Dec 21, 2011

Autumn into Winter...

Yes, it's been again too long since the last time we wrote anything here... The main reason was that, since Emma and I came back in the end of October, there was lots of work we wanted done to prepare for the winter, and of course, the olive harvest, our main winter crop... The days were not so long, the sun rising between 7am and 7.40am at this moment, and setting between 5 and 5.30pm... You might wonder what we were up to? So our time has been spent between planning, studying, working, prayer and meditation, cooking and cleaning, resting and hanging out with the many visitors we had these last couple of months. As a result there has not been much energy left to be writing in front of the computer... adding on to the fact that we only have our laptop battery life to use in one go...
The picture on the right shows the first thing we did when we came back... fixing the kitchen roof that would always leak on rainy days...

it was just another patch, with folded aluminum sheeting screwed onto the existing roof... but it works well for now as the leaks have stopped ... yehhh...we do wish to make a total reformation on this roof, rising the walls a bit and putting in some more windows for light... but that will need a bit more investment and it's not for now...

The second thing was the roof in front of the kitchen... we had enough with the yellow tarpaulin which would always leak, and kept being blown away by the strong winds...
 We bought some aluminum and transparent roof sheeting and I worked on the roof structure...
It's much more comfortable now...
While I was busy with the roofs, Emma got into a general cleaning in our kitchen, which it really needed after being away for so long... she moved around few things, and had the brilliant idea of moving our library into the compost toilet... 

It looks great and it's actually a perfect place for people to chose a book they would like to read :-)... Emma is great turning things beautiful !!!
I also improved the wood storage area and created another small roof for the smaller "starting fire wood"... we 're quite sorted now with dry wood for the winter...
During this time Miriam, our friend from Belfast, came for a week... it was really nice to have her with us... she's a great gardener and gave us some nice tips ... on one of the rainy days we had, she and emma also sorted all our seeds and organized them a bit according to the seasons each should be planted...
 we invested a bit more in building material and got this boards of Alder wood... we got a nice deal from our friend Cesar from Valverde. He and his father were selling this wood to a furniture factory, and these ones were "not perfect"... well, for us they were, and as you can see they look really pretty...emma helped me to paint them all with car oil on the outside and borax on the inside...
 our workshop and hang out area which for now we're calling "The common space" is more comfy now... later on I put a small wood burning stove with a long chimney pipe that goes around the table (as you can see in the background)... we can still enjoy the openness and the stunning view of the place and still be sheltered and warmer... 
 As I was finishing that job, Tom, a friend who was here 3 years ago, came from Germany with his friend Ilt and 2 other girls...  We felt the time was right to start harvesting the olives...Tom and Ilt stayed for 20 days and the girls stayed the first night and 2 more days later on... Here in the picture you can see brother Ilt up on the tree like a monkey :-)... he was our tree man, no ladder needed...every last olive picked !!!
We were so grateful for all the help we had this year... just on the right time...
Sara, a girl I met 6 years ago in Germany, also came and stayed with us for about a month... we had such a great time, nice chats, and we definitely gain another sister... she's wonderful !!!
A friend of Emma from England, Karen, also came with another friend for a lovely night...
Marcia, who lived here before for 9 months also came twice for few days with her boyfriend Eric... It's always a pleasure to have her around and it was nice to get to know Eric... She met him in Moldova, where she volunteered in a women's project for 10 months...
Another friend of Emma from Belfast, Becky, also came for a couple of days and they had a great time catching up ...
Joseph and Amy, stayed for a while as well... They were with Paulo and Cheila, some of our neighbouring rainbow friends, and came to help us with the olive harvest... here they are with Ilt, sorting out the leaves from the olives with Tia Adelina's "machine" (our "next door" neighbour).
As we were so many and our neighbours and friends Meline and Alfonso needed a hand, we all went there to help... it was a really nice day and we had a good fun... Alfonso had a little accident with a circular saw and his finger was getting healed... Meline is super pregnant as they are about the have a new baby in the family... Me, Emma and Sara went back there one more time the week after... They were really grateful to have us around and they also gave us 2 buckets of olives as they had enough for themselves...
November was good for mushrooms, and we had several meals with this delicious ones called "Frades" which translated means "monks"... they are quite nice grilled on the coals with olive oil, garlic and salt... yum !!!
some of our olives ready to have the leaves sorted...
Then they would be put into this bags... people told me this year that this was they would be kept good for a long time... I was a bit skeptical I have to say... But they were for at least 2 weeks bagged and stayed ok... we took 740 Kl to the press and that gave us 102 liters of nice olive oil... The man who took them to the press with a tractor didn't know, so he left 20 liters at the press to pay the costs...usually I would buy it and stayed with all our oil... but hey, 82 liters is a good amount... 
This year, because we picked our olives a month later, most of them were fallen on the ground. Our Olive trees are of an old variety and they should be usually harvested in mid October... That was one of the reasons we had less kilos this year, and also because I pruned some of the trees last year... 
The presses were also quite full this year, and that's why our olives waited for so long on those bags... this picture was taken in Fundao, in the Cooperative press, and it just shows the beginning of a huuuuuuuge line of vans and tractors...
 Hannah, Emma's best friend also came for a couple of days... she and her husband Johnny were not so far from us having a rest in the countryside Portugal...
Another friend, Magda, also came for few days... Emma met her and her partner, Marcin, while in Belfast... They are from Poland, and Magda is at the moment studying Spanish and Portuguese in Santiago de Compostela... now so far from us either...
Here's Magda and Emma on her Birthday... we went to the village to collect her post (mainly birthday cards and wee presents), and we spent some time at a local cafe opening them up... During that time Emma's mom called... after that my parents also called from Angola to wish her happy birthday...


