WHY CAN'T SPANISH DOGS LEARN ENGLISH?

WHY CAN'T SPANISH DOGS LEARN ENGLISH?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE PRICKLY KIND

On Thursday afternoon, I cleaned out the chicken coop and the turkey pen, giving them all fresh straw and sorting out the dishevelled nest boxes.  Just as I was finishing raking up the poop in the Hilda's pen (the turkey), J gave a shout for me to go to him.  I thought something had happened but when I got to him, by the front of the house, there on the ground was a little curled up bundle of prickles - a hedgehog!  I was so excited, it's only the second one I have ever seen - alive - the dogs seemed rather interested in it, but were keeping their distance, they have obviously encountered them before!  I picked up our little spiny fellow and checked he was ok and not injured.



He was quite happy and seemed quite healthy.  He was obviously after the dry dog food!  We popped him into the old cat basket with some straw and I went to look up some information on them.  Hedgehogs are different here in Mallorca, in that they do not really hibernate.  We put him into the veggie plot as we had no idea where he came from in the first place.

We didn't see him on Friday, but on Saturday we found him again, in the middle of the driveway - he was nearly flattened by me in the car - very well camouflaged.  Again we put him back into the veggie plot.  If we see him again I will take him to the fields and let him loose.

C & J went to the local farm yesterday to help out the farmer, who was pulling plastic bags and rubbish from his rice field, it seems some of it comes with the fertilizer (natural) that he gets!  The call it 'abono' here, we had some from him a few months ago, but got some better stuff from another farming friend shortly afterwards.

This morning, I had one of the hen's eggs for breakfast - a double yolker - wonderful.  Keep 'em coming girls.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE 18KG (40lb) TURKEY

A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE.

Christmas Eve was a busy day.  Mum took J Christmas shopping to Inca (the nearest big town to us here in Sa Pobla).  She had him for the whole day, which meant that C and I could pop out and do final bits and pieces as well as organising 'things' here at the house.

The hens laid their eggs, well, two anyway.  C & I wrapped the prezzies (not many this year), and did some cleaning and housework.  We then discussed what to do with the turkey. 

We decided to unwrap the bird and clean it up and place it, ready, into the large oven baking tray, we had a sudden moment of doom, thinking that it wouldn't fit in the oven, but then I suggested we cut off the parsons nose and bake it separately, that way the bird would fit.  We also realised the fact that there was NO WAY it would fit if we put the bird on a rack to cook. It would be too high and touch the top of the oven.  We strung the wings and legs together, I inserted butter under the skin and seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs.  Then stuffed a pierced orange (straight off the tree) and lemon into the main cavity and an onion (from our local farmer) in the neck.  We decided not to stuff it as it was so big.


C preparing the rack we didn't use.

All wrapped up and covered in foil we put it temporarily into the oven.  We originally thought to cook it slowly overnight, which is great if you have a very deep pan and a rack for the turkey, however, this would not have worked and actually cooking such a huge bird doesn't take a lot longer than a 20lb (9Kg) bird.  So we knew we would have to get up especially early on Christmas morning to pop the oven on.




Christmas Eve evening C & I went over to mum's to have a family dinner with my aunt and also to pick up J, who was exhausted from his day with Grandma.  Dinner was wonderful, roast pork with lots of vegetables, followed by meringue with cream and berries and mince pies - yummmy.  The pork had come from the local butcher.  Meat here is so much nicer than in the UK, even the supermarket meat tastes better than the UK supermarket meat.  We finished dinner, and a little mulled wine, and said our Happy Christmases and off home we went.

J put his gifts under the tree and laid his stocking at the foot of his bed.  He put out his note, a mince pie & a glass of milk for Santa, a carrot for Rudolf and then off to bed, complaining that he was never going to get to sleep as he was so excited.  He crashed out 10 minutes later.

C & I made final preparations, had the fire burning to warm the place up, carols and mugs of mulled wine.  I think Santa came at about 23:00hrs because I heard a rustling sound, but when I looked in on Josh, there was his stocking filled to the brim, but no Santa!  I was happy for him that Santa had visited and C & I went to bed.  Setting the alarm for 4am so I could put the oven on - groan!

