Friday, May 1, 2015


On Wednesday, April 22, one of our local volcanoes erupted. Volcan Calbuco sits on the southern edge of Lago Llanquihue. It hasn't erupted in over 40 years but Wednesday afternoon we had a great plume of ash erupt into the sky about 6 PM. See pictures below. Quite exciting and spectacular and unexpected. All that evening we had lightning and rumbles of thunder and earth tremors. The volcano is about 80 miles from our farm so we were in no imminent danger. The ash cloud moved northeast and dumped a lot of ash on the mountains and into Argentina. Later that same night was another eruption with spurting lava which was seen by our boys in the house in Quilanto along with phenomenal lightning. All the schools were closed to house the thousands of refugees from the eastern side of the lake because of the ash cloud.
As of May 1, we had one more minor belch of ash cloud so I guess all is not over yet!

See Volcan Osorno to the left of Calbuco. The snow cap is now covered with ash.

The eruption at sunset was quite spectacular.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Summer on the farm

Ah, the sweet days of summer are almost over! And it was quite an adventurous and busy summer.
Living out on the farm was bliss despite the lack of water and power but we did manage to get all that going before the summer's end. We got our water tower up, solar panels electrifying, septic draining, bathroom tiled, and the wood floors of the cabin will soon be layed so we can move in. We are living part time in Quilanto and part in Chiriuco. The big boys are now full time students of Colegio San Vicente de Paul in Puerto Octay. We are  officially in process for permanent residency. Still waiting on the title for our property even though we signed almost 3 months ago. 
Here are a few stories and pictures.

Our big helper

Our cabin with the siding removed. We had to remove it all to get rid of the bats who were nesting under it. It is insulated with styrofoam sheets. It is a popular way to insulate here as it is so cheap and easy to install but the problem is that when you cut it the little bits fall everywhere and make a real mess and the other problem we had is that the ducks and chickens wouldn't stop eating it! Doesn't seem to bother them though as I've not had any deaths. Our hot tub is in the middle and our container on the right that we just had moved from Quilanto in March.

Our long awaited water tower
It has 5000 liter tank and our local buddy welded the tower about 20 feet tall
The tank is strapped to the tower and the tower legs are welded to concrete pads making it earthquake proof, we hope!
The spring we are pumping from is about 60 feet below it  in the woods
Andrew had to climb the tower and lower himself into the tank so we could connect the piping
He was a little freaked out but got the job done!

Our summer kitchen under the laurel tree
Our picnic table which Jim built last year and behind it is the fire pit with a grill and bar for hanging pots over the fire
Jim's grill is our work area where we prepare food and keep our Coleman camp stove
To the right is a table and dish washing area

Our tents
Samuel & Thomas slept in the small tent on the left and Jim and I had the big tent which has a full size bed in it
Camping in comfort!
We had to put the plastic over because it got a little drippy when it rained
Andrew slept in his tent hammock hanging from the trees until we had a good rainstorm and then he move to the loft of the cabin

Bo, Andrew's duck, is the worst of the styrofoam eaters
One day she was quacking so hoarsely I thought for sure she had eaten too much styrofoam but after a few days her voice returned to normal

The tragedy of the summer
Our $600 septic tank was run over by the backhoe
Jim thought we'd save some money by getting the local road crew working on our road to come over and earn a few extra bucks on  their lunch break. At first, it went great and we got the water and septic lines dug in a flash but then in covering up the septic lines, the dummy ran over the plastic tank
So in order to save money, we just fixed it
Samuel had to climb inside the tank and push it back up with boards and jacks and then we are going to pour concrete over it like a cap

The outhouse in the woods came with the property and it was a real life saver as we did not get the bathroom installed in the cabin for 2 months

Our first beehives
Jim brought a lot of his beekeeping equipment with him but we were having a hard time finding bees
One day last January we were driving down the highway and I looked over and saw this guy in a truck wearing a bee suit parallel to us on the frontage road so we got off the next exit and Jim chased him down. Super nice guy with 200 hives in the Frutillar area.
Jonathan speaks some english and has been very helpful in getting us set up with 2 hives. Each country has specific types of bees suited to the climate and its own particular problems.

