Archive for November, 2010

There goes another principle …

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

When climbing a very steep learning curve or making a big transition, I’m discovering that it often makes a lot more sense to take lots of small steps than attempt the leap in a few giant ones. It’s as much about preserving sanity as anything, and that’s one thing it definitely helps to keep a hold of when trying anything like this …

Mindful of Peak Oil, not to mention expense, climate-weirding pollution and general noisy smelly unpleasantness, I set out with the intention of trying to stay fossil fuel-free on the quinta. But having already succumbed to a couple of petrol-driven power tools like a brushcutter and chainsaw … and of course there’s the car … I’ve had to be pragmatic about it yet again.


Oops … we did it again

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

The cats are probably never going to forgive us. But they might eventually appreciate that, despite the incredible commotion, two dogs in a playful mood will play with each other, whereas one on its own will pick the nearest available cat.

Puppies playing


Instant oven

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

One thing I’ve really missed since setting up home in the yurt has been an oven. We have a 30 year-old camping gas stove out of an old VW campervan with two burners and a grill, plus the wood burning stove to cook on, but no oven. No fresh home-made bread. No cookies. No roasts. No oven-baked vegetables. It’s been hard …


Hydro power commissioning

Monday, November 8th, 2010

No matter how much effort goes into the attempt to get it right first time, inevitably, and most especially with experimental technologies, there’s a teething problem or two …

Water wheel in motion

With rainy days becoming more frequent now – so that finally, after a long dry summer, there’s more than 1 litre per second coming down the barroco – we’ve had the chance to finally commission our water wheel installation and see how much power it’s capable of generating.


Yurt porch

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Finished at last, complete with arty-farty bits of tree. Not quite so easy to dismantle as originally intended, but still a stand-alone structure that’s not fixed to the yurt, and which allows the covers to be removed every year. The sawmill offcuts morphed into rough timber boards – there weren’t enough offcuts left of a suitable thickness.

Yurt porch after completion

The simple side, the walnut strut


Quinta wildlife #11

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

A Common toad (Bufo bufo) hanging out in a pile of ex-floorboards. Pictures by Ema.

Common toad, Bufo bufo, in Central Portugal

Common toad, Bufo bufo, in Central Portugal


Friday, November 5th, 2010

Building work on the quinta has been progressing really well lately, despite us beginning to have to watch the weather forecast to plan what we do from day to day. Rain is forecast for next week, so today we removed one of the floors to clean and preserve the chestnut beams so we’ll have something we can get on with under cover next week.

Floor removed from first floor of building

No floor!