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May 21st – 25th: Bond beam rebar cages and formwork positioned, solar-powered pump working, and new neighbors with best squash in the world

posted May 26, 2012, 1:15 PM by Julie Bateman   [ updated May 26, 2012, 1:20 PM ]
I spoke far too soon in the last blog, we are now no longer ahead of schedule. Materials were scheduled to arrive on Tuesday the 22nd, and we’ve been glancing to the road since then whenever we heard big rumbling noises. Wednesday night it poured again, the road on Thursday was in no condition for driving, of our many amusements we got to see extremely muddy vans fishtail their way past us. Another amusement is getting past the cows on site, there is one calf that we previously thought was curious but is actually incredibly confrontational. We are slowly working our way up the pecking order by making loud “opa” and “boi” noises, waving sticks, and if necessary, throwing mud at them.

Fortunately, we’ve been able to make use of most of the time by setting up the bond beam cages and formwork, and building additional cages for the top bond beam.  Additionally, we have successfully tested the submersible solar powered pump, and are acquired a signal for the internet system off site, which means we most likely need a much much taller tower for the antenna.

In other news, as briefly mentioned before, we have new neighbors down the road. The neighbors are Fernando and his father, Celso, who is helping Fernando start a fazenda. Alfredo, who hosted several students during our first summer here, owns the house and land, but lives in São Paulo.  Alfredo has leased the land to Fernando for him to work the land – they have been working for about half a year and already have an incredible vegetable and fruit garden, and are building an incredibly extensive fence for the eventual cows and horses. We visit most days, and Celso has generously added great variety to our meals with the best squash I’ve ever tasted. The squash is similar in color to butternut, and the taste unparalleled – I’m bringing seeds home and hope to see if perhaps they can contend with Chicago’s fall and winter.