This Blasted Rain!

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I know I’ve been remiss in updating this blog as much as I should, peeps, but this blasted rain  gives you zero inspiration, I swear! On the other hand I managed to read and review tons of books for my bookish blog *grinning*

I kind of feel uncomfortable even mentioning rain here considering our friends and family suffering from horrible weather in UK.  Still, you would want to know how it is in Portugal at this time of year if you want to move here, right?

I’ll just try to give quick updates on different topics.

Weather

it’s total marsh land here

yep, those bricks sunk right into the mud

It’s been pretty much raining non-stop for 2 months. The wind is very strong and changes direction all the time. The land is so full of water, water comes out of the ants hills, everything is so soaked.

The car got stuck a few times on our dirt tracks. Last time it took 4 hours to get it out of the mud. Now we are driving to the entrance of the neighboring land where the road is still good and leave the car parked there, while we’re walking through that land to our quinta. It’s 5 mins walk but it’s worth it for our peace of mind.

We’ve been stupid enough to plop our caravan on the first free spot when we arrived, and while it’s not at the lowest part of the land it still collects too much water which is why we are in the mud up to our eyeballs.

I’ve got another spot that I have my heart set on, which I think will be ideal for our house in the future, but the trick is to wait until everything is dry before moving the caravan, which brings us to the second problem – how to move caravan up the hill. We’ll see…

this site is just on top of the summer kitchen, sheltered from the wind, partly shaded and it doesn’t collect water which is the most important part. If you keep the olive tree on your right as a support beam you can incorporate it into the future house without cutting it down. There is enough space.

Kitchen is visible on your right, on your left are stairs, toilet and chicken coop.

The wind has been so strong, sometimes I lay awake at night worried about our tarpaulin frame and our greenhouse. Yes, we have a greenhouse, which brings me to our second update 🙂

Preparations for planting

We’ve built a greenhouse.

Apparently you can buy a second-hand poly tunnel in Portugal but it will cost you an arm and a leg, because it’s mostly imported. It seems that only businesses buy and sell huge greenhouses, there is really very little for an average consumer. So after few hours looking for one online, we just decided to build it ourselves.

It’s 2 sheets of plastic on top of a frame of eucalyptus branches, and some stones to keep the plastic down. So far it held through some really strong wind.

When it gets warmer, we replace the plastic with green netting, otherwise it will get damaged in the harsh sun.

4 raised beds with poles in between for beans and tomatoes

We’ve built 4 raised beds in place of the vineyard. The soil there is bad – sandy clay with lots of schist (stones). So we tried hugelkultur on the first bed (closest to you), but the bastard bed took so long to make, that the rest of them we made from just compost, mulch and good soil on top of the bad one.

the trenches underneath the posts are being filled up with old olive branches and compost

As to compost, there is an abandoned estate close to us with lots of empty cow sheds. There are years of decomposed manure inside, so the guys are just clearing them out and bringing it to our place.

round raised beds inside the orchard

We’ve decided on round raised beds inside the orchard for aesthetics sake. I’m fencing them off with stones from our quarries, but it’s a work in progress and not a priority right now. Right now they are being mulched, and we are adding compost and getting rid of the weeds.

chicken fence

I’ve fenced off the orchard with green netting, otherwise the chicken just go through the gaps in the fence.

I’m also creating paths (standing on one in this pic) with small stones from the quarries I can not use for fencing. So far it’s been great for deterring mud, and it’s another work in progress.

Planting

We are definitely behind on planting right now due to the sheer amount of rain which made working with soil impossible. There is stuff in the greenhouse of course.

kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cress

The tray is made of broken pallet.

peas, onions, herbs, courgettes

I don’t quite remember what we have in those trays right now, but it’s all labeled 🙂 We bought some plastic trays from Fundao’s market and in local agricultural shops. They are very convenient.

I’ve planted some daffodils, strawberries, sorrel and thyme in the orchard, but I’ll be doing much more in the next few days now that rain has stopped.

We’ve also tried planting potatoes in the field, but the chickens digged them out! *exert expletives* So some of them are planted in the orchard and some of them will go into one of the raised beds in vineyard which I’ve fenced off today.

hello there, Sir Scorpion!

We’ve seen our first scorpion while working with soil. It was tiny and it will make you ill if you are stung, but we were told that their poison won’t kill. Still this one had to die.

We’ve also planted two new types of pear and a sharon fruit tree outside the orchard. Two hazelnuts that we bought previously are doing well along the fence.

Chickens

Are laying! It took them two months to start, and they seem to like laying eggs near composting toilet which is why we left hay nests for them there. We take 5 to 9 eggs from those nests everyday, and they are delicious 🙂

Cockerel George also started crowing (and he doesn’t shut up). He crows when it’s still dark and then when the sun rises, and he would not stop until you let him out of the coop. Talk about an effective alarm clock. He also became quite an aggressive bastard, and attacks you if you spook him. He pinched me couple of times today. I swear once we have chicks, he goes into the soup, although Alex defends him when I say that.

Cooking

orange marmalade

I’ve made my first marmalade from our oranges, and it’s delicious! We almost finished the first batch, and I have oranges ready to go into the second. Just need the ground to dry out, so I can get the fire going.

pirojki (пирожки)

I’m missing having an oven dreadfully, so I’ve been trying Russian recipes for fried pastries instead. Everyone seems to like them as snacks 🙂

donuts

I’ve tried a recipe for donuts when we went to visit our new friends Sandra and Brett.

The donuts were fine, but to make proper airy ones I need to make them very liquid. Might have to ask my mother to send me this

New Friends

We met Sandra and Brett from Pedrogao, whom you might know from their blog. They have a wonderful quinta, and we had a lovely evening together, which I can’t wait to repeat at our place.

We also met Stefan and Zoe in the beginning of January who after talking to us over few emails, courageously drove from Netherlands with their baby daughter to look for land in Portugal.

I’m happy that they managed to find their piece of land and sign a promessa. We’ll see them again in summer when they come back to sign the final paperwork for their land.

I think so far these are all the news, and I hope I’ll be able to update the blog more regularly in the future 🙂

Hugs and ciao, everyone!

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10 responses »

  1. Amazing Karina, what you all have accomplished already. I am very happy for you. And yes, the weather has been bad here as well, but it is starting to become spring now, and while I did not see one single snow flake this year, that is nice as well.
    And a Dutch couple leaving Holland for Portugal? That is so cool! Which them good luck from me please.

  2. I’m just an old lady in the US who is thoroughly enjoying reading about your adventures. I envy you your courage to go out and live the way you are, and it sounds like a wonderful life.

    • Thank you, Sara! It’s lovely to see someone outside Europe looking at the blog. US has such a great tradition of homesteading, and you have so many great products and gadgets available that I’m learning a lot from your side of the pool :)))

      • We do have that strong tradition. And for those of us who can’t be homesteaders, thankfully more and more people seem to be returning to more natural ways of life in general in whatever situation they live. Living as close to the earth, and with the earth, is becoming more important to people in a country that has become so consumer-oriented. It’s such a good thing to see happening. Blog on, and thanks for sharing your life.

  3. Hi there, new to Portugal , we have been here since October 2015, we came for a weeks Holiday last May, and fell in love with the place! We are renting near Espiche. We are going back to the Uk end Of may ;( But we will be back in October.We have been looking at land to buy.Your blog has been really helpful.
    Keep up the good work. The rain stops eventually no matter were you live … lol…
    Take care
    Linda x
    P.S Ruby is our English Springer by the way

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