Saturday, December 31, 2011
Written to R.E.M. Live by R.E.M.
New Year's Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
- Mark Twain
Based on the gap between my last blog post, it may seem like the level of activity has slowed considerably at Fazenda Alfheim, or that we skip aimlessly from one holiday to another, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in less than three years we have succeeded in producing nearly all of the feed we require for our animals, approx. three hectares each of sugar cane and napier for the cattle and pigs and mandicoca (cassava) for the pigs. We estimate the latter to be the equivalent of 150 50 kg sacks of mandioca, enough to supply feed for the pigs for half a year. Most impressively, we have multiplied the mandioca from a very small base (less than 0.1 hectares), which we planted in 2008. With a modest purchase of organic corn, we will be feed self-sufficient in 2012.
Before getting into more farm business, it is undoubtedly worth mentioning that Lone will be taking off most of 2012, a gap year of sorts, christened Gap@50 by yours truly. Lone's big adventure gets underway on January 11th, when she will fly to UK to spend a few days with Johannes and Esben before heading to Denmark for a quick visit with her family and Pelle, after which her quest will begin in earnest on January 25th with a 3-Month Yoga and Meditation Course at Håå Course Center in Hamneda, Sverige, including a 33-day period of silence.
Sweden will be followed by a slow train ride through Europe to Firenze, Italy, where I will join Lone for a double birthday celebration (her 50th and my 48th) in late April/early May. I know, life is hard.
Lone will then spend almost four months of quality time with her family in Denmark, where her dear friend Susanne Charlotte Pedersen has graciously agreed to lend Lone her apartment while Susanne frolics in her kolonihavehus.
And finally the journey ends with Lone's return to Brazil on August 24th.
Back on planet practical, Lone led the slaughter of one of our male calves…with only the help of a couple of books. Very impressive…and quite tasty…extraordinarily tasty, actually. In fact, the best hamburger I have ever eaten…infinitely tastier than The burger that refused to die (a must read...and not just because my cousin Matt's awesome wife Melanie is quoted several times).
We also thoroughly enjoyed two Christmas visits, one from Leonardo and his family, the other from Jeff and Suzanna, with a cameo from Emmanuel Cabale, in between which I managed to squeeze in a quick surgery to remove a benign node from my head (my lone horn, as Lone liked to refer to it). As always, Lone outdid herself with the yuletide decorations.
We also contracted a satellite internet service from PrimeNet, so between this and our SkyHD service Fazenda Alfheim is now truly connected with the world at large.
And while on the subject of infrastructure, our constant, year-plus, gentle and not-so-gentle prodding of the mayor of Natividade de Serra resulted in the recent completion of a concrete bridge across the stream in front of the entrance to our piece of paradise. Unfortunately, the quality of the municipal engineers leaves a great deal to be desired, and after a deluge of more than 160mm of rain in less than 48 hours, the on and off-ramps collapsed, leaving us with only the precarious old bridge as an exit to civilization. Hopefully the bridge will be fixed by the time Lone returns to the fazenda on January 3rd.
We are spending New Year at Ninho da Arara, the pousada of a rowing buddy from Berkeley, Davis Bales, in Itaipava, in the gorgeous Serra Fluminense mountain range. Complete chilaxing…just what the doctor ordered!
FInally, Brazil is expected to pass France by 2015 to become the fifth largest economy in the world. An IMF projection suggests that the Brazilian economy will pass the British this year, becoming the sixth largest. Who would have ever thought…