Building Community and Fire Immunity

I feel that we are facing many great challenges on this Earth. Challenges which represent real threats, not just to our existence, but to our right to exist in abundance.

Sometimes I would like to believe otherwise, or believe that perhaps these threats will just pass, with no consequence. Perhaps I am fortunate, to have experienced the fire which has now shown me that when threats are left untreated we leave ourselves susceptible to being prejudiced and having that which is rightfully ours taken away from us … sometimes, in the blink of an eye. How do we immunise ourselves from these threats?

One way I see Earth Neighbour projects is them acting as immune cells. I feel like I have an opportunity now to give an example of how these cells can contribute towards building ‘fire immunity’ – probably one of the most vital issues at this point in the story of Portugal, which is ravaged by fires every year. As I mentioned in another post a few months back, last year in 2016 alone 115,000 hectares were destroyed by fire, and accounted for half of all forests destroyed by fire in EU. A large portion of these areas are just abandoned rural farm land.

Climate Change Post also indicates this with their article ‘Abandoned farmlands lead to more forest fires in mainland Portugal.

In relation to some facts from the the fire that went through my quinta on July 18 – After reviewing the burnt area, the Forestry / Civil Protection services of the Camara Municipal of Fornos de Algodres calculated that roughly a total of 285 hectares of land was damaged by the fire. 118 hectares of that were classified as pastagem (fields for animals) and 166 hectares was mato (overgrown and abandoned farm land – effectively scrub land). I should point out that’s only within the concelho of Fornos de Algodres and doesn’t include how much area was damaged in the Concelho of Mangualde where the fire started (in 3 places!!).

In these largely abandoned rural areas there is the opportunity for immune cells to emerge. These could be made up of various neighbouring farms, collaborating together in designing and implementing land strategies to protect against the threat of fire. They not only serve to protect their own land that would most likely have been abandoned, but also act as a fire break, by protecting against the fire from passing over their own threshold.

From rural cells such as these, there would also arise self governing community fire response teams. Something that does not cost the government any money, as it arises out of of voluntary community action and is led by design.

Actions based on love, for the earth, not fear or economic interest.

From the ashes, new community is born …

For me, the fire that has passed here, has created a crisis, and in that, an opportunity, to reach out and to make a sincere effort to PROTECT against future threats. For me, this is a new beginning. I’m putting this out also for anyone who feels drawn to support my project. I ask you to please take a look at the ‘Fire Relief’ campaign I’ve created on GoGetFunding.com. There I outline a plan of what I wish to put into action here on my farm, to protect against the future threat of fire.

Many of us in the local area have already gathered and discussed how to deal with the future threat of fire as a community. The general consensus is that some kind of community response group is necessary. A community fire response group has already been started on Facebook. So, it’s already happening – IMMUNITY in ACTION! Imagine what will happen when we figure out how get funding to support this cause!

Respect for Nature

Yesterday there was a big wild beast heading towards the east, blowing hot and heavy …

A fire that started around Ribamondego …

There was nothing that could have been done. The winds were too strong and too variable. A lot of people contacted me and offered help. Thank you. I didn’t feel right putting anyone in harms way.

I evacuated my farm, I parked my truck at the chapel, and waited for it to pass while I sheltered close to St Gabriel while I watched it pass in the direction of my farm. So here you have it, St Gabriel and my Apocalypse.

I’m OK.

Unfortunately my land suffered …

But the core here remains intact and alive.

I feel very fortunate.

Maybe the full experience has not sunk in yet, but I feel that this is a huge cleansing, by the grace of Mother Nature, and I believe that this experience will serve to bring a great revelation. It is after all, what ‘apocalypse’ means.

Every ending has a new beginning.

From here we start again, fresh, new life.

UPDATE 21 July 2017:

Yesterday I was interviewed by TVI. Although they didn’t quite understand everything I said very clearly, I have included the interview below for anyone wanting to see it.

 

Australiano viu sonho de uma vida queimado em Fornos de Algodres Ontem.

Millo Magnocavallo tinha uma quinta naquele concelho do distrito da Guarda. A propriedade foi uma das que foi destruída pelo fogo.

