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Archive for January, 2016

BIG MAMA X

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It was confirmed yesterday morning that ‘Big X’ is actually  ‘Big Mama X’ and is sitting on at least one egg (Boris told them one is less work than 4)

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The news was reported to me by the Finca reporter Boris Blackbird and his news-hound Tricky Dicky Redstart.   I confirmed the report by peeping into the nesting box and seeing one egg.   Boris said he had had his suspicions about ‘Big X’ but he wasn’t sure until Tricky Dicky started to tell him of conversations with ‘The Cooler King’, along the lines of hens moods when they are ‘nesting’.  He said she is getting really stroppy and wont let me sleep in the box at night.  It was a good job the humans kept a fire going or he would have frozen.  As Tricky said ‘CK’ didn’t know about real life like we do.

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Now when we bought these two I was under the impression that they were two males as they fought for a day when put together.  Plus it was always ‘Big Mama X’ who was in charge of the escape attempts, ‘C.K.’ seemed a bit submissive to me I suppose I should have known.  Then a week ago BMX started staying in the box.  Wife got really worried, one of her ‘boys’?  didn’t seem well BMX was quiet, and poor old C.K. was sitting on the top perch on his own at night, no matter what time we went into the kitchen. Well now she knows and it’s a hard job trying to stop her from peeking into the nesting box but she knows if she does they will probably abandon the egg and kill the baby.  So camera is at the ready for the big day when it fledged or is old enough to be peeked at.

The Visitors

 

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So there you have it the best kept secret on the finca, well I know the others knew but hey we are humans after all.   There is a lot of treat shopping going on these women stick together at times like this.  Sunflower seeds, millet, extra special seed loads of water for when BMX takes a break from sitting and the fire is on just incase it gets really cold during the day. Can’t have BMX or her egg getting cold…..  All I can say is wait till they/it hatches CK you stand NO chance and will have no peace so make the most of it.

Boris is keeping an up to date report going and we have had several visitors to the FFZ chatting to the CK  and BMX when she comes out to feed.  My wife had to take the tree lights down as they were using them as perches when they visited.  Told you, these birds may be wild but they are canny.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Here They Go Again!!!

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The last time I gave you an update on these two they were finding out exactly what else they could chew their way through to escape. Well they found what they were looking for – the plastic catches on the main door!  I didn’t notice at first it was Michael who saw them in the act. They had taken one each and would cling to the bars whilst chewing at the plastic catches.  So it was no surprise to me when the other morning I noticed the large door was slightly ajar, on further inspection I discovered why.  The clips had not only been chewed through but completely broken and it was by a thread the last one was holding the door shut. If you take a close look at this picture you will see there are two clips at the top (bottom when its shut) of the open door, it is these that no longer exist.

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This is their cage, as you can see it’s nice and big so there is plenty of room for them to fly about in.  What else could I do but let them out into the fly free zone to fly around whilst we tried to fix catches.   The answer was supplied by clothes pegs.   Now in theory they should have worked, in practice? not a chance in hell.

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We found this out when Michael fixed the door open with two pegs then ‘Big X and The Cooler King’ flew around landing on the pillar tops and chewing at the beams.

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They then decided that the plants looked good for having a go at, but I shooed them off as I didn’t know if they were safe to be pecked at, plus I didn’t want them damaged.  However, the bay tree seemed safe but true to form when I didn’t shoo them off they didn’t want to play.  Eventually they got hungry and returned to their cage so I closed the door and secured it with the pegs. Now the intention was that when we went to town Michael would be able to get a couple of ‘bird proof’ clips.  Not with these two!

When we went to bring them indoors they had managed to destroy one of the pegs, not only was it broken but the wood was completely destroyed.  So Michael took the spring from the peg and fixed it to the door so they couldn’t open it one side and pegged the other.  The response from the boys was to retire into their nesting box and sulk.  It didn’t take them long to destroy the other peg so I took the spring off that and fixed to the other side of the door and now that way of escape is blocked.  We can hear scratching noises coming from their box, as I have said to Michael they can make a hole in it but they needn’t come tweeting to me when they fall through it.

Now Michael had school so that evening so after we had brought them inside we got the wood in, made sure the fire was banked down so the house (they) would be nice and warm when we came home, shut the shutters, locked up and off we went. When we returned around 9pm after having dinner out, they set up a real squawking because we had turned the lights on…talk about cheeky.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Olives and Sam’s Garden

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For those of you who don’t know this is Sam. He was the little Black Redstart who followed me around the garden and played hide and seek in the tree.  We found him laying dead on the gravel one afternoon when we returned from petanca, to say it broke my heart was an understatement. This little chap had provided me with hours of fun and Michael was fascinated by the antics of this little wild bird.  So I decided that I would re-do the center and surround of the olive tree next to the house and call it Sam’s Garden in his memory.

