Dreaded Sunday Comin Round

Hunting season has opened again ūüôĀ

It’s Sunday and I’m hearing gunshots around. Something in the air is not nice about it. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like it. Am I discriminating against a culture / sub-culture? I guess I am. Of course, I know that views will differ. I ask myself if I should be more accepting of this. Of course, I am, but as well, I am also accepting of the fact that I don’t like it, and since I have the capacity to do so then I figure why not make efforts to deter this kind of behaviour from happening around my farm and my ‘earth neighbourhood‘. I reckon that’s fair.

A previous¬†Portuguese neighbour who was around here, didn’t like it either yet he was able to speak in terms they understood clearly with regards to how he felt about them being around his land ūüôā … I respected him for that. I always do the same also, but try and keep it diplomatic, however I¬†have run into incidences where my dogs clash with their dogs and although the agression is not very nice I do feel comforted to know ¬†that there are guardians around to protect the territory.

My first neighbour also argued that if hunters want to hunt and they do it all through an association then why don’t they as an association invest in their own large piece of land somewhere where they can do it without disturbing others? I thought that was a reasonable argument.

Personally, I have my own plans I’m going to work on in order to deter them in my own creative manner. Not that all of the the following points are designed specifically for deterring hunters, rather a side effect, but since we’re on the topic of hunters …

  1. Bring more people here! As more dwellings become active and¬†new ones start dotting around the landscape the less likely that hunters will come around here. I have certain good spots around the land that I’m now opening up to people interested in permanent positions here on an exchange basis (I’m still working on writing that up. Soon come!)
  2. Connecting more people to land around me. This is my own particular¬†Earth Neighbour project within the Earth Neighbours initiative. Up until last year this was very challenging due to certain issues with a challenging neighbour, but I’ve overcome this challenge now, and through the process have discovered the owners of most of all the bits of land that are around me. Now it’s just a process of finding people that resonate with what I’m trying to do here and then guide them through the process of them becoming lawful custodians¬†of the land. My first Earth Neighbour is Claus! He’s just spent the last 20 years teaching in Namibia and doing some interesting things. (More news on Claus later). I haven’t posted all the images of the other surrounding bits of land that are around here and the price that the owner might¬†be likely to ask for (most of them really cheap though). I’ve not done that mainly due to the fact that so far I’ve felt that it’s better to just meet people first and then go from there. I think that once the whole area has been reoccupied with new people we could apply through the local camara to prohibit hunting within the bounds of the neighbourhood.
  3. I plan to have a perimeter boundary at least 10m wide around the boundary of my land. It will serve primarily as a fire break. May need fencing on both sides until the hedge on both sides is developed.¬†The outer¬†side will be hedged with fire retardant species (going to experiment with Oleander and Tagasaste) and the inner edge will be hedged with the more edible variety for goats and sheep (things like Blackberries, Oaks, Ash, Robinia, Willow). Goats and sheep¬†will have a constant flow around this¬†‘boundary corridor’ of the farm. I believe that there is some restriction with regards to how close hunters can come to farm animals, so that’s one mark towards the positive, even if you don’t like goats!
  4. Along this ‘boundary corridor’ I’d also like to have various different types of natural hives placed carefully in suitable places where they could be comfortable (It would be interesting to see also what effect it might have on the grazing patterns of the animals). I believe also that there is a law that says that hunters must keep within a certain¬†distance from bee hives. Someone told me it’s 50m. Someone else told me it’s 100m. Harald, my beekeeper, passed me this¬†(see Artigo 53.¬ļ –¬†√Āreas de protec√ß√£o)¬†which seems to indicate 100m for hives¬†(any updates to that law of 2004 should be posted here on the ICNF site). I would guess then that means that one hive should cover you for 1ha of land. Under current circumstances the hives at my place are in one location and¬†it’s still a good reason to ask them to respect the greater space.
  5. I have various signs¬†getting made up, that this time will last a lot longer than the previous ones! Chiselled and wood burnt! The first one was started by Mundo when he was here and kindly finished off by my workaway sistren¬†…

    gians-quinta-das-moitas-sign
    Not bad work for a young sistren.
  6. Also posting various other ‘well made’ signs around the land with some kind of ‘no hunting’ message. I think that this could definitely have some effect with the hunters.
  7. This last idea I’m not sure how effective it would be but I like it anyway and it would be fun. I call it Dreaded Sunday! One Sunday a month of LOUD AND POSITIVE VIBES! A Roots Reggae Sunday! A day of SunDance!¬†This is my Ubuntu Sound System below. I’ve been playing around in certain places and trying to use it as a way to raise funds and awareness of the project. I call myself Selecta Mycelium (cos I’m working¬†with the roots ;-). If there is anyone out there that wants to hire me out feel free¬†. I’m available for birthdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs … but I do prefer Wild Man Parties where the intention is¬†less¬†talk and more dance ūüėČ

