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One April day in Portugal...

 
out to pasture
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I happened to take quite a few photos yesterday and they ended up making nice little story that illustrates what my life here is all about, on a good day...

I'm behind with all the chores, both inside and outside the house. I'm getting to the point where I have plants that will be urgently needed somewhere to be planted out, so the first major chore was to clear the weeds off one of the garden beds ready for planting.

It looked a total mess before I started, but it actually only took about five minutes to clear.

We need to check that all the drip irrigators still work, then we can plant it up, as soon as the sweet potato slips have rooted well enough...



And there in the corner of the bed is one self seeded giant radish. It's flowering, so hopefully it can either self pollinate or the other smaller ones that got yanked out have already pollinated it.

For all I know it's tough and inedible, but I'm more than willing to give it the benefit of the doubt if it's so happy to grow well here with zero input or assistance.



We planted a couple of cherry trees last year, then it rained and rained and they grew like crazy, only to keel over in shock when the weather turned hot. I think the rain lulled them into a false sense of security.

Not one single leaf on this one this year, so we pulled it out to liberate the space for another tree.



"I'll take photos while you dig the hole. Fair?"

There's a milk thistle there too. I'm trying to not cut them down when we strim the grass because I want to collect the seed. It grows everywhere, but the seed itself is very medicinal - good for the liver apparently.



We even found a worm in the soil we dug out!



And then back into my garden to liberate a tree to plant in its final position.  As you can see, I haven't cleared this end of the garden at all...

Somewhere in that bed, between the brambles and the rest of the weeds, are paw paws, apples and elder.

Austin is attempting to remove enough of the brambles to allow him to liberate the biggest apple. They are ones we grew from the pips of a Pink Lady apple, and are affectionately known as the Meninas Rosas.



Got it!

The roots will no doubt be damaged, and it's going to struggle a bit, but we never got around to digging it up before it came into leaf so we have a choice of trying or not bothering.

No contest really...



I think that hole is now big enough for those roots.

We won't amend the soil as we want it to put down roots, not grow a ton of leaves. Poor thing will have enough of a struggle to survive as it is. I might add something as a surface mulch to feed it very very slowly, more for next year than this one.



There. A perfect fit!

Nice and deep so the roots stand more chance of not drying out.



We gave it a post and watered it in well, and did the obligatory Rock-for-scale photo.

It's a bit bushy and leafy, which means that it's going to lose water at the rate it always did, only the roots are damaged now so it won't be able to take water up at the same rate.

I think I need to decide which bits to trim back, or off completely. I like to leave some to shade the young trunk a bit from excessively hot sun, but some of it has to go or the risk of losing the whole thing is far too high.



That might do.

Small branches near the bottom are cut back so there are no big leaves to lose water but there are buds ready to grow new leaves. Main shoots cut back, one main shoot left mostly intact.

I might raid Rosa's bag of plant ties and attach it to the post to encourage it not to give up and fall over in despair.

Rock is bored with all this posing stuff now and is enjoying a good scratch.



Rosa is one of my dragons. For those who don't understand, dragons are part of your psyche. Well, mine are anyway. Each one represents a different aspect of your psyche. Rosa is my somewhat undeveloped domestic, feminine side. We are trying to explore things like 'how to be a good housewife' and 'how to be organised' and 'how to successfully work with fabrics and needles and threads' together. Yesterday we had spent some time together patching up the boys' old t-shirts and de-constructing an old pair of work trousers in readiness for a BB.

When Rosa heard that we'd planted one of her Meninas Rosas and that it had a post but no tie, so she delightedly rummaged in her new bag of Plant Ties and fetched out a nice big tie that until yesterday was a waistband on a pair of worn out work trousers.



Well done Rosa. I didn't realise you were good at tying knots!



She had a look at the milk thistle flowers while she was out there too.



And a quick check to see how the red vineyard peaches are coming along...

This is a three year old tree grown from seed by a friend, who got the seed from his friend who uses the trees in her vineyard in Germany.  It's the most peach-leaf curl resistant peach tree we have and we have high hopes for the fruit.

