Archive for April, 2012

And an olive came down the mountain

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

On a dull morning with rain threatening, we went up the mountain to the village above the quinta to meet the man with the digger. He had some olive trees he was digging up to plant a vineyard and he knew I was looking for one. We followed him up the mountain tracks to a slope above the village and he threw his arms wide. ‘Choose!”

I looked at the sorry-looking specimens, some of which were still hiding beneath a choking mantle of brambles and bracken, and wondered whether I should just say no thanks right away …

Digging up the olive tree


Slow your roll

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

There is a saying about building. There is ‘good’, there is ‘fast’ and there is ‘inexpensive’. You can have any two.

This time last year I hired a local team of builders to put up a balcony and trellis on the main building, finish the schist facing stone on the log store, and re-roof the small building. I knew their work – many foreigners locally have had them turn schist animal houses into habitable structures – and it’s generally reasonable enough for the price, though you get what you pay for. I figured if I didn’t throw too many unfamiliar techniques and materials into the mix they couldn’t go wrong with a simple wooden structure. The main rationale was that they had ready access to the sizeable amount of chestnut timber which was needed to construct the balcony, and which we were struggling to lay our hands on, but in truth I was also succumbing to the frustrations of slow progress.

Finished balcony and trellis


Water of life

Monday, April 16th, 2012

What a difference a fortnight can make. True to the Portuguese saying “Em Abril, águas mil” (lit. in April, a thousand waters), April showers began on April 1st, breaking the long spell of drought we’ve had since a few downpours in early November. Really though, it hasn’t rained ‘properly’ since last May. The amount that’s fallen so far is still small and only the top 8cm or so of the soil is damp, but the difference it’s made to the vegetation on the quinta is remarkable. A month ago, the raised beds looked all but empty bar the few stunted cabbages and remaining mangelwurzels that had managed to hold on through the dry winter and its frosts. None of the usual early vegetables were showing any signs of breaking dormancy and only the fruit trees were blossoming.

Now everything is transformed.

Yurt terrace raised beds in mid March

Yurt terrace raised beds in mid April


Room at the back

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Work has been steadily progressing on the waterproofing-the-back-of-the-main-building project started back in January.

Rear of main building


Easter egg

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The first of the chickens laid her first egg today!

Our first egg