Bodega, bees and bottles of wine: natural farming at La Alondra Infinita

This update is long overdue, and I apologise for the delay. As usual we have been very busy, but at last we are now seeing, and enjoying, the fruits of our labours and investments over the last year: the wine we drink is the wine we make!

Our natural style of farming

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When we bought the farm in 2009 it had a small woodland in one corner which had been badly damaged by a fire, and many small trees had been cut down for firewood.  Over the last 4 years we restored this area by cleaning out dead wood, by encouraging the native trees to expand and by adding a few specimen trees to add diversification. The woodland is now spreading along the side of an irrigation ditch and it has almost joined up with a newly planted area of acacia trees by our house 125 yards away! In summer, when temperatures are in the late 30’s Continue reading

Real crime prevention!

Our finca is in a very rural and remote area and usually there is very little crime here. We are still living in the town a half hour drive away from the farm whilst a local builder completes our house. When he finishes work in the evening, he leaves his tools laying around outside, and they are still there the next morning. Similarly we have piles of building material out in the open, close to the road and nothing has gone missing.

The other night, at about 10 pm, a neighbour was sitting out on his porch when he saw a car drive down the earth road that leads past our farm. A few hundred meters away from our entrance the car turned off its lights. Shortly afterwards the neighbour saw what he thought was a lantern or torch moving about by our house.

So he went inside, picked up his rifle, and walked down one of his fields to investigate. As he neared our farm he could see an unfamiliar car in our farm entrance as well as someone with a torch by or in the house.

Carefully taking aim with his rifle, he fired three shots at the car.
The torch went out, there was a short pause, then the car reversed out of the entrance and tore up the road like a scalded cat, only putting on its lights as it reached the public road 1 km away.

Crime prevented, job done.

 

House building starts

We are now racing against the clock because winter is approaching and we have to get all the cement and brickwork completed before the temperatures start to fall towards freezing.

We designed the layout of the house that we wanted built and a Maestro Mayor de Obras designed the structural steel work that we would need. Looking at what happened in Japan and Chile recently we decided to implement the latest design of columns and footings to resist earthquake damage.

Tons of steelwork went into the house footings

The house will end up as a box made of reinforced concrete columns and beams infilled with bricks.
Our first lorry load of sand and gravel for the footings arrived and I was a bit worried that the temporary bridge would not hold its weight. It did and it was with a sigh of relief when the lorry tipped its load onto the farm.

The sand and gravel lorry crosses the temporary bridge into the farm

Unfortunately the lorry’s reverse gear had failed and he could not get out the way he entered. But we managed to get him across the farm and out of the main entrance in the end. (Later he turned up unexpectedly with a load of sand which we had not ordered. The whole front of the lorry was pushed in and the windscreen and glass windows were broken. He had had a head on collision with a van on the way to delivering to the wrong farm. Poor chap, not one of his best days).

The footings were poured and terminated above ground level so that the house could not flood if the irrigation ditch walls failed.

The raised footings

As the first building work started there were some additions we made to our original plans, such as adding a woodburner and a wood fired boiler.

Discussing the plans with the builder

Neighbours came to see how the construction was going on and also to see the house layout which  is designed to blend in with the local houses here and will be a single storey house with a pitched roof.

Marcelo dropped in on his way past to see how we were doing

At the time of writing this we have not had any rain for over 4 months and no irrigation water for nearly 2 months. The well on our farm has dried up and we are borrowing water from a neighbour’s well in order to keep work on the house progressing. But the wild life is suffering from the drought most of all. I had a number of 6 or 7 litre plastic bottles filled with water and spread out around the farm so we could water trees such as the lemons and pecans. Every one of the bottles has had it’s top bitten off or the bottle itself punctured. I assume it is foxes, wild cats and feral dogs desperate for water which have done the damage.

Wild animals desperate for water have drained all these bottles