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Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Well Me For Starters!

Oi!  and little me don’t forget me!!!!

Ok Thing how could I forget you, I will start again.  Well there’s me and Thing (that ok Thing?) Yes, but I need a hug….  No way, your spikes are dangerous you hug those two.   WHAT!!!! hug those two demolition monsters no way. Look at what they have/are doing to this fly free zone, I mean just look at the floor.  No wonder the boss gets cross with them, plus its a wonder they didn’t eat your dinner yesterday, I saw them eyeing up the plate. You are too soft with them its a good job you placed those two long pieces of wood hard up against these planks or they would have been out and off…..don’t suppose you could???no, stupid of me to suggest.  But they are, oh look there goes another wedge.  Look I’ll do a deal. I wont moan about them anymore IF you replace the wedges so that the rain water runs on me (when it rains) my beard gets just a little dry.  Ok Thing it’s a deal.

Back where they belong haha

Suppose I had better explain to the peeps about things.   I built a temporary anti bugly structure, to provide both shade – which we lack up here – and keep the nasty biting insects and wasps away. The area outside the front door is double planked overlaid plus everything is double netted and sealed. However, I placed two boards right up against the wood basically closing off that section so nothing can get between the planks, (for wife’s peace of mind) then to keep the inside ends up level with the roof I placed wedges between the wooden beam and planks. Then I let the ‘boys’ out!!!!  oh boy, well I suppose Thing has a point. They run up and down the channels between planks and roof, play hide and seek, shout at the other birds, run along the beams sit on top of the pillars and generally enjoy themselves.  However, as you can see from these photos they can move things that are well tapped in and as big if not bigger than they are. So rule No: 1  if all is quiet out there THEY ARE UP TO SOMETHING!! but they are great fun and keep me on my toes.

This is Sam he was her gardening companion

They also tease my wife (the boss) by either bouncing on the branches of her Bottlebrush tree or sitting on the edge of the flower pots and flicking the compost all over the floor.  But like me she loves them, I can tell by the way she greets them ‘little sods what are you up to now?’ just like she talked to the little Redstart Sam.

Anyway they are playing hide and seek again whilst I am working and keeping an eye on them.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Looks peaceful doesn’t it, bulls grazing their way across a clearing, sun lighting the clearing casting shadows here and there, the idyllic forest scene.  Ummm well think again!  Every scene they say tells a story, this is about three children in the middle ages full of adventure and history. With magic, battles between good and evil giants and English history it goes along at a good pace.  However,  the one I am about to tell you is of crafty, naughty, greedy piggy wigs who could well end up as saffron flavoured bacon.

Once upon a time in a forest lived a writer and his wife.  Now when they retired they bought this little olive farm in the mountains because it was quiet and just right for the author to write.  Here he could sit at his desk and look out of the window watching and listening to the birds singing whilst he wrote away.   His wife a poetess also had a desk but it was in the kitchen so she could scribble away whilst pottering around without disturbing her husband.  She liked her gardening and built various flower beds to define where the house area and the farm/forest divided.  Over the years she planted various plants but only the drought hardy ones could survive the hot summers, so she decided that bulbs were the answer.

 Tulips, daffs, iris, and such were duly planted out in beds and over the years the little saffron bed she had created flourished lots of flowers providing lots of saffron.  Then one morning………disaster!

They were going into town and as the author went to get the car out he noticed the saffron bed had been dug up. Not only that but the bulbs his wife had planted down the side of the steps leading up onto the cacti garden were gone as well.  Now he knew this would upset his wife so he got the car out then went to tell her.  Boy was she mad…….so shopping that day consisted of more bulbs, but there was more to come.  As they drove out of the drive they noticed the corner of a terrace wall was completely destroyed.  This was not good, as two days later after sneaking off to inspect the finca in between writing the author did his back in.  Berated by his wife he had to own up to trying to rebuild the wall but the stones were so large and heavy he had lifted too much.  So the wall would have to stay down till later on.