Too soon to test it yet, by far. But we're keeping a close eye on them...



I had a bit of a break, and then after lunch I pottered around a bit more.

This is a tray of comfrey root cuttings and some pumpkins I'd potted up the day before. I moved the tray back to the benches where it's supposed to live and set the area up for the next potting job.



This is the next potting job, but I wasn't sure if I'd have the energy to tackle it. It's a pot of quince seedlings. I love stewed quince, and quince chutney. The trees grow very well here with minimal care and I wanted a lot of seedlings to experiment planting out on the back terrace behind the house, where the trees that need minimal care live. And also some on the very top terrace, which is where the trees that get no care whatsoever live. These seedlings were grown from fruit scrumped from a neighbour's tree which were overhanging the track and seemed like fair game. They'd already fallen off onto the ground, and he had far more than he seemed to be able to pick so I'm certain he won't mind.

There appears to be a stick insect ootheca on the side of the pot, too. Unhatched as yet, by the look of it...



I was actually pretty tired by then, so I spent a minute pulling a few weeds up from the next garden bed before declaring that I'd done enough for the day and retreating indoors.

I did summon the energy to put a load of laundry into the machine and was contemplating taking a shower when a panicked message appeared on my computer screen from a neighbour begging for help from anyone who lived nearby who knew how to milk a goat. It's been thirty years since I milked a goat, but he had one that desperately needed milking and he'd managed to end up in hospital and couldn't leave for a couple of days. He had visitors who had offered to look after the animals for him but they had, unsurprisingly, failed to get more than a few teaspoons of milk out of her and one side of her udder was beginning to look decidedly distended.

So, off to the rescue we went!

It was only a mile or so away, but down lots of little dirt tracks. We only made one false turn, and when we stopped to ask someone if they knew where the man with goats and a donkey and who was in hospital lived he pointed us in the right direction. The women who were attempting to look after the goats and other animals heard my voice and came racing down to open the gate and welcome us with open arms. They caught the relevant goat for me, who thankfully was very sweet and docile and very pleased to finally find someone who knew how to relieve her of her rather abundant milk supply. I was rather thankful that after three decades of not being used, my milking muscles still remembered how to do do the job. I even got a photo to prove it!

If I end up back there again (mercifully she's a once-a-day milker, not a twice-a-day one) I'll take a suitable and clean milking pan, and a container for bringing it home again, and try to get the right photos to chase the BB on milking a goat! But the prime concern this time was to get the milk out without terrorising the poor creature.



And then, the highlight of the day.

Cuddles with Dilly the Donkey!

Happy Burra...











 
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Thanks for bringing your homestead to us. It has been an enjoyable visit.
 
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You have quite a few quince babies there. Would it be worth an experiment to try moving 3-6 of the babies directly to their forever homes, rather than potting and growing them out? I certainly wouldn't risk all of them that way, and you may feel it isn't fair to try any of them with your harsh climate.  Does using rock mulch help on your land?
 
Burra Maluca
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Jay Angler wrote:Would it be worth an experiment to try moving 3-6 of the babies directly to their forever homes, rather than potting and growing them out? I certainly wouldn't risk all of them that way, and you may feel it isn't fair to try any of them with your harsh climate.  



The soil will dry out so fast now that I don't think it would be worth it - we will just lose them. My intent is to pot up a tray of them and then plant them out in the autumn when the rains return.

On the other hand, they have germinated very well and I think there will be left overs, so I might just take a walk up to the top terrace with some, and my hori hori, and see if I can find likely spots for them.

I think I should pot them us asap (not today - emergency goat milking seems to be happening again this evening, and for several more, which is eating up any available energy and time) then next time it rains I will take a walk around and see what I can do. After all, if I don't plant them at all, they have zero chance of survival.


 
Burra Maluca
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Well the emergency milking is indeed extending beyond the 'just a couple of days' , which is giving me a nice supply of milk for the house and also a chance to take a couple of cute photos.

