Sunday, January 27, 2013


So the sun came out at last.  It didn't really rain for long but it felt like it.  I suppose I just hate gloomy weather.  Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, today a bit of a mix.  Apparently we are in for another storm tonight so we will have to batten down the hatches (shut all the persiana's).  Persiana's are shutters for the exterior of windows.  Very common here in Spain and many other countries also.  

Snow capped peaks of the Tramuntana Mountain range.  View from Son Sintes, Sa Pobla, across the potato field.

We had a fairly quiet day today, although we had guests for lunch.  C was in the kitchen all morning - almost.  He made a marmalade cake (which we gave our guests to take home with them), a pear and ginger cake, which was served hot for pudding (with cream), roast chicken & roast potatoes with lots of fresh veggies.  We also served some shortbread biscuits at the end of the meal, I made these on Friday evening.

We finally managed to get some sawdust for the hen house (it is so expensive) so I was able to clean out the hens yesterday, which I do regularly, but at least they had some better bedding.  They keep kicking out all the straw from the nest boxes so I am going to see if I can find an alternative.

 The cleaning out process.  It was very muddy so I spread some clean straw around the coop which helps with the footing (mine not the chickens).

Sawdust - hooray.  

 Rex and Ruffa

Keeping en eye on this girl, she was behaving strangely for a day or so!  
I have also wormed the chickens now, so we can't eat the eggs for a few days.

More news soon.  Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Well, we all know the famous saying, 'it never rains but it pours', perhaps it should be 'paws' instead!!  This morning I went outside to clean up a wound one of our cats has, probably from a big cat fight the other day.  Whilst cleaning I realised how nasty it was, and he has a big infection.  So I bit the bullet and trundled him to the vet.

After about an hour we emerged, cleaned up, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and bandaged.  I have to play vet to him for the next week probably, cleaning and re-bandaging the wound twice a day at first, then every other day.  So Adolf, as he is known because of his little black moustache, is staying first class in our small bathroom with his own bed and loo etc.  Good job I'm not working full time at the moment.  Anyway, I am sure he'll be fine now.

Update on Rufferty Roo (our boxer), his ears are improving already, after just two days of drops, which is great news.

So what with the dog, the cat and the turkey, I am hoping that's it for a while! no more animal sickness please, I need to look after some humans too!!

I managed to pick up some gas bottles this morning (we don't have piped gas to this part of the island), but only just before they closed, as C is trying to make marmalade and it uses a lot of gas on the hob!

The other day, C was in the vegetable plot turning over some of the beds and getting rid of some weeds, which grow like crazy here.  He let the chickens out and they followed him about picking up insects and big juicy worms - lovely for them.

C digging over one of the beds, the girls pecking away and the roo strutting his stuff

Whilst pruning one of the pear trees, that had been completely overgrown with a climbing plant, I discovered some very strong spider web strands, perhaps they were made by another insect/animal but these were so tough and sticky they were difficult to break and pull off the tree.

Silk threads in the sunshine
The chickens are enjoying their weekly treat of foraging in the vegetable plot, however, the cockerel is getting a taste for cabbage leaves, so we have to be on guard, I need to build something to keep them off!

The girls going through the parsley & lettuce! 

 Samuel Sprat sizing up the cockerel!

Spot Samuel Sprat - hiding out

Thursday, January 24, 2013


This morning we found sadly that Hilda (AKA Hermasetas or Humphrina) had died in the night.  We suspected there was a problem but before we could deduce what the problem was she passed away.  She was made as comfortable as possible before we went to bed but it was in vain.  

Hilda on a better day..

So we will not be eating her as we have no idea why she died.  I feel quite sad about it as I began to get quite attached to her.  She was a sensitive soul.  We will not get more turkeys until July or August - so we have SPACE for something else perhaps?? hold that thought.

The rain is relentless here in Sa Pobla, everything is sopping wet, which for the fields isn't a bad thing as November and December were very dry months.  It is also very cold and there is now snow on the mountains.
View of snow capped mountains from Campanet
So today Ruffa went to the vet to have his ears looked at, he's got terrible itches in them and it's been driving him bonkers.  He apparently has a fungus in there - yuk but now we have some drops for him, I am hoping it will ease his insane scratching.

