The last month has been FULL........full of olives, full of friends, full of cob on our hands (and sometimes our faces) and pretty full of sun! Let the pictures and little text below give an insight into the wonderful workings of the Mount of Oaks life from mid Nov - mid Dec 2015.
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OLIVE HARVEST 2015
The olive harvest began with Marcia collecting our big green olives for preserving. Currently there are a huge amount of olives on their way to be ready for eating....this slow natural process normally takes a few months.
Dear Uli from Berlin come for her annual visit just as we were preparing to pick the main harvest. The days she was here were bright and FULL of deep and lovely heart conversations. Uli harvested black olives for eating on her final day with us.
We were grateful for the help from our friend Lopes and Ana Cristina - they came on a beautiful Saturday and we enjoyed good company and chats while we picked!
Then off with the load to the olive press. We again choose to take our precious olives to a local family run place outside Fundao....the couple who run it are lovely people and the process is slow and traditional - and the consistancy of the oil is yummy!
Our olives arrived at the press the day it opened, so Eric and I had the pleasure of watching the guys as they moved the first load......exciting stuff!
We then had almost a week to wait to bring it home. On the evening that Marcia and Eric collected it friends from Germany, Clemens and Bea arrived.......they were present with us when we did our first taste test......
With 620kgs of premium organic olives we got back 83 litres of oil - which was more oil than last year. We were really happy with the result and have some to sell to those who come visit this year!!!!
Work on the our Common Space continued these last weeks - and most of the work was with plastering the straw bale walks with cob. Cob is a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water and we apply it by hand - like sculpting really.
We have been really blessed with the weather the last weeks. It has been dry and warm which is allowing the cob to dry at a nice pace. With all of the outside plastered and the guttering up next thing will be to add a layer of lime to protect the cob walls.
Inside is yet to be plastered, but there is time for that - our main aim was to get the outside walls covered and protected from the rain.
The weather has been perfect for doing bits and bobs of gardening. When Uli was here she helped quite a bit - sowing broad beans, garlic and onions. She and I prepared and formed a few beds and it was a pleasure to work together.
Despite it being late Autumn there is such an abundance of fruit and veg around - tangerines and strawberries are ripe and the garden is STILL producing green peppers and chillies!!
Bea helped to process the vast amounts of rosemary - she was putting into bundles the branches I cut from the bushes in the front garden, then hanging them to dry.
For a few years we have spoken about having a poly tunnel - a place to propagate early seeds and to protect special plants from the winter frost.....
The poly tunnel designed by Barbara took little time to actually put up. She and our welding genius neighbour Martin made some special attachments for the tubes to stay stable and be connected to the ground - then the actually putting on of the plastic took no time!
Then it was time to transplant our precious cassava or mandioca into the warmth for the winter. Ba's mum brought over the roots from Angloa and they have been doing well in our Portuguese climate, but need protecting from the frost.
As mentioned, we had Uli visit at the start of the oilve season and Bea and Clemens arrived as we collected the oil. Bea and Clemens came to rest and process a major life event, the death of their tiny son. It was not an easy time for them, but for us to have them stay with us was a real blessing - we remembered clearly just why we live where we live and how we live. It was wonderful to have them around.
After they left we went and bought a tree, a lime leaf tree to plant in honour of their son Jonte.
In the first days of December Marcia, Eric, Barbara and I took some afternoons to look back and look forward. It had been 6 months since we last had such a meeting and it was really good to review all our accomplishments and the transitions that are occurring.
As a result of our meetings we have a set of priorities moving forward into 2016. We will share more about this as time goes on. Needless to say it was really fruitful to meet and share hearts, hopes and ideas about how to live well at the Mount of Oaks and offer the space to others......
Our main aims are to continue to improve the infastructure of the land - improving living spaces and having the place ready to welcome people who would like to camp from Spring time. We would like to run some open days, workshops and continue to offer hospitality and retreat space in the coming year. We also hope to have a working website, more produce to sell/trade and develop our local and global links with like-minded people interested in 'living simply so that others may simply live'
In order to sustain this project we are still seeking financial help at this stage towards building costs - if you desire to help with a donation, please get in touch - any amounts would help us a long way! Thank you for all those who have already given - you can see for yourselves what we can do with not a lot of cash!!!
We are officially in our 'closed' season - meaning we are not open for helpers again until 7th March. Marcia and Eric are currently in Germany with Eric's family for Christmas.
From all the animals, plants, trees and humans of the Mount of Oaks,
many blessings for the season, prayers of peace and joy and remember to take time to breath and appreciate the beauty around you!!!!