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Posts Tagged ‘forestry’

My New Book 

This is my new book Drifting. It’s a cowboy short story which ventures into the unknown. Often things come to me when I am researching or reading other things this was such a time. It is not my normal style or subject, plus ghost stories are quite difficult to write and this was no exception.  As usual you start with an idea then build on it only now you have to remember the ghost, how it came to be and in some cases not reveal this until later in the book, whilst all the time including it in there.  Write and re-write came into this, as I would sometimes forget this rule, but I got there in the end and it has had some good responses – albeit the cover I first put out was the wrong one. As usual it’s on Kindle and Create Space as well as Books2Read.

The Wallow Hole

 

Remember these jokers? They who dug up my bulbs and ate all my saffron bulbs in the process. Well they have decided to make a wallow hole on the lower terrace.  Finding a good place for the camera was a little difficult as the tree has been pruned and the good branches for positioning the cameras have gone.  So I called Spurs into action but the position of the dish was wrong however the pump is just right and providing they don’t come poking around the photos are not bad.

After a windy night I have had to find another position for the camera but at least I have these shots of the little so and so’s. First is the wallow hole in daylight to give you an idea of its position. They have made this originally it was a small – very small – little trench which provided run-off water for two fig trees. We should have known better as the boar decided to use they as rubbing sticks and eventually killed them off.  Then this appeared.

 

So to the pictures of  the little gits having a bath and generally enjoying themselves.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – Author

 

 

 

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There are some things that you come across something surprising and creative.  Well that’s what happened last year when we went for coffee and a drive along the coast.

We had stopped off at the little restaurant we like for coffee, and sat watching the rain falling and being blown around by the wind.  It was nice to be in the warm, so we ordered cheesecake and relaxed whilst keeping an eye on the weather.  By the time we had finished the rain had stopped so we decided to take a walk along the beach – to walk off the cheesecake…. On our way back to the car we passed these sand sculptures and could not resist taking a look.

Well this year they had some more on display these were a mix of sheep and ‘modern’ sculptures which to me looked more machine than animal or human.

But the effect was the same the little area was full of people looking and taking photographs.  So when we went for a drive and passed the sculptures we just had to stop and take a look.  It took some time to find a parking spot but finally we found a place further along the beach parked and walked back to take a look.  By this time it was getting dusk so the flood lights were on and people were almost queuing to get a look. So here are the sculptures:

These are a find we now look for something to brighten a dull, windy day in winter.  Hope you have a good 2018 of course you could try this yourselves.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

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Our Home Made Olive Oil

The How and The Why of It

So about the oil why do we do it?. Well  up here our trees are so old that the olives are ready before the commercial presses are.  We were getting a little depressed seeing all the olives on the floor that two years ago we decided to make our own.   But being pensioners we did not have any spare cash and the machines that we would need were very very expensive.  So being an engineer I had a good think, ran some ideas by my wife and the result was what follows:-

     

 

First thing was the crusher (or Wesley as my wife named it):  We had an old cement mixer that was just lying around which my wife was going to convert into a flower container, but we decided that with a bit of tweaking it could be converted into the crusher by removing the beaters inside and filling the holes to make it leak proof.   A day later and job done, now I needed some large stones these were easy to find cleaned up and along with some old petanca balls I had the perfect crushing machine.

 

        

Second Item was the press:  Now this was a little more difficult as we don’t have a donkey or two very large stones so we opted for a small grape press cheapest we could find and we were all set.

 

  

​Filtering Department:  ​This is done on the kitchen counter and works well.   We save empty water bottles and large containers  plus Pepsi bottles and small olive oil ones, once cleaned they stand ready to be filled. Then we place the funnels with the filter paper in the bottle neck and scoop oil into the first one. Once this is full we repeat the process into the final bottle and the result is clear virgin olive oil.  The large container you can see is a 6ltr water container which the top has been cut off. This goes under the press to catch the oil and is then brought into the kitchen to have the oil skimmed off and filtered.

How we do it: 

​After picking the olives we empty the buckets into the crusher turn on the small generator and away it goes.  We wait until the olives are pulped into a ‘mash’ then I empty them into a bowl a bit at a time and take them to the press.

Here I line the press with an old pillowcase or other clean material making a hole in the bottom so that it will fit over the screw.  Once this is in place I put a layer of pulped olives in then cover this layer with some very fine netting and so on until all the olive pulp is in the press. I then add any oil that was in Wesley crusher fold down the pillowcase over the top layer then place the  wooden top of the press then come the blocks and finally the heavy metal screw.  By now gravity is working and the oil is flowing and I haven’t even turned the screw yet.

  

Once the flow stops I start turning the screw and pressing for real.   When the container is half full it is taken to the filtering department (wifes job). Here two bottles at a time are filled with the un filtered oil by placing a funnel lined with good quality kitchen paper as the filter.  Next the oil is scooped off the top of the ‘sludge’ and poured into the filters where it drips through as clear golden olive oil.

The ‘sludge’ that is left is mainly water and residue  so the water gets siphoned off and any oil that’s left is added to the filtering system. The resulting sludge is then taken to the garden and emptied.

