Tag Archives: permaculture

It’s been a year!

Standard

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been slacking for 4 months with updates, but I hope you’ve been following our Facebook page Olives and Acorns

which is always full of news, pics and various tidbits!

Anyway, holy sh*t it’s been a YEAR! A year since we dropped everything and jumped on a ferry to get us to our land in Portugal.

A very busy year, but an awesome one. We enjoyed every moment of this and not even once regretted our decision.

Here is what happened since April, and since I have a bad connection you probably won’t get pics unless you jump onto our Facebook and look through albums.

May

The planting is finished and we are starting to harvest. Everything is green and full of flowers and the weather is glorious. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful month of the year. The heat is mild too, and all the rivers are covered in flowers.

Our peppers, chillies, aubergines and everything on the corn field is lush and have buds. We are harvesting strawberries, spinach, salads, courgettes, carrots, radishes, potatoes, kale, okra, beans, kohlrabi, beetroot, onions, coriander, parsley, chard, peas, mangetout, cauliflower, and I’m sure I forgot something and can’t check without looking at the pics.

     

 

 

Monsanto has a yearly medieval festival, which we have visited this time. It’s mostly vendors with their home made produce, but there is a proper feast and lots of yummy things. And glorious views of course.

  

June

More harvesting and the temperatures are climbing.Our first tree is giving fruit and I am promptly making a delicious plum jam. It’s getting dryer, and while we tried to install a hasty irrigation system it’s not efficient enough because we didn’t plant around the pipes, and the water doesn’t reach all the plants. We’ll do better next spring.

    

  

 

July

Oh boy, the caravan is heating up! The temperature inside is +36C in the afternoon. Essentially, it’s like a tin – refreshing at night, bearable until midday and very hot until about 7pm. At this point Alex’s dad has had enough and departs for UK until it’s cooler.

We are still harvesting of course – so many tomatoes, more courgettes, first corn, beans, more peppers, chillies and parsley, thyme, salad, kale, a few rare cabbages and strawberries. At this point it’s getting too hot for most salads, rocket and cauliflower.

    

I also harvest all our onions. Half of them is soft and get used in chutneys and preserves, but another half goes into the shed to be used until the next harvest. In my opinion 500 onions (roughly) wasn’t enough, and this autumn I’ll try to plant double that. I haven’t had a chance to save any seeds as none of them were in flower when I harvested them, but I’ll do it next time.

Our well’s water becomes too sulfuric to drink so we keep using it to water and to wash, but switch to drinking spring water from the village. The well’s level is also slowly going down.

Mike, our friend, replaces the roof on the shed, constructs permanent three year composting bin rotation and starts on building our kitchen.

  

One of our cheep, Sage, dies unexpectedly. One day she is alright, another she starts wheezing and then just drops. We suspect she ate something poisonous, but who knows? Sheep diseases are aplenty. We are gutted but within two weeks what’s left of Sage is just tufts of wool. The predators take care if it all.

The apples are ready to harvest, so I pick about 10 crates of them. I dry them, make them into a jam or use in chutneys. There are a few different types and some of them are cooking apples but others are delicious to eat.

The kitchen is coming along slowly. Mike and Alex are fully focused on the project, so I’m left to process all the produce when and how I can. I have tomatoes and peppers and courgettes coming out of my ears 🙂 We are starting to pick aubergines and jalapenos as well. Coriander is well and truly dead, and Thai basil is struggling to survive. Sage is doing really well though!

The only thing not from our garden is garlic!

I am drying lots of tomatoes, so we shouldn’t run out in winter months.

It’s blackberry season, and I pick a lot of these delicious berries to make jam.

August

So hot and dry! The temperatures climb to +40C in shade some days.  Sometimes +39C in the caravan.

First week of August is Boom Festival time, so I fry my Russian pastries for 9 days for our friends chai shop there. I am knackered, and it’s a slow, hard work, which takes about 10 hours a night so the fresh produce can be taken away with morning delivery. Will I do it again? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did so I know I can and am more clear about my limitations.

