WHY CAN'T SPANISH DOGS LEARN ENGLISH?

WHY CAN'T SPANISH DOGS LEARN ENGLISH?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

AUTUMN AND HALLOWEEN

The vegetable plot is now rotovated and lying fallow whilst we decide what we will plant next.  We had a reasonable harvest this summer, although I could have watered a little more frequently which would have yielded far more.

Halloween is almost upon us and last weekend we spent a little family time making jam jar candle holders to put in the trees. 





The oranges are growing well again and will be ready for Christmas and the olives are coming along nicely also.  We have no turkeys this year due to space constraints but perhaps we will again one day.

Although it is nearly the end of October, the weather is unusually warm and two days ago we went to the beach to see how many tourists were still about.  Quite a few actually and although the water was a bit bracing to get into, once you were in it was wonderfully refreshing.  There were a few large jellyfish about so we didn't stay in very long! We are still getting temperatures of 26 - 28 or more during the day which is wonderful, but not for the farmers!

Lettuce planting has begun again in one of the next door fields, in another field there are potatoes (that are not doing so great) and artichokes.  One of the farmers I know has offered us some radishes.  They are Mallorquin radishes and can be about a foot long and very mild to taste, very different from the hotter more peppery variety we get in the UK.

Sadly we lost both the little kittens eventually, but a strange thing happened afterwards.  We found two more grown up kittens at the next door farm and they seemed to be very hungry.  They were fed at our place and they stayed for a few days, then the disappeared.  I think they belong to a family along the lane here.  However, 3 tiny kittens have appeared and I found them all snuggled up in my utility room the other day.  They are very frightened of humans - probably a good thing.  I have no idea where the mother is/was but they seem to be feeding and drinking ok.  I will try to get some pictures, but they run away and hide very quickly.

We seem to have a lot of, what my son calls, Tiger Spiders.  I have yet to look them up but apparently they can give a nasty nip!  We've had a summer of stick insects and praying mantis also, which have fascinated many.

Here is a picture of a so-called Tiger spider. Sorry the picture is on it's side, but you get the general idea! AARRGGHHH.  Very Halloweeeeeeeeny!



Saturday, October 12, 2013

OLD CATS, NEW CATS AND OTHERS

It has been sometime since my last post, due in part to the craziness of life and also living here in Mallorca.

There are so many things to write about and catch up on that I am sure I won't remember them all, but here we go..

Our cat population increased to 11 in total.  Adolf, if you remember him from previous posts, has managed to see-off Samuel Sprat, which I am very sad about, Samuel was a very loving pusscat and he'll be missed around here, especially in the vegetable plot where he took up refuge, but perhaps he'll come back one day and challenge the moustache off Adolf.  Our lovely old Abuela (grandmother) cat has also been seen-off by the same culprit.  Again, another one that will be missed.  Where she has gone, I have no idea, there is no sign of her.  The two tiny kittens that never seemed to grow stayed very tiny and never really flourished.  They were constantly skinny and bony and even though they ate and drank without any problem it seems there was an underlying fault in their biology.  The little brown and white one passed away the other day and the black and white is wrapped in a blanket in the kitchen as we speak, I don't think he'll make the night.  All really sad, but you kind of get used to living with the ferals' and dealing with life and death as it gets thrown at you.

This week, we had two new additions to the cat clan, both kittens, probably about 5-6 months old, they were bothering a local farmer, so we bought them home.  However, they seemed quite happy for a few days and even fitted in well with the rest of the cat clan, but suddenly they disappeared yesterday.  They may return, unless they belong to someone nearby.

We managed to get two more hens to keep our solo one company.  They are all doing well and laying abundantly.  Don't ask me their names as I can never remember, something like Bertha, Dorothy and Gloria - who knows.  But they are happy and enjoy corn and mixed greens as treats.

The vegetable plot is now ready for rotovating, once done I will lay a layer of compost or dung over the top and leave it to settle for about 15 days, then it will get churned in and then I can begin planting again.

The weather has definitely changed.  We now awake feeling cold, time to get the duvets and heated blankets out of hiding.

The dogs are both great, the pool is now covered, the trees have produced an abundance of figs/pears and oranges this year, amazing.  Next fruits are the olives, which are already growing.  I also need to prune back the vines and the various overgrown fruit trees, but that will wait till its a little colder.

