we (m 51yrs/f 37yrs) are living in central Portugal on a farm - quinta in portuguese (5ha, I guess that's about 12 acres), which has an orchard (oranges, lemons, etc), and a large olive- and a vineyard. About half of the area is wilderness. We try to live as beings who are part of nature and not masters of it.
We are living together since 2004, but only since 2012 in Portugal. Our mother tongues are Russian and Flemish. We speak English, French, Dutch, some German, and we are learning Portuguese. We have no children.
It is not easy to sketch our ideas and our life philosophy in a few sentences, but we will give it a try:
* We came to Portugal, not to escape anything, but because we were (and are) convinced that our lifestyle (work, earning a lot of money, big house, big expenses, lots of travel, lots of supermarket food etc) was not sustainable at all. We lost our connection with nature. Moreover we believe people are destined to live outside, and living outside is most comfortable in a warm climate (cfr our African origin). We came to Portugal to become a part again of nature's great web of life.
* Who and what influenced us? Difficult to say in a couple of sentences. One of us lived and worked as an anthropologist for a couple of years among tribal and/or nomadic people. We like Walden/Thoreau and the novels of Daniel Quinn. We are interested in permaculture and forest gardens, not as way to control nature, but as a way to restore as best as possible the damage we did to nature. If there is one philosophy that interests us, it has to be anarcho-primitivism, and some of the ideas of John Zerzan, Derrick Jensen etc...
* We are not extremists. We are not following rigidly the principles of whatever system, not even of the systems we believe in, like permaculture. For instance, next to growing a forest garden, we are also growing annual vegetables for food. Maybe one day our perennials and forest garden will supply us with enough food, but that day has not come yet. We don't believe in agricultural systems but still we are raising chicken, ducks, geese and goats, and we are not planning to cut down our olive trees, our orchard or our vineyard.
* We are not religious, not new-age spiritual. We are quite down-to-earth people, but we enjoy staring at the stars at night, and playing the guitar
* We are not vegetarians , but omnivores. We try to give our animals a good life and in the end some will be killed for food. We like a good glass of wine, preferably our own wine. We love finding our own wild foods, plants, mushrooms, animals,...
* We are not workaholics, there should be a lot of free time for walking, playing music, cycling, or just enjoying life. The work load is shared by us both, we both work according to our physical capabilities.
* We live mostly outside, we sleep in a tiny caravan and that suits us very well. Maybe one day we even sleep outside. On the property we also have a little 20m2 house, we use it mostly for storage. We are not planning to build a big house. Just for the contrast, before we came to Portugal we lived in a 300m2 house with 3 bathrooms, we don't miss one square meter of it...
* We own a car (4x4), but we try to use it as less as possible, at most once or twice a month. One day we want to live without a car. We try to use our bicycles as much as possibe, but roads are not flat here...
* We live off grid: we have a small solar system which powers a fridge/freezer, our washing machine and pumps in the summer. We have a windmill, but we didn't install it yet. Our water is supplied by two big wells, but we get our drinking water from local springs in the region. We cook when it is sunny on a parabolic dish, when it is not sunny we have our wood stove. We have internet, we use it to talk to our family (Skype) and to check our mail (but all of this very irregular, maybe on average 2 hours per month). Compare that with an average internet time of about 25 hours per week p.p. before we came to Portugal. We have a portable phone, for emergencies, but we never carry it with us...
* We have a very enthusiastic dog, sometimes too enthusiastic, but we hope she keeps the foxes away from our poultry...
* What about earning money? It is certainly not our priority, we have enough money for several years of frugal living. As much as we would like to, in the current situation it is not possible to live without money. We will probably sell or exchange some animals, honey, milk products, vegetables, olive oil, etc. We are also thinking about giving workshops and on the long term, about writing a book.
A couple of facts about this area:
- it gets very hot and dry here during the summer 35C-44C (june-sept). Almost everything you grow needs to be given water. The autumn and spring are very agreeable, warm and a little bit more wet. The winters can be a bit fresh especially at night. A couple of degrees of frost is possible. On average there are more than 300 sunny days and more than 3000 sun hours per year.
- we are located at 3 km from a little village, and 30 km from a big town. For European standards, it is a bit in the middle of nowhere. To get to our property you have to drive a dirt road for the last 1,5 km. It is possible to drive this dirt road with a normal car but it is a bit bumpy. We have some non-permanent neighbours (gardeners), who come and go. One is using sometimes a generator for power. We hope one day he will switch to solar.
- the village has a beautiful "old centre", a couple of small shops and a primary school. There is almost no tourism in this area. All the villages over here organize a lot of street festivals, concerts, parties and traditional roman catholic events.
- the Portuguese people are generally friendly, open-minded and hospitable
- there is almost no big scale agriculture and industry
- there is some wildlife, even snakes and scorpions;)
If someone would be interested to share our life and work, preferably another couple, please let us know and tell us about yourselves. This place is really a bit big for us alone...How much do we spend per year? About 2000 euro p.p including transport, property taxes and health insurance costs. We do most of the car maintenance ourselves.
The amount of money we will spend will decrease gradually, because in the end we want to be as self sufficient as possible and drive less and less with our car. Our estimate is that we will end up at spending 1200 euro p.p. per year in 2014.
Looking forward to hear from you. As said, we are not often online, so it can take a while for us to answer...