1AM RUFFA WAKES ME UP - HE WANTS TO GO OUT!
ALARM GOES OFF - ITS 4 AM - ohhhhhhh, I am sooooooo tired.  I leap out of bed and bleary eyed turn the oven to 250 c degrees, remembering to pull the turkey out first, crikey it weighed a ton at that time in the morning, I nearly did myself in!  I popped the kettle on and went to put something warm on.  The cold creeps up your legs through the concrete and tiled floors - it's painful! So with my red woolley Christmas socks from Norway and my turquoise crocs (lovely combo!) I went to make mugs of tea.  C joined me.  We were trying to be very quiet but it seems that the quieter you try to be, the more noise you end up making! we sat and talked and drank our tea, at 4.30AM I said I was putting the bird in.  In it went.  A feeling of panic arose as I thought, perhaps, after all our crazy efforts to raise our Christmas dinner, it would be inedible!!  We blasted the turkey for about 40-45mins then turned the heat to about 210 degrees C and went back to bed.  It was now about 5AM.  I had just snuggled in when I heard 'Mummy?', there in the gloom was a very bright eyed 9 year old.  I asked him if Santa had been, he said he had, so I told him to get his stocking and bring it to our bed.  This is normal for him, he always opens his stocking with us - it's quite a laugh really and fantastic to see the look on his face - a kind of sick, exhausted, excitement!



We all got a few more zzzzz's.  At 8am I was up and we all went about our chores.  Feeding the animals, collecting eggs, preparing breakfast, skyping family abroad etc.  At about 9.30am we took the turkey out of the oven to see how it was doing...AMAZING, it was doing fantastically. There was so much stock in the base of the pan that I had to remove it with a turkey baster before pulling the turkey out, otherwise the kitchen floor would have been swimming in it!  The bird was too big to turn over so we left it, basted and back in the oven.  By 11am the bird was done - we couldn't believe it.  Only 6.5 hours.  We let it rest for some time and cool down a little, steam was still coming out of it an hour later.  C prepared most of the vegetables and started cooking and preparing the rest of the dinner.  When it came to carving the turkey the meat just fell off the bone, the flavour was great.  I am so happy we did it,we produced our own turkey and it was good.  However, we now have enough to last us for weeks, so we are going to make pies and curries and freeze them.  


Done, so well, that one of the legs fell off!

The turkey plate is for a normal size turkey, we had to remove the wings and legs and then it only just fitted.




A happy Christmas was had by us this year and on a small budget, I am proud of ourselves for achieving this.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

LIMPING COCKEREL & MARKET VEGGIES

The hens continue to lay, sporadically.  Today I have given them some natural yoghurt and the ends of the broccoli and carrots but they turned their beaks up at it all and strolled to the other end of the coop! hurumph!! I decided to leave and go back later to see if they have tried the yoghurt.  Apparently it is good for their digestion etc. and they ARE supposed to love it.

Yesterday, I noticed that the Corsican was limping. Could I catch him? NO!! what a fiasco.  I was totally prepared to catch him and inspect whatever problem he has, I had rubber gloves, warm boiled water, cotton wool and a towel to wrap him in so he felt protected etc, but no, he wouldn't have any of it.  It felt like a Benny Hill chase sketch! I gave up wondering how to tackle this problem and decided to sleep on it. He seems perfectly normal otherwise and he is eating very well.  Perhaps I will wait till they go to roost tonight and get him then.

During a moment of boredom, on J's part, I suggested that he make some quill pens and try them out with some inks I have.  He and C sat down and occupied themselves for about an hour, making the pens out of one cockerel feather and some very large turkey feathers.  It wasn't done correctly but it worked none the less. (No photos of this at the moment).

Another wonderful egg today, yippeeee.  Being a Monday tomorrow, we went to the supermarket today to get a few final necessities for over the Christmas period. Every Monday here in Sa Pobla most of the shops are closed, this is because we have our weekly market on a Sunday, so everything  is open on Sunday until about 1pm (13h) and is closed on Monday.  Of course we had to buy eggs as the hens are not producing enough for us at the moment.  Vino was another - very important - thing on the list.

Last night mum had a gathering at her house, there was enormous amounts of delicious food, even some of the local guests bought food & wine with them, incredible.  J was doorman as he was youngest and actually the only child there until much later.  He did brilliantly and conversed in Catalan to each guest that came through the door.
J stayed the night but went to bed very late, C decided to walk back to the finca at about 11.30pm because the animals would need attending to early this morning.  I stayed with J as it was just an easier option! It was lovely to have mulled wine and not have to drive anywhere.

We got up early-ish! had breakfast and went to pick up C from the house and then drove to Pollenca, where on a Sunday morning, they also have their weekly market.  We chose to go here today as one of our farmer neighbours has his vegetable stall there and the veggies are great.  So we got lots for Christmas, bought some sweets for J from another stall and headed home.

So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, what will another day bring?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE MINI AND THE GIANT

Since the last post, we have had a steady succession of eggs (only one or two per day).  Some have been broken and found lying on the open ground, but near the hen house.  Some have been found in the hen house but on the floor and some, much to my happiness, have been found in the nest boxes.

