Latest news from the quinta

October 23rd, 2014. Post by Wendy

This blog tends to feature often lengthy and mostly fairly detailed descriptions of the work here. Shorter updates, anecdotes, comments, photos, links and more get posted to Facebook. Keep up with us directly on Facebook or via the feed below.

Quinta do Vale

Quinta do Vale on Facebook

The damper than usual summer and the recent rain have brought the patches of sorrel (Rumex acetosella) on well. The leaves are lush and about twice the size they've grown here until now. ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago

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Abacus Fran, Mark Herbst and 23 others like this

David FiskeWe have a lot too. You can make a soup like a spinach/potato soup with them and needn't add lemon juice.2 days ago   ·  1
Kate MacLeanparting is such sweet sorrel (just came to me)2 days ago   ·  1
Jean Jaques Emilesorrel?2 days ago

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Chestnut harvest. ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago

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Aidi Aron, Maureen Smith and 23 others like this

Malcolm JohnstonLove chestnuts. Can you eat them.4 days ago
Relovedby JaneYes please roasted , returned to uk from central Portugal these free fruit of the land £7.50 English pounds a kilo. So happy Portugal is going to be my forever home in my future. Garden of paradise. 5 days ago   ·  3

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During today's rain, one of the brightest rainbows I've ever seen. Not a great picture as I only had the phone camera on me, but at least it gives an idea. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

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Mchalika Digo, Jajinka TheCzechchick and 23 others like this

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Gingi TilburyI've seen a dozen or so double rainbows here on fb from all around the world. What's going on here?1 week ago
Michael EckermanIs it looking down on Benfeita? You can get good shots with the phones..it's all about composition, ey? Sure... Lighting helps...1 week ago   ·  2
Jayne NormanIt was truly amazing! I made several wishes ; ) xx1 week ago   ·  2
Michelle Sheridanthere have been some brilliant ones this summer with all the rain,lovely :)1 week ago   ·  2
Jacquie ChandlerJust stunning iris, and a double one as well xx1 week ago   ·  1
Ricardo PêI think that it is a great picture. :-)1 week ago   ·  1
Teresa M. B. McGrathLove double rainbows, this photo is beautiful. Tré x1 week ago   ·  1
Dale JulianNice :)1 week ago
Marta Gillettegourgeous!1 week ago
Stephanie WaasdorpWouw! Beautiful1 week ago
Betsy Salyer<31 week ago
吳麗蘭Thanks for sharing!1 week ago

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The rewards for planting trees! This much-prized cep or porcini (Boletus edulis) will be in the frying pan tonight. ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

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Melissa Pio Di Savoia, Mark Herbst and 23 others like this

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Lucia Moreno VeloDid you inoculate the soil or did it just come out on its own?2 weeks ago
Kathy LockhartFound in conjunction with what types of trees? In North America, it is spruce trees.2 weeks ago
Ooni Staerck:-) better find some for me when I come over! xx2 weeks ago   ·  1
Shirley HocklingEnjoy your meal! Delicious!2 weeks ago   ·  1
Mark Herbstyum!6 days ago
Martine DelveauxThey are so yummie!! Enjoy!!2 weeks ago   ·  1

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You know it's autumn when ... it's getting dark at 7pm, the wild mushrooms are sizzling in the pan, the first chestnuts are roasting on the stove, you're sipping jeropiga, and the drying laundry has completely taken over the yurt. ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

Food Forestation Ltd, Karina Szilagyi and 23 others like this

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Pan Dodd-Noblesounds good but what's jeropiga?2 weeks ago
Linda BeckmanDo you have kefir grains? I am coming mid-month and have them to share...kefir does not have the rigors of yougurt and much biigger flora benefits to the gut...by at least 5xs....2 weeks ago
Michael EckermanDoes the yurt feel a little empty, without a teen sleeping the day away..2 weeks ago   ·  1
Helen ElizSaving for our yurt :)2 weeks ago   ·  1
Sol NicolajsenWoooaa! LIKE it <32 weeks ago
Karen Grimesmmm jeropiga yum must get some2 weeks ago
Shirley HocklingThat sounds very cosy!2 weeks ago
Kate MacLeanjeropiga sounds intriguing..2 weeks ago

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Preparing the yurt for winter ... stripping off the covers, readjusting the frame, and putting it all back together again. After 5 years, the straps round the circumference had rotted away so I replaced them with some 20-tonne ratchet straps and added another 3 straps over the roof to hold the whole structure tight down onto the platform. Bubble wrap underneath the plastic covering the crown plus an extra outer cover (thanks Jayne Norman!) completes it. We will be snug and secure this winter! And hopefully without the need for half a dozen trees on the roof ... ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

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Joao Luis Canelhas Chaves, Veronica Balfour Paul and 23 others like this

Emma McDonaldNice work mama hen!3 weeks ago   ·  3

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Parasol time again! This year is the best yet for the number growing on the quinta. Damp summers have their plus points. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

