Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Patricio and Alba get MARRIED!!

Round one, in a simple but just lovely civil service, our Patricio and Alba (and Davey!) began married life together. Last Friday afternoon. We just couldn't be happier for them!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

AS THE TURBINE TURNS- a tale of a micro hydro electric!

Installing a micro hydro electric plant and free utility in a remote valley of the Andes!
Come and join us in the fun and work!!
Today was the first day of our work with Annegreet, our masters of engineering student who has come from the Twente University program of sustainable energy technology, in the Netherlands, to help us complete the installation of our micro hydro electric plant and free electric utility! It wasn't the most exciting day, we worked on clearing the site of weeds and debris, making sure we have a good area to work with, Patricio is making boxes for the burro and horse to carry materials, sand, gravel and cement to the site. But it's the beginning! And thus, very exciting for all of us!!
Annegreet and her husband Bouke Pieter have difficult names for us to pronounce, so we have nicknamed them! Energia y BP! I love the pun value of these names!
The canal system for the hydro is already complete. Angelito Ocampo, the best loved of all lost boys, built the system nearly three years ago, and it IS an engineering feat! He designed an excellent water reception system, borrowing water from the creek, with a primary sediment tank and release canal, then 210 meters of a cliff hanging canal that has held up wonderfully. Angel (aka Killo) is a master when it comes to building the unusual and functional. The canal ends in a 2 story tank that doubles as a reservoir and sediment tank, also allowing for a water use system for irrigation and potable water for the whole farm. From this tank the big 8" tubes go down to the Pump as Turbine system.
We are now getting ready to makes pillars to install our tubes, initially we didnt recognize the need for these pillars, but with the weight of the water and height of the tubes, well, there must be adequate supports. So this week will find us measuring and building cement and rock pillars to get the tubes installed.
It's a big concern that we really do not have a budget for the building of the system. Some money had come available, and was designated for this project, but unfortunately the person receiving the funds was robbed and the money is gone. It was my daughter who got robbed, so no wise cracks! I am now desperately seeking funds, it's not so much money, with right around 1000. we could finish the system. The wiring to the neighborhood homes will cost more than that, I am hoping that Adelber Gaona, the president of Vilcabamba's Junta Paroquial (Parish Team) will make good on his election time promise to get us recycled wire. I hope to find out later this week. In the meantime, I am working on all of this as best as I can on a nothing budget!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Alba and Heloise making our favorite food! Empanadas!
I think I teach farming to the lost boys and girls* who come here in the same manner I home schooled my children. We don't have much sit down and study time, real life is always too busy for that! Although we always have study materials available, you have to be self motivated to get to them. We take frequent field trips, build a composting shitter for someone, collect plants from a friends garden, go to see how the indigenous people weave fabrics and end up at a huge anniversary party for Cuscena royalty, no matter where or how we go, it is always an adventure. I teach more by answering all questions with respect to the questioner, and showing them how to do things, or better still, talk them through it and then step back- allow plenty of room for mistakes. Mostly I just plow on (man, I love an awful pun!!) with anyone who wants to learn what I do just tagging along. Sustainable living isn't so hard, just requires some thought and planning.

I am super excited to have Annegreet and Bourkepeter here now to help us complete the installation of our micro hydro electric plant and free utility (!!!) for us and our Ecuadorian neighbors! What a huge step forward this will be, not only sustainability for ourselves and Neverland, but our whole neighborhood. I hope that as we get electricity to some of these remote and isolated homes, our local farmers will feel more comfortable in their homes and stay, not moving to town or cities where they cannot practice their ancient culture and traditions.

I thank all the volunteers here right now who are working so hard on protecting our homes from fire. I know you all are just as tired and overworked as I am, and I deeply appreciate your sacrifice and hard work. You guys rule! And some of yous are pretty good cooks, too! I am the most fortunate person I know for having such wonderful and loving 
people always joining me here to live, love, laugh and be happy.

*lost boys and girls= anyone who comes to stay at Neverland Farm!