Taming the Land

There was a crisp frost on the ground when we woke this morning forming tiny little icicles which crunched as we walked on our morning trip around the plot.  We saw the farmer arrive to let out his sheep – we were only thirty yards or so away from each other and passed the morning with a cheerful Bom Dia.  He appeared to glance over our plot as  he was going along his way – hopefully approving of the results of our efforts from yesterday.  Today’s tasks were pretty much a continuation from the day before. We wanted to clear as much of the land to the right of the annexe as possible.  This is where we plan to create our veggie plot so we brought the two compost bins from the courtyard and placed them at the far end.  

We’ve noticed that quite a lot of shrubs and trees are growing closely together, fighting for light and being strangled by vines and brambles.  It is difficult to identify a lot of the trees as they have no leaves or fruit.  Some though, like the fig are quite distinct in their shape and branch formation and we have counted at least seventeen figs around the plot.  A decision had to be made regarding which to keep and which to take out and we worked hard all of the morning cutting and clearing from the terraces.  The leaves were gathered up and put in the compost bins and before long they were both full to the brim.

The sky was clear and the sun was lovely and warm.  Mark was working in a t-shirt and shorts and the sun melted the frost leaving patches of white where it hadn’t yet reached.   He climbed up into the olive trees, cutting off the branches that had olive knot and opening up the canopy so that the fruit would get more sunlight in the summer months.  The branches were carried off to the top plot by tractor and before long there were three rather large bonfires built ready to be lit.  We will contact the authorities on Monday to get our fires booked in and find out what else we need to do. Apparently, there are quite significant fines if we fall foul of regulations around lighting fires and we are keen not to upset anyone.


Cutting back the branches from the fig tree which will be stored and dried ready for the log burner next year
Sorting out the chaf from the wheat – sorting out what to keep and what to remove

We were pleased with how quickly the terrace started to look tidy and we enjoyed working together outside in the fresh air and sunlight. Wanda was running up and down the terraces bring her ball to be thrown. She loves being outside with us sometimes roaming off after different scents but hardly every sitting still. No wonder she sleeps so soundly during the night.

Lunch today was toasted sandwiches and hot mugs of tea outside on the terrace. We sat back and admired our handiwork – under no illusion that this was only a fragment of the work we had to do on the quinta.

The working day came to a close with a walk down to the bottom terrace.  we wanted to collect oranges and juice them so that we would have fresh orange juice to drink.  We collected almost two buckets full, a mixture of tangerines satsumas and oranges.  Although the juicer is a beast of a machine and extract practically every bit of juice from the fruit, we have found that we need to peel the oranges first to avoid getting a bitter taste in the juice from the zest.  Our oranges made us three large jugs of juice which we will keep in the fridge.  Once we have some suitable containers and the larger freezer up and running, we will also freeze some juice to have in the months when the trees have finished fruiting.


The water supply, although plentiful from the well was not getting very hot.  We have a gas bottle which is linked to the boiler so that our well water can be heated for washing, showers and cooking.  We switched the two bottles over to see if that helped things at all and soon came to the conclusion that both bottles were in need of being refilled with possible a third one being purchased as a spare.  Another job for next week when we are in Castelo Branco.  For now, we have decided to use the electric kettle to boil water for cooking and doing the dishes in the hope we can stretch out what gas we have left for another couple of days.


Published by vinhadasalmas

a couple of fifty somethings who want to start a new life in rural Portugal

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