So just to say that we managed to grow tomatoes, aubergines, corn, chillies and other peppers and swiss chard.  All did fairly well considering I didn't water them all as much as I should have! I know for next time.


Pebre Bord - Tap de corti peppers.  These, when they turn red, are picked and hung in the sun to dry, when dried they are ground into a paprika powder and used in the making of sobresada sausage.

The two new girls.

Protected grapes.  The birds didn't get them this year.


Corn




Resting wherever they like! (Mittens)

Some harvest, including a 5 litre bottle of great olive oil from a local farmer.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE...

Today has been extremely hot.  37 degrees C in the shade and about 40+ in the sun.  The dogs have managed to survive it, just about, the cats did what they do best and slept all day but I am sad that one of my hens didn't cope!  We now only have one hen, so I need to get some more quickly.  I am certain it was the heat that killed her and nothing else.  The other girl was ok, although panting a little.  I am going to have to keep a close eye on her tomorrow as it will be another scorcher!  I have decided that I might plant a tree in the coop, so that next year they have extra shade!  I am going to spend a bit of time tonight researching 'things to do for hot hens'!

The only girl left! I am sure she will be lonely till we pick up some more!

I have given the plants an extra watering tonight also.  Even though I was told by a local farmer only to do it every other day, but all the plants looked very dry and thirsty.

The corn is coming along, and in the afternoons now gives some extra shade in the coop for our remaining hen.  


THE CORN  - AS HIGH AS THE CHICKEN COOP NOW!
Well, that's it for now really.  We have a busy week coming up as we have guests arriving, but I expect I will put them to work in the vegetable plot at some point.  At least our pool is functioning well this year!

Keep cool and carry on..

Sunday, July 21, 2013

HEAT, HUMIDITY AND GROWING VEGGIES

Well, a brief catch up.  The last few days have been very warm indeed.  It reached 35 degrees C here at our finca today, and with the high humidity it is a little stifling to say the least!  Numerous cool showers were the order of the day, after I spent most of yesterday feeling ill and overwhelmed from the heat - I forgot to drink enough and with cleaning someone else's finca for them I became overheated! easily done - I suppose.

So, the animals seem to be doing well, the dogs are keeping cool by lying under the orange trees in the dusty earth or in the cooler earth, where the sprinklers from next doors fields have left cool, damp ground.

The hens (what's left of them) are keeping cool under the hen house. I have been sprinkling cool water on the earth for them to bath in.  I am thinking of getting them a mini pool and putting a little water in for them, just to see what they do!  I don't think hens can swim, so it needs to be shallow!  I will get back to you all on how we do with that one!  The feathers are finally beginning to grow back on one of the girls, her back was virtually bare after the cockerel had been at her, but now she is beginning to recover.  The girls are also laying really well, I believe it must have been 'him' that was eating the eggs occasionally!

The cats, all lie about sleepily for most of the day, somewhere shady.  In the bamboo, under trees, amongst a pile of leaves etc.  All the kittens seem to be doing well.

Tomatoes are growing nicely, although they are exhibiting strange markings.  It is either a tomato illness or under/over watering.  I have to research that tomorrow.

All the other vegetables seem to be doing quite well, since we've been watering correctly!  I can't wait to get some new plants in, so I can really see things grow at their proper rate, instead of being water starved!

More updates to come.  Stay tuned. Over 'n' out from a very hot Sa Pobla.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CATCH UP!

It's been months since the last post.  This is mainly due to 'LIFE' and not having any time to sit down and blog.  I hope I haven't lost you all!  

Anyway, where to begin? I have no idea, so I will start with things that have happened and it will be in no particular order.

The Corsican (our cockerel) is no longer with us.  It came to a point where I felt too scared to go into the coop, so a friend from Buger (next village along) helped me dispatch him.  He was a beautiful fellow to look at (the cockerel, not my friend) but not nice and it meant J could not go into the coop to collect eggs etc.


The Corsican and his two dames


So, sadly we also a hen down.  C found her dead in the corner of the coop one morning in June.  I had found her struggling and lethargic on day and it turned out that she had a 'jelly egg' that was stuck in her bottom, so I had to remove it.  I guess she became egg-bound and died from not being able to push the eggs out - quite a common thing in hens apparently.  She was a good looking girl and one of the bravest hens, so I was sad about that.