SEE VIDEO HERE ON TVI / VER VIDEO AQUI NO TVI

UPDATE – 9 August 2017:

I’ve just launched the Quinta das Moitas Fire Relief Fund on GoGetFunding.com in order to recuperate items that were damaged in the fire. I’ve also proposed a plan of action with regards to how to prevent this from happening again. Please visit the campaign and have a read.
Any kind donation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Hunting is an Aberration (Translated Article)

This article is a translation from an existing article written by Isabel A. Ferreira, titled ‘A Caça É Uma Aberração’. I’ve been given permission by the author to translate from Portuguese into English for the benefit of english readers. The points regarding the 7 myths of the hunting sector in Spain is sourced directly from an article on http://publico.es the subject of which is titled “Ecologists Dismantle 7 Myths of the Hunting Sector in Spain” (translated from Spanish).

Hunting is translated into the exteriorization of the most primitive instinct that exists in the human animal: the instinct to kill for pleasure.

No intervention of the human animal is necessary for the conservation of the species. NATURE itself takes care of this very wisely.

“To hunt is to provoke fear and suffering with more or less rapid mortal injury, victimizing innocent and newborn animals […] and sometimes people. It contaminates animals, humans and the area. It bothers and upsets many people and often makes them feel unsafe to be out in nature [often hunters don’t respect the limits] and pollutes with it’s lead cartridges. There are methods of controlling populations, balanced and responsible, causing less suffering and risk, which should be studied, decided upon and implemented by competent authorities”. – Dr. Vasco Reis – Veterinarian

Spanish Environmentalists Scientifically Unmask Seven Myths of the Hunting Sector
(What goes for Spain, goes for Portugal, where everything happens the same way).

Ecologists in Action published an extensive report to dismantle some of the arguments of the [hunting] sector and hunting activities that, according to official statistics, kills about 25 million animals each year in our country.

L. VILLA @Luchiva

MADRID. -The National Hunting Office, the entity that brings together 80% of hunters federated in Spain, has as its motto: “We are part of nature.” defining itself as “conservationist”, “committed to the environment”, “defenders of nature, wildlife and habitats” and among its missions is “to defend hunting as the most ethical and sustainable activity in the management of natural spaces”.

The same happens with other associations of the hunting sector, such as Aproca, in Castilla La-Mancha where they indicate on their own web site – “Aproca’s objective is to defend a rational and sustainable use of the natural and forest environment, so that all activities of the association are developed with the most absolute respect for the environment, conservation of nature, preservation and balance between domestic and wild flora & fauna and protection of endangered as well as native species.”.

Due to messages such as these, where the activity of hunting is linked to a work of nature, Ecologistas en Acción has published an extensive report in which it attempts to scientifically dismantle some of the arguments of the sector and the myths surrounding hunting activities, that according to official statistics, kills around 25 million animals per year in Spain.

“While it is true that hunting in Spain is carried out every year by a smaller number of people, the sector as a whole has been strengthened as social and economic lobby, thus reacting to the growing environmental awareness of society as a whole”, says the report, prepared by the biologist Roberto Oliveros from a compilation of studies and technical and scientific documents.

Ecologists have summarized the results of their research into seven “truths about the impact of hunting in Spain” (and the same applies to Portugal):

1. It consists of killing animals for fun or for business

Hunting is basically supported by two activities: a sport or competition and another commercial based on tourism and hunting farms. Although there is no complete and reliable official data on the volume of money generated, says Ecologists, the FAES Foundation, linked to the PP, estimated profits in 2007 at more than 2,750 million euros. The former president of the Spanish Hunting Federation, Andrés Gutiérrez Lara, pointed out in 2004 that in addition to that money hunting moved another 6,000 million dollars in black money, without bills.

Ecologists also point out that the sector is made up of a small number of people (330,000 federates and 848,243 licenses in 2013), generally wealthy, such as large landowners, bankers, businessmen, aristocrats, politicians and members of the judiciary and the security forces. “Their work in recent years has been highlighted by the attacks on the regulations of nature protection and animal protection at European and state level and by a total lack of self-criticism of bad practices”, they say.

2. Not compatible with biodiversity conservation

The direct effect of hunting in Spain alone results in around 25 million animal deaths every year. To this needs to be added the loss of biodiversity due to the indirect effects of huntring: poaching, [illegal huntring] releases of game species (possible escape of hunting animals such as weasels and sometimes hunters even have been known to abandon, or even hang their dogs after a hunt), introduction of invasive or exotic species, hunting fences and other infrastructures. Ecologists note that as a result of hunting, other emblematic and protected species, such as the brown bear, Iberian lynx or wolf, are also affected by deaths. In addition, sanctions for the use of poisons in hunting areas has been increasing every year. Not even the most protected natural areas, such as national parks, have banned this activity, which has a moratorium until 2020, to remain active in these places.

