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Life at Zaytuna – Rainy Days

Photos copyright © Craig Mackintosh

The area around Zaytuna Farm recently experienced the worst floods for many years (since 1974 they say) – then it dried out for a few weeks. And now, over the last five days, it’s been back to raining again….

When the floods were on, people commented to Geoff, asking how he was coping with the power outages. Geoff was blissfully unaware that there had been any (since Zaytuna runs off grid with solar).

The property is buffered in another way as well – the swales are great equalisers when it comes to water. They keep water flowing from the taps and keep the grass green long after a drought has hit and burnt off the neighbours’ fields, and they also ensure that when a flood strikes, the water is slowed down and sunk – thus avoiding rivers of water carrying away soil and more. To a great degree, the earthworks here not only drought-proof the land, but also flood-proof it as well.

These things are well worth considering with the promise of more and more droughts and floods in the coming years….

Lots of rain has filled up all the swales at Zaytuna,
from where it will slowly percolate through the landscape

Today, because of the inclement weather, some of the team are doing work appropriate for the conditions – finishing off some cob rendering indoors, in the straw bale kitchen that was never quite finished before now. Here are some shots of the process:

Kevin shovels some iron-rich red earth into the barrow

Nadia adds some lucerne (alfalfa) to the mix

Kevin shovels in some sand

Then it’s mixed well, and some water added

Dave applies the resulting cob mix over a foundation of
dry bamboo leaves covered in chicken wire mesh

Later a chaff render made of sieved soil, sharp river sand and fine wheat chaff
mixed with water will be added. Then a lime plaster goes over the top (made of
slaked lime, silica sand, water and red volcanic soil for a nice pale
but warm coloured finish).


  1. Craig, I think of you, Geoff and Nadia often. I am thrilled to be developing my property in Reno,NV and also thrilled to see you are all doing such important and beautiful work in our world. I wonder if I might send my daughter and her mate to work with you all somewhere this or next year. I will look into it. Respect and Love, Lambchop, from the Quail Springs PDC in August, 08

  2. Lambchop… Reno NV?

    I’m from Reno. Good to see a fellow permaculturist living here. The last permaculture event I attended made me think everyone interested in active permaculture efforts was in California.

    Do you know any active local groups?

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