Updated: Feb 25
(*Edit: Feb 25, 2022 - Please see a more recent update about OKPortugal and other vloggers in the area.)
Ken and Gina have accomplished something that many of us only dream of. They took a side door out of the rat race, got rid of their debt, and bought a working farm in Central Portugal with enough in the bank to live for a couple of years while they figure out how to run the farm and turn enough profit to live comfortably.
They took possession of their farm in the Castelo Branco region (see this post for a recent deep dive into Castelo Branco) in late December, 2019. I have recently started an email exchange with Ken, and he describes the property: "We have a two bedroom farmhouse lying on 3.5 hectares of mainly flat pasture, divided up into 3 large fields, about half an acre of vineyard, 100 olive trees, a spring fed dam, two large deep wells and a bunch of outbuildings with two large water storage tanks for irrigation an outdoor cooking area and traditional bread oven." Ken's regular YouTube videos document the process of finding a place to live, moving in (during Storm Elsa), figuring out how things work, setting up, getting chickens, planting a vegetable garden and much more. Daily life and daily challenges. Serious fun and relaxing. Trips to Soalheira, Castelo Branco and Fundao to take care of paperwork or visit local markets. They are very likable and personable, tackling the requirements of farm life with cheerful pragmatism and no little help from their many animal companions.
The window into this rural lifestyle is considerably enriched in a paradoxical way by their use of technology. Infrared trail cam footage and the use of a drone are the best examples, but the process of filming, editing, and posting content across various social networking platforms is always a 21st century miracle, in my opinion. Ken displays a dedication to recording everything to a level that one has to admire - there is no half-assing it here, and the amount of footage he must have to wade through and condense would be prodigious. This has to be a unique experience for Gina, too, as the other half of the partnership. After all, she is the most frequent subject of these efforts, along with Dog-dog, of course.
Ken is from Cape Town, South Africa and Gina is from the UK, with backgrounds in e-commerce and education, respectively. They currently share their lives with one Dog-dog, a couple of cats, I believe 8 chickens and Nando the rooster, and assorted other wild creatures including foxes, boars, frogs, spiders, fish, and more. Helpful neighbours play their parts as well; I recently watched an episode where a nearby resident created the plot for their vegetable patch, complete with sheep manure, in about an hour using a series of plows. It helps a lot that all the basic infrastructure of the farm was there for them in working order, needing mostly to be be cleaned, updated, and personalized. Their trees and vines are well-established, water has been sorted out, pastures and fields are fenced and functional. They are definitely not pulling rocks out of the back forty by hand.
I'm really looking forward to catching up to the present day with these two. They are providing everything you could want in an online presence like this. Interesting, entertaining, informative, educational. Well-produced without a reliance on editing gimmicks. Regular, frequent installments. Pleasant personalities. Thumbs way up!
All photos and images (except the Google ones, obviously) by Kenneth van der Spuy, copyright 2020 I would imagine.