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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

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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The Clotxa

This is breakfast at the Olive Fair in Mora La Nova – the Clotxa.  Every year the fair is held to celebrate the olive oil harvest, we missed it last year first time since we have been here, but I went to the Ajuntament and bought our tickets and for 3euros this is what we have.  Half a cob loaf with the centre hollowed out a large sardine, tomatoes, garlic and onion plus wine, olives and of course olive oil.  So here’s the routine:-  you que up hand over your ticket and take your breakfast and bib (oh yes you need it), then wander along and find a table to stand at and eat.

This is a community thing and standing at the tables you meet other people. Families, friends and faces you see when out and about who’s names you get to know so you can place them when you wave to each other, really nice.  As you can see from the picture it is served in a plastic bowl.  This year it came in a covered foil container. When we arrived just after 10am it was in full swing and as you can see not many breakfasts were left.

We collected our and found a table. There were a few other people at the table so it was a pleasant morning not cold like some we have been to which makes a difference because believe me it takes a while to eat this and you really do need that bib.

                               

After breakfast we headed for the hall to see the olive oil stands and who had done well in the competition and a coffee.  As we were passing the tables I took these photos:-

People were still arriving and as you can see there was not a lot left, but is that a coffee stall I spy by the door?? It was but very busy so we decided to find another one.

Inside the hall the layout had changed.  Normally it is crowded with stands and the competition section (this photo) where people make moli d oli a sort of olive oil butter very tasty and good for you.  Next to this in the centre of the hall was an olive tree with the various things you need for picking. In the first photograph you can see the ladders which were used simple but practical. in the second jars for storing the oil and in the last one you will see an old-fashioned olive chute something which would help us enormously.

                    

It was by the tree that we found the coffee stand and coffee in hand wandered round the stands. This one has won first place before, the trophies are the FIO’s on top of the stand.  You could eat your way round the hall tasting all the different oils on toasted bread. There is believe it or not a different taste to each oil just like there is with wine, took me some time to work this out but once we began pressing our own oil it became clear.

Further round on the other side of the hall I found AiBar, a little Celler I found with some very nice wines. As usual the cellers also produce olive oil which is very good.

All in all it was a lovely morning and we totally enjoyed ourselves. But the strange thing was we did not see another English person – no one we knew by sight that is – who had been there before.  It is such a sad thing when people do not join in with the local festivities they miss so much.   If you would like to know more about AiBar’s wines then follow this link. https://wp.me/pVcwA-1i3

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc & Jason D’ebre – Authors

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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