My Day of Birth

It took a while for it to hit me this morning. Today is Monday the 24th of October. I was born on the 24th of this month. I was born in the year of 1968 so I’m 43 today. It’s my birthday.

I never really give much value to my birthday. For me normally it’s just another day that marks a passage in time and I normally don’t give a care as to whether people remember my birthday or not. It does however seem to inevitably happen every year with family and good friends, which is nice, and then of course there are things like Facebook and Skype etc that remind friends and others also. Today, strangely enough, I got a call from the lady at the bank to felicitate me on my birthday. Ana Soandso, I recognised her voice pretty much straight away. She was talking to me in Portuguese real fast and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. This was my perception of it (para phrased and translated into english) …

Ana: [Introduces herself and starts saying quite alot but speaking really fast.]
Me: [After she finishes] Good morning Ana. I understand that you’re calling me from the bank but you’re speaking quite fast and I don’t understand what you’re saying.
Ana: Ah OK Senhor Millo. Pardon me. We are just calling you to felicitate you on your birthday.
Me: Oh OK. ‘Wow’! [in surprise]. What a service no? (in humour – meaning ‘wtf?’).
Ana: Yes, because that’s how we are here (at BPI).
Me: Oh, OK
Ana: I’d like to wish you a good day.
Me: Oh that’s nice. Thank you.
Ana: Cioa [I hear her starting to speak to her colleagues in the bank as she’s putting the phone down and hanging up. I wondered how many other people she had to call today to felicitate.]

I found that kind of funny and strange at the same time. I’ve never had a bank call me and wish me happy birthday. Really going the extra mile aren’t they? These people don’t even know me that well and they’re calling me to felicitate me on my birthday? It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but obviously I have suspicions about it’s authenticity.

Funny though, even after this phone call I hadn’t properly acknowledged that it was actually my birthday. I then had this experience with the computer, where it was starting to play up. The whole screen started to flicker slowly to just primary colors, blue, green, red etc and then the screen just switched off. It went black. I thought maybe the screen had died and I was beginning to wonder how I was going to solve this problem with the now little money I have left saved. I shut down with the power button and restarted several times, and it seemed to happen every time shortly after logging in. I was still trying to determine what the possible cause was, until I went into the bios setup and accidentally (or subconsciously) changed the date and then having to recorrect the date to the current date it finally hit me that today is the day of my birth. It wasn’t until I’d seen it visually, (funnily enough on a black and white bio set up screen) that I’d was able to realise and acknowlege this properly. After this, it seemed that my computer starting working again fine! It was like as if it had all happened to just get me to acknowledge that today was my birthday

Is this experience trying to point out to me that some things don’t change until I’ve acknowledged / accepted certain things? Like my computer breaking down and stopping from working just in order to get me to acknowledge perhaps the fact that I’ve hit another marker in time, another stepping stone along this journey that I’m embarking upon and that this journey, like all journeys has a beginnning and an end? The acknowledging of the fact that my time here is limited? Me and the journey both are impermanent. Perhaps seeing this is what leads me to knowing myself deeper. What I get a strong sense of now is that my vision, my purpose, my love for certain things are all connected, all one and the same, and that I can only be at peace when I’m in tune with these. The only way I know how to do this is by being as open and as honest as I possibly can with everything, especially my heart (intuition). It feels like it’s a practice rather than some kind of inherent gift.

Things I’m still learning at 43 …

I’m learning (to surrender myself to) patience and acceptance. It’s a difficult struggle sometimes. The hardest thing is when I see my powerlessness over so many things, like for example when I see that it’s raining on all the mountains around me and I’m just getting a few drops and I’m so badly wanting to be innundated, rained upon hard, washed and drenched by the waters of the heavens. This is the practice, accepting that this is how it is right now and knowing that if it is to be solved and if it is for me to solve it then I have it within me to do so. I would not be here if I were not capable of finding a solution to the problems that exist around me.

