Status update

Working on the foundations of Mas del Encanto

Working on the foundations of Mas del Encanto

I’ve not posted anything here for the last few months – a few pictures on Facebook now and then, but I feel we really need to do a status update!

First of all, the construction of the masia (the big house with room for guests) has started! They actually started digging out the outline of the house weeks ago – it took a while though, as there was more rock than anticipated. Then the digging of the foundations followed; in the mean time, the iron has arrived and the builders are now doing things with iron bars that include a lot of shouting at each other 🙂 We’re quite happy with the way it goes now – we were a bit worried since the start of the construction kept being delayed, but now things are happening, we have high hopes.

Axel painting the window frames of the maset

Axel painting the window frames of the maset

In the last few months, Axel has been working with a friend on the maset (a little building called “Mas de Vaquer” on maps, it was used as an animal & tool shed). The thing was almost in ruins, but now features a new roof, renovated walls, a tiled floor, and even everything we need for electricity and running water (except for the actual electricity and water). We’ll hopefully decide on what exactly we’ll need to buy (solar panels, inverter, battery, generator) this week. Then a temporary shower & toilet will also be installed, so (after cleaning it all up a bit) we can go and stay at our finca whenever we like. As far as I’m concerned, that’s 24/7 🙂

The "vegetable circle" in our garden - last month

The “vegetable circle” in our garden – last month

Then there’s our little “huerto” (vegetable garden): we have been experimenting with different kind of beds (raised bed, straw bale beds, sheet mulching, soil from the forest, soil from Holland, a mix from the local jardineria, just plain soil that was there) and have had interesting results… the raised beds surely work the best (the beans & spinach are thriving, and things like carrots, lettuce, garlic and a few others are doing well too). We’re now planning to do many more raised beds for the rest of the vegetables (still a lot to sow and plant). Also we’ve started working on a “herb pyramid”: a bit inspired on the idea of a herb spiral, but it’s so much easier to build square things… it will have room for 9-12 different kinds of herbs, so we can use them in the kitchen whenever we want to. Compost containers have been built as well – one is already in use, the other one is currently our storage unit. They do still need a cover though.

Our first pomegranate tree, right after planting

Our first pomegranate tree, shortly after planting

We’ve bought a few more fruit trees as well. The pomegranates (bought in March) seem to be doing well, the kaki’s (at the same time) not so much; only recently, we have planted a few pear trees, a nectarine trees, prune trees (European & Japanese) and raspberries. Blackberries are all around us (we should really cut them back… after the summer), but I’d still like some blueberries! And of course apple, pears and cherries – I guess we’ll do those next year. The existing trees are not doing great after the weird winter (many of the blossoms died when it froze again – and it has rained far too much as well). The quince trees just seem half dead at the moment (shake a branch and the leaves just fall off), and the fig trees don’t seem to have any figs. Not even tiny ones. Some of the almonds survived (but we’re not expecting a harvest like last year’s), and we’ll see about the olives (they don’t like that much rain). Our vines seem to be doing fine, I really have to build them some supports soon… they have been neglected for so many years, time to put some TLC into them.

As you see, loads of things have been done – but there’s still lots and lots of things to do. We’ve now subscribed to Workaway – in case people would like to take a free camping vacation in Spain while at the same time helping us out with a few projects. If nobody’s coming, we’ll do it all ourselves and it will take a little longer… Either way, we’ll get things done!

But life hasn’t been all work – spring has sprung, and it’s really a wonderful season to be in Matarranya. There have been barbecues, gatherings in and around villages, we’ve been visiting a few other people who live around here as well (very inspiring!), and our social agenda has been very full (and still is). But there’s time to relax as well; especially now the weather’s getting warmer and days are getting longer, we get the chance to use our big hammock during siesta time, or to just sit somewhere on the land and meditate. We keep discovering hidden corners on our finca – and places we thought we knew are full of surprises (usually beautiful flowers) as well.

Flowers at Mas del Encanto

Spring flowers at Mas del Encanto

Yes, we work hard, but life is so much better here than we ever hoped.

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