Monthly Archives: December 2013

Quick general update and Merry Christmas!

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Hello, everyone!

The official results for our olive oil harvest is here *grinning*

696 kg amounted to 85 litres of extra virgin olive oil which was way, way more than we expected. I’m extremely pleased!

Second batch of olive oil also is less spicy and peppery and much sweeter because we had more big black olives to press into oil.

My oil perfume is still in the process of making. Alex, whose nose is far more sensitive than mine, says that I put too much peppermint in it, and that smell overpowers the rest, but I still can smell cumquat loquat (got the right name for the tree now) quite strongly. I’ll report the end result next year.

Alex and Shaun have been finishing small jobs on the land – fencing, clearing, and they also almost made their first hugelkultur raised bed while I was finishing pruning the last olive trees and doing housework.

When the first raised bed is properly done I’ll post some photos of the process.

We had 2-3 days of rain and now it’s all sunny but still pretty cold. It’s a mild winter in Portugal with much less wind and rain than we expected but it’s still winter.

Right now, I’ve decorated the caravan for Christmas and we are celebrating Christmas and New Year with our friends in the next few days.

I’m also sorting out our seeds to plan what we are planting soon and where. I’ll need to buy a big calendar and draw a map of our gardens when I finish with current task.

Overall, we are still busy, but I personally slowed down on backbreaking jobs in the last week because it’s time to relax a little. It’s been 3 months since we arrived, and we’ve done a lot.

I wish you all a fantastic and very merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

May all you dearest wishes come true!

Expect me back in January with much needed posts about

– buying land in Portugal;

– getting here;

– getting a postal address and a post box.

As always, ask any questions you like and I’ll try to answer them in the next few posts.

Over and out,

Karina

From Olive Harvesting to Olive Oil

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YES, WE FINALLY FINISHED OLIVE HARVESTING!

Excuse me for shouting, but the occasion warranted it. It took us a month and by the end of it I was dreaming of olive picking 🙂

So what happened?

On our quinta we have 67 olive trees and only about 50 of them were ready to harvest.

First of all, peeps, if you are newbies like us, don’t make the same mistake! Learn when your local olive press opens before starting the harvest.

In our excitement we started too early on the 1st of November. After week of staying in the crates the olives started rotting and we asked around if any presses were operating.  The answer was – not until the 18th of November. So we had to put our first 5 crates in water to preserve them somehow.

So first question you ask: when the press is open?

Second question is just as important. What is the minimal load for the press to do your olives individually? You see, they are all very different.

The press in our village (Proença-a-Velha) is supposed to be the best in the area and does a cold press for extra virgin olive oil. It doesn’t have minimum requirement for the load but maximum you can bring them is 500 kg per week.

When they press your olives they take 15% of the oil as a payment (if you are a resident, 20%  for non-residents) and provide you with 5 litre plastic bottles of your oil in return.

The press our friends use in Monsanto is a hot press for virgin oil, and you generally expect a return of 1 litre oil per 10kg of olives. The minimum load they take for individual pressing? 400kg.

You see you need to know these pesky details beforehand.

So after a shaky start we returned to olive picking on November 11th  and continued for about 10 days picking olives and pruning trees at the same time.

We heard that you shouldn’t prune trees before the first frost, but we did it anyway because everyone will tell you something different, and you can only pick and choose one thing and learn on your own mistakes, right?

Our trees have been abandoned for few years so they were really over grown, and we pruned them pretty harshly.

Also if you do olive picking don’t start until the temperature drops significantly at night. Your olives will not rot waiting in their crates then. From first five crates we collected in the beginning of the month we lost one. So next year we won’t start the harvest until 3rd week of November.

The tools we had?

Two ladders, a 6×6 m net (next year I’m going for 10×10 – much better) and two saws. I recommend gloves as well.

First batch of olives gave us 24 crates which we barely fitted into the car.

A crate cost us around 3.75 euro, and we also bought a net for about 15 euro.

The press weighed our olives at 378kg and a week later we received 40 litres of beautiful olive oil in return.

lovely stone building, and our crates are in.

Sr. Antonio running to local junta where he also works from 9 till 11am as a representative of local government. He is a little bit late! 🙂

Our second batch we finished this morning at 21 crates or 318kg and we expect to get more olive oil in a week’s time.

We hope to get just under 70 litres in total from our 696 kg which will serve as yearly supply and let us give a few bottles of oil to our friends and family for Christmas.

The oil is slightly spicy and zingy because of the mix of green and black olives but very tasty.

I’m already trying to use it to make a perfume…

inside are kumquat flowers, wild peppermint, lavender and sandalwood essential oil

This is it for tonight, fire away with questions and suggestions.

Over and out.

 

Portuguese Chickens Affair

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I know, I know, it’s a terrible name! 🙂

Monday after we built our chicken coop we drove to Fundão, a beautiful town 40 mins away from us with a market which happens every Monday.

outside the market. It’s a pretty big space. Just follow the signs to the center of the town and you won’t miss it. Plenty of parking as well.

There is a usual variety of market goods – clothes, tools, shoes, household items and some souvenirs plus a two-story building with fresh fruit and veg, meat, bread and cheese products.

What we were really interested in is this little corner

only few vendors selling hens, cocks, ducks and rabbits but for all we know that might be because it’s winter

and this little alley

 

pretty good selection of trees, shrubs and seedlings! Cheap as well.

So far we made two trips to this market and bought 11 hens and 1 cockerel.

Alex suspects that it’s Lohman Brown breed, and it sure looks that way.

They supposed to start laying at 15-18 weeks, and we were told in Portuguese to wait for 3-4 weeks for the hens to start laying. I will give you an update when they will.

Very sweet hens, and a quiet gentle cockerel, so he doesn’t crow. Maybe he will when he gains some confidence, who knows? The pecking order has been established and it’s been fascinating to watch.

I named the cockerel George, and Alex is calling his second in command Giselda who is a very beautiful and fierce bird 🙂

Every time we get close to chicken yard George is the first one to run to us for some food, and he is hilarious. We also have a couple of adventurous hens who keep escaping and coming to see what we’re doing. So we either have to grab them or herd them back into the yard. For that reason I want to clip their wings tomorrow. If they escape with us being away, they might get lost or injured.

The prices.

Hens cost 6.5 euro each, a cockerel 12 euros.

Our cat Henry got curious in the first day, and then he stopped paying any attention to them, so if you have cats, your chickens will be fine.

Food.

We bought a big bag of feed and some corn. They also love fruit and veg scraps, remains of soups, rice or pasta and some fresh juicy grass of which we have plenty.

I am looking forward to our first eggs, and in the meantime I’ll try to take better pictures inside the coop and of our hens  and George in general.

Over and out and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.