3. Converts hunting areas into intensive farms and firing ranges

Increasingly, hunting is carried out on animals reared on farms and then released into fields to be hunted soon after, such as 1,350,000 red partridges launched in areas of intensive hunting in 2013. Ecologistas en Acción notes that this causes “Severe imbalances in ecosystems, displacing and harming native populations and the spread of exotic and / or invasive species such as Barbary Sheep, Asian Bighorn Sheep or Japanese Quail”.

In the province of Guipúzcoa is where one of the scenarios of bird poaching occurs. Something worrisome if you consider that it is an important area for the ​​migratory transit of birds (such as the common hawk pictured here).

4. It does not serve to manage the fauna nor to control overpopulation

Ecologistas en Acción argues that it is precisely the practice of hunting that often causes overpopulation of some species due to the release of animals or supplementary feeding. Also by the attempts to hunt males, who are the ones who obtain the most trophies, generating a “decompensation” in the species. In addition, a recent Supreme Court ruling considered that hunting and fishing “far from serving the purpose of eradication of alien or invasive species, determines its indefinite maintenance, if not aggravation.”

5. Limits the rights of the majority of citizens

Hunting activities accumulate complaints about cutting off of public roads, water courses or livestock tracks, by allowing hunting to be a preferential use in public forests and protected areas or by the intention to cause possible unintended inconveniences to game species such as the current hunting law of Castilla-La Mancha. The report also says that an average of 28 people die each year, not just hunters, from the use of firearms in hunting.

6. Does not favor rural development

80% of the territory of Spain is part of a hunting reserve with activity during most of the year. A 2014 study on the mountains of Andalusia concluded that self-consumption, recreational use and biodiversity conservation activities are more profitable than hunting in economic terms. “Hunting is not only not conducive to the development of the countryside, but also limits future development possibilities in the most economically depressed environments,” the report said.

7. Not only does it kill, it also mistreats

It is estimated that at the end of the hunting season, about 50,000 greyhounds are abandoned in Spain each year. Others are hanged or thrown to wells, as happened with a hundred dogs in the town of Villatobas in 2009. Ecologists point out that even animals used for hunting do not escape torture, same as the foxes hunted by dogs, wild boars hunted with spear, pigeon shooting, etc.

“Particularly striking is that in most hunting regulations, abandoned dogs and cats are caught by hunters by shots or traps, without their being subject to animal protection law. This measure leads to the deaths of thousands of domestic animals with little control by the authorities“, concludes the report.

Varoa Treatments – Impromptu Interview with Harald Hafner

Harald came this morning to check the hives and mentioned how they were still recovering from the last varoa outbreak. I started asking him some questions regarding the various forms of treatment and Harald, being the wealth of knowledge that he is started overflowing with useful information that I decided would be best recorded on video and shared with others who wanted to know about the various forms of Varoa treatment and what they might be potentially ingesting should they be buying non-organic honey. In this impromptu interview, Harald discusses the organic methods such as Formic Acid, Oxalic Acid and Thymol and the non-organic methods currently available today, primarily Amitraz, which he claims is used by most probably 80-90% of non-organically certified bee keepers and which is reported to have potential carcinogenic effects. He also discusses various other ‘bio technical’ steps that can be taken for varoa treatment / mitigation.

Please forgive the video editing skills. It’s my first time, but I do hope that you enjoy and find it informative 🙂

Feel free to ask questions or comment below. I’ll try and get some answers back from Harald …

Trying It On

I’d just like to make a note of this, and warn everyone coming here to this area in Portugal, although it probably applies to most areas.

