Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finishing the Year with Gratitude

 So much to be grateful for at this year's ending!  The marvelous nature around us, the lessons learned in each day's work, the fabulous people who gravitate toward Mama Roja, and all the poetry of a homesteading life in the jungle. 

Thanks for another gorgeous internship!  We wrapped up the program with mud plastered sculptures and mosaics.

 Mud vines wrapping the outside porch of the house on the hill. 

 Giant sunshines with great ceramic tentacles!  Wow!  High art!
 Our dear, sweet, well-behaved interns...

Memories of peanuts and planting:
 Everyone's favorite toothless hero.  Watch out, he bites.  No joke.
 Herbal eye remedy:  Santa Lucia's magical flower drop squeezed into an ailing eye cures all aggravations of spirit and eyeball.
 Oh, the handsome harvest of sweet potatoes:
 Muddy feet make happy souls:
 As if we weren't dirty enough, medicinal mud makes our Ladies Spa Day into an exfoliating extravaganza.
 Still planting summer delights in the garden.
 Sombrero Silliness.
 Friends who love mud building:
 The big river on a hot afternoon.  The perfect way to end a cow manure-hunting outing.
 News on the duckling:  He is waddling and well, eating and growing, and has even started hissing and chasing us down for more food!  Thanks to our home-brewed microorganisms, we saved him from imminent duck-doom.
 And life in the jungle just keeps on.  The wonder, the blessings, and the joy.  Thanks to all who have journeyed to Mama Roja this past year to make this project a fun and successful adventure in sustainable living!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Ripe November

With a full schedule and a bustling Internship, plus the jungle creeping into summer, things have been really progressing.  Not just the bugs, but the garden, the earthen house, and all of our spirits are full with wonder!!

This little bug just dipped his legs into flower nectar:

The windows getting set into the adobe walls:
Let the plastering begin! 
Finger-dappled walls between plaster coats:
Ah, sweet sister nettle:
Our hike into the forest to gather nettle for making beer, soups, tinctures, infusions, and everything nettle we could squeeze out of our imaginations:
Medicinal plant searches along the river:
Have you ever seen the blood of a nettle plant?  It'll certainly make your mouth pucker!
And back to plastering.  Being one with the wall, being one with all: 
First coat of outside plaster complete!

Everyone's favorite plaster ingredient:  cow manure!  Great for impermeability, strength, and durability.  Plus it's so much fun to sift and stomp!
Our pig! Here he is checking out his new dance floor:

Those darn cats... they just can't stop the cute!
The garden is bursting with life and fruit!  We already had to put up our half-shade to protect from the arriving intensity of the summer sun rays.  All hands on deck:
Special thanks to our Kitchen Goddess!  Jax, you did a wonderful job, and we look forward to having you back next time around!
The bottle wall in the second bedroom, complete with final plaster:
Oooh, and a wee workshop in furniture renovation.  Thanks for fancying up Mama Roja, Jeremy!
Tea-stained wood, sealed with homemade iron acetate.  Left to right: black tea, green tea (makes it kinda purple!), and weak black tea.  So nice!
The final touches on the built-in closet!

Our Giving Thanks day celebration was of course Hip and Exciting, as we donned our natural homemade costumes.  Here's a few forest faires floating around:
Natural clay and starch paint going on the walls. First we made the paint samplers with wheat flour, our red earth, and some chalk powder.  Then, we tested them on the walls to see how we liked them in the different rooms and with different light.  (I think we like the lighter one best.)

And so, we leave off here, a final photo of the busy jungle in pre-butterfly state.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Of Flowers and Mud

So many colors popping up around us! Full bloom of spring in the jungle. How many eye delights can one find?!
The duckling (yes just one) has arrived! Hatched perfectly healthily under mama chicken, now she is learning the duck version of chicken ways, and likes to show off by swimming in the water bowl.
The mud building project has been steadily growing upwards.

The bottle wall of many colors:

The adobe bricks getting slotted for holding the old car window in place:

The middle wall with the built-in furniture:
Nope, it's not earthen human shackles we're building, but in the meantime, the shelving holes serve many purposes. Ill-behaved (returning) intern “learning” devices? :)
Mud meatballs in a bucket. Mmmm...
Transporting buckets of mud, balancing over planks of wood on the unfinished floor-- just an extra challenge to keep us on our toes.

Even our smallest visitors catch the spirit of mud building!

The old meets the new!
  And voila! The structure is complete. Now onto mud plastering- our favorite!!
Back to the Nature around us... The bananas are in flower, and fruiting up for the summer.

 Cauli-flower power!

 Dill in flower.
In the in-between times, we bottled (and sampled) our mulberry wine. It's good now, but we saved a bit to let it gather more flavor and umph.
  We have also been keeping up with the growing garden, and experimenting with sheet mulch bed making.
 Gathering herbs for our bug repellent balm.  Calendula, rosemary, camphor, pennyroyal, lemon balm, citronella, eucalyptus, and a few more.
The kittens are in that ridiculously cute phase, venturing out of their little love nest, crawling all over each other, and wibbly-wobbling onto the great big world of the porch. Here's mama Monkey keeping her watchful eye over their explorations.
Caterpillar season is upon us again, and butterflies are bursting out of cocoons all around us.
Can anyone identify this flowering wild plant?