We were finding a few eggs that had very soft shells so we've increased the hens intake of oyster shell and that seems to have done the trick.  As the hens are quite young still it is normal for eggs to be a little strange at first.  

For the last week J has been unwell with high fever. Now that is gone, but he has been left with a nasty head cold.  Needless to say he hasn't been to school since last Friday, so I took him to see his teacher and to explain that he wouldn't be participating in the School Christmas carol concert tonight at the church. 
I picked up his school report, which I have to say was excellent, and his polystyrene guitar (Paul MacCartney's Hoffner bass replica), that I made in a hurry a couple of weekends ago.  


Just as I was leaving the school, I had a hurried phone call from C saying the hens had laid again.  On our return home J and I went to the kitchen to view the eggs - 2 of them, one small, just like the previous ones and one - extra large! yipppeeeeee.  Bigger eggs!


The mini and the giant!














I am hoping that some of the eating oranges are nearly ready to pick, but we only have two trees of them, the rest of the grove are juicers.  The mandarins are ready, maybe another day or two.  Lots of them this year.

Last night I began making vol-au-vents for a 'do' we are going to on Saturday night at mum's.  I finished them this morning, I have no idea how many there are, but they are mini so I know there are more than 100!




Mini vol-au-vent order.









This morning C cooked a full breakfast using two eggs that were laid yesterday afternoon.  But the bacon fought back, much to his consternation.  That'll teach him to cook in last nights sausage fat - deary me!


C fighting with the bacon!






 J's fresh boiled egg, yummy.






So we are almost ready for a more basic Christmas this year.  We have had to tighten the reins considerably due to lack of work, but we shall be together and we'll be having a big family dinner on Christmas eve at mum's as well.  Everything else will be normal here as we have the animals to look after.  If the weather is good we will go off for a country walk with Ruffa - or perhaps a bike ride.

A couple more photos:


C closing up the coop after checking for eggs this morning.













Just before dawn with Venus as a bright dot.  It's a bit grainy as my mobile isn't good with photos!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

EGGS!

This morning was really chilly when I ventured out at 7.30am.  The cockerel was crowing like mad but I decided to feed Humphrina the turkey as she is now all alone...


Once I had finished my little chat with her and made sure she had everything she needed I strolled up to the chicken coop to see what all the fuss was about.  





Humphrina taking a stroll at sunset before roosting


When I opened the gate and walked in, there, on the ground was a perfectly formed, if not a little small, egg.  Yippeeee, they have finally started laying.  Although I really wish they had done it in the nest boxes C so lovingly made for them.  I am so happy.  I fed them and ran back to the house to show J and C my find.  They were also very happy, so now we can stop buying so many eggs from the supermarkets.



Our first chicken egg - hooray.







Whilst I was out on an airport run this afternoon, C sent me a text to say that he'd found another two eggs beside the hen house but that their shells had broken and were very thin! oh dear.  He got rid of them quickly as we don't want the hens to get a taste for them!  We will have to keep a very watchful eye on the laying status of the girls.

Not much else to report today.


 The chickens and roo at sunset this evening

Sunset over the potato fields and town with the mountains in the distance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A SLIGHTLY CALMER DAY

Today has been slightly calmer thankfully.  After getting up in a rush to get ready, J and I were offered a lift to school by J's Grandma, which was a boon.  So we were able to have a leisurely breakfast.

Myself and C went into town afterwards to ask the mechanic to continue with works on the car - groan, no Christmas extras for us this year!! Why do car's always breakdown when you REALLY don't need them to??  Anyway enough moans and groans.  We ran a few errands and then went back to the house.

Weather-wise, it has been gloomy, overcast and a little light rain, also rather chilly, even the locals were saying it was 'muy frio'!  Not as cold as the UK me thinks!!

All is quiet at the mini farm here.  Our other turkey is quiet but pops out to chat whenever I check on her, she seems happy enough and is eating, so doesn't seem too lonely without her previous companion.  The rooster is doing his very best to make the hens lay! The cats are snuggled up somewhere, sleeping as much as possible and the dogs are playing, sleeping and messing about in the yard.  

So not much to report here today except the oranges and mandarins are almost ready for picking.  We also have two trees of olives that need harvesting but so far we've had no time.  Perhaps tomorrow morning!!!  I need to find a large amount of salt so we can get them in water to mature.  You cannot eat them straight off the trees.

There doesn't look like many oranges etc, but the trees are laden - whooohooo, more marmalade please C.

Here in Mallorca I find that whenever you plan something, another 'thing' stops you from doing it - temporarily anyway.  

There is now a large crop of potatoes growing one side of us, the other side of us has an enormous field of lettuces and opposite us a field of artichokes, so all the farmers are busy with their crops.  Ours are coming on, but because of the cold they are a little slow to grow.

