While waiting for our helicopter to become available we’ve been making use of the time to continue working on preparing for our house builds. Lists are being made, blueprints are being checked etc. etc.

We’ve also been studying up on chainsaws via YouTube, books, manuals and asking guys with more experience than us. Our support center actually has a Stihl Farmboss chainsaw which is one of the small (well medium sized) chainsaws we’ll be buying so we had a go at cleaning the air filter, removing and reattaching the chain, checking the sprocket and most importantly sharpening the chain. We’re going to be doing a lot of chainsaw sharpening so it was great to be able to start practicing. Just as I was finishing one of the center workers came in and asked if he could use the chainsaw after me, he had a tree to cut down.
What an opportunity! We jumped at the chance to fell and buck a tree – actually I ended up felling 6 small trees and the experience really, really helped to cement in practically the things I’d been seeing and reading. I was able to make the dumb mistakes here where other people know what’s up. For instance I put the chain on backwards when I reassembled it after cleaning it – oops!
It’s basic stuff and if I’d spent 2 seconds thinking about it I’d have said “of course!”. The practical has really helped reinforce the theoretical and we’re feeling much better equipped to handle the chainsaws we’ll be buying.

Taking a break – working on a slope isn’t easy!

As a bonus we have another pine tree to cut down in a few weeks and we’ll actually mill that one with the Alaskan mill we’ll be taking to Kovol. We’ll do it as a dressed rehearsal to make sure we have all the tools and equipment we’ll need.

Tomorrow we’re heading back into Kovol for the first time since our allocation survey. A helicopter is available and we’re taking the quick and easy way in this time.
We’ll be landing in the village we think would be the best one for us to locate in and we’ll be staying for a week. There’s no way for us to send word ahead that we’re coming, but a helicopter flying into the area is a like ringing a gigantic door bell, so I don’t think anyone will miss us coming! We’ll be there all week starting the discussions about what land and what trees we can use for our houses. We have a draft contract written up which if everything goes well we’ll be able to sign with the land owners.
We’re taking some basic tools with us for clearing out the jungle and we’ll cut back the bush, level the ground and rope out where we’d like our houses to be.
We’ll also be setting up a lean to with a tarp over it to catch rain water that we’ll start collecting in two 250L tanks. The idea there being that we will have drinking water for our next trips that will involve milling with chainsaws and building houses.

So we want to:

  1. Negotiate with the land owners
  2. Sign a land contract if possible
  3. Identify and purchase suitable hardwood trees to turn into lumber
  4. Set up basic rain water collection for our upcoming house build

If it all goes well we hope to have a big party (an amamas) to celebrate. That will involve us buying a pig from the land owner, and then donating that pig back to the community to be cooked up for a big feast.

It’s exciting but we also realise that in some ways we’re going in blind. We understand to some degree how land works in PNG; but we’re also blind to the nuances of land and clan issues we’ll be running into. There’s a huge chance for miscommunication that will result in problems down the road – but that’s unavoidable. We want to move into Kovol so we can learn the language and culture; but we need to know the language and culture in order to move in and keep everyone happy.

We’re trusting God can keep us from making any truly egregious blunders!


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