This is my first day at Quinta da Lage (a 130 ha property own by a Dutch family, 5 km away from Sao Luís, Portugal).
7 am, I got up and was immediately greeted good morning by a gang of African guinea fowls just outside the door. I went left, cuddled a bit with Lulu the wolf dog (!) on the driveway, and saw the treehouse (!) under the stunning sunrise (!). I almost lost my breath already. After some magical moments, I went back and had breakfast with Ferry the owner, Nicolette the musician, Frank, Matt and Marie the fellow volunteers. All together we did a short yoga session to kick-start the working day.
I started with some mindful weeding in the greenhouse while Frank was watering the mango trees, orange treelings and broccoli seedlings. We empty four planting boxes so I can plant something new to commemorate my first day. I went through the seed drawer and found five special plants that I immediately found connection with.
Fully satisfied, I went back and joined Matt to collect goat and sheep manure. Five minutes later, we were approached by the creators of the holy shits. We gave some good sweet nice-to-meet-you carcassing to Snowy the baby goat (!!) and Mecca the pregnant mama goat (!!). Then we went back to the food garden and spreaded the whole basket of manure onto five raised beds. On top of the manure came a layer of mulch and the raised beds were ready to be home for some seedlings from the greenhouse.
While working, Matt showed me the duck house he made by the small pond, and Frank explained me the whole system of the garden: Water from the big pond flows to the small pond, where the ducks will live and poop. Thanks to the ducks, the population of slugs and snails will be nicely controlled; Thanks to the poops, the water will be very nutritious which we will use for watering the raised beds. I sparked smiles from my eyes and couldn’t believe it can be so beautifully ingenious. In the meantime, the horses have passed by three times to show off their gorgeous bodies and hairs.
Then was teatime, during which we sat down with Nuño and Marlon the construction workers, who came to help building the big house. It will become the permaculture learning centre in the future. In that house, Marie has been spending her entire week cobbing, to bring shape to an amazingly beautiful bee house in a tree.
After the short break, we went back and Frank taught me how to thin down and spread out the beetroots seedlings, in order to prevent unnecessary competition. That was very delicate work. One wrong move and you’ll be killing babies. I dedicated my entire concentration, care, time and love until it’s lunchtime.
Today it’s Marie’s turn to cook. She nailed it so flawlessly, no one could stop saying thank you!
After lunch I went to clean the treehouse so I can move in tonight (!!!). Nicolette and Marie had warned me that it can get cold during the night. So I brought my thick sleeping bag, warm socks and boiling heart with me.
After the cleaning we took the bikes and cycled to Lydia’s the local bar for some internet. The ride takes 10 minutes. 5 minutes within the Quinta itself, 5 minutes on the public road.
On the way back home, the sun set and burned the western sky to red. I had to stop many times, just to watch and let the whole scene burn into the back of my eyes.
Before dinner, Nicolette sat beside me, talking while knitting. I told her thousand things I love about this place, including her knitting. It reminds me so much of my mom, of the timeless time I sat next to her and just watch. And how she never could finish the whole sweater, only had to persuade me to wear her sleeveless love.
Jim and Rio, the boys, took turns on computer to play Minecraft. While Rio appreciated his 30 mins game time, Jim went to bring Batman inside, the cool yet gentle rooster. That was my first time to touch a live chicken and its glamorous feathers, without any agitation and fear from both sides.
After dinner, bed time. I went back to the treehouse with my torch. I was a bit afraid when crossing the field with hidden brambles in the dark. Also the torch light was creating a perfect atmosphere for a horror film. I heard myself whispering: It’s only nature. Everything happens here is only natural. Life and death, just love and embrace it.