Andrea on October 30th, 2014

It’s with real sadness that tell you today about the death of our little Billy goat, Orelhas. PICT7854 Orelhas joined us in July, and my hope was that he would grow up to be the father of a new generation of Casalinho goats. Sadly, at the beginning of September the goats managed to break into the store where I keep the grains I feed the chickens and the milking goats, and they ate all they could. Although goats have a reputation for eating anything and everything, they actually have quite a delicate digestion which is easily put out of balance by eating too much unfamiliar food. This is what happened to Orelhas, and he became very unwell. Enterotoxemia is the medical name for his illness, and you can read more about it here if you’re interested. But in layman’s terms it’s when a normally occurring strain of bacteria in the gut called Clostridium perfringens increases significantly and the toxins that it produces basically poison in the animal, causing damage to the intestine and to other organs. Antibiotics prescribed by the vet, lots of walks to get his digestion working, and drenches containing goat milk kefir seemed to do the trick, and we thought he was on the mend. The vet seemed happy with his progress and even gave him his annual vaccinations. But Orelhas struggled to regain weight and remained weak. Extra feeds made no difference, nor the fortificant we tried to boost him with. On the 8th of this month he collapsed after his morning walk, and although he rallied during the day he died on my lap the next morning. He was a wonderful little chap who was a favourite of all our volunteers. He was brought up in a home with a little girl who I understand spent a lot of time with him, and it showed. He was incredibly gentle and sweet, and we miss him.

Orelhas & Charlie - 8th October 2014

Orelhas & Charlie – 8th October 2014

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Orelhas died, and as my future plans for our little goat herd revolved around him we’ve had to make some adjustments. I’ve chosen to keep Mr Goat, our existing stud. I’d still like to replace him with a bigger, horned Billy in the long term, but those don’t seem to be popular in our area so I shall keep looking. Keeping two Billys isn’t necessary, so the pygmy Billy has now gone. I’ve decided to keep the lady goats who were previously for sale, as there’s a good chance all three are pregnant. So that leaves us with eight ladies and a Billy to move forwards with.   Thank you to the three vets who assisted me so much with Orelhas’ care, to the Facebook group I turn to for all things goat, to Blanche and Tom who were there at the beginning and tried so hard at the end,  and to Josh and Charlie and Katinka who were there for Orelhas when I couldn’t be. 


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Andrea on October 28th, 2014


Our weekly round up of what volunteers have been working on at Casalinho, our developing permaculture project in central Portugal.

There has been so much going on this week that it’s been hard to choose the photos!

10425440_10152901360733304_6374356720009294834_n PICT7991 PICT7995 PICT7981 10155570_10152901350023304_1813722968893199435_n PICT8012 PICT8025 Josh BXM PICT8041 10675761_10152901361853304_5539480555076407443_n PICT8011 PICT7999

1) What a handsome boy!

2) Our last batch of corn drying on the driveway. We cut it before it cobs, for winter goat food.

3) Remember last week’s photo of Josh in his wetsuit and wellies? Well this is Charlie, his partner, demonstrating that wellies really are high fashion this season.

4) I got savaged by a guinea pig :(

5) Pippy and Charlie.

6) The goats are really enjoying the newly green fields after the dry grasses of summer.

7) Peas going in.

8) Making the most of the ramps in Casal da Lapa. It was obviously so unusual to see anyone using them that cars were stopping dead on the roundabout to stare.

9) The first Portuguese Convergência de Permacultura was held in Fundão. Great to meet old and new friends .

10) We’re back to glorious weather, but here’s someone who’s enjoying the damp.

11) Strimming the broom which has popped up all over the orchard area over the summer.

12) Aren’t these fabulous? And they’re self seeding all over the tyre terrace and the bees love them.





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Andrea on October 23rd, 2014

All summer we’ve been struggling to keep the goats away from the grape vines, in order to protect our harvest of fruit. Vine leaves are one of the goats’ favourite foods and if they are allowed to they’re easily able to strip a vine in minutes, sometimes damaging it in the process and certainly scoffing the tasty grapes as well. With vines growing all over the farm and a bunch of fairly determined goats, it’s not been an easy task.

But now that the grapes have all been harvested and our wine, jeropiga and aguardente are safely underway we’re positively encouraging the goats to dig in. It’s no wonder they think we’re crazy!

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Quinta Cabeça do Mato on October 22nd, 2014
No Till, just a few reasons why Often called “Conservation Agriculture” (CA) is used to define zero-tillage combined with permanent surface mulch The benefits of minimal soil disturbance plus mulch can be seen in practice at many Permaculture farms, including here at Quinta Cabeça do Mato where gradually our land is being transformed to more fertile and abundant and beautiful nature loving state, Feed the earth and Feed your plants to Feed healthy people. That’s a circle coming back to a healthy planet! If you are local and interested in our Community Supported Agriculture scheme please contact us at This method gives savings in time - we can use this time to do other activities but also it can result in timelier planting and better yields Less cost - savings in fuel costs (Taking into account the unsustainable use of non renewable fossil fuels , we only have one planet) also energy for pumping water, and less wear and tear on tractors and equipment, in fact the tractor should be used to the minimum. Savings in water and therefore increased water use efficiency – (using drip for ex.) better water infiltration and better moisture in the soil profile Less soil erosion since water infiltration is better Minimal soil disturbance actually brings less seed to the surface for germination . With a good layer of mulch and time, weed problems are reduced. Mulch from cereal residue has allelopathic properties that reduce weed germination Soil organic matter increases, especially at the soil surface where it is most important Soil physical properties including surface soil aggregates improve. Soil porosity improves because of the action of the previous crop roots that leave a network of continuous pores that allow for easier root penetration of the next crop . Soil biological diversity increases incredibly leading to more biological activity and Mycorrhizal Fungi and better recycling of nutrients It has been shown that once this system has stabilized, pest and disease problems are less. For pests, the residue on the surface promotes and provides a habitat for beneficial insects. For diseases, soil microbial diversity is increased leading to better disease control and reduction in proliferation of just a few pathogenic diseases. Be Aware- Our land is the most degraded biological entity on Earth, Each mechanical cultivation kills off micro-organisms. We should have respect for the land and realize we are working with a living biological entity
Andrea on October 19th, 2014

Our weekly round up of what volunteers have been working on at Casalinho, our developing permaculture project in central Portugal.


