Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summertime '16

Summer-time. A whole different feel and routine.  It's 30 degrees every day, the river is dry along most of our boundary, so we take siesta-time walks up the riverside path under the trees, to the "nibble-fish pool"  - here are Megan and Jaya boating on the surf-board....

...work becomes water-orientated too, and I have been having fun making new schemes for using our river-pipe supply.  Here is one of my spray-tubes in action...

... we raked the last grass-cut into 2 long lines (about 50m long), then I laid a tube along the top, and drilled it with a 1mm drill-bit to perforate. Then pump water back from our pond - for about 10 minutes every 2 days.
The result:  A rotting-straw fire-break, a compost-oasis, and a planting zone along the edges, especially for the autumn.

Summer is the quietest time, time to take time-out, enjoy siestas. We are just coming into the season of fruit-drying - first, tomatoes, soon pears from the wild trees. Later, figs,  plums, apples and late peaches.  A project for the next month is to make a warm-air dryer, for the early autumn when rain can prevent drying of the late figs and fruit - more on that next time...

Meanwhile, last Sunday, 17th July, was Várzea Open Day - our first for 2 years in fact - and it was a fun, chilled-out family-orientated day, lots of kids' stuff, games, trampolining, tours of the land and garden, great music-jamming all day, top food and cakes, and more cakes, and an evening after party, Here's some idea...

What is the Várzea about?  We get a steady stream of e-mailers, visitors..., "We are looking for a small piece of land, etc",  "We would like to come and see a thriving eco-community" (Well, ok, but Várzea da Gonçala is not a community. At this point we are 2 families and 2 helpers, without external income other than what we make from the place itself).

Practical people, vegans, permaculturalists, travelling-in-hope'ers - anyway, there are many people, individuals and families, who basically want to make a life-choice to get a piece of land and live off it, with it,  Most are interesting, intelligent people, often from successful careers. Some are well-grounded, some are dreamers.

I don't want to put anybody off, I always liked the Alanis Morissette lyric "I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone!".

But it's not Shangri-la, and it's not easy.  The people who lived from their land in the past had a huge amount of handed-down wisdom and knowledge, they had many neighbours to exchange food, expertise and energy with. They knew the ways of water, with great efficiency, and the ways of the seasons.  They lived, by modern standards, incredibly simply, with minimal energy needs.   And life was not so monetarily or otherwise controlled in the past - there were fewer impediments.

What you need?  You need plenty of start-up money, and you have to love what you are doing - you need to have energy in abundance, and enjoy every day's work in the spirit of forging a lifelong connection with your home, your land, This labour has to be sustaining to your spirit, not a drain on it.

Why am I writing this now?  Mostly because of the way I feel part of  this place. I spent 3 hours this morning and evening giving the first summer water to a hundred or two seedling oaks on our kilometer-or-so of hand-dug swales - and it was a totally uplifting experience to see the infant beginning of re-afforestation, which will take about another 5 years (more acorns in every autumn) before anything is really visible. In the meantime, I seed grasses and legumes each autumn on the swales, cut, in spring (very selectively).  They don't have their mothers, you see, so they need protection, nurturing and, yes, love.. Think that's hippy? Think again. It's integral to life.

Ok, enough said: money, energy, love.... here's a pic of some of our neighbour - accross-the-river - Dan's, Victor Schouberger-inspired river-rock shapes.... (the river's getting pretty little now)

It really does work, at drawing the water's flow to the centre of the river, creating a barrelling vertical flow, deepening the centre, instead of horizontal eddying eroding the banks. And riverside trees, with their roots, are nature's practical appliers of the technique.

To end this edition, a farewell toast to Andy, who has been such a calm and positive presence here for the last 4 months, giving care, understanding and feedback ideas to all the practical help he has given. He has a contract to look after a small-holding near Granada for the rest of the summer, though I'm sure we shall see him again...

Enjoy the summer, and keep dreaming......!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are doing great Chris. So sad we haven't made it to visit you in all this time. But we will one day and we have a little girl now too. All the best, Iza, Greg and TIlia x