Senda Verde Permaculture Eco Center

Saturday 19 November 2011

Animal Zen in puppy slippers

Dizzy and Mrs McGoo

Freeranging on the river bank

Isnt it great to be doing something you love. Even if you dont love it all the time, just now and again. Even if you have to do it 7 days a week during most of which your actually not loving it at all.

Shakin Stevens the new billy in the center of the photo

But then comes that special moment, the indescribable je nais cest pas of creative perfection. The rolling tight cast to a rising fish and dinner that night, a Eureka moment over some hard worried problem. It can come in many forms and the only commonality I can find in the absurd enjoyment I get from moments such as those, is that you appear to have to work, sweat, curse and sometimes hurt yourself in persuit of it.
Today was one of those days.

Josie, No6 and Crystal

Dizzy gives a litre of milk every morning

My morning routine starts with collecting up my milking gear, a bucket of grain and a milking jug, then bait for my fish traps and a sack or two for driftwood. Then its down to the goat shed followed by an excitable pack of dogs and cats.

Goat paradise

My Goats. Mrs Mcgoo the matriach and her daughter Spot. Dizzy and her kid Wings and little Annie the orphan. Not forgetting my most recent addition, Shaking Stevens a beautiful sturdy 1 year old billy goat.

Shakin Stevens the Billy goat

I milk on my river beach with a little grain to keep Mrs McGoo and Dizzy occupied while I take about 1.5 lts a day from them, Im only milking in the morning leaving the rest for the kids.

Crystal and her pack of puppies

The cats are going fairly crazy at this point as they know next job is fish traps. Im working with 3 traps at the moment baited with bread, dog biscuit, sometimes bones and im bringing them in every 2nd day or so. This morning was a good catch with 10 or so 5 inch barbel plus the usual collection of small minnows and 5 crayfish. The second trap was mainly crays, around 12 and a few small ones, the third trap didnt come out as the water was too high and my chest waders have a small leak, just didnt fancy it this morning.

Bitsy the kitten and her mum Itsy

The dogs eat the crays fresh just like biscuits, but somedays I stock up my small aquaponics operation ive got running up at the farm. Im holding up to 100 crayfish in a large tank and harvesting them every 3 weeks or so.

Once the dogs and cats have had a little breakfast and the milk and fish are hanging safe in buckets up a tree, its off for foraging with the animals.

Whiney whitey, DJ and No6 checking out Dizzy

At this time of year the river is up and down maybe 10 feet on the river bank every couple of days, leaving a driftwood tide line that takes just 10 minutes to get two good sacks of nice burning fire starting wood. I use far less hard graft logs this way and I like to harvest something every day, even if its just wood.

One of my favourite spots is a south facing lazy bend of the river just on the boarderline of my property that leads into a narrowing and faster water with towering granite cliffs rising either side of the river. The goats just love the fresh grazing and a chance for a little mountain climbing.

Little Annie the orphan maybe a little small for breeding this time but we will see

Wings going for some low hanging Mimosa on the beach

I watched fascinated as Skakin Stevens started to bark a bit like a dog and quiver, Spot was twitching her tail and showing interest and without more encouragement Shaking Stevens was mounted and doing his thing. He mounted twice and Id give it a thumbs up for precision and rhythm.

The morning sun caressed my face, the river gurgled by, Itsy clinch pawed my shoulder and purred in my ear at the delight of fish breakfast. Puppies nipped my fingers and my goats started to double infront of my eyes.

Creating in harmony with my tools and environment, walking away in every sense from the crazy that is overtaking the world, being happy with simple things that cost nothing apart from work, sweat, cursing and sometimes hurting yourself.

In Lakesh
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Tuesday 6 September 2011

Land share for Permaculture driven offgrider.

Traditional stone bothy and two large terraces need keen permie/s who want to walk their talk.

I'll need a very basic rent in the first year as I need to be sure that whoever takes it on is serious about the journey. If they are then the money thing disappears, as it will anyway.

