Monday, 29 March 2010

pigging out on pumpkin

Pet destruction

I have spent the whole of my "growing" life having to deal with Lulu (my cat that Rick hates) eating the tops off sweetcorn and bean seedlings. Here in the flat in Portugal I have a veranda that has double closing doors, so I can propogate everything we need and keep the cat out. Great.
I had literally turned my back for a second whilst wandering in and out potting on and this is what I came back to.

Living in a village has some advantages and quite a lot of disadvantages, I think I freaked out the local council workers screaming and throwing my cat down the stairs...she's alright and we've kissed and made up

Trench warfare

Traditionally (in UK) you put your spuds in on Good Friday, but that doesn't fit with my bio-dynamic planting.
We have three full root days, today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Rick ( like most of us) has eyes bigger than his stomach and is always worried that we won't have enough potatoes to see us through. (he's usually right!).
I explained, in a much earlier entry about crop rotation, so I won't go into it again, anyway we will always grow more crops in the "A" category than any other, so this year we've had to rob some of the newly rotavated pig meadow. We are also experimenting with the Portuguese way of planting, keeping some chitted potatoes from last years crop, cutting in half or thirds and placing in a hole. Rick has dug 360 holes!!!

and 12 trenches.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Parsnip chips

We did wonder whether we talked too much about food and had almost decided to stop posting entries about it, but on reflection, seeing as mostly what we are about is growing food to eat, we shall carry on.

Home-grown parsnips, chipped and cooked in our own olive oil, dipped in home-made chilli jam and mayonaise

Ugly Betty bites the bullet

Both the new black chickens had started laying, Black Betty first, Ugly laid her first the other day, when I say lay I use the term loosely, she was wondering around with it half hanging out of her vent, I helped it out, it wasn't a properly formed egg, which is not unusual for the first couple, however, she had also managed to prolapse her vent in the process. On closer inspection and some chin rubbing we decided to give her some time to recover. She did. I did some research meanwhilst on the internet and although not common it can happen that chickens vents prolapse. You can manage it by separating them to prevent caniballism (which would eventually lead to death), pushing the prolapse back in and restrict their diet to prevent them from laying, all of that takes space, time and knowledge. Time I have, the other two I don't. I arrived at the coop this morning to discover that she had laid another perfect egg but with another not perfect egg attached to it, her prolapse was even worse and she wasn't eating.

It's an awful day when you have to make the decision to cull livestock and I know I wouldn't be human to dislike it immensely. Sorry Betty

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

pigs; pencils and pines

Thankfully the weather has turned and we are now having glorious sunny days. Rick has been busy cutting posts (that look like giant pencils) for the pig pen, I have been burning alot of pine brashings and other rubbish and watching the pigs alot

Sunday, 7 March 2010

here piggy piggy

Today, at 8.30 this morning, to be precise, the pigs arrived. Both of them. Black and hairy. They are not being named, for obvious reasons, but will be mentioned in dispatches, and all being well, will be eaten, sometime a year or so from now. Currently, they are being fed a complete food, with any additional food scraps from the kitchen. Later when they are big enough to live out, they will be foraging as well, in the part of the meadow set aside for them, then on the root crops grown for them, and hopefully tethered in the forest, after chestnuts and acorns.

With any luck, a year from now, they should be heading toward the dreamed of 200kg of a top baconer, the smoke house, the freezer, and the kitchen. It may take a bit longer, more or less, we've never kept pigs before, and they are supposed to be a slow growing breed. It has been mentioned, that they are some of the finest ham makers on the planet, we are hoping sausage and bacon too.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Day of first egg, part two

Ugly Betty has laid her first egg, terrible racket she made too....

Welcome to meadow 3

Finally the locals are taking us seriously. Last year we asked our neigbour to rotavate meadow 3 for us, "oh, it's too wet", "oh, it's too dry", "oh' it's too hot" etc. etc.
Last year we asked the local butchers to get us some livestock, ok, it was goats not pigs, the goats turned up dead, not much use to us.
You could put it down to mis-communication or total lack of communication. But it seems that we can now speak enough Portuguese to make ourselves understood, or they are finally taking us seriously or both.
We asked the local butchers to get us two black pigs from the Alentejo area. We want to keep them outside and they cope better with the hot weather due to being hairy. Most locals keep pigs but inside in caves, they never see the light of day. That's not how we want to rear our animals.
"Oh, no too difficult to find", "oh, not available", "oh, very expensive". Three days later Carlos shouted up to me from the bottom of the steps where we live and announced that the pigs are coming!!!! on Sunday.
We will keep them on meadow three, split into 3 to follow a three year rotation. 1/3rd for them to live on and fertilize, rotatvate and clean. 1/3rd planted with root crops, for them to move on to in the final months and 1/3rd with green manure and then root crops again and first 1/3rd.
Our neighnbour, after pleading with him came and rotavated the 2/3rd's yesterday, it's not how I like to do things and all the weeds have been chopped up into a million pieces, but the pigs can eat all of that. All that's left is for Rick to build a coral and a house for them. In the meanwhilst they will live in the exisiting house with access to a little bit of outdoors.