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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

 

 

Where Have The Years Gone

                          

The Prolog
These photographs say a lot. When we first put the FFZ (fly free zone) up we planted a walnut tree, I do like walnuts, along with a vine our friends gave us.  Now as we cannot have a permanent construction with out planning permission we built as you can see 4 pillars then I added some support beams (cut when making a fire break) added a wooden roof then covered the whole thing with very large olive nest.  I then constructed a metal door and frame attached these to the house and covered like the rest of the ffz,  making the complete ffz you can see here.
As you can see it did not take long for either to grow but there were consequences.  The vine grew like billio and the tree just tore away upwards.  So I had to curtail that and keep it at a reasonable height.  But it was the vine that went mad.  It clambered up and over the roof and around the netting (second pic) but in doing so it became heavy and began to destroy the netting (we realised this when we found a snake in the ffz).  So what to do? well I simply trimmed and moved the vine to in front of the little house so it can climb over the frame of the gazebo.  Then I looked at the roof and decided that it was necessary to replace it which I did with corrugated effect roofing, that was a laugh putting that up believe me a broom comes in very handy at those times.  Then I bought some new netting which my wife duly put up and also sealed any gaps she found whilst doing so.  I then sealed the edges where the roof butted up against the walls and using the old roofing covered the entrance in front of the door now we could sit out without being bitten and in the shade whilst enjoying the heat.  Then we got the boys……
The Gardens – Sam’s Garden
                   
 Now my wife loves her flowers and when she decided that the olive tree by the house stayed she decided to make a garden out of it well I should have known.  After filling in the centre and planting bulbs, She then built  a semicircle garden in front of it.  Into this went more bulbs (about the only thing that can survive the hot summers remembering we have very little water up here) the result being that I laid a small patio down so we could sit out and enjoy this garden. As you can see when in flower it’s rather attractive, the bulbs have multiplied over the years and every now and then my wife digs them up and plants the young bulbs in other parts of the garden. After the pigs attack on her saffron I think it’s a good idea.
Meet Bobbin Robbin and his  main man Boris Blackbird
 
Yes his name is spelt like that he told me so after introducing Boris. Now a robin talking to me? I should have known (this will be my theme statement). We were sat having coffee one morning when this little chappy turned up. Not content with getting up close and personal with the wife he had demands.  He hopped under the table and pecked her foot then said you’ve got a drink what about us?  and there you have it I was sent off to find an old dish whilst they sat discussing (yes she can and does talk to the birds and they tweet back) how to set up what was to become known as ‘The Water Bar’ (you can find it on https://asoldierswind.wordpress.com). The fact that my wife could understand what he and the others say makes me wonder…….
So there it is life on the finca past part 1.  Nothing really changes, the redstarts are still with us, but its been a long long dry summer and the garden has taken a bashing. So there really is a lot of work to do, where we start depends on my wife but I have a feeling the beds will be first followed by the pots and tubs then the rest of the garden and something done about that Saffron bed and the birds are returning they sit in the now  – of course I could be wrong……..
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – author

 

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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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In the Beginning

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As you can see from this photograph this was how the back-garden looked a few years ago.  We were just getting sorted out and when it rained the earth would wash up against the wall making it damp. So we laid a path and patio and stood the water cubes there to catch the rain water.  It worked well for a while but when the drought set in and the forest nearly caught fire I decided that we needed a larger cisterna.  Now we couldn’t go up so we went down to bedrock and started from there.  The poles you see here determined the construction as one windy day the whole lot blew down falling on Carol’s roses and taking the ‘false apple’ vine with it.  So after tidying things up and replanting the roses – unfortunately we lost one or two – I got busy.

Got a digger to dig out the hole then had steel delivered along with gravel/sand and cement and off we went. I laid the floor first then started on the sides.  I did the mixing and the wife was down the hole building up the walls.  It took us a few weeks to do as we had to go slow but eventually we were at the top and ready for the beagers and pots.  Once delivered and in place a last few mixes of concrete and job done.  To get someone to do exactly the same thing would have been around 10,000 Euros.