The well goes down so dramatically, we can see the bottom of it, and it replenishes itself just enough everyday for light watering. At this point everything is drying to a crisp. Last of the potatoes are dug out, corn is finished, we are eating our melons and watermelons (delicious!), chickpeas collected. There are plenty of aubergines, less and less peppers as they are charred by the sun), very few strawberries, courgettes are still going, and parsley is doing so well, I am really surprised! Still lots of tomatoes, and the month is mostly spent watering and making preserves.

 

The guys finish the shell of the kitchen mid August, so Mike goes away, and me and Al start the slow work of pointing the stone walls with lime and mud, lime washing the walls and finishing the cob oven. The land looks like a bombsite with all the materials lying around, but we physically have no strength or time to tidy it up.

It’s so hot we are frequently escaping to the dam to swim or just around the corner to our friend’s, Paul, swimming pool/water tank. All the water for our usage comes from the village in water carriers, as there is only enough well water for the plants.

OMG, fig harvest! So many different figs, I don’t know what to do with them. We eat them fresh, I make chutneys and trying to dry them as well.

We also buy a chest freezer, and it’s a life saver! At this point our fridge refuses to function in the heat and sucks all the energy off the batteries, so some mornings we wake up with the solar system shut off because it’s drained.

Now the fridge is permanently switched off. Instead we are freezing a 5L bottle every day, stick it in the fridge and it stays very cold! The chest freezer was a bargain at 160 euro and it uses very little power – 75W once in a while. I think it will make a huge difference in winter!

I also managed to freeze some peppers, kale, figs and last of the blackberries for winter use.

We are collecting first pumpkins and butternut squash.

At this point my cupboard (an old, broken fridge from the skip) is full of preserves which I’m really proud of as it’s my first year of making jams and chutneys!

It is jammed packed now, the photo was taken half way! 🙂

September

Eating last of the apples, melons and watermelons, rock pears are ripening, there are some juicy dark plums on the trees in the field and more figs.

 

First week of the month BAM! it starts raining, and really doesn’t stop for almost 3 weeks. Everyone says that the rain came very early this year.

Of course we are not ready for it, so the plans for cleaning the well get ruined but the temperature goes down to +mid twenties, and it’s absolutely blissful. The tomatoes produce huge amount of leaves, and the peppers and chillies go into a second harvest. Beans come back from the dead. Halleluja!

The change on the land is dramatic. Almost overnight everything goes from dry beige to green as the grass starts sprouting everywhere. In two first days of the rain the wild amaryllis flower near the well pops out, and it’s gorgeous!

My fig drying is ruined as they get moldy when it starts raining and the heat during the day is not sufficient enough to  cure anything.

I can’t dry them out in the cob oven as it’s not quite ready yet, but we did manage to light a few fires in a fireplace and it looked gorgeous.

We start eating sharon fruit/persimmon as it ripes on our tree.

We also experience some minor troubles with our new car (well, new for us). It’s a Portuguese pickup made in 1980s which cost us 3 thousand euros, and our friends assure us it was a bargain. Ouch. Yes, the cars here are very expensive and they don’t really go down in price.

Anyway, we had a few punctures and still need to replace exhaust, align the wheels and do some cosmetic work. Otherwise it’s a workhorse of a car, great for a farm!

The kitchen looks beautiful, but we still need to put the fire proof tiles inside the oven, add the door to it, line the tabletop and a shelf with tiles, tile the floor, render the ceiling and buy a cooker/or cooker top. We also have second hand steel door for the entrance but it needs to be cut to fit.

As you can see, there are so many things that need doing and we have very limited time to do it! Argh.

Still, when kitchen is done, we are starting on a new chicken coop which will share a wall with a greenhouse which hopefully provide more warmth for the chickens in winter.

We still haven’t replanted anything, and the bathroom needs to be done sometime in winter as well. Right now the composting toilet is in the shed, and that will do for the moment.

Me and Al and thinking really hard of getting a workaway in October. We’ve been enjoying our (relative) solitude for the last month and a half, but we really need someone who knows what they are doing with building work to get onto greenhouse and chicken coop soon. So… If you are that person and want to come stay with us for a bit, write us an email at

olivesandacorns@gmail.com

What else?