J has done his nativity scene and I have a log fire roaring to warm things up a little.  I expect Ruffa will come in to warm himself for a bit soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CHRISTMAS TURKEY, CAR AND LOGS

Well, today has been extremely eventful already and its barely 1pm! I'm exhausted and so is C, partially through hard & unusual work for us and partially, or more likely, emotional.

The day began with us flying out of bed around 7am, C had to walk J to school because the car has been in the garage for two days and they still haven't found the problem! All I know is that the antifreeze/water keeps leaking out and then the car computer screams at me to STOP in big red letters and the alarms start going off!! AARrrrrrgh.

So at about 7.55am I leapt on my bike and peddled like a crazy woman, to the garage, to find out what was happening.  Everything here in Mallorca can be very laid back, sometimes too laid back for my liking, but hey ho.  It was really chilly this morning and my eyes were streaming by the time I'd got into town.  The car hadn't even been looked at properly...groan!...SO I peddled, like a mad woman, back to the finca (farmhouse, for those not remembering).  I saw C walking J to school and let them hurry on.  

As I went through the gate I realised the bonfire was still burning from yesterday afternoon.  There is a big area outside the finca gates, that we and other local farmers use as a dumping ground for all sorts of things, then the whole lot is burned up in one go.  There are of course times of the year, namely the summer, when it is illegal to have any fires of this sort.  Good thing too, considering the number of wild fires we get on the island.  The smoke kept wafting into the chicken coop, I don't really want smoked chicken yet thanks!

I prepared a huge pan with water and set it on the gas to boil up.  Meanwhile I had tea and toast and put the computer on.  This morning was the time of turkey dispatch to be made ready for Christmas.  Our wonderful, beautiful turkey whom I was growing a little fond of, although he pecked me really hard yesterday - ouch! But he did look beautiful when he puffed himself up to show off.  I knew he was a big bird, but we were in for a surprise!

A friend of mine, who lives in the town, has her parents living nearby, they are used to dealing with chickens and turkeys etc and were coming round to help show me what to do.  They turned up at 9.30am as organised.  Armed with the necessary 'things' needed for the deed.  I was feeling very nervous about the whole thing and had no idea how I was going to react or feel.  They were lovely people and my friend's mum was very matter of fact and just-get-on-with-it type, it was good really, I think she could see I was a little flustered!  When she saw the size of the turkey, along with her husband, they both immediately mentioned how big he was (in Mallorquin).  I went into the pen to try to capture him, this was the first time in quite a while since I'd tried to pick him up and as I caught him I discovered how heavy and strong he was and my grip slipped.  His wing flapped in my face and I ended up with a red Harry Potter zig-zag line, from my forehead down to my chin! NICE!! I guess it was my just deserts for what was coming to him...

Mr and Mrs C managed to get him with not too much difficulty and little stress to him.  Then we carried him away from the pen and the deed was done.

I am deliberately not going into details about it as I know a couple of people are a lot more sensitive about these things than I am.  Don't get me wrong..I am sensitive about these things but in a more practical way.

So once done, we said thank you and goodbye to Mr and Mrs C and they offered help and advice for the future.  C and I continued to deal with the bird and prepared him for hanging.  So, it is done, finally.  He will hang for a few days and then be frozen ready for Christmas lunch.  HOWEVER.....it turns out that he is about 18 or so KG - MASSIVE.  So I know that it will not go in our local bakers ovens (which is where we normally have our bird cooked on Christmas morning), so I have devised a plan.  It will be cooked in our oven but because it is so big, it will probably take about 6 or 7 hours.  Guess who's getting up at 4 in the morning to prep everything and put the oven on!! 

I feel a little saddened that Spock is gone but we got him for the purpose of rearing for meat and that is what he has become.  We will enjoy it.

Immediately after dressing the bird, I had to walk (at full speed) into town again, I had to be at the log man by midday.  He was going to deliver a small van load of logs but wanted me to meet him as he didn't know the way.  So, when I got there, he was leaning on the van waiting for me, I could hardly breathe but managed a few words of Spanish in between breaths of air.  The van was loaded ready and we got in and drove back to the finca.  We unloaded the logs in the middle of the driveway and he only charged me 50€ instead of the 60€ he said it would cost.  I did plead poverty a little in the car but never expected him to let me off 10€.  Anyway, he did so that was good.  C helped the man unload and C then took the logs round the back of the house near the back door (which is undercover), so they are easy to grab when the weather is much colder and it keeps them drier.

Well, this is a long post today, C has gone off to pick J up from school and I am going to have a cuppa.  