C & I have stocked up on straw and sawdust bedding for the chickens and I will be cleaning them out tomorrow morning.  I am also hoping to get the turkey pen thoroughly cleaned out and sprayed with disinfectant before anything else goes in there.  We are also trying to finish off a smaller hen cage, so that when we go to pick up some new ones we can keep them separate from the rest of the flock, just for a few weeks, in case they are carrying any diseases!  Our girls are laying quite well, but since the snow appeared on the mountains they have slowed down! 

Looking forward to more marmalade tomorrow morning, C said he was planning on making some, along with a marmalade cake, lemon cake and a pear and ginger cake.

Tonight there was a lovely sunset and I caught it's reflection  on some big clouds with the moon.  

Winter trees 18:00hrs

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It has been a busy week.  Now after all the festivities we can settle into a more 'normal' routine again.

Between the correfoc, which is really the start of the Sant Antoni celebrations, and Sant Antoni itself on the night of the 16th and day of the 17th January, we began quite a lot of pruning.  We have some overgrown bougainvillea, which we began to prune a while ago, it seems to be a continuous job as it is such a tangled mess.  Also some old pear trees, which didn't look as if they had been touched for years, I de-tangled one, which was overgrown by some flowing, climbing plant and have pruned back some of the branches and spurs.  I will tackle a little more of those later this winter.  

Samuel Sprat helping me prune the pear tree!

Pruning pear trees (on right) and bougainvillea (ahead)

Whilst pruning the dog rose I found a large grasshopper.  It maybe a locust or a cicada, I'm not sure, I haven't looked him up yet.  But he was very green so I think he had probably only recently molted.

All the rose bushes (bar one!) are now pruned and ready for new growth to begin.  The old infested apple tree roots etc have now been dug out and we had a fire on the earth it was in to kill off any bugs there.

Starting a fire where the old infected apple tree was.

On the day of the 16th, J went to school as usual, but all the children from all the schools in Sa Pobla go on a traditional walk to and old area of land called Sa Llebre, where they collect wood and eat various Mallorcan delicacies such as sobrasada and botifaro, both are types of sausage and are made at the time of the matanzas (pig killings).  We collected J from school at around 1pm today, and went home to have lunch.  At 2.30pm we whizzed back to the town to the church where J waited with his devil's pitch fork for the dimonis (devils) to come out of the vicarage.

The Dimonis come out of the vicarage and begin their walk/run around the town.
All the fires are ready to be lit this evening.  Older children play with fireworks and firecrackers/bangers by placing them in the fires before they are lit.  

All around the streets are bonfires built close to the buildings, on cross-roads, by the bars and restaurants, and many are wrapped in herbs, olive leaves and various leafy brush, these are not lit until the evening.

The devils appeared and everyone screamed in excitement because now the children chase the devils around the town and the devils chase the children and go into every bar/restaurant along the way.  Some kids are terrified, understandably, even some of the adults run away! But it is all part of the tradition and it is great fun.  I met several Mallorcan friends at the bar where I was having a drink and they were supposed to be having siesta but were too excited so came out to join in instead - excellent.

A couple of hours later, we caught up with J, who was exhausted and thirsty.  This year we gave him a mobile phone so he could keep in touch with us, we lost him last year, and it was a bit of a panic.  Then we went home for a rest.

That evening, C, J and I went into town at about 9pm, we made our way to the main square (Placa Major) and were met with thousands of people.  It was packed and we couldn't stand where we wanted to, so we ran round the back streets and stood at the top end of the square where we had a better view.  Not many photos to put on here for this night.  The first thing we saw were the caparrots doing their traditional dance, and the devils did their dance also. C lifted J up so he could see the dances and we were told later that evening that he was seen on the local TV channel - fame at last.
 The devil lit up on the top of the town hall in Sa Pobla

Fireworks from the top of the town hall.

