Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A New Dawn

We face east and so the sunrises are spectacular. I watched another one this morning.

It also feels as though a new age is dawning in many ways. The end of the Mayan calender is supposed to indicate great changes. Society is changing, cracks are appearing in the fabric of the so called 'developed world', at the same time there is an increasing awareness of  changes for good. Tim and I are great fans of Permaculture which seeks to look at better ways of meeting our needs using what we have to hand. Many people like us are trying to find a better way. For several years I felt helpless and hopeless.... but no longer. We have both made positive changes for the better, a new lifestyle, new goals and a sense of purpose has inspired us. I don't think we are the only ones either. Tim is coming home on the 21st of December until the New Year. We have been unable to share many events together this past year, birthdays, Valentines day etc but it looks as though we will be celebrating midwinter together, and I can't wait.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Making Progress

video
Catherine has just stayed here for a week and as usual we have managed to get more done than I ever do when I am on my own. We have fenced off a large part of the land for veggie growing and have built the walls onto the goat field shelter so they have somewhere to stand when it rains. We have also continued to process ducks and chickens, one of which we ate last night. He was the biggest of the young cockerels and for a three and a half month old bird he was very meaty. I have tried making a short film showing our achievements.
We have also made time for the most important tasks, meeting friends, celebrating my birthday, sitting in front of the log burner playing cards and chatting. Add to that treating my chickens for lice (a real pain) and disciplining Monty kitten who is turning into a playful pest and you get some idea of Catherine's many achievements.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Rabbits again

The last of the young rabbits have been killed, skinned, cleaned and are in the freezer. I have decided that rabbit keeping is not for me. The meat is nice but does not seem to be worth the death of an animal and I am not convinced that I can give them the quality life I would wish to before death. In order to manage them they must live in a small cage and putting them into a run on a daily basis seems impractical when there are so many of them. On the other hand if they only live for 3 months before death then spending it in a cage is not how I would want it to be.

The birds free range, sun bath, dust bathe and forage happily. Somehow this makes me feel better about killing them for food. Their quality of life seems better to me.

Otherwise life continues as usual, I am very behind with the garden, I am trying to complete the next section of fencing around the veggie patch. My lovely daughter is here for a couple of weeks and we have many spring bulbs to plant, a gift from my family for my recent birthday.

Monty the kitten has tamed down marvellously and if anything is too demanding. He can now shin up my body using claws to hold on and loves nothing better than being held and stroked, purring loudly, which is fine if it is the evening but it prevents much work getting done during the day.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

New family member

Her name was Lucy Fur, but having examined the rear end she is a he. Therefore he needs a manly name so he is now known as Monty (after Uncle Monty in Withnail and I). He is 8 weeks old and still a little wild and un-handled. He is here to provide company and help with the mouse problem. He has the usual fleas and worms but has a loud voice. Food has been taken at speed but he is happiest hiding behind the kitchen furniture.
I shall keep everyone updated on his progress from small scrap to hopefully efficient mouser.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Misty Mornings

We are at approx 800 metres above sea level which works very well for us. In the summer we get breezes and the air is fresh and in winter we are often above the fog line and get first go at the sunrise. Galicia is known for its mists and otherworldly atmosphere. This is the mist I looked down on this morning. Sometimes it looks like an inland sea.

The turkeys have been a delight, I ended up having three boys and one lucky lady. Which lady could resist these handsome boys.

There never seems to be enough hours in the day at the moment. We are having a period of cold days with bright sunshine and I am desperately trying to get the rest of the garlic in the ground and plant some bulbs which should produce a wonderful show in spring. I am also battling the wildlife invasion into the house. I have mice behind my kitchen cupboards and coming out of some walls in the stables and corridor. My friends have the same problem, at this time of year rodents which have been happily living outside move into buildings as the cold weather approaches. Poison is not the answer as Nosher ducks or other wildlife may devour the corpses, I had some traps but mice seemed to get partially caught and drag themselves off to die somewhere inaccessible taking the traps with them. Nosher our cat is doing his best to stop the tide but I am on the look out for a local junior mouser to assist him.
I disturbed this slow worm whilst digging but left it to go on its way.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Raining

I am still getting used to the Galician climate. We seem to get very hot dry summers and very wet relatively mild winters (compared to the UK). I have experienced snow here and frosts and freezing water pipes are usual in winter. At the moment it is raining and has been since the weekend, the house roof leaks but luckily not over any important objects. The goats are miserable as they are in the stables this morning, when there is a brief break in the rain I let them out for a run. Ducks don't care, the ponds are full so they take full advantage. I have been cleaning and de-shucking seeds from their branches. I now have enough coriander seed for the year I hope, Dill, anise and parsley seed are jarred and labelled, and the goats are picking over the dried branches that remain. I haven't blogged recently because life has been a little more chaotic than usual. Tim finally found a job in the UK and has been working hard for a couple of weeks. It is permanent which is not ideal but as everyone knows, with the employment situation being so difficult we didn't feel we had any choice. Temporary contracts were not getting us financially ahead as we had to support ourselves during the breaks in between. We both hope that one day Tim will be able to work from home in Galicia where he belongs.

