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Posts Tagged ‘goats’

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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Rain, Goats and Gardens

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Like everything in our lives nothing is separate. One thing is connected to another in some way take yesterday for instance.  Wednesday is one of my physio days plus it’s also market day.  So just after 8am we were going along the river road when my wife cries stop Goats!!!!  there in the road were three small goats who had just been for a drink.  Although time was pressing we watched whilst they clambered up the steep bank into the cover of scrub and pine trees.  Once again we were given an insight into our neighbours.  However, my wife was not so thrilled this morning when I showed her what the ‘little dears’ had done to her saffron bed, obviously hungry they had nibbled the shoots as they were appearing and dug the bulbs up they could reach.  So once the ones that are left have flowered they are being moved to the back of the house amongst the daffs and planted deeply.

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Friday IT RAINED!! not hard flash rain, but long soak it in rain, the stuff we need so badly. This is the misty photo the trees as the rain subsided.  It started  Thursday evening and was still going most of Friday all the plant pots were put outside even threatened to put the boys out for a bath. Anyway, my wife had to go to the Doctors for her BP tabs & I wanted to go to the engineers, so there we were going along the river road when suddenly a small herd of goats were crossing the road from the river – never a camera around – they were so quick, but at least we know they were not the Ibex we see on the masa these were small with curved horns not the straight.  So we now have an idea of who’s been digging in the garden….and yes one of the cameras is pointed at the bulb beds.

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The result of the rain is that the Lilly bulbs are starting to shoot.  Now it may be early in other parts of the world but these lilies shoot and carry on growing through the winter before blooming in early spring.

Agricultural Fair or ‘What Day Is It?’

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What else did you expect from an agricol fira? fun, wine and food? hehe they come later. But seriously folks, every year we go there simply because we like it.  Now normally it occurs on the last weekend in October, this year however it falls next weekend on our birthdays.  Our weekend will be a round of dinners, the fira and petanca with good friends, which night I don’t know we are still sorting that out. Anyway, when we were there on Friday we saw the stalls being erected, bars set up but no sign of the rides so we were a bit perplexed had we got the dates wrong?? Well not wanting to miss the fira we decided to wander down only to find that what we saw was actually what was happening they were setting things up for NEXT weekend – drrrr are we getting old????

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We always make for the horses first then wander round watching the people enjoying themselves.  My wife visits the Church tombola and buys tickets the proceeds of which goes towards helping others.  Then we go to look at the machinery, wines and any other displays on that side of the fair.  Our last stop is the café where we enjoy a glass or two plus some jamon and or cheese.  Another wander around then we head for home.  As most of the rides and stuff are the same these pictures give you an idea.  The last picture is to me a gently reminder that Christmas is not far away.

And So To Books and Radio Devon:

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I was listening on-line to radio 5 live the other day – cricket of course – after which I decided to wander around the radio stations and came across Radio Devon. Now as those of you who have read A Plymouth Story know I have a love of all things naval, and Devon is so full of naval history, pirates and the likes that I have a fondness for that part of the world.  On one of our visits to our daughter in Torquay we went one wet grey day to Dartmouth.  Crossed the Dart on a ferry and wandered round a town that looked like it was still in the 1700/1800’s, quaint but very picturesque, which is why I could see James Blackstock walking down streets like this in Plymouth.  So now we are linked into Radio Devon with good music, chat and a general community feeling, for those of you who are interested and like on-line radio give it a try.

(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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Our Visitor and the Boys

I have often told you about the birds and animals that appear from time to time and the wild boar and goats that are around.  Well this one may not be wild (it has a tag in its ear) but it seems to have attached itself to us.  We were coming home the other evening and saw at the side of the track what looked like a baby deer. We stopped then saw it was a young goat.  Knowing better than to interfere with it  we carefully drove past and came home.  So imagine how surprised we were when this young male goat turned up. It wandered about so we thought the goat-herd was around but no, so we put a bowl of water out for it and it settled under the olive tree. After a while Bazz (yep he’s been named) got up and wandered off, so we returned to our various activities Michael writing, me doing bits and pieces on line and our daughter and the Boys sitting in the FFZ.  Next thing I hear is ‘Oi don’t eat the strawberries, leave the roses alone then get out of the tree’.  Although Bazz wasn’t exactly  scared of us he was skittish but he decided to take a look round and do goatish things, and yes they do climb trees.

The only photos I could get were through the double layer of netting as if I tried to get a clear photo Bazz was off, camera shy me thinks.  Now the Boys are very good ‘alarms’ (think they don’t like competition for our attention) so every time Bazz turned up they were shouting and hollering, and when I took his photos they made such a clamor that I had to  take one with them in.  By evening they had calmed down and Bazz had found a corner by the little house where he could hunker down for the night.  We think that he mother must have found him during the night as he wasn’t around this morning either that or he found the herd again, either way life has returned to normal until the next visitor wanders in.

