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Pena, Gois
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1.2
Persons: 5
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 41269
Country: Portugal

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Last Updated: September 27, 2017

Ultimately, I'd like to form a long-term partnership to move forward with this project, but for the moment, I'm flying solo ;-)

The work:

I could use help with any aspects of the gardening, natural building, rocket stoves, animal care, vermiculture, alternative energies, forestry and water management or cooking and related activities for keeping the project running. This means that if you want to get stuck into a building project, you can. If you want to do some scultpure-like cob work, you can. If you want to build a new garden, you can. Even if you just want to take the dogs for a walk or water the garden, it helps! There are brambles, brush and ferns to clear. There are small trees to cut down, wood to cut, split and stack, animals to feed and meals to prepare. I will do my best to find tasks that volunteers are suited to, but I don't think it'll be a challenge, to be honest ;-)

The accommodation:

The accommodation and facilities are ever improving! At the moment, I've got a designated space for the volunteer(s). The stairs to it have just been built, as well as the framing for the wall. For volunteers, I have two single beds and a thin double mattress that has been used in a pinch, a few times. Thus far, I've left it to the folks staying to decide on their comfortable level of privacy and, thus far, there are no proper walls or curtains dividing sleeping areas. If people want to focus on changing that, we certainly can. In hot weather, I often bathe in the stream (very refreshing). On sunny afternoons, hot water from the solar spiral can be hoisted into the bucket shower, in cooler weather, I heat water on RMH for the outdoor bucket shower, tho' some people prefer the cup in the plastic tub method. In all cases, privacy is on the honour system until the bathhouse is built. The house itself is a traditional, thick-walled stone (xisto) house, so it moderates the daily fluctuations in temperature. It's cooler in the hot part of the day and retains warmth at night. Generally, it's comfortable (in my opinion). ;-)


Food!:

Mornings, I usually eat fruit and muesli with soy, rice or oat milk. In colder weather, we are cooking porridge. For lunch/dinner, I'm eating out of the garden as much as possible. This year, it's giving tomatoes, spinach, courgette, squash, parsley, basil, beans, peppers, onions, leeks, beets, sweet potatoes and white potatoes (update: The garden has been quite neglected, so there's not so much coming out of it, now, and nothing new has been planted, this season. Maybe someone will be up for taking the reigns on that aspect of the project). Neighbours also give me things like goat's cheese and jam that they make. I try to buy other fresh fruit and veg every few days and tend not to buy meat for myself (I buy it for the dogs). I keep some tins on hand, in case of bad planning or being short of something. I'm mostly cooking simple, vegetarian or pescatarian meals. I'm open to raw food, but I don't have loads of electricity for juicing/blending/processing. Not electricity for a refrigerator, so just using natural methods. I'm cooking on the rocket mass heater and a gas stove. I've just installed a pipe to take water out of the house (so nice not to have to carry buckets out), but still carrying water in. In sunny weather, getting hot water from solar spiral, in colder weather, from stove or RMH. We're close enough to civilization to grab a pizza or similar from town, when it makes sense to do so. I'm not a tea or coffee drinker, but if you are, I'm sure something can be arranged ;-)

Myself:

I'm a semi-retired musician from Canada. I lived in the UK for several years. I play gigs, now and then, locally, mostly with British ex-pats. Health is my primary motivation for living in this way, so I'm pretty clean living (teetotal, straight edge). My personal philosophies are secular, though I try to be accepting of others' spirituality. Politically, I'm interested in Anarcho-syndicalism, Agrarianism, Democracy (in its true sense) and recently have been looking at selectorate theory. Even out in the mountains, I watch films and the odd series. Audiobooks are handy for being entertained while doing menial tasks. Lately, I've been re-listening to some older Chomsky talks. I make an effort to be positive in communication and action, most of the time, but as the quote from Spinal Tap goes, "You can only be reasonable for so long." ;-) The shift to this lifestyle has been, and continues to be a huge learning experience for me, so I guess I thrive on learning about things that I'm interested in. Unless I am playing a gig with one of my bands or I'm going to a party, I generally rise and fall with the Sun ;-)



The story so far:
Early days on a project to create a reasonably self-sufficient small farm in the mountains of central Portugal. Closest village is a twenty minute walk. Closest town is a twenty minute drive. Site is along a hiking trail that is used fairly regularly by local and international tourists and even a local goat herd. Wild boar, deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, various birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and an array of insects populate the surrounding forests and streams.

The property is half encircled by a mountain stream that runs all year round. The main stone building is hundreds of years old and would've originally been used to house goats and straw, as well as, possibly, seasonal workers. I was told that there was some kind of nudist colony using the land in the 80's, but eventually angered locals by breaking into (and thereby damaging) the beehives that were kept nearby. The trees that were growing inside the building have been removed, the floor dug down and a proper, fairly traditional, stone floor put in. It now has a new roof and the walls have been rendered with a clay mixture, outside. A rocket mass heater has been installed for heat and some cooking. An indoor rocket stove is in the works. The inside of the house still needs a little more cobbing and the plan is to give it all a gypsum plaster. The wooden parts of the building (beams, floors, stairs, etc.) have been treated with borax and then either linseed oil or limewash.

Besides the main building (which is actually a combination of two), a tool shed has been built, as well as a footbridge over the stream, a large covered area that serves as a wood storage/splitting area and a cabin to house chickens, ducks and possibly rabbits, has been started, all using wood from the land and local area. There are also plans for a few other structures: A long-drop dry compost toilet (currently using a smaller, bucket system), a bath house (currently using bucket shower or stream) and a dedicated building for guest accommodation (currently using house or tents).

A basic garden has been put together with the slash cut from around the house and the dirt that was dug out from floor and a trough around the house. Some fruit trees have been planted. A small RAM pump has been set up to carry water up to storage on higher part of land, which supplies irrigation water and solar (spiral) hot water. More land needs to be cleared, more gardens set up, more trees planted, and more irrigation systems set up.

A very basic solar electrical system is being used. There are plans to expand the system with more panels and batteries, as well as hydro-electricity for the winter months. Some very early experiments have been performed for improving the internet situation on the site, but more needs to be done in that department.

At the moment, there are ducks living in temporary accommodation and dogs who help watch over them.

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