June 2015

What happened to the last year? It went so fast.

Last September I gained a daughter in law. Paul and Emma got married. It was a lovely day and it was fantastic to meet up with all the family again.
Becky did Emma’s hair and makeup and she looked really lovely. Well done Becky.
Weather wise here it has quite pleasant. The winter was mild and the winds haven’t been too severe. The rain came at the right times and no flooding.
It enabled me to start everything veggie wise nice and early. I planted my early potatoes in December and have now nearly finished eating them. The main crop should be ready to dig up in the next couple of weeks. I have been picking strawberries since February which is good because I invariably eat them while I am weeding. Healthy snacks!

I kept two of my mangold wurzels growing as I pick the leaves as they are a type of spinach beet. Consequently the beets weigh about 10lb each. When the pigs eventually get them they will be in heaven. See, pigs do fly.😀

Veg plot is coming along nicely

Veg plot is coming along nicely

Sweet corn is doing well. It's for the chickens, not me. Hate the stuff

Sweet corn is doing well. It’s for the chickens, not me. Hate the stuff

I currently have 22 pigs and I am removing the males so they don’t breed any more.
Nibbler my last goat, the cute black and white one, now lives at Salvador’s with his other goats. She seems very happy there and the others aren’t picking on her.
Sadly my bantam hen died. She was fine one day and very dead the next. She was the last of my laying hens. I have been emptying my generator shed and plastering the walls as I shall be using it as a hen house. Next week I shall get 4 more big red chickens, as they call them, and I’ll get nice eggs again. Shop bought eggs are really not very pleasant after several years of having eggs from proper organic chickens.
My muscovy ducks are laying well and so far I have fourteen little ducklings, with loads more to come. Last Saturday I was offered 40 three week old ducklings for 40€, tempting but not realistic. I only have two freezers.
Pino and Luca my donkeys are still doing a great job on the land. This year has very bad for horse flies. They really are evil. (Touch wood) no bites on me yet.
I now have 6 bee hives. I have learnt the hard way not to get too close to the hives. (Actually it took two stings for me to learn, duh) they are sited as far from the house as possible. In fact technically they aren’t even on my land. Sshhh. I am keeping the hives for a guy from the other side of the river and he and the bees will do all the work. I shall get half the honey. Can’t wait.

The hives are well hidden

The hives are well hidden

My olive oil was even better this year, with a lower acidity level and a beautiful fruity taste.
I had the olives pressed in an old stone mill in Rasquera a tiny village a few miles away from here.
Pam, my ex wife, (probably still the nicest person I know) has done a remarkable job promoting it and we sold all the oil I took to England. I bought glass bottles this year with metal screw caps. Much better than plastic. Place your orders for next year now😉

No idea what type of eagle this is but it was very big.

No idea what type of eagle this is but it was very big.

imageI cut down a very large pine tree on my land. I studied on YouTube how to chop it down, then off I went with my chain saw. Made all the appropriate cuts and watched it fall in completely the wrong direction. It totally pruned one of my carob trees. I now have enough firewood for two winters.

Just heard today that it’s been the hottest driest May for 85 years.

So many bumble bees this year, is it because of no spraying?

So many bumble bees this year, is it because of no spraying?

I never do New Years resolutions, mainly because of obstinacy, so this year I am having a new June resolution. No going down to the village for a month, cut down on all this cheap booze.
THEN one of my friends points out that the eufa cup final is this weekend coming and of course Barcelona are in it. Also he said its your birthday in June, what no drink???
Well I thought ok I can manage just the two evenings in the bar this month.
Actually I counted up how many half full (optimist for ever) bottles of gin, vodka, rum, whisky etc plus numerous bottles of wine and litre cartons of wine I have in my house and I realised that, yes, I have self control. No bar!! Except this Saturday and my birthday.
See you soon.

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March 2014

This is the second time I have typed this, the first time I deleted it by mistake. The ‘move to trash’ button is right beside the publish button, enough said. Oh well here goes….

Cute or what?

Cute or what?