We have had kittens galore!  After Jess had her four, Pipla a pretty white puss-cat had her first babies.  She only had two thankfully.  All are thriving well and living outside again.  They were living in a box in my room but I had terrible allergies so they had to go out.

Over the last couple of weeks, a local farmer we know came round to take a look at how our veggies were coming along.  He threw his hands in the air and said something in Mallorquin, claiming, no wonder our plants were dying and not thriving, we were watering them completely wrongly!

Oh!

He then whizzed off and came back with a special triangular tool (have no idea what they are called) and began digging trenches beside all the peppers, sweetcorn, tomatoes etc etc.  He dug up all the cauliflowers and cabbages as they were no good.  He said another couple of days and we would have lost the lot!

So now we are watering differently and the growth in just the last week and a bit is amazing.  Now we know for next time!!  Also irrigating the crops this way means you only need to water every two days (unless its really hot and dry).


Irrigation troughs

Irrigating tomatoes (the plants on the right have gone - they were no good)

Maize, it has grown at least another foot or more since last week! incredible plant

Irrigating the peppers, they are coming along better now, they were suffering a bit in this photo.

Samuel Sprat, the black cat, watching the water trickle away.
I am now very excited at the prospect of growing better vegetables in the future.  Everything is looking so much better for the moment.

So cat news..apart from kittens all over the place, Samuel Sprat (as seen in the photo above) is one of my favourite cats.  He always wants lots of love and affection, cuddles and back strokes, a bit tricky when you are trying to garden and not tread on him under your feet!  Anyway, he has been ousted from the back garden area.  All the cats seem to be living in the back garden most of the time, Adolf has ousted Samuel but still seems to be ok with him being in the territory.  So, Samuel is living in the vegetable plot, and sneaks round to get food and water when he can! Also, Old Abuela (grandma cat) is in hiding from Adolf.  For some reason they don't get along and he keeps trying to get her to move on, although she did win a fight the other day. Perhaps its a cats way of moving rivals and oldies out of the pack to make way for the younger generations! Who knows, I'm not an expert, but the balance of power is ever changing.

Our pool is slowly up and running.  It's almost ready.  It had a leak and so we had to work out 'where?'.  Once found our landlord came and patched it up.  He has also fixed the filter, so I am hoping we will have a lovely pool to plunge into for the rest of this summer.  

Much more to write about but that is it for today.  Need to get on with errands.

Enjoy!




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

AND MAY BEGINS..

All has been rather hectic of late, with the arrival of new kittens came some rather horrid weather and more illness and creaky backs!  So all gardening was put on hold and concentrating on getting well again became the order of the last couple of weeks.

The kittens are doing great.  They are twice the size they were, at least, and are now showing distinct patterned markings, lovely.  They all have their eyes open and are crawling about all over the place.  As the weather warms they will all be moved outside and hopefully this time they will thrive better.

The cockerel is still in the coop! He is still enjoying attacking us as we go in and so his days are definitely numbered.  We have no more animals at the moment apart from the two dogs.

So the veggies are all coming along well now that the rains have stopped for a moment.  We covered all the young plants with 5 litre plastic water bottles (we don't have a greenhouse here) and they have fared better than the last lot.  I have also managed to find, after enormous searching, some special pepper plants native to Mallorca called Tap de Corti.  Here is a link with a little info on them:

Slow Food Foundation - Tap de Corti Pebre bord.


I bought half a tray of about 50 plants and C planted them in this morning.


51 Tap de Corti pepper plants now in
So May brings us to a lush green garden.  The fig trees are in leaf again as are all the trees and bushes.  The winter jasmine is dying back  and the blossoms have dropped off the citrus trees.  The bougainvillea is in bloom with bright magenta flowers and the fruits are beginning to grow.  The Mallorquin Apricots are coming along as well as the nispera.  I am hoping the pear trees will fruit ok, as I did prune them hard during the winter, they were such a mess!

Of course, with the wonderful green lushness around the island, everyone is battling with weeds. Many people spray them but we do it all by hand if we can! It's a mammoth task but we prefer not to use chemicals if we can help it.

The vines are in leaf now also but I need to do a little research on how to keep the fruit from being destroyed by wasps/flies and other horrid nasties, someone mentioned paper bags!! Must look into that.

The number of cyclists on the island has increased a gazzillion-fold! and the IronMan 70.3 is on the 11th May in Alcudia, so everyone is in training for that - except me!