So that’s how we do it up here Bosc style:

​Back to the picking

We have picked the tree next to the house but I am afraid one of the trunks will have to be cut as you can see it is leaning over and although its been like this for years it does not look like it can last much longer… so cutting back part of the trunk will stop it from eventually coming down.

  

        

Now these photos show the tree at the top of the drive which has not been touched for years as you can see. We picked it yes but Carol would not allow me up there with a chainsaw (wonder why???) So whilst she was out the other day I got ladders and hand saw and began. Didnt stop me being told off for not waiting till she got back (it’s a long drop to the next terrace) but I was fine so whilst she picked the lopped branches (guess who’s chair this is!!) I tackled the other side of the tree. With the result that only those branches you can see are left but until the wind drops off (as fronts go through it gets windy here) they can wait. We have 2ltrs of oil so far from these two trees with another pressing in progress and we are starting on the field today – yes ladders, saws and stuff will be used. We tend to prune as we go for obvious reasons and it works for us.

Now it may not seem very productive (lots of oil) but we normally get at least 6 months oil, this year we are hoping for a bit more plus it keeps us fit and the end result is our own oil made with our own hands and a little Heath Robinson thrown in.  Oh and as you can see from this picture oil does freeze, yep it gets that cold up here. But I siphoned the water which was underneath this and the oil was nice and clean so there was not much waste after the two filtering.  We ended up with 5.5 ltrs enough table oil for the year.

So from two happy old pickers its good by till next year.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

 

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In The Beginning

 

This is what we fell in love with all those years ago (I installed the water header tank).

Well I think by now most people who follow my blogs know that one of my favourite topic is rain (or the lack of to be precise), but that’s what you get when looking for your perfect location to live and write then find it in the middle of nowhere in a forest halfway up a small valley in the mountains, fall in love with it and buy it…

                  

       

These are photos of the track to give you an idea of how steep it is where it looks flat it’s not your still climbing.

These photos of the farm looking back towards the masa show how close the forest is and we own most of what you can see.

Now when you think of a forest you probably think of leafy glades, flat forest floor and pathways or tracks that are level and when it rains get a little muddy, no?? well that’s what my wife thought of when I brought her here, didn’t last long though.  On the drive up here she was very silent and holding onto the handle of the car door.  We had a 4×4 then and it looked wider than the track, however, once she saw our ‘home’ she was smitten but even quieter on the drive to the hotel.  If you don’t like it we can go somewhere else I said,  No I love it came the reply but I really need to know we can get a small lorry up there for building materials or we have a problem, but we found we could and the rest as they say is history.  Once the bungalow was built and I had – with the help of my (wife) builders mate – sorted out the water, electrics (solar), gas (bottled) and sewage (tank) we were all set. So now to the water – or lack there of.

Water!!

   

This is how we had our house water delivered when we only had the small cisterna (water tank) Manell is a friend and our ‘go to’ person when we need something done.  He gives advice and help, and is always smiling. Every so often we would buy 5,000 ltrs  of potable (drinking) water to keep us going if it didn’t rain. I soon realised that although the original cisterna was just big enough for the house, in times of drought it was not enough. So we built, with the help of Manell and his digger, a new cisterna which would ensure that we had enough house water and, please god we never have to use it like this, water to fight a fire because if a forest fire came through here we would have to climb inside one of them to survive that’s how far we are into the forest.

As for the garden well I bought some cubes placed one by the bathroom wall and the other at the side of the Fly Free Zone (FFZ) these work very well taking the run off from the roof as long as we get some rain.

This is how we used to collect river water for the cubes before getting things sorted.

So back to the garden water.  The two cubes are sufficient as the garden is either set out with bulbs, cacti, drought loving plants (lavenders etc.,) or tubs.  Watering them every two days helps, and the very few plants we have that are normal are planted in places where I know there is moisture in the ground most of the year (ie., near the concrete of the patios).  So when it does rain we get all excited like Christmas, but a thunderstorm during the daytime is a little bit scary I watch the skies for smoke but I can tell you from experience that you hear the fire before you see it. This time of year has Carol making a plastic bag for ‘important’ things which she can quickly fill.

But that apart we are content. I knew what we were getting into when I bought the farm and neither of us would change it.  We have adventurous spirits like the challenge of solving things and love nature.  The things we have seen since we have been here and the adventures we have had are what we love about our home.  We were here before they made it a Park Natural because of the Golden Eagles, and often see them flying over the masa. The birds, animals and others make this a perfect place to write, live and relax.  Waking to the song of Boris blackbird, listening to the thrushes, lark and others during the early morning or late evening, all of this is our life.  Yes the piggy wigs are naughty sometimes and make my wife cry when they dig her bulbs up but we would not have it any other way.  As I write we have another mysterious creature up here.  We think it’s a bird wife says an owl me am not sure but we have been woken by what sounded like a female voice in the early morning twice now but neither seen nor heard anything human.  Nothing on the cameras (cards back in) so we don’t know, but will keep you posted.

 

(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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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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