I managed to get to England this time, hooray I hear you all shout.
I drove up through Andorra and France to Dieppe to catch the ferry to Newhaven. I stayed off the toll roads, apart from the very last part from Le Mans. Unfortunately my sat.nav. decided to stop charging at 11 at night and my map is 13 years old. No problem? It is when they changed all the road numbers about 5 or 6 years ago. Usually I have no worries, knowing which direction I have to travel, I can work things out by where the sun is, but being dark and no moon even, I got lost. Very lost!
Eventually found a sign to Rouen and took the motorway there and then onto Dieppe. Arrived with a couple of hours to spare and a well earned kip. It took 21 hours.
For once I wasn’t freezing cold in England and the weather was quite pleasant. I don’t think I moaned once.
It was lovely catching up with some old friends and family, and Janice of course. Sorry to those I missed, next time?
The pickup truck sailed through the MOT apart from the windscreen wiper blades which they put on for me.
I sold all my olive oil and gave away a few samples. Everyone seems very pleased with it.
The drive back home to Spain took for ever. Apart from going through a toll tunnel, which I had to do because the road in the mountains by Andorra had three feet of snow on it and I had no tyre chains, I didn’t pay any tolls again. Not sure if it’s worth not using the motorways, as obviously it takes much longer. But another reason is the sheer amount of speed cameras in France. Virtually every little village and hamlet has one or two cameras. It’s a good job I don’t speed?? If I had been on my motorbike I don’t think I would have a license for the next 20 years.
Talking of which, I am going to try to keep the goldwing, even if I have to garage it for a couple of years.

I eventually plucked up the courage to slaughter my first pig.
I have been reading and studying for months on how to do it and now the time had come!
I took a packet of biscuits round to the enclosure and had the pigs all eating out of my hand. As soon as the chosen one got in range I gently placed the stun gun in position and with a shaking hand pulled the trigger. I was expecting a loud bang, but nothing like this?
There was a very quiet click and nothing else. It had misfired!
After waiting the obligatory 30 seconds I took the gun apart.
The firing pin didn’t reach the cartridge.
The next day I took back the boxes of cartridges to the gun shop and the guy said that these were for a pistol and I needed the ones for a revolver which have a flange on them. So he swapped them over and gave me some money back.

It took another couple of days for me to pluck up the courage to do the deed again. This time Carles and Nigel came to help.
After I had persuaded Carles to wait outside the enclosure, because he was frightening the pigs. I calmed them all down and this time it worked.
Into a wheelbarrow and wheeled it back around to the house.
I then realised that the gas had run out on my blow lamp which is how the hairs are removed from the skin. So I had to actually skin it.
After three hours of very hard work, I had butchered the whole carcass. I have nothing but admiration for butchers because it really was knackering.
The following night Carles and Nigel came up to a roast pork dinner. We all agreed that it’s the tastiest pork we had ever had. And of course cooked to perfection.🙂
I cured some for bacon and some for hams.
My saucepan wasn’t big enough to get a ham in, so while in Tortosa I shopped around for a large stainless steel pan. The one I bought is probably big enough for a whole pig. I put the two hams in it and they didn’t even cover the bottom of the pan.
I am going to try lots of different cures on the next few joints and find which I like the best.
Can’t wait to make sausages.

Figs on their way

Figs on their way

Ok now a bit for all my veggie family and friends.
The vegetable garden is coming on really well.
The tree cabbages are just in flower and covered in bees, so I should be ok for this years seed.
Still picking spinach nearly every day, I’m going to look like Popeye soon.
Potatoes are growing really well and where I had missed a couple when harvesting last year I dug up a couple of pounds of new potatoes. Not bad for March.
I planted out over 150 onion sets last week and my tomato plants which Salvador said don’t plant yet have loads of flowers on them. Glad I ignored him this time. We are now racing to see who has the first tomatoes.
The manure is so much better with pig and goat poo in it. It rots down much quicker, and doesn’t smell at all.
The cherry trees are blossoming well and opts of cherries are forming. Last year was a bad year for cherries due to the wind and cold into late April, but fingers crossed for this year. The peaches are all forming well too, with the clementines just starting to flower.
The ‘Cherokee trail of tears’ climbing beans are now about 3 or 4 inches high and the same for my sunflowers, both grown from last years seed.
The mangel wurzels (pig food) are coming through too.
I am sorting out a deal in the village to supply one of the bars with 2 kilo oven ready ducks on a regular basis, so I really need the ducklings to hatch this time. Hopefully Mr Duck is firing on all cylinders because two of the ducks are sitting on about 15 eggs. I should know in the next couple of weeks.
The bantam has gone broody again so perhaps I shall be getting more mini-eggs in time for Easter.
My two hens that live over with the pigs are still laying an egg each everyday. Good girls.
It’s been a very mild winter here with the rain coming just at the right time,but without the flooding. The strongest winds have been around 85mph up here on the mountain, so nothing like last years 140mph.
I haven’t had to run the generator at all so far at all this year as it’s been so sunny. YAY
Next years oil on the way

Next years oil on the way

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February 2014


As I said last month I had booked a car ferry to return to England to sell my pickup truck.

I drove to Santander and boarded the ship, dumped my overnight bag in my cabin and went down to the bar for a well-earned beer. As I was drinking it, an announcement came over the tannoy for all passengers to collect all their belongings and remove their vehicles from the ship!

We were told that the ship wouldn’t be sailing in the near future?