    moitas-sound-system
    1000w Bush Sound System in the Ruff

For anyone expecting to see more updates on the blog then I apologise. I don’t really feel like I’m writing so much, even though I’d love to be. I’ve been putting more effort into working on raising funds for the project. For now,¬†I need to be¬†the energy source for my farm project. As of late I’ve been putting most of my energy into helping people connect to land. I need to balance that out with developing the farm systems and the online work related to Quinta das Moitas and Earth Neighbours. There’s never enough time to do everything, nor can I cope at times, but at least I’ve reached a point where I’m knowing my limits and knowing that I can’t do everything! Patience doesn’t seem to matter any more. I just take one day at a time.

Funny that as I end this writing, the gun shots have subsided and I recognise a distinct difference between how it used to be a few years ago and how it is now. Looks like simple diplomacy does have it’s merits.

Peace Everybody. Until next time.

Inside Outside

I see how the world and what is happening in it is a reflection of me.

I feel physically low in energy and in reserves, and in the same sense I feel like that financially. Even with the small incomings that I’ve been getting through helping people, it’s not enough, to fill my reserves. I feel like I need so much, just to keep up. I have so much to do here. As a matter of fact, I know I have a lot to do, but I’ve realised that I can’t do this on my own. I’ve been getting the vision that I need to be filling a different role here now, ¬†somehow, I need to be the energy source for this place. I need to be the one that brings in the funds and to help develop it, with the help of others.

I see that I’m limited. I need to manage my energy. I need to invest wisely, my own energy, into the right things. Things that will bring the most energy in return. I’m going through a steep learning process, about business and how this sometimes can obscure our vision, and the vision of others. I need to be my own wise guy and stay true on my path.

Sometimes I think that I’m through with this shit though. Time to get mercenary. Too much¬†bullshit around, but then I also see that it’s me that needs to get my shit together. I need to get organised. If anger is the energy that fills me with enough power¬†to get this going then let it be.

I want to set my intentions on helping to bring about a new culture here. An awakened culture that encourages each other to follow their bliss and find their own niche within it. I know that as I find my niche, it will bring me all the abundance that I need.

I have all the ideas. I just need to find the right constellations to help develop them. The right people, with the right intentions. I will find you, and you will find me.

One Love.

Let the Streams Flow In

The stream has started flowing (and strong)! Give Thanks!

Sunday January 10, 2016, Quinta das Moitas

Now, with all the rain, it’s started overflowing, along the levada¬†that I’ve been building slowly over the time here. Check the action! …

It gives me flashbacks of when my friend¬†Gertjan and I dug out that small pond after having come back from the Water Symposium in Tamera (April 2012). I had an inspired impulse to create some of my own water retention spaces on the land (little did I know how much work it was to do by hand). I know it hardly compares to a Tamera sized project but for those who only have hands and shovels it’s a good way to make a start and try things out …

Gertjan and our inspired attempt after attending the Water Symposium in Tamera 2012.

All this flowing water comes as a good sign. It reflects back to me the desire and the need that I have to be doing more – and writing more! Admittedly though I’ve had to acknowledge that I’ve been experiencing frustration at feeling held back by the obstacles I’ve encountered on this journey so far. Anyhow, it’s time to stay focused, and my focus, since I returned from Oz in June has been on creating income streams for the purpose of getting this project kicking. For this reason I want to start on purpose by writing about some of the services that I’m going to be providing as of new year 2016, in order to take a more serious approach to funding the development of this project.

How has my experience led me to this role …

Since the initiation of the¬†Earth Neighbours¬†project, I’ve found myself meeting more and more people searching for land and trying to help them through that process in whatever way I can. Also, due to the ease I have with the Portuguese language (living in Spain almost 10 years helped) I’ve been in a position of being able to help friends and acquaintances interface with all manner of locals for various purposes, such as sourcing building materials, negotiating with land owners, liaising with lawyers, arguing with bureaucrats etc. It seems quite fitting then (especially since I feel that it works in alignment with the¬†Earth Neighbours¬†project) to be working in the role of¬†mediator/facilitator to help connect inspired folk back to the land and use this as a means by which I can raise funds for my own project.

So these are some of the services that I’ve started offering …

LAND hand holder

This involves hand holding buyers through the process of finding and buying land.

