Greenhouse Update

As we mentioned earlier, the green house construction has been an ongoing project for awhile.  It has now risen to the top of the to-do list.  With hot dry wind and no water, the solution to keeping some vegetables alive is to get them into a greenhouse.  We have three structures.  They have fiberglass panels on one long wall and the roof, and metal panels for the other long side and the ends.  All the guys have been working diligently to get these completed.

greenhouse 2

greenhouse 3

greenhouse 5

greenhouse 6

greenhouse 7

greenhouse 10

greenhouse 9

The pictures are all of green house number three being completed, the second greenhouse is completed, the first (they are numbered by location, not completion), has half a roof – nearly there!

garden greenhouse

Megan is planting them again.  Green house number one will be the workshop for the garden so she has a place to stage her seedlings and store her tools.  The outside garden plots will grow winter hardy plants and feed for the animals.

Trench update

The trench in the front pasture has had it challenges trying to get it completed.  All we are doing is deepening the already natural made stream going across the pasture.  Since it has been such a dry summer, the idea was to get it finished quickly before the March rains.  The retro machine has had it’s challenges.  Either a part breaks and it takes a few days to repair of the operator does not show up.  The retro is now without a fuel injector, an expensive item to replace.  So as much as we would love to have this done, we know Dario would also like to have it completed and stop spending money in repairs.


Another water project

We had such a trial getting the tajamar in the back started and then completed, we were cautious about starting our next water project.  We have two channels of spring water that pass through our front triangle of pasture land.  After many iterations of what we could do, we settled on the fastest cheapest method that would get our large animals water year round.  So here is the beginning of deepening the channels:


Then after a hot morning of work, the hydraulic arm system broke.  A few hours after  parking the machine in the shade, the front window burst!

window 1

So our friend Dario has to fix both the front window and the hydraulic system!  I don’t believe he will be making any money on our job. And I don’t know when this job will be finished.



On our farm, anything that has to do with the animals comes first and everything else takes second place. Or third depending on how the week is going.  Therefore the outside sink has been on the list of to-do’s practically since the orange bathroom was built.  But since there are two spigots – one with a hose attached –  we have made do.  Finally the sink reached the top of the list, we started the process, and we learned that our drain pipe went no where. Exactly how the person who installed the drain pipe failed to connect it is a mystery. And we’re trying not to be bitter about it. But for heavens sake, it’s a water pipe. How do you not connect it?!


So Jon spent an afternoon discovering the possible solutions and correcting the issue.

outside sink

Then we built supports and set a sheep trough atop, for our sink.  We wanted something large to wash everything imaginable in.  Now, we have the next step of adding the drain pipes and faucet.  Poco a poco.

Keeping Busy

Besides working with the large animals, our guys help out with minor, farm related construction projects. Alejandro and Oscar have added posts to both sides of the rabbitry for our expansion. They did such a nice job with posts for the chicken coop, green houses, and geese house that we figured they were now experts. In anticipation for the expanding rabbitry, they are also helping with rabbit cage construction:

building cages

We use 5cm x 7cm soldered, galvanized mesh, cut into a large rectangle then  bent into cage measurements.  Securely attached sides make the cage fairly inflexible. The bottoms are reinforced 1cm square galvanized wire mesh with rebar bars added for support.  It works for us.  We have to get the J clips from the states, so Jason brings them with him and we are good for the year. This is a quiet chore that can be done in the cool of the galpon during the hot afternoons or rainy days.

We are expanding the rabbitry because we have clients who want a regular supply of rabbit meat for their table.  Are you aware that rabbit has zero cholesterol? And is more tender than chicken? It also is a cleaner, quieter meat to grow, if need be we could easily grow all food necessary, and  provides pelts and fabulous (and I do mean FABULOUS) cold fertilizer for the garden. There is the small, disquieting fact that they are cute when young. But by the time they are of slaughter weight they’ve lost some of their charm. And they are tasty.