Washing Line and Garden

 

When I started this blog it was into winter and neither of us were fit enough to finish it. HOWEVER, it’s now March sun’s out forest and garden are looking good and we are feeling very get up and go up here.  So after looking at the damage the winter had done to certain plants Carol went plant shopping.  We now have two new lavenders and the lavender patch is beginning to look as it should.  The weeds took over during the winter when we could not get out, so the past few days have been weeding and tidying up days.  The feel of the sun on our backs is doing us the world of good.  I have taken some photographs of before and after, not all the beds have been finished but we are in no rush.

This is the side walled garden before and after. It was full of weeds and dead plants that the frost had damaged, so Carol weeded then planted some violets at this end where the dead plant was, but before that she covered and dug in some of the olive mush and ash mixture to give the ground some goodness.

The next one was end bed in front of the shed facing the house. As you can see it was really bad but after some diligent weeding and another good dose of the mix the red-hot pokers and lavender now have space to grow.

 

This small walled bed forms the other wall of the rose garden and is just waiting for its ‘mix’ to be added.  This is the first year the Hyacinth’ s have been in their own bed although small they all flowered and for a few days the perfume was wonderful. This is the sight I look at from my desk, and the washing line of course.

 

Next was the small patio in front of the bedroom  as you can see it was a bit of a mess but after a good sweep and re positioning of the stones replacing some gravel all is back to normal  –  except that the wind blew just as this photo was being taken  can’t tell you what a certain lady said…..

So this is  just a few photos of where we are with the garden.  However Carol has told me about your photos this spring and how it is difficult to explain the variety of wild ones we have so in ‘Part Two’ of this blog I am posting just photos of them.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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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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Bright Ideas!

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So it’s raining! squalls coming and going thunder rumbling can’t work in the garden or on the finca, and looking out of the window does not help. All is grey and – if you can see anything – it’s even grayer, and we are getting bored what do we do????  Go to the SEASIDE of course. Well usually its go shopping in the hypermarkets where you can wander round looking at things and be warm and dry all at the same time, well that’s the theory but Michael says we tend to spend money on things we don’t really want but think are a good idea at the time – we have a few of those purchases knocking around.

So with the shops in mind I did not take my camera, tablet or phone, as who wants to take photos of shops??  So off we set in weather that by rights should not be allowed, and headed up out of the valley towards the mountains and the pass to the coast. We had not been going long before the rain came in again window-wipers going fast we began catching up on others heading the same way, then we found we had a convoy with a lorry in the lead.  Nothing we could safely do so we sat in the convoy as we weaved our way towards the mountains.  Then the rain lifted and we could see a clear stretch of road overtaking was on.  Three of us managed to get past the lorry before a car without lights on came hurtling along the road towards us, (obviously some people like dicing with death). Every car on the road was lit up like a christmas tree but not this one, he was almost up to us before we saw him and the cars colour made him almost invisible. But we didn’t have time to ponder on his stupidity, the rain came down again so holding onto the tail lights of the car in front we drove on.

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This is not the worst weather we have been in, I remember the journey home from St.Marlow one winters night. We had returned from one of Michael’s medical trips and I had driven down France in torrential rain with thunder and lightning (of which I am terrified) going off. We finally made it to the Pyrenees then it began to snow!!! So Michael took over the driving and the higher we went towards the pass and tunnel the harder it snowed.  When we reached the pass we found it was blocked there had been an avalanche but there was a hotel….  We stopped took a good look and both thought of the ‘Bates Motel’ then turned round and with another car who’s occupants had the same thoughts returned to the town and spent the night there – but I digress.  As we approached the uphill climb to the pass there was a 40fter in front so we were all thankful for the crawler lane and sped past him once in the pass we were back in a convoy with a 40fter in front and behind and 6 cars in the middle.  It was when we arrived at the tunnels we saw the snow…..

The Seaside!

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No this is not where we went but its a better picture than we saw that day. SO, on the way into Tarragona Michael said you know I’ve always wanted to see the beaches the other side of the city and the Roman ruins, we can shop later..  With that in mind we headed off towards the north side. Now we thought that the squalls over the mountains were bad enough but boy you should have seen the ones that came rolling in from the Med.  By this time we wanted a cup of coffee and found this beachside café/restaurant open with a covered in area. There was a good surf running but no takers we soon found out why proving that not all surfers are daft. So as it was lunchtime and wet we decided to hell with it we would eat there and watch the seagulls and the surf. The food was really good we had a cheese and jamon pizza with a seafood salad followed by the most delicious cheesecake. Whilst eating we were treated to a grandstand view of the squalls speeding in. There were large ships anchored outside the port and one minuet you could see them then a squall hit and they vanished whilst the rain shook the covered area as it beat against the windows.   So that was our day out.