It is unfortunate that many or at least quite a few people have overpaid for their piece of land that they’ve bought here in Portugal. It has ramifications, because the locals trade amongst themselves, at the going price and then will often try and flog it off to a foreigner for multiple times what they paid for it. It’s a bit like a disease, more like a fever, some kind of rush, that I see happening. It’s precipitated by those who are fooled into believing that what they are buying is a good price. I include myself in this equation. I came in enthusiastically and very naive. I bought at double what the guy who sold it to me bought for. So is it a good price if the guy who you just bought it from has just bought it for half the price he sold it to you for? Or even less? I’ve seen one piece one guy was trying to sell for 20k and I later found out he’d not even bought it yet, but had agreed to buy it for 2000. Another that was purchased by a guy for 3k and trying to flog it to foreigners for 50k, just cos it was on the river. You hear all kinds of incredible stories, but basically it’s like a gold rush in little Africa. You’re the rich foreigner who’s going to line their pockets with gold. I’ve been getting more and more involved with this kind of thing here in Portugal and I can tell you it’s goddam frustrating dealing with them (especially as a foreigner). One guy wanted to know who I was going to show his land to. He’d set his price, but If they were going to be Dutch then it would be an extra 5k, and then if they were German it would have been an extra 5 on top of that again. It’s just sickening, but that’s what you have here.

Don’t be the fool. Get advice, do your research, get help (if you contact me I’ll try and put you in touch with good local people that can help you) but most of all don’t rush, and BE PATIENT! That’s how it works here. If you rush, you will only feed the fever and make it worse for others who come after you. The objective is to repopulate rural Portugal with the right people. That includes young Portuguese people, so if you purchase land at extortionate prices then you are only contributing to speculation and pricing the Portuguese youth (or any youth for that matter) out of the market. I personally would like to see A LOT more Portuguese youth return to the rural areas to help regenerate the land, along with youth from all over. Let’s be aware of our actions. I’ve said my bit, but I’m sure I’ll say more when the time comes. Please feel free to comment below.

Chicken Fortress Strikes Back

It was quite a while ago when the chicken fortress was compromised by pesky critters, and since then I’ve just not had the time to get it back in action. So it’s come as a saving grace that Itay (from Israel) got in touch through Earth Neighbours with the intention to come visit and help out. He helped me out with a few things, one of which was rigging up a more secure door for the chicken fortress. Thank you Itay! And then I can’t not mention Bart, my crazy polish friend who has left me all that scaffolding. Real nice stuff! It’s come in dead handy as a temporary solution for the refurb project. In fact, I reckon with all that scaffolding I can turn the chicken fortress into a chicken hotel! We just put the scaffolding up, used a few old pallets, an old 44 gallon drum, some old tyres and some roof sheeting that I picked up from Manuel the Junk Yard Dog around the corner (for only 4 bucks a sheet – Bargain!) … and what a better way to make use of the recently acquired mulch than to use as bedding in the chicken fortress. The overturned bath tub on top of the tyres makes for two nice cosy little nests for those looking to get away from the crowd. Nicely done that is. Only took us a few hours to get the interior sorted. With my truck now and the mulch collecting I reckon I could make this a seriously deep litter system. It will be like a 5 star hotel for chickens and they’ll be producing for me lots of good compost!

I’ve also used Bart’s scaffolding to cover the tank that I have located just outside the chicken fortress. I needed to put some permaculture strategy into action. i.e. slow the water down. In this case slowing it down from going up through evaporation! The shade cloth is not great, not my favourite solution, but until I get vines planted then it will have to suffice as a crappy plastic solution (I hate plastic!!).

So I’m all geared up and ready for chickens again! Anyone got any for sale or up for doing an exchange then I would love to hear from you. Otherwise I might have to visit the local market and salvage some of those poor scruffy little creatures that are sold down there. Perhaps that might be the most humane thing to do. Save them from a life of despair and bring them into a life of luxury! Maybe they’ll be so overjoyed they’ll start laying eggs like there’s no tomorrow 🙂

More fotos of the chicken fortress during it’s development …

Getting there …
Willi approves!

Mulching Success

It felt like a satisfying moment today, having picked up my first lot of garden clippings from the local village with my recently acquired truck I bought from one of the locals.

I’m sure the gardener from the local village was chuffed that I’d cut down his workload and I was chuffed that I could get so much, so quickly and so close to home. I trust that it’s the start of something new. The idea is to offer this service to all locals, as a free pickup, especially for any kind of organic matter that would normally just be burned off. The idea is to try and get locals off the idea of just burning off organic matter and start showing the value in it by demonstrating that there are people willing to pick it up for free.