I was the first to get to the bottom of the ramp and I asked where I was supposed to eat, sleep and park. While I was talking to this guy, who was either the purser or the captain, his phone went. His main office had offered one nights accomodation on the ship with a free meal and beer followed by breakfast in the morning. So I turned the truck around and parked up on the lorry deck and went back up to my cabin and started again. I checked on my phone for any other ferries to uk and the local ones (Santander and Bilbao ) were all booked up until the following weekend.

Chatting with some other passengers it was decided that we could all travel in convoy up to Caen in France and get the ferry there.

Three free watery beers and a not very nice dinner, I went to bed.

The bed was 6’2 long and about 18 inches wide, I am 6’4 and about 23 inches wide. Needless to say I got no sleep all night. Consequently I thought that drive 800 miles up through France would not be a good idea, being so tired. 10 years ago I would have thought nothing of doing that trip, but I’ve got a bit older (if not wiser) since then. So I took a leisurely drive back home to Bitem. 1300 kilometres for nothing. I have been promised a refund of the ferry fare and I am waiting for a decision on my fuel and toll costs.

I am now not selling the truck but I am going to sell the goldwing😦

So I’m now booked on a ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven later in the month to get the MOT on the truck and pick up some spares for the bike to service it before driving it up through France in late April.

7 more piglets born last month making a total of 29 pigs altogether!

I have invested in a stun gun, which is the most humane way of despatching animals. Ordered it on line and it arrived within 24 hours. Now that’s service. I went down to Tortosa to the gun shop and bought the 9mm cartridges for it. Today I am going to ‘do’ the first one. I have been studying videos and reading everything that I possibly can, to make the whole deal as painless as possible. Well it’s going to be painless for the pig but will it be for me? Apparently the first time is the hardest and I have no problem with chickens turkeys and ducks now.

Talking of ducks that nasty male one has put a big bruise on my leg, he is going to have to go! His reserve replacement is waiting for his turn with the girls🙂

I have borrowed a billy goat again as my goaty girls obviously didn’t get pregnant last year, so maybe better luck this time.

The peach trees are in full blossom, the colour of the flowers is beautiful.image

There are now buds on the clementines and the olive trees are just starting to bud as well. The mangel wurzels are just poking through and the beans I planted last week are though as well. This years main crop potatoes are all in the ground and next winters leeks are started off. I have 10 tomato plants in the ground even my neighbour said that they shouldn’t be planted out until the 10th of March. No frosts due, in fact we haven’t had a frost all winter.

The donkeys are as happy as ever and enjoying eating all the springtime weeds.This cave goes down a long way

This cave on my land goes down a long way. Any potholers amongst you?

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January 2014


Pinch and a punch on the first of the month and no returns. Pino the donkey wasn’t impressed!
I thought ‘hermmm’ his first language is German so I said ein pinchen und de punchen on zee vursten off zee munchen und nein returnens…
He tried to bite me!
I’m certainly not trying it in castillano let alone Catalan he has a strong kick. No animals were harmed in the making of these first three paragraphs!

One of the pot bellied pigs gave birth to twins on the 7th January, a very black female and a pink and grey male. They took a while to start growing but they seem to have caught up and today they are out playing with their bigger cousins.
And then on 27th another of the potbellied sows had 6 piglets. No idea of their sexes but I have three black and three grey and pink. (That sounds like a woman describing the type of car she would like……
The 8 piglets are all cuddling up together and the two mums appear to be feeding all of them. At feeding times the mums come out one at a time, so there is always one of them to look the babies. Amazing animals. I was feeding the big daddy biscuits and he is so gentle, tusks an all!

Ssshh. The others are still asleep

Ssshh. The others are still asleep

Still no sign of any kids from the goats, I think they might not have fancied Salvador’s billy goat😦 they are just getting fat making out they are pregnant and need extra food.

Ducks have settled in well with all the other animals, but the drake has decided that I am his worst enemy and he wants to kill me! Much hissing and weird behaviour…… I try to ignore him but it’s becoming more difficult as he pecks my legs and is now trying to peck my eyes out. Dream on baby, you are a duck with clipped wings and I’m 6ft 4 and I like eating duck!

Don't you look at me like that!

Don’t you look at me like that!

I have spent a lot of time this month working on the farm getting ready for next years veg crops etc. I managed to source some mangel wurzel seeds which are sown already. These are to feed the pigs and goats. They are supposed to grow up to 15 kilos each and are a very nutritious feed for animals.

Also I have been collecting fallen oranges and clementines from friends farms as the pigs adore them. Thanks Natalie and Graham . One of the piglets stuffed it’s snout into a clementine, ate all the inside and then got the skin stuck on its nose.
What a load of noise, squealing and squeaking it ran about crashing into walls, ducks, goats and other pigs with me trying to catch it.
It fell off in the end and the piglet simply went and ate another clementine.