I manage a heard of goats, make cheese and live as self sufficiently as possible. Im looking to share my land as the quinta is too large to be worked efficiently on my own.

If you are interested in escaping the collapse, living simply in nature on a small off grid traditional quinta close to Coja in the Sierra de Estrella mountains of Portugal and have a background in permaculture or self sufficiency then please leave a comment on this blog post with your email and I will get back to you.

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Saturday 12 March 2011

A journey starts with the first step

Puppy Crystal MIA

Somedays it seems easy to navigate the gnostic path. In my self created pod of good vibes I float along bouncing practically frictionless off the sporadic contacts with consensual reality. Gently cocooned in my higher frequency pod floating softly on the cosmic ripples.

At other times, specific times that seem related to solstices and equinoxes I am called to the job at hand. I have moored my pod in the galactic current where it hovers gently, waiting, whilst I concentrate and engage with the energies that seem to want to tussle with me again.
There is no free lunch as they say, and as Im called to duty it makes me appreciate just how good that last little trip was and how much Im looking forward to finishing business and getting back to my galactic cruise.

Carmela and Crystal, mum and pup playing, MIA

As the battle commenced this week I have to report some casualties.
My girls, Carmela and her puppy Crystal disappeared from the farm last Saturday followed by Lilly the goat, followed, on Tuesday by my new male rabbit, Hamish 2, he went off to his watership down in the sky.

A photo never lies? I hope so, in 3 weeks we will know if Hamish 2 left his genetic mark, RIP Hamish 2

This week also saw the start of the 9th level of consciousness according to the Mayans. There is little reason to believe that this body of knowledge has not been corrupted to the point of disinformation, but as with all things, a grain of truth probably rests within the bullshit. The 9th level is conscious co creation and Im consciously co creating the return of Crystal, Carmela and Lilly. MIA.

The fires of last summer, I learnt when I painted in Oils that the darkest dark is closest to the lightest light.

This week hasnt seen much in the way of farming, mainly meditation, and walking the hills and river vally looking for my girls. Spring is my favourite time of the year and as I walked and whistled and hollered I savoured the fantastic displays of nature as the hills bloomed with wild flowers and insect life. Such strong and vivacious life springing forth in such contrast to the inside of an oven blackness that was those same terrains just months before after the wild fires of last year. Take heart those little flowers said to me, out of blackness comes the light, just another few steps, the girls are just around the next corner.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Fertility on the farm.

Itsy came of age today, good luck Itsy

Today the 2nd of March and Itsy the cat came into season.
Ive never had a cat before, always a dog person, but Itsy has taken my heart.
I got her when she was about 5 months old back in May 2009. My friends Helen, Nuno and Eli gifted me a very ferile kitten who Helen named Itsy black beard and had to stuff into a cardboard box wearing big big gardening gloves. I didnt have the courage to do anything but let her out on the mezzanine floor in the barn and rename her Itsy.
3 months past, I fed and watered her daily, occasionally a hiss or a russle of maize stalks was the only sign of Itsy.

Then came the fires in August, Itsy still up in her mezzanine palace rided them through without a care. She was coming to me a little during feeding time, rubbing my hand and purring, but still very skittish. I decided that was enough and one evening I grabbed her and told her straight.
"your part of the community, come and join in"


Whether my words or just "live and let live" demeanor had anything to do with it, Itsy has turned into the most amazing cat I have ever known. She sleeps with me on cold nights, she loves attention, she comes walking in the mornings with the dogs and goat, scrambling high up trees and crying out "look at me"
She is, and has been a brilliant companion for crystal the 7 month old puppy, the two play for hours and have a real bond.

I hope she finds a suitor, shes out most nights hunting mice, tonight it might be a tom cat, good luck Itsy.