Oh and as I write we have found out where Bazz is  in our shed…..

 

(c)  M.D. Bosc  Author

 

 

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Grey Mornings

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The valley is a source of constant change, surprise and stunning views, even on a day such as today.  Up here we can have sunlight and think it’s a good morning. However one glance down the valley tells the true story.  If we can see across to the Mountains clearly then thats fine, the sun will shine it will be warm/hot depending on time of year.  However, if like today we look out and can’t see the mountains then we KNOW it’s going to be a mixed/dull day depending on which way the weather pattern and wind is blowing. So the next sunny but blowy day I decided that after everything in the FFZone being soaked it was time for action!

 

The Fly Free Zone

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Remember this?  Well as you know we have the boys and discovered two things about the roof and the vine. First off the vine was so heavy it began tearing the netting with it’s weight.  This meant that we couldn’t let the boys out without being there incase they found one of the holes.  Then there was the little matter of rain, when it did,  the wooden roof was basically a sieve, water poured in.  So with summer on the doorstep bringing those nasty black biting flies we decided it was time to sort it out. I had already laid a new floor and tidied up round the pillars.  Plant pots placed table and chairs in situ all looked very nice, then it rained!!!! so I thought, lets get this done. A visit to the local builders merchant sorted out the roof, 3 panels of painted corrugated did the trick, and new netting added the finishing touches. We did not remove the old netting it will stop the boys from damaging the new stuff when they fly around.   So on a not so dull day we set to work.

 

 

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I was up the ladder undoing the screws then passing the planks down to my wife, Earlier I had cut some cross members shaped the ends to fit the two supporting trunks then nailed them into positing. Finally with a little ‘heath robinson’ know how plus a wife with a broom (careful folks lol) I had the first panel up, then the wind got up!  So whilst I was getting the bolts to secure the panel in place my wife was up the ladder holding on to the panel to stop it moving, one up two more to go. Surprisingly these went up quite quickly and were soon in place, then it rained.  Not a lot, just enough to test the roof and know what  IT WORKED!!  not a leak anywhere.  So I moved a water cube down to the side ran temporary guttering and it duly rained. We moved the vine to the side of the little house so it has a nice new home and is leafing away nicely, lots of green shoots, plenty of sun so hopefully we will get some grapes this year. The weather then kindly rained on and off over the next few days so the cube is now full.

 

The Boys

Well it appears they were not successful with their first attempt at breeding but they are having another go.  I have turned their nest box to face the wall so that the wind doesn’t  blow straight into it.  A necessity as over the past few days the wind has been blowing a hooley.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc   Author

 

 

 

 

 

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I should have left well enough alone!!

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Now you may be wondering what one of my books is doing on here, look at the title.  It has been one of those weeks up here, so I shall start at the beginning with Monday.  This morning we had a phone call from the company supplying our new wifi system to say they were on their way – well a young man was – to finish installing the satellite and phone.  No problem there you may think but although my laptop and my wife’s tablet connected with no problem her laptop just would not connect to the wifi.  So I decided to help… I think a new laptop might be in order come birthday all I know is I had one rather upset bunny  who said a few rude words and took me down to Club Nautique.  So that is how this East-End Boy was most definitely not a Pet Shop Boy.  Like I said ‘Sods Law’ is alive and kicking up here.

Club Nautique

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We were pleased to see Pep and his family when we went to the club. We were a little worried that the work that is being carried out on river road might have an adverse affect on people going there but it seems not to be the case.  Maybe not as many people there as there used to be but we are a resourceful lot here.  We have been invited to go to one of the boat race meetings one weekend and I would like that but not for the next weekends as I am playing Petanca in Riber-rojo Sunday and the following weekend in  Fayon.

Petanca at Asco

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The weekend was a success for my team, we came top in our group and won a large goats cheese, now that’s worth winning.  I was also informed that we are playing at Riber-rojo next weekend I wonder how we will do and what we might win……

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We arrived back in town happy relaxed and in need of a drink, its thirsty work playing in this heat.  So we headed for a new restaurant/bar at the top of town called Reina.  Now we have eaten here before and the food is really good it must be, it’s always full of locals and police lunch and evening time.  Having got our drinks and ordered a meal we were talking to the Chef and  mentioned that I had won a cheese at Asco and it turned out that he is a relation of our Petanca friend Reina (Rayner is the tall one in the first picture above) it’s a small world.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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Well the past few weeks have been quite entertaining one way and another.   To start with there was Sam who’s job it was to stalk my wife while she was in the garden. Then came Boris Blackbird, a selection of blue and great tits, the black caps, Bobbin Robin, Inspector Thrush and the rest of the gang.  So I have decided to introduce them to you and the ones I have no pictures of are being stalked……

 

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I will start with the newest member Sam.  Sam is a Black Redstart identified by my friend @KierstienRowlands who has unwittingly given my wife and Sam hours of fun with the RSPB birds finder.  She sits in the FF Zone playing the bird calls and when she puts the black redstart on there Sam goes potty thinks he’s got competition.

