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Teia's Garden in Portugal

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  • #371573
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    It’s a modern design by Lisa Parker, with very celtic and pagan overtones!

    I was browsing on ebay trying to find a suitable little keepsake to remind us of the babies after they have grown up and been released, and I found this design on a greeting card, so I thought I’d get it, frame it and put it up on the wall somewhere.

    The ‘tree of life’ theme is very pagan, and the knotwork is celtic – I love the way the knots in the roots carry over to the branches. The babies were found under one of the plum trees we planted a few months ago and the whole design has a very ‘permaculture’ feel to it. The hares on the card are gazing up at the moon, which I’ve found out is symbolic of fertility and Easter and all that kind of stuff.

    The myth of the Moon Gazing Hare reflects ancient beliefs. Pagans believed that seeing a moon gazing hare would bring growth, re-birth, abundance, new-beginnings and good fortune. The hare is known to be sacred to the goddess Eostre and eventually became known as the Easter bunny.

    I also found this fellow…

    I wonder if my credit card would mind if he came to live in our garden near the pergola somewhere…

    #371574
    ChezzaChezza
    Participant

    I think most Aussies see hares and rabbits as the same thing and that equals environmental pests…. I was also wondering if you could eat one why not the other…. But I’m glad they’re hares and special!!! :tup::tup::tup: They are so darn cute!!

    #371575
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    Neither rabbits nor hares are pests here unless they are in a veg garden. They are both totally native and regularly hunted and snared by the locals. The problem here these days is too few rather than too many. Vast areas of old grasslands have been turned into pine and eucalyptus plantations and any grass that is left tends to get ploughed up every year to try to prevent fires. The only grass left tends to be in abandoned plots which get sold off for eucalyptus planting as soon as the old owners die. As the grass disappears, so do the grazers, and then the natural predators – the lynx is all but extinct and it isn’t known whether Portugal has *any* breeding lynx left.

    Its a shame that rabbits ever got sent to Australia, and that eucalyptus ever got sent here, but I’m trying to do my bit. We bought the ten acres of old grassland just below the farm last year to stop it getting planted over so the babies will have somewhere to live. I’ve also decided that the reason the mother hare might have moved into our garden is because of the little ponds – she needs drinking water!

    I think I’m going to have to install a mini pond near the release site…:|

    #371576
    BobbeeBobbee
    Member

    That sounds brilliant Burra M. :hug: :clap::clap: :tup:

    I also hope your credit can stand the pressure, ‘cos that hare is fantastic too. I feel very drawn to ‘tree of life’ stuff and I love trees.

    :hug: :metal: :hug:

    Whoops……credit card I do mean.

    ps. Love the myth too. Thanks for sharing all that with us. :metal: :metal::metal:

    #371577
    MetuMetu
    Member

    If you don’t mind me asking Burra, have you enjoyed the treechange in another country? What has been the best thing you’ve discovered about where you live now, and what is the worst.

    I only ask because we made the treechange from inner city living to acerage, and it wasn’t what I was expecting at first. Now though, I’m not sure I could return to suburbia. I’ve toyed with the idea, but then I spend a day in town and can’t wait to get back home!!! 😆

    #371578
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    Well the first thing I had to do was google ‘treechange’ – it seems to be purely an aussie term! Google seems to thing it means ‘escaping the city’ which seems to fit with what you were saying, so I hope that’s right.

    Although I was born in a big city in the UK, my parents were the ones that did the treechange when I was a baby, so I have no memory whatsoever of city life. We lived in a rented house surrounded by farmland which belonged to the owner of the house and we kept chickens and ducks and had a huge veg garden and were allowed to run wild on all the surrounding land, so to me rural life is ‘normal’. When I was nine we moved to a housing estate in a nearby town and I thought my life was over – how could I survive without my fields to play in? 🙁

    As soon as I was old enough I moved out of town and within a year had found myself another rented house on the top of a Welsh hill, off the mains and, once again, surrounded by acres of sheep and with wild mountains to explore whenever I wanted. Things went wrong after baby was born ten years later and I had to move into the top floor flat in the middle of another town, but babies have to come first. Then to a little house in a street of my ‘home’ town – the first one in the town to have solar panels!