Hamish 2 and Morag singing sweet lullabies

With the energy of fertility running round the farm I thought it a good time to introduce the rabbits. Hamish 2, my new male has settled in well and been getting to know the girls, Morag and Heather, through the chicken wire.
This morning during feed time I grabbed the nearest female, Morag, and put her with Hamish in his batchelor pàd, the two have been making sweet music all day practically from the offset and tomorrow I will swap and give Heather her turn.

Carmela and pup of 7 months, Crystal playing

Spring is in the air and Im revelling in the sap thats rising, the animals that are mating and the veggies that are sprouting. Senda Verde cruised through the winter even with low food stocks and little money, it gives me confidence for the future.

Living life post apocalypse but pre apocalypse seems a bit disjointed at times but Im glad to be doing it. History shows that 95 percent of the people are wrong and change happens sporadically and rapidly, not slowly and linearly. Dinousours died with food in their chops, perhaps they were the lucky ones as currently I see the Middle East bedlam being the kick starter to the Peak Oil reality and most city dwellers will be lucky to go the same way.

For now Im happy to be on the fringe, looking at self sufficiency, peace, harmony and nature. If your not doing the same you need to seriously question your survival instincts, walk away from your job and save the world, become independent in food, energy and water to whatever degree you can. Buy food and seeds, take your money out the banks. Wake up to the ship going down.

4 new hens, 2 Frenchies (black) and 2 Spanish

If you would like to volunteer on the farm I would appreciate a few extra hands over the spring. The polytunnel is going up, irrigation systems, raised beds, ponds, animal husbandry, seeding, planting and eco building are all on the agenda. If you have an interest in any of those and would like some hands on experience please drop me an email.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Farming Rabbits and Chicken tractors


Ive really appreciated the fact that my Goat and my Rabbits dont need any type of special feed, they will eat what grows naturally and the Rabbits are happy with weeds that would be good only for the compost.

Ive been keeping Rabbits since mid October when my sister and family were over for a week.
Edhan and Eilidh treated me to three, two does and a buck, Morag, Heather and Hamish.

Edhan and Eilidh helping build the roundwood porch

Unfortunatley Hamish, the buck, exploited a leak in my rabbit hutch and Carmela took her chance. I finished him off for Sunday dinner.

Rabbit easier than plucking chickens

I also appreciate how easy and quick it is to prepare Rabbit, much faster than plucking chickens so Ive decided to up my Rabbit production.

In John Seymours excellent book "self sufficiency" he reckons with two does and a buck you can produce up to 90kg of Rabbit per year, fantastic for me and also for the dogs.

On breeding them he says:

"You can leave young Rabbits on the mother for 8 weeks, at which point they are ready to be killed. If you do this you should remove the mother 6 weeks after she has kindled (given birth) and put her to the buck. After she has been served return her to her young. Remove the latter when they are 8 weeks old and the doe will kindle again 17 days after the litter has been removed, gestation being about 30 days."

Buck HQ on right hand side Does and family on left

I have just finished the Buck HQ using recycled materials, an old desk I found rammed down the side of the barn, roundwood cut from my land and bits and bobs of timber. Wood mulch from the river as bedding and a few logs here and there and it looks good.

Recycle, repair and reuse

The buck will have an outside run too but its been too wet to work outside and change the combination of chicken wire that will seperate buck, does and chickens on the outside of the barn.

Outdoor run for all with private access to duplex suites

Tuesday is Viseu market where they sell all the livestock so Mr Rabbit might have to spend the first few days indoors till I get around to rejigging the partitions and giving them all outdoor space.

Carmela demonstrating the new chicken tractor

Chicken Tractor.

I mentioned in my last post that the chickens have been running totally freerange. I saw no point in confining them after the ducks mullered the veg garden and they have been doing a grand job of scratching and cleaning different beds. As spring approaches and im getting ready to plant out, that has to change.

My first chicken tractor, more or less recycled materials

Ive just finished building my first chicken tractor, it can be moved around the land and allow them fresh grazing whilst being secure and water tight at the same time. Im going to use some metal arcs Ive got with a shade netting covering to extend their run, it will also fit to any shape or size of raised bed ive got.