Our cockerel George died yesterday, bless his poor soul. He had both of his legs damaged and we couldn’t bring ourselves to kill him, so we were just feeding him until he just fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

This time we’ll be getting a smaller, local breed of cockerel in hope that it won’t be as aggressive. Plus our chickens are broody. One in particular has been sitting on two lots of eggs for couple of months, but of course the cockerel was incapacitated so they weren’t fertilized. Poor thing!

Our well-being

Alex despite being a diabetic is so strong right now, it’s awesome. While he gets tired easily, he does everything fast and in spurs with breaks in between. It works for him, and we are both happy with the results. He also got a new supply of insulin here from a doctor without a problem, and it was free.

I’ve lost about 12kg in a year, I’m feeling much stronger, more toned and healthy.

We hardly eat any meat, there is just no need for it. Of course when it gets colder our diet will change again, but so far it’s mostly veggie stir-fries and curries, fresh bread and cheese, chips, salads, beans and a lot of Mediterranean and middle Eastern food.

My hair care is pretty funny. My stash of organic shampoo ended couple of months ago, but I had a bottle of conditioner left so I’ve been using it now and again. I also rinse my hair with sage leaf tea because it suppose to darken the color of your hair overtime.

The hair might not be as soft and sleek as with normal shampoos and conditioners, but I tell you that it’s clean, there is no dandruff and no irritation to the skin I used to have. It also takes about a week or longer to get my hair dirty, and it won’t be because it goes greasy, only because it collects all the dust from building work and becomes dryer and my head itches… 🙂

I also had my first DIY haircut and it looks awesome. Don’t know why I was so afraid to try it before, it’s very easy! However, my scissors were so blunt that I went and ordered proper hairdresser scissors for the next time 🙂

 

God, I don’t know what else to tell you!

Ah, I’ve got Pinterest account  where you can follow my ideas for the kitchen and other building projects. Of course the reality will be very different because our access to different materials is very limited.

I’ll keep you posted on that. Over and out.

P.S. I’ll add links to this post when my internet is fast again, but I just wanted to give you a yearly update on the date 🙂

P.P.S The links and pics are added.

 

April Update, Part 2

Standard

I forgot to tell that George (our cockerel) injured his leg by attacking Alex’s dad. Silly sod! For the last month he’s been hopping about on one leg and mostly sitting near the caravan while chickens wander around lost without their beloved leader.

He doesn’t walk them around, so they munched on all the grass near the caravan instead. The only nice thing about it? George is nice as pie to us. In the morning we call for him to hop next to the door of chicken coop so we can carry him up the steps and in the evening he is patiently waiting for us to take him back down. Poor thing!

All the trees we bought on Fundao market – pear Rocha, Conference pear and a Sharon fruit are doing really well.

This is pear rocha, further down in the field are conference pear and sharon fruit

Our blueberry bushes have the most beautiful flowers on them!

blueberry

red currant

a flat bed of onions before mulching – 360 of them

Now these are our plants after the growth spurt and especially that blood red full moon. I’m sure that made everything grow even faster!

peas, mangetout and carrots

Peas in flower!

yummy coriander

the same bed as in previous post 2.5 weeks later!

Another bed which was barely visible 3 weeks before now is sporting kale, brussel sprouts, marigolds and beetroot among garlic and onions

beets are on the rise!

And look at these tomatoes and a first marigold opening!

I’ve planted borage (borago officinalis) at the bottom of my peppers as a companion plant and it’s looking very healthy.

borage

thyme is growing between tomatoes

courgettes survived the frosts and are finally growing well

first strawberries

It’s crazy how different kale and cabbages look by the end of April!

lettuce has exploded!

so as potatoes!

We are eating our beautiful rainbow chard now!

We had a massive barbeque on the 16th of April, and our Portuguese neighbor Manuela gave us an avocado tree!

BTW, 25 people at the barbeque? Hard work! Phew… However we met so many new wonderful people from around here. I am absolutely chuffed that we are surrounded by great like-minded and good-natured folks.