Dry January didn’t start until the 7th of the month as I had to get the three kings out of the way first (well that’s my excuse) and it sort of finished on the eighth ….. One day at a time lol

Pruning the trees is taking a lot of time as I only want to prune one or two per day, because the goats eat all the prunings and it’s better if they are fresh, well that’s my excuse for not working too hard.

We have had some gorgeous weather, but it is all due to change for February. I’ve had a couple of shirt off days and my face after working picking carobs for two days in strong sunshine and a gentle breeze, turned a lovely shade of lobster.
Sunburned in January ??

Going to have a trip to England later this month as my pickup truck has to be sold. It’s a shame because it’s great to drive and so useful for getting alfalfa and straw for the animals. I was going to put it on Spanish plates, but they changed the law here and as it’s classed as a commercial vehicle, it has to be left hand drive.
Driving to the uk each year costs around £800 return and that’s too much. So I’m going to sell it in the uk and buy a car with a tow bar that’s already on Spanish number plates. That way there is no import duty and I can mot(itv) it here. Also the road tax is half of uk tax.

The other day I ate one of my two clementines on my own trees. It was FANTASTIC and I’m not biased in the least. Saving the other one until it’s a bit bigger.🙂

I seem to have gained a white cat?
It is outside my front door every morning and I think it’s living underneath my old caravan that I use as a shed. I’m not feeding it as I want it to keep the rodent population down.

I was given 14 grapefruits the other day. Managed to give half of them away as I don’t eat them. Although I tried one and it was very sweet, so I juiced it along with 4 others and it seems extremely nice with a shot or six of vodka.

Talking of vodka, I have found a way of extracting rosemary oil from the flowers of the wild rosemary which is growing all over the place here, it involves steeping it in vodka. Must look into making my own still🙂
So my next batch of olive oil soap is going to smell like roasting lamb🙂
Did I mention that I’m producing my own homemade olive oil soap???
Samples for everyone I see in February.
My first batch was scented with coconut, I’m not sure whether to wash with it or eat it!

The wild flowers are everywhere at the moment and the scents are tremendous as I walk about the farm. Very heady.

Yesterday I went up to the highest part of my farm to see if the wild asparagus had started coming through yet. I do grow cultivated white asparagus, but that isn’t due for about two months yet. While I was up there I thought let’s cut back some of the undergrowth to give everything else a chance. Now most of the ground up there is a marbly type rock with deep fissures in it, so what tends to flourish is rosemary and wild sage, along with gorse. As I cut it back getting ripped to pieces by the gorse, I discovered three olive trees that I never knew I had, and they are all producing big olives. So now it’s all clean under them, the suckers are removed (goats are eating those) and next year I shall be able to harvest the olives from them. It all adds up.

I wish the animals liked rosemary as I have so much of it growing wild that it would feed them for half the year.

My two old hens living in with all the animals are back to providing me with two eggs every morning. To think that I was considering coq au vin!! Their eggs are soooooo much tastier than shop bought eggs and of course no nasties in their food…

The almond trees are in full bloom now so I must put the electric fence around them to stop the donkeys eating them as the leaves start to come through. They have managed to kill 4 trees by over grazing them. Almond leaves must be exceptionally tasty.

I’ve managed to cut about half of next years firewood and with what should be left of this years, means that whatever I cut from now on will be for the winter after next. Two years of drying means it burns slower and hotter and also doesn’t soot up the chimney, so therefore I shall use less.

Yesterday it reached 23c in the shade with no wind for most of the day. The forecast said 13. Miguel Pescado (Michael Fish) you are useless.

I put two extra solar panels on the balcony last month and I haven’t had to run the big generator to top up the batteries since. Happy days🙂. I do use the genny when I use the washing machine, especially on the hot white wash, but that’s only every other week. So with the extra freezer and the fridge freezer, security cameras wifi and lights, I think I may have hit a good balance. I would still like extra batteries, but they are very expensive so all in good time. And I suppose if I have more batteries then I will need more panels and I will use more electricity. Catch 22??? X

I bought myself a porron, which is a glass drinking flask for wine without it touching your lips. That way it can be hygenically shared. As if I’d share it! I have started buying wine in litre boxes, the wine is an excellent table wine for €0.79 per litre. The trouble was that because it’s in a box I have no idea how much I have drunk. Now I pour half the box into the porron then when that’s gone, that’s it. I have mastered the art of pulling the flask out to arms length without spilling a drop.
Does wine stains come out of white shirts? Or better still is tie dyeing coming back into fashion?

Looks very majestic , but needs pruning very hard. It's about 40 feet tall, should be about 15

Looks very majestic , but needs pruning very hard. It’s about 40 feet tall, should be about 15

Almonds in full bloom

Almonds in full bloom

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December 2013

Well it’s the first day of 2014. Don’t they go fast?