Pink blossoms April 2013 Sa Pobla, near the Albufera

Mallorcan Apricots

THE FIG TREE IN FULL LEAF AGAIN..

TOO MANY WEEDS - ARRRGGHHH!

GRAPE VINE IN LEAF AND ALREADY PRODUCING SMALL NUBS OF GRAPES.

SHOCKING MAGENTA BOUGAINVILLEA

TWO VARIETIES OF TOMATOES FOR THE SUMMER, YUMMY.

CABBAGES, CAULIFLOWERS, SWISS CHARD AND AUBERGINES (OUT OF THE PIC)

ANYONE WANT TO SWAP HIM FOR A MORE DOCILE CHARACTER?? THE ATTACKER TRYING TO LOOK SUBMISSIVE! DON'T BE FOOLED.

THE ROSE BUSHES ARE IN BLOOM - WONDERFUL.


Monday, April 15, 2013

KITTENS AND THE ORANGE BLOSSOM

Well last night proved to be rather eventful, for me anyway.  Two days ago we noticed that our female mummy cat Jess, was really bulging - we have known she was pregnant for quite a while now.  She was also rummaging about outside to find a suitable nest site and being over friendly with us all, she definitely didn't want to be outside and seemed to want to be near us all the time.  We helped her a couple of years ago with her first lot of kittens, she trusts us which is lovely.


Jess beginning labour.

Last night at about 10pm she went into labour.  Her nest is a basket tied to the end of on of our beds with blankets in.  We decided to bring her in this time as there are always many more complications when kittens are born outside!  When the kittens are a bit stronger they'll all go out again.  So, I placed food and water on a chair near the bed and her litter box I put in the room also, so that she didn't have to go to far for it.


Basket nest for Jess.

At 12.58AM the first kitten appeared.  A little black one, I haven't seen any white on it yet.  25 minutes later a tabby and white appeared.  Jess is a brilliant mum but she really wanted me near, she kept wanting to hold my finger and rub her face on my hand.  At about 2AM I managed to doze off finally but awoke again around 3AM to another being born, by 4AM the final one came and I snuggled down to sleep before having to get up at 7.30 this morning!


4 little bundles of fluff.  There is a tabby & white, grey stripey, dark grey & white and a little black one
Not so easy to see them but they are all there with mum somewhere.  Jess is a small adult cat and is very delicate when she walks about, but is a great mum.

I woke exhausted - I don't function well on very little sleep, so today I've felt like my head had been wrapped in cotton wool!  We raced to get J ready for school only to realise that he really wasn't well, so as I had an appointment with physio, we took him to the doc! turns out J has a chest infection.  As I've mentioned before, chest infections are extremely commonplace here usually due to the damp conditions of the island, but by the time May/June come around everyone is fine again!

So, we raced into town, picked up a prescription and then decided he should stay off school for today.  We then drove over to a friends finca, the other side of Sa Pobla, just to check on a few things for them.  When we got back in the car to go off food shopping, the car wouldn't start.   Not a peak, NO SOUND, NOTHING, NADA....... PANIC ran through me! Oh NO, I thought, please not on a day when I have so much to do and my brain is like candyfloss!  A Mallorquin farmer, doing his irrigation in the field next door, came up to the fence to ask what the problem was, I told him and he immediately said 'aaaaahhhh, es la baterĂ­a'.  He was telling me the battery was kaput!  I hoped and prayed that he was right.  He said he'd be 10 minutes finishing his watering and he'd be over with a spare!  Blimey, I couldn't believe our luck, then the thought dawned on me that perhaps it wasn't the battery and that it was something a lot more serious! The car is on it's way out anyway.  The farmer came round with the battery on his moped and between him and C, fixed it in place.  FANTASTICO! It worked, he was right.  I could have grabbed hold of him and spun him round with delight, but I thought better of it,  as it would have been highly inappropriate.  So I just thanked him enormously and said we'd get it sorted this week and drop the battery back to him as soon as possible.  Talk about trust, you wouldn't get that sort of help even from a neighbour in the UK!

On the way back to the town to do the food shop, I felt calmer and less 'candyflossed' in the brain, the smell of orange blossoms around Sa Pobla is very strong at the moment.  Heaven.  At our finca, the scent is very heady but wonderful.  The vegetables are all growing, slowly but surely, and all is fine and dandy after a crazy day and night.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NEARLY BOUGHT A GOAT!