All lit up

Then at the end of the dances, the lights went out...The music began and a big pyromusic display followed.  It was wonderful.  However, poor J, just before it ended, was violently sick, by a tree we managed to find amongst the crowd - oh dear, not a good way to end the evening.  It took a while to escape the dense crowd of locals and tourists but we got him home to bed eventually.

The next day he seemed fine and we were due to see the Caparrots dance and watch the blessing of the animals (Beneides) at the church, but once we got into town he was unwell again! so off home we went again.

After all the Sant Antoni celebrations all the fires were rebuilt ready for Sant Sebastian.  This fiesta is held on the 20th January and on the night of the 19th, we were invited to a party held by one of our good friends, Sebastian.  Here in Spain (Mallorca), if your name is the same as a Saints, you have what is called a Saints day.  A bit like a birthday, so you often have gifts and a big meal.  It was an honour to be invited and very much enjoyed.  After eating, we said our goodbyes and left. We looked at a few of the fires still burning and went home.

Now the year can really start.  Next big fiesta I think is Easter, but there always seems to be something happening here, so I expect there will be celebrations going on between now and then.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Last night went well, although this year was quite different to last.  Not quite as exciting but still good fun.  J got extremely tired but managed to see it through.  Here are a few pictures before we get back to the farming side of things..

In full swing, devils, demons, fire crackers, fireworks, dragons

The drumming devils before the fire run.

Ok, so back to the olives, I managed to get hold of a big plastic tub with a strong sealable lid.  I need to put a hole in the bottom, put in my olives (the second batch) and add a lot of salt.  About a quarter of the weight of the olives in salt should do it.  This is a dry cure method for them, we thought we would try both and see which taste better when done.  The dry cure method takes about 3 weeks and you need to top up with salt regularly, liquid from the olives drips out of the bottom of the tub (where the hole is) and this is the bitterness being removed.  Once done you can then pickle or what ever you want to do with them.

The hens DID actually lay yesterday, two eggs.  Today so far only one and it looks like it's been pecked, although it hasn't gone right through.

More Sant Antoni celebrations over the week, so more photos to come, interspersed with more agricultural things from the finca.  

The weather here is finally cooling down, which is good, because many plants (and humans) are suffering from viruses, bacterias etc.  We need some cold weather to kill them all.  Apparently we are due for snow on the mountains, there was certainly a very chilly wind this morning, another good reason why I like Sant Antoni, there is always a bonfire in the road somewhere to keep you warm.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Tonight in Sa Pobla, we have what is known locally as a correfoc - it translates to 'running with fire'.  Each year on the 17th January we celebrate Saint Anthony, or Sant Antoni as is pronounced here in Mallorca.  Many people dress up as devils/demons and various activities are put on and are associated with the fiesta, which can last about a week, with music, fireworks, running, food - always food, drums, traditional dress, caparrots (people wear extra large heads and do a dance called the Ball de Caparrots), art exhibitions, concerts, traditional songs and ximbombas.

Tonight is the correfoc which begins at midnight.  We will be going for supper at mum's for about 8pm.  Thankfully jacket spuds and not the main traditional food for this fiesta - eels! which personally I have never been able to even try!! But they rage about it here.  There are other delicacies also, various pies with or without eel and a great deal of tapas.

The correfoc is exciting.  Big devils banging drums with lit drumsticks appear from a red cloud of smoke from the town hall, the town hall looks as if it is alight.  The drums are very loud and booming.  Many devils appear and light fireworks and run with fireworks in their hands trying to scare people.  It is a very traditional ceremony, I hope to post some photos in  the next few days! if I manage to get any.

Before we go out tonight, C is popping down to one of the local farms to help out with some work.  We have had a busy day already, so I am going to have a rest before we whizz off for supper.  We have had 1 ton of logs delivered today, so we can keep the fire going through the day as well.  We are getting rather a lot of damp/mould going on in the house and need to dry it out more, especially as I have begun getting a nasty allergy to it! cough, cough!!

I changed the water with the olives again (nearly forgot), the hens haven't laid today and have been very vocal, so not sure what is going on there!

