Tag Archives: 2013

What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 2

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…back again!

The tarp we bought during the week of rain was hastily set up with what we had on the land, so when we had time we got back to it and created a proper wooden structure. Again, we’ve tried to use what was available on the land. hence the piping for the support 🙂

After 5 days of non-stop rain, the area under the tarp turned into a swamp, so we had to drain it and dig some trenches around.

took us 3 days to drain all the water

 

just one layer of gravel

trenches all around for rain run offs

the small solar panel is for the caravan 12v lights by the way

I think it came out rather nice!

The dog kennel has been torn down, and the floor in the kitchen leveled and gravelled. Alex and Shaun have started raising the outside wall. We’ve also ordered some concrete poles for the roof, which we’ll use to build the structure that we will tile later.

I haven’t got the pic for the whole floor, but it’s all done now.

I have been salting the olives using Wendy’s suggestion although Portuguese do it in a completely different way leaving olives in fresh water every day for a month, and then adding salt to them. I have three different batches.

I’ve done big green olives, small black ones, and really big black ones. We’ll see in few months!

We’ve made a lovely fire pit (courtesy of Shaun) for our bogracs (Hungarian cooking pot), which we have been using very frequently for slow cooking and grilling.

I’ve also collected the rock pears from our pear tree and made a delicious French Countryside Pear Jam using this recipe.

chopping with gazillions of flies around.

 

cooking and sterilizing the jars at the same time

You can buy these in Chinese shops in few different sizes. It’s much cheaper than Portuguese supermarkets. Off course I’m collecting all the jars of food I buy anyway for future use.

Just three jars from 5 hours of work, but the jam is delicious!

My first attempt to create a quince jam wasn’t very successful as I used too little sugar and too much lemon. It’s sour but it’s still nice to eat with sweet biscuits and it smells lovely.

harvesting quinces

 

I’ve had 5 jars out of 2 kg of quinces (maybe?). Will wait till the end of the month to make more. Quinces weren’t quite ripe, and it’s really hard to cut them right now.

As to the olive harvest we kind of messed it upright away.

We started in the beginning of November and collected about 90kg from 5-6 trees…

But you can only keep harvested olives up to a week so we looked for the olive press when they started going off on us. Well… Apparently olive press here doesn’t open until the 18th of November, so we had to follow Portuguese advice and leave what we could salvage from our olives in water until then. I think I lost half a crate to the rot.

Anyway, we are harvesting again next week onwards and we still have at least 30 trees to do. Oh boy!

For those of you interested, we were told that the press in our village which is one of the best in the area will take 13kg of olives and return 1 litre of extra virgin olive oil back. They will take their cut in oil as a payment.

We’ll know more after we’ve had our oil.

we are pruning the trees as we go as well. They are very overgrown.

 

picking olives is a very relaxing, meditative job. I’m loving it!

To be continued in part 3…

 

What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 1

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So sorry, peeps! We’ve been busy and couldn’t write an update here fast enough.

Last time I promised to tell you what we’ve been doing on our land.  So here it is:

First 2-3 weeks we definitely dedicated to clearing everything from the brambles. They grow really fast and have vicious thorns, but they have two saving graces: they give you berries and they burn really well.

Here are pics BEFORE the clearing 🙂

kitchen

dog kennel inside

 

and the stacks of tiles covered

water tank

 

first quarry

back of the shed and kitchen

second quarry

 

in the middle of meadow

the well

There was another wall that we’ve cleared out, but I can’t find any BEFORE pics. I don’t think I’ve taken them!

Pics AFTER:

slowly clearing out the walls and stacks of tiles

levelling the floor

 

opening up the terrace on the top of the kitchen. The trees had to be cleared off of brambles and vines

water tank is cleared

 

meet our friend, Shaun, whose first task on arrival was kitchen floor. He’ll be staying with us for awhile

Alex starting on the outside wall for the future bathroom

 

another terrace discovered under all the brambles and vines!

back of the kitchen and shed completely cleared. Discovered possible water mines or wild boar dens. Who knows?

