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Archive for December, 2017

Einhell Rotavator (Cultivator)

Einhell rotavator in Luz de Tavira It was a sunny and quite warm 22nd of December morning. I finally pulled out the box containing the rotavator (cultivator) from the shipping container. Three years on! I had bought in England but had never got round to using it. It took me a good few hours to assemble it the previous afternoon.

The machine seems to be quite well built. It started up the first time round and ran well.

The make of the machine is Einhell. Model: BG-MT 3335. It has a gross weight of 35 kg. The digging blades have a circumference of 25 cm. It has 163 cm³ 4 stroke petrol engine is a light noise level of 95 dB whatever that means. I’m not sure how to gauge levels of noise by just listening. I need to read up on this. It would be good to know at what decibel level damage to hearing begins.Einhell BG-MT 3336, Luz de Tavira, Algarve

I trundled the machine on its one solid wheel, half a kilometre down the road to the neighbours. I was making a small vegetable plot for them and this was an ideal opportunity to test out the cultivator. I never used one before.

All in all it went pretty much okay. The only problem I had was that because the plot was on a slope the machine could not climb the gradient on the blades and I had to physically haul it uphill. It also needed this sort of donkey work when the ground was soft as it simply sank in.Einhell at work Luz de Tavira , Algarve

The soil was a mixture of the native clay combined with 15 cm of imported topsoil and a couple of barrows of leaf matter, in this case carob leaves. Cultivator mixed this all nicely together in no time.

After this I finished off by terracing partially the plot. This was to stop the soil from running of in the event of heavy rain. For this I used a combination of logs and small stones to seal the gaps between the logs.

Not being in the mood to walk back home, uphill over stony ground, I opted to transport the cultivator by means of my electric bike and trailer. This went quite well in the cultivator is now back in storage eager to go again.

Update 29th December 2017.

I had a chance to use the cultivator a bit more today. I used it to mix in compost. The soil was damp but still quite firm, being clay soil. This is due to the fact we have not had consistent rainfall during the winter season. compost and bonji, Fuseta , Luz de Tavira

As my friend Kristen remarked cultivators are not easy to use per se. With this Einhell I found the narrow width and small size of the front wheel, makes it very difficult to push forwards. The engine is sufficiently powerful and the rotor blades keep turning. But the machine simply get stuck and it requires brute force to be pushed forwards or pulled backwards. You really have to be quite strong to use it. It requires real donkey work. Other than this it’s very good for working round trees and small areas. As you can see I worked in the compost into the strip of earth in between the young guava trees. Einhell cultivator working in Luz de Tavira, Fuseta

In a nutshell, this Einhell cultivator like other cultivators would would be of better benefit if it had self drive built-in. But I guess this would increase the price. So it is a case of courses for horses and beggars can’t be choosers.

The Beginning

Budget Shipping Containers, http://www.budgetshippingcontainers.co.uk/

Where to begin is the question. To know the exact point of commencing and reasons for a beginning.

Algarve Freight Services, www.algarvefreightservices.com

Of’course I have been giving this some thought for a length of time. In a serious way for a couple of years before the container. I had been making trips to Portugal to look at properties in Lisbon and southwards from there. Even as far back as 2001 as a family we toyed with the idea of a holiday home in the Algarve.

I think it was whilst doing the Renewable Energy module along with the Oceanography module as part of my bachelor of science degree with the Open University that I understood the path I must take. I can’t recommend Open University highly enough! I had superb support, with the course material being made available in audio format as well. Both modules were very good but I would say that the Oceanography module would have been better if it had been for more credits to cover all the topics in-depth. This is because it covered such a wide range of topics from geology, biology right up to monitoring the Earth from space via environmental satellite systems and data modelling that goes with them. This was during 2013 and 2014.

Prior to this the original idea was to come to Portugal and buy a flat or a town house and hopefully make a living by teaching English as a foreign language. This could probably work in a city like Lisbon where there is more demand for higher levels of english or in an area of Portugal where people speak and think in Portuguese.

But not here in the Algarve I think. I have found most of the native population and the resident communities of foreigners speak English.

While working through the afore mentioned course modules I gained insight into how energy from the sun drives our weather systems and provide us with other forms of useful energy such as fossil fuels – (yes your gasoline was originally solar radition), biomass (e.g wood), wind and of course solar energy which we can harness directly in the form of solar thermal (for hot water) and Photovoltaic (for electrical energy).

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This helped change my thinking and I was able to appreciate that being able to grow once own food and generate ones own energy was in the right step to living a more independent life. And a life less dependent on fiat currency (money) as a resource. And so I started looking for a bit of land rather than holiday type properties.

Time was ticking, two years on and still nowhere to go.

The house was already up for sale so I decided to buy a shipping container. Yes, one of those big metal boxes that brings your goodies from China.

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The Container

I went for a single use 20 foot long shipping container from Budget Shipping Containers . They provide an excellent service. I went for a single use container as they are almost new and have a valid shipping license which increases your transportation options. They also come with a wooden floor as standard which is nice. cont3

This is where I was going to put my things if the house was sold before my move. Coordinating the delivery truck with a mobile crane capable of offloading it from a different company proved a little bit of a challenge. But we got there in end and had the container sitting in my front garden.

Seeing as I did not know exactly would end up I will end up decided to make the container habitable as a sort of makeshift mobile home.

The Conversion.

This involves insulating three sides of the container as well as putting in wiring for lights and sockets. The hardest bit I remember was getting the ceiling panels fitted in as they were quite heavy. I think I used 9 mm OSB. Behind the OSB panels I used 50 cm of foam insulation. I can testify that this is sufficient to keep out the heat during the height of summer in the Algarve. cont4

My brother Yuri is a very talented chap. He is multi disciplined and can turn his hands to most things. We experimented with solar photovoltaic technology as we doing up the interior of the container. It was new and exciting stuff. I also had some very good help from my friend Jorge . My other two friends Anthony and Jacob also chipped in helping with the wiring and carpentry to put the OSB (oriented strand board) panels in place. It all went quite smoothly.

All the hardware material was sourced from the Wickes hardware store. I got most of the solar kit from Bimble Solar.

Bimble Solar, www.bimblesolar.com

When I finally found a spot in the eastern Algarve, I used Algarve Freight to transport the container first by sea to Setubal and then by road. They really did an excellent job.