Thursday, April 10, 2014

Springtime 2014

Golly, it's a month, more in fact....

The first Várzea honey has been gathered!...


... and I have to show this one too....


.... with Lidia and little Namoh and Moksha.

Marlene left a week and more ago now, winding her way back to Germany via Covilha and France, for a few days joined by, and now succeeded by, Ines, from Berlin.   Both wonderful people, and a pleasure to have here, and each brilliant examples of what wwoofing means at it's best.  Marlene clearly enjoyed being here and we did some very good work in the garden together. In fact turned a weed-threatened garden into a clean and mulched labyrinth, with pumpkins, beetroot, chard, onions, leeks and garlics planted.

Spring is here, and after a big storm and much rain, the sun has come out, it's WARM and things are growing as if possessed....

This week a nice big pumpkin and soya-bean patch. Favas are looking good (little beetroots at the sides)...



Still space for many varieties of organic tomatoes, peppers, beans, and (more turnips, chillies, aubergines....) then this week we prepare the summer wet area, down from the pond, for cucumbers, courgettes, melons and propagate the sugar-cane.


Here are Marlene and Ines....


Then last week we were joined by another great family, Anthony and Katie, with their daughter Ella, who is already close friends with Megan....


...Anthony is doing the upcoming PDC and they are helping out until then.

Then for a few days only, Kate and Andre from Poland came - who keen blog followers will remember from last June's blog - paying a surprise and very good visit.

We have also been going to the beach!  I forgot to take my camera when Marlene and Ines were frolicking in the chilly-chilly March waves! - but here are some strange activities at Monte Clérigo...       



.... Andre and Kate on the right, Ines centre, and Anthony and Katie right.


Monte Clérigo is pretty....


Ines was to be here for 3 weeks, now she's staying through the PDC, which runs 17 to 27 April.  So far we planted 2 weeks ago the potatoes, after preparing the ground from the patch which the chickens vacated on the weekend - for their latest green and pleasant land next door.

This chicken-rotation system (I mean the areas - no chickens are made dizzy in this procedure, I must point out) is a nice simple and effective system of clearing and fertilising the ground for planting with little effort - just a few furrows for watering, dug with the trusty enxada (for those not familiar with this quintessential Portuguese tool, here is an image)...












... and in go the plants or seeds.

I have also been culling cockrells - the chicks of late summer are all grown up and a great number - 17 altogether - were males (only 10 hens), which is not a happy average  - tasty though!  Now just one...




Strange to say, for the first time in seven years I have been fully committed personally to the garden, instead of seeking to delegate this heart of the smallholding to others - and the balance feels good. There are no fewer ideas and projects being worked on, but starting the day in the garden, and moving out from there to the wider Várzea gives a centred feel to the activities.

Some new additions to the play area as promised....


... more features to come.   Meanwhile, the little school had their carnival here....


Pretty big changes happening at the moment, as we move from winter to spring.  The winter guests are migrating away - Tiago and Ana and little Namoh have now left, as have Sina, Lidia and little Moksha, all of whom are part of the Yamadas world music band. They have found a beautiful piece of land not far south from here and have already signed to buy it among the extended band families - 14 altogether I believe.  And Mafalda and her two boys left a week before.

On a random note,  here is a picture of one of our two cats, "Thing One"...


.... and here is a nice picture looking up from the vegetable garden....



So, the Várzea enters a new phase - such is the way: continuous change in a stable structure.  Now we move forward to the PDC, which is fully booked with 18 participants.  A great mix of people from many nationalities promise to make for a great event again.

The following week, 1st to 10th May, we have the Natural Building course, constructing a 12-sided "roundhouse" from timber, clay and straw, with reciprocal roof.  I can't wait for this one. Here is the site of the roundhouse-to-be....



We have 7 people confirmed so far and still several places available, so if you are interested, or know anyone who may be, please have a look at the page on the site for details.   Here is the poster....


It has been a busy month with a strong focus on the garden. Next month will be a different world - a whirlwind of people and activity - then in mid-May I can put my feet up (well, maybe?)....

Love from the Várzea!



1 comment:

  1. Dear Chris,
    I hope you are healthy and happy after this 2 great and certainly tiring events.
    I just came back to France from India, need some change in life.
    I am going to send you the manila tamarind seeds tomorrow, i hope they will reach you and become amazing beautiful trees to improve the soil and give you nice and sweet pods!
    Thank you for writing your blog, it feels great to come after few month and get update with the evolution of your land.
    I would love to come and visit you but i have to earn some money before that!
    Looking forward to hear from you and see the pictured of the round house and updates about the PDC.
    Take care,
    With much love,
    Jade

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