At the weekend we had a little party lunch with some of our neighbouring friends : Alfonso, Meline 


and Cleo, Paulo, Jay, Jenny and little Kai, Silvy and the not so neighbouring, but really close to our hearts, the Winter family , Andy, Vonny, Josh and Elli...


It was a great feast of friends
Sara was still with us... here distributing the cake Jenny had brought... Yummy !!!
This was another day when Alfonso, Meline and Cleo came by... we visit each other quite frequently and we are more and more becoming family :-) ... this day Cleo decided I would be her sister, as she only have brothers and the one who is about to be born will be another boy... I was glad and felt really privileged ... she's an amazing child !!!

Meline and Alfonso... The baby is due between Christmas and New year... We're looking forward to get to know him ...


Now some time for gardening... Me, Emma and Sara went to pick up some nice goat manure... Antonio, a friend from the village has a few goats and doesn't use the manure. He picks up his food at the old people's home, so he doesn't really plant much... he simply loves his goats... In exchange, we'll help him to bring things from Fundao with our van, like cat and dog food and also corn for the goats...
Here is a new mulched bed we made... and some new straw we put on the last year's beds... the part with the tires has just the cardboard so we can prepare it when we come back after new year... it will simply kill the grass underneath and it will be ready for more manure and straw...
We already planted some cabbages, onions, garlic, beetroot and strawberries... and so far they are doing fine ...
Emma also planted some flowers and roses next to the compost toilet... again, making things even more beautiful...we'll see how things will go when we come back... we've had some very frosty mornings lately...


We've put some energy on our experimental "Food Forest" (basically a forest with fruit trees, shrubs, climbers and perennial ground cover)... using the existing mimosa trees as pioneers and mulch material, and planting some fruit, nut trees and berry shrubs in between... we'll see how it evolves...
some pruning on the Big Cherry trees that were drying... and a LOT of work from Sara, and at the end also from Marcia and Eric to mulch the orange and tangerine grove...
And resting... :-) ... After everyone left, me and Emma had few days by ourselves... making little things here and there, planning, dreaming, cleaning up and chatting about next season to come... we got to the conclusion that we would really like to have some time with only ourselves in the land... Winter is a time for introspection, and we feel we need time for that... It's been a pleasure and privilege to have all the wonderful folks passing by, helping on the land, bringing life and their gifts and talents to this place. We are both amazed as we consider all that has been done externally here in less than two months!!! Heck! However after much consideration, it seems like us and the land are seeking time to adjust to the changes of the last season - there is a need to develop a personal rhythm for us, and a time to rebuild the prayer rhythm and the prayer shelter in a contemplative mode. As such we are asking that the land rests from welcoming 'angels' until after Easter. 


That's it for now, have a great time with your loved ones at Christmas and a blessed new year! 


Barbara and Emma, from the Mount of Oaks



2 comments:

asp said...

I like to read your description. It was a long time without news about you. It´s wonderful knowing that you are happy and doing what you believe is the best, not only for you but also to the nature and your faith. Thanks

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