Next step would be to get a wood chipper that can be carried around for on site work where there will be branch trimmings etc that need picking up. If there is anyone out there who would like to make a donation towards a chipper then please don’t feel intimidated 🙂

I’ve started advertising my service around the local area. So far I’ve had some very happy clients. You can see more details here. Another fine way to fund my project. If you need my service for anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! It’s all for a good cause.

Fire Season 2017

The fire season is upon us. It’s the time that keeps reminding us the huge problem that this ‘country’ faces. I put country in apostraphes because I have no idea what a country is any more. I thought it had to do with culture but it appears to me that most cultures have been subverted by some idea of inspiring people to become productive economic units, and hence making a country nothing more than a corporation and it’s leaders just soulless CEO’s. I don’t know why they’re portrayed as leaders. They’re simple followers, not even smart it seems. It seems to me that Portugal has been tagged by the ‘powers that be’ as a place where we can grow lots of eucalyptus for the purpose of producing toilet paper so that the rest of Europe can wipe it’s arse with its ‘commodity’. Of course, it’s not anybody’s fault right? I mean people gotta make a living, but what if the real deal is that Portugal is being ‘encouraged’ by EU, ECB, IMF (they’re all the same thing) to produce whatever the hell they have to in order to pay back the debt that they’ve accrued with European Central Banks and so hence, encourage governments to encourage people to plant ‘unsuitable’ species here with complete disregard for informing them of the fact that they only help to degrade the soil, dry up water sources and contribute to creating infernos that kill off whatever wildlife this ‘country’ has (and now even people, by literally creating roads to hell – roadsides just deep with eucalyptus plantation). Let’s also try and imagine how much it costs Portuguese government to fight all these fires and where does all that money come from? Furthering the depth of debt and death. Anyone with some kind of conspiracy mind could possibly think that it’s end game is to create a land grab scenario where those with all the cash can come in and buy up land for pennies in the dollar, once the ‘government’ fails its ‘debt obligations’. It’s happened before, and hasn’t that already happened to Greece? Of course a lot of that is just my own twisted suspicions and I’m obviously having a good rant.

There are others out there who’ve done more research it and come up with interesting conclusions / views. Here is an excerpt from EXCERPT from Doug Crouch’s article titled ‘A Holistic Perspective on How the Fires in Portugal Came to be and Where we Go from Here‘ …

Thus basically what the EU does is offer a subsidy for a particular crop selection and people jump on it and an industry is developed. Henceforth, when this EU policy was instituted and intensified over the years, what a great solution to no markets for traditional crops or being an absentee landlord.  Simply drop some forestry trees in through signing a contract spurred by EU subsidies, wait until the forestry crops were ready years later, and receive fat royalties for doing nothing other than selling out the ecosystem.  Thus the industry grew in its power and control as people could not sell land in Portugal because who wanted to move to this forgotten, economically depressed country struggling to catch up with the rest of the world.  It’s not like that way now as foreigners are fleeing inwards to these regions for a self-sufficient lifestyle outside of their mainly northern European locales.  But the damage was done already before they arrived.

Here is another good article worth reading regarding other forces that are tied in with making Eucalyptus a huge monocrop here in Portugal …

The Eucalypt Invasion of Portugal

Personally I think that if you are coming to Portugal as some kind of get away, somewhere to live the good life. You better think twice. It’s not for the weak of heart, and if you’re not coming here to become part of the solution, then you may only end up becoming an innocent victim, or potentially even part of the problem. I would suggest that you come prepared. Last year fire in Portugal destroyed nearly 116,000 hectares and accounted for half of all forests destroyed by fire in EU. There are many stories behind how these fires start, I could try and go into all the stories that I’ve read and heard but here is someone that may have a little more to say about it then me: Hernâni Carvalho – Há uma indústria do Fogo escondida dos Portugueses.

Sadly, the other day a fire started on my neighbour’s land, with a steel blade brushcutter, so yes, these things do happen, and sometimes they are accidents – however the use of steel blades on brushcutters, as well as toppers (capinadeira) on tractors have been prohibited during high fire risk season and incurs at minimum a hefty fine. Be aware. My farm was so lucky to have survived this incident. First of all the wind was going in the opposite direction (which is opposite of the normal prevailing winds), however it was still crept towards mine. Luckily we managed to get the call out early and were eventually received with several fire trucks, followed by one helicopter, then 2 planes along with 8 or so friends. It was all pure luck. If there were any other fires happening at the time in Portugal then I’m sure I wouldn’t have received that kind of attention from the fire department – my friends though, most certainly yes, and with the wind in my favour we were lucky enough to stop it only a few metres from within reaching the boundary of my land. It was a heroic effort from everyone involved and I’m so thankful.

