Getting things done


So when 3 months passes people start asking us if we have given up – and of course if you don’t see us, and talk to us, but only follow the blog and youtube channel it may seem that way (actually – wow, that people we don’t know follow us – honored – thank you!). And knowing how many of these projects actually fail, it does seem likely that we have given up, so why haven’t we?

I heard a quote the other day from John Taylor Gatto – that persistence is the number one deciding factor in success, I think that is the primary reason. I said something along those lines to Marcus a few months ago too: That what made the difference as to whether a new business made it or not, was not the number of blows you got, but the number of times you got back up. It was right after one of those failures with the water. Later that same night, I asked him “do you think we have it in us to make it through? Or are we just big city wimps with a silly dream?” and he looked at me at looked at the view and said “Would you trade this view for anything? Would you be happier in our terraced rental in the pueblo?” And no I wouldn’t – so we got back up and dealt with it.

We get things done – maybe not always as fast as we’d like, but we get things done. We get up again the next morning and get to it. Sometimes in our enthusiasm we run in 500 different directions, nothing gets done and we burn out. But then we take a day off or two, then we refocus and go on. It is not easy – even if it sounds that way. Like right now we have a deal – that we need to finish the house – and I would much much rather be gardening… So I procrastinate those windows – I am only missing one, and my husband has helped me paint 4 in the past month, but I push it aside, because I would rather be gardening…

Today the homeschool group was here – and one of the moms had brought a lot of seed for our community garden. We made a road going up to our fairy garden, and planted along side the road – rosemary, thyme, sage – it sounds almost like a song. It felt like a song, sitting there in the sun with children’s hands spreading seeds more or less randomly around me – and me covering them with rocks and leaves. “This is what I should be doing!” I thought, but those windows need painting – otherwise the wood will be destroyed, by the rain in the winter and the sun in the summer – waste of money, and thus of time. Then it is good to have those two days a week, with the home school group – where we completely immerse ourselves in the life in the campo. Healthy – soul work Paul Wheaton would call it.

So we take it one step at a time, one step – and it might not feel like a permaculture place yet, because we don’t have food systems in place – but first we need this roof over our heads to not feel temporary. And we allow ourselves to use technology, and not get too caught up in ideology. So yes maybe it is better to do the dishes by hand (though some would argue that it isn’t), but if I hate it and it takes away time from gardening and the kids, (and painting those windows) then a dishwasher is a pretty good investment. And yes we have a washing machine and invested in it as one of the first things (so as to not have to drive to Fuengirola every week to do laundry), and not all our food is organic, because that would mean me driving all over the Malaga province every week to source it… Practicallity sometimes (often) takes the front seat, because we want this experience to be a happy one – we don’t want to break our necks on it.

One of the advices we get from the permaculture design manual is not to do it all a once, to first start by eliminating the need for an income – one of the things I’ve learned from the unschooling community is that no one can save the world alone – and that we need to be OK with not being perfect simply because we can’t do it all (at least not without getting a fungal infection). We already eliminated the need for one income, by simply being (more) frugal – now our dependence on somebody offering Marcus a job is declining by the day: The mortgage will be payed off in two years, we have our own well and thus free water, we will be getting solar panels soon (hopefully) and we will plant stuff, we will have animals. One thing at a time. By the time we have those things in place – the need to make money will be very small. Any money coming in that way will be surplus, which we will return to the land – we will use it to build earthworks, buy plants etc. Bit by bit we will be more and more independent. Have more and more time for the soul work. In order to get there though – we need to do the bread work – ie. painting those windows (and doors).

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5 thoughts on “Getting things done

  1. I agree you on washing maschine thing, that is one piece of technology I would not want to live without. I could imagine swapping it to one what you pedal for 5 minutes and then the clothes should be clean, but I think it would require a LOT of convincing my wife to give it a try 😀 Handwashing dishes I do, as I wont want to increase energy bill and Finland is not using too much water so it isn`t an issue here. Now as we got two kids it starts to be harder as it is piling fast (spend yesterday 1h for doing it). Is your graywater running off the site and what kind of dishwashing powder you use? Have understood that is stuff you dont really want into your soil, but I can be wrong. Years ago when I was not knowing of permaculture I looked an documentary of some old traditional japanese village. They had some kind of river/stream/diverted waterway running under their houses. On that managed stream they put dishes in clever made holder and some small fishes were coming and cleaning the utensils and everything for them. That kind of ingenious idea I would love to replicate!

    1. I hace tried making my own soap for cleaning dishes – but they don’t get clean… Right now we are using a normal dishwasher detergent, but before I finish this pack i will find one that is more environmentally friendly. In the comming weeks we will build our grey water system – untill now the water has just been emptied on the ground, which carriea the risk of over-salting. I was spending hours every day doing dishes – with 4 people home 24×7 and my love for cooking, it adds up…

    2. Wrt the peddal-run washing machine, I see your point, but if I can get solar or wind power to run it, and spend my time building regenerative food systems, I think my time is put to better use. It is all priorities I guess 🙂

  2. Here up in the north it would be hard to rely on solar as panels don`t produce enought energy in winter months, partly not at all. Wind maeby, but on small scale not really when you dont want to wait untill you got no clean clothes left. But when possible in your latitudes/property I would also go for it you bet. At least the wind was from vids looking more than plentyful :D. Here was just in magazines “environmentally friendly” home made dishwashing machine detergent. 2/3 baking soda and 1/3 of salt. Might be good when the exit goes trough public sewage threatment system to sea/river, but still would not want to have a build up of salt in my future soils, when using reusing graywater for the plants. Good point with pedal machine is that one would get plenty of exercise, and one can never do too much of it 😉 Ok, you might disagree with the need as there is more than enough physical labour to do for years to come I guess 😛 Wishing you nice November, here`s just grey/wet/rainy!

    1. Uhh – grey and rainy 😦 The biggest problem with the windmills is that they are really expensive. A battery-bank is nessesary if you don’t want to wait for the wind 🙂 or at least it is nessesary if you are off grid like we are. You cannot do any cleaning without the salts – but a greywater cleaning system will deal with that, as the water outlet is sub-surface and the salts are used by the plants in the system. It is really important to be aware of salt build up, esp down here with the precipitation being so low and evaporation sk high.

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