Rain Gutters

We are working towards an herb  garden by the front patio, but the rain from the roof floods that area.  Easy solution, right? Just put up some rain gutters. After much searching we finally located and purchased all parts. Last May. All we had to do was install them. Simple, right? On Jason’s last visit, he attempted to install the gutters and discovered that the mounting brackets we had would not work.  So Jason designed some that would do the job, and left us with a template to make the mounts.  Needless to say, we were busy doing other things and it didn’t happen.  This time, Jason made sure it happened.  The boys cut the tin, Jason sanded and painted the pieces, and then everyone helped him install the gutters.

rain gutter mounts

rain gutter mounts 2

rain gutter 1

gutter instalation

As of this writing, it has not rained since the gutters have been installed.  But the forecast is for ten days straight rain in the coming week and I know we will be thankful to have the rain gutters installed on at least one side of one building. If after testing (i.e. rain) the gutters prove to be successful then the next (slow) project will be to actually plant the finished herb beds in front of the house. And maybe finish the rest of the beds. Maybe.

Finally, we are farmers

We have spent the last three years being asked when we were going to buy a tractor. After all, how could we be farmers without a tractor?  We finally gave in and we are now the new owners of a bright orange Kubota!  It was too large for a friend, he wanted a riding lawn mower;, we needed a small tractor that would fit between the rows of trees but be large enough to pull things. So, we purchased his tractor, he purchased a riding lawnmower.

Here is Rubin testing out the tractor with it’s mowing attachment:

Tractor and Rubin

Rubin has lots of tractor experience. He can practically make the thing dance. Even with the mower attachment on. So, as the one with the expertise, he is the current on-farm instructor. First, Rubin explained how the tractor works to Jason:

Rubin giving Jason tractor intro

Jason and the tractor

Jason and tractor 1

Jason and Amy tractor lessons

Jason then gave Amy tractor lessons.

Amy driving the tractor

Amy got a chance to drive on her own.

Amy and Jason may not have milked cows or ridden horses but they did get to drive a tractor!

None of the rest of us have driven it yet. It’s just so convenient to have Ruben drive it for us right now.

This Kubota (which we bought second-hand from someone who bought it refurbished) is small enough to be just what we are looking for – but we will still be hiring out the big jobs as needed.

And yes, Rubin is new to the farm. As wonderful as it is to have him working here on the farm, he’s less exciting than the tractor. We’ll share more about him soon.


Periodic interruptions to our normal service


So you may have noticed that blog posts tend to be regular for a little while – even a long while – (minus that month every spring where we appear to fall off a cliff) and then there’s radio silence for a short time, and then we’re back again. We’ve reached the point here on the farm where there’s too much for us to do ourselves – so we work really long hours. And although we have help in the form of Alejandro and Oscar, we don’t quite have enough man hours to get all the required tasks done on a regular basis. We’re working on adding another person to work in the garden/small animals/maybe (if I’m lucky) wool. We have started to have income streams but they aren’t firmly established yet – which makes the whole adding more people really risky – but without more help we’re not likely to be able to. So sometimes things fall off the to-do list. Sometimes that’s the blog. So we are still here. We’re still taking pictures and still have stories and updates to share. But if the blog goes quiet for a week it’s because we got a bit overwhelmed. Our Etsy shop (LaPiccolinaFarm) is even more neglected, although, with luck, the start of the new year will see consistent improvement on that.

So if you stop by and we haven’t posted anything new – or your inbox hasn’t received a post in a while – be patient with us. We’ll update just as soon as we can stop, breath, process pictures, and get the internet connection to work.


Drying Racks

One rainy day, Alejandro and Oscar built us some wool drying frames.  We used them to dry wool while washing a single batch at a time.  But we knew we would need more frames and racks to place them on.  So this next round of storms had the guys building the racks.

Here are the frames being used to dry celery and green onions.

drying rack

Then Megan cleaned a few rabbit hides, and used the frames to dry them. Having a rack to place them all in one place sure is nice.

drying racks

Eventually, we’ll post the racks full of wool.


It has been a much slower and more expensive project than anticipated, but for the most part the “POND” is finished.  Yes, there are a few things we would still like to have done to make it look pretty, but it is functional.  We now have between 4 and 5 million liters where as before it was only about 400,000 liters.  We have enough to water our olives in a drought and our pasture.  But how to get it to the front pasture (up hill) is another matter.

To see the beginning of the story go to playing in the mud and then  tajamar update.

Here is an almost finished pond:

tajamar 3

tajamar 2


It looks MUCH better filled with water. The finished tajamar after a rain:

tajamar 4

It looks really nice and inviting. Resi even tried to play in the water – and discovered it’s deep and the edge drops off quickly. So it’s pretty to look, very functional, and not much for recreation.