Land here in Portugal is cheap, but there is a reason for that. The country is poor. During my search for land in Portugal I bumped into a guy I’d known from my London days, and told me that Portugal is like a little Africa in Europe. Well, considering the curious stare I get from most people it does resemble the feeling of being a white man in black Africa, Perhaps he was referring more to the fact that it’s poor and quite wild in the way that things work. Wild as in the same sense as ‘wild west’.

A word of caution when buying land here in Portugal. There are some people out there that will try and sell you land with the illusion that what you are buying is cheap, or at best, a fair price, but unfortunately if you’re a foreigner then the likelihood of that being true is, well … ‘relative’. There are many out there selling land who will try and make you believe their intentions are pure. Just be careful. Seek advice from local friends if you have any, otherwise, if you need some advice from a trustworthy agent (of change) on whether a piece of land that you’re interested in is fairly priced, then get in touch, and I’ll either try and help you myself or put you in touch with a trusted person that can help you, however there will be a cost for this valuable service, and you should be happy to pay it, as it it’s about creating a social economy for people and projects worthy of support. If you are financially challenged then exchange possibilities may exist. As they say in Permaculture … It all depends. I know that if you understand and trust what the vision of Earth Neighbours is about and you are willing to support it with your heart then it will prove to be a very valuable and worthwhile service for you.

I’ve also been starting work on creating a network, of trusted local people, that can be available to help people with finding land for their off-grid, sustainability, permaculture regeneration project. The idea is to build a small economy from this. Something that can help to sustain the people who are ‘on the ground’ and with good intentions. The network will start local, and small, but it will grow to cover all areas. It all starts with one to one. Peer to peer. The basis of all direct and honest communication. If you’re interested in supporting then please get in touch. If you’re interested in knowing more then stay tuned. First priority right now is creating fire breaks in case any other fires break out close by …

Seeds of Abundance

2016 has been hard work. Most times I wasn’t sure if I was running in circles pursuing wasteful ventures. At another point I didn’t know if I was being encircled by sharks. A particular struggle the last 3 months that felt like an onslaught.

Is this a pattern in nature? Another cycle to teach me something new?

Admittedly it’s left me realising that things are not as I would like them to be. I’m needing to reevaluate things on a more serious level with respects to where I’m putting my valuable energy. It feels like I’m putting out a lot of effort into generating an income but somehow the efforts seem thwarted and it’s led me to feeling very frustrated. I’m obviously doing something wrong. I’d firmly committed myself to working hard this year with the land connection service and I was clear with myself that I didn’t want to go back to Oz to work for cash. However, it’s seriously challenging to cope with here. Making a living is not so easy in outback Portugal and dealing with the local people can be quite complicated. Nothing is ‘straight up’, and things rarely go as you’d expect them to. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a year of great learning for me but it’s been complicated and dealing with people is not always easy, especially when you’re doing it ALL THE TIME! I also started feeling the disease of being busy, and my patience started running very low. All this activity in pursuit of what? An answer perhaps, to the question of how to live my life so that I can pursue what I love while living in abundance?

I’m not really sure what I can tell you about abundance. I’ve got a lot to learn obviously. I know what I can tell you about my life recently – and it’s a been a bitch. Literally (and litter-ally)! We called her Abundance (or Bunda for short). She was a wild one (and still is) who strayed onto the land. She never came very close to us, but she was always wily for food. If we had our backs turned she would walk right in through the front door and help herself to whatever she could find. At first I kept chasing her away, thinking that she would leave at some point but she liked hanging out with my boys, Willi and Jobi, and they liked her, so it was difficult to take measures to stop them from mingling. Before we’d even knew it, she was pregnant. It wouldn’t have happened if my two boys had have been sterilised in the spring, but alas money (or lack thereof) made things complicated. I guess I never expected to be living hand to mouth. I know though, through speaking with others that this is also part of the struggles on the path that many of us have chosen here. Regardless of this, we accepted this wild thing into our life and took responsibility for her care. We named her Abundance (Bundancia in Portuguese), as a metaphor for what we were desiring in our lives. Little did I know what Bunda’s presence would lead me to learn about abundance.