  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

WALK ON THE BEACH

Today is a lovely sunny day and the temperature outside is about 13.5 degrees, the sun feels lovely and warm on your face.  We decided that we would go for a walk on the beach, and take Ruffa (our boxer), to see if we can find pine cones and bits of wood.

The beach was fantastic, no chilly wind, warm sunshine (although still only about 13 degrees as mentioned before).  There were loads of empty shells to pick up but no drift wood today.  I think we need a big storm so we can go collecting again.



We decided to walk back under the pine trees (along the beach) to collect some cones and twigs, we gathered a bag full but most of the cones are still on the trees, another week perhaps?!!


Ruffa had a lovely walk and was quite well behaved for a change.  I am trying to get him used to water but he is scared of the sea and its little waves, when I manage to get him to stand at the waters edge he freezes and won't move! So I didn't push it today.  I wish you could have dogs on the beach in the summer (or a specific beach for dogs only would be better) then he could learn to like it more and have a bit of fun.

This week coming is the time we are going to get rid of Spock!! so I can prepare him for Christmas.  It will be a difficult week for us all I think.  

On our return to the house our old cat (old abuela) was taking a drink out of the dogs water trough!




Monday, December 3, 2012

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!

We have had several weeks wondering why Humphrey the turkey seemed smaller and less developed than Spock, we have now decided that HE is actually a SHE!

So, we will continue to monitor this new situation and see if she lays any eggs.  Although I suspect it is a bit cold for her now and perhaps they only lay in the warmer months.  I will have to do some extra reading on this behaviour.


 Spock on the left, Humphrey (now Humphrina) on the right.
Spock displaying his white plumage.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DECEMBER ALREADY!!

Well it's been sometime since I wrote any posts, this is because I went jet-setting for a few weeks.  Coming home here to the island is very cold in comparison!

The turkeys have grown considerably, Spock is enormous and almost ready for dispatch (will we do it?? who knows), Humphrey doesn't seem to have grown as much, I wonder if that is due to Spock being dominant or perhaps Humphrey is a girl!!!!!!!  Further investigation is required.

The Corsican (cockerel) is looking mighty fine and keeping his 3 girls under control.  We now have plastic eggs in the hen house to try to encourage laying.  The hens eat layers mash with extra corn and other grains for treats, they are also getting lots of veggies bits and bobs through each week.  They all look very healthy, which I am pleased about.


The two dogs are fine and Ruffa now comes in for a time at night as it is getting very chilly.  Only 2 degrees yesterday morning but today it should go up to about 14 degrees (ish).  Apparently we are due snow on the mountains at about 1000m, I am keeping an eye out.

I can't believe it's December already.  We have lettuces, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels growing at the moment, but we are battling with snails - very annoying, so most of the leaves are looking a bit sorry for themselves.

Preparations are now underway leading up to the Christmas period.  Stay tuned....

Monday, October 29, 2012

VEGGIE PLOT IS PREPARED

So, at long last the vegetable plot has been de-weeded, the beans - what there was of them - have been discarded, the leaks - that had some horrible insect burrowing into them have been ditched, and the last courgette (calabacin) plant has been ripped up.

The plot has been manured, rotovated, watered (by the rain) and now raked.  A new path is going through it over the next couple of days, so that we have easier access to the chicken coop with the wheel barrow.  For the summer I have had to do some crazy manoeuvres to get the barrow into the coop so I can clean out the house, completely bonkers, but now I hope it will be less awkward.  

We have already been to the farm down the road (our neighbour) to pick up some new plants, lettuces (about 4 different types), cabbages, cauliflowers and brussels sprouts also some parsley and swiss chard (not sure what to do with that yet! need to analyse a cookery book).  I am hoping we can get a good rotation going on the plot so we always have something ready to eat.

C will plant them all in during this week and then next month we'll pick up another lot and so on.  Eventually I hope we'll have enough to keep us going through the winter months.


The rotten leaks! such a shame, I was looking forward to leak & potato soup and ham and leak pie etc..  Never mind, there's always next year.



Below is C in the veggie plot, with only half of it done so far, it's not a good picture as my camera has broken and my phone is awful for taking pictures, but it kind of gives you an idea.  The mound in the foreground is what they call 'abono' here in Mallorca.  To us it's poop! or manure if you want to be correct about it.  We didn't give the earth any nutrients last time and this is probably why our crops did so badly, that and the fact that it was darn hot this summer.








The poop pile and looking towards the compost box and the house.
 The plot all wonderfully manured and awaiting a good rain and rake in.





 Ruffa looking at the chickens that had a lovely peck about the plot for an afternoon.  That certainly won't happen once the new seedlings are in position!