Hello to all.  The weather during the daytime seems to be improving, I am hoping it will now get better and better, not wishing to speak too soon of course.  There is still a breeze which is very springlike but it is bearable.

 So the latest is that we have been discussing getting more chickens as we'd like more eggs, we have people that would buy them so it would bring in a few more pennies each week.  ALSO.. C & I went to Sineu market on Wednesday this week - just to browse of course.  I love going to look at the animals they have to offer, always wishing we had much more room and perhaps a field or two! 

We still have to finish off the portable chicken run, for new hens etc, the cockerel (The Corsican) is still alive, most of you will be pleased to know.  We may just trade him for a more docile chap.  We saw some very lovely looking cockerels at the market, most seemed to be a Menorcan breed.

So, I was looking at the sheep, dreaming that I'd one day be the proud owner of such lovely beasties, and then I saw the goats.  The photo is of a bigger breed than I'm considering.  


A Possible new friend!! 
On the way home we chatted about the impossible task of where we would even put a goat, without the dogs getting her! We are still thinking about that one...

We have had our first barbecue this year, homemade burgers, sausages & jacket potatoes followed by marshmallows..mmmmm.



Old Abuela waiting for a tasty treat.
J toasting a marshmallow.
















The safareig filling up.  Fresh water for the carp.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PLANTING BEGINS

So although it has been extremely windy over the last week, we have had some sun, which is great.  If it weren't for the wind it would feel very warm indeed.  I believe it got to about 21 here today, but with a chilly breeze.

Hoorahh, we have started planting finally.  C has toiled hard in the vegetable plot, preparing the beds, and we now have cabbages, cauliflowers, two different types of peppers (small and large - the farmer didn't know their names), swiss chard - we're giving this another go, it all got eaten and died last time.  We also have salad and cooking tomatoes in, Romaine and Iceburg lettuces and.......oh yes, aubergines and one watermelon plant.  Melon plants take up an enormous amount of space, so I said I only wanted one this year, it is like a giant triffid that crawls along the ground! AARRRGGHHH.  




The tomatoes.  We will make a proper frame for them when they get a little bigger.











Cabbages, Cauliflowers and two types of lettuces.



Two types of peppers.  We are waiting for a third type to plant, should be ready  next weekend!

Our parsley has got out of hand! There is loads of it.  I am going to have to try to dry it I think, otherwise it will go to waste!

The pear trees, I pruned fairly vigorously earlier in the winter, are blossoming, I am so pleased, I thought one of them was dead as it was choked by a giant climbing weed! But no, it has blossom, yipeee.

Pear blossom

The quince bush I pruned so heavily earlier in the winter, I seriously didn't think would come back, but it has leaves on it and has returned to the land of the living once more.
The nispera pears are growing and the orange blossom is out once more, the smell is so amazing, it's fantastic.  On a walk this afternoon with the dog, I could smell it on the wind, (the orange blossom, not the dog!) heavenly.





Thursday, March 28, 2013

SUN, SEEDS & BLOSSOMS

The weather seems to be getting a little warmer now, which is great.  I think the clocks change this weekend and it's Easter.  Today we saw temperatures of around 22 here in Sa Pobla, a wind has got up now which is still a little chilly but really the weather is lovely.

We still haven't planted in any more plants but we are hoping to catch the farmer over the next few days so we can begin.  The plots are ready and the chickens have been out of their pen to pick at the insects for us.

The winter jasmine is blossoming and smells heavenly, the other blossoms out are the irises, hawthorn and the orange blossom is beginning again.


Winter Jasmine in bloom.  Very heady scent.



Iris in bloom
I have now planted a few seedlings.  Touch sensitive mimosa for kids to amuse themselves with, some Helichrysum (dried flowers) and some hollyhocks, we'll see what happens.  As we didn't have any suitable bags of soil we sieved some so I could plant the delicate seeds in it.  The soil here is generally very stony and rough.
J sieving soil
An old Mallorcan garden sieve









Helichrysum seeds planted.  Hope they take!
Touch sensitive Mimosa seeds - a couple have already begun to peep through!

The rooster is treading on very thin ice, and he was nearly dispatched with on Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately we were a little preoccupied with errands so he's been let off the hook briefly.  We cannot keep him now, he is attacking us too much, so he has to go.  He will make a good sunday roast or a good soup.

A couple of pictures below to show you the scenery on a stroll out today.