    I hated living in a town and soon moved to a shared house in a village a few miles away and we saved up and bought our very own patch of land on the top of yet another Welsh hill surrounded by sheep – 25 acres of bliss, including a one acre garden which we grew all kinds of stuff on, and 9 acres of wild welsh bogland full of lizards and hares and badgers and kites and orchids and all sorts of wildlife. Unfortunately we couldn’t get permission to build there and although we had wonderful neighbours one side (a women’s commune) the ones the other side were a pain in the butt, typical English ‘I’m better than you’ types with a fixation on boundaries.

    We finally decided that living in a UK village with all it’s petty bickering just wasn’t what we wanted, took off in the van for the summer, took a ferry across the channel and toured around France, Spain and finally Portugal. We fell in love with Portugal and zigzagged our way down until we found the area that suited us best, found an estate agent who could speak a bit of English and within an hour we had been shown two suitable properties and we settled on one and signed up for it. Then we had to travel back to the uk and sell enough land to pay for it.

    The women’s commune jumped at the chance to buy a patch of land next to their place, and I couldn’t think of a better thing to happen to it – it’s now planted up with all kinds of trees and has become a sacred place to them. We spent a few years traveling backwards and forwards and paying off the loan which we still had taken out to buy the land in the first place, and then my uncle decided he wanted to come with us, so after much deliberation we decided to sell the rest of the land and buy a house in the village half a mile from the farm so that uncle would have somewhere a bit more appropriate for his needs (like running water, electricity, his own room, a toilet – the kinds of things ‘normal’ people want…).

    I was apprehensive at first about living in the village, but village life here is *totally* different to village life in the UK. For a start, the villages are smaller – all the houses are packed together really close and are occupied pretty well exclusively by people who were born here or married to someone who was born here. It’s virtually a ‘tribe’ rather than a village. Everyone is related to everyone else, everyone knows everything about everyone else, everyone knows which land and which tree belongs to who, and when those trees fruit, and who doesn’t have many trees and needs to be given more fruit from your own trees when you have too much. Most houses have little quintals or backyards with gardens, but *everyone* also has land outside the village, usually several plots which get bigger and bigger the further from the village they are, but the houses are all in a group and huddled together in one spot.

    We were the first ‘foreigners’ to the village and although the neighbours want to know everything about us, they have also accepted us part of their ‘family’. For the first year or two they would donate all kinds of fruit and vegetables, as we were only poor foreigners who didn’t have a decent garden. They still give us some, but they keep an eye on our garden and know that we don’t need so much now. They also have a different outlook on helping each other. When they need anything, they will knock and the door and ask for it without hesitation, and if you ask them they will help you without hesitation. And the system is never abused. So if one of them gets their tractor stuck, or has to go to town to see the doctor, or has a tree fallen over which needs cutting up, or they no longer have the strength to lift their sacks of olives onto the link box on the tractor, they choose the most appropriate person to help and just knock on the door and it is assumed that help will be given.

    I should also explain that the village is populated almost entirely by old folk. There isn’t much work around here so as the children grow up they leave to get jobs in the city, and now all those children are grown, mostly with grown up children of their own. As the old folk slowly die off, the village gets emptier and emptier so now there are only nine permanently occupied houses, with the rest being either abandoned or used by various offspring for holidays and for accomodation at olive picking time.

    At Easter time and during olive picking the whole village comes to life as all the children and grandchildren and sometimes old ladies who have had to go and move into the city to be looked after by their families return to the village, and I think that is what I like best about the place. I never thought I’d say it, being a hermit and totally anti-social, but the way the village works is quite humbling. All the women get together and unlock the old bake-house and bake cakes, while the men go walking in the forest (taking my son with them too!), or sometimes go on a hunting trip together. I don’t know how to describe it, but it seems really like how people were meant to live. I’m still going to go live at the farm one day as I’m very much a hermit, but I’m actually really glad that things worked out the way they did and we’ve had the chance to become part of the community.