My first role as a professional in what I guess could be called ‘land mediation’. I recently carried out some work for an English couple, going out with them to view land that was on sale, translating for them and helping them by giving unbiased views and guidance on things. I was able to share what I know (including permaculture design ideas) to help them in finding what they wanted/needed and in return I got paid for it. Win/Win!

So this is one of the the services that I am now providing – helping good people who want to move back to the land and live sustainably to find their own peace of land. I can assist with communication between the local land owners and the potential buyer. I can help out with the buying process and assist with any legal / bureaucratic stuff such as getting your NIF (which you need prior to purchasing the land) and I will also do my best to communicate to you quite honestly my observations and views.

I’ve already carried out some of this work and here is what one my wonderful clients had to say …

I was fortunate enough to have Millo recommended to me by Sophie from Pure Portugal when I was looking to buy some land with a ruin. Millo accompanied me for several days and was invaluable with translation, providing advice on various aspects of building legislation and asking very direct questions to the estate agents and vendors. He was also able to provide me with a long list of English speaking Lawyers and can assist with opening bank accounts and getting Fiscal Numbers etc. Apart from Millo’s knowledge of Portugal and buying rustic property, he is a warm and generous man with an excellent sense of humour and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Millo. As a result of his help and advice, we have been successful in purchasing one of the properties we viewed together. I can thoroughly recommend Millo as a guide if you are considering purchasing property in Portugal.

I will be charging 20 euros per hour for this service. Daily rates can be negotiated.

Land Sleuth

If there is an abandoned piece of land in need of love, and you’d like to know who the owner is then perhaps I can lend my hand at being your land sleuth. If the land is already advertised by an agency then I can potentially negotiate you a better deal, perhaps by even putting you in direct contact with the owner.¬†Exchange would be negotiated on a one to one basis.

Land Connector

In the short time that I’ve started this I’ve become aware of many plots of land that are available around here that could potentially be of interest to good people wanting to start a new project in life. Some of them are quite well priced, and the owners seem to be very honest and straightforward people (which obviously is very important). My friend, Fran and I have teamed up to provide¬†this kind of service to those¬†coming to the¬†area and¬†looking to create a sustainable way of¬†life. We want to start by focusing our attention primarily on this area around here and especially in ‘The Valley’, where there is already a small earth neighbourhood naturally forming (as is also happening in many other places around Portugal). There are some beautiful things happening in that valley¬†and Fran, who is part of the community around¬†Cherry Pond Quinta,¬†would like to see more young families with kids moving to the area.

We’ve talked about what is a fair price for such a service and we’ve agreed that maybe we could start by charging by the hour for taking people out and showing them land (and potentially connecting them with the owner etc and helping them through the whole purchase process if they decide to buy etc). We would charge same as above, 20 euros an hour (as a package service – for the two of us) plus a finders fee (agreed upon prior to commencement of service).

Going with the Natural Flow

So let’s see. Maybe I’ve finally found some work that is cut out for me. I hope it works out for all involved. I’m very clear and serious that this is about funding myself and the development of my project (Quinta das Moitas and Earth Neighbours Platform) while at the same time helping others of like mind connect to the area and to the growing conscious community that is developing around here. I still feel very inspired to actively facilitate Earth Neighbourhoods across Portugal by developing the Earth Neighbours web site to the next level (users being able to manage their own projects and pieces of land they have available around them and providing access to land mediators like me that can help them through the process of finding owners of those surrounding lands etc). Perhaps I can write more soon on how I’d like to develop the Earth Neighbours site. Right now, it’s time for me to go with the flow and do what I gotta do!

Wishing abundance and prosperity to ALL in 2016 and beyond!

2016 = Year of Action

Well, since I’ve returned from Australia (June last year) I’ve had to consider what’s most important here in terms of getting my own personal project going. This thing I call my Permaculture Regeneration Project.

In a sense I feel like I’m starting again, from scratch. New beginnings … and so I’m experimenting with a new approach now. I’m realising there are many characters and acts inside me and in amongst them there is a business man. A character that I have treated with some degree of shame. I see the need now to not only honor and respect that character for having taken care of the economics in my life but also to embrace him as an important part of the next step. I’m feeling that it’s time to start acting, in a way so that I can build income streams. I want to form a pool (of resources) that can be used to develop this project. It is priority number one right now and I can feel myself sharpening up to this. It’s time to open up the dam gates and let the energy flow.

