Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Projects

Lots of Projects for 2017 big and small, which will be expounded upon in further posts:

1.  Barn renovation

So we have this 1917 barn, or what´s left of it.  The roof had a gaping hole when we bought the place, and based on the builder´s recommendation, had the roof taken off and the rotten elements removed.  In retrospect, it might have been wiser to patch the roof, though the builder insists that the weight wasn´t good for the structure.  In any event, as a first phase we´d like to get it covered, install a floor, and fill in the openings so we´d have a dry place for storage.  Eventually, I want a studio workshop and a dry, secure place for storing feed/bedding/firewood/tools.  V wants a mancave.

2.  Garden

The veg area will be expanded, but is limited by tree roots and the zone around the barn which will be churned up by workers and vehicles.  Closer to the house, I´ll creating an area for flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs and dye plants. 

3. Assorted Interior projects:  backsplash, range hood, laundry sink

While livable, there are a few elements still missing from the house.  This year we´d like to get those finished, along with buying the last furniture items.  We´re still sitting on patio chairs at the kitchen table.  The laundry room needs a complete makeover, but depends on what kind of laundry sink we get.  A bigger, longer term project still pending is solar thermal hot water.  I wasn´t really convinced that Galicia had a climate for solar anything, but with summers getting hotter and drier, it´s probably time to investigate this more thoroughly.  We simply can´t afford a solar electricity set up, and the government is now taxing those who do, even if they´re off grid.

4.  Experimenting with natural dyes/cheesemaking/brewing

I miss doing creative stuff, even though I don´t seem to have time to do what I should on any given day.  Lately, I´ve been really intrigued by eco-printing and botanical dying, which uses plant material and found objects to print patterns and colors on fabric.  I got a copy of India Flint´s Eco Colour, who´s an Australian fibre artist and does very interesting work, and have a couple of books on dye plants and dyeing to put to use.  I got some cheesemaking supplies while I was in the States and will have to look into finding a supply of raw milk and maybe a local mentor to show me the ropes on producing cheese.  Another goal is to renew our brewing hobby, now that our bottle collection is out of basement storage in Madrid and here in Galicia.  Another reason to organize the laundry room space - storage for bulky brewing stuff. 

5.  Water

This winter is shaping up to be very dry.  I´ve been busily building raised beds since historically Galicia is quite wet.  But this winter the weather is wierdly dry, warm and sunny and we´ll be needing to take advantage of all new roof surfaces to store water, especially at higher elevations.  I´d also like to refurbish the defunct well by the barn for watering the garden, and there needs to be some form of irrigation put into place.  We´ll see.

6.  Chickens

Still need to decide on a place to put a coop.  Disruption from work on the barn could be an issue here, also.  I´d just like to get started with a half dozen hens and start producing some fertilizer for the gardens.  Always good to have the ingredients for a tortilla española around the place.

7.  Integrate into the community

We´re really, really bad at socializing.  V has the excuse that he´s gone a lot, but I´m just anti-social.  We know our immediate neighbors and have met a few locals, but haven´t done a lot to participate in local functions or anything.  However, just before Christmas, we started hosting a lovely young woman for an English conversation practice once a week, and are planning to meet her family soon.  Turns out, she plays the gaita/pipes and is a member of the local folk band, so we hope to be more informed as to local festivities this year.

So those are the plans.  We´ll revisit to see how well we´ve done at the end of the year.  And now I must go get in another couple of loads of firewood as they´re predicting a siberian cold wave for the end of this week.


  1. realistic plans..and the barn looks big enough for all the ideas!

  2. Splendid plans for this year, especially the one to do with integrating with the local community, which is something we don't do but hope to soon!

  3. Hi GZ! Best of luck on your travels to NZ. I´m so envious and you´ll be getting summer weather, we´re expecting a freeze here. Many told us to forget the house and rebuild the barn instead. We´ll see how realistic it is after we get budgets.

    Hi Vera! I´d think playing in a band certainly counts as integrating. You´ll not see me performing anything publicly, though I´ve been thinking about learning to play the mountain dulcimer for when the SHTF and the lights go out. They´re hard to find on this side of the pond.

