Sunday, November 19, 2006

Digging up the sasa bamboo

I went to the plot today to dig up sasa bamboo and check that the drain has been put in as scheduled.

A distinct scar in the road

As soon as I set to digging up the bamboo that has grown back, three volunteers turned up and promptly commandeered my tools, leaving me with nothing to do but take photos. There's Sho-kun (9), Nana-chan (7), and her brother (7) whose name I didn't hear. They worked really hard and used the big tools with considerable skill, and invited themselves back for more unpaid child labour next time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Solar, wind turbine, and electric car

So we already have the solar system built in and the sunshine taken care of. Since our electrical needs are already very low, I'm expecting some excess power generation, and it saddens me to think this is going to go to Yonden, the local power company for a pittance.

Now our car is getting old, and petrol is not getting any cheaper. And both Subaru and Mitsubishi are talking about producing electric passenger cars in 3 years or so.

Subaru R1e

Mitsubishi iMiEV

It occurs to me that getting an electric vehicle at some point would be a good way of soaking up the excess juice, assuming there is any. And if there weren't enough, the area where our house is to be is known as a windy area.

Wind map of Matsuyama

So the questions are, is the wind strong enough to merit a wind turbine, and which one to get?

These are the good bogs

I've been very bothered about our toilet. I wanted a composting toilet but was overruled on the eminently practical grounds that we won't be digging any sort of basement, and there's nothing standard about them. Also, the companies I looked at didn't offer much in the way of advice that a builder might use.

So for a small, extra consideration of 10,000 yen per lavvy, we're going to get two Inax water-saving toilets. These will be connected to our own purification tank.

Pretty sleek for a modern lavvy

Apparently, for a family of 4, you save 1 bath's worth of water every 2 days. I think there's probably rather a lot of flushing going on in that family, and we'll be saving less, but it's all good. They use 5~6 litres per flush as opposed to 13 litres for a normal bog. That's half the CO2 for processing and pumping saved as well. It'll almost be tempting not to go and fertilize the trees in the garden.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The diggers are in!

Today we went to the plot with digging implements for everybody for a joint effort in digging up the sasa bamboo that was supposed to have been removed and that is running around all over the place. We also had boxes of cake to give to all our immediate neighbours by way of advance apology for the noise that will be caused by the work to put in new waterworks. We were passed once by a girl who exclaimed to herself "It's the Englishman!". I thought those days of wonderment about foreigners were past, but apparently not.

As we drove up the hill, we saw the sign giving notice of our waterworks. It's a very small thrill to be the cause of one of these notices.

Notice! Englishman's waterworks!

When we got to our land, there were already two diggers sitting on it waiting to start work. This gives quite a strong impression of Something Being Done At Last.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Broad beans planted in soil improved with compost, rice husks and worm casts

Each row is being carved out of a mound of building rubble covered with clay soil

The soil contains horsetails which spring up out of the ground when your back is turned

This building rubble is not supposed to be here.
Somebody will have to pay to have this carted away, and it won't be us

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Biotope class

Last weekend we went to the Matsuyama City Environment Education Center to learn about biotopes. These are fragments of ecosystems that people choose to maintain and conserve as a favour to nature. We learned how chemical fertilizers have effectively destroyed significant fertility in the countryside, and that conserving it in ponds and tubs may be necessary so that one day the countryside can be restocked when 'we' run out of fertilizer or see the folly of it.

The tub of water proved to be a lot more interesting than at first glance. It had shrimps, tiny fish, and dragonfly lavae living in it. I think we'll be keeping a few of our own, besides the planned pond.