2016 = Year of Action

Since my return my focus has been working out how to get money flowing in. I recognise how I can do so much with it. I’ve for so long had issues with the idea of what it’s backing (This whole centralised counterfieting scheme). I have conscience issues with it but for the moment it seems like it would be just too difficult to try and work against it right now at this point in time. I’ve thought about how economies could work differently and I’ve seen some great demonstrations of economy such as when we were having our work days for example. To see that kind of exchange happen in such numbers, in such a meaningful way, where everyone in the community just works together towards small achievable objectives and in so doing GET SO MUCH DONE! I couldn’t have said it better, because really what I need is to get stuff done! There are so many small projects I have around here that I need to get done, but just lack the funds to buy even just the materials right now.

I’ve been open to doing things without money. For example, I have a piece of land that I was working out an exchange deal with. They were two friends, one a carpenter, and the other a natural lime stone mason. I thought it would have been a perfect exchange, offering a piece of land in exchange for having some of the ruins I have here rebuilt. That would have gotten stuff done! Alas that never worked out due to one of them dropping out around the end of 2014 when a certain incidence happened and one of them got cold feet over it. Many are called …

I’ve now put it up for sale. It has a pigeon house ruin on it. It’s about 5.6ha west facing, but the problem is that last winter was dry and the water mine at the bottom was just dry during summer, so there’s no guarantee of water there unless water retention spaces are built. Which if someone has the money can do it quite easily (Just a matter of finding the right person to carry out the work). I’ve received a few offers from interested buyers but I’ve not come clear as to who will be the custodian of this piece of land. Will soon come clear though, I’m sure.

There is still this one up for sale.¬†It’s got some legal issues but I’ve been trying to work through them with someone who is potentially interested in buying. There is also the potential that a social enterprise may fund this operation via a trust fund. An organisation that is interested in taking land out of the corporate land grab scenario and putting it into the hands of land stewards for land and community regeneration. I’m still speaking with them and getting to know them better but from what I’m hearing it all sounds genuine. It’s largely a matter of time and gaining trust and then finding a solution with respect finding a ‘fair exchange’ between them and someone willing to take it on as their own project.

Then there is this sale going ahead. I won’t go naming names yet, until it’s done. But the interested party is wanting to create a place that can be used as a permaculture demonstration site. I will share more details once the sale has gone through, but looks like it should all go quite smoothly, perhaps within the next couple of months.

So perhaps soon I will have 3 new neighbours. The beginnings of an earth neighbourhood.

I’ve been getting to know a lot more owners of land around my project here, with buildings on them and some with good water sources, so once these three are settled then I can continue on with those investigations. I will go one step at a time. I will also be sharing more news soon on how I can be of service to people coming into the area looking for land and community … Stay tuned!

Bom Ano Novo!

Little Owl Returns to Nature

One night, a few weeks ago, I was driving my friends Tiago and Tim home from Fornos. There was a small dark stretch where, last year, at night time also, I’d seen a little hedge hog on the road and so had stopped and picked him up and carried him across the road by hand to a place of safety. A memory that often came back to me when driving along this road. This time, in almost the identical spot I saw a white furry ball that I instantly thought was the same little creature I’d helped last time (or maybe his family?). This time however it turned out to be something different. Tiago got out of the car and went to pick the little fellow up and brought him into the car. It turned out to be a little owl, which we found out later was actually called Little Owl (Athene Noctua).

Tiago was assigned as ambulance and carer and so in the next few days the little owl found its way into the hands of the right people at CERVAS in Gouveia.

Through Tiago I was able to keep in touch with it’s progress and was surprised and excited when I received a message from him saying that they were looking for a farm around Vila Ruiva where they could release her back to nature. It was a beautiful experience to see our little friend again, and especially to be gifted with the honor of setting him free again into the wild.

Ricardo from CERVAS came and did a little presentation on the various kinds of owls that exist in Portugal prior to setting it free. We were asked to give it a name and so the name Lua was chosen. The timing just so happened to coincide with a little jam we were about to have so it turned out to be a nice little ceremony during his flight to freedom. A very symbolic occasion for many of us who were present at this event.

Tim, singing songs of freedom for Lua.
Tiago looking on at our parting moments with Lua.
Bye bye guys! Thanks for the ceremony.

More fotos and writing here (in Portuguese).

Learn more about Little Owl here with Mark at AvBirds.com video:

What to do if you find an injured wild animal?