  4. Hi, Coco!

    Your place is so green. I am trying not to be envious, though - truly - spring is just around the corner here. I was quite shocked that Spain taxes solar panels. When my son lived near Orgiva we considered a move to Spain, but a move out of the states would be difficult (elderly relatives, etc.; we had a lot of dogs then, too - hi Breo!). That's an impressive barn structure. It can become something so neat.

    I used to enjoy so much experimenting with natural dyes. I was using them on unbleached cotton fabric. Keep in mind that most dyes need a mordant to fix them to the fabric. I never tried printing with them. That sounds like a lot of fun.


  5. Hi Pam! It is green, despite today being the coldest of the year (-5C or 25ishF) And the diabolical electrical companies have set the highest rates of the year. Coincidence? I think not. What a racket.

    I´m starting with protein fibres. I´ve purchased some silk scarves and I´d like to have a go at some wool. My understanding is that cotton/linen are a different, trickier thing. More in further posts.

    Keep warm in Virginia!

  6. Hi Coco,

    Well done with those plans. I really loved the India flint dyes. Some of those leaves looked like pin oak leaves. Nice stuff. Construction doesn't have to leave a mess, but generally it does. Engineers have a saying about: Good, Fast; Cheap - pick any two. :-)! I'm really curious about the well project and will look forward to reading about that in the future too. So many projects! I reckon your raised garden beds will work well in drier times too, although they may require a little bit more water. I have many raised vegetable beds here and the climate can be very variable so they are a good form of insurance against unpredictable weather. You never know. The soil there is looking great too!



  7. Hi, your Galician Garden site is amazing and has given me a lot of guidance in the last few months. I finished my Camino in June and have since been building an Organic Vegetable Garden (from Scratch) for a Pilgrim community.. I still speak very little Spanish and translating everything has been very trying. To have you on my side for the past seven months has been a Godsend. I were bought up on an Organic sheep farm on the Romney marsh in Kent. John and Sally Seymour were family friends and were great at instructing my family in the self sufficency movement and We would teach and instruct Wwoofers many weekends of the year...if not all weekends of the year. Moving into our garden in Fisterra was a very slapdash event as in June, I were already into the Summer season by a month.I pulled it off in complete style to the astonishment of all the local farmers...who at the start, in my Kentish fashion,thought I were a mad man. They were even more shocked when my garden didn´t just flower but produced 10s of kilos of veg in just two months. I followed your lead and saught out local farmers for manure and built raised and walled beds, but the Galician wind still wreaked havoc through my pumpkins. But now I think I have it almost sorted. I have just layed in three hundred Baraka potatoes and I am building chicken wire fences around all 40 metres of plants, they are doubled with lettuce and radishes. One line of Potatoes I am building a natural old Irish technique of tower using Seaweed, straw and soil held in by blackberry brambles to prevent slugs and snails climbing. My next project I have just been awarded a 40m x 10m plot next to a spring stream and I´m setting up a Watercress bed and raised pepper beds feeding 10 to 12 other tables. Its still in design stages. I wish you all the best of luck in 2017 and just want to say great blog and Thankyou for the Ideas and just being long as there is someone else...I´m not completely nuts. Quentin, The world family, Fisterra. x

  8. Hi Chris!

    Well, you know what they say the Gods do when you announce your plans. I believe India Flint basically invented the eco print technique, though there are others now making a name for themselves. Lots of interesting effects using eucalyptus, just not the type that grows around these parts. But that won´t stop me from trying.

    Good Lord, Quentin, I´m gobsmacked! The Seymours!! Wow.

    Fisterra would be a very, very different kettle of fish in terms of climate (hee). I have thought of watercress in our little creek, but there are a lot of cows upstream, which gives me pause.

    It sounds like your place is coming along by leaps and bounds, doubly difficult given the 2 language problems with Spanish and Gallego. Well done you. I have to get out there and get the pruning and digging done but the cold weather has me a bit discouraged. Now I´ll have to get stuck in! I encourage you to have a look at some of the others on my bloglist who have inspired me.

    Thank you for your lovely comment and I wish you all the best for 2017! If we ever get out to the coast, I may bring bags for seaweed.