Another thing I’m struggling with is letting go of bitterness, anger. A question of forgiveness. Funnily enough, just as I was writing this my friend Amelia called me and we spoke of a certain situation that is occurring with a mutual friend and the message that came through for me in that conversation was that I’ve had experiences happen to me that have been necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t have happened to me, and that perhaps the reason why I can’t forgive is that I have not yet been able to see, or receive insight as to, how that experience was necessary for me and how it has helped me to be HERE where I am and helping me right NOW in my present situation. It reminds me of a video that I saw once from Carolyn Myss, who shares a story of forgiveness. The message in that story however is that it’s the other way around, forgiveness must come first before the insight will occur …

… and in that case, I ask myself how I can forgive? I get the feeling that just by asking the question in itself opens up something and invites experiences that lead to the insights that then lead to letting go and forgiving. Perhaps forgiveness can happen in many different ways? It feels like a slow process.

All good things are born of patience and acceptance.

Love to all my friends and family on this (special) day.


I’ve been clearing terraces, and there has been so much organic matter that I’ve cleared now and I’ve been piling them into big mounds.

Hugelkultur humps ready to be united as ONE!

I’ve wanted to get a shredder/chipper so that I could then shred it and convert to biochar. Thing is that I can’t afford the shredder right now (although when I can, I’d love to have a go at making the Chipper / Hammermill on OpenSourceEcology). I’ve slowly been throwing dirt on some of these piles in order to try and get them to compress down so that the wind doesn’t blow them away and also so that they hold more moisture and can begin to decompose. I’ve only just recently become aware of what is termed ‘Hugelkultur’ beds. I think the idea really is to use solid chunks of tree trunks so that they can slowly decompose over time and become very good at holding moisture. Some say that when a Hugelkultur bed is established it can go for a whole season with very little, if any irrigation whatsoever.

I’d like to try so I’m going to convert these existing piles I have into Hugelkultur beds and see how they go over winter. I imagine they will compact down quite a bit over winter and hopefully will be nice and ready for some summer planting when time comes. I’ve also got a big pile that was one of the first piles I created when I had to cut back all the mimosas near the caravan.

Mimosa cuttings (mostly).

I guess that if I convert this into a Hugelkultur bed then I risk it popping up with Mimosa trees all over it but I think that would probably happen anyway, regardless of whether I make it into a Hugelkultur bed or not. I have read some articles saying that it’s OK to use Mimosa wood, so long as it’s dry. The problem that concerns me is the seeds. Anyway, I’ll update the post as I go along.

Update – Mimosa cuttings (shaped)
Update – Mimosa cuttings (with some dirt on top)

A good image that gives a better idea of what it should be like in ideal circumstances:

Links that could be of further interest …

Biochar vs Hugelkultur

Hugelkultur in Mediterranean Climate Portugal

The Art and Science of Making a Hugelkultur Bed – Transforming Woody Debris into a Garden Resource

and from one of the wise men of Permaculture, Sepp Holzer, on Farming with Terraces and Raised Beds

That’s all for now.

Effective Microorganisms (EM)

Also …

Newspaper Bokashi (site source)

Here’s a method called Newspaper Bokashi. You start with the water you wash rice with, ferment it with milk, give your newspaper a bath in the potion, and dry the newspaper. The newspaper is innoculated with your microbes. You then use the bokashi bucket, layering your kitchen scraps with the newspaper instead of bran.

Combine 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Shake or stir vigorously. Drain. The water will be cloudy. Lightly cover it. (Canning jar and ring to hold a coffee filter, cheesecloth or piece of paper towel should work) Air should be able to move in and out. The liquid should fill only 1/4 to 1/2 of the jar. Need a LOT of air exposure. Place in a cool dark place for 4 – 8 days. It should smell somewhat sour. Strain out any particles.

Put the ricewater in a larger container. Add 10 parts milk or skim milk. Cover lightly, ferment for 14 days. Most of he solids should float to the top, leaving a yellowish liquid. Strain off the solids. This is your purified lactobacillus serum. (Don’t you feel like a real scientist now?)