    Ooops – that went on a bit longer than I was expecting. I hope it answers roughly what you wanted to know…

    #371579
    BobbeeBobbee
    Member

    Burra Maluca said:

    We were the first ‘foreigners’ to the village and although the neighbours want to know everything about us, they have also accepted us part of their ‘family’. For the first year or two they would donate all kinds of fruit and vegetables, as we were only poor foreigners who didn’t have a decent garden. They still give us some, but they keep an eye on our garden and know that we don’t need so much now. They also have a different outlook on helping each other. When they need anything, they will knock and the door and ask for it without hesitation, and if you ask them they will help you without hesitation. And the system is never abused. So if one of them gets their tractor stuck, or has to go to town to see the doctor, or has a tree fallen over which needs cutting up, or they no longer have the strength to lift their sacks of olives onto the link box on the tractor, they choose the most appropriate person to help and just knock on the door and it is assumed that help will be given

    That sounds fantastic and wonderful BM. :tup: :clap: I love the concept.

    :hug::hug::hug:

    #371580
    MetuMetu
    Member

    Yes, you’ve answered the question :tup: 😀 with a lovely story to read as well. I guess it’s proof that settlements aren’t the real issue, more than the values which are managed within them.

    “Treechange” is very much as you described, but it’s also a generic term for relocating from one place to another.

    Your treechange to Portugal sounds wonderful and it’s great you’re able to share their value systems with us. In a way you’re passing on the knowledge acquired from their lifetimes, which Western civilisations have seemed to fogotten. It’s good to share so that important things aren’t lost.

    Appreciate the thought which went into your response. It was a great read. 🙂

    #371581
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    Look at our bees!!!

    This was yesterday when the were getting ready to swarm. In a perfect set up they wouldn’t be allowed to swarm as you are supposed to keep an eye on what’s going on inside and split the colony before it gets that far, but that rather depends on having the hive properly set up in the first place with the bees neatly occupying removable frames that can be taken out and inspected. Our two hives have a slightly different set up…

    Our first batch of bees was found by accident. At various places scattered in the forest you will find sights like this…

    Neatly packed between patches of pine and eucalyptus are dozens and dozens of hives shipped in from Spain.

    Here’s a close up…

    The Spanish hives are a very basic design with a hinged lid and for most of the time have a pollen trap set against the entrance. When this photo was taken the traps weren’t there – presumably the bees are being allowed to build their numbers up again for a while. The pollen is high in protein and needed to raise young. Without it they can’t keep their population high enough to swarm.

    Last year we found an abandoned site and took a poke around. We found an old broken hive and I opened the lid to take a look, and found it was full of strips of insecticide coated wood used to treat the bees for varroa mite. We found another hive a few yards away and opened it to find the same, and then a third, which I opened, stuck my head inside, and then discovered was full of wild bees. Oooops! We quickly (*very* quickly) retreated and returned that evening with bee suits and a large sheet and brought the bees home! Of course, they had built their own honeycomb, so we took it and sandwiched it between two ‘proper’ frames and wired it into place as best we could and managed to move the entire contents of the spanish hive into our own hive. So we have the bees but the queen spends her time down in the bottom section of the hive with her old honeycomb and we can’t monitor what she’s up to very well.

    Our other occupied hive is much the same – here it is…

    It’s about a mile from the farm on a neighbour’s land. It had been abandoned and had partially collapsed before, again, being taken over by wild bees. We tried to open the hive and remove the old frames to put into a newer hive but when we lifted the crown board up there were no frames, and the honey comb, which was welded to the sides and top, tore itself apart and crashed to the floor. We had a frantic time trying to salvage the comb and set the hive up with newer parts, but although the colony survived, we still don’t have the queen anywhere we can monitor what’s going on as she’s still down in the bottom section laying her eggs in the old comb.

    The photo shows my other half setting up a small hive next to the main one in the hope that we will catch a swarm.

    Anyway, despite not being able to see what the queens are up to, the frantic behaviour of the bees around the entrance of the hive at the farm suggested they were seriously thinking of swarming so we set up loads of little hives which were soon being inspected by bee-scouts and by this morning they seem to have split and we now have a brand new colony in one of the little hives. Unfortunately they chose the old fashioned cork hive so tomorrow we are going to have to don our suits and tip them into one of the ‘proper’ hives as were are quite determined that we are going to have at least one hive set up ‘properly’ so we can monitor what’s happening.

