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Posts Tagged ‘farming’

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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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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Fighting Goats!

Well it rained (stop laughing) so we went shopping rather later than usual, didn’t rush and got back just as the sun came out (briefly). After unloading the car I went to look at the cisterna to see if we how the water level was going. However I didn’t get there as rounding the corner of the house I heard this THUMP CRASH! I wasn’t sure what it was it sounded a bit like a gun going off but the hunters weren’t out. Then it came again only this time it was louder and more defined.  Looking up at the masa I first saw two eagles circling then I  saw the cause of the crashes, there were two large goats fighting it out on the edge of the masa with one using a boulder to gain height over his opponent.  I called to Carol and she came out with the camera so up to the terrace we went and these were the shots we got. the story went something like this:

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So you want to be leader do you well lets fight it out. Winner is leader of the herd looser goes over the side ok? Ok except I’m not going over the side. CHARGE!!!

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Stop pushing and get off that rock that’s cheating! No it’s not I’m king of the masa you’re the one I chase sir..

dsc00068-640x480Owww that hurts mind where you put your horns and stop pushing me towards the edge, fight fair.

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Ok that’s enough time to go home. Did you see them down there with the camera? think they have any good shots? No humans are all the same they see us and the cameras come out and they start trying to get closer. Either way we will finish this later on.  Then all was quiet on the masa front.

 

(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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