Feb 6, 2014

Seasons change...All change!

Since the last post in JULY?! lots of change has made us grow, grieve, laugh, dance and be grateful....



Some changes we have been really excited about, others were difficult to handle. 


This is life, isn't it? Periods of highs, lows and something in between....our mission if you can call it is to remain faithful to the gentle steps of daily life - caring for ourselves, those around us, the animals, plants and trees.


We are looking at 2014 with optimism and open arms - especially as we have grown from 2 'two-leggeds' living at the Mount of Oaks to 4! WELCOME Marcia and Eric!


Read on for a brief summary of the news and see a few pictures.


At the beginning of August, Baba and I (emma) left the land to be present at my brother's wedding in Northern Ireland. 
James married Louise, and it was a heck of a party at the farm where we grew up in Mid Ulster. Woop woop!

 However, having animals to look after and plants to water means that leaving the land is not an easy task at that time of year.

We were really blessed to have 2 angels to guard the land while we were away -
Sara from Holland and Ralph from Germany. 

Thank you both for your love and attention to the animals, plants and trees. It was so great knowing that you were both there.

A few months later we received a parcel of German organic goodies from Ralf. Along with the edible gifts was a moving letter that included reflections from Ralf's visit. 

 Here is a little section from the letter........

      'thinking back to Portugal is like thinking back to another world. A world that is slower, smaller, less confusing, much less rainy and less cold than Germany in Autumn. Reduced complexity is maybe one term to describe my impressions of the Mount of Oaks. Now back in the uni routine, there are a lot of questions. Instead of asking whether I should water the plants in the morning or evening, get fresh water today or tomorrow, go for a run with the dogs or stay in bed,  I have to think of the big questions now.....It was maybe a small exercise in this 'politics of hope' programme. Not knowing you and having never been working on a farm before, it was a step into the unknown or the 'other' if you fancy postmodern words! Not too bold, I acknowledge but quite a thing for my standards.'

Reflecting on how people experience the Mount of Oaks is important for us. 

Often hearing how the place effects visitors keeps us remembering why we are here offering an Open Space for pilgrims, punks, city dwellers, travelers and those seeking a rest or a place to experiment in intentional community.



Edna and our nephews came for a visit in August - here are some pictures of our adventure on the pond at the land - complete with 'boat' that Ba had made from pallet wood.

With the dogs we went to have a BBQ by the lake at Lardosa (nearby). It was a reunion of our dogs with their mum, Laika, sister, V, and brother, Baloo. Parents, kids and dogs all had a smashing time and ate very well!!!  

In rural Portugal the summer highlights are the village parties, known as Festas. In Atalaia do Campo we were a little like a circus act, turning up with the dogs and travelling by bike and donkey and cart!


As part of the Festa they had organised a football match for 'married verses single' women. Ba played for the marrieds of course and they won!!!


Barbara's parents arrived back from Angola in the summer for a 2 month visit. 

In August, on his 70th birthday, Acácio was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

This news was a horrible shock to the whole family. Both brothers, Gildo and Jorge came back from Angola for the family to be together. This in itself was a highlight as the last time this happened was 15 years ago. Here in the picture, together with Tu (3rd on the left), a cousin who also meant a lot to Acacio during his childhood.

                      Below with the Castelo Branco part of the family

Sadly, the prospects for Acácio were not good even though it was never clearly communicated to the family by the doctors... Anyway, the whole process with the oncologist hospital and general care would make another post.

He did tried an alternative (unfortunately still illegal) medicine with Simpson´s Hemp Oil which really helped him. 

He was sleeping well, eating well, without pain, good humor, and definitely not getting worse. No side effects apart from these.

The same was not so obvious with the conventional "treatments".
As the cancer was really advanced, his health deteriorated rapidly after one week of radiotherapy. On the 1st of November he had the first chemotherapy "treatment". After a week at home he was dehydrated and the doctors found out that he developed an allergy to chemo. That was it for possible "treatments". Acácio went to the Hospital and there he died on the 21st of December in Porto. 

This has been a really difficult time for the family. Please keep Ba's mum, Fernanda in your prayers. Fernanda is now back in Angola and thankfully surrounded by friends who are like family. Also pray for Edna, Jorge, Gildo and Barbara as they come to terms with the events of the last few months.




Northern Ireland came to visit - friends from Belfast days, Miriam and Tom traveled overland (and seas) by trains to spend time on the land. Quite a long journey, but they said it was worth it.  

I would like to travel more by train - especially the night trains. Tom, seems to be a bit on an expert now on navigating the train networks of France, Spain and Portugal!!!

They helped lots DESPITE the hot conditions of Portuguese summer. 


When it was just too hot we went swimming in a local river and at the lake. Miriam's had the good idea of a ice-cream as a way of cooling off! Yummy!!!

Primary school friend and frequent visitor to the Mount of Oaks over the years, Cathy visited in August too. Much reading, swimming, chatting and full moon watching made the trip seem really short. 