Yes, some of this journey through 2016 has been quite novel and some of it was very enjoyable without a doubt, but underlying a lot of it I would feel a kind of overwhelm and it ultimately led to me feeling like as if life was throwing things at me from behind a wall, built of frustration, teasing me with every attempt I made to get over it. It all came to a climax during the 13 Bundles of Abundance saga, with one of the 13 puppies (yes, that’s right, she had 13 of them), Tai, breaking his leg, resulting in costly surgery. Then a few days after having got back he started looking unwell and just couldn’t hold anything down. I thought the surgery had infected him, so I rushed him back to the vets to soon discover that he’d contracted the potentially fatal Parvo Virus. That not being bad enough, while he was interned the other 6 puppies that we’re waiting to be rehomed with their new carers in January started showing symptoms also.

We had no money for any of this, and we’d already set up a Go Get Funding Campaign to keep the 13 Bundles of Abundance fed and cared for until December when we had aimed to have found homes for them all. Well, we successfully reached our target and found homes for all 13 pups. That was a mission in itself. Then because of Tai’s broken leg I did a special shout out on the same campaign and was twice lucky to receive so much so soon, so much more even than we needed. We thought we’d even be able to cover the costs to have the wild mother Bunda’s neutering operation and my two boys as well, but then this!? At that point I felt like I was reaching my limit, and edging towards breakdown. I started feeling paralysed somehow, mentally. What was I going to do? I knew that we couldn’t afford to take them all to the vets. So now I just felt completely overwhelmed, Was I going to ask again now? For more? We’d already received over 800 euros in kind donations from friends and people we knew, and now. I need to go out there and ask for more? To save these pups that I’ve raised and because I never had my dogs neutered in the first place? Are you kidding me? Now I have to subject myself to the assault of all the righteously indignant and opinionated folk out there who are going to tell me how irresponsible I’ve been (even though really that was the least of my worries)? I felt like a heavy weight in my heart. What I was concerned about most was that these pups that we’d spent caring for over 3 months were going to die if I didn’t take action, and I didn’t even feel equipped to deal with it.

It was of some comfort that there was three of us in the house. Fran, Amy and me, and we’d all done some research to indicate that it was possible to cure the disease at home, so we came to a group decision that we were going to try and save the remaining 6 without taking them to the vets. We did our best to equip ourselves as best we could by reading articles such as the ones we found on Dogs Naturally Magazine and Earth Clinic for example. I put all my work on hold so that I could give this my fullest attention and fight this battle to the end, right here at home. We armed ourselves with colloidal silver (which we already had), activated charcoal, electrolyte solution and because we couldn’t get an IV kit due to it being new years eve, we opted for enema bags which we read could be used also in case of no IV kit available. I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t …

It was heartbreaking when we saw how horribly aggressive this virus was. Tatanka (aka Chunk) and Buddhi (the biggest and the smallest) died within 2 days and I quickly realised that we really weren’t fitted out to give them the best care they needed, so we immediately brought the remaining 4 to the same vet hospital where Tai was being treated in Viseu. That was in the early morning of January 1st. Yeah, Happy New Year (one I wouldn’t forget)! Taking 4 sick pups to the vets who we didn’t even know were going to make it, yet knowing, that it was going to cost us something that would be way over our limit. I was bewildered. Before they could be admitted, I had to sign on the dotted line to have them interned. Can you feel the oppression in that? Not feeling like you can even pay to care for your loved ones?

So I humbled myself again. I had to find a way to do my best for them. It was a final act of compassion and love for them. I had to bow down and eat humble pie and ask people for more, so that we could pay our dues. This time I started another campaign on Go Get Funding as an SOS for the remaining of the 13 Bundles. During the campaign 2 of the pups (Bob and White Paw) died while interned at the vet hospital. We never expected it, we thought they were stronger than the others, but I guess that strength and resilience are not the same. Only two of them came out as survivors. In the end the costs for just those 4 totalled like something around 1400 euros (sigh).

