Monday, December 10, 2007

above: less than a week later i have about 50% of the foundation trench dug. its only like 1 foot deep in most places, i will go deeper soon, to about 18-24", but i need this done carefully to create even and proper drainage. yesterday a neighbor helped me for 4 hours in the morning, and its amazing what 2 can do, its like 5x faster than just one worker (me)

Friday, December 7, 2007

this is just the start of a my most ambitious project yet. these white lines represent the foundation to our future guest house. the walls are 1.5 feet thick in most places and will be made of "cob" . the top left rectangle will be the sauna/bath, powered by a "rocketstove".
there is a little toilet/sink in the top right.
the center area will be a large bench, heated underneath by the rocket stove as well. and a kitchen/spectator gallery.
i have allready dug up 10% of the foundation. this is really tough work, all alone with a pickax and shovel
you cannot see it here, but the cottage is right next to our stream, including the hidden 6 foot waterfall!!!
the trail in the back leads up to the mountains

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

living roof

these photos are of our living roof over the garden shed. i mixed clay, sand and vermiculite.
which will make it lightweight.

Crab on the land

one of our many little friends on the land. lucy our cat smelled this little crustacean under a rock and dug her out and tormented it for 10 minutes or so. this one was about the size of my hand

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Natural Building Colloquium

last october i spent 10 days in Kerrville, Texas at the Quiet Valley Ranch.
below photo is me drilling 3/4" holes to support 5/8" rebar, filled with special epoxy. you will see what these columns created in the photo above. this stage was created by "SunRay Kelley"

Monday, November 12, 2007


releasing a turtle into out stream
our friends gave him to us, not
sure why, but they wanted him
to go to our land. this was over
a month ago and i have not
seen him since

dia de los muertos

gabriel, jacob, and samuel ready for the "dia de los muertos" or "day of the dead" parade in our village.

natural building colloquium

this is me, with the straw hat, building the foundation for a "sun ray kelly"
creation at the natural building
colloquium in Kerrville, Texas

below is the final product

second (first) day of school

we put the little guy into a new school. now, instead of the private pricey one, hes going to the local public school

wooden shed

today, finally, still tired in my arms and my bleeding finger that got banged up by the hammer more than once, but i want to post this picture of the roof. i nailed up 1/2" thick hardwood. tommorow i will make it grow, check back to see how!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Big River

funny how time flys by when you are having fun. its been more than a few days since i last posted. gabriel and I took our first trip together. we planned on camping next to this river, but near 4 pm the bugs started to get way too bad and we did not like the idea of being trapped in my little one man tent for the next 16 hours....
this place we went was really amazing, its a little village about 2 hour drive north of oaxaca. this river flows from here to the gulf of mexico. its super clean at this part as we are near the source. theres like a 1/4 mile sandbank in the center of the river, we needed to wade a bit thru rough current to get there, but once there, we played for hours. lots of neat rocks and sandy bottoms to play with, it was never deeper than 6".

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wild Flowers

After work today, I walked around for a bit taking photos of all the wildflowers on our land. I missed about 5 because they were a bit old and in bad shape to photograph.

Wooden shed

at 7am we started hauling the wooden beams up to the top most part of the land and built in 2 hours what you see here. underneath this future structure is our current 2500 gallon water cistern.
*note, all our water pressure is gravity fed*
i plan on building a ferrocement cistern on the roof of this future shed. this will be a small tank, about 50 gallons and it will only be used for water in the high part, as the current cistern is lower and cannot water anything above it.
inside i will store garden tools.
i still need to place some large 45° cross supports, and ceiling beams. i hopefully can buy some wood for this in the afternoon.
lots of mistakes were made this morning, its definetly not square, but... the walls will be made from caryso, a type of light weight and weak bamboo, so it will flex enought to the non square beams. the roof will be 1" thick styrofoam with a metal grid on top and bottom of the styrofoam, with a cement layer applied to the top and bottom. here are two links to see what i mean, example 1 and example 2. the ferrocement tank on top of this will be cast together with the cement/styrofoam roof
i am thinking of making 2 doors, one a little little round hobbit door that will open to the street and hardly be used. another normal big door that will open into our yard

