet I got through, and we will get through even if the going gets tough.

So what is up?

It’s just like everything collides at the same point in time, and we feel powerless. It is like no matter how fast we run we are only putting out fires… And it is hard!

First off starting a company down here in the south is a whole new story. The amount of Southern European red tape is AMAZING! And everywhere you have to show up in person, with 3 copies of everything, translated in to Spanish. And the running to this place and that to get all the papers we need. Exhausting! And being more than a little anti-state already it just takes all of the self discipline I can muster to not scream, when I have to stand in line for 3-4 for hours only to meet a lady who then tells me that I am missing 2-3 papers, especially when I have called in advance to ask which papers I need to bring. I usually feel on the brink of crying after meeting the Spanish “authorities”. And I have to go with Marcus 90% of the times he has to go, because he doesn’t speak Spanish and they don’t speak English – so I get it double. Dejamé! Our sweet neighbor would say. I want to garden! Not do handle bureaucracy.

And we still haven’t got the money for our solar-panels, which means that we have the generator running every day – not very environmentally friendly, nor very economical… And looking back we should have just bought a small solar system w. one panel and one battery 6 months ago and it would have payed it self of by now. But we would still have the generator running most days for the construction of the house, and we would have the money soon to buy the whole package, so buying a small system then would be silly – or so we thought. Well the house is done and we are burning €60 per week on gas… and we have to, otherwise Marcus can’t work. And the generator is falling apart and need service, which will take a week – a week where we will have no electricity. Argh! So we are fixing it, bit by bit, without knowing exactly how.

And we moved into our house not knowing how the fancy compost toilets worked, so we kinda did everything wrong – and ended up with shit up to our armpits (litteraly), because it clogged, and we had to empty a toilet full of un-composted sh**t, which had not been draining for weeks (yes, yes, yes – yuk! Exactly that kind of scenario that makes people not want a compost toilet). What can I say – read the fucking manual!

And all winter we have been pulling water from a spring, and it has been beautiful, and we have built an entire house with water from that spring (which promises great things, considering it has been a very dry  winter). But we have known that it was not going to last, that we were using more water than the spring was supplying, and that the box in front of the spring would eventually be emptied, but we have been putting off the installment of a pump in the well on top of our mountain because heck, it wasn’t like we didn’t have anything to do… Well… I can tell you that handling it in the middle of June, with the pump being in back order, and standing on top of a mountain in 40 C heat an lowering a pump that then does not work… with a generator that only works half the time, is not a smart choice – handle water, before it becomes a problem. When we found out that the motor for the pump was probably burned off – after waiting two weeks for it, and dragging it all the way up on the top of our mountain, Marcus almost cried, and when I tried to tell him that “this is what makes us stronger” he gave me a look to say “shut up – now!”

So when Marcus left for Denmark we had no water… We had pulled the plug on the pump in the spring, because we needed the electric cable for the other pump – we thought we didn’t need it anymore… And I was supposed to figure something out, and a friend was going to come by Monday. His visit was postponed to Tuesday because the neighbor said he might have a pump we could use. I was fighting to hold on to my sanity, to just get through the week.

So when I had a puncture Monday, while having been alone all day with the kids, no electricity and no water, on my way to Sct. Johns bonfire on the beach with the home school group – I just sat down and cried. And I called Marcus and cried some more. There wasn’t room for “this will make me stronger” – I had just had enough. And I couldn’t just crawl up under a blanket and call in sick – this here is reality, and I’m in the middle of it, and I had to deal with it.

So I did, and I cried a bit the next couple of days, when talking to Marcus – because I am just so damn exhausted right now, and I would love to be able to call in sick. But the plants were dying, the animals needed water and

Well our friend came by Tuesday and he started the generator, and he changed my tire (yes very very womanly of me not to know how, but hey I’ve never had a flat tire in my life). And I could have kissed him (I didn’t – would have scared him to death). And he left, and I was alone again, still without water. It was raining – fortunately – I mean how unlikely is that? Rain the day after Sct. Johns in Andalucia? But it did, and the plants would survive another day. And I went to a friend and did laundry, so we at least could wear some clean clothes (strange priority I know, but I needed it). Because I had not battery on my phone I missed a call from the neighbor – he would come by Wednesday.

So Wednesday comes and the neighbor comes by, and his pump is the same as ours and we can’t use it… because we can’t get the damn thing down to the water. Almost crying again there. So I spent most of the day Wednesday driving around trying to get bits to fix this and that on the generator, get more wire so I can plug in the pump in the spring and get some water so our trees don’t die – and the sad little thing I call my kitchen garden. And a new 150m wire is €100 and I’m thinking – hmmm… I can learn how to fix the ones we got at home, so I only buy 50m and go home and fix the other one. And I am tired – I am dragging my self along, having not slept half the night for worrying about the plants. But I have to deal with this, now. So I do. And I fix it, and this morning we dragged the wire across the land – and were missing 50m. So we went back into town and we bought 50m more and we dragged it across our land – Lucas being a true hero, crossing arroyos with the wire in hand and climbing steep dirt walls. And we were missing 5 m. Which I found in the house and we plugged it in, and I turned on the generator and it worked! And a went up to the cistern and water was trickling in. And I went through the garden and ajusted all the drippers (otherwise they would be leaking water faster than it could trickle into the cistern and I would have nothing for my coffee tomorrow).

The generator is running now, water is trickling in. All my tomatoes and peppers have died, fortunately the summer is long and I can plant new ones – I’m more worried about the kiwis. I am sitting here, feeling very very tired. And very very very much stronger! I handled it, I got through this too – and somehow I knew I would, otherwise I would have not dragged myself around to all these places to get all this done these past 3 days. But damn – I do hope that it gets a little easier along the way 🙂



12 thoughts on “Permaculture Malaga – 6 months on site

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  1. Oh my dearest daughter! It has been rather tough to read this. And I have been crying and laughing at the same time! It is too much – too much. And I am proud of you! Really proud. Now I do understand, why I could’nt get in touch. And I think – may be it’s better so. But I whish I was by you – without knowing what I could do about the mess!! Big love and hugs for you all. I do hope, that things are going the right way now. And yes, if it does’nt kill you – it makes you stronger! Jytte

    1. Tjans mom. The funny thing is now – after a good nights sleep, it almost feels like I’m whining – it wasn’t that bad… I mean we got through it right, we weren’t close to dying or anything 🙂

  2. Very hard to read this, Dawn. I am so sorry. I fee your pain. I don’t know how you do it, but you do. You and Marcus and the kids are incredible. All I can think to say is that it will be worth it in the end and all this resourcefulness is incredible modelling for the kids. And there’s nothing like a good cry, sleep, running water and electricity-on-demand for greater sanity! Go new water pump! xx

  3. I have followed you on “slyngebarn”, and now here. Eager to hear how you are doing. It has been a long time since you wrote in here. Hope everything is ok, and looking forward to the next post.

    1. Everything is fine – Thank you for your concern 🙂 We are still struggling with the water issue, but other than that we are fine. The thing is though – with two kids home, animals, garden, renovation and one grown-up who works full time – there isn’t much time to sit down, and when there is, we are usually quite tired or without internet or the kids use the computer 🙂

      1. I completely understand! Great to hear that you are all doing well. I really admire your courage.

  4. Oh yes, Sorry about the danish, I will remember to write in english from now on. Looking forward to the update!

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