I finished papier mache-ing 20 little demons for my art class on Tuesday, so they are ready for the kids to paint, then they will have them ready for Sant Antoni.  All the kids here in Sa Pobla have the day off on the 17th January, normally.  I believe this is happening again this year, I guess I should check, otherwise J will end up being the only one there next week on Thursday!!

Sorry, no photos today, hopefully a lot more over the coming week.


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Two days ago (Tuesday) C and I picked a large amount of olives.  This is the first time we have harvested them.  Some were rather wrinkly, but apparently this doesn't matter.  The ones further to the top of the tree were big, black and shiny.  We hand picked most of them as we didn't have any old bedsheets big enough to place under the tree! Once we had a batch I washed them thoroughly and took out any obvious nasty ones I could find.  I then filled a 21l bin with fresh cold water and placed a fresh egg into the bottom of the bin.  Then I began to add salt, when there was enough salt in the bin the egg floated to the top. I added all the olives, sealed the lid and put them in the utility room.

Because we always do things before really reading up on them!!! I then went to the internet to glean a little more information about how to pickle/store olives from the tree.

It was at that point I realised I should have sorted through them more (to remove any wormy ones! yuk) and you are supposed to change the water every day for up to 2 weeks, or until the bitterness has gone from them, THEN..put them in salt water, with added lemon etc.  DOH!  Well, I decided I'd had enough for the day and thought I would do it yesterday (Wednesday).

I didn't get a lot else done today, by way of gardening & animals.  Our hens are still laying, although it is still a little sporadic, and some of the eggs are getting cracked because the hens kick the straw out from the nest boxes, so we need to keep an eye on that and perhaps try to find a different bedding for them!

This morning, I finished pruning the vines - I only had one left to do, so that's another job done.  I changed the water the olives are in and searched carefully through each fruit to check for wigglies! I threw quite a few out, but actually we still have LOADS left.  We need to pick the last batch over the next day or so, these I will attempt to dry cure instead of putting them in brine.

Here are some pictures. 

The beginning...

The first batch
Place a fresh egg into the bucket/bin with the fresh water.  It will sink - only rotten eggs float!

Add salt and mix round with your hand

When the egg floats, you have enough salt

Then throw in your olives with any seasonings you want, I chose lemon.

Then transport to a dry, cool place.

As mentioned I was premature in putting them straight into salt solution, so I re-washed and sorted them and now they are in water, which, I will change every day till a lot of the bitterness has gone.

Straight off the tree olives are very bitter and not at all pleasant to eat.  This is why they are soaked, pickled and marinaded.  They should be ready in about 3 weeks or so and should last us through the summer.  

We've had spectacular sunny days here for the last week and a half - or longer, I forget.  Long may it last, although the plants could do with a deluge.

More later folks....

Monday, January 7, 2013


Woke up late this morning, C got J ready for school and took him - bliss. I made myself a cuppa and prepared for the day ahead.  I knew I had a lot of pruning to do around the garden, but this cough is dragging me down and I was not sure if I'd have the energy to do much!

C came back and we started work in the sunshine.  I began with the quince shrubby/bush thing in the turkey pen, which was all over the place and obviously hadn't been attended to for years!
I pruned it to within an inch of it's life, I hope it comes back.  There was dead wood on it also, I have pruned according to RHS Wisley guidelines.  I don't currently have a photo of the final stub!

Once done, I left the pen and went for a mug of tea! Aah, lovely, needed that.  Then I went out again to attempt to tackle the bougainvillea!! What a mammoth task that is going to be.  The plant is quite old I think, but again, it hasn't been pruned back for a good few years.  I need to cut it  back hard so it can bush up again with fresh growth.  I began on one side of the fence, some of the branches actually grow through the fence and they are ones I don't want to cut back!  Then I got fed up with getting spiked by the massive thorns, so I went around the other side.  The tangled mess was awful! it's going to take me a few days at least to tackle this.
The tangled web of bougainvillea.
I have made a small dent in it all, but it's a start at least.  More to do tomorrow.

Samuel Sprat (right) in the bougainvillea.