Luca and Pino are doing really well, they are very happy and thoroughly enjoying any attention they can get. Their winter coats are nice and thick ready for our January and February winter.

Pino in his fluffy coat

Pino in his fluffy coat

the olive harvest was quite poor this year as we had the north winds (mistral) right up until mid May which blew all the blossom off the trees. Then the few olives that had survived got blasted by 90mph winds in November, about two weeks before harvest time. Grrrrr…

however I teamed up with one of my neighbours and between us we managed to get over 150 kilos from our trees.

I met a catalonian guy at the Bitem village clementina festival called Esteban, got chatting and I found out he has his own olive mill beside his house at the bottom of our mountain.

He only presses totally organic olives and they are milled without any heat (unlike stone ground mills which create heat by friction) so the oil is absolutely fantastic.

The olives which I grow are a variety called farc and they only grow between Tortosa and Tyvenis, Bitem is bang in the middle.

The flavour really is unbelievable. The oil from my farm has gone to Germany to be sold in the best restaurants.🙂

Mid December I was working with a mate from the village, Carlos. His tree shaker has broken so we used mine. Once again totally organic and milled in Steve’s mill. We split the oil and this time I am going to bottle it and sell it by the 1/2 litre. This isn’t supermarket extra virgin olive oil, THIS IS THE REAL STUFF.  Email me for prices, with delivery in February  stevelidford@aol.com

Esteban filling the mats with the olive mash

Esteban filling the mats with the olive mash

The actual pressing

The actual pressing

Three of my pigs are pregnant and are due any day.

All the animals happy together

All the animals happy together

My ducks are now living in with the other animals, apart from one drake and the call duck. I am keeping the extra drake in case I’m unlucky enough to have two gay ducks…..

I have completely dug over and manured my veggie plot, so it’s totally weed free ready for sowing in feb.

I still have potatoes, spinach, cabbage and cauliflowers growing, so I’m not going hungry.

One of the clementines that I planted last spring has two fruit on it……yay. also my lemon trees are fruiting.

I now have a couple of months of pruning 104 olive trees. I did one yesterday, well it’s a start….

Nibbler my little black and white goat comes out of the enclosure with me and gets completely spoilt. there is always an extra tidbit for her. I’m not sure if she is pregnant or just getting chubby from all the extras.. the other two should be having kids in late January .image

My neighbour Salvador has been quite ill lately, but he brought me up half a ton of ‘damaged’ oranges from the cooperativa for the animals and then felt really ill and had to get his son Marc to collect him, so I have been feeding his goats as well.

I have had three big bags of wild boar meat given to me from the villager hunters, is it going to be like last years turkeys, which lasted until May? Or maybe not. I love the stuff and enjoy finding different local recipes to try out.

My first duck weighed in at 4.2kilos oven ready!  I asked Provi in the village local what would be the best way to cook it.

She was very impressed with the size, so she gave me her grandmothers recipe… One bottle of ‘good’ cava, three or four large carrots, leeks if in season (bit early but I put in two of my biggest) and cover in a hot oven for three hours, turning every half hour and uncover for the last 30 minutes.

I invited friends Nigel, Steff and a wwooffer from Canada called Meagan. All were very impressed ..yay! The gravy made from the cava and duck juices was fantastic.  Much wine was drunk that night, I don’t think Meagan did a lot of work the following day🙂 I know I didn’t.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair for me, a couple of beers in the local and then another up on the mountain.