  1. Avoid disruption as much as possible. Minimise loud/strange noises, handle the animal as little as possible and avoid contact with other people. Make the little fella feel comfortable and tranquil.
  2. Use a towel or a cloth to cover its head (with no visual stimulation it will stay calmer) and put the creature into an adequately sized cardboard box with perforations to provide adequate air for breathing/ventilation. Take care of claws and beaks that may scratch!
  3. Get in touch immediately with:SEPNA-GNR: 217503080 SOS
    Ambiente: 808200520
    CERVAS: 927713585

What is Earth Neighbours?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on my blog regarding my Earth Neighbours project or even anything related to my own personal project – Quinta das Moitas.
The last couple of years have been a bit overwhelming for me and didn’t feel that I could write anything positive with all the turmoil that was happening in my life. The disillusionment seems to have served me well in teaching me the basic and fundamental ethic of Self Care – the underlying foundation on which all the ethics of Permaculture are really nothing without. Although, after some reflection on this I can also see that aligning oneself with the ethics of Permaculture – Care for the Earth, Care for People and Fair Share – is ultimately about caring for oneself with the understanding of our part in the greater whole.

Now that the sun is shining and things are looking brighter it seems that it’s a good time to start writing again and so with the opportunity of writing an article for Pure Portugal I thought it would be good to write something on the Earth Neighbours Project. A project I hold close to my heart. It seems that there are some misunderstandings that arise as to what it’s about and how it works and I often get the impression that people think it’s limited to my own farm project (What I refer to as a ‘nucleus project’) and it’s surrounding land, but it’s much more than that. It’s about making it possible for anyone else who is in a similar position and likes the idea. I hope that this writing can help anyone who is potentially interested in the idea to get a clearer understanding of what it’s about as well as invite discussion / questions about it. I originally wrote an article titled ‘Reoccupy Portugal‘ which may have given the impression that it was about squatting land (it was just a word play with what was going on at the time – Occupy Wall St). So just to be clear, it’s not about squatting land, although this kind of scenario isn’t excluded so long as it’s done legally or with consent of owners/locals.

The idea started shortly after I’d purchased an abandoned farm on which I intended to carry out my Permaculture Regeneration Project. This land which had been abandoned for so long, was surrounded by many plots of farm land that were also in a state of abandon, many of which still had ruins on them and some with good water. It seemed to be calling out for a renewal and regeneration. Having been inspired by Permaculture Design I had visions of what could become of all this land should it be reoccupied by like minded folk with similar intentions. What I saw was like a big jigsaw puzzle. Each land being a piece of the puzzle that would bring it’s own colour to the bigger picture and each would be aligned with the vision of regenerating and caring for the land, as custodians and living as a sustainable community ‚Äď or neighbourhood rather.

As I spent more time in Portugal I met many others who, like me, had been inspired to start a project based on a more natural way of living and were finding themselves quite isolated and at a distance from any like minded community who they could connect with, and that they too were surrounded by abandoned plots of land, that if the owners could be found would make good homes for suitable neighbours who resonated with what these ‘nucleus’ projects were already doing there. All that was required was some way of showing that these projects, each of them unique and wonderful in their own way, were out there, and to facilitate a connection to them for anyone potentially interested in becoming neighbours with them.

So, in it’s essence, Earth Neighbours is a very simple idea, of building community around existing nucleus projects that have already taken the leap of faith in terms of establishing themselves on the land. It is also something that seems to be happening quite naturally in some places, without any assistance, and that’s great, so I just see the EN project as something there to help facilitate this. For me it also has to do with a calling, to help reconnect people back to the land. Earth Neighbours is not defined by any particular project such as my own – Quinta das Moitas (which is what is often assumed). My own project is just one of the many projects that is open to the idea of developing a neighbourhood around them as a collaborative regeneration experiment. I do see my project as a kind of test case and I am, right now potentially the most active in working towards seeing if this idea can really work. So far I have made contact with several owners of land around me and I’m in the process of negotiating with people that are interested in participating. I’m particularly interested in attracting people who, like me, are inspired by Permaculture and wish to restore this beautiful yet challenging landscape back into an abundant and productive forest. The land around me does have certain challenges with respect to year round water availability for irrigation and because of this I see a scenario involving the building of lakes and dams. So too with respects to challenges, I imagine that each neighbourhood project would have it’s own practical challenges with respect to such things as water, terrain, climate, fire risk etc (not to mention social challenges which will always come up)¬†and this would be part of the beauty of it also to see how these things will be dealt with. Earth Neighbours, (for the moment at least) doesn’t try and push any type of spiritual ideology. It’s simply a tool to help build respectful, earth connected communities.

Earth Neighbours as an online platform is about providing a place where nucleus projects can post information about themselves and receive help on any of the steps involved in actually creating a neighbourhood around them. There are several preliminary steps involved and some of them are steps that members of the actual nucleus project may not feel so comfortable with, so I think it would be a good idea if the web site can provide some facilitation to outside help, and this could perhaps create some kind of trade / fair exchange with like minded people that would be willing to help with such things as making connections with the surrounding land owners, finding out details of the available land, working out legal issues etc.