Now one evening when they were driving home they surprised a warthog – yes I know warthogs don’t live in Spain, – but this one did and his name was Wally Warthog.  They could not believe their own eyes and as soon as they arrived home looked him up on Google.  Sure enough it said that warthogs were root and insect eaters and unlike the wild boar who would turn and fight  they would run away, just like Wally did.  Wally had obviously been abandoned so now they had another neighbour and felt sure they knew who was responsible for all the damage. Ummm no they didn’t they were wrong as events will prove.

Things went on a little bit quieter, she was able to tidy and repair the garden walls whilst he helped tidy up here and there, then the garden was dug up again. So it was time to reposition one of the night cameras as they really wanted to have a photo of Wally being very naughty. So a few night came and went with nothing happening and with Easter upon them they forgot all about it.  So it was quite a shock to the authors wife when she found her one and only tyre planter almost destroyed.  Years ago they had been given an old lorry tyre to make a planter with.  It was duly positioned at the top of the drive painted yellow and green and planted with Iris, Black Tulips and Snowdrops, and over the years it had filled out but this morning the bulbs were dug up and the tulip bulbs were gone. The wife  looked at her planter then sat on the edge and cried.  Then she went indoors and told the author who immediately jumped up and fetched the memory card from the camera, loaded it on to his laptop and said ” I think we owe poor Wally an apology look….” and this is what they saw:-

No Wally but these naught not so little piggy wigs rooting for bulbs and such.  So a lesson was learnt, do not blame someone for something unless you are very very certain they did it or you have proof.  SORRY WALLY ALL IS FORGIVEN…….

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc –  Author

 

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Well as you may have seen a while ago up here we have a huge variety of plants some which you will recognize from your own gardens and some which might be new to you.  Whichever way you go please remember these are growing wild like weeds here, and no we don’t use weed killer on them too many birds, anyway a diluted wash of Fairy Liquid does just as well.

Now before I get started there are a few things you should know.

1) gardening up here is totally different from the type of gardening you do round your house.  There you have ample water and boundaries.  Here we have a shortage of water with only 2,000 ltrs of water (2 cubes) to see the garden through the summer (unless we are lucky and get a storm).

2) So this means I garden in a slightly different way.  Most of my garden is down to bulbs so once the hot weather comes only the roses,   pots and an odd drought resistant plant need watering.  But there are also some  really lovely wild plants, with various differences  and

3) Please don’t expect their Latin names as I have no idea what they are. I garden for fun and the love of nature and nothing else. If I see a plant that I like and it is drought tolerant I will buy it, but I have to admit that it’s mostly bulbs.  So here are the pictures of the plants and grasses we live with, grab a cuppa and hope you enjoy them.

                                                

There are several varieties of this plant around some with tiny heads, larger ones and one or two with a pinkish centre, all wild and abundant in the forest.  The herbs well there is rosemary, thyme, aniseed, asparagus and fennel the asparagus grows around the base of the olive trees makes lovely omelet’s the local people can be seen at this time of year gathering it from the hedgerows.  As for rosemary that’s everywhere and the thyme I have planted in the back garden to hopefully form a hedge around the lavender garden.  The wild fennel is nothing like the bulb type it’s the feathery leaves we use and I collect the seed heads, this is not easy as it grows during the hot period in the lower field and as is one day the seeds are green then a day later I go to collect and they are gone so this year I shall tie bags around the heads and catch them that way.

The Strawberry Tree and its fruit we have a few growing in another part of our land very sweet but a bit pippy. We also have Carib trees on the farm but I leave these for the animals, the local farmers gather them for their goats and donkeys.

Also the various cacti are beginning to do well Michael made a Cacti Garden on the flat and after a few years it is starting to come together. Even cacti like a little bit of water more often than we get but after experimenting I have moved several of the species that do well in any condition into the garden along with a few my friend has given me.  Although the winter can and unfortunately does take a few the garden is looking well.

 

These are a few poppy photos I have counted 6 different natural varieties my favourite  one is the day poppy that looks like a tulip. (first one up)

  

 

 

 

Ok that’s some of the photos of the wild flowers that abound here.  I am always discovering new ones although I don’t know their name.  But my garden has taken a hammering recently and the culprits have finally been caught on camera…….