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To begin with I thought to leave the tree garden as it was but viewing it in flower last spring I decided that it needed some filling and just a little tweaking, so here’s what I’ve  done.

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These two photos are the ‘before’ ones showing the garden before I got going. As you can see the tree is very old and divided into three parts. The front two face the house with the third trunk facing the drive. Now unfortunately olive trees grow lots of shoots which have to be cut off and these are no exception, so snipers in hand I got stuck in.  Whilst I was at it I rebuilt the small wall at the base of the little slope then made another at the top forming a small area that I can grow Nasturtiums in and let them tumble-down naturally.

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Then I turned my attention to the front part.  This faces the rose garden, and what a surprise I had, there poking their heads out were two snowdrops. Now when I dug up the lilies which were taking over – only the small clump remains – I found lots of small bulbs in them but didn’t know what they were so I simply replanted them and hoped they would grow.  I had originally planted snowdrops and crocus Michael had bought me but only saw a few crocus appear.  Now I know why so am hoping for a small show next spring.

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These two photos show the  ‘after’ look.  In the first one you can see the small wall at the bottom of the slope and the new one at the top. The clump of leaves in the centre are wild Grape Hyacinths, these grow everywhere and I am constantly digging them up and re-planting them. The second photo shows the drive side and the clump of wild asparagus I found.

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Last year Michael decided that the trunks near the house would look good shaped like saucers and we could leave the back trunk for the birds to play in, so saw in hand he set too. The result is quite good and as it grows we can shape it into shade cover for the bird bath and strawberry patch.

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Ok take a look at this.  This my gardening friends is Wild Asparagus.  It grows around the olive trees and in the forest, so I have cut it back to ensure it produces the tender slim shoots that taste heavenly and make a really tasty omelet.  I shall be wandering round the fields snipers in hand cutting back any I find to ensure we have a good supply.  The season only lasts for a short while but mmmmmmm worth work.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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What You Doing?

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Actually young man I am trying to ‘cat proof’ my flower/bulb beds.  After your last visit I decided to take advice from various people who know and re did the Hexagon planter planted it up with gladioli then covered it with stones.  This I have been told would do two things, firstly deter you and secondly help keep the ground moist during summer.

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So I shall be collecting small stones to place along the lines of gladie’s and lilies in the back garden, then I also covered part of the main bed with them in the hope this really works.  As this is a work in progress I shall save up the pictures and tell the whole story later, don’t hold your breath though this is a ‘can’t be rushed’ thing, but it’s getting there.  I also bought some Hebes which I have planted behind the Hexagon.  Here I cleared the ground, placed plastic over the area covered it with sand then earth and planted the Hebes in an arc.  Unfortunately we had a rain storm and the rush of water from the fields not only brought loads of earth with it but washed away a bit of the plastic around the last two plants.  But all is sorted, once we realized what had happened Michael re-laid that covered it with earth and watered them in.

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Now to the Lillie garden.  This is how it looked after the hot summer, loads of weeds and a stone wall that was a disgrace, so it was my priority. The first thing I had to consider was the water pipe. This runs from the large cisterna behind the house into the header tank, it also takes the overflow from the tank down into that cisterna – when it rains – so I couldn’t cement it in.  What to do? well I cleared all the weeds then looked at the Lilies to see where they came into contact with it.  This done I next removed all the stones from that horrid ‘wall’ and started again.  This time I concentrated on the plants and pipe together.  The first thing I did was build up the end wall near the step, clearing things as I went, I moved along tidying it up. Next I cemented it all together added topping stones job done.  Where the pipe ran through the bed I used the violets (which had self-seeded) next to it as part of the cover then covered the exposed bits with stones. This made a small narrow garden at the front into which I planted some baby bulbs so whatever comes up will be a nice surprise.  The metal support you see in the top used to hold a water pipe until the new cisterna was built. Michael had secured it in place so well we couldn’t get it out, so it has Sweetpeas planted round it which are growing and hopefully they will cover it but I have other things that can climb if not.

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This is the Mint garden that runs from the Lillie bed down to the cisterna. Again this was full of weeds and looking rather shoddy compared to the Sage bush on the other side of the water duct.  This was a little bit easier to sort out, once weeded and cleaned up I just covered the ground with stones, cemented the edge, filled in various holes. You will notice a small patch at the end of the bed this is part of the path leading up to the fields one day it will be concreted over just here so this is still a work in progress.

This Is Horace

DSCF3271 (640x480)I found him hiding in the tomato grow bag one year not very amused when I disturbed him. I have seen him around the garden on the days when the sun is out so glad he’s ok.  He and the others that live here have often flummoxed  me as there is no water up here, no pond, nada.  So where does he go? where does he and the others – there are smaller ones – live?  We hear them on a spring or autumn evening, croaking away but although like the bats, we see them where they go in summer for coolness we’ve no idea.  Ah well it is and will remain one of the forests mysteries.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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