Welcome to the Squoggly House Blog. An adventure into alternative building and construction, alternative farming methods and hopefully a way to be as environmentally friendly and “green” as possible.
This adventure started 2 years ago in an initial trip to the Okavango Delta – an area of the world I had always wanted visit. A long story short – 167 hectares of semi desert virgin land on the edge of the Boteti River was leased to us to go farming.There is absolutely nothing here except acacia scrub, donkeys, goats and cows. No house, no irrigation, no crop land, no workshop, no power lines, no water systems, no telephone – landline or cellular and no internet. WHAT WAS I THINKING………………… or WAS I?????
And so started our adventure – a Botswanan citizen, Nigel, my partner and best friend, Penny and me, Gerry. Nigel is a game guide in the Delta, Penny is an accountant and I have been involved in international agriculture for the past 30 years. All of us born and raised in Zimbabwe but all of us taking some very different but equally challenging routes to get to this point of our lives.
The Boteti is part of the main river system that drains the Okavango Delta – the only major river that does not ever reach the sea but disappears into the ground in the Kalahari Desert.
A lot had to happen before we could even get started. A company had to be formed, a lease from the Tawana Land Board had to be secured, land Title Deeds had to be applied for and issued, water rights to pump irrigation water from the Boteti river had to be applied for, an environmental impact assessment and plan had to be approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs and finally resident permits had to be applied for and issued. And none of these things, collectively or individually, happen over night. But they all contributed to the adventure that we had embarked on and that was now shaping our life path.
At the same time we had to think about the farming operations, we also had to consider a place to live – some sort of house that could be built fairly easily and that a lot of the materials could be sourced locally. Not an easy challenge as bricks, cement and a lot of building material are imported from South Africa and as Maun is the end of the line, expensive transportation.
But the edge of the Kalahari has lots of ………………………. SAND!!! Now we had to figure a way to make the most use of this sand to build our house. Well after extensive research, I came across Owen Geiger at Earthbagbuilding.com And this has become the bible for me and our new house. What a phenomenal source of information!!!!
And then it was the architect to design this house. We have a mate known as the “Mad Doctor” a brilliant man and a qualified medical practitioner who has a mate who is an architect and is as big a lunatic as the “Mad Doctor”. So we have the “Mad Doctor” and the “Mad Architect” and both of them became super-excited over this idea to build a house from earth-bags/sandbags that there has been no stopping them. The “Mad Architect” mentioned that the house was a very fluid house. hence the name “THE SQUOGGLY HOUSE. The Squoggly House is designed to be totally “off grid” and powered by solar energy, utilizing grey-water for irrigation, capturing rainwater run-off for drinking purposes, using passive heating and cooling and trying to live a totally different way of life to the traditional way
And this past week, they all came together!!!! Title Deeds, Lease, Water rights, Approved EIA, Resident permits and the “Mad Architect” finished the plans this week.
So the trek to Maun begins on April 21, 2012. The official date of our new adventure when we head out of Harare to Maun to go an spend the next 6 months living in a tent.