 

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Next we have “The Gang”  Bobbin, Boris, Dangerous Dan, Elsie and the rest.  I have decided to start keeping an account of the characters up here, they are both entertaining and fascinating.  You never know what you will find when you step out of the door in the mornings or see during the day and evening.   They all congregate around the water bar and still shout and holler when the tank needs filling.  Although if my wife got hold of a few they would have smacked bottoms  digging in her garden is a real no no lol.   Mind you they just stand and look at her so I really don’t think they need worry, however Hunny Bunny might just have a problem.  Wife planted a new rose-bush  two days later one side of the bush had been dug away.  The roots were fine who had done it?  Early next morning we saw the culprit a small rabbit nestled in the dip, needless to say the dips filled in and the bunny sits under one of the water cubes.

This is one of the reasons we love this farm, snakes and all, oh when I was up the top terrace I saw one sunbathing, and no wife was in doors wrapped up she has the flu.  I have been trying to get a tree next to the house to ‘fall down’.  We are not allowed to cut them down but if they fall down ie., still attached to the roots that’s ok, even when making a fire break. So I have cleared the slope of scrub exposed the roots in places and the wind has been howling and blowing a hooley up here – the tree?  still standing!  Mind you if it falls sods law says it will fall across the washing line………..

The bulbs are out in the garden and after the cold its nice to see some colour.  Anemones, crocus, hyacinths, violas, violets, with the tulips, freesias, and dwarf iris out it’s quite a show. the only problem I have just now is that when I am working on the olive trees I come across piggy/goat prints in the ground (not always sure which is which).  But I don’t know where to place the camera on the tree I am currently clearing or the next one along little devils are camera-shy so I have to be crafty.

©  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When you think of a forest  you picture tall trees, sun dappled glades, leafy paths, bramble patches, carpets of bluebells, swaths of primroses dotted with wood anemones. Flat tracks wending their way through the forest, perhaps a house here and there nestling in the arms of the trees, birds, deer, rabbits, foxes, badgers and other wild animals.

What you do not think of is war. Death, fighting, guns with bullets flying around, men fighting and dying on the terraces amongst the trees. A bloody time in Spanish history, when men fought their own people, even their own families, fighting for freedom and their rights – Civil War. This is the story of such a forest the one I live in and love.

The Bombed Church at Garcia

From 1936 to 1938  the Spanish Civil War  centered around this area, the river, train line, and mountains.  The village of Garcia was bombed by the Germans who used the civil war to practice their skills for when they took on England and the rest of Europe.  There the church was badly damaged, it has been left untouched, a memorial, and a new one was built in the village.

The rail bridge that crossed the Ebro was also bombed and destroyed  in an attempt to cut off supplies to the Republicans. It was later re-built in its present form providing a service to Barcelona one way and Llieda the other. Although passenger trains still run it is mostly freight that uses it now.

Memorial at Mora de Ebre

Every year the town of  Mora de Ebro re-enacts the crossing of the river and street fighting between the Republicans and Franco’s troops.  The town has erected a steel boat in commemoration of the event and planted a shrub at each corner.  On Catalan Day, the various organisations the Petanca Club included, lay flowers there.

The Republicans fought Franco and forced him back as far as Corbera de Ebro. The Russians, who had been supplying the Republicans with arms, stopped the supply, and the last battle in this area was fought at Corbera de Ebro. The village being raised, has been left as it was, their memorial to those who died both soldiers and civilians. A new village has grown up around the ruins and a thriving wine industry has developed. Amongst the fighting men of the International Brigade was George Orwell whilst Ernest Hemingway wrote for the North America papers, keeping people informed of the struggle

Since we have lived here I have dug up bullets and machine gun ammunition, some of it still live. We took a batch to the  History museum at Gandessa, here they have a pictorial history of the war as well as artifacts. Here we found out the just what the fighting had meant and saw a photograph of the railway bridge at Garcia destroyed by the Germans.

At peace

But that was then.  Today the forest is a place of quiet, with a sense of peace and safety. The only disturbance is the odd vehicle or bicycle going up or down the valley.  The track that wanders towards our farm, twists and turns its way through it, crossing the baranca then upwards and onwards. It is rough and stony, kept as natural as possible allowing nature to repair and heal its scars.

