It is a beautiful morning, as we open and look out of the wooden shutters we can see the dimly lit mist over the foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountain. I go to the kettle routinely and pour myself a cup of tea, Mariana gets our dog, Mitzy from the veranda and goes downstairs to mix up the feed and sort it into buckets then continues to open up the animals pens, by this time I am usually catching up to her with my cup of tea in hand, Lloyd comes strolling down the track with a friendly hello and an exchange of pleasantries. The geese are the first to be let out, they squawk and honk while they angrily waddle out of the gate and do a few flaps of their wings while they make their way up to the orchards. We then open up the door to the chicken coop and are met with a wave of feathers and a mad rush to leave the coop that would be enough to convince anyone that the grass in the orchard must be the best tasting grass on the planet! After the chickens we move on to feeding the other small animals and then we let the sheep out the gate and in single file they meander down to the meadow, bells ringing and the odd bleat from a straggler. The ducks are not a fan of all this rushing it would seem and they generally wait until all has calmed down and everyone is out before peeking their little bills out of the door and quacking at us before clumsily dropping down the small step that exits their housing, as if they have never seen it before.
We then take a step back, and chat for a bit whilst propping ourselves up on our crooks, I finish my cup of tea and we discuss what jobs need doing for the day. Today it is fencing, more specifically the new meadow for the sheep so we can rotate their fields and give them fresh new pasture whilst letting the previous meadow recover. Mariana goes inside and puts away the feed buckets ready for tomorrow, meanwhile my father joins us and us three take on the task of tensioning and stapling the fence wires. Before you know it we have already fenced a good thirty metres or so and the sun is high above us, soil in our hair and sweat on our foreheads we decide to call it a good mornings work and we down tools for the hottest hours of the day.
Early afternoon and my father and I are half way through our fourth or fifth cup of tea and chatting away merrily together when the doorbell goes, we open the door and by the gate is the white pickup truck of our neighbours, the most friendliest people you could ever meet, a hard working farmer and his hard working wife, both in their seventies. They shake our hand, and with the widest smiles you can imagine they ask how we are, they tell us they have brought a present for our sheep as a thank you for the wine grapes that we gave them the week before and show us in the back of their pick up, sacks upon sacks of windfall apples from their farm! A short while later whilst we are all still chatting the local village baker walks past and hands a large sack of bread to my neighbour with another wide smile, he then stops for a chat with us all, telling me tales of his recent hunting trips and all the hares and partridge he caught. We really have some of the nicest neighbours that you could ever meet here in this village, everyone is always swapping home made produce, recipes and stories, a real delight.
A few hours go past and we wave goodbye and watch the white pickup truck turn and drive back up the farm track. It is just getting towards dusk and as we walk down the hill, meet up with Lloyd once more and open the gate between the fig and olive trees down to the meadow the sheep are all lined up and waiting by the gate, they must have already spied the bucket or heard the apples rattling around inside. We open the gate and a stampede of hooves marches all the way back across to the other side of the field and straight into the gate to bed, the bucket of apples is devoured within seconds. The chickens are already all on their perches, we collect the eggs from the nest boxes and with their quiet moans at the torchlight we do a head count. Everyone is in bed and the gates are locked shut. We say goodnight to Lloyd as he walks back to his for the night, then Mariana and I walk back up to the farmhouse, open the door, kick off our boots, sit down and relax with a glass of wine before doing it all again tomorrow.