When we bought our finca (farmland), we saw a lot of potential: there were about 150 almond trees, 50 olive trees and a few quinces and figs - and very old grapevines. Everything had been neglected for years; many terraces were crumbling and the little stone stable on one of the terraces was about to lose its roof to gravity. This was May 2013.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2017, and we've not been standing still; the little stable was rebuilt (it got a new roof, new walls, windows, running water and electricity) and we lived in it for about 6-7 months. We built a house on the land, and we've been living in it since May 2016. We also opened our bed & breakfast, and we rent out the maset (unless there's friends staying in it). Sandrine got a Permaculture Design Certificate in 2014; permaculture is a set of design principles, set on working with nature (instead of against it) to get a higher yield with less input. It includes elements from soil to climate, from seeds to animals; the art is to design a property in such a way that all elements work together and create abundance - and with that, a high level of self-sufficiency.
The trees were pruned, mulched, fertilised and given a bit of TLC, and with good results: in 2014 we had an olive harvest of 500kg, which gave us 100 liters of extra virgin olive oil; we sold the almonds to a local cooperativa. Olive trees and almond are biennial, which means they will produce well every 2 years; in 2015 we didn't have much - we cured the olives for eating, and used the almonds for cooking / baking / eating. Unfortunately, 2016 was exceptionally dry; we didn't have as much almonds as we hoped for (we sold the Marconas to the cooperativa, we didn't have many Llarguetas and are keeping those for eating / cooking / making Amaretto). And it seems like only one of our trees has some olives... hopefully next year will be better.
We also have chickens. Sanchez & his Sanchitas arrived in September 2015, and gave us many eggs and a few descendants (which we hatch using an incubator, as good layers are often very bad parents). Read our chicken story here! We're expecting our first alpacas in June 2017; they will come here to protect the chickens against foxes, and to graze the land (so the grass around the olive and almond trees stays short). They're also very pretty and funny animals to look at, and they've got great wool! Read more about the alpacas here.
In the spring of 2015, we started our vegetable garden. We aim to build a "food forest"; this combination of fruit & nut trees, bushes and (perennial) vegetables will take a few years to set up, but on the long run it should produce most of our food.
For now though, our trees are very young so we're doing some semi-traditional gardening; we're trying to combine local techniques and the advice of our (Spanish farmer) neighbours with the principles of permaculture. With varying levels of success; our soil is getting better every season, we've had some great harvests (and some really poor ones). Our aim with the garden is to be able to eat what we grow year-round, and hopefully to present our guests with produce from the garden as well.
We always have several projects on the go; you can read more about them on the "Simple Living in Spain" blog. There's always some animal housing that needs fixing, a new fence needs to be put up, trees to be planted,... We're trying to plant certain trees from seed (like almonds and loquats), grafting others and buying the ones we don't have access to. We would love to have more fig, quince, cherry and nectarine trees - they can be found in fields all around us as well, but we'd like to could grow our own without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
In a more distant future, we hope to further develop the food forest and to be able to grow even more of our food ourselves... So many plans, so much time.