This is part of a series of posts where we ask one of our volunteers or visitors to say a few words. Serge is one of our longer staying volunteers, and has kindly agreed to share his diary.
A Visitor’s Perspective: Serge’s Diary
A week has passed since my latest trip back to Lisbon (this time to spend a few days with Yoska and her parents, who were visiting from Holland), and life on the farm goes on as quickly as ever. It took me very little time to adjust back to the rhythm compared to my last holiday, which may have something to do with it. The weather has, for the most part, remained unchanged, and we are still enjoying plenty of sun. This allows for uninterrupted work and productivity; much is getting done.
Spring is truly upon us, with buds and blossom everywhere. The main focus for WWOOFer related activity has been on preparing the land (primarily the lower pastures and raised beds) for planting. Watering has also been necessary to ward off the ill effects of the dry spell on the plants and earth, along with weeding, planting out seedlings and digging water channels. Apart from the seasonal labour there have been some other projects, ranging from the educational and interesting to the mildly unpleasant (the latter referring to the emptying of the compost toilets- don’t worry, the poo had already been composting for a year!).
I was given the opportunity to slaughter my first animal: a duck. The five ducks (now four) don’t lay, and serve little purpose other than being eaten. An effective and painless method was employed to kill the duck, which involved breaking the duck’s neck by placing it on the ground and standing on a broomstick on top of it, then taking it by the legs and pulling them sharply upwards. Not knowing what to expect, I yanked with all my might- and pulled the poor duck’s head clean off! Needless to say, it made a huge mess and I felt sorry for it, but the method was effective in that it suffered little. This was immediately followed by the plucking (much easier while the body is still warm), gutting and removal of the feet. The following day the duck, expertly prepared by Andrea, appeared on our dinner plates in the form of arroz do pato (duck rice). It was a satisfying and delicious experience.
Working on, but unfortunately failing to fix, the rotavator.
I am now entering my final month as a Casalinho WWOOFer, though I have chosen to stay a few days longer in order to become a certified permaculturalist by participating in the PDC (Permaculture Design Course). Considering I was entirely foreign to permaculture (and indeed agriculture) before this WWOOF experience, it is a big step, and I am glad to be taking it.
Other highlights of the past week include:
-Teef’s puppies, now six weeks old, are becoming a dominant theme. There are eight of them, all tirelessly yipping, chewing and bouncing around. They are a joy and a nuisance in equal measure. (Andrea’s note – Five still looking for new homes. Can you help?)
-Luisa and Carlos, a couple who stayed at Casalinho whilst looking for land in order to pursue their aim of self-sufficiency, recommended several sustainability-oriented groups in Luxembourg. When I go back home I will definitely be looking to participate in the permaculture transition activities.
Puppy photo by Yoska.