Like a living barometer, you don’t need a calendar here on the farm to tell you when the seasons are changing, the animals do that for you. Almost overnight it seems, the cats have doubled their body size, their skinny summer frames now clad in luxurious fur. The adult sheep, sheared to within half a centimetre of their skin at the end of spring, are now wearing thick, shaggy coats while the spring lambs, now four months old, are sporting tightly-coiled woollen onesies.
Picking the oranges is a hit and miss business thanks to the sheep who, when they spot anyone coming into the orchard, crowd around your feet, jostling for prime position and threatening to knock you off your delicate, tiptoed balance. Orange-lovers, the prospect of fresh fruit sends them into a frenzy, not helped by the fact that Dona Catarina operates a ‘one for me, one for you’ system with them when she’s picking. I operate no such system, sticking rigidly to the ‘they’re all for me’ method.
The aromatic scent of wood smoke mingling with the heady scent of freshly-picked oranges…
Once the sun drops towards the horizon, the temperature rapidly follows suit and inside the house, it’s already shiver-inducing cold. Outside, the last cries of ewes and lambs fade as Dona Catarina feeds the flock and closes the gate for the night. Silence falls across the farm. Within the hour we light the fire, the aromatic smell of wood smoke mingling with the heady scent of freshly-picked oranges crowding the fruit basket