 

DSCF2434 (640x480)[1]There was some more good news the robins are back. we thought we had lost them as we didn’t see one last year but this week we saw two.   Oh and don’t forget Clearing in the Forest by M D Bosc –  a book for Christmas.

(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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Some You Win – Some You Loose

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This is Bazz the goat who adopted us. As you can see he was not well very skinny turned out he had phunomia and after three days during which time we tried to find out who owned him, he died.  Seems there are a few goat herds about but eventually the Department of Agriculture found his owner and informed him we had his goat.  He was due to turn up mid afternoon on the third day but by that time Bazz had expired, so he took away a pathetic little bundle, so sad.   However, during his time here he decided that the shed was his best resting place and my garden was good for munching.  Lemon tree, vine, almond tree and lavender as well as rosemary and thyme he tried them all and drank vast amounts of water. But we have some good memories of him, shouts of leave the lemon tree alone, don’t eat the roses and get out of the tree to name but some.  He wandered around and even tried to get into the FFZ, the only thing wrong was the smell and flies.  Goats poo a lot and it smells, so had to go round and collect it from in front of the house garden did well though.  Anyway here are a couple of photos of Bazz doing goatish things to the lavender patch.

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The Boys and Daughter

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Well who would have thought it, these two hooligans have fallen in love with our daughter. She was over for a few weeks to rest and relax spending most of her time in the fly free zone with the boys for company whilst getting the benefits of the sun without burning.  They had her full attention and just loved it, she took over my ‘office’ and they made the most of things.  Shouting, playing, making sure they had the full attention of their audience.

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She had bought with her some toys after reading about their antics, palm balls, a weeble with a bell, plus a couple of other bits and was in stitches watching them destroy  the palm ball – these birds use palm leaves in the wild to line their nests – which meant they tossed out all the stuff in the nesting box then replaced it with the palm which they had chewed to soften, stripped into small pieces then lined their nest with.  So you can imagine how upset they were when she went home.  However, she sent them a new ladder made of wood and string so we strung it hammock style they now sit on it so we are now betting on how long it will take them to destroy it before Michael has to thread the wood with either wire or thin rope.  And yes they really are love birds bless……

 

Michael’s Hand Update

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As you may or may not know Michael has had an operation on his hand to remove a cyst.  The picture above is just after I got him home from the hospital. He was still under the effects of the anesthetic and insisted on showing the boys his and I quote “writers war wound” yep that’s what he told them.   However over the next few days he came down to earth as his hand came back to life and the pain set in.  Then it was a round of hospital visits until yesterday when he finally had the last stitches removed, now all I have to do is stop him from doing things that could open the wound such as chain-sawing… no not really but you get the idea.   The wound is healing nicely, but he still can’t play the piano….

The Garden

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This is not a picture of the garden as it is now, it’s too dire.  The lack of water – rain – has meant that everything has dried up and the place looks horrid.  But it allows me to clear away some of the dross and where I have done so the beds look well. HOWEVER!!!  although most of the plants are drought resistant even they are suffering so a water plan has been devised for next summer based on the one we have for the walnut tree. As for Sam’s garden, (picture) I have trimmed the olive tree of all the offshoots cleared the weeds and prepared the ground where the yellow bulbs are.  At this end where the pink and red ones are I have a few bits still to do and also make a support for the yellow flowers above the strawberry patch.   The green water tank will have to be put to another use elsewhere in the garden as  the Water Bar was not used this year, but at least we were not bothered by wasps. It is almost time for the olives to be picked so a trip to the presses for the residue which is used as fertilizer is in order.  The roses all need a good feed and also a tidying up so am looking for a few tiles to go round the base of them  to keep the ground moist either that or I shall dig a circle cover the ground with polythene recover with soil in the hope they will not suffer so much next summer.

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Well that’s the forest news for this week,  Michael is still writing and Clearing in the Forest is now out in paperback form from Create a Space and on Kindle.

 

(c) M.D.Bosc Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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