Jul 16, 2013

Fruits of the last month....

Lovely Lengthening Days and fruits of our labour.....

In the lead up to Midsummer’s Day, the Solstice and São Joao we again found ourselves happily busy. 


These last weeks found us celebrating the puppies 3 month birthday, the arrival of 2 female kittens from Simba



......the reunion of the Northern Irish crew in the form of Kevin and Naomi from Face to Face days, surprise visits from Germany (Arnt and Miriam) and Duruxa (Carly and James) and help from Gabrielle and Jordan (WWOOFers from USA) and more recently, Samuel from France and Sara from Holland.

Read on to see the pictures and some
-->anecdotes from life on the land at the Mount of Oaks. Most events are in a chronological order.




Since the last post we had a visit from Kevin, he came for two weeks at the end of May/start of June. He really help out in the garden. He was helping to erect fences to keep the puppies out of the garden and bringing defination to the paths, making tee-pees for the cut grass (food for Xico later the in summer when we have no green grass anymore) and whipping up delicious deserts at any moment! 




Naomi arrived for a flying visit – a weekend to be precise, but our time, though short was really lovely. She was here for a BBQ we held for neighbours the 1st Sunday in June. 

Gabrielle and Jordan 


Our next WWOOFers arrived mid way though June, Gabrielle and Jordan from Florida. The Mount of Oaks was the first pit-stop on their 6 week trip to Europe.  



On the same day of their planned arrival we had a lovely surprise overnight visit from a German couple called Arnt and Miriam who were travelling in Portugal and Spain (sadly got no picture of them!) It was lovely to meet Miriam and Arnt and send them blessings on the arrival of their first child in a few months!


 Our two weeks Gabrielle and Jordan flew by and they helped with all their hearts and muscles.


One of our first collective tasks was to move the chickens and enlarge their pen to give more space for the 4 hens, the rooster and the three chicks. 

-->Other work that Gabrielle and Jordan helped with included the sifting of clay to make plaster for the inside of the strawbale building, preparing the foundations of the future dog house and the raking of grass on the top terrace – not easy work in the summer heat! 


Jordan also helped Barbara dig a trench for electric wire to bring the power from the solar panel on the roof of the bus to the kitchen……

  ......and Gabrielle helped me to begin to mulch the potato patch with mimosa cuttings.....



During the first week of Jordan and Gabriel’s visit a neighbour Rosso, who works for Greenpeace, invited us over for a lunch. The next day he was due to set off to join the Rainbow Warrior ship in Indonesia. 

We ate really well, then, on stuffed tummies we wandered his land and helped him harvest sour cherries to make a typical Portuguese  


Liqueur - Ginja.







More Cherries


The Fundao region is famous thoughout Portugal as the PLACE FOR CHERRIES – how lucky are we to live here?! 


 The reason the cherries grow so well here is because the cherry trees love the cold frost of winter and the heat of the summer to ripen and sweeten the fruit.



Garielle, Jordan and I had a LOT of fun at the local Cherry Festa in Alcongosta sampling cherry delights and enjoying the culture of this region – it seems like the villages here all enjoy any excuse for a party!




Every two weeks we volunteer at a neighbour’s land – this is part of our philosophy of community. 

Together with Jordan and Gabrielle and the puppies we went to the land of our friend Victor to help with a few things. 

Victor had wanted to construct a new composting area and also transplant herbs into his new spiral, plus sow melon seeds and transplant tomatoes….we helped and enjoyed ourselves very much!






After a long and difficult building project, our neighbours Martine and Paul threw a party to celebrate the completion of their double round houses.  One is a music studio..filled to the brim with all sorts of wonderful instruments..and the other a storage/work space. 


On such a hot day, the perfect way to begin a party was in the water at the bottom of Paul and Martine's land

For more information on the accomodation Martine and Paul offer at really reasonable rates - click here to check  out their  blog! For more beautiful pictures of the party taken by our friend Victor, click here


15th June was not only the date of the party at Quinta do Borracheiro - it was the day we had a wonderful surprise in the form of friends from our twin community in Asturias, northern Spain - Duruxa. James and Carly arrived just as we were leaving for Paul and Martine's.












We had a magical time together, sharing our hearts and the journey's of the last year. The beauty of the feeling of family is that no matter how far away we are from each other geographically, there is still that wonderful heart connection. 


 we relaxed together....


worked together and enjoyed communal silence



sang together


 and swam together!


James and Carly were here for almost a week and the time was really precious. We look forward to future exchanges of produce, purpose and personalities in the coming years. 