I have decided to have a dry January, well ok maybe a dry couple of weeks🙂

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October 2013


I know in my last post I wrote that I was going to relax and enjoy the summer, but I didn’t mean to leave it this long to post again.
Anyway everything is more or less going to plan.
The animals are all doing fine and the vegetables are still growing.
I bought two more Vietnamese pot bellied pigs (females) which are the same age as the others, they took a while to settle in, with quite a bit of hierarchy biting and nibbling going on. However the chickens are back on top and they are the rulers of all they see🙂
My original sow gave birth to three little piglets in September, they really are cute!
On a Sunday night she started building a wall out of branches in one of the shelters with a tiny gap for her to get in and out. By the next morning she was a mum. Clever things pigs!! No hospital, epidurals, flowers……
The piglets are growing fast and everyday get a little bolder and more adventurous.
I ‘borrowed’ a billy goat from my neighbour Salvador, I don’t think he wants him back, to service my goats and it’s looking like I shall have some new additions by Christmas.
The ducks have been sitting on eggs since April and not one has hatched. The drake is not up to the job.
I mentioned this to Carlos in the village who sold me the ducks to start with, and he was really upset when I said his drake was gay. But he gave me 11 ducklings of mixed parentage in exchange for a couple of barcardi and cokes. The ducklings are growing very fast and once I can sort out which are male I shall replace the original male. It’s time to practise making plum sauce.
Pino and Luca the donkeys have been piling on the winter weight by eating every carob that they can find. It’s been a race in the mornings for me to pick up as many carobs as possible before the donkeys have finished their breakfast and come galloping down to the carob trees.
I have decided to only feed the carobs to the goats and pigs (sorry donks) as they are high in sugars and they all need fattening up.
I have to break them all up though as the pigs end up with whole carobs wedged between their jaws. Quite amusing to watch, but I dont want them hurting themselves.
My vegetables have done quite well, not as good as I had hoped, but the soil still needs improving. But with the pigs and goats manure added into the donkey poo it shouldn’t  be too difficult.
The climbing beans (Cherokee trail of tears) were fantastic. Very plentiful and brilliant flavour. I have about 10 kilos in the freezer. Beet spinach and Swiss chard are still going strong and should continue until next year, so I will have fresh greens all winter. Also the tree cabbage is still be productive, but it’s a slow grower, so I’m only getting one serving a week. Next year I shall plant three times the amount. Marrows and tomatoes have been very plentiful and should carry on well into the winter.imagePotatoes did brilliantly and I have now planted some more for a winter crop as well. If there is no frost and I’ve done enough to avoid the wind chill then they should be ready for February / March time.

Fruit trees are still very new, so no clementines or cherries this year, but I did get two lovely peaches.
Sweet corn was useless!! Enough said. Don’t like it anyway!
I have had lots of friends and family staying here over the summer, which has been really nice. The pool has been a blessing and the fly netting has worked tremendously well. Even though it’s mid October (31c yesterday) I can still have my meals outside with no wasps or Mosquitos. I was in the pool yesterday and have given it a final clean for the winter and put the cover on it.
I have had my other eye operated on and I shall know by the end of the month if the glaucoma has gone. Eyesight is really good but I can’t go outside without sunglasses as my pupils don’t adjust. 21 years of medication has frozen them.
My future’s so bright I just gotta wear shades🙂

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May 2013


imageThe weather is warming up nicely at last and that nasty wind has gone also.
I have spent a lot of time building a goat pen.
It is 500 square metres big, complete with a couple of trees for the goats to climb.
My neighbour Salvador supplied me with two goats. There was a mother with her young kid of 4 months. The mother was really stroppy and not at all friendly. The kid immediately jumped straight up on to the top of an 8 foot high wall and escaped. I have been reading up on goats for months now and ‘they’ say that goats won’t jump higher than 5 feet. Yeah ok!!
I now have a three metre high fence all the way around complete with electric fencing.
The following week I took the mother back to Salvador and swapped her for another young kid, much better.
I heard on the local grapevine that a guy in L’Ampolla was selling some Vietnamese pot bellied piglets, so Janice and I went over to his place to buy one, as viets are longer than my miniature / wild boar pigs, so with cross breeding I’ll get more bacon. Well that’s the theory anyway.
When we eventually reached his place, I drove straight past the turning, it turned out to be a zoo.
He has everything from llamas to zebras to camels and a lot more in between.
He gave us a full tour and all his animals are really friendly.
Janice saw a little black and white goat and said that we needed her?
So we now have three goats!
When we got to the pigs, Janice insisted that we got two as they are sooooo cute.
I’m not going shopping for animals with her again.
The little piglets immediately bonded with the others and now all the animals except the donkeys are living very happily together. They even all sleep together.
I also have them all feeding from my hand.
I put the 5 big red hens in the goat pen as well so that the bantams could have the large enclosure. They all had their wing feathers clipped last year, but it would appear that three of them grew their feathers back again. Two have disappeared altogether and one turned up back at her old enclosure.
We have chosen names for all the pigs and goats, but I tend to call them pigs and goats, it’s easier.
The vegetables are growing very well and I am picking peas, beans and cabbages. The first of my summer cauliflowers are ready to eat as well.
Courgettes and marrows are being eaten every day. Yesterday I picked the first of the self seeded cheery tomatoes yesterday, very sweet.
At last I have finished eating last years turkey, yes I am sick to death of turkey🙂
I have been trying to source a gosling, but apparently this has been a bad year for goose eggs.
The ducks are sitting on their eggs again, so it’s fingers crossed as there is only a couple more days to go.
Pino and Luca the donkeys are very happy with all the grass that is now about 5 feet high. I have been cutting a lot of it and made hay for later. However they found my hazelnut tree which now is a tree stump. They ate every leaf.
The wild flowers have been really beautiful this year and the smell of rosemary and wild curry plant is amazing.
Pool temperature is now 24 c so a little bit hotter and I shall be having my siestas on an air bed.
I have rebuilt the fly free zone over the pool and spent three hours yesterday sewing a 5 metre join in the netting with nylon fishing line. This was done balancing on a ladder over the pool and sewing the netting over my head. I ached terribly by the time I stopped and only another three metres to go. I shall finish it today. Perhaps🙂
I have been spending about an hour every day weeding the vegetable plots and the goats and pigs are enjoying all the weeds. I have to be careful as theres a lot of milkweed growing everywhere which is poisonous to all the animals. It’s ok while it’s growing because the animals know not to touch it, but once it’s been cut they don’t know it’s there.
I’m going to relax a bit this summer and enjoy the farm