Below, the orange trees are in full swing getting themselves ready for November/December.  I'm hoping C will be making many jars of marmalade, yummy.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

THE TURKEYS ARE RECOVERED

So the lovely 'turkey boys' are now fully recovered from their bout of chicken pox (or rather fowl pox!) and are looking much finer.   They are growing very quickly and eating an enormous amount! I have no idea where they put it, they are like starving teenagers.



This is Spock and Humphrey is looking headless in the background!  I would imagine he is preening himself.  

Since taking these pictures their tiny house has been enlarged slightly but they tend to roost on the top of it under the pine trees and only take shelter if the weather really is awful!

They are now quite strong but I managed to re-clip their wings the other day as they were looking rather flappy.  It was a bit of a battle getting a grip on them without them hurting themselves, but once I had them with their heads under my left arm, they stood quite still and calm.  At one point one of our kittens happened to wander into the pen whilst I was in mid-clip, and then Humphrey made a big hissing sound! I'd never heard that before.  The kitten was quickly removed before Spock decided to peck at it.  

I am hoping to gather some more materials for the turkey house so we can build it bigger but I think it will be fine for now.  I have put straw inside and their food is undercover also, they seem quite happy with the arrangement for now.  I have no idea how two male turkeys compete or behave together when they are fully grown, but there are no females around to impress, so I am hoping they will behave themselves.

The weather today is very windy and the temperature has dropped considerably, it is quite chilly inside the house today, probably marginally warmer outside.  We have de-flea'd Ruffa (our boxer) so that he can start to come inside in the colder weather.



Boxers tend to be sensitive to temperature and I noticed the other night he was curled up tightly in a little ball to try to keep warm on the sofa outside.  So his indoor bedding is washed and ready for him to curl up on for the chillier nights to come.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

THE CORSICAN DOTH CROW

It has been a while since writing due to many unforeseen circumstances and a few struggles with work etc..However, I hope to keep this as up to date as possible.

The chickens are now really growing, the hens seem happy and I now give them a mix of layers mash, chipped corn and a lovely mixture of cereals n seeds.  We get their feed from the local cooperativa in Campanet, a village nearby, although I have now discovered I can buy it locally here in Sa Pobla.



About a week ago the cockerel began to crow.  Whilst lying in bed we heard a very strange crow that began quite well and then ended up sounding like an animal being strangled! We leapt out of bed and went to investigate.  There was The Corsican (named by C because - 'course he can') head held high giving it all he had.  He needs a little practice but it's great to seem him growing up at last.  He keeps his 3 ladies in perfect order for now and nobody is pecked too much so all is calm in the coop - for now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ORANGE BLOSSOM

This morning the turkeys are worse! They are fine in themselves, eating like crazy, drinking and seem quite happy, but their avian pox is looking horrible.  I spoke with a vet and did some research online, we just have to let the virus take it's course.  

Here in Mallorca you can buy veterinary products over the counter at a pharmacy, which is always useful.  I have got some supplements for them to see if I can boost their immune systems and get rid of the virus quicker.  I just add a little to their water every day.

The chickens are doing great and I have just begun building a secondary (small) portable coop.  This will be for quarantined birds/sick birds etc.  But the main reason for it is that we are about to add to our chicken flock and need a place to quarantine the new hens when they arrive.  Because they are from a different flock they could be carrying some nasty viruses or diseases, so we quarantine for about a month to keep an eye on them.  It may take me a while to build the thing though!!

Today the orange blossom on two of our trees has opened up and the smell on the wind is amazing.  Such a powerful blossom.


We only have two orange trees that blossom now in September/October, but the others already have a good crop of oranges growing ready for December - delicious.  The mandarins look better this season also, last seasons crop was very poor!  They are all still green, they won't turn orange for another two months I expect!


Monday, September 24, 2012

TURKEYS, CHICKEN POX AND SUNSET

Well, I noticed yesterday that although the turkeys are really happy and growing very well, feeding and drinking with no problems, they both had black spots on their heads and necks!! today I have notice it is also on their bodies - AAARRRRGGHHH!! What is it??  I have searched and researched on the web and I think I have discovered what it is.  It is the poultry version of CHICKEN POX!! I believe the correct term for it is Fowl Pox - NICE!! 


I think the black dots are the 'fowl pox'! 
So what to do??? I am awaiting a reply from Backyard Chickens.com, someone must know some more info on this virus!  I don't think there is anything we can do, just ride it out like humans have to.  We will see what tomorrow brings.

The turkeys and the chickens all seem to be doing well for now. I think rain is forecast in the next couple of days, but I'm hoping we won't get flooded again, not much fun for the birds, although they all seem to dry out pretty quickly as we are still getting warm sunny days with temperatures around 28C or more.  Lovely.

