Category Archives: Construction

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.


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.


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! 


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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Getting Some Repairs Done

Several months ago, my son began gathering pieces to put together his own computer. We ordered one piece each paycheck and then had to wait until all the pieces to arrive to begin to assemble it. He and my husband spent about a week doing just that. Only it just wouldn’t turn on. So we called my brother who knows more about this sort of thing. He and my son tried to troubleshoot via Skype but were unsuccessful.

One morning, we stopped by this guy who knows more about electronics and he said he’d take a look at it. So we fired up the truck and brought the pieces to him. Only my son had left the manuals and the computer fan behind. Leaving him to start work on the computer, we headed back for those.

On the way there, the truck suddenly stopped. Since we had just put some gas in, we knew it wasn’t that. I spent the next 15 minutes pushing the truck up and down the road to see if it would start. It didn’t. Azul the vet happened by. After another 15 minute round of pushing, he took my husband home for the motorcycle. Then we took the pieces back to the repair shop to see how things were going.

There were still some problems with the computer. We decided to try and fix the truck while they continued working on it. My husband stopped at a mechanic and described the problem who diagnosed it as the pastilla and gave my husband an old one to go and buy the piece. So to the auto parts store we went. The piece was $230, but I only had $215 in my pocket. The register lady said that was fine.

Back to the truck we went. It was now high noon and hot as the blazes. My husband climbed under the hood and went to work. It took about 45 minutes to get the piece changed. Meanwhile, the guy who helped move my piano upstairs happened by. Once the piece was changed, he took over my role of pushing up and down the road until the truck started. Then he followed my husband home to to leave the motorcycle and brought him back to the truck.

Back to the computer repair shop we went. The repair guy said he did everything he knew how to do and took us to someone who knew more about computers. Immediately upon opening the case, the repair guy #2 found the problem. Of course, the most expensive piece was damaged. It could have been damaged via shipping. It could also have been damaged when my husband and son were trying to assemble it. It might even have been damaged when my son and the repair guy were working on it.

Repair guy # 2 said that he would work on it a bit and to come back in an hour. We came home and my husband fiddled with the truck some more. The timing was still off and it was bucking quite a bit. He got it more or less right and we headed back.

Repair guy # 2 had bad news for us. While he was able to repair the damaged part, there was additional damage that he hadn’t seen right away and it couldn’t be fixed. We would need to order a new piece.

My to my son’s disappointment, I didn’t have enough money to do so and told him he would have to wait for the next paycheck. We asked how much we owed repair guy number 2 for his time. He said we didn’t owe him anything.

Then we went back to repair guy #1 to pick up the computer monitor. We showed him the damaged piece and asked how much we owed him for his time. He and my son had spent about 4 hours working on it. He also didn’t charge us. Home again we went.

My brother saved the day. He sent me enough money to order the replacement part and it arrived in about a week. My husband and son decided that they would get repair guy #2 to assemble the computer components this time. So they did. He charged $200 pesos and it was ready in about 2 hours. My son was ecstatic!

I also had some repairs that needed to be done. My treadle sewing machine was giving me problems. The thread kept getting tangled in the bobbin. My husband spent several hours trying to fix it. We even bought a new bobbin in the hopes that was the problem. Nope. We went to a repair shop in town. They said that a repairman could come to the house the following day and take a look at it. He neither appeared nor called. I was a little short on cash with the unexpected repairs to the truck and computer, so I had to wait until the next paycheck.

This time we took the sewing machine to another repair shop. He said that he’d look at it and to stop back the next day. We did but he hadn’t had time to fiddle with it. So he said to come back the following day. So we did. And he still hadn’t had a chance to work on it. He said he’d do that right that moment and to come back in a few hours. This time he’d fixed it.

So we took the machine back to the base and tried it out. The first few stitches were perfect than wham–it jammed up. After about 15 minutes, my husband was able to get it working again, but it seems like this will be a reoccurring problem. Sigh.

Then the puzzle I had been working on got wet in the last sudden rain shower we had. The colorful top pieces came off about 50 pieces. I bought some glue and my husband started in on repairs. It took him several days to fix that.

The last repair was to my favorite picture frame. While we were installing the solar system, it fell off the cabinet. Fortunately, the Vidrieria (glass store) will cut glass to size. So when we went for the glass to cover my now repaired puzzle, we also got a replacement glass for the frame.

With the repairs done, it was time to work on getting the upstairs plumbing fully functional.

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