September 2017. On the piste again
Well, it’s definately re started, and we are most certainly moving forward. Walls are going up, window and door spaces are in, as are the steps either side of the house.
We’ve even managed to build in …. or should I say, dig in, the space for the diverted water and sanitation system, though this has taken longer than predicted as we kept digging in to boulders under the building….at the most annoying points, thus requiring that we make (another) detour to find an exit from the house.
But as with every year around this time, it’s also, for 3 short weeks
only, all about the piste up to the land. Yes, it’s time to cut the kif and leave those fragile dirt roads open for me to, hopefully, bring up all the materials for next years build. But more of that later.
At this time of year the air is filled with the sweat smell of ripening marajuana and there’s a sense of excited urgency as local farmers prepare to cut this years cash crop, attempting to balance the need to bring in the harvest with enough sunshine to ensure the heads dry, whilst also hoping to benefit from any increasingly rare opportunities of rain, that might increase the yield.
Whole families go out to harvest and temporary drying sheds are set up. There’s no sound of rythemic tapping as yet….. that’ll wait till next month.
But whilst we have such a focus on completing the building and at the time of writing, we’ve even managed to start
the build of the lower house, that was once the shower block, if I’m honest my main focus has been on getting the piste open…. and keeping it open as long as possible, whilst also getting orders of mostly hand made materials completed and up on to the land.
I’ve forgotten about how interesting this stage of the build is… and how financially demanding. In a flash of financial clarity, I suddenly realised that I could just as well use hand made cement tiles, known locally as “zelig beldi” (old tiles) which cost approximately 37.5 dhs/M2, instead of “Bejmat”, which are made either in Tetouan (80dhs/M2) or Fez (50 – 70 dhs/M2).
Given the vast quantities that I’ll be needing for floors, roofs and patios, this has been a Godsend. But seeing these tiles hand made, two at a time, to be left to dry in the sun, is, as with so much here, inspiring.
Mind you, getting the things up the mountain is proving no small feat. I’m writing this from Fez, where I’ve come to
collect aforementioned Bejmat and roof tiles. But I left Loubar, down the piste, with stations of tiles that proved too heavy for the trucks, guiding my way. And there’s more on the way, red, white and black…. fingers crossed!
On top of that, there’s been a need to add to our quantities of sand, rocks, gravel and increasingly oud, which is a kind of pine and is traditionally used to hold setting roofs in place. But I will also be using them to help with the raised beds. I managed to buy 200 x 3m pieces at 20 dhs each, which I am quietly proud of. Thank you Mr Xaouni!
Another flash of reality, brought a realisation that I would be needing more bricks than I had left on the land. These
have been used for the stairs, but will now also be used for walling the further depths of the well that is below fuddles land, the roofs of the lower houses and the slopped roof of the main house. But of course here in Xaouen, you don’t just go an buy bricks, you go and have them made. In the picture you can see the furnace, fed by the waste from olive oil presses. Price 0.9dhs a brick…. I’ll have 5,280 please!
I also went in search of tiles for the slopping roof of the main house. Again these are hand made, to order and in Xaouen would cost 3dhs a brick. In Fez, this was reduced to 2dhs, a saving that meant that I could buy and transport them cheaper from Fez, than I could buy them from Xaouen.
I feel somewhat compromised here. This picture shows the last working roof tile oven, worked by the last 2 mwalem of that trade who are set to work, as I say, to order, with a kiln that is only fired when filled and of course, when it’s not raining.
Of course it’s not only been about building and logistics up at Farm Finn. In fact we’ve now managed to make quite
significant progress in the planting of a whole set of new beds on a second level as well as begining the replanting of our original beds, set up by Diane and Hector in May. Now we have garlic, beans, potatoes, cauliflowers, carrots amongst many other vegitables to look forward to. I can’t wait. But whilst it’s slipping in to winter, we really need to get our watering systems organised for next year.
Amongst other things we also need to get organised, is our compost supplies. I’ve been using compost I collected last year from wafi and the Pepiniaire at Ain Rhami, both of which were great and both of which have now been exhausted. I’m hoping for a new batch from wafi and another from Abdul Latif to get us over the winter.
Ultimately however, I need to get my own sorted. Of course we have a new compost pile started and cooking, as well as an unexpected source from the multiple toilet pods that are a mix of faeces and saw dust/wood chipping. I’d feared these would have gone an aerobic, but they smell sweet to me. Anyway, we found these big bad boys nestling in our compost…I’m so glad I’m not an insect!
Again as in previous years, around this time there seems to be a period of intense wind…”The Shirkay”, which
managed to do what it again did last year, and literally tear the tent down. Now I’m not complaining. This bell tent has been out in the elements for 4 summers in a row and has done me well. Equally it’s great to know that here in Morocco, such a misadventure is repairable. But in the mean time, the result has been a need to sleep outdoors and being awoken by the glaring light of a full moon.
Again I’m not complaining!
If sleeping under the stars isn’t exactly novel, it is again inspiring. As are the many gorgeous sunsets that are available to our west facing view. I know I’m going to sound “hippy shit”, but this feels so right, being up here.
There is the ever encroaching urbanism that is not so slowly climbing up the hill. But in the meantime every day and more and more each day, I stand in awe at natures beauty and realise how important it is to be as fully exposed to it as possible.
Talking of exposing yourself to nature, I would like to introduce you to Ken who is another Woofer that has come and
worked up at Farm Finn. As ever, I’m happier using Woofers less rather than more, but Ken gave me an insight in to a life chosen to be less material and as close to nature as possible.
I admire your decision to have all your worldly possessions in one bag and to “work” from one Woof site to another, as a genuine example to the Vanguard fighting the Machine. And the work you have completed on the new beds and glamp area are great. Thank you Ken.
It was also wonderful to have John visit Loubar and to hear your good news and thoughts for the future. Yes there are many things to do and choices to make, most of which, should I hope, focus upon a happiness derived from the sense of what we do, is what we want to do to satisfy, not just our financial, but moral, spiritual and social needs.
Good luck to you to my friend and I look forward to seeing you again
soon. Thanks for making the effort to come up and see what is going on up here.
An amongst all of this, Finn has started his new school and I hope, sounds to be settling in well. Hopefully once we’re more settled and established not only will we have improved internet…. and thus wattsapp access, but maybe even a room for you to stay in too. Tbh, I can’t wait for that.
And on that, I have to finish this entry with a big kiss to you my son and a great embrace of my evolving feeling of the wonders of nature. This is of course, all somewhat of a risk, but the happiness that I continue to feel up here, I hope will continue and be shared with both you Finn, but also many others.