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Last Saturday there was a Clotcha (breakfast) at the club and we joined our friends for petanca and food.  Now the weather people said it would RAIN, well it did Friday night so the phone was on the bedside just in case things were rained off.  But as luck would have it the day started fine if a little chilly and we arrived to find lots of people there, friends from our old club and various villages/towns around. The Alcalde was also there with members of the Adjuntamente, they are great supporters of the club which is really nice.

The Clotcha consists of half a small round loaf which you take the middle out of then you fill it with the following bbq’d things:- garlic, onion, tomatoes and either a sardine or sausage depending on your preference, a good helping of olive oil then you toast the piece of bread you took from the middle push it back in and enjoy!!!!  Yes you get messy but that’s part of a Clotcha, and it was washed down with some very nice red wine.   Next we cleared away had our AGM the played petanca, I was with Jordi and Ramon bless them two very good players landed with me who on a good day can knock spots off balls on a bad day well I should have stayed in bed.  But Saturday was a good day we actually beat every team we played.  Michael was with Delores and they did the same so it ended up with Michael and Delores being first and Jordi, Ramon and I second  wine, olives, crisps and dried sausage came home with us  wonderful day.  Oh and the weather? well it held until the prizes were given out that was done in the rain – see Sods Law happens lol.

Well Jason D’ebre has finished his second children’s book, if you thought that was easy think again.  The book might be finished but now begin the rounds of proof reading, editing, description building, re-reading/proofing/tweaking and lots and lots of grrrrrrrs along with the odd ‘did I really write that’ plus the need to get up and wander off.  Believe me, whoever said writing was easy was wrong, they probably have no idea what an author goes through.  The idea of a story might be easy to put together – provided you have your facts/dates etc., (there are plenty of people out there who just love to pull you to pieces even if the subject is pure fiction. They profess to be ‘experts’ on the subject and know more about it than anybody – and as I said that’s ) but putting it into a story with beginning middle and end is not as easy as it sounds. So from quite early this morning Jason has been reading, checking, ooopsing the book  then its my turn. I have to read it make notes of anything I find does not make sense or sound right then back he goes to put things right and so it goes on until we both feel its ok.  BUT as anybody will tell you SODS LAW is a writers bane  there is  ALWAYS something you missed….. so after publishing you sometimes have to go back correct then publish again.   With out the army of people a publisher provides to do it for you, this is what a Kindle author/publisher has to do.

Jason tells a good story, he checks his facts and knows his history.  That’s why the stories  he writes are not only readable but interesting. He checks everything but its hard work believe me.   Those who just fill pages with words then publish aren’t really authors, they don’t know the first rule of writing  THERE HAS TO BE A STORY, without a story line running through it the pages might just as well be blank.

Well that’s what has been happening these past few weeks now it’s getting near to my reading the book, so someone is up as head cook and bottle washer as once I start reading I cannot stop.  If I have to stop reading and return to reality I lose the times and sense of being there, I tend to emerse myself in the story.  This is how I read, it helps me to make the notes for both Michael and Jason.  I am very proud to say that because of this I am actually learning a lot of history. At school all we got was battle of Hastings 1066 and all that, but there is so much more to English history as I am learning from Jason’s writing.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

(c) Jason D’ebre

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Being Good For Big Sis

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This is our big sister she brings us presses

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These are the presses: palm balls to chew and a wooden rope ladder to play on

So earlier this year we had a visit from Michelle (Big Sis) to us. She spent most of her time here relaxing in the FFZ (Fly Free Zone) with us either reading or on her computer, either way we had a great time.  She would talk to us and tell mum when she thought we wanted more seed or another piece of millet or a honey stick – we put on quite a bit of weight hehehe.  But it was the afternoons when mum and dad went to petanca or school we had most fun.

img_20160623_090606You can see from this picture that we were in the sunshine with a table placed in front of our cage (dads idea) to stop us being blown from one side of the ffz to the other, think it was our cries of wheeeee that did it. Anyway when they weren’t around and the wind was blowing she would remove the table drag us across to the other side and laugh as we rolled by even joining in with the wheeeee’s.  Never told mum and dad though, mind you, we nearly got caught we were having so much fun one day we nearly didn’t hear the car coming up the track…

 When I Upset The Wife

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Then I went and upset the wife. She had been busy making a nice warm nest for her and the eggs I know I was watching her.  But I thought well she’s going to be in there for a while I know I’ll get some clean bedding, so whilst she was busy eating I threw out some of the old stuff and put some clean fresh stuff in there, thought she would be pleased. Boy you should have heard her, she squawked on and on for ages we weren’t speaking at one time sat back to back but hey we soon made up.

