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The Best of 2017 in Earthship land

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Hope you've all had a really good 2017 and are looking forward to 2018.

Ours has been very busy, and looking back we're kinda chuffed by what we've achieved. We've also welcomed new members into our family, a bit unexpected, and certainly not planned, but a delight never the less. Take a look below to see what's been going on.

Welcoming new members to our family

In 2016 we lost two very dear cats so started the year with only 3. Then in February we took in Keats, the cat of a previous neighbour who died in the January. She settled in so well it seems like she's been with us for years.

Then in August came Pepe the cat - a bit of a different story! He'd been living on the streets of Garrucha after being thrown out when his family got a dog. After two years fending for himself (with no front claws as he'd been declawed) Paws animal charity took him in and then he came to us. He's an absolute darling and we love him to bits, but boy has he been a challenge. He has health issues which are taking a while to stabilize, and somehow, even though he lived on the streets he's the fussiest eater we've ever known.

Moving onto Felicitas the donkey and Jupiter the horse. Jupiter is a gentle old boy who had been rescued by a friend 5 years ago. She brought him back to health but as she needed to return to Canada we offered Jupiter a retirement home with us, but he would need a friend for company. Enter Felicitas. Luckily Felicitas had lived with Jupiter the 4 years of her young life. They make a perfect team.

In between agreeing with Silvia that the equines would come and live here and them actually arriving, we rescued two sheep. I know! What's going on? Anyway, I've always had a bit of a thing about sheep, people call them stupid but I think they just don't understand them. These two gentle souls were being starved to death. So when we got the call on a Monday afternoon that they were being released (long story) and we had to collect them at 12pm the next day we flew into action building them a penn. And sure enough, if a little unceremoniously, Melchett and Dahling arrived.

So, a huge learning curve has started. How to care for sheep, a horse and a donkey? Will they make friends and share the paddock? Will I make a good shepherdess? Will we have enough water for their needs? So many questions.

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Protecting what we have

On the 17th December 2016 we had huge floods which threatened the earthship. This concentrated our minds on getting the outside working better and so we spent the first 6 months of 2017 working flat out creating ditches and swales, adding to the berm at the back of the 'ship, changing the camber on the driveway and digging in a huge drainage pipe.

As a bonus while we were doing this work we also created rockeries, graveled pathways and sitting areas and have increased the planting of native species.

We've also increased our rain water storage capacity to 33,000ltrs, repairing the large tank with a liner and adding two 5,000ltr tanks and an above ground (secondhand) swimming pool. The pool is lovely for cooling off in July and August and for the rest of the year it serves as a huge tank for irrigation.

The dome exterior has had it's final layer of papercrete on the top section and we limewashed the whole lot. Unfortunately in the last rains the limewash has started to flake off where it's on the older papercrete, maybe the crete was too old to create the chemical reaction needed to fix the lime to it?

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Additions

In our attempt to create a mini nature reserve around the earthship we've invested in a little more land. Dave has been back and forwards to the Notary, knee deep in paperwork, trips to Almeria, more paperwork. But he's done it, and a fine job he did too.

And what a year we've had with the native flowers putting on a stunning display. All that rain (and heartache) we had back in December rewarded us with a Spring to remember. I've never seen so many poppies and the albaida was spectacular. In fact some of the albaida is flowering again now - the bees are happy.

Work was started on the laundry area. All those old windows we've been collecting for years have eventually been put to use. Then we redirected our energies to building the animal shelter - and used up most of the old doors we'd collected too. I knew they'd come in useful one day!

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First olive oil harvest

Coming back to the floods again, we've had a bumper harvest of almonds and olives. So much so that we've had enough olives to pick for oil. You can read the full story on that here.

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And finally

We'd like to wish you all a very happy New Year.

I'm hoping to start blogging again this year, not as often as I used to, but hopefully enough to give you a flavour of life in the earthship. Sign up to our newsletter if you'd like to hear when a new blog is published.

If you'd like to see more regular images of life here follow along on Instagram

Do you have anything you'd like me to write about? If yes, pop a comment in the section below and I'll see what I can do.



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