About Me

We moved out to Portugal to live a frugal but better , simpler and peaceful life, our house is a very basic, semi ruin, up in the hills outside Figueiro Dos Vinhos, where we work our land, enjoy life with each other and our dogs, and hope to make the smallest carbon footprint we can,

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Spring!!!

The weather is still gorgeous, Spring has sprung and I heard my first Cuckoo on tuesday and almost everyday since. The woodpeckers are still at it and we have butterflies everywhere, its wonderfull , just as if summer has come three months early.

My butternut squash are coming up as are the pumpkins, everything else is going great guns, I'll buy another doz lettuce plugs today as the others will be ready to eat within a couple of weeks...

Rik has finished his work helping out other people and now next week will continue with building the BBQ and sun deck area for the cottage.
Its looking really pretty down there now, one of the roses Dad and Rik bought me for Christmas is already flowering, a peach coloured bud... smells heavenly...

Friday, 20 March 2009

Planting, planting planting...

The lovely weather continues, its gorgeous, yes I know its not especially good as it increases the threat of forest fires later in the year when we have such hot weather so early.... but I cant help it! Its beautiful....We are BBQing out on the terrace, eating salads... its just like summer in March....
The trees are now starting to leaf up and the grass is green again, all my spring bulbs have flowered and gone, even our vines are starting to bud up now....

The work in the veg patch continues, I spent two hours hoeing yesterday morning while it was cool, we now have 60 caulis in and flourishing, all the leeks, lettuce, and toms and peppers. The broads beans are 4 inches high and the peas shooting up way beyond that... all the beans are now coming through , another week and they'll be up and away... I love it... everything sprouting and looking so lush and fertile...
Just waiting for my squashes to get going and the okra and then Im done..... well the easy bit is anyway... the hard bit is keeping it all tidy and weed free. I generally spend 3-5 hours a day down there durig the main growing season... I love the peace and time to enjoy working on the land.
Work on the house has come to a halt again at the mo as Rik has had a few days work here and there helping other people, but thats finishing soon so he'll be able to crack on with the BBQ area for the cottage and complete the sun deck by the pool for them too.

I've had to stop taking Bonnie with me when I go for my early morning walk, I came across three lots of bloody caterpillars the other day all within a 50 yard stretch of path, she's good and doesnt seem to go near them (the vet says she remembers the last time) but I cannot take the risk, I couldnt carry her that far home by myself.... never mind only a another few weeks are the main threat will be over.

We are still trying to find time for wood collecting, we are still using the range for cooking, but only lighting it early evening just in time for the meal and then letting it go out, I hope to keep this up right into the summer till it gets too hot to bear doing it... It saves us a fortune in gas.

We are still not using the fridge, its not a problem even now its warmer, our cubby is stone built and still lovely and cool, later in the year I will need to use the cooler bag I think but Im sure we'll manage . The cost of electric we save is great, and if the weather stays like this, I'll be doing most small washing in the concrete tank in the garden so that will help there too. It seems daft to use the automatic when the tank in the yard works so well. But Im not doing that in winter!!! I see poor old ladies in the middle of winter with their hands in freezing water washing clothes....
well thats it for now.
Pat

Monday, 16 March 2009

Caterpillar Continued

In reply to requests for more info ...
The medicine we use is prednislerone, that spelling is not correct but very nearly, its a human pill and we get it from the local chemist , comes in various strengths, the dosage is about 2mg per kilo of weight of your dog, it works like magic, .
The trouble is we cannot leave the dogs in the garden for long at a time at this time of the year as we have pine trees near the garden fence and the caterpillars travel quiet a distance, and if you leave it too long before treatment the dog would die.

Yes we went to our neighbours to eat, it went well except I couldnt join in the talking much, as there were ten people and so much noise, the voices all just blended and made it harder to understand, but we had a great night, loads of lovely food and great company.

The weather is fantastic, the last few days has been glorious, mid to high 70s and set to stay that way ..

Monday, 9 March 2009

Processionary Caterpillars

The lovely warm weather returned after a couple of days rain, but has brought with it bloody nasty caterpillars, they are so dangerous to our dogs, and to us if we touch them, we've set fire to 5 lots in 10 days now, its the only way to safely destroy them. We keep medicine in the house especially labeled with exact dosage for each dog just in case, lucky we do as a couple of years ago, if we hadnt had the pills my lovely Bonny would have died.

We've continued on with the planting, 200 onions, loads of green beans, french beans, coriander, and parsley.
The spuds are showing through the ground already as are the peas and beetroot....

Its all go.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wild Winds...

Wow are we having some weather ! All day yesterday and all night we had howling gales, it was so loud last night we couldnt sleep much, its calmed a little this morning but seems to be building again now. I do love wild weather and boy do we get it up at Bou├ža during the spring and autumn. There is nothing to do but batten down and stay by the fire.... unless like me you come into town instead... hehehehe
A quiet day tomorrow, must wash and dry my hair by the fire as we have been invited to a meal by an elderly neighbour, I must also make a Egg Custard Tart to take with us as she really likes them. We are looking forward to it lots, it will be a challenging evening as there will be no-one there who speaks a word of English so our Portuguese will be put to the test.
I spoke too soon in my last update, we had a electric bill yesterday, 25 euros cheaper than the last one, and half of that was estimated as we changed the meter halfway through the cycle...
I'm encoured but not overjoyed, we'll wait for the next one for a true reading...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Work work work...

If anyone ever tells you retiring from the rat race is easy.... forget it... we work so much harder now than we ever did.
The weather until today has been beautiful. which means planting the veg continues, the ever needed wood is still in short supply which means loads of work to drag it out of the forest, loading the van, cutting stacking.... its an never ending job really. But don't take this as a complaint, it means we heat the house and cook for free.... It just means work. We plan to save up and buy 100 little eucalyptus saplings in the autumn to plant on our bottom patch of land, its good for nothing much as there is no water, then we hope that will be a source of firewood for when we are too old to work so hard collecting as we do now. Eucalyptus renews itself, it sort of coppice's so cutting down doesn't kill the stump and you always get new growth.
We've also resurfaced the front of the cottage area, concrete with pressed gravel, it looks lovely now so neat and clean. Rik will be starting work on building a summer kitchen area for the cottage in a few days so our guests can eat outside more easily, we have the blocks and materials for building the sun deck next to the pool too, so that will all be done by the start of the summer. Its great each year we manage to improve things a little. Rik also plans a small covered motorbike parking area before the hot weather .... its all go. Luckily we have access to huge amounts of wood for building so most things cost very little, just elbow grease....

No electric bills still.... seems ages, I'm actually eager to get one to see what difference the changes we've made have done.... oh God please let it have worked... I'll be p##sed if there is no difference...
We've painted the floors in the house with watered down paint, to stop the dust, its worked and looks so much cleaner and brighter, cement floors are the pits. But at the moment it cant be helped, until we can afford tiles, that's just how it is.

We've also cleared another terrace, the next one up above the veg plot, it will still be a while and much more work until its plantable, but hopefully by the end of the summer we'll be able to plant another eight or so olive trees up there. We still have so much land to clear and make use of, I have plans for almond trees, an orange grove and some more mixed fruit... and of course olives... I love olive trees... they are immortal... look into it... you'll see!!!