Saturday, 25 September 2010

September in the valley

We have just returned from a couple of weeks camping on the Quinta.It was hot so we did only half of the work we had planned to do which is a shame but at the same time the enforced periods of rest were much needed so its all good!
We are lucky to have the river Mondego so close by for quick cooling dips .So quite.All you can hear are the birds and occasional car.

I was last here in June and was expecting the land to be really over grown but it wasn't.This seems to be due to the high temperature and lack of water.The long grasses were scorched by the sun ,the brambles had grown a few more feet(the clearing of 2 hectares of brambles is a job we long to complete!)and the hillside effected by fire 7/8 years ago is beginning to look lovely.This is were the most growth appears to have been over the last few months with a selection of trees developing height.
We have loads of vines on the land and amazingly they continue to produce fruit despite being untended for the last few years.The black grapes were small and a little tasteless but the white grapes were a decent size and really juicy and sweet.The vines have gone mad over the last few months and they are everywhere you look.I cannot wait to be able to start looking after them well and learning more about them.
I am not sure how many fig trees we have ,maybe 5/6 but the ones I could get to are also producing a lot of fruit.I like fig trees as they always seem to grow in a way that gives a good shady spot underneath.I am not so keen on the fruit itself.
Yummy.I love olives .I love everything about them!Sadly this is what we are short of on the quinta.We have only about 6 olive trees at the moment and I could only get to 2 of them as the others are buried on a part of the land that we have not accessed yet due to the aforementioned brambles.The 2 I could reach need pruning but they are producing good size healthy looking fruit as it is.I hope to be back in late autumn to plant some trees on the top few terraces.We eventually hope that the terraces leading down to the building that will eventually be our home will become an orchard containing all the fruit we need for fresh eating and preserving.So lots and lots of clearing ,planting and mulching needed.
Most of our steps joining up terraces are a bit lethal in terms of slipping and so youngest daughter (and main opposer to moving to Portugal)got out the tools ,did a bit of digging and stone moving and created these steps at the bottom of the building so we could get about without falling and breaking something.She did a good job!
Our basic accommodation at the moment.We gutted the bigger caravan so that it now has a proper bed inside and not much else.The smaller caravan will be a kitchen if we are there in colder months.The green netting provided much needed shade.Solar lights and candles provided illumination at night.
All in all it was lovely to be back on the land and getting to know it better.It was the first time that the whole family was there together(except for the pets but they will have a long holiday next summer!).We saw only a handful of friends and found we just wanted to work on the land rather than be sociable.I think I met more neighbours at the local Intermarche and Lidl  than anywhere else.Everyone is busy building ,digging ,planting and strimming.....

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