Take 1 part serum, 1 part molasses and 6 parts water. Soak newspapers, then drain. Put the newspaper in ziplock bags, squeeze air out and ferment for 10 days to 2 weeks. Remove newspaper, separate the layers and lay them out to dry.

More good information regarding EM:

How to make Bokashi

Bokashi used in Chicken Farming:

How to make your own EM:

First post – Hunting Season Opens

Well, this is just to start the blog. I don’t know where to start really. I have been here on my quinta that I own now and I’ve been here since June. I’ve been meaning to start this blog for some time now so I feel like I have much to write here. Mainly for exactly what it’s meant for, for logging my experiences here on Quinta das Moitas (Bush Farm, more on why it’s called that later) and also for my family and friends should they have any interest in what I’m up to.

Since I don’t know where to start, I would like to start with what’s happened to me today and shed light on a new challenge that has only just presented itself. It would be an honest place to start with where I am right now.

I had hunters come through my farm this morning. I heard some ruckus and shooting over the other side and thought that they were on my property somewhere close by. Eventually I saw a spaniel that came up just outside my caravan so I walked out. As I looked along the drive I saw them approaching so I started watching them, seeing if I could recognise them and slowly walked closer, I was recognising their faces, I knew atleast one of them. They yelled out to me to salute me, in a very neighbourly way. Two of them were people that I knew from the village. They were fully attired in their hunting gear and had their shotguns with them. They all came up to me and saluted me cordially and mentioned that it’s first day of hunting season (great!). One of them asked jokingly, ‘where are the pigs’ (onde estan los porcos?). They were friendly enough, but it kind of bothered me that they treated it like as if coming through my land was not any problem at all. It kind of shocked me really so I didn’t really know how to respond. It did however, make me feel as if these people were so different to me with respects to their values and got the impression that I’m already the odd one and that perhaps expressing my views on them passing through my land for the purposes of hunting might be a bit premature yet for several reasons.

[Last night coincidentally/synchronously I had a dream that there were hunters outside my caravan and I let them in because they were seeking shelter. In the dream they had a certain kind of overpowering energy about them.]

I’m not really sure how to show them, or make them recognise that there are certain parts of their value system that I just don’t share, not that I have anything against them at all, but this incident seems to highlight to me that perhaps it’s important to let the people around the area know what my intentions are here and see if that could perhaps lead them to the understanding that I would like to do my best to avoid killing any animals (or facilitate the killing of them by allowing others to come and traverse my land for the intention of killing). Anyway, to communicate this could be quite difficult. I guess I’ll have to work this one out as I go along. It does seem to matter to me now as to what they think of me. I knew two of them, one of them was the president of the Freguesia (the village) and the other one I’ve spoken with once down at the bar (he pointed to the fact that I had roses in my garden and so went searching for them after that and sure enough, amongst the bushes, which I have yet to clear, I found them. I’ve not seen them flower yet however) and so because of my acquaintance with them I am therefore tending towards politeness (politics) but I really am waiting on a vision to tell me how to play this one out. I feel like some distinction should be recognised, that we share different value systems and that each of them need to be respected. I don’t really know how to deal with this yet, could be a bit tricky, but I feel that at some point I will have to be honest with them and make things clear, one way or another. It’s a question of communication, and right now I’m still not fluent with the Portuguese, which is necessary I think, but I’ll get there. Patience. In the mean time, there is much work to do on the Bush Farm.

One of the visions that guides me here is one of getting other people involved and integrating adjoining lands together with the same intention of regeneration. If that vision were to be realised then I guess there’s no reason why giving this land back to nature and letting it develop within a permaculturally designed setting can’t lead to the region being declared a natural park of sorts. One where the people living within it would be sharing the values of deep ecology therefore viewing themselves as being at one with their natural environment. If this can become some kind of natural park, or declared protected area, then that could definitely lead to the protecting of the native fauna, including the porcos 🙂

Anyway, for now, I will upload some fotos into the gallery for historical reference and for any that wish to see.