Saturday 15th June had yet another significance for us at the Mount of Oaks - it was the day Simba gave birth. We were at the Quinta do Borracheiro when she delivered in the kitchen. 



 We guessed she would wait until the puppies were not around, and we were right. So now we have 2 beautiful female kittens. In the coming post we will show more of the kittens - plus by then we hope to have names for the wee ladies! 





        Interested in how to make the traditional bread from this region in a traditional outside oven we asked a friend, Victor if we could learn with his mother. 


Below are a selection of photos that tell of the amazing day we had with neighbours, sharing knowledge, hospitality and friendship.  


a big thank you to all involved - especially Victor's parents from Póvoa de Atalaia




As most people will know there was a super moon in the sky, full and beautiful on the night of solstice this year. We joined a group of people, about 50 in total who walked up the Gardunha mountains by the light of the moon to watch the sun rise. 

  We walked with the puppies and our neighbours, Tyra and her daughter Helyna. The puppies LOVED it! 


and so did we!




the view as we walked down was stunning of the valley where the Mount of Oaks is situated



Even MORE Cherry Picking


Nearing the end of the cherry harvest in this region, we are invited by our friend Sr. Rodrigues to pick from his trees in the village. We got up early and went down from the Mount of Oaks with Lopes and Carlos, the dogs on Xico. Martine and Paul joined us, and together we collected a LOT of very ripe cherries. DELICIOUS!


After sorting the cherries into crates for eating and jam making - the work of removing the pits began - in the BATHHOUSE!



It was a job that required me to get very messy indeed


But it was worth it. The jam, jelly and juice from Sr. Rodrigues cherries are good and worth coming to visit to try some! 




With the HEAT we have been having - some days 42 degrees, but an average of mid to late 30's, the garden has needed a lot of water. This has been a daily task. However, the place is looking great - we have been enjoying courgettes, lettuces, runner and dwarf beans, loads of herbs - soon we will eat corn on the cob, peppers and more tomatoes! 




These last months when it was getting TOO hot we retreated to the pond where we swam and rested under the shelter

In the heat of the day it is impossible to work, so we siesta







Djembe lessons and visit from Samuel


On Fridays for the month of July myself and others (Mark and Cleo) have been taking djembe lessons with our friend Paul at their place in Castelo Novo. It has been great fun. 

 The other week after the lesson we went swimming, then we had a hairdressing session!!! Check out what Martine did to Barbara’s hair…..



Barbara thinks it is great! Afterwards the rest of the hair was dreaded.......



Others too got the chop.....Amandine and Diogo

 Here is one of the only pictures we have of Samuel - also getting his hair cut. What a DEAR French man who quickly felt like a brother. 



Samuel came for about a week. He has mutual friends of the Mount of Oaks and was traveling in Portugal. We shared long chats about faith, the church and our purpose in life. He helped us greatly, in the garden – helping me with transplanting – and Barbara with the future earth bag dog house (pictures of this to follow in the next post!)

We wish Samuel all the best on his journey and expect to see him again






Sara is from the Netherlands and currently studying International land and water Management.  She has been here for just a week, but is staying for another week. She just throws herself into anything that is going.


Her musical talents came out on our first evening – along with a couple of Isrealis who were passing by, she played the guitar and sang like an angel!


At the weekend we went with friends to Castelo Branco to a jam session. Sara played a few songs – we were really impressed. 



Barbara, Paul and Martine also played and jammed with the other musicians at the venue. 




At this time of year it seems like we live in a fruit bowl, picking strawberries, wild and sweet cherries, nêspera (Kumquat) peaches and figs. On reflecting about this we are really grateful for all the fruit in our lives, the fruit of friendships, love, commitment to daily tasks of overcoming misunderstandings and trusting in hope.





We are so grateful for all of you out there who pray and support us financially and with your emails, letters and packages - and of course skype conversations!!





 We hope that this update brings a smile and encouragement –  Small steps towards the philosophy of living simply, so that others can simply live. 



In peace and love, 

All the animals, plants and trees at the Mount of Oaks....plus Barbara and emma too! xx




Unknown said...

feel free to leave your comments here - especially if you were visiting this last month - we love to record your experience!

motmot said...

again a pleasure to read whats going on in portugal. can´t wait to visit and help you for the oliveharvest in autumm.
best wishes and much love,
tom :)

Mario Baleizao Jr said...

Happy birthday Barbara! I wish that your day end with much love, joy and many surprises. Blessings for you and Emma. Big hug

Mario Baleizao