I want to change the turkey house and make it a little higher as they are growing so fast, but I haven't any materials at the moment, I may have to improvise - as usual.


waiting for more food - they are so greedy.

Humphrey decided to nibble some orange tree leaves

Spock and Humphrey
As all the birds began to settle down for the night, I went to change the turkey's water and they hopped up onto their house to roost for the night.  The sunset was amazing from their pen and across the fields.


Sunset over Sa Pobla

Thursday, September 13, 2012

FLOODING AND WATERLOGGED TURKEYS

Last night was eventful!

We had an enormous amount of rain that fell on us.  It probably began around 23:30 with incredible displays of electricity in the sky, the rumblings of thunder soon came and there were a couple of real crackers, which set the dogs off around the countryside.  I couldn't drop off to sleep as I was wondering what we were in for as the wind got stronger, because I hadn't seen the forecast for the night and I hadn't realised that we were in for a big'n. 

The rain began lightly and at this point I thought it best to go out and close the shutters, the wind was getting up and it was coming from the north, so this blew straight into our bedroom and the living room.  I popped out of the back door so not to disturb J or C, and was promptly followed by 3 cats and two kittens who thought I was bringing them food - oh no, not at that time of night.

Shutters on that side of the house closed I went back inside and tried to settle down for the night.  I couldn't. The rain began in earnest and so I had to close the windows as well because the wind blew the rain under the exterior shutters (persianas).  I popped over to the other side of the house to make sure the rain wasn't coming in there either, but that seemed fine...for a moment.....then I heard it.  

It came down incredibly hard, it was like a tropical storm, I whipped round the house closing all the windows I could and although the weather came from the north the wind was all over the place and was blowing it in all directions.

The roof in the living room began to leak! so I grabbed bowls and towels (to stop the drip, drip noise), then I heard a LOT of water outside the front of the house and the dogs barking periodically.  I decided to check.

Peering around the front door I saw a bucket float past! and Rex barked at it as if it was an intruder.  I grabbed my waterproofs and wellies, desperately trying to pull a pair of socks on  - I hate wellington boots with no socks!!  You never know if there are spiders hiding in the toe end!!  I grabbed a torch and went outside.  Meanwhile...C was sound asleep and I couldn't wake him to help me out & J was sparko.

The flooding came up to my shins! great.  I knew it was the drains covered in leaves, so for 20 mins I set about clearing them - it took a while but finally the water subsided and drained away.  Then I thought ' oh heck the turkeys!'.  Their pen is situated at the bottom of a small orange grove and when it rains it gets very, very muddy!!

On my way down the grove past the trees - which were all completely waterlogged - there was a huge puddle by the turkeys gate.  I managed to untie the sodden rope and went into the pen, shining the torch to see if they were ok.  I couldn't find them.  You would think that they would have been snuggled up in their little house - but NO! they were in the corner under a tree, huddled up and as close to the back wall as possible.  They looked completely bedraggled and their feathers were all wet, they were not happy boys.  Half the pen was underwater, so I carefully picked up Spock and put him under cover and then Humphrey.  Their food was mush, so I tipped it out and ran back to the store cupboard to get them some dry mash, ready for the morning.  I then had to run back to the garage to grab some dry straw which they then snuggled into quite happily for the rest of the night.

On waking up this morning and looking outside, there was no trace of any flooding at all! The land has been so dry this summer that it just soaked it up as soon as possible.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

VEGGIE COLLECTING IN PYJAMAS!

We have many colourful characters around here, especially some of the local farmers.

We were getting ready to settle in for the evening on Monday 10th Sept - being English we tend to do that a lot earlier than the locals, who seem to be up till midnight as a general rule! - it must have been about 8pm or 8.30pm,  when one of our local farmers appeared at the gate.  We only knew this as the dogs were going crazy.  The three of us ventured out to say hello.  C, dressed but with no shoes on, hobbled out to the gate, J and I had our pyjamas on with flip-flops.

Our farmer M, who grows specialist rice here in Sa Pobla, was waiting with his van.  I just about understood what he was asking.. 'Do you like aubergines?'.   Well, actually no I can't stand them, but C likes them and I know they are pretty good in chutneys so we nodded and said 'si, si, muy bueno'.  He beckoned to us to come outside and spoke Mallorquin to J, so I had no idea what he said.  J then interpreted (it's great having a son that can tell me what is going on), saying, we have to go with him down the road to his friend's finca and pick some veggies.  C & I looked at each other and to not appear rude we said 'ok'.

The 3 of us piled into the van and we trundled off down the lanes to another small farm.  A tied up dog barked at us furiously as we drove into the driveway and we pulled up outside a small house.  Out we got, no sign of anyone! were they there?