It was Cathy who discovered Ginga's kittens living under the guest room. First she saw a ginger one, we later named Gaspar. 

Then the others emerged - until we realised that she had 5 kittens. 3 females and 2 males.

We kept the 2 males - Gaspar and Pedro...more about that in another post! 

We found a home on another farm for the girls. If they are anything like their mum they will be good hunters.

Adrian and Mark, dear friends who live in London came for their first visit to the land at the beginning of Autumn.  It was a special time for sharing our ideas about community, especially as it marked a time when they and us were beginning new phases
It was so encouraging to about their emerging plans to visit and experience different sorts of intentional communities over the next years. 

They are on a pilgrimage of sorts - a 'Purposeful Adventure'. Mark has been writing a blog for which I highly recommend people follow, he writes really well!! Thoughtful, heartfelt, clever and funny! If you would like to read about their reflections on their time here - click the link to Mark's blog post - jollyquaker.com 



The climate in this region of Portugal is really suited to 2 growing seasons for vegetables. In August and September we were able to harvest a load of veg and fruit. Here are a few pictures of the beautifully organic (mostly biodynamic) summer produce. 

 SEED SAVING - tomatoes.....

It is so important to learn the techniques for successful seed saving as a gardener. For more information on seed saving - check out the following link: saving-seeds-for-next-season 
If you are looking for instructions on how to save particular seeds (they have quite a good list) check this link: how to save seeds

It is quite time consuming but well worth saving your own seeds in our opinion

 We sun dried a lot of tomatoes this year again. Great for sauces now in the winter.



Thanks to a recipe from Miriam lots of our delicious pears were bottled in apple juice and cinnamon sticks. 



The arrival of Marcia and Eric deserves a whole post to itself - their arrival marked a new phase in the life of the land. This new chapter of them coming to live at the Mount of Oaks was no light decision. 

Over a year ago they asked if we would consider them coming - since then we have continued to develop community with them at a distance - reading books simultaneously, sharing our hearts and hopes. They will introduce themselves further in other posts - for now, Ba and I would like to publicly like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the perfect timing of their transition to the Mount of Oaks, for the ways they have helped us these last difficult months - allowing us the freedom to leave to be with family when we needed, for their prayers and their care of the animals - never mind the great food and wood chopping! 

Marcia and Eric arrived in Autumn - in their first week at the land they hosted long time friend of the Mount of Oaks, Ulli Butterfly from Berlin. 

Often she visits thin Spring to dance with the olive or orange trees in blossom - in this season she was helping Marcia and Eric plant brassica seedlings, picking olives for preserving and sharing her stories.

Beauty often follows where Ulli has been -  Thank you Ulli.


Since having Xico we have wanted to plant our own cereals for his feed. This Autumn we did it thanks to the help of our neighbours!  

Even though we are not such fans of full scale ploughing, we enlisted the aid of Joao's tractor to prepare the soil for the oat seed. 


The crop is currently looking well - green shoots about 10 cm above the ground. Looking forward to seeing how she grows when the warmer weather returns. 

Great big thanks to Joao, Joao, Antony, Sara&Seb - you made the sowing a real experience to be remembered - music, drink and all! 


This year we had a bumper harvest of the 'good stuff'! From 1,059 kg we made 158litres of delicious oil.

We are selling oil this year - so if you would like to buy some, best is to come and visit! Get in touch.......

This year a neighbour came to help, Amandine - along with her stilts for picking the hard to reach olives. 


Eric with a stick ...... because of an accident we was not able to climb the trees this year - I know he is looking forward to next year's harvest already - if only to climb the olive trees.

Living on a farm can be a dangerous business - here are Marcia and Eric - taped up... thank the Lord for gaffa tape

Marcia's eye recovered quickly from a brush with an olive branch...note to self, always wear sunglasses - even if it is a cloudy day! 

We took the olives once again to the small olive press in Orca. We loved the result. 



 Despite it being early December the weather for my birthday celebration was perfect. Complete with heart shaped cake from Andy and Vonnie, friends from local area and a fire show - we partied late into the night. 

This fire show was part of Amandine's birthday present - very talented....as was her 8 year old assistant - Cleo! 



This last year has been FULL - please forgive us for our lack of communication for months. No mobile internet and trying family circumstances have meant that we have not been online. 

We hope that this year we will get back to our more regular updates.  

In following posts we look forward to sharing more of our plans, hopes and dreams. 

So until soon, keep the fires of faith, simplicity, love and friendship alive in your homes and hearts. 

In peace, 
emma, baba, marcia, eric and all the animals, plants and trees here at the Mount of Oaks. 


Mark said...

Thanks for this lovely post Emma! xxx

Unknown said...

Seja bem-vinda a memória do Gildo a essas paragens

Dot Gosling said...

lovely to see what has been happening... love to you xxx

Unknown said...

Really good to hear what you've been up to - sad, too. Love to you on MOO! Ele x