Category Archives: Construction

Rainy Season Projects

With the rainy season upon us, some of our proposed construction projects have to be put on hold.

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On the other hand, my sister-in-law has started construction on her house across the street from us in La Yacata because building in the rainy season means you don’t have to buy any water for the cement mix. My husband, son, father-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law are working like a machine to get the foundation done. My sister-in-law is also out there every day after the tortillas have sold to bring nourishment and help out.

That’s not to say all construction on our house has ceased. Our little projects this month included the installation of a small window in the spare room and the front porch screen door.

The front of the animal side of our property was also patched with cement and the roof bit angled ready for tejas (roofing tiles).

I also found what I think might have been part of a gun cabinet at a junk store and lo and behold it’s just the thing for some kitchen shelves.

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Next month’s projects may or may not include a banana tree, so stay tuned!

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Beefing up Security

If you remember last year after persons unknown hoisted two of our goats and the neighbor’s sheep over the wall, we did some security upgrades. We raised the 6-foot wall to 9 feet and added some motion activated solar lights.  As part of our remodeling projects this year, we did some more.

First, we turned our front gate to the animal area into a more or less solid set of doors. My husband used laminas (corrugated roofing) from a neighbor’s discarded chicken house (or at least that’s what the neighbor called it. I’m not convinced his chickens ever considered it a worthy home). As that bit of lamina wasn’t enough to completely cover the door, he bought a few more segments and had the welder come and finish the job.

Our greenhouse had two barred windows put in, preventing front entry to that area. However, we didn’t have enough moolah for the back barred windows which leaves a decided gap that a determined zombie neighbor could pull himself through and get in to wreck havoc with our plants.

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See that back right corner? That’s the neighbor’s roof. And yes, that’s me, looking like a frog on a log there!

Therefore, a roll of barbed wire was purchased in the meantime and strung from one end of the compound to the other. I’m not positive it will completely deter would-be intruders but it might slow them up a bit until we can afford those back two barred windows.

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We also took some indoor precautions.  I finally went ahead and ordered the carbon dioxide detectors that have been in my virtual shopping cart for a few months.  In the news recently, there was a story about a family vacationing in Mexico who died from a leak in the hot water heater. This prompted my actual purchase. Since they came in a pack of three, one went upstairs, one next to my son’s room and the third is on standby or if we need to make the storage room a bedroom again.  I know they work because the other day my husband was fiddling with the truck and the exhaust fumes set it off. It’s a horrible high pitch beeping! 

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However, carbon dioxide alarms will not detect a gas leak.  So in addition to the CO2 alarms, I ordered a natural gas detector.  I’m always the first (and sometimes only) person in the house who smells something funny when there is a leak in our gas tank hose. When my nose says there is an issue, I nag my husband until he checks it with the ol’ soapy water method.  I’m usually proven right. Our tank is outside, so the chances if the fumes causing death are low, but gas is expensive these days ($580 per tank) and we don’t have that kind of money to burn. I tested this out too, and it works just dandy.

The security bug hit my husband as well and he went and priced those security camera setups. I’m not sure we need to go that far though. Besides, he’d probably stay up all night watching the video feed of the cows grazing down the neighbor’s crops.

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Greenhouse and Backyard

About a month ago, I noticed that they were opening up a road in San Lucas, a little town near us. I mentioned that it would be really nice if we could have some of that lovely black dirt to fill in our backyard. So my husband made a deal with the dump truck drivers. Two loads of rock-less dirt, $100 pesos a load, delivered right to our front door. Awesome.

He and my son spent several days moving the dirt one wheelbarrow at a time. The dirt is still bound together in bit clods yet but we expect once rainy season starts, that will fix itself. We added an apple tree, a lime tree, an avocado tree and a papaya tree to our mini-huerta (orchard). The chickens ate all the leaves off the papaya tree within the hour. Then Lil’ pup gnawed the trunk to the ground. So much for that tree.

Since the chickens are always a problem in the backyard no matter how many lectures I give them on not eating the plants, I thought we could make an upstairs porch specifically for plants. Therefore, that was the next project.

My husband and son made steps down to the area that had once been Joey’s roof. Then they did one full wall and two half-walls to enclose the area in. The herrero (ironworker) who made the solar panel base made two sets of bars for the front. I think we might get two more for the other side eventually because I’m still not happy with our security updates.

For the roof my husband wanted to put regular laminas (corrugated tin) but I insisted that for the good of the plants we needed the clear ones. Of course, they cost more. So we went to Salvatierra to a lamina warehouse to get them at a reduced rate. We got enough laminas to cover the area of 4 meters x 7 meters for $3000 pesos. Up they went.

Then another load of dirt to fill in the planting area. It’s still quite bare as we are waiting for the rainy season to plant more. Although the chickens won’t be able to get at these plants, Kitty has decided that this area was made for her exclusive use. She’s been laying on my strawberry plant and beneath the grape plant and using the other side as a litter box. This is infuriating to my husband. Now he knows how I feel about the chickens!

The last outdoor updates were the sidewalk from the backdoor to the animal area and the path to the ajibe (water storage area). I’ve been asking my husband for 10 years to made a walkway so that in the rainy season we can get to one area to another without tromping through the mud which is then tromped through the house. He finally did.

The chickens believe that this is their personal superhighway now. I think it’s time to reduce the flock. Chicken soup anyone?

The path to the ajibe he made from pieces of sidewalk that had been dumped in La Yacata. Works for me!

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Plumbing Updates

One of the reasons that we went for the solar electric system was to get a water pump that would pump water from the ajibe (water storage) to the second-floor tinaco (water storage container) which provides water to the second-floor bathroom.

So the paycheck after we got the solar stuff, we bought the pump. It was $1600 pesos and was 1/2 horsepower. We ran into a problem. While the pump started up, there wasn’t enough power flowing through the inverter to get the water to pump to the second floor. Remember, we had a 1000 watt converter which had a brief start-up energy supply of 2000 watts. So what we needed was something that had at least 2000 watts steady power. Unfortunately, nobody sells anything like that here.

I found a 3000-watt power inverter on Amazon. It was quite expensive at $7000 pesos, so our plumbing projects had to wait a bit. My husband was thrilled as Christmas morning when it arrived. He immediately hooked it up to see if it would do the job. It did. Only we still had just one battery. He took the battery out of the truck for some added energy storage and everything ran smoothly. While this setup will work for a bit, we do plan on getting another battery, maybe two, as finances allow.

Then we needed some piping and elbows and t-joints and faucets. My husband hooked everything up. So now, not only do we have water in the upstairs bathroom, we have a faucet in the laundry area, a second faucet for when we hook the washing machine up (which will run with the 3000-watt power inverter) and a faucet for the hose for our new greenhouse area.  Yippee!

 

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