Hello dear Mount of Oaks friends, visitors, supporters and curious people! My name is Márcia Luz and I am living here now. I have been involved in the Mount of Oaks project since the beginning, as I am Bárbara's friend. I had visited the land a couple of times before I decided to move here in 2008. I lived here for 9 months before traveling to Mexico. Since then I traveled in Latin America, North America and Europe. I have been involved in social and environmental projects but I had the desire to live again in community and not just with other people. Coming back to Mount of Oaks was in a way easy, as I know the place and the lovely people, but in other ways it feels like a new adventure.
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I am Eric. Born in Germany. In 2011 was the first time I visited Mount of Oaks. I came because Márcia told me about this place and what it meant for her. So I got curious. The beauty of nature and also the spirit of this place touched my heart. I love the idea of taking care of a piece of land and providing a place for animals and humans as a Refugio and home. And so here I am now being part of it.
In the future I would like to learn more about medicinal plants to produce infusions, tinctures, oils and soaps. As my profession was being a pharmacist it gives me a lot of joy to work in this field. I feel the land is already a place of healing by itself and I would like to contribute.
We are here now for almost 4 months. Months full of changes, joy and also challenges.
Every day unexpected things happen. That’s not always easy for me as a stereotype of structured German. We do structure and plan a lot our week but living close to nature, having animals and the interaction with neighbours bring unexpected surprises. I feel that I grew a lot in that time. I grew for myself but also in community together with Emma, Barbara and Márcia. Living at the land in community is not the easiest way but for me it is a joyful way.
Winter brought rain. Lots of it. Nature needs it. It needs a season of recovering, of rest. So do humans, too. The first two weeks of this new year were dominated by rain. Lots of reading and other indoor activities were done close to the fire. Olive leaves were sorted for teas (prepared as an infusion it has properties to lower blood pressure and used as antioxidant), lots of dry rosemary has been stored and we made a citrus-peel-vinegar for cleaning. You can check how to do it in Marcia's blog (in Portuguese).
Tom (Emma's friend from Belfast) visited the land again to discover life in winter time, as he was here the last summer. He continued to work on the drainage system next to the road (which was a great job as the rain didn’t damaged the road so much as previous). He was a great help, a very pleasant company and it seamed like he brought the sun and good weather back to Portugal. After he left, rain returned.
Me (Eric) and Marcia spend quite some time on the land by ourselves, allowing Baba and Emma to take care of personal things. It was good for us to gain confidence in taking care of this place.
We worked on roofs for the caravan and the van to protect them from the rain. Finally we finished in the beginning of February. Now we can start to work in the inside of the van, hopefully we can move in soon.
Thank God that once in a while the rain stopped and the sun showed up. Sometimes it was a break of 2 hours, sometimes of 2 days. So we were able to harvest Jerusalem Artichokes (some call it the lazy peoples potato). Some were eaten, some were given away to friends and some came back in the soil for next years harvest.
We also prepared already some soil and improved some raised beds. The gardening season 2014 has started. Yeah! Fava beans, garlic, onions and peas are already in the ground. Next month will be the time for lovely potatoes.
We joined this year a group who is learning more about organic gardening. Tristan from Quinta Ribeira do Rouco teaches in this course about his experience of more than a decade of professional organic growing and gives us hits and tips for lots of crops. It's also a great opportunity to meet our not so close neighbours.
One morning in February I woke up and discovered quite a mess around the kitchen and wondered if the cats or dogs had an active night. I enjoyed the sun warming up my face and not realising that the night before there were strong winds hitting the land. The worst I discover when I went to toilet. There was no roof any more! IT FLEW AROUND 100 meters and hit Xico's house! Our loved donkey was not injured but obviously confused about this flying object.
Márcia immediately took all the wet books out of our toilet library. Tolstoy & co. are safe and dry by now. Thanks to Márcia. And thanks to Baba who put the roof back on its place.
On the same day there was snow on the mountains of Serra da Gardunha while most of terraces of the land were full of water.
Winter is an important time for the land and for us. We used the time to dream about the future. We took care of ourselves, physically and emotionally. It was a time of self reflecting as well as arriving and a time of new beginning.
We already start to see signs of Spring! We hope Spring will bring good weather, beautiful people and the energy we need to start and finish the projects we have been dreaming about.