At present the web site looks quite good, but in terms of it’s function is still quite basic. My friend came up with the design and I then built it myself. All project submissions are submitted via email which I then receive and upload myself. So far there are about 15 or so nucleus projects that have been posted on the site. The project is receiving a really good response, but I’m looking for support with respect to developing this project further. I feel that now is the time. I’d really like to be able to develop the web site so that people can register and submit their own projects directly as well as enter and update any information about pieces of surrounding land that they know are available (description, photos, price, distance from nucleus project, etc). I could potentially do some or most of the programming by myself but it would require a good deal of focused time and energy. My thoughts were to submit the project for crowdfunding to see if I can get the necessary capital to pay for the development of this next phase but so far I’ve not had the confidence to do this so if there is anyone out there who has had experience at submitting a crowdfunding project or feel they could help me in any way then I’d love to hear from you.

Update 02 January 2016.
For anyone interested in seeing how things are progressing around me: 2016 – Year of Action

Changes

I’ve sold the caravan I was living in to my friend Wally. A new Earth Neighbour just over yonder (few km’s away) who’ll be hanging with the beautiful crew around Cherry Pond Quinta.

Wally, Proud new owner!

It was a treacherous track to his place. The van did suffer some scraping, but eventually made it to it’s (final?) resting spot in the Mountains of the Star …

Finding it’s place.

Now I’ve put the other caravan (that I received as a gift from my friend Amelia) in it’s place and currently working on that.¬†I’ve had to take it right down to the frame as it was full of carpenter ants and I’d read that the surest way to get them out is to find the nests and vacuum them out. They’d made a mess of the styrofoam insulation inside! Definitely a good idea to take her down to the bones and restart from there.

I got all the nests out (was riddled with them) and to ward off any further unwelcome visitors I gave the wood frame a couple of coats of Borax (aka Borax Decahydrate or Sodium Tetroborate Decahydrate). May not sound great but from what I’ve read it’s one of the most effective ecological solutions for treating ants.

The simple Borax mix and application:

3 cups of boiling (dissolves better) water to about 4 heaped tablespoons of Borax. I applied it with a large brush and then went over again with a sprayer (easier with a pump sprayer if you can get a good one that doesn’t break).

As I go replacing the panelling I intend to spread Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in between the walls to act as an extra deterrent. Seems like very useful non toxic remedy for many things (must be food grade!). I’ve been using it to treat fleas on Jobi and Willi. My friend Fliss suggested applying it by putting pinches of it into the palm and then massaging it into their coats. So much easier than a flea comb, and they love a good massage, especially Jobi.

It’s been a tough 10 months since coming back from Oz after Xmas when my father passed on (right on Xmas day).

So many things happening inside.
A lot of fury and inner conflict,
manifested by an agent I can only call
The ‘Dweller on the Threshold‘.
All symbols mean something for Me (regardless of what others tell me is true).
This symbol has been overshadowing me for some time now.

I thought I’d come to the edge, but I’m still here, on the path with heart. One that appears within a landscape of evershifting horizons. I try to adjust to the ever-changing scene, making decisions, but not knowing what decisions are really going to work out. Each one is like an experiment. Try it and see. The latest plan, on the shifting sands of my reality, is to fly back to Oz for winter. I’d already reached a point where I’d thought that plan wasn’t going to happen and that I’d have to stay here and face my dweller.

Originally I’d thought that if I can’t get someone to stay here on the quinta over the winter to look after my boys then I wouldn’t go. It’s really the most important thing for me, to find someone that I can trust will take care of them well. I’ve never had kids before but I think the feeling (of care) would be the same.

Willi and Jobi – Livin large in the campo.

The plan has now been reformulated and reinstated. Now I’m open to considering finding someone that might want to take them onto their own space and look after them there. I’m offering cash benefits, since I’ll be working in Oz (hopefully) and will be able to afford it, and also because I want their to be a clear understanding and a fair exchange.

A part of me wants to escape the bad feeling I’ve been getting around here. Too much ignorance and aggression. I spent the earlier part of the year feeling quite disheartened by the confusion this caused me but I managed to fight through it and with the help of good friends I finished the web sites for both the Quinta and the Earth Neighbours initiative (ENI). I was also motivated by good people like Annelieke (one of the organisers of Ajudada) who encouraged me to believe that ENI is an idea worthy of pursuit. I too believe it is a good idea as I see that many others do, which is why I’ve come this far in effort to support and nurture it. It’s just that right now it seems like maybe it’s a good opportunity to get some space from this and see if I can get a picture of what’s really playing out here. See if I can come back with a fresh perspective, fresh energy and revitalised with love and inspiration (perhaps I could even visit Nimbin again, where I did my PDC. A place that has inspired me so much).

