Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

You! Work!

At last, thanks to a load of firewood, I’ve been able to move over to the quinta. The yurt is drying out nicely, the accommodation organised for efficient and comfortable living, and the little Lange stove is performing superbly. It’s so good to be here!

There’s been so much rain in Portugal that the Portuguese government have already announced there’ll be no water use restrictions this summer. It looks to me like the usual Atlantic weather systems that Scotland and the rest of the UK would be getting at this time of year have been pushed further south by the Arctic weather Northern Europe has been enjoying, so having come here relishing the prospect of escaping Scotland’s weather, I haven’t! Yet …

The rain has put me back at least a month from where I was hoping to be at this time, but having the best laid plans discombobulated by the weather is part and parcel of this lifestyle, so it is what it is. A break in the rain of two days of icy cold sunshine with a good ground frost have given me the opportunity to get to work outside as well as in. Vines and fruit trees are needing pruned, but my head seems to be in groundwork/construction space.

From the groundwork perspective, some severely overgrown steps need cleaned and drainage/irrigation ditches unblocked and redug. I made a start on those.

First priority construction-wise are compost bins for processing our ‘humanure‘, since there are already some bins piled up from the summer awaiting somewhere to put the contents.

This requirement dovetails perfectly with the need to deal with some windblown trees.

The first tree to need attention was one of the ones I removed from across the track before Christmas. Having snedded it out, I removed all the bark with a draw knife and sawed the tree into lengths. It gave me three 2m lengths and one 2.5m. Another windblown pine nearby conveniently gave me another two 2.5m lengths, so I now have the poles to form the framework of two side-by-side compost bins. They’ll need a bit of seasoning, if only for the fact they’re too sticky with resin to handle easily right now.

Round pole timber for compost bins

It’s hard to find words to convey the incredible satisfaction this work gave me. It reminded me of the main reason I ended up buying this land – no amount of romantic idealisings, heart tuggings or sensible rationality came anywhere close to the simple imperative welling up out of this piece of ground: “You! Work!” (Eldest daughter Emma was affected in exactly the same way.) As I sat there on the frosty ground (no saw horse yet) shaving bark off these trees, a deep sense of contentment began to fill me in a way that Heineken used to claim its lager could do.

This is what it’s all about. This is what I came here to do.

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  1. michelle January 10, 2010

    Sounds like you are a very very contented little bunny now you are getting stuck in….delighted you are there and having this experience!See you soon

  2. Lucy January 10, 2010

    It’s sounds wonderful, Wendy. So pleased for you x

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