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Jorge Pê, Joao Luis Canelhas Chaves and 23 others like this

Jean Jaques EmileAre these edible?3 weeks ago
Suzann MannEdible?3 weeks ago
Relovedby JaneWishing I was in my casa in Portugal so I could pick and dry . Enjoy your havest. 3 weeks ago   ·  1

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A portable rocket stove

July 2nd, 2014. Post by Wendy

A year or so ago I salvaged a couple of tin cans from the local dump. From the moment I laid eyes on them they were shouting “portable rocket stove!”. They’ve sat around waiting for me to find the time and inclination to put them together ever since, but a friend moving onto a nearby quinta with no cooking facilities finally spurred me into action. In my head, I’d already worked out exactly how the stove was to be made, so it took very little time to assemble. In fact, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t even get any ‘before’ photos.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

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We are crowdfunding!

June 18th, 2014. Post by Wendy

This video explains …

And the campaign is hosted here.

The vermicomposting flush toilet completed

June 8th, 2014. Post by Wendy

Last year I wrote about our installation of a vermicompositing flush toilet – a worm composting system for a conventional flush toilet – in the outhouse for the wee house. It was all ready and set to go for a good while, minus the worms, but we couldn’t start using it until we had a water supply to the wee house since there would be nothing to flush with until we did.

With the completion of the quinta’s water storage and distribution system in February, I could at last commission the system.

Outhouse toilet featuring a composting flush toilet

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Waterworks completed

May 1st, 2014. Post by Wendy

Among many other projects on the go simultaneously last summer was the installation of some water storage capacity and supply lines to the various buildings on the quinta. The design and layout gives a good head of gravity-fed water to all parts of the quinta, and provides buffering for the vagaries of daily stream flow in late summer. The two tanks constructed from pre-cast concrete rings were fairly quick to construct. Finishing them proved more of a problem.

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A wood-burning masonry cookstove

April 26th, 2014. Post by Wendy

Ach! Where does the time go? I’m so hopelessly behind with blog posts and there are now so many pending I scarcely know where to start. I just checked the last post I made about the outdoor kitchen for the wee house and it was a year ago!

Alongside the cob bread/pizza oven I built last spring (and which is now producing fabulous food), I also constructed a wood-burning masonry cookstove. I found an open source Sketchup model online and adapted it for Portuguese fire brick dimensions.

Sketchup model for wood burning cook stove

This is the adapted model. Click on the image to download the Sketchup file and open in Sketchup (3D modelling software which is free to download). Firebricks are colour-coded for different lengths. You’ll need to be reasonably proficient with an angle grinder (at the least) to build this stove.

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Timber-framed grey water-processing greenhouse – part 2

February 14th, 2014. Post by Wendy

The last post on this build finished with the laying of the chestnut ring beam which forms the base of this sweet chestnut timber frame construction. The next part was to raise the main supporting structure.

Splitting out braces with a small axe

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Fermented citrus enzyme cleaner

January 30th, 2014. Post by Wendy

A few months ago I was talking to a friend at a local market about making my own washing up liquid and the difficulty in getting the balance just right between cleaning power and general user-friendliness. She mentioned a fermented citrus cleaner she makes and sent me the recipe. It sat in my email inbox for months until I caught a cold in early December and got tore into serious quantities of hot lemon and honey drinks. As the lemon rinds began to pile up in the compost bin, I suddenly remembered the cleaner recipe.

Fermented citrus cleaner in various stages of fermentation

Fermented citrus cleaner in various stages. From left to right, lemon citrus after 6 weeks’ fermentation, orange citrus after one week’s fermentation, and a new bottle being filled with orange peel

The fruit I’ve used is all grown here on the quinta, so is about as natural, organic and fresh as it gets. I made two bottles with the lemon peel from the cold remedies, then after Christmas the oranges started coming ripe so the 5th bottle is now on the go.

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A grey water processing greenhouse for the main building

December 7th, 2013. Post by Wendy

Another of this last summer’s principal projects has been restarting work on the main building. After the salutary lesson of the badly-built balcony and trellis, this time there would be no short cuts. We started taking apart the roof of the balcony back in spring to reuse the roof tiles on the wee house roof extension, and as work continued there on the toilet and battery house, we frequently raided the balcony for pieces of chestnut timber for floor and roof joists and for pine planking. So when it was finally time to demolish the balcony at the end of May, there wasn’t a whole lot left to take down.

Demolishing the remainder of the balcony

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Earthen floor for the bathroom

November 24th, 2013. Post by Wendy

The last major job outstanding on the cob bathroom is now complete. The floor. It’s been a slow process, finishing it off between major renovation works on the other two buildings, but slow progress is still progress.

Cob bathroom with its green roof

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October 12th, 2013. Post by Wendy

It took a year, but finally the copper pot-still or alambique I rescued from the scrap man last year and built a cob ‘stoven’ for is all fired up and producing aguardente.

Alambique or pot still

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