Parts are in dappled shade others in full sunlight, tall pine trees line the way whilst the natural oak trees, more like bushes than trees, dotted here and there, fight for their place in the ecological way of things. Today that is the only type of battle here, takeing a walk along the track reveals birds and flowers of  various types, some already known others new and interesting.

           

At this time of year the forest comes alive. Grape hyacinths, minature daff0dils, asters, poppies and much more flora than I can name. These are followed by wild Jasmin and Honeysuckle their perfume filling the evening air. The one flower we look forward to seeing is the little Orchid that grows under one of the olive trees. It’s small but perfect blooms are the highlight of the season, small purple slippers on green stems.

On a logging trip

I forage for fallen trees to stock up the winter log pile, noting where the squirrel drays and the misletoe balls are.  There are all sorts of shrubs and trees to be seen if you look between the pines. We have the odd Carib tree, Witch Hazel its stems corkscrewing skywards. There is one bush which spreads and covers a wide area, green with a reddish tinge in winter, which in spring is covered with red berries a birds delight.

To one side of the house is a terraced hill from where the views are spectacular, the local hunters  hunt there during the season on Sunday mornings.  Sometimes they shoot a wild boar but more often than not they leave as they arrived empty-handed.

A Squirrels Dray

The squirrels here are dark red almost black in colour. Thin furry sticks of mischief with pointed ears and a thick bushy tail, they dart along the branches of the firs playing games of run and jump.  It is later in the year we notice them more, when they are hunting for their winter stores. There is a Dray near the small house which is refurbished from time to time.

I have tried not to disturb my surroundings in the years I have been here.  Because I do not use chemicals on the land, the birds and insects have gradually returned to their habitat.   The olive trees, some hundreds of years old are doing well and with selective pruning, provide enough oil for the year.

Considering what has happened here over the years we feel safe. It is as if the forest envelops us in a healing of souls, just us and nature. This then is my forest valley, my home.

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Surveying my domain

It is that time of year again, and yesterday when I was scanning the mesa I saw a billy goat with two nanny goats standing on the rocks looking out over the valley. Whilst the females fed and wandered along the cliff edge the billy stayed on guard looking out over the valley.  At this time of year they begin to gather their herds together and get ready for the rutting. They range over these hills and mountains sometimes venturing down into our valley, this is when we begin to see more of them.  The horns on this one are not as grand as I have seen so I think he must be a young goat, just starting out.  I have been told by the Forestalls that there are three different types of goat on the mesa, we usually see the Ibex.

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At this time of the year they also venture down into the valley in search of food. In England you might find deer antlers in the parks and forests where they roam. Here, if you are very lucky, you will find goat horns. We found one on the track last year, so I took it home, cleaned it up and it is now on the end of my walking staff, just like Moses.

At night we hear noises in the forest, may be some wild boar rooting around  or perhaps a marauding goat or two, but because they are so shy we do not see them.  However the summer is coming and we have been told it will be a dry one, the last dry one brought lots of animals down looking for water so perhaps we will have another magical evening. 

In the meantime I am taking care with my apple trees as last year the goats were eating the apples whilst they were on the trees. The trees by the way are young and about 5ft high, but as we have seen, goats can not only climb but stand on their hind legs.

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I was recently reminded about our feathered friends, and the time we first moved here.  I had started to dig out two small tree roots to lay the foundations of our home when I was assisted by a robin and great tit. We named them  The Clerk of Works – the robin –  the Forman – the great tit. It was wonderful to see how tame they seemed, they did not appear to be frightened of me and gave us many a laugh as the robin would inspect the hole as I was digging and I often had to stop or I would have hurt it as he would get under where I was working with the pickaxe. If I stopped, then the great tit would come and shout. The funniest thing was when my wife brought a cup of coffee out wearing her slippers, the tit hopped over doing his usual shouting then decided to galvanise us by began pecking at the slippers. These two birds gave us such a wonderful insight to our new world.

Then there is the `singing tree’.  This is an old almond tree which can be seen from our bedroom window and is used by the birds to teach their fledglings how to fend for themselves and we watch the goings on with interest. The males also use this tree in the mating season to strut their stuff, singing and bobbing up and down to attract a female.  There is also a bird of prey nesting in the trees at the edge of the lower field every morning we can hear the young screeching out to be fed I am hopeful of getting a picture or two when I can work out where it is.

Not everything is sweet and gentle, the wild boar can be so noisy at times. Take last night for instance, I am flying to the UK today so I needed to get some sleep, but there I was 2am listening to the pigs squealing away; what ever they were doing they seemed to be enjoying themselves. But at least they are back, we used to sit at night and watch some of them as they wandered round our land but at the beginning of the year a large cat arrived, again, we think it is a lynx any way it has departed because the goats are back on the maser and the pigs are being noisy.

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