    We also had a quick peek in the top two sections of the main hive and it looks like queenie has started to lay eggs in the middle section (which has proper removable frames!) so we’ve put a queen excluder in to stop her moving any higher (she’s bigger than the other bees so you use a mesh with holes the right size to stop her going through) and we might pluck up the courage to try taking a frame with brood and two frames of honey and young worker bees and put them in a nucleus hive to see if they can survive and raise a new queen. When the bees hatch they spend a couple of weeks on ‘housework’ duties before they upgrade to ‘forager’ so in theory if we supply enough food to keep them going the house-bees will continue to raise the youngsters, including hopefully a couple of new queens, and when they are old enough they can move onto foraging duties and we should end up with a complete new colony.

    At least, that’s the theory…

    I’ll try to remember to take a photo of the old cork hive and let you all know how we get on trying to move the new swarm.

    #371582
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    Oh dear – it’s been *aaaaages* since I updated….

    We didn’t manage to keep the swarm of bees. They stayed there for a couple of days and then we had some strong wind and they decided that their new home wasn’t wind-proof enough and disappeared. :tdown: Oh well, try again with the next lot.

    We managed to successfully raise the hares and release them though. I’d got rather attached to them by then, so we arranged for some friends to come over on midsummer’s day (this was six months ago – I’m the other side of the world remember) and we made a special day of if, celebrating with the release in the early evening and then watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream together as it grew dark.

    Here they are just before the release.

    There goes Couve – via some interesting feet. He does love feet….

    And off to explore the wilderness, or at least, what’s left of it…

    Couve took to freedom instantly and went off exploring happily. Flor, the female, refused to move until after we’d gone, and as far as we know is living happily on the release site. Couve, however, has gradually moved back up to the farm, then past the farm, and we now have regular sightings of a crazy young hare up on the road to the village, playing chicken with the cars and racing along in front of them teasing them. He ‘hid’ at the side of the road once after playing with our jeep one night and we stopped and had a chat. He looked kind of embarrassed that I’d found him so easily, so I scolded him and told him to be more careful and then shouted at him till he ran away. He hasn’t learned though and we still see him every now and then. It’s kind of nice knowing he’s still around, but I do worry about him a bit… :shy:

    Very soon after the release, uncle fell and has been completely bedridden ever since, so my life has been completely different for the last six months. I’m basically confined to the house in the village, with ‘breaks’ to get to the farm or maybe shopping a couple of times a week for a few hours. It’s been a bit hard getting used to things, and it’s very tiring, but the boys have taken things over at the farm and we’re still making progress, even if I do feel like a visitor when I manage to get over there.

    We have a huge problem with stray dogs, and other anonymous predators, eating our chickens and every single time we’ve allowed chickens to roam free, even for a few hours, we’ve lost them. We decided, against my initial protests, to try some guinea fowl as they are a bit wilder and can fly a bit so we thought they might be a bit more dog-proof. My ex’s parents used to keep them, and although I know they taste nice and lay delicious eggs, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of all that noise, but we decided to go for it. Here they are!

    They haven’t started laying yet, but apart from that they have been wonderful! The boys built them a little palace, and despite all the rumours about their wildness, they are amazingly devoted to my other half. He lets them out while he’s at the farm, and before he comes back for lunch or dinner, he walks to their run, opens the door, stands back, and they all troop back in like well trained school-children! I’ve never seen anything like it!!!

    They even got confused when I was taking photos of them and started heading for home in case it was time to go in.

    We’re not sure how many are males and how many are females yet. Apparently only the females make the ‘come-back, come-back’ call, and we’ve only found one that does that. We’re desperately hoping that only the leader of the females makes the call, and that we have other females who are keeping quiet, but it could just be that we have nine males and one female. Time will tell… We also have a few quail.

    Some new chickens, confined to a chicken tractor for safety…

    Some pigeons – they should be pretty dog proof!

    And rabbits!! Here’s Mel, the honey bunny, with one of her babies.

    And Pingo, the spotty bunny.

    And a big barrel full of trouble – there’s nine little babies in there, and at least on of Mel’s big ones!!! 😆

    The two females live together and get on wonderfully unless we put our little male in with him, whereupon they get jealous and start fighting over him, so the poor lad has to live alone. The babies seem to swap mums quite regurlarly, with big ones moving in with little ones, and little ones diving over to share the big ones’ milk-bar. The shed is shared with the pigeons – we did have a bit of a problem with pecking when the little babies started bouncing on the pigeons when they came down to the floor to do their displays, but no harm done and it seems to have stopped now. We need to make more pens soon though so the mums can have somewhere quiet to have the next lot of babies.