Dads Hand and Cricket

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Then dad had something called an operation on his hand. Came back one morning with this thick material stuff on it, showed it to us but can’t understand why he wouldn’t let us out we could have saved him all those visits to that hospital we would have removed that and things called stitches for him there and then.  Still he used to sit in the ffz with us and listen to something called cricket on his lap top. That was really cool especially when a man he called Tuffers was on, we liked him we talked to him all the time.

Sticks and Palm Trees

img_0637-640x480 img_0669-640x480 img_0668-640x480 img_0670-640x480 img_0671-640x480One day dad decided that we needed a nice clean bit of wood to chew so he found this long piece that we couldn’t pull through the bars and said “there you go try chewing through that”.  Well a challenge is a challenge so we did only in the middle and one day it broke in half, can’t think why. Dad then moved the two bits around so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves and left us to our chewing, no fun any more. Then last week we had a nice surprise, it rained..  Not that we were in any danger of getting wet but those two decided to go to the SEASIDE I ask you in the RAIN????  but when they returned they had a piece of a palm tree with them wow.  So mum got some wire took the two palm ball links (including the bells) cut two pieces of the palm threaded the wife through them plus a bell joined it all up and hung it up for us.  You should have heard the wife when she saw it, talk about squawking she turned out some old bedding and I have been busy getting new stuff.

So that was our summer. We enjoyed it looking forward to next year, but first comes the lights on the Walnut tree – that’s mums idea.  Tweety Christmas Everyone.

(c) Bluebottle and Eccles The Boys

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Updates

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Since writing the last blog we now have 3 bottles of olive oil, not bad going for a heath robinson operation.  It really is surprising what you can achieve with a little thought and ingenuity.  Part of my kitchen looks like a small factory but its well worth it for 7 bottles of our own olive oil especially as we never thought we would get any this year.

 

IMG_0019 (640x480)As for the saffron well I have planted the bulbs I rescued in the flower pots in the ffz they are shooting so I am hopeful.  But it is the from the small walled garden that I got my biggest surprise, saffron!  I had forgotten I had planted some there, the bulbs have multiplied and provided me with saffron, not as much as the main bed but certainly enough for a couple of paella’s. Then Michael began to find the odd bulb here and there so I am getting a fair bit which is more than I anticipated.  It seems that in my usual way of digging things up separating them and re-planting I have spread the saffron all over – wow!!

Cough Cough!

Well winter is here and as usual we are coughing. Poor old Michael has been quite rough but, I am glad to say, is now on the mend, I was a little worried for a while. When we were both really really ill we didn’t get any work done either on the computer or the farm and the olive oil had to wait.  But after a bit of a spell in doors, lots of lemon and honey with lemsip before bedtime, we not only felt a little better but began to get twitchy, the need to be active was very strong. So weather permitting we were wrapped up and out side fiddling around then as the sun began to return ( In the mornings it is so misty, damp and nasty) we started picking the olives again.  This time  mostly from off the ground as the wind had been playing knock the olives from the trees.  After two days of gentle picking and creaky knees despite kneeling pads, there are enough olives in the crusher/mixer to prepare another pressing.

 

Green Living???

Now I have heard loads about ‘Green Living’ and seen the tv programmes most of which show the latest technology but also have the benefits of mains water, electricity etc., on stand by – just in case and this is called green living???  yeh well we live the real green living life!  We chose this farm because its away from the town in the mountains in the middle of a forest (now a National Park) halfway up a valley and its tranquil.  We have learnt to live with the birds and animals ok and snakes, without a mains anything.  WE WENT GREEN – big time!!!