 

Side of the shed is cleared. Solar panels temporarily go up, and we are powered! We also start collecting rubbish left on the land – plastic, chemicals, rusty metal, shards of glass, etc. Temporary structure for the tarpaulin goes up.

bye, bye, brambles in the meadow…

 

second quarry is cleared

Here is what we’ve been doing since Shaun joined us in the second week of October until now, 16th of November…

the dry stone wall is getting raised for the composting toilet

it’s getting there…

 

voila! the toilet is done.

 

sensor solar light inside for night use

Right, it’s getting to be a long post, guys, so I’m splitting it in two.

To be continued in a min!

What Are The Goals?

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I remember that in the last post I promised to talk about our plans or goals for this property.

Strategy

We would like to put 10 years of hard work into establishing a system which is as self-sufficient as possible. Which means that what we can’t produce ourselves we want to barter for within a community of like-minded friends and neighbors.

We want our fruit and veg, olive oil, eggs and poultry from chickens and ducks, cheese and milk from sheep, fish from our fish ponds. We want to build our house. We want honey from our bees. Wax and olive oil as basis for organic creams, soaps, shampoos and conditioners. We want medicinal herb garden to make tinctures and remedies and we want some sort of mushroom production.

Our friends grow their own wheat for making bread and I’m not sure if they grow rice as well but they might. So there is a possibility for bartering.

Tactics

Our quinta is a natural water line, so before the planting season starts in January we would like to dig out 3 fish ponds,

top terrace for the 1st pond. No olive trees will be affected, there is more space than the pic shows

middle terrace for the 2nd pond

3rd pond in the meadow

convert the existing unfinished water tank into a fish tank for breeding fish (tilapia mostly),

it just needs bottom and re-enforced walls

build a green house and start to germinate seeds into seedlings to give them a better surviving chance in our first year of planting,

create raised beds for our fruit and veg.

These goals are a MUST in the first year.

The ongoing projects are retiling the existing shed roof,

the existing tiles are really brittle

and building a big communal kitchen and bathroom.

Existing walls for future kitchen and bathroom

In April we’ll also be able to get bees, and as soon as we can spare our attention, we would like to build a chicken coop and buy a few chickens.

By spring we would need to get a bore hole and get a bigger inverter and extra batteries for solar system, so we can run non-sensitive equipment like fridge/freezer and washing machine through them.

We also need to build a root cellar.

The house is in the works, but we won’t start anything until the planting finishes next year.

So as you can see, our hands are full right now. There are also extra challenges every day, but we are loving it all.

In the next post I’ll start talking about what’s been done to the land so far.

Tchau!

Hello, peeps!

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This is just a temporary look for the promised blog, everyone!

I’ve decided to try WordPress but I’m not impressed so far. With a free blog I’m not even allowed to download my own template so I’d have to keep digging for something more suitable. Maybe even go with Blogger which is very familiar to me although not very trustworthy 🙂

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Quick recap for anyone who doesn’t know the back story  or stumbled onto this blog by mistake.

March 2013 – me and Alex decided on looking for the land to try and go off-grid.

May 2013 – within 3 weeks the land is found in Portugal and bought straight away.

September 23rd  2013 – we moved!

Now, I will be writing separate posts on

– how to choose your land

– the process of buying the land in Portugal

– moving to Portugal

because this is something both me and my husband had to figure out by ourselves and I wish somewhere out there we could have just read it all, but this will not happen today.

September 23rd we arrived to Monsanto after 9 hour drive and had to park in Relva square because

a) it was way too late  to get onto the country roads.

b) we had no keys for the barn and had only a vague memory where our quinta (farm) is actually situated.

Sept 24th the situation with the road became clearer. It was absolutely inaccessible for the caravan, so the rest of the day was dedicated to unloading the caravan, putting everything into our 4 wheel drive and driving it all to the shed.

We had couple of options available:

– hiring a digger to make the road accessible

– or asking our nearest neighbor if we can use his field and cut the fence to our property for a better access.

No need to mention that the second option was preferable and by the end of the day we negotiated with the neighbor the when and how.

Wed 25th after a very trying morning, digging bits of the road, shoveling the stones from the bit of the fence and slightly scraping the caravan with our terrified cat inside we finally made it to our land and settled down!

To be continued…