    We also have another load of fruit trees to plant, and an exceptionally grumpy donkey who refuses to speak to me and holds me personally responsible for the fact that I never seem to take her out for walks any more… She loves the guinea fowl though. When they are let out, they rush up towards her stable, flapping and squawking and making the most ridicluous spectacle of themselves and she stretches out over the stable door as far as she can reach and sings back to them. It’s deafening!!!!:confused:

    One very useful development is the opening of a big farm shop in the nearest city. This means that we can now easily buy fruit trees and rabbits and chickens and things *without* driving for hours, and every couple of weeks my son ‘uncle sits’ for me and I get taken shopping, followed by lunch at the farm shop cafe, followed by an hour bumbling round the farm shop loading the trolley up with all kinds of goodies like carob trees, or a pair of black chickens (Hickety and Pickety, my black hens 😉 ), or a load of fruit trees at 2-50 euros each (how could I resist???), a male rabbit, or some quail or broccoli plants (they seem to disappear when we plant them out, we suspect Couve… ).

    I’m hoping to get out tomorrow afternoon and start digging holes and planting some of the fruit trees. I’ve have some crazy dream of tuning the walled part of the olive grove into a secret hide-away with a log cabin surrounded by a little magical food forest full of cherries and apricots and peaches and strawberry trees…. I might be stuck indoors most of my time, but I never stop dreaming 😆

    #371583
    BobbeeBobbee
    Member

    Good Burra Maluca, don’t ever stop dreaming!!!!!!!

    I do hope you are going to write a book about your journey, you are so interesting and have a wonderful way of putting your life onto paper.

    Good luck with keeping the chookens alive this time and I hope uncle either gets better from the fall or that you find someone else who can stay with him a while to allow you more ‘time out’ .

    I love all your pics. I’ve never seen guinea fowl before, they sound interesting. Are they difficult to look after and breed etc? How about killing and dressing for the table, is that difficult or about the same as for chookens?

    Take care.

    :hug::hug::hug:

    #371584
    jaymesjaymes
    Member

    I love all your pics. I’ve never seen guinea fowl before, they sound interesting. Are they difficult to look after and breed etc? How about killing and dressing for the table, is that difficult or about the same as for chookens?

    it’s funny, as I’m reading this, the local feral guineas are wandering thru my front yard 🙂

    BM, thank you for your story :hug:

    #371585
    busylizziebusylizzie
    Participant

    Welcome back, I do enjoy reading your posts, and hadnt realized it had been so long since your last. Please keep posting, very interesting life you have over there.

    Cheers

    Lizzie:)

    #371586
    Burra MalucaBurra Maluca
    Member

    Bobbee wrote:

    I’ve never seen guinea fowl before, they sound interesting. Are they difficult to look after and breed etc? How about killing and dressing for the table, is that difficult or about the same as for chookens.

    So far they seem pretty easy to look after, but I’ve heard that they are experts at hiding their eggs so we might have to make some nice egg laying places in their run and try to persuade them to lay their eggs there where we can find them. We haven’t got as far as killing and dressing them for the table yet, but my mother-in-law used to prepare them and never mentioned it being any different to preparing chicken. We used to get the job of trying to catch them though, and that used to be hilarious as they used to be wild and the only time we could get near them was when they were roosting either on the garage or on top of the caravan that we used to stay in (the noise as they would run up and down along the caravan roof and make their silly cries was worse than any alarm clock :confused: ). We would use a net on the end of a long pole and try to swipe them as they roosted, and usually end up with them all flying off making a hideous din with some tiny undergrown youngster stuck in the net. We are very much hoping that we can find a better way this time!

    Another one of ours has started making the ‘come-back’ call, so that means that we have at least two females! My mother in law used to collect the eggs and hatch them in an incubator, and that is probably what we will do too. Apparently they are fond of hiding in the undergrowth in totally inaccessible places to raise their young, but if we let that happen I don’t see how we’ll ever be able to catch the youngsters.

    For some reason, the Portuguese word for guinea fowl is fracas, as in a noisy brawl, from the italian word for making an uproar. An amazingly appropriate choice of name in my opinion. 😀

    #371587
    uglybettyuglybetty
    Member

    Amazing stories here! Just had to bump this thread! :tup:

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