After trying to tackle this I felt completely worn out, so it was cuppa time again!  I can't wait to shift this cough, perhaps I will have more energy in a few days.  

whilst drinking my tea and nibbling on a biscuit I suddenly realised that we hadn't done the darn olives AGAIN..!! They'll have to wait till tomorrow. Groan..

Later this afternoon the chickens were let out of the run to peck around the veggie plot, whilst C lopped down the apple tree, which was, unfortunately, rotten.  It hadn't produced any decent fruit since we moved here, and it looked like it was suffering from about 3 different diseases!  So the landlord said get rid of it.  We are hoping to replace it with two new fruit trees - species to be decided!

Once C had cut it right down, we could see that the rot went right through the tree.  It had damage on the trunk and the leaves have always been in a sorry state, the apples it produced were small and always plagued with insects etc, so bye bye tree, you will be good for fire wood.

A sad moment, we found our hedgehog dead today! it looked like he'd been poisoned, the local farmers put all sorts of nasties on their fields around here.  Shame.  C said we should keep the next one we find so it doesn't get poisoned! We'll end up with a hedgehog farm next!!!!!! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I woke up late this morning.  Having been suffering with a really awful cough for the last 8 days, and with no signs of it shifting, I didn't rush out of bed.  C bought me a mug of tea - lovely, then I got up, ready to face the day.  After a wonderful cooked breakfast (another double-yolker), I set about blitzing our bedroom.

After being rather unwell I let things slide a little, but found some energy this morning.  Sadly, living where we do, we get mould on the walls during the winter months.  There is a lot of damp on Mallorca! There isn't really anything more you can say about that, but it is because most of the Island is built on caves and there is a lot of water underground.  Our water comes from a natural well, which is why we cannot drink it directly, they spray the fields with goodness-knows-what so I am certain it must trickle down into the water supply at some point.  Anyway, the mould and damp is always a big problem and not a pleasant one.  So this morning, I did a quick tidy, dust, hoover and mop and then came the tackle-the-mould-moment!! I usually use bleach to spray on the walls and then wash down with water, but I cannot stand the smell - it makes me heave! so after a little advice from our 'chief marmalade taster', I used cilit bang! It worked pretty well, I managed to do most of the areas that needed doing and got C to finish off the job for me.

This afternoon I cut J's hair then took a stroll around the garden, only to discover that the apple tree is having a problem with various diseases, I took some shots but at dusk this evening and they haven't come out well, I will retake the photos tomorrow.  So whilst I was walking around the garden I noticed several things that need attending to urgently. Firstly pruning...  the bougainvillea, the grape vines, the quince tree/bush/shrub thing - it isn't an attractive thing yet and needs some tlc, the rose bushes also need attending to.  So I decided that tomorrow I will do these things, I believe it will be another sunny day which is good.

The overgrown yellow rose bush.

The other thing I noticed was that we hadn't harvested the olives!!! OH NO!!! they were beginning to rot on the trees or just drop off.  We only have two trees, one of them hardly has any fruit left on it, but the other (behind the rose bush above) still has plenty, I only hope we can salvage some.  I have the salt ready so we will try to gather some tomorrow.

Yesterday I received a call from one of our local farmers (they produce the Sa Marjal ArrĂ²s Pobler, bombeta variety) basically they grow a special variety of rice, which I have to say is delicious.  The farmer suggested that C & J go to one of the local farms and pick some leeks.  Off they went, on their bikes, and returned about 30 minutes later with a bagful - fantastic.

Leeks from another local farm.

So off to bed early tonight, probably after a lovely home-made pie and a film in front of the log fire.  J is back at school tomorrow after the short Christmas/Three Kings break.  The next big fiesta here is Sant Antoni - can't wait for that one.

Just a few extra pictures.

 Our small lemon tree, final giving us lemons.  Must remember to plant another one at some point.

 Jess, the pregnant mummy cat, peering over her shoulder at the Corsican and his girl.
 The glut of oranges.  Some are good for eating, some are great for juicing.  You can tell by the guixa (navel), if they have one then it's an eater, if not then it's a juicer.
The rosemary bush is in flower.