Sunday, February 12, 2017

February fun and frolics...

Tempus fugit, as they say, and the merrie month of February is once again upon us - in fact, right on top of us.  It's a wet, wet weekend at Várzea da Gonçala, and also high time to get another Várzea Blog out.

We've had plenty of rain, and we've had a icy (oh yes!) spell, with several nights of minus 4 and 5. Took lots of plants by surprise, and 3 young orange trees are in critical condition, and on the bright side, it blasted the annoying invasive Oxalis, and many other sensitives besides - also on critical are my neem and avocado and guava trees.

Ice on the pond, and a beautiful morning scene....

Life's been active and stable (really, it isn't always!).  My brother John paid a visit. He's thinking of coming here to settle one day - for sure her niece, Megan, would be very happy if that happens.

Daniel is coming to the 
end of his 2 and a half month volunteer stay - he's a theatre technician in Geneva in another part of his life.  The best news is that he plans coming back for next winter again - his quiet energy and care for his work, and relaxed outlook has been great to have around.  Here he is, on the right, working on the trees with Eric (left) and myself...

The focus of activity has changed from the autumn's mostly land-based work to infrastructure.  We are doing lots of work in and outside our houses, and I am having lots of fun working on additions to the childrens' play area.  

First, extending the "tea house" - not to be confused with the Tree House opposite, with re-located little slide, and joining the two with suspended monkey-bars, making an above-ground link from the Tree House, to the newly-extended "tea-house"

The new bars being demonstrated by Megan.

Then came the new high circular swing, which is a total instant-hit...

... and a new sand-pit.   Ready to add sand....   

.... and filled...

But that is not all - oh no, that is not all...!  Still on my list are swinging-bars, a trapeze-swing, a tunnel, a den, a water-feature and a sun-dial (nobody ever has a watch around here and it is useful to know the time-of-day sometimes). 

... more in the next Blog!

The geese are doing a great job of making the future food forest look like park-land...

We have moved them to the adjoining land for now to let the grasses grow back.  The 4 (beaky, the male, and 3 females - happily last year's single new arrival was female) lay between them 2 huge eggs daily.

Daniel has pruned our ancient Fig tree - now looking very elegant and breathing easily again after being somewhat bedraggled last year - we look forward to a super fig crop from this queen of our trees as a result.

The swallows just arrived, on 8th February, a week later than last year, and it's great to see them checking out their nest-sites of last year - how they find them??  

Plenty of plausible explanations of magnetic fields etc, but then all done by "instinct" - I love the way people bandy this word about, to describe and "explain" just about everything in the natural world which they can't explain at all!

Its an invented word, useful in efectually dismissng the great mystery of life. While at the same time maintaining our (human) assumption of superiority over the rest of the living world - ie, we can figure things out, while every other creature or plant does things in a kind of programmed (ie, wherein life doesn't play a part) way.

Look at it that way, you see the irony:  The word instinct, when referring to people refers to someone who is in touch with the connectivity of energy all around us. Yet, referring to animal behaviour, the Oxford dictionary has instinct as: An innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli.  What happened to the magic??

I hope we can gain the humility to accept the enormity of the mystery, of which we and our science understands but a minute fraction, but in which nature dances perpetually.

But I digress.... Robins are another kettle of fish...

At the end of  January (in other years this has happened in mid-Feb) we suddenly had the friendly little birds everywhere, many of them juveniles. They migrate from northern europe,   This year the northerly winds which brought the cold weather seems to have carried them here in great numbers, but with a week of icy conditions. it's been hard for them.

Bird boxes are going up too.  Actually we could use a few dozen to accommodate our pending bird-frenzy in the next couple of months. The hole-dimensions are critical to who comes to reside.

Another great boost to our Várzea group is that Kris (my wife)'s son Ben is back with us after being here a few years back.  He's a great person to have around and also doing some quality work in the houses and in our infrastructure generally. 

We also get out of the Várzea sometimes - though not so far!  A regular is our firewood-missions - here with me, Alex, Ben (blue t-shirt) and Daniel in the chaos left after eucalyptus-harvesting, gleaning dead trees....

We have new Dutch neighbours up the hill, and Dirk there is a very competent mechanic, and in return for fixing up the starter-motor on my pick-up we had a work-day, 4 of us, digging out a half-meter of earth behind his house to stop the water running across his floor...

... these exchanges are what make great friends out of neighbours.

The rain is falling here at the Várzea, and I'm getting chilly sitting here my wifi spot - the cable to my yurt needs a new plug fitted - so I'm launching this blog issue into the infotainment super-highway for your delectation... 

PS   We still have places available on our 2 spring courses here at Várzea da Gonçala - PDC from 24th March and our Chaym's gardening masterclass from 8 to 13 April.   Full info on this website!  Tell your friends!!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Chris!
    Thanks for another warming post. I just remembered the beautiful stay Katharina and me had at your farm almost two and a half years ago. It all felt so healing and good. To see you guys and the work you do is a blessing in these rough times. I really hope to come around again one day or maybe even have the balls to find ourselves a little nice piece of farm land as well.
    All the best to you, your family and all the good people around you!