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

longtime hidden

We started clearing the stream in front of the shop. Its the lowest part of the land and has not been cleaned in about 5 years. The most downstream part of the stream is covered in "caryso" this is in the “rush family” its like bamboo, a grass that grows 1" thick and 30 feet high, but very weak and fast growing. When I say covered, I mean covered, but only on our side, the upstream side, the other side is filled with many medium size trees that vines have crept up over the last century or so, virgin land and maybe for sale!!!! So the caryso has leaned over onto the other side, as has the trees and vines on the other side leaned over as well, creating a tunnel over the stream, impassable by all but frogs, crabs, snakes, turtles, grasshoppers and who knows what else. So in the tunnel is a hidden natural waterfall dropping 1 foot into a pool that’s about 2 feet deep and 10 feet in diameter. This pool has been here for ages and for a while, locked out from the world. I found this huge white frog, with large green stripes, he hopped up near me to check me out, never seen a human in ages, and I invaded his secret pool, oops. For the moment I would not enter the water. I know that its stream fed, but its possible upstream neighbors may be contaminating it. Also, now is the rainy season and the water is brown from mud and I cant see what might lurk on the bottom to cut my feet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

empty land

this is looking out from our shop/temporary home towards the far end of the bottom part of the land. this little stream only runs when it rains and it will provide a problem for me to figure out how to include it into our landscaping as it only runs like 100 days a year. there is another one farther along thats hard to see in this picture.
to the right side is the real creek, it runs daily and i am working these days cleaning it up from decades of neglect and overgrowth

Sunday, September 30, 2007


these outside light switches were a fun project. i could not find a premade box to represent the outside light design so i just bought some simple switches and made a little thing to hold them. i bought the type with a built in LED pilot light, but for some strange reason they are not working, i mean the lights work, but not the pilot light.

you can see the door to our shop/temporary home in the background

Saturday, September 29, 2007

pochote tree

this is one of 3 Pochote trees we have planted, aka floss silk tree. they produce a type cotton when they flower. they grow in to monsters, really, their adult form has a human like shape, i have seen some over 300 feet tall near the beach. another pic

Friday, September 28, 2007

me and gabriel

just a little photo of me and my son gabriel

brick laundry patio

i made this patio to do laundry more than a few months ago and i believe it was a really good choice. the bricks are baked adobes over a sand bed and has multiple slopes in it to drain the water to the right spot. after two rainy months its still working well
in the bottom left is the laundry maching. the blue thing is a tarp covering my woodworking jointer. and on the right are bricks i am storing to extend the patio one day. the wires are to sun dry our laundry. one day i plan on using the same bricks to finish that ugly grey wall.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

another days work

this is another wall i am starting to cover with vines, edible fruit, and flowers

this may not look like alot, but it took me hours to make this ramp up to my shed. before it was a rocky rutted gunky trail that i tripped on many times. when i finished it, gabriel ran down it screaming "look, i dont fall down"

family work

this is the driveway leading down to the shop and stream. we planted vines to creep up the fence and provide privacy.
we planted passion fruit, jasmine, a vine that hangs thousands of small orange flowers, and another vine that has big purple flowers

Laura's birthday

Laura and Gabriel on her 31st birthday

bad architect

we had water leaking into the shop/our temporary home from this back wall, so i dug out a canal and paved a thin concrete ramp to drain the water more effectively. it seems to work for now, and we will eventually build our home over this area and shut off all rainwater from entering the shop.

so, i say bad architect because this all happened because we did not remove an existing containment wall, we built the shop right next to this wall, i now know the old wall should have been removed, and now its impossible to remove. fill dirt used to fill the area now dug out, you can almost see on the far left where i planted 200 vetiver plants to contain erosion

you can also see my homemade solar hot water heater on the roof.

green moth

this moth was visiting us two days ago, he has a wingspan of close to six inches

first post

baby primavera and roble trees

last monday we acquired 100 trees free of charge from the state nursery to help reforest and rehabilitate our land and stream. our treasure now sits at

24 primavera's and roble's; these trees could somewhat resemble a common maple tree. they flower yellow and pink respectively and are deciduous.
25 montezuma cypress's (savino). these trees can grow to be some of the largest in the world and can live 3000 years or more. they are specifically to be planted next to our stream to prevent erosion
10 white cedars
10 common oaxacan pine
5 eucalyptus
2 native oak's which i plucked from the mountains above us, i plan to plant these on the stream as well, they seem to do really well and prevent errosion
3 floss silk's (known as Pochote or Ceiba here)
25 more misc. please reply if you are interested in knowing the names as most are hard to pronounce and are indigenous names

i replanted all the savino's into large plastic bag planters to let them grow more and have more of a chance next rainy season.