Once again our activities have been largely dictated by the weather, but we’ve been very lucky and had dry mornings most days in which to get the essentials done. As I write though, it’s a balmy morning and we’re due some blue skies again.


charlie sunset Charlie josh wetsuit PICT7899 PICT7900 PICT7902 PICT7946 PICT7972 PICT7892 PICT7970

Left to right, top to bottom:

1) Another amazing sunset.

2) Rain means that we’ve had to take down the dam which makes our little bathing pool. Josh came prepared for such an eventuality with an interesting wet suit and wellies combo.

3) After heavy rain our animal shed composting system became waterlogged. A trench to catch run off from the roof, re-emergence of the pond and removal of lots of material has allowed it to dry out.

4) Bad weather illustrates how important it is for volunteers to arrive equipped with decent footwear and waterproofs. Here, Boy models borrowed pink Crocs as his own blatantly unsuitable suede trainers dry off.

5) Kittens appear not to be at all bothered by my own wet socks and boots. Possibly because they’re in front of the stove?

6) If there is any warmth about then you can bet your bottom dollar (euro?) that there’s a kitten asleep in it. Bottles of newly bottled pear purée cooling present such an opportunity.

7) Broken wheelbarrows have been utilised as feeders in the animal shed. Or day beds. Take your pick.

8) This photo is rubbish but if you squint you can perhaps see that this spider has hundreds of babies all over her body.

9) In previous years we’ve made jars and jars of blackberry jam. This year the blackberries went from hard and sour to squashy and watery seemingly overnight.


The post Our Week in Pictures: 20th October 2014 appeared first on Casalinho.

Quinta Cabeça do Mato on October 19th, 2014
Invitation to help ,2 weeks- 25 Oct-8 Nov , come and join in the olive harvest at Quinta Cabeça do Mato, Tábua. Please bring clothes for all weathers, and sleeping bag, torch, willing hands. We provide vegetarian food. Shared house. Let us know if you can come, details- Convite para estes duas semanas, 25 Oct-8 Nov, junta-te ao à colheita de azeitonas na Quinta Cabeça do Mato, Tábua. por favor traga roupa para todas tempos, saco-cama, lanterna, vontade de trabalhar. Comida vegetariana incluída. Casa partilhada Avisa-nos se puderes vir,
Leen on October 18th, 2014

Sabado 22 Novembro

Nós, aqui no concelho Covas Tabua vai cuidar da nova floresta na minha terra.
Cada um é bem-vindo.
As árvores já estão lá crescendo precisa de alguma poda.
Começaremos em 10,15 u
Se você tiver outros lugares ou idéias, me avise.
Sinta-se livre para árvores pland agradáveis em sua própria terra ou vizinhos.
Nós também podemos fazer um pouco mais de plantação no

Encontrar um lugar perto de você. Se houver não se sentir livre para organizar um.

Saturday 22 November.

We ,Here in Covas concelho Tabua are going to take care of the new Forest on my land .Every one is welcome .The trees are already there growing need some pruning.
We will start at 10.15 u
If you have other places or ideas let me know.
Feel free to pland nice trees at your own or neighbors land .
We can also do some more planting in the

 Find a place close to you . If there is non feel free to organize one .


Andrea on October 13th, 2014

Our weekly round up of what volunteers have been doing at Casalinho, our developing permaculture project in central Portugal.

Katinka rain

Katinka’s marvellous photo above sums up this week’s weather. It’s been grim! But our intrepid volunteers have been cracking on in the drier patches.

PICT7891 PICT7887 PICT7886 PICT7882 Katinka Minea hairdresser katinka lunch on mountain

Left to right, up to down:

1) Fabulous colour combo from the garden!

2) Collecting grasses for the animals. What they don’t eat provides the basis of our compost, and the chickens have a great old time scratching through it for the worms and other bugs which come to inhabit it.

3) Cleaning out one of the goat pens.

4) The wine has now been transferred into wooden barrels where it will go through a second fermentation. I’ve been boiling up water in our 5 litre kelly kettle for cleaning the barrels out. Love this piece of kit!

5) Minea continues in her role as Casalinho’s resident hairdresser.

6) Picnic on the mountain.

7) Below. Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Let’s hope so!

Katinka sunset


The post Our Week in Pictures: 13th October 2014 appeared first on Casalinho.

Quinta Cabeça do Mato on October 10th, 2014
Would you like to volunteer to help on our Permaculture farm? please send us an email!
We are an English family with children aged 2 and 5. We have looked at Portuguese schools and have decided that we want to provide our children with an education that offers more freedom, is fun, and motivating with a stronger focus on outdoor education and arts. Homeschooling is an option but we are searching for families that may want to set up an education group in our area. In this way we could all input our own individual skills , time and energy and create opportunities for the children to socialise too.  Please get in touch if you live nearby or know a family that may be interested.
Many thanks,
Naomi Foxcroft