It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the current global pandemic when we are on the farm as we don’t really see anyone from day to day. In fact, apart from the farmer on the opposite plot coming twice a day to see to his sheep, we hardly see any passing traffic. Raphael sent a message last night to say the Ecositana team wouldn’t be coming as they needed an extra day for the concrete to set although they would be busy doing other things such as scheduling the delivery of the materials.
Mark has taken to catching up on the news in Portugal first thing in the morning and read that there is quite likely going to be a full lockdown from midnight on Wednesday. Not sure what this means in practical terms we decided to make a list and do a “big shop” in Fundao to prepare for it.
As is now the norm, we finished breakfast and went off for our morning walk. The skies were a beautiful pale blue, the sun was shining through the trees and although there was a bit of a cold wind, everything felt fresh and lovely. There is a big old fig tree just outside of the longhouse which has obviously been there for many years. It is very close to the main house and the concrete path is breaking up because of the roots. Antonio and Raphael both shake their heads and suck in through their teeth when talking about it and are adamant that it needs to go. Many of the branches will be in the way when the extension is built, so unfortunately it has to be taken out. I have always loved the fruit from this particular tree and as we passed by it today I could see tiny little figs starting to form in anticipation of the coming summer. I felt quite sad and sorry that we would be cutting it down. Even though there are 17 other fig trees around the Quinta, it is not a nice feeling taking out something that has thrived for so many years.
We plodded on with our walk checking out the Sistas relocation programme. This stuff seems to grow at an alarming rate and is often used to make therapeutic oil. We don’t plan to process it in any way, but find that it has a beautiful little flower and makes a good barrier for animals wanting to get on to our land. We took note of the parts of the fence that had been damaged to due foxes, wild boars or other animals and in some cases could clearly see a pathway where it had been used as a thoroughfare. Wanda seems to pay particular attention to sniffing at these points so we have a good idea that animals are still using them to get on to the farm.
We are trying hard to adapt to the Portuguese way of life, a part of which is to throw away as little as possible and re-purposing anything that has bee discarded. Mark has found an old piece of wire fencing, some rods and some wire and is planning on repairing the holes, and placing rods and wire to keep it firm. He then plans t0 re-position the Sistas that he has removed from elsewhere on the farm to protect the fence from our four legged intruders.
Walk complete, we gathered up some shopping bags along with our ID documents which we need to carry with us at all times, and set off for Fundao. It’s difficult to unlock the big gate these days as the larger of the two gates seems to have dropped. It has to be lifted up about half an inch whilst turning the key and this is always a bit of a struggle for me so sorting this was added on to our list of things to do at some point.
We made the relatively short drive to Fundao with our list, our bags and wearing our face masks. Concerned that the virus rate is increasing, we decided to wear our solid facemasks as an extra precaution. We are always extremely careful anyway, but wanted to be super sure. Once on, they did look a bit alarming compared to the general ones that everyone else was wearing, so we popped a plain white cloth one over the top which looked much better.
I guess that the Lidl in Fundao is just the same as the Lidl anywhere else in the world and simply love Lidl in the middle. We trotted up and down the socially distanced aisles, selecting things for our trolley and for the most part got everything that we needed. There are a couple of things that will be on the list for our visitors to bring us …… Bisto, shredded suet, furniture polish, Yorkshire Tea-bags, bacon and icing sugar. I didn’t expect to get TREX and wasn’t disappointed but couldn’t even get lard for making my pastry. Outside in the car park we were reminded how lovely Portugal is as our eyes strayed to the horizon and caught sight of the sun-capped mountains. What a lovely view from a supermarket car park. Beautiful.
With the car loaded up and ready for home we headed off hoping to find a petrol station on the way. The ride-on tractor is certainly a very thirsty girl and seems to continually need topping up. In her defence though, we do seem to ask quite a bit from her, up and down the terraces, cutting through extremely tall grass, usually with a trailer in tow full of branches, cuttings, different bits of heavy rubbish, Marks tools or gardening equipment loaded in to it.
With the increasing chance of there being a national lockdown starting in the next couple of days, we stocked up on dried and tinned foods as well as cleaning consumables, toiletries and dog food in the hope that we won’t have to venture out again for the next 2 or 3 weeks.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find a petrol station so that is going to have to be a job for sooner rather than later.
Although our water supply from the mine has been tested and certified as safe to drink, it does sometimes come out a bit discoloured when running the taps. There is a lovely fresh water source near the turn off to Vale de Prazares, so we pulled in and filled up our water containers. It is our intention to be connected to the mains water, for our peace of mind when drinking it. It also comes with the added bonus that included with this is a predictable water pressure and a complimentary visit to empty the septic tank.
The post office was closed as we passed by so we were unable to either check if we had received any parcels or top up our Portuguese telephone. We’re down to our last 4 Euros so need to get this sorted fairly quickly. Once back at the Quinta we had the mammoth task of unloading the shopping, getting it all washed with hot soapy water and packed away. It always seems strange to find myself washing a bottle of bleach or detergent, but wanting to be super safe, did it anyway.
We are living in a one-roomed little annexe with tiny parts of it designated for sleeping, cooking, washing up, eating and storage. We have had to maximise the space we have. We call it our bed-sit, Amy refers to it as our studio apartment and others might think it is our squat. Whatever it’s name, we realised we didn’t have enough space on the two tiny little shelves that we inherited, for storing all the shopping we had just bought.
We went up to the long house and gave the old fridge freezer that we used when we stayed her in the summer of 2019 a good clean out before switching it on for a trial run – result! it seemed to be working quite happily so we left it a while to get to temperature before stocking it up. We searched in the long-house amongst the stash of our belongings and found a “shabby chic’d” shelving unit that we brought with us from the UK. With the old shelves down, this fitted perfectly in the space left behind and was a much better area for us to keep our foodstuff. Everything that we have is kept in sealed containers and the shelves were just the job for keeping everything in one place. As Mark had assembled his circular saw, we decided to go full out and add some more shelves for good measure and to be honest, we were really pleased with our new kitchen.
Not wanting to miss out on the last walk of the day, we downed tools and walked the land. There are signs of green growth breaking through the cut grass that still lies on the ground. The roses and vines are budding, the fig trees have tiny baby figs starting to show and everything is good in our world.
The evenings entertainment was to finish off juicing the windfall oranges that we didn’t get done yesterday. We have got quite a production line going and my original doubts about needing to peel before juicing no longer a concern. We bought a beast of a juicer in auction back home for about £20 a year ago and it is perfect for the job. A bit annoying having to pack it all away in its box each time but once we have a walk in cupboard this won’t be a problem.