Run can be extended with more metal hoops and shade netting to fit raised bed size

The indoor chicken coop and outside run is still a little up in the air at the moment. I had some meat chickens, naked necks, that Im currently culling and they are around 3 to 4 kg and taste very good so I might go that route again.

6 berth with perch

My friend and chicken aficionado Lynn has put some eggs in her incubator so I could use it for those keeping the best of breed to use in a second chicken tractor and filling the freezer with the rest at 3 months. We will see.

The chicken tractor and egg machine

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Saturday 19 February 2011

Senda Verde Planting Diary 2011

Bill Mollison says you shouldnt do anything on your land till youve been on it a full year and as I approach that mark I can understand the reasoning. I feel I understand the land so much better than last year. To participate in the four seasons and to see how the land reacts to each gives a fundamental understanding that no amount of theory can replicate.

Last year was hard core learning, from the extremes of fire and no water to building everything from scratch with just booked based learning. One year does not a Mollison make, but I feel confident in my decisions and excited to be here and doing my thing.

The polytunnel is laid out and I hope to begin the construction over the next couple of weeks. Im waiting for the local metal shop to cut me some short tube that I will concreate in the ground and then big boy meccano starts.

Ive not decided on the final size, the width is fixed but I can space the arches out to a maximum of 3 meters, Ive got 12 arches and enough plastic to do it.

The chickens are running totally freerange at the moment so this shade netting is protecting my bulb onions, chard,and lettuce ive got in 3 raised beds

Jan. 15th
bulb onions, Chard, turnip green and red, salad
Dry terrace. Green pasture, Grellos, Turnip red and green,

My little temporary greenhouse come potting shed has handled the lot, fire, wind, rain and snow and its doing me proud till I get the big one up.

Jan 15th Potting shed greenhouse,
Cauliflower, turnip, green spiral calabrese, purple headed brocoli, lettuce

beetroot, beans, peas, rhubarb, herbs, citrus trees, cork oaks

Jan. 29th. Covered raised bed
Onion valencia, Parsley root Atika, carrots

There is not much topsoil on this little patch of the riverbank, perhaps a foot or so of errosion soil from my main field. I thought I would try an experiment with some carrots as they like well draining sandy soils.

Easy watering with the river just infront but not much topsoil.. we shall see

Jan 29th Riverbank
Carrots, Long de meaux, white green top, early nantes

Feb 5th Greenhouse
Flowers x 4, Herbs x 5, celery, beans x 4, peas x 2, parsnips,

Ive got a sort of half terrace thats on the riverbank, catching the run off errosion from my main flat field. Before the fires it was unworkable, a tangled mass of brambles but with a few hours work I got this little spot into reasonable shape and decided to give a few different vegetables a go. It gets alot of moisture down here so it might not requiere any irrigation but as I spent most of last summers afternoons lazing on the river beach, literally 5 meteres from the spot a waterering can will do the job.

Feb 7th Riverbank
Chard, onion, carrots, sorrel, parsley

My greywater irrigation system with Rye sown
9th Feb greywater terrace

10th Feb Food forest
Hazel cuttings x 6

14th Feb River bank
Carrots, radish

19th Feb
Garlic 1kg

28th Feb
Planted out brocoli, cauliflour, beetroot, lettuce, sorrel, red cabbage, white cabbage, perrenial cabbage, chard

25kg Mona Lisa Seed potatoes layed out to chit

2nd March

Planted out Milan white turnip, Navet de Nancy,

2nd March Greenhouse. Seeded

Brussel sprouts Sanda, Beetroot, Quiabo Clemson spineless, Minidor dwarf yellow bean, Milan white turnip, Navet de Nancy, Grandpa Admires butterhead lettuce, Autumn giant cauliflower, Purple Autumn Cauliflower, Green headed Brocoli, Sunflowers.

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