Cleaning Water Tank, Processing Cacao, Drainage and Garden

water tank
I started to notice some contamination coming through our water pipes. It looked like small orange flakes, like ones you would feed to your pet tropical fish. We have been watching this for a while, but it was getting worse so we decided it was time to clean the tank. There are two water filters that filter the water before it goes into the tank, but unfortunately they were installed well after the tank was up and running. I also don't think our contractor cleaned the tank prior to installation, nor did they disinfect the mechanical pieces that are inside the tank. I did a lot of research on the internet about how to do this and we asked Mario for suggestions. It was determined the best way to do this was to drain the tank and then for me to go inside and clean out with rags and disinfect with bleach. This tank does not have a drain valve so we drained using hoses and then I had to mop up the remaining water with rags, which were handed to John to squeeze out and dropped back in the tank for me to use again. It wasn't fun, but once finished I felt confident it was clean. The drinking water has cleared up and I really hope I don't need to do that again any time soon!

cacao beans
A few weeks ago John spotted some small cacao pods at the weekly feria. I bought 14 of them, leaving only a few poor looking ones behind. I have been making my own chocolate treats, using cacao powder, coconut oil, honey, salt and vanilla. They are delicious but must be kept in the refrigerator or they will melt. I decided to try a few experiments with the unprocessed beans. After I opened the pods and ate the sweet/sour pulp from around the seeds, I then peeled each bean by hand and then roasted them. This eliminated the fermentation step which I read is necessary to develop the chocolate taste, however it is difficult to do on a small scale.

cacao paste
After roasting I ground the beans in the food processor and added a little honey. The result is a cacao paste. It isn't a taste treat but really packs a punch for delivering the stimulating ingredients of the bean. Just yesterday I made my usual chocolate treats and replaced some of the cacao powder with some of the paste. It turned out good, but I think is wise to consume only in small quantities.

drainage ditch
Our work crew has been building a drainage ditch in front of our house. We watched the rain during the last rainy season and determined if we got one of the historic 40 year rains that water would go inside our house. The ditch will put my mind at ease when the rains come again.

raised garden beds
I planted a bunch of vegetable seeds in the new garden area. I'm doing this polyculture style by scattering seeds from many types of vegetables. So far all looks good.

chicken paddocks
Vegetation is growing in the chicken paddocks but still not enough to introduce the hens. I like watching what grows first and what is hardy enough to survive the summer heat. Speaking of heat, the thermometer my aunt gave me when she visited stopped working. It said it was 90-100 degrees fahrenheit all of the time, night and day. We knew this wasn't true. John happened to find a digital, indoor/outdoor thermometer at Radio Shack. This was a great find. Now we know that the current temperatures are in the 90's during the day and down to the low 60's at night.