Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mongolian Permaculture: Day 14 – Preparation for Start of PDC


Flooded out last night!

Nothing too major, but an impressive stream flowing right through the compound and threatening to back up the well. Trenches dug to take the water… right off the property!

It’s an interesting situation: Mongolia is actually a dry country, and the sandy soils do not retain what moisture there is very well. So why are they diverting this excess water flow right back off the property?

It may seem to be a blinding flash of the obvious when I state it like this, but let’s remember that this is a culture with no history of growing vegetables. The nomadic herding lifetsyle has developed as an energy store to last families through through the cold winter, and is a system that has worked for thousands of years. There has simply been no need to develop any agricultural skills. Rick summed it up well in one of his faceBook posts:

You should try gardening here. -40 degree winters, beach sand, super short growing season and little acess to water. Some co-operatives are watering 20 plus hectares by watering can. Apart from that the Mongolians don't like eating vegetables. Unfortunately grazing patterns are no longer viable due to population growth and weather change.

...just about sums everything up!

We all slept in this morning, worn from the last week on the road. Discovered the solar shower I brought along for the trip in a secret backpack pocket after hankering for a decent shower for the last 5 days. The shower I had last night replaced my previous experience about a week ago as BEST. SHOWER. EVER.

Went for a walk around town this morning to research resources available in the aiymag center and replenish supplies: bottled water, dried fruit, and other nibblies to break the monotony of meat-based dishes and supplement energy needs while teaching so intensively.

Kat scouted materials to knock together a solar oven, finding the necessary reflective foil for $3AUS in the last shop we entered – after walking into every single store on the main street. We walk back out of town with our bags overflowing and hands full of empty and crushed cardboard boxes.

The compound has been transformed since we left, four more gers and an old army tent marquee where class will be held have been put up since we’ve been gone.

Another walk around the compound the do a resource inventory for the practical lessons, and I find myself scouting for manure, dry weeds, waste cardboard, sawdust and green weeds for the compost prac. There is a whole houseful of manure in one of the abandoned building shells, and a huge mound of dry, carbony material on one of the rubble piles.

Rick has just walked in at 8pm from another scouting walk, back into town to prepare for his Observation Walk / Reading the Landscape class on Day 1. The Andi and George Band, with a kind of jazzy, bluegrassy sound plays on Kat’s computer, the shadows are lengthening outside and the compound is a buzz of activity as last minute preparations are made.

Mongolia’s first two week intensive Permaculture Design Class begins at 9am tomorrow.


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