The response of kindness we got from the second campaign just bowled me over. I really didn’t expect it. I ‘should have’ felt jubilated, yet all I could feel was some kind of anger, shame, pity and heaviness. Why am I having to be asking like this? Why must I be suffering this kind of poverty and oppression? Why am I not even feeling lucky and happy that people are being so kind to us? Am I a manic depressive? Is there something wrong with me? Come on Millo, look on the bright side of life. It’s not all bad. No? OK then. Yeah, maybe I am just a depressive. That doesn’t ring true for me either though, because nobody knows my life, my experience, my circumstances, my internal what’s going ons. All I know is what my experience of oppression feels like and it’s not pleasant. That’s why when I hear people ‘out there’ try to tell me (or someone, or everyone) ‘how it is’ and ‘how it should be’, and what’s right and what’s wrong then I feel like they really don’t understand. Everyone is a guru and everyone has something to say in this age of awakening, yet still somehow few seem capable of simply being still and listening. Fewer even that are capable of asking the right questions to help others with finding their own answers. It was only by the fire that night, on January the 1st as we cremated Buddhi and Chunk, that I received some answers with any meaning for me …

I have more than I need.
Let it all burn,
The anger, the doubts, the fear.
Into the fire, Let it all burn.

RIP – Buddhi and Tatanka

That’s why I need to write this down. So that I don’t forget these powerful ‘teachings’. These teachings that come from within and not from listening to external sources. The truth is that nobody can teach me how to grow, in the same way that no one can teach a seed how to grow. I am a seed, in the same way that we are all seeds. Seeds of change. I guess the question is if we have the courage to face our demons that appear out of the firey hell to burn us down as we rise up out of the soil, our womb, and into the light (the path of our dreams and inspiration). The seeds of abundance are in my hands.

So what’s my 2017 resolution, to break my ‘pattern’ of anger, fear and doubt?

I’m going to retreat, find some peace and silence so that I can refocus again on finding a way to live an abundant life doing what I love. I’m going to learn to say NO to things instead of saying yes all the time. I’m going to start by not taking any visitors here for a while, not atleast until I feel that I’m strong and ready again. Maybe I’ll go away somewhere quiet. I need some alone time to nurture my souls needs and my inner seeds.

Two Kinda of People

It’s funny,

I’m beginning to make distinctions, some crazy dualisms, in this ‘out of the matrix’ society that is building around me.

I seem to have identified something in this ‘movement’, of people back to the land, desiring to live ‘off-grid’. Or perhaps rather than something that I’ve identified, it’s just a feeling, between those who I resonate with and those who I don’t. Where I feel love, or at least some interest, and where I don’t. I guess there are many ways to tell it, but let me tell it how I tell it …

Let’s just say that there is two kinda people in this world. Those who are inspired, feel the call to act on the volition of their hearts, follow their dreams, and are willing to see themselves in others, and then there are those who have either been distracted, or are running away from something (usually their own shadows), their motivation or action coming from fear (as opposed to inspiration).

Another thing that I’ve witnessed in some people is the incapacity to really listen. To truly listen. With empathy. To just be still, and listen. They will either be hearing something completely different, or just plain not understanding, but pretending that they do (and I’m not talking about old portuguese village folk). I’m just saying that for some reason some people’s ability to listen is severely undermined. Usually because they’re in need of healing of some sort, and funnily enough, there is a healing effect simply from ‘being present’ for someone and listening, let alone empathy. I must admit, it’s hard to always be present and empathic with people, (especially when there are so many intense people around), but we all got to try, and I really appreciate the kind of people that do try.

One other thing that I’ve witnessed here is listening to people so full of their own knowledge that there is no chance for anything new to enter. They’re watertight. That would really impress me if they were a damn holding a few megalitres of water (especially in this sandy landscape), but we’re all human beings, and we are streams, so we gotta flow. It’s not that I have anything agains’t knowledge, it’s just that knowledge is no match for kindness.

I think it’s important to share these things sometimes for the benefit of being … transparent, or maybe just being clear about knowing what it is that I’m wanting to attract around me:

  1. Those who feel inspired and are acting on the volition of their dreams and visions. Those who have taken a great leap of faith, knowing that we are living in times of great change and that it is possible to live together if we don’t run from our own shadows.
  2. Those who are able to speak honestly and non-violently. Those who have the capacity (or are inspired to develop the capacity) to listen.
  3. Those who value kindness over knowledge.

Simple, huh? That’s how I like things. Like The Four Agreements (for example):

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Sounds pretty simple huh? Fact is, it’s incredibly hard, At least I’m beginning to see now that things are not always meant to be easy and that it’s the challenges that bring us closer to the light.