Caught in the act!
Adventure Chick (named by Thomas) decided the coop just wasn't good enough for her and our bed was much more comfortable
The zipper on our tent is broken and it was very hard to keep them out so each evening we had to check the bed for eggs before we jumped in!

The triumph of the summer
Solar panels
We had been searching and searching for the means to power our house
We got a solar quote that was outrageous
We got a power hook up quote from the local power company of $5000
So we waited and looked and asked around
Got another quote which was more reasonable but still too high and we even got quotes from the US until we finally ran across a guy recommended by a friend of a friend
His quote to power the cabin and water pump was $4000
The set up was so simple and we had power the same day
6 panels and 6 batteries and it has payed itself off the day we turned it on since it was cheaper than hooking up to the power grid which by the way charges more than the US- 20-30 cents per kilowatt hour and rates are going up. We paid only 12 cents per kilowatt hour with Duke Power in the US

The boys snuck out one night to the neighbor's field and rearranged his hay bales for him
They almost got caught in the act as the farmers were out working late in the dark
I imagine they were a little puzzled to find this the next morning!

Thomas got himself stuck behind this root in the water line ditch!
We had to lift him out

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lori Bought the Farm Today!

Today is January 13th 2015, and my wife, Lori, and I have finally reached our dream of having a small farm debt free (and tax free) to call our own. THIS IS WHY WE CAME TO CHILE!
25 years of marriage and we made it come true here in Chile. The new name of our farm is "La Campanilla". It is not really that big but it is all ours at 6.5 acres of land that has a lot of potential and a lot of work to be done.

The Campanilla flower grows wild on our farm and is called Foxglove in english. It is very poisonous and is used in making the drug Digitalis which is a potent heart medication. 

Here is a view of the farm and Thomas's Cabin, which will soon be our new home.
We just applied for permanent residency so we will be posting more about that and opening a business in Chile which is not hard but just different. We will be living out on the farm with no power for the summer (thru the end of February) and we will be posting about homesteading in Chile. You can also follow our homesteading efforts on our youtube channel - ChileExpatFamily.
Ciao for now!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feliz Navidad!

The beautiful side altar of San Francisco church in Castro, Chiloe

Merry Christmas to all our family & friends
One of the downfalls of moving to a remote foreign country is the ability to be with family & friends during the holiday times. Sure it's hard and family & friends are important to us but everything has it's good and bad sides. We just have to be content with seeing our 2 older children at other times during the year and not always at Christmas but it's like that when the kids grow up and the parents move away!
Christmas here in Chile is not as overly commercialized as it is in the States and I find it refreshing though I am having a hard time getting used to making strawberry jam at Thanksgiving and making peach jam at Christmas! We are rolling ever so slowly into summer and the garden is coming along and the canning season is already very busy as well as getting our farm going.
We will be spending most of our summer on the farm with no running water and no electricity and no internet though we are working at making those things happen so I won't be posting much for the next few months though I will be checking my email a few times a week when we go into Puerto Octay for the wi-fi. Jim will be posting his farm videos on Youtube so you can check those out here

Friday, December 12, 2014

El Zorro

I was surprised to hear that fox in Spanish is zorro as I always think of the movie by that name.
I did a nice post on the fox that has come to visit our ducks and chicks on my nature journal.
Which you can click on the link here

He looks like my pet hanging around the front yard looking for a handout!

Life has been too busy to do much blogging between prom, 18th birthday party for Samuel, canning strawberry jam and cherry pie filling, and working on our new farm, there isn't much time left! But Jim has been doing lots of videos for his youtube channel about getting our homestead going so you can go see those here.

Hasta luego!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hawks & Caracaras

Isn't this little guy cute?
This hawk chick in his nest is in our yard.
If you want to read more about hawks and the caracaras, a larger predatory bird,
please visit my other blog

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Video Walking tour of our new farm

Here are a series of videos on a walking tour of our new farm here in Chile. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

New Baby Sheep Video

Here is a video of our new twin, baby black sheep.