Besides that, there is an angel telling me that Oz is my land of light right now (here it’s only getting darker, colder, and wetter).

Everything is still uncertain. Fortunate to be receiving wise words of guidance on that …

I wouldn’t be treating this time out as a retreat though. Rather a quest, to acquire what I need, to come back with the strength to carry on, with full heart and spirit. I think one of the ways of doing this would be to put myself into a serious work regimen while there to help fill my pockets with some cash that I can come back and invest into this project.

I do have concerns about whether the global economy will hold out long enough and what the effects would be if it were to collapse during my time away – I guess that I will need to save what I earn wisely i.e exchange it into something other than paper fiat. I guess the money is not so important. I’d probably be happy enough if I can just make it back with fresh eyes and a clean heart (pockets filled would be a bonus).

Also looking forward to coming back in spring when (if all goes well) I will be exchanging the land that I have for sale with my friends Tiago, a traditional carpenter who of all things studied Theology (Jesus!) and Stuart, a green builder / stonemason from Guernsey. They will be a most welcome crew!

I’d be gone for 6 months. It’s still all speculation, I won’t be going anywhere if I can’t get a keeper for Jobi Blue-Eye-Jedi and Willi Snapdragon.

All things taken into consideration, Lately I have been feeling that I’m beginning to be accompanied by good spirits. The good spirit of my bredren on the other side of the Iberian who accompanies me as I work on my caravan, communicating with me on the best way to rebuild things, in a hardcore bushman stylee, and the good spirit of Sky who keeps me grounded with her good sense and sensitivity.

Tomorrow I am 45 Earth Strong. A symbolic age for me. The age at which our mother left us, when we were quite young. So for me, all the years from now will not only be gifts to myself, but also gifts to the spirit of my mother. Without her I may never have understood how complicated the world is nor desired for the life of a simple farmer. I am a very simple person, even though some don’t always see this.

Agriculture is the profession of the wise and the most
dignifying adecuate occupation for any free man – Cicero

I’ve never lived like this before.
Never faced so many things.
So many changes, challenges, so fast, in a world so … crazy.

It’s an incredible time to be alive! …

A Prayer for Now.

A prayer for hard times.
A prayer for all times.
A gift from the Sky.
Shining down as heavenly grace …

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

— Reinhold Niebuhr

Trust in GOD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and he will direct your paths.

— Proverbs 3, 5-6

Land Tax (IMI)

Another straw to the camels back.

They call it Land Tax (IMI).

If it is not paid they (u know who) force a ‘penhoro’ on your land and they consider themselves to have rights to sell it off in order to pay for those taxes under the guise that it is just and correct by the fact that you didn’t pay them.

This ‘system’ will not accept anything else, other than the intellectual property otherwise known as ‘Euros’. Did you know that money is intellectual property? There can only be one issuer, for if you do it, it will be considered fraudulent. Does that sound like a monopoly on money? Does anyone know how much they’re printing of this stuff right now? Does anyone know how much of this funny money is being loaned to Portugal? Flooding a market with paper that is supposed to represent some value, and then using governments to force people to use this system, otherwise, they will come by force and take something from you that has REAL value. I read somewhere that if countries like Portugal and Greece do not pay back the loans then it forces the country to sell off real assets (land, utilitites etc) in order to pay off those loans. Hence I guess the austerity measures put into place are there to prevent this from happening, but at the same time it’s enslaving a nation anyway by the fact that salaries go down while commodities (food, water, oil etc) go up.

Perhaps my view is somewhat radical, but this smells like fascism to me (and I suspect to many others also, especially those that are protesting in the streets in Porto and Lisbon).

Luckily there is a ‘get out of jail card’. If I earn less than the national minimum (something like 5000EU a year) – basically, if I’m poor – then I can declare myself exempt from this tax, but it must be declared every year, before end of June. There is still something I don’t like about this, because in all honesty, what authority under God is allowed to make these claims against me and most importantly, when did I agree to it? Sure, I know what you’re saying. How naive to think this way.

I also posed to them this question. ‘What if I don’t want to participate in this centralised monetary system?’ ‘What form of payment would you accept in exchange for not harrassing me?’. Their answer is that there is no other form of payment. It’s Euros or else. I know, you probably thought I was crazy for asking in the first place, but it needs to be asked, simply because it’s about freedom, something which few people really seem capable of understanding.

I am looking for people who understand about rights, and how to defend them. According to Dean Clifford, a big proponent of the ‘Free Man on the Land’ movement in Canada explains that our inalienable rights are life, liberty and property. It makes sense to me. It’s something I’d like to explore further though.