One of the couples we met, Chris and Di, are building their strawbale house, so we have to visit them and see how it looks, because surely it won’t be that much different from a cob house?

Another couple, Pam & Mark just had their glamping site featured in a newspaper, so we can’t wait to see what they made on their land! Anyone fancy staying in a tipi? Here is their site Tipping Tipis!

At last, two more pics and my update for April is done.

Our rose bush started producing beautifully fragrant roses that I used in one of my perfumes last year (it came out wonderfully).

and while I was having a girls day off last Monday of April, baking a sinfully sweet Russian cake and drinking mojitos, Alex sneaked out and brought home a surprise for me…

Meet Rach & Sage!

We’ve got sheep!

They are 3 months old, both female and cost us 42.50 euros each, but Alex had to catch them himself 🙂 They are absolutely adorable and very intelligent.

This is it for April, tchau!

April update, and it’s heating up! Part 1

Standard

Yes, yes, smack me, I’m late with the update! 🙂

smack

We’ve been very busy, and I kept choosing doing other things instead of blogging, but now I’ve bought a notepad and the update for the blog was on the list for today tasks.

First of all, in the beginning of April right on Alex’s birthday, Shaun left us to go back to England. Thank you for all your hard work, Shaun, and hope you enjoyed your time with us!

Me and Al had a glorious, quiet week to ourselves where we just worked from morning till night and then went to bed whenever we wanted. After 6 months of living with someone else this was a luxury. Then Alex’s dad came back to hopefully buy the land from our neighbors, so he can live close to us, and the holiday ended.

We had another few beans dying on us, because April still brought us a couple of mild frosts, so if you want to plant in Portugal anything sensitive like corn or beans, keep it in the greenhouse until end of April or beginning of May just to be sure!

The temperature heated up massively in the second half of April, and everything started growing like mad.

We moved the caravan in the new spot, and it’s a massive improvement in views and in shade as we are now partly shaded by two olive trees.

Morning view from the caravan in the first few days of April

This is how everything looked in the beginning of the month before the heat wave 🙂

nicely weeded potatoes, leeks, carrots and peas

Beets popping up and garlic is looking healthy

more potatoes

Lettuce and onions are starting to grow

cabbages are perking up

more cabbages

a nice path in the orchard

There are so many beautiful new flowers in the meadow, and they actually change every month.

Blue, yellow and white lupines

false foxgloves and legumes

campions

Quince in bloom

hawthorn

Blue scarlet pimpernel

daisies

The field is full of sunflowers, corn, beans, pumpkins, peanuts, chickpeas, watermelons, melons and potatoes. The field you saw Alex and Shaun start on in the last post, that is.

The smaller field is my quinoa

quinoa

Walnut tree is looking healthy as well!

I’m splitting the post in two parts so it’s not too massive, but if you want to have quicker updates, folks, like us on Facebook! We have a page for our quinta now under Olives and Acorns.

Spring, Glorious Spring!

Standard

It’s warm, people! Like the weather in its plus twenties warm!  It gets hot from 12 till 3pm and we have to have a siestaaaa… *grinning*

Anyway, update. This is what you’re waiting for, right?

Lots of planting done, but it’s still feels like we are too slow.

The vineyard has been fenced off from the chickens. We just used the netting we brought from England, poles bought here and stones on the bottom. Hopefully it will keep other critters away!

We’ve made progress on long beds!

The biggest one has some peppers, chillies, okra, parsley and basil in one end, and courgettes and pumpkins on the other. We plan to fill the rest with aubergines, more okra and herbs.

By the way, we bought one of those 1000ltr water tanks which you can see to your left, and Alex plans on having a drip irrigation system in vineyard for watering. We’ll see how it works out.

The second bed is the deep trenches with various tomatoes, thyme and Thai and Russian basil, but it also has marigolds planted on the edges.

Third bed is my favorite. It starts with borscht beet which my mom got me from Russia (it’s doing really well in that bed), continues with garlic (you can see its shoots on the pic) then moves into spring onions, Detroit Red beetroot, goes back to garlic with Brussel sprouts in the middle and ends up with a bit of kale. (yes, I am going a bit mad with companion planting!)

