Apparently it means something like ‘cutie’ in German*, but it’s also the name of our latest goat. Schneckle recently joined us because she was lonely as an only goat, and is settling in well with our little herd. She’s standing her ground quite effectively, struggling only with Beyonce who has turned into the beastgoat from hell intent on preventing the new arrival from ever eating. The goats do need to determine their hierarchy, but Beyonce is being separated for a short while at feeding time for now.
The only other difficulty is that Schneckle is absolutely petrified of dogs. She’s been attacked in the past and I’d overlooked the significance of this at a farm with eight dogs. Slowly does it, we’re working on introducing her slowly.
* I’m interested to see that if you remove the L and write schnecke it means ‘slug’. You don’t want to make that typo when writing a love note, would you?
As summer draws to a close we’ve a huge abundance of foods coming out of the garden. Nothing will be allowed to go to waste. As I look around me, these are just a handful of examples happening right now.
Whilst we use a wide range of techniques to preserve our bounty, we’re making the most of the last of the summer sun to do lots of dehydrating at the moment. Dehydrating works well for us as it’s cheap to achieve, retains maximum nutrients, and is cheap and easy to store. A bucket of tomatoes dehydrates down to a potful for storage, but that’s a pot packed full of goodness!
Rowan berries are always plentiful. We dry them and grind them, then add a spoonful to the flour when making bread in winter. They’re high in vitamin C and provide an interesting tart fruity taste.
Quince, awaiting their turn to be transformed into quince jelly. It’s one of the easiest jellies to make as quinces are so high in pectin.
We love the cheerful sunflowers. But when they fade the heads are dried for the animals. The rabbits and the chickens appreciate being thrown an entire head of seeds. The trick is to catch them before the wild birds strip them!
Fennel is just one the herbs being dried for teas. We’ve found an inventive way of hanging sage for drying!
Elderberries fermenting, to be turned into aguardente or vinegar. Apples are also on the go, with spares put aside for the goats.
Pumpkins, and marrows like this one, will store for months in a cool, dark place.
We’ve found the first wild mushrooms this week, and the chestnuts are starting to fall. Autumn is on it’s way! Right now it seems crazy to be preserving food as there is so much of it around, but in a couple of months we’ll really be appreciating our work now.
Excess mushrooms will be dried or preserved in oil, and chestnuts ground into a delicious sweet flour which makes particularly tasty pancakes.
Healing Agriculture is a new(ish) blog and website produced by Katie Shepherd with a view to showcasing
‘the many people working in broad scale agriculture in Europe, aiming for ‘beyond sustainability’, using the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share in their farming work and lives. ‘
At Casalinho we are honoured to have been profiled this week. Please read the Healing Agriculture article here and perhaps find out something new! If you could take a moment to comment and let Katie know how much her work is appreciated that would be wonderful.
|Tim, singing songs of freedom for Lua.|
|Tiago looking on at our parting moments with Lua.|
|Bye bye guys! Thanks for the ceremony.|
- Avoid disruption as much as possible. Minimise loud/strange noises, handle the animal as little as possible and avoid contact with other people. Make the little fella feel comfortable and tranquil.
- Use a towel or a cloth to cover its head (with no visual stimulation it will stay calmer) and put the creature into an adequately sized cardboard box with perforations to provide adequate air for breathing/ventilation. Take care of claws and beaks that may scratch!
- Get in touch immediately with:
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It’s been a long time since this blog was last updated. Those keeping up with us on Facebook will have some inkling of what’s been going on at the quinta in the meantime, but I’ve failed dismally at getting to the more detailed documentation of it all. Mostly a case of too busy doing the doing to be reporting the doing …
Following the successful implementation of a swale system on the bottom terrace last year, this last Spring I put in a similar system on the terrace above it. It’s a narrow terrace with very similar problems to the one below it – soil so dry in summer it barely supported a few fruit trees (which consequently dropped most of their fruit before it got anywhere near ripe) amongst grasses and wildflowers which would be dry and dead by July. In summer, the soil turned to dust in your hand and blew away.