Here is Orangina, busy trimming the cork oak and converting the leaves into tomorrow's milk for my porridge.





Another one of them gave birth too, but just one baby, who is drinking from just one side. I'll try to get photos tonight, but due to the unfortunate naming system (by the owner, who is no doubt laughing gleefully from his hospital bed if he reads this) you may read captions like "this is me milking Naked..." as I try to relieve the engorged side.
 
Jay Angler
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I'm so glad that you are seeing the humorous and the beneficial side of this "emergency milking situation"!

As an owner with geese named "Beetle" (technically Betelgeuse) and "Robin", there could be lots of fun involved. Telling Hubby, "That's Robin's egg." and pointing to the large, white egg, instead of a small blue one that an actual Robin would lay, is kind of fun! We need fun in our lives!
 
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What a picturesque story! I'm following another person who moved to Portugal and is sharing her adventures on the internets and I'm now convinced that Portugal is one of the proper locations for me to become a crazy goat lady. Goat milk is my favourite too, although I also like sheep milk.
 
Burra Maluca
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Flora Eerschay wrote:What a picturesque story!  



You want picturesque, how about this sight awaiting you when you arrive?



There she is, resting on the giant rock outside the house soaking up the sunshine as she waits for me, or possibly her real owner, to turn up.

What I really love is that as far as I can make out they are fed exclusively from the land. Gina is giving me about a litre a day just off grass, and maybe a carrot, having run through from last year. I'm not sure about hay or anything during the leaner times of the year but she's super content browsing around the place and putting up with a stranger showing up out of the blue to milk her. I think her owner does it just loose on the land, not even tying her up. I get my other half to hold her, but it's really quite idyllic being out there with them all.

 
Flora Eerschay
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Burra Maluca wrote:You want picturesque, how about this sight awaiting you when you arrive?



Haha I'm in! There's no way back :D
I love these stone houses too.
She's @PortugalfromScratch on Youtube. Her project is quite permaculture so she might know Permies too?
I don't know how far you are from her place but Portugal isn't huge anyway... so, I must go land hunting asap ;)

She inspired me to work more with stones, which I'm now putting around my garden pond, glueing them with mud. Next step will be something waterproof so I can raise the pond walls that way.

I heard goats are evil, will eat everything and no fence can contain them :D but friends have goats and they say that it's actually hard to convince them to go out of their enclosure, they barely need any fencing. "It's the how", I guess...

 
Burra Maluca
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Flora Eerschay wrote:
I heard goats are evil, will eat everything and no fence can contain them but friends have goats and they say that it's actually hard to convince them to go out of their enclosure, they barely need any fencing. "It's the how", I guess...



Oh yes.

Pure evil.

Just look at them!



And here, in honour of World Naked Gardening Day, is a little video of AUSTIN GETTING NAKED!  Enjoy!

 
Burra Maluca
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I thought I'd finished updating this thread, but we went back to visit the animals a couple of days ago, and finally met the owner!

We were officially shown around, and as we were talking he casually starting pulling bits of loose wool off Lammy, the one and only sheep who lives there.

That's her, circled in yellow, in one of the photos I took on the first day we went there to milk.



So naturally my alter-ego dragons and I scrounged a bag-full of it, with the promise of more to come, and have been busy...



It needed a good wash...



And to be dried...



And then an olive branch had to be cut...



...and peeled.



The drop spindle isn't complete yet, but basic experiments are being made while it's being made. And believe a pair of carders and a set of crochet hooks are on the way too.



I think there may be plans to work towards a few badges...

make a simple drop spindle
prepare wool for spinning
spin a yarn
spin and ply a yarn
knit or crochet a hot pat

That lot should keep me out of mischief for a while!
 
A timing clock, fuse wire, high explosives and a tiny ad:
FREE Perma Veggies Book! - Learn how to grow the most delicious and nutritious food with the least amount of work.
https://permies.com/t/238620/perennial-vegetables/FREE-Perma-Veggies-Book
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