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April 2013

Girly pig

Girly pig

April was a strange month weather wise. We had 28c and also only 4c at two in the afternoon only a week later. Also a whole week of rain.
Consequently the weeds and wild oats have grown unbelievably high in a matter of just days. The donkeys will be happy🙂
The vegetables are all doing well and I am really looking forward to tasting some of the old varieties. I am still picking spinach every other day and the spring greens are delicious.
The ducks sat on their eggs for about 4 weeks then gave up, muskovies take 35 days to hatch, shame.
I took all the eggs out and they were not good…..enough said. Oh the joys of farming.
They have since started again so perhaps better luck this time
The little bantams have produced 4 delightful chicks so far. Unfortunately I forgot to take out the water dish which was about 3 inches deep and one poor little soul drowned. I must pay more attention!!!
There are still a lot of eggs in the coop so there may be plenty more to come.
I started up the gold wing (motor bike) last week only to have a complete failure of the electrics.
A few years ago I had mice living under the fairing which ate through the wiring loom – 72 different connections had to be made, it took three days to sort out, so I immediately thought that the same thing had happened.
I stripped down the whole bike and could find no damage. So I connected another battery and it started straight away.
The problem was the battery.
€75 later  the bike was up and running as new.
I went to Rasquera fira (fair) this morning and bought two collars for the goats which I don’t have yet complete with cow bells???
It was a brilliant ride there and back and tee shirt weather. Nice to go with good company too, cheers Scott, Ken and Sharon.
The pig pen is all finished and ready for the pigs tomorrow, can’t wait. I need some original ideas for names, his and hers. I don’t mind naming these two as I won’t be eating them, but only breeding from them.
I now have to finish the goat enclosure as I have them coming at the end of next week.
My peach, cherry, avocado trees all have fruit on them and the mandarins are in blossom, the scent is fantastic, there are loads of bees this year so if I’m lucky there will be plenty of mandarins  which are the only citrus that I eat.
As I forgot to post this last night it is now tomorrow??

ok it’s Monday , I went to pick up the pigs. Yay.

Boy pig

Boy pig

They are gorgeous. I have a boar who is 18 months and a gilt who is 10 months old.

I went over to Sue’s place to collect them with my neighbour Nigel. It took us about 20 minutes to catch them and get them into a transporter cage.

Then a slow drive back and we had to carry them the last 100 yards to their new enclosure. They seem to have suffered the ordeal ok and are now resting in the shade.

dont forget I need some name ideas. whoever s names I choose gets to come and try some bacon.🙂

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February and March 2013



Heinz the wwooffer had to leave early as I was running out of tools. He managed to break my rake, felling axe, Dutch hoe and my tree loppers.
The final straw was when he came up to me and said ” the shovel it has broken itself!”……..
So we didn’t get the pigpen and goats enclosure built, but that shouldn’t be a problem, as my neighbour Salvador suggested we went into partnership and bought the pigs between us. He already has a stable and coral which we can use to keep the pigs in.
I am building an electric fenced enclosure for the goats, along with a moveable wooden shelter.
I went for a hospital appointment to be measured for the new lens for my left eye, to be told that they won’t operate because the drugs are working. I was taking one of the drugs for 17 years when it was suddenly withdrawn from use because of the side effects. I’m really fed up with using the drops every night. My right eye is perfect and needs no further treatment. 
Is it all to do with money?
Rant over🙂
I have cleared a large area of land to grow only non genetically modified crops.
I bought a load of seed from a company in Wales which are from the original seeds from early last century. The seeds come with full instructions on keeping the new seed each year. So no more buying new seed every year. The flavour of the produce should be like in the old days…mmmm.
The cleared area is one terrace down from the donkeys paddock, so I just shovel the manure straight over the wall and its there ready to use.
I also replanted the cherry and peach trees and bought 4 mandarin bushes.
The area is protected from the wind and I’ve put in automatic irrigation.
Also I put in a pond and enclosed it for the ducks. They had to be separated from the chickens because they were sitting on both hens and their own eggs.
Hens eggs take 21 days to incubate and ducks take 28-35 so the hens eggs were beginning to go off and the ducks stopped sitting.
They are now happily sitting again.
I was given 2 more hens by Salvador as he had too many and the hen which wasn’t laying has started again, so it’s 5 eggs a day.
I was also given a very pretty bantam cockerel and hen. I shall breed from these, so when the Rhode Island reds stop laying I shall have a continuation of hens and eggs.
Last week we had a night of extreme winds 120 mph up here and it demolished my fly free zone over the pool. I need to replace two panes of glass and rebuild the north facing side in pine tree trunks. 
Picking spinach everyday now for the last couple of months along with lollo rosso lettuce and spring onions. Also the cabbages are doing really well, only 4 left, but the spring greens are almost ready, so I won’t go hungry.
The wild asparagus is still shooting up everywhere and also wild rocket, which has a fantastic flavour. I wish I knew what all other wild plants are that grow here, and which are edible. More homework and research needed🙂
The lake bitem has had to be renewed. Unfortunately wild animals had stuck their claws into the liner and it leaked too much. So I built a concrete pond and sealed it with a special cement that won’t harm the fish. It took me about 2 hours to catch 4 goldfish and 6 toads. Now I have to fill in the old pool again. 
I shall leave the liner in place because I want to grow Chinese yams and it will make them easier to dig up. The yams grow up to three feet long with 20 feet long vines which smell of cinnamon.