A simple solution to the terrace’s immediate problems would have been to clear the grasses from around the trunks of the fruit trees, mulch heavily and install drip line irrigation to the trees, but the underlying aim of much of the work here has been to improve the water-holding capacity, life and health of the soil to a point where irrigation becomes only minimally necessary.
Grass-clearing and mulching around the trees had already been done. The next step was to address the soil.
In common with most of the terracing on the quinta, the flatter land that’s been created for growing is still far from being flat. Gradients have been reduced from between 30-45°, but average 18-22° over the terraces themselves. On this terrace, as with the one below it, contour lines run diagonally from the edge of the terrace to the slope or wall behind it. This means the terrace surface slopes in a different direction to the mountain slope it’s created from, which runs perpendicular to the line of the terrace itself.
This is ingenious. It makes for a reasonably gradual slope along the line of the terrace and directly across it (see image below), so rainwater run-off is not lost as rapidly as it would otherwise be. Flowing diagonally, it spreads and spends much longer crossing the surface of the terrace, but still drains effectively without channeling or eroding terrace walls. Surprisingly, the average annual rainfall here – 1040mm – is slightly more than where I used to live in the very wet Scottish Borders, but just about all of it falls in the winter months, so effective drainage is no less critically important as water retention is for the summer months.
The existing fruit tree plantings however had been made following the line of the terrace, so the trick with the swales would be to space them in such a way as to leave no tree without a swale close enough behind it to irrigate it.
Since these swales won’t be fed by ponds like the terrace below, the idea is to fill them by hosepipe every 7-10 days through the summer drought, decreasing the frequency of irrigation as the soil improves year on year. To begin with, plantings will be limited to mulched swale berms so as not to place too much demand on water supplies through the summer, especially as the winter rains failed during the winter of 2014-15.
We had worn a well-compacted pathway along the middle of the terrace simply by walking along it frequently, so the first task was to create a new pathway and decompact as much as possible of the old. The narrowest part of the terrace is simply not wide enough to have room for both swale and pathway between the trees, so the logical solution was to make the swale itself into a path. With the contour lines running diagonally, this would mean the path meeting the back slope before it reached half way along the terrace. This turned out to be less of a problem than it first seemed – it was simple enough to end the swale at the back slope, then continue the path along the back of the terrace.
A small amount of compost was spread along the swale berms before planting and mulching.
Ainda temos água para regar, mas há quem diga que não chega até ao fim de Agosto.
Entretanto, já comemos imensos kilos de amoras da linda e grande amoreira do florestado quintal, e outros tantos de framboesas.
Estas têm a particularidade de ficarem fantásticas em sorvete. Já acabaram as framboesas e os sorvetes :(
Mas vamos poder comer delas durante o inverno porque temos doces feitos com amoras, framboesas, groselhas, mirtilos e tudo misturado...
Com a seca, as amoras das silvas não estão a medrar, há algumas mas poucas.
Já comemos alperces e pêssegos, estão a chegar as ameixas e os figos, que já vamos comendo aqui e ali.
Deixámos de fazer queijo, por causa do calor e bebemos leite de cabra ao peq almoço e ao lanche.
Andamos a comer das nossas espigas de milho cozidas, barradas com manteiga.
As cabrinhas já estão "grandinhas" e está a chegar a alturas das suas mães emprenharem outra vez.
Entretanto chegou à "quinta" um porco, o Jeremias, que se tem deliciado com as batatas velhas, porque para nós já começámos a apanhar das novas.
Hoje começaram a nascer os pintainhos, já vi 2, faltam nascer 7.
Apanhámos o centeio todo, as favas (7kg) e as ervilhas (15kg) , mas ainda temos tremoço e tremocilha para apanhar.
As alfaces espigaram muito cedo, mas temos muita beterraba.
As courgettes e os pepinos já têm dado mas os pimentos e o tomate só vão começar agora a dar.
O feijão verde não foi tão forte como o ano passado, mas vai haver muito feijão seco para debulhar.
Os cogumelos já deram e já os acabámos. São bons!
Andamos a apanhar folhas de "quase tudo" para secar e fazer chá, temos cada vez mais variedade.
E assim vai a "quinta"!