Eventually an elderly man appeared at the door.  We weren't introduced just told to go round to the field at the back and pick what we wanted!  There wasn't a great deal to choose from but we had aubergines and a few peppers.

It has been a bad year for many vegetables this year, apparently because it has been so hot.  I know that our veg hasn't done at all well, in fact I think we only managed to salvage about 3 courgettes and 5 tomatoes! Our sweetcorn is being pulled up today because it's got some disease or other, bulging with nasty blackness - yuk.  Any cobs we can salvage will be dried and used as fire lighters for the winter.

So, J and I stumbled about in the dark collecting aubergines and peppers whilst M (our farmer) nattered on about how bad everything was this year.

We eventually ended up at the front of the house, after inspecting the beans, sweet potatoes and leeks, which apparently won't be ready for at least another 15 days.  The old man was there and pointed to an enormous mound of squashes - they all looked like giant butternut squash - one of my favourite vegetables roasted with chicken - yum.  Anyway, he offered us two.  One from the front which was rather green and one from the back of the pile.  I tried to pick the green one up and succeeded, but it was unbelievably heavy!  It had to be two foot long or more! He told us that it would not be ready to eat for another 6 months!! the yellow one would be ready for now.  C, J and I thanked him very much and piled back into the van, after C made friends with the dog.  The old man found it very funny us trying to carry the squash to the van and we left him chuckling away with his dog and family.

When we returned home C weighed the largest squash - the green one - and it was 10kg!! ridiculous.

When we got home M also gave us some rotten peaches which he said the chickens and turkeys would love.  I've yet to try them on fruit. Perhaps today.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

TURKEYS (24th August 2012)

We went to open a bank account in the town today.  We thought it best to do the sensible thing and be a little more part of the community and all that.  Plus it's easier having a bank in the town, so C & I opened an account at one of our local branches. Nice and easy it didn't take long at all.  Then the turkeys came into it!

When I last opened a bank account here on the island, I received - as a free gift - a bottle of Tunel.  Horrible stuff, a little like Pernod, but C likes it.  This time however, we got a turkey!!! No, not from the bank.  

After the bank trip, the three of us (C, J & myself), decided to pay a visit to the poultry farm in Ariany to look at turkeys for Christmas.  Now being the time to buy them so they are nice and fat for the Christmas table!  When we arrived we expressed our interest in seeing some turkeys, how much were they? and what was the availability? We were not buying one now, you see.  It transpired they were only 7€.  We'll take one.  Damn, I've done it again!!  The farm was huge and C fell in love with it.  If we do the lottery and win, we should buy something on this scale, I mumbled over the noise of the guinea fowl, ducks, turkeys, chicks, goats, rabbits, dogs and cats and pigeons!  The owner showed us around.  In one field there were hundreds of guinea fowl with their beautiful plumage and a couple of goats, one of which was up an old almond tree.  I don't think I'd ever seen a goat up a tree! Has anyone else?



On the drive home we realise, in typical 'us' fashion, we have nowhere to house it and no pen for it.  You are not supposed to have turkeys and chickens together - apparently due to exchange of disease.  It can't roam free because the dogs will eat it, so we decided on an area at the bottom of the orange grove.  The trouble was that it was not fenced in.  So, on the way back we stopped off at the Cooperativa to pick up 7 wooden posts, a feeder and water container, we had some spare chicken wire at home which was good.  Once home, C began work enthusiastically in the 40 degree heat - FOOL! and I realise that one turkey is going to be quite lonely with out a pal!  I suggested to C that we should get Humphrey (I know, never name them) a companion.  Several hours later, while C is finishing the pen, J and I go to buy turkey no.2 (now known as Mr Spock, Captain Kirks' no.2 - we aren't Trekkies by the way).  During our absence, Ma arrives with refreshments - essentially beer for C.  Whilst sitting in the kitchen chatting, C asked Ma to view our latest acquisition. On going outside C shouts furiously at Rex (our big Mallorcan dog) who is in the newly made turkey pen.  Stupid man didn't tie the gate up!!!!!!   With Rex out of the way, Ma saw Ruffa (our bouncy, young boxer) with Humphrey in his jaws.  Jesus Christ! we've only just bought the bird.  C legs it to the front of the house so he can race round to the back and try to save our turkey.

After a sharp talking to and a 'slight scuffle', Ruffa concedes the point and lets Humphrey go.  Apparently.  For the next 12 hours or so, Humphrey is a bit subdued but none the worse for his experience.

So now we have two turkeys for Christmas.  Which one will we eat first?  Whose going to do the dirty deed? Are we actually going to eat them finally?

J says 'we can't eat a family member'.  We will just have to wait and see....
Adios
M