A year has passed and doing a flashback of what happened in the land meanwhile is a beautiful way to introduce the project and our new blog. It wasn't easy to chose pictures, especially because we weren't taking many in the beggining - how silly of us. When exploring the terrains for the first time in March 2014, we took some photos, so you can see how it looks like after not having been intervented by my grandparents, both deceased, for 9 years:
Seven terraces, all for us. You can have a peek of what would later become our house in this last image, the top-right corner! That one, the stone one.
We have different lands spread around in different places - forest, riverside, parcels with olive trees, some more exposed and others more recondit. But Tapada da Ribeira is where everything happens, the one we chose as a home.
We decided the best way to present the pictures would be by season. The landscape changes so much around the year, and so did our work. And as we move in in July, in Summer it begins...
We settled in and did the first seedlings. First two weeks were spent in the village, in my grandparent's old house. But then, while exploring the lands, we found this gorgeous little house, that used to serve as a a potato or hay storing place, and even hosted some oxes. It was instant love. You can almost consider it part of the village, but being in the valley without neighbours ahead, in a recondit place, gives it just the right feeling of retirement.
So, what did we do after having a matress on the floor and a stove to cook on?
We did the compost toilet! And got a bucket shower :-) After the first rain, we realised the straw roof didn't work that well... So we had to cover it with a plastic sheet, topped with caniço.
Set up some storing place.
Discovered the pleasure of building with stone.
We made a rocket stove.
Those cabbages started to grow! By the time, we were still trying to discover our way around with agriculture. To dig or not to dig? To weed or not to? Experience - and advice from the neighbours - led us to some answers. We did lots of mistakes, and that's the way we learned.
We got four chickens!
And a dog, Serra, to guard them.
*sigh* (in the back, you see our provisory chicken coop. Something else we learned: if we don't do anything about it, provisory becomes permanent. Thankfully, that wasn't the case of the chicken coop)
We started our first raised beds. They were very simple by this time, some wood branches inside covered with earth, newspaper and turf facing down.
Brr! The mornings are very cold, but in the afternoon the sun shines again.
There's Sam working on some raised beds against the wall. Why there? Because we made a giant monster of bramble cuttings and didn't know what to do with it after, neither wanted to rip ourselves open moving it somewhere else to burn. Surprinsingly, waiting for them to crumble down and then covering the mount with earth and mulch was a good idea. They didn't grow back!
We insulated the roof of our house. No more sleeping under 20 wool blankets!
Some more raised beds, these filled with olive branches. We picked our olives and made olive oil. :-)
Some friends passing by helped us build a mezzanine to sleep on and indoor stairs connecting the kitchen to the room. These were huge improvements. The mezzanine gave us lots of extra space to make a living room, and the stairs offered us the comfort of not having to go outside everytime we wanted to grab something from the kitchen. A couple weeks later, we added a trapdoor to the stairs, easily opened whenever we need to go up or down. That helped keep the kitchen coldness away.
We made the new chicken coop. The definitive one!
Friends helped us getting the garden going! From this point on, all our beds were hugelkultur. We dug trenches and filled them with logs from the forest, in different degrees of decomposition. Then we covered them with turf, earth and finally mulch.
The garden is fruitful and we harvest every day. The weather is extremely dry and the vegetables need daily watering. We installed a drip system which helped save so much time!
In the beggining of Spring, with great joy we discovered that someone else would be joining us!! As we publish this, there are only 10 weeks to go before meeting a little girl! This means that until the end of the next season we'll work really hard on making the house and surroundings as comfortable as possible for all of us.
And then a new cycle begins...
22 september 2015