Donkeys are very happy :) Image

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January 2013

January stayed warm most of the time, with a few chilly nights. However February has brought the mistral north wind. Over last weekend we had winds of way over 100 mph. Not any damage but the chicken coop blew over in the middle of the night, with the chickens in it. They did not seem to be very bothered, but I have staked it down now.
I am getting two eggs a day from three hens…..not sure which one will have to go if not all laying by March. 
I took another load of carobs to the mill 275 kg  this time, so all in all not bad for my first harvest of them. Next year I will clear under the trees before the carobs fall off, which will make things a lot easier for harvesting.
The olives that we took in to the mill to be made into olive oil supplied me with 48 litres of extra virgin organic oil. It tastes really delicious and has an acidity of 0.7 which is very good apparently.Image
I have also spent quite a few afternoons collecting the olives from the ground,with a machine called a recollector( like a lawn mower  with spikes ) which are fetching the best price for 8 years.
Eaten half of my winter cauliflowers so far and I wish I had planted more, although the cabbages are just beginning to fatten up and I am picking fresh spinach every other day. 
I have sown two rows of plum tomatoes, three rows of parsnips, 6 rows of sweet corn ( for the pigs and chickens, I hate the stuff) and lettuce, radishes and sunflowers.
My tomato plants that seeded themselves in November are covered in flowers and beginning to fruit. Yay…
A friend in the village swopped 9 grapefruits 20 tangerines about 100 oranges and a huge bunch of spring onions for a couple of litres of my oil. 
As I really hate oranges, but do drink orange juice, but only with vodka or gin, I think February might be a tipsy month. There goes the diet. ( I have lost 16 kilos in weight in the last year, nearly all off my belly) it can’t have all been beer, could it???
While Janice was here we planted two cherry trees, two peach trees an early and a late and a hazelnut tree.
I have wwooffer ( who is a person who works for their accommodation and meals ) staying with me. He is a German of 71 who will not stop working. I just told him to take the afternoon off whilst I write this sitting out in the sunshine, but I saw him sneaking off to go to repair one of my stone walls. His English is pretty good but I have to speak slowly and loud as he is a bit deaf. Now I know how the Spanish feel when I talk to them… 
We have dug out a duck pond (for the ducks🙂 ) which when its concreted and sealed I will put the fish in and we will concrete the fish pond and then the fish can go back there. 
The male duck or drake has been doing the business with the girlie ducks and one of them has started sitting on the hens eggs, so baby ducklings soon I hope.
Decided that the next lot of chickens I get will be bantams as they breed very well for both meat and eggs. Small but just eat twice the quantity.
Still debating on whether I should have a goose for next Christmas. The two people who bought my turkey crowns last year want me to raise some more for them. 
Spoke with my neighbour Salvador last week and he has chosen two of his goats for me. He said the older one should be pregnant and the other will be in season about two months later. He also said that I could use his billy goat to keep the girls happy, well that wasn’t his actual words, but I got the gist of it. I shall get them in April or May.
So before Heinz the wwooffer finishes up here we shall build the pig pen and an adjoining goat pen.
The donkeys Luca and Pino are doing fine and have been ‘helping’ with harvesting. Both of them have found that if they pick up a bucket full of olives and they all fall out, the man ( me ) goes mad and jumps up and down, then puts them all back in the bucket so they can do it again. 
Now I have cleared the carobs from the ground the donkeys can go to the largest part of the farm. Some of the grass down there is 4 feet tall, so they will have plenty to occupy their day.
I am going to pick some fresh wild asparagus which is growing everywhere, it makes lovely omelettes. I might even try making asparagus soup.
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