Meanwhile my winter preparations continue. I have taped plastic freezer bags over the missing panes of glass in the windows to stop the rain coming in. I have sewn a blanket over a stick which hangs from bent nails to use as a curtain. Real curtains go mouldy in the damp climate. I hope I have sown sufficient winter vegetables to provide the bulk of my needs. I have still got beans going, sorrel, chard, lettuce, herbs, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes (still going until the first frosts) broccoli, cauliflower and kale. I have also sown broad beans for spring eating but not got the garlic into the ground yet due to the rain. I have been madly saving as many seeds as I can for sowing in spring. I like to use the Real Seed Company whenever possible which I am unashamedly plugging, their new brochure is coming out in early November. The exploding cucumbers sound fabulous.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumn Harvests

Today is the autumn equinox and it is beautiful, sunny and breezy with some wispy white clouds. I have been harvesting for some time now, picking pears with apples coming on line any time soon. I fought the birds for figs, when they are ripe they are gorgeous but the birds have an uncanny knack for spotting the ripe ones before I do. Often there is just the remains of a pecked out fig skin to show where they have been. I have jars of spicy chutney in the cupboard along with pickled onions and some wonderful blackberry jam. Often my breakfast consists of a mix of yoghurt, muesli and fresh picked berries.

The domestic bird numbers have reduced a little as ducks head for the freezer along with ten fat rabbits. More to go and the animal food bill is huge but I can't bring myself to kill too frequently, I still find it difficult mentally and physically.

The batch of chicks are indeed a little mixed, males will be eaten and most hens will be kept but there seem to be too many weedy ones with pompoms. My original hens consisted of a mixed bunch from the local market. As they all lay their eggs in the same set of nest boxes it is impossible to tell who has laid what. Amongst them I chose a pretty small hen who looked like a Poland with a pompom on her head. She seems to be dim but incredibly fertile and an increasing number of the offspring seem to take after her. Small and scrawny but with the luck of the Irish they continue to hatch and survive. Next spring I must get some new blood into the flock.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Watching or experiencing life

This morning I sat and ate breakfast as I often do, sitting on the patio watching the sun rise. It is always a special moment and when the clouds allow, the sun rises from behind distant mountains and the clouds turn many colours. I don't mediate as such but sitting peacefully, listening to the dawn chorus of birds and watching the natural world awaken makes me feel close to nature.

Last week Tim and I visited the Cathedral at Santiago and we were both struck by the apparent devotion of a young man kneeling penitently in front of the alter. Upon closer inspection we could see that he was filming the alter on a camera for some time. As ever there are few visitors there sitting in contemplation, most are chatting loudly whilst taking snaps of everything. Modern life seems to require that life should be experienced through a camera or television screen. An experience has to be validated by others, you have to show your pictures to the whole world on Facebook, you have to film everything or it is valueless.

How damaging this attitude is.... putting the screen between us and the world. We experience everything second hand and in safety, wrapped in cotton wool and unaware of the planet around us. Paul Kingsnorth says it so much better than I ever can here

It is so easy to let the damage to the planet and our society go on unchecked when all we see is what we are meant to see through a screen. More people need to go out into the world and look for themselves, get cold, get wet, kill an animal for food with your own hands, grow a carrot, pick the blackberries and taste them, this is real life....every little helps.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Nose back to the grindstone

Tim has gone back to the UK to look for his next contract so I am alone again for the first time in 2 months. It seems awfully quiet but I am looking forward to getting stuck in again to the mountains of work which have been put on the back-burner while I had family staying here. Current animal statistics are 34 ducks, 4 turkeys, 19 rabbits, 15 chickens, 2 goats and 1 demanding cat.

The whole place needs a bit of a deep clean, stables need to be cleaned again, tons of apples, pears and figs to be picked and preserved. Not to mention the overgrown vegetable garden, watering the new trees and the general household tasks including jam and chutney making. It will soon be time to start the Yule preparations as well, mincemeat to be made, puddings and cakes to be baked. There are still sunny days here but a nip in the air and a decrease in the numbers of flies (hurrah). The year is turning still and Autumn is upon us but each season has it's pleasures.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Hard work

Our latest batch of chicks were hatched under a puzzled duck who was a model parent for the first couple of days but she swiftly lost interest when the chicks became noisy and undisciplined. One of them had problems from the start. It was very noisy and seemed to have its head stretched over its back and was uncoordinated running in clumsy circles and falling over a lot. My daughter and I hand fed it and kept it in an incubator for a few days. It is very difficult to know whether to let nature take its course and watch something die over time or whether to intervene, either to humanely kill or feed as we did.   

She was called Chicca, she became very tame, she got much stronger and progressed to spending days with the other chicks and feeding herself as her neck straightened and balance improved. Eventually she lived with the other chicks permanently. Unfortunately one day she and another chick broke out of the stables through a tiny hole at the bottom of the door when we were out and she was killed, probably by a duck. Not a good outcome but we felt we had given her a chance. Sometimes that is all you can give them.



The hard work continues. We have finally had our fire wood delivery. Catherine and I managed to load it all into the shed in a day and a half. We should be warm all winter.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

We have goats!

At last they have arrived. We have spent a hot and sweaty week making the old stable suitable for the arrivals and banging in fence posts in temperatures over 30 degrees. Now we reap the rewards.
Necessity meant they came here in the back of our Citroen Berlingo, secured of course. Their first gifts to us were gallons of urine and a spade full of fertilizer.



We will keep them quiet for a day or two before releasing them into the new enclosure. Pixy the kid is 5 weeks old now and taking all of the milk. As she gradually increases her solid food we will start