Thursday, January 15, 2015

Respect

A little thought...

You have some land, which is your responsibility: it's quite a concept. All the other animals who have ever lived play their part, a role, in the scheme of nature, while humans, in western culture at least, have the standpoint that they own land, which is, from an objective view of nature, quite an abstraction.  

It's a tricky business to live up to this assumed responsibility. We need to take time out to observe and become familiar with the life of the land, in a spirit of appreciation.  Problems begin when the concept of ownership is extended to mean the right to abuse and exploit this land as if it were an object, rather than an infinitely complex, living, intelligent system. The reasons are either ignorance, greed, or arrogance. Lack of awareness, maybe covers all three.  We have to be humble in the face of the infinite.


The land is our only resource for producing food.  This simple statement should shout out "RESPECT!".  It is our first and most intimate connection.  If you strip away this intimacy, you can jump very readily into a scenario where respect is conveniently substituted for disconnection, where in the name of expedience the land is misused and abused. Whether for industrial agriculture, exploitation for minerals, or a golf course, the justification involves the shedding of respect for our only fully relevant resource.  You might also say, that by disrespecting our connection with the earth, we can't realistically expect to find a grounding to our lives.

The last few weeks have been a brilliant time here at Várzea da Gonçala.  We have, as mentioned in the last blog, a wonderful bunch of people helping, on a wwoofing basis - exchange of energy and time for food and accommodation. But in times such as this the exchange is a lot more: fun, friendship and creativity - true symbiosis!  Here are some of the things we've been up to....

As a change from digging swales, because of the sun-orientation of the east hillside, we dug planting sites, filled with manure, on the sun-shade-side of hundreds of medronho bushes. The full gang here...



Left to right, Regina and husband Ger, from Norway, inside the arctic circle, Ian (sitting)from Brasil, Rubin, from Holland but a long-term valley resident, and Asa from Sweden.

It is pretty-much unheard of to have so much help all-together for a period of time, mostly because of limited funds, but it has been a very productive as well as enjoyable time.

There has been a big area of swales dug, followed by a nice project along similar lines on the big eastern slope, where we dug planting sites for acorns and little trees next autumn, on the shade-side (ie north) of the hundred or so medronho bushes.  The sun orientation of the slope means that the summer sun would be side-on to swales, so they would not create the same shaded microclimate as on the north-facing side. So different tactics needed.

Besides this, the garden is looking in nice shape, as well as a renewed greenhouse - new plastic and composted beds, lots of seedlings on the go. Also the chickens moved on, and their old area planted with fava beans, turnips and beetroots....


 It's been pretty chilly too - down to minus 5 on new year's morning and frost nearly every night for several week on the valley-bottom.  This was the dogs' water bowl, at the top house, which is way above the normal frost-line, on the first of January...


 (well, you understand, I did put the ice on the top)
... and this is our parsley...












Some progress, not spectacular but on-going, in the rabbit-house area. We are presently building up the walls of the ruin with clay, straw and sand mixture as mortar for stones.   It's quite slow but fun and good experience for all involved......


There have of course been pizza-nights, tipi nights, bonfires, all that holiday stuff, medronho, roasted chicken, even a men's night of the local male valley folk - a pretty cool idea by now-neighbour Arturo, in their family yurt - to talk practically - as well as inebriated blethering - in a different energy to the usual.  Women-only nights to follow....!

Finally, on the subject of our geese... There are three geese remaining, and we have long assumed that two were male, one female, but now we have been for a while collecting almost one egg per day, which by all accounts is pretty spectacular for one goose, particularly in winter - they are rather big - and I noticed that there are two sizes of egg....


... so it seems like we have two girls, plus Beaky (featured in the last blog)

Respect - and fun! from all at Várzea...

Entries now open for our spring permaculture courses: PDC 22 April to 3 May, and six-week internship 9 May to 30 June.  Info on the web-pages.







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