One little female and the other twin is a larger male.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Busy, busy & our new farm!!!

Wow! Life has been busy lately. Just a quick update for family & friends
We sold our duplex in the US and
about 3 weeks ago we made an offer on the land in Purranque. It was a low offer and it was declined.
So then we made an offer on the land in Chiriuco but we were too late as another person had made an offer but they are slow and the owner is getting frustrated so if these other people can't make it happen by November 20th, we are in. Here are a few pics of that property. It is 6.5 acres with pasture, creek, woods, and a spring on a dirt road surrounded by dairy farms and a short walk to a navigable river for kayaking. Update - on Nov. 15 - our offer was accepted!
On the road

The right side - beyond the trees is a ravine down to the creek

Pasture to the fence and then down to the woods in the rear
On to other news - Samuel & Andrew are spending the week at the local Catholic school. They are checking it out before we enroll them for next year. This is the quickest cheapest way to learn spanish and make friends. I'll post more about the school system later - it's a bit different than the US and took us a while to figure it out.
 And we had 2 new additions to our flock yesterday.

I suspected something when I saw her trying to hide behind a tree but then we had to leave for the day and we missed the birth. It's a boy and a girl! We have one more ewe who is round as a barrel. I wouldn't be surprised if she had triplets.

And finally, we finally got a bank account! But it's really weird and we can only put so much money in. Jim will post more on that later.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lavanda Casa de Te in Frutillar

Wow, what a beautiful surprise this was! This little restaurant is off the beaten path so I had never heard of it until a friend took me there one beautiful sunny afternoon.

Even the drive is scenic and quaint
Blooming apple trees surround the building

Glimpses of the lavender fields

And the tea house
Bright & sunny - each table is hand stenciled and each chair has been covered in pretty flower fabrics
plus each table is set with a different pattern of beautiful old fashioned china

The view of the lavender fields and the lake

I wish you could smell the delightful aromas of lavender and tea
When you sit down, you get a complementary glass of lavender lemonade in a wine glass

Even the sugar cubes have been decorated!

Fresh baked cookies, lavender scones and the most delicious tea
We had 2 pots - one green tea with blueberry and one black tea with flowers

And they have a large selection of beautiful china and tea pots
And here is their link if you want to go visit!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Land in Caracol

This little village (the Snail) is NW of the city of Osorno. Beautiful big farms with highbrow neighbors. Maybe a little too rich for our blood! The site is a little over 50 acres and the owner is asking around $5600 per acre. A little too big and little over budget but well worth the walk over this nice piece of land.

The view down the road

View from the gate - most of the land is pasture

Heading down the slope towards the river- the property line is the fence on the right and the clumps of forest are on the other side of the river on another piece of land
This is a spring that comes up about half way down the hill and flows down tot he river
Samuel & Thomas  inspecting the creek flowing down to the river
Views of the river
The view of Volcan Osorno


The bottom land near the river is a little swampy

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Land in Purranque

Coming down the road towards the property

Across the street is a blueberry farm (yum)

To the right would be the road frontage of the property
The view from the front gate - open pasture with a few large trees and a few grazing bulls all the way to the tree line in the back center which is a stand of Eucalyptus
Walking through the eucalyptus stand - the property slopes from the front to the rear creek

At the rear of the property overlooking the creek to the neighbor's farm

Looking towards the front of the property from the stand of woods
The sad part - they are clearing the land to sell for firewood
I don't know if they are clearing all the eucalyptus but this is a major drawback for us 

A swampy area near the clearcut

The creek that runs on the rear property line is moving fast enough to use for some power generation and seems to flow year round

This is another small creek that runs into the one above
And here is the video Jim put up on Youtube
The land is 8 hectares which is about 20 acres. They are asking around $8k per acre which is way too much but we'll offer what we can and see what happens. Since they are clearing the land for firewood, they may need the money. It is a buyer's market here. Land doesn't move fast and there are rumors that a big fat new tax is looming on the horizon for land purchases (19%) to fund free higher education.