Take a listen and see if you think what he says makes sense.

The question is I guess, do the Portuguese people have the same rights? Or have they willingly consented themselves to a system they would rather not be a part of were they given a choice? It’s just a guess but perhaps to stand for these basic human rights would require reaching a level of responsibility beyond what currently stands.

How many people would be brave enough to stand up to this system, without being armed, with facts, and knowing into what kind of a mine field they’d be walking into? Who would face an ocean without knowing how to swim? I believe this is an ocean that must be dived into, yet what I need is to learn from a master swimmer and in the land of mountain and green desert I’m wondering if it’s possible to find that.

Changing for Benefit

Since my time here in Portugal I’ve come to a certain understanding, and that is that in this time of ‘great awakening’ there will be many that are still happy to continue in their old ways not giving thought to the consequences of their actions. The fact is though, luckily, that generally, when great change occurs it’s usually a minority that has taken action in order to effect it.

My belief is that most people, sadly, will not wake up, however that does not mean that they will not be entitled to live their life just as freely as anyone else. I’m of the idea that what’s required is for the wiser among us to act responsibly and always stand up for what we know is right and to impress upon people the power they really have (i.e. share our understanding on how they are accountable!) and to help them by providing alternative solutions in place of any destructive habits and practices.

The understanding that’s developed within me is that a lot of people will only change if they see the benefit in changing – benefit to themselves that is. It sounds kind of sad, but that’s how I see it. I’d love to think that everyone will just ‘wake up’ and start concerning themselves with the consequences of their actions, but I think that there is a lot of people that just want to live out the rest of their life without it having to be ‘muito complicado’. Having to think through the cause and effect of each of their actions could be asking far too much of them (reminds me of the discussion I had with the man in the store on burning off). Added to this there is also the social stigma that imprisons them into following certain ways that are not to be questioned. Let me give you a small example:

I asked one lady in the village why she plowed her olive orchard (as they all do) and she said to me that she felt shame if it wasn’t ‘limpo’ (clean). To have weeds growing was seen as something ‘dirty’.

So back to the topic of ‘benefits’.

I believe that one of the biggest changes that will happen with respect to ‘economics’ will be in the creation of social businesses that act for the benefit of nature and (subsequently) the community. If people are provided with a better way where they can clearly see how it will benefit them then it will facilitate a ‘turning away’ from destructive practices or habits and their energy will then be focused on supporting a more positive outcome.

One of the aims (eventually) for the web site that I’m working on is to create some kind of ‘fair share forum’ or perhaps initially just a page where social enterprise ideas that can benefit rural communities here in Portugal can be shared. Ideas that can help to shift the focus from practices that are destructive to practices that contribute to the regeneration of soil and forest – which is what I’m really concerned with.

Here is just one example of the kind of ideas I’m talking about:

We know that a common practice here is burning off organic matter. It is wasteful, hazardous and at times very dangerous. So the question is how can we prevent this from happening and encourage farmers and the like to avoid doing this? I would like to explore whether a service can be provided whereby organic matter could be picked up and taken away for free, or perhaps even offer a clearing service at a very low cost and taking away the organic matter. If a viable solution could be determined then wouldn’t it stand to reason that it would make more sense for them to act in this direction (since it is so much easier)? That organic matter is valuable. It has value and can be used and made into a small industry that can support regeneration of soil and forest. Some might say that’s not enough to create the change, but perhaps if in each local county a reliable and guaranteed service could be offered then local council would stand by it and help to campaign for it’s benefit, especially if it can help to provide employment.

I would like the focus of it to be on simple and viable solutions where people can:

  • offer ideas for co-creative development.
  • share what they might be doing already but need help with.
  • share what they are doing successfully already – to inspire others.

What I would really like to see become available and shared is simple, grass roots, ‘on the ground’ solutions that can empower¬†anyone¬†to take action and use it to sustain themselves – make a living! This is something that is a big problem here in Portugal. It would be good to see ideas shared that can be replicated easily throughout other localities. Ideas that can help to promote a new economy based on localised and decentralised models (I hope that makes sense).

‚ÄúAny intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius ‚ÄĒ and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.‚ÄĚ

– E.F. Schumacher
With ‘right intention’ and co-creativity there is no end to ideas that can blow our minds wide open.
I was looking for a video on TED about a guy who was showing how little it actually takes to create change on a global level and how humans across the globe are beginning to respond to the global situation in the same way an immune system does with the body. I couldn’t find that one unfortunately so if anyone knows it please share. For now I’ll leave you with something a little more sobering.

‚ÄúThough the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.‚ÄĚ – Bill Mollison