Fourth bed starts with peas and mangetout in the middle, surrounded by carrots. Then there is a potato bed with coriander, leeks, and another potato bed with coriander. Peas and mangetout are really pretty right now.

Fifth bed is not done yet as it needs a lot of destoning, but I’m planning on dedicating it to onion planting.

There is another row of trenches which we haven’t touched yet, but hopefully there will be more mangetout there.

Moving on to the orchard.

First bed is potatoes surrounded by Russian tarragon. I made a mistake planting tarragon directly and nothing came up. Apparently you have to transplant seedlings into the soil, so I’ve planted it again in the greenhouse.

Second and third bed are local lettuce mixed with onions (all bought as seedlings).

This one is broccoli, chard, cauliflower and Brunswick cabbage. It’s all colour coordinated in my head and so far it’s doing well.

Fifth bed is cabbage golden acre, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage Brunswick and kale.

6th bed: leeks in the middle, surrounded by radishes, beetroot, spring onions and lettuce.

7th bed is a disaster as it’s the one I’ve done first, when the ground was still soggy. It has strawberries, and I planted sorrel and thyme around them. I think the seeds must have rotted in that much water, as nothing came up so I’ll have to rake everything, mulch it and replant 🙂

8th bed is rucola, oriental lettuce and chard.

9th bed is strawberries and spinach.

I’ve got no pics for 10th and 11th bed (which I just discovered) but one of them has dill and marigolds in the middle surrounded by cabbage. Another is radishes, beetroot and carrots.

We also have a lot of things planted along the fence – gherkins, artichokes, sunflowers, beans, gladis, fennel and dill. It should be amazing when everything shoots up and opens. 🙂

Right now I’m working on extra project and we have 3 more beds to fill in.

I’ve also started working under the fruit trees in the orchard.

Apricot which we planted in November now has marigolds and basil underneath.

Two peaches and a cherry planted in November as well have garlic planted underneath.

We had our first plum tree blossoming, I spotted two more which will do the same soon.

We also found what we think is wild plum (at least Internet says so!), and it has gorgeous blossoms too (2 or 3 trees in total).

My daffodils are opening up one by one! I planted them in December.

They are all a mix of different bulbs, so they are all different which is very exciting for someone who never planted flowers before 🙂

At last Alex and Shaun made beds for our corn seedlings in the field.

The pic shows it unfinished, but it’s done now. We have corn there, pumpkins, watermelons, melons and beans. There are sunflowers along the edges.

Alex made me a small field for quinoa which I’ll plant this or next week. I actually read that it does better in the cooler weather, and I’m thinking now that maybe I should wait till autumn to plant it. Any ideas?

There are more news, so I’m splitting this post in two.

This Blasted Rain!

Standard

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!

What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 3

Standard

Alright, last push!

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, and I’m not even mentioning our busy social calendar during these 8 weeks *grinning* but the last project which we finished couple of days ago was a chicken coop!

We’ve built it from bricks and cement, put a wooden support for the roof on top (made of eucalyptus branches and broken up pallets) and then tiled it with what we’ve had already.

I had to look it up online to see how to tile it all together 🙂

Then we’ve covered the walls outside with the white cement and waterproofed the roof.

 

Ideally we should have had some lyme coating instead of cement, but we didn’t have the time as we are getting the chickens on Monday. The nesting is done inside from tiles, bricks and hay.

 

Then we built the door out of broken pallets and fenced up the yard for the chickens. The gate is recycled from the dog kennel.

We will see how it all works out. None of us had chickens before, but both me and Alex vaguely remember how we used to feed chickens and collect eggs when we were kids. I’m also reading this book to help.

Last thing I did was building a scarecrow for the orchard. Took me 10 minutes after we collected our hay and much giggling!

Meet Oscar!

This is it for today. I might post tomorrow to show some cool pics from our quinta.

Lots of love,

Karina

What’s been accomplished in 8 weeks? Part 2

Standard

…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…