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A New Year Update

As I sit on my Pilates ball and look at my big belly, or look at the calendar where January 31st is circled as my “due date” (quotation marks are because – as anyone who has been pregnant will know – this date is a ballpark, and the baby can come two weeks sooner or later while still having matured to his or her full term), I thought now might be a good time to share some reflections about 2020 and projections for 2021.

Lessons & updates from the past year

While we have never felt so lucky to be living on our farm given the turmoil the world is in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the downside is that our renovation project has been put on hold.

Administrative processes have as good as ground to a halt, so we’re still waiting for a few licenses and such to continue our renovations. A situation further complicated by our architect ghosting us for a few months for no apparent reason (I’ll leave it at that for all our sakes!).

Our construction crew stopped working during the first lockdown, and then has been so backed up that it has been a struggle to get them back to the farm for more than a day here and there.

Francois has still been working hard to make progress, and a lot has happened, such as:

  • Water lines got dug and pipes are now 90% underground with running water available throughout the property (well, the few hectares we’re actively developing!)
  • Electric lines have been put in place for the future photovoltaic system
  • A toilet and shower structure has been built next to where we will one day have the natural swimming pool

Animal-wise, we downsized our goat herd and kept the more well-behaved ladies, going from 17 unmanageable and mischievous goats to 7 self-managed ones. A game changer! Our beloved pot-belly pigs disappeared without a trace, and to this day we have no idea what happened. The duck population went from four to three to five to 10, the guinea fowl seem to think their job is to bully everyone rather than reproduce, and the chickens just keep doing their thing.

My take-aways are that it is important to strive for balance between perseverance and letting things go, that the hardest part of any project isn’t the technical side of things or finances but the people, and that keeping busy is essential to staying sane.

What’s more, if your daily life is fulfilling, it makes it much easier to deal with delays that are out of your hands. Having animals and living close to nature is the icing on the cake, as they keep you grounded and on your toes.

The only thing that went as planned last year was that I got pregnant, and that has been an incredible journey! On the plus side, I’ve had quite a smooth pregnancy and have even enjoyed the ups and downs of growing a little human. Nature is incredible and my body is awe-inspiring.
Unfortunately, I also realized that healthcare in rural Portugal can be very conservative, and for the first time in my life I experienced what it’s like to be faced with an older doctor who may or may not have a god complex but definitely considers women and his patients as not quite worthy of respect or of having a voice. He is no longer my doctor, but I cannot stop thinking of all the women who may not know any better and end up with a much more traumatic experience than necessary.

The lesson there is that no matter how wonderful our bubble is, we still depend on the context we’re living in and related systems. It feels irresponsible and cowardly not to engage. I don’t know what this means yet longer term, but it was quite a realization and felt like what might be a big step in a new direction.

Looking to the year ahead

The farm and ecotourism project continues! We’re not quite sure what that will look like, but we’re committed to it and excited to continue growing our own food, managing our land and animals, and figuring out how to keep developing the property.

I will once again try to be better at sharing regular blog content, and am hoping to cover farm updates, lessons learned, recipes, inspiring content (think documentary reviews and more), and maybe even delve into personal development a little more.

If there’s anything you’d like me to write about and haven’t seen on the blog or social media, let me know!

There’s also a big change coming soon, and a new boss will enter the scene. Motherhood and parenting will without a doubt have an impact on our everyday life and Casa Beatrix overall, though exactly how is something we’ll be figuring out along the way.

We would love to make enough progress to at least start welcoming some guests to the farm sometime in Summer 2021, but if this past year has taught us anything it’s that you can only plan so much – for the rest, you have to adapt and take things in stride.

So, stay tuned – here, for what will hopefully be a few posts a month, through our mailing list, where we’ll share very occasional updates (likely 2-4 this year max), or on Instagram where I post a few times a week – and here’s to a 2021 full of good health and adventure (while respecting any pandemic-driven norms to stay safe).

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