Setting up to live in a completely new place is never easy, but having family in the area can help.
We live about 2km away from where we’d usually stay when visiting, at Hana‘s brother‘s house. That‘s at Namon.
But due to the way lines are drawn our land and house is placed in the smaller neighbouring village of Kham Ta Klai.
If you search for The One Tree Farm on google maps you should be able to find us.
At Namon we have aunts, uncles, cousins, and more. I’ve no idea how many there are in total - i’d guess 30+, ranging from a few months old to almost 80.
Everyone has helped in some way, from planting trees and helping sort out official documents, to popping by and bringing some food or just saying hello. Our family in Scotland have also been terrific even though they can’t be here. Good advice and a few helpIng hands here and there have made a huge difference.
But I want to tell you about the two permanent residents who live with us and occupy our second bedroom, although this is where they hang out for most of the day.
Hana’s mum, her name is Ma, and her aunt Mee use this as a day hang-out and cook, rest and sometimes wait out storms here. The shack actually belongs to Liang, another aunt, and she was staying here with her 84 year old husband while they worked their land that is next to ours, but they went back home to check on their house. I expect they’ll be back soon.
Ma on the left and Mee after finishing breakfast this morning.
After they left Ma and Mee took no time to make some home improvements and added the makeshift shade. Hopefully that goes down well when Liang returns!
Ma and Mee keep themselves busy every day despite both probably being in their 70s. I say probably, as birthdays aren‘t really tracked here, but my guess is Ma is 70 and Mee is her older sister.
At times we’ve had to drag them out of the garden’s blistering heat in the middle of the day. Often they’ve been working on the land since day break.
Ma working on her veggies
Before we even finished building, they started their own vegetable patches.
Mint, spring onion, galangal, lemongrass, chilis - basically common ingredients were planted quickly, and they are already used in our daily made food.
They‘ve also helped plant just about every tree have surrounding us, including the new bushes planted this past week that now surround the house. Digging is heavy work but nothing stops them.
But this is what gave me a jolt of adrenalin yesterday when I saw it. A watermelon growing on one of their plots. I’ve no idea where it came from as it seemed like it wasn’t there, then all of a sudden it was - as if something the size of three tennis balls could just appear.
It gives us real hope that this land can be very productive.
Their experience around the land is invaluable, but of course with good habits there are also some bad. The love of burning, for one. Good cardboard that could be used as mulch and prevent weeds growIng around young plants is a favourite. Even cut off branches are being torched. Plastic, and other bits of rubbish that shouldn’t be burned aren’t far behind.
It‘s infuriating but in time we’ll change some habits. All in good time.
For now though it‘s great to have them around, and I suspect they prefer living here rather than in the village. They get to do what they like in peace and quiet.
I’ll leave with pictures of some of their work.
Fresh mint used in one of my favourites, Nam Tok
A flourishing vegetable patch
More banana trees ready for planting - so glad we bought a truck!
Neon bushes on the west side. It’s got a nice little purple flower that kind of reminds me of heather.
Love the red tops of this bush on the east
Decided to get more of these cracking little bushes for the south. Really like the bright lime-coloured leaf against the house.