My family and I have spent the last 2 years living in the Azores, an oceanic (maritime) temperate climate. The Azores are a group of 9 Portuguese, volcanic islands about 850 miles (1925 km) off the coast of Portugal. That puts it pretty much 2/3 of the distance from New York to Lisbon… rather isolated in the North Atlantic Ocean. We lived on Terceira Island, the third largest island of the archipelago.
Population: Dairy cattle = 100,000… Humans = 50,000… seriously!

Azores

A view of Terceira Island, Azores.
Our home for 2 years.

Azores

My photo from the plane.

I love this photo for a few reasons. First it shows Porto Martins, the village where we live. Second, it shows Mount Pico on Pico Island in the way back behind the clouds. Third, it shows a couple prominent landmarks, Mount Brazil and Split Rock. Fourth, it shows the amazing cloud cover of the island. These islands are very remote in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands are covered in green – pastures and forests. This greenery, along with the mountains popping up in the middle of the flat ocean, creates the perfect conditions for this island cloud formation. On other islands in the world, where people have cleared most of the trees from the island, this cloud cover stops forming and the island slowly becomes a desert. This shows that the Azores are still managing their natural resources pretty well.

Azores

A closer view of Porto Martins, Terceira Island, Azores

Split Rock, Terceira Island, Azores

A closer view of Split Rock, Terceira Island, Azores.
I can’t find the exact date of the split, but it was in fairly recent history.

Patchwork Fields, Terceira Island, Azores

Patchwork Fields, Terceira Island, Azores

I have previously written about the Azorean style of rotational grazing. While not as prominent on some of the other islands, our island of Terceira is covered in permanent pastures divided by mostly dry-stacked volcanic rock walls.

Cow Jam, Terceira Island, Azores

Cow Jam, Terceira Island, Azores

The dairy cattle are rotated through the pastures every day or every few days. Many farmers own or rent fields that are not next to each other, so the cattle have to walk the roads from one pasture to the next. It is fairly common for me to get stuck in a cow jam (never a traffic jam!) on the way to work.

A walk through the pastures

My wife, kids, and father taking a walk through the pastures… beautiful!
Terceira Island, Azores

Me at the botanic gardens.

Me at the botanic gardens. Old Gingko biloba trees.
São Miguel Island, Azores 

One overlook on São Miguel Island, Azores.

One overlook on São Miguel Island, Azores.
The green pastures are used in rotational grazing of cattle.

My boys taking photos of a waterfall. Me at the botanic gardens. Terceira Island, Azores

My boys taking photos of a waterfall.
Terceira Island, Azores

The hilly pastures of the Azores. São Miguel Island, Azores

The hilly pastures of the Azores.
São Miguel Island, Azores

Lagoa das Sete Cidades São Miguel Island, Azores

Lagoa das Sete Cidades
São Miguel Island, Azores

The twin lakes and small village of Sete Cidades are located in the crater left from the volcanic eruption. Wikipedia recounts the legend of how these lakes were formed. I think it is amazing that a village is located inside a volcanic caldera!

Tea Plantation São Miguel Island, Azores

Tea Plantation
São Miguel Island, Azores

The Azores are the only location in Europe where tea is commercially grown. I was driving on São Miguel Island and saw this unique landscape. I almost passed it by until I realized what it was. My wife would say I screeched to a halt in the middle of the road… what can I say? I was excited. This is the only tea plantation I have ever seen. Due to its remote location in the Atlantic Ocean, there are no pests or diseases that bother the tea plants (Camellia sinensis). The Gorreana Estate has been in continuous tea production since 1883, and it still uses much of its original equipment… all run by hydro power generated from natural springs.

My wife at  São Miguel Island, Azores

My beautiful wife at Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire)
São Miguel Island, Azores

Yet another breathtaking pasture/overlook. São Miguel Island, Azores

Yet another breathtaking pasture/overlook.
São Miguel Island, Azores 

My oldest daughter bringing milk to a calf. Terceira Island, Azores

My oldest daughter bringing milk to a calf.
Terceira Island, Azores

My second son milking a traditional Azorean dual purpose dairy and beef breed of cattle. Terceira Island, Azores

My second son milking a traditional Azorean dual purpose dairy and beef breed of cattle.
Read more about it by clicking on the photo.
Terceira Island, Azores

My kids and me with some baby mice I found in the garden. Terceira Island, Azores

My kids and me with some baby mice I found in the garden.
Read more about it by clicking on the photo.
Terceira Island, Azores

My family says goodbye to the Azores... this is one block from our home. Terceira Island, Azores

My family says goodbye to the Azores… this is one block from our home!
Porto Martins, Terceira Island, Azores

So thankful to be able to provide these memories to my children. Terceira Island, Azores

So thankful to be able to provide these memories to my children.
Terceira Island, Azores

 

 

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Photo References: All photos are mine (except the very first island photo and the photo of Split Rock). If you would like to use them, please let me know!