Over the years we have installed a solar system which works well with a generator as back up for when the sun does not shine. This system runs the fridge, freezer, computers and tv, now that is being green.  The water system is simple: it rains the rain water runs into the cisternas then as needed its pumped to a header tank to give pressure and is fine.  I have a washing machine, shower, and hot water via the gas water heater (if it does not rain and we are low on water we have to buy it in) and NO this is not mains this is bottled gas.  Michael had to build a gas shed to keep them in and it was inspected and ok’d. then I had to get certificates for each gas bottle, there is no way you can get round it legally, the new gas bottle (which you can then replace when empty) comes from a registered supplier so as long as you obey the rules you are fine. The gas also runs the cooker and when we first came here the fridge/freezer, but once Michael had the solar system fully up and running we exchanged it for a small fridge and freezer – you need somewhere to keep the ice in summer.

We are not the only people who have done this but most of them have access to agricultural water we don’t.  But hey that’s how we roll up here and we love it.  Some nights we stand and look at the stars they are wonderful we are also looking for the mother ship!!!!!!!  Oh come on, what humans in their right mind would live in the mountains, in the middle of a forest halfway up a valley with no amenities, wild birds (Owls, Eagles, and a large range of smaller  bossy birds) wild boar, (all of who have names) and Sid the snake??????

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Making Our Olive Oil

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This is our first bottle of home-grown olive oil from this years crop. We did not think we had enough olives to press but then it rained! not a lot but enough to fill them out a little.  Now we could pick the olives and take them to the local commercial press but there is a snag.  The presses are still making wine and our olives are turning black so by the time the second week of November comes round we would have no olives.  You can’t pick and save them for nearly a month because by that time they will have shrivelled up and gone like stones, so on the basis of that last year we decided to do it ourselves. Along with a little ‘heath robinson’ approach a dash invention and a good dollop of *&$%£ing we ended up with 6x1lts of our own oil.

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When we decided to pick this year, the trees looked like they had black leaves so we started with the tree in front of the house. So we spread a large net under the tree, Michael got the step-ladder and small saw I got my ‘picking chair’ and we were off.  All the olives that fell to the ground – and missed the net – were picked up and placed into the old cement mixer which is our crusher. Large stones were added and it was turned on and left to do its job.

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After a while we had a pulp which Michael then wrapped in cloth and placed in the press, then the real work begins. The press is turned until the oil starts to run then every few hours till eventually no more oil is left.  Then the container is brought into the kitchen where it is filtered several times until we have a clear oil.  This takes a few days but is worth it. The oil when it comes from the press is a combination of black sludge a little water and the oil itself.  To separate the oil and water its left to stand until there is a visible layer of oil of the top then it’s passed into one of three lemonade bottles to begin the filtering.  When you are trying to filter the oil some of the black sludge gets in there so the first filter takes that out, the second takes out any cloudy residue and the third and final filter is to make sure the other two have done their job then it’s poured into 1ltr bottles before being capped and stored.

 

Black Redstarts and Bloody Pigs

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I like to think this is one of Sam’s brood. For those of you who haven’t met Sam before he was a little Black Redstart who became my gardening friend.  When I was digging he would be there to see if there were any grubs/insects he could eat. Michael thought he was funny and we were heart broken when we came home one day to find him dead in front of the house, so in his memory I called the tree garden ‘Sam’s Garden’ and things in it have done very well.  We got the boys last year and yesterday we heard this bird calling to them.  Then this morning there was the Redstart sitting first on the tv areal then flying down to see what I was doing in the saffron garden.

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This is what the saffron garden SHOULD look like! below is how it looks after the piggy wigs have been there!!!

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What was I doing there??  trying to find any saffron bulbs that the wild boar hadn’t eaten!!!!  I had over 40 bulbs in that garden I have exactly 15 left, so I am planting them in a tub so at least I shall get a few bits of saffron this year.  But I did have a nice surprise I found one crocus open in the small walled garden with others on the way I just hope the boar don’t find them or there could be saffron flavoured pork on the menu…

Well there you have it, do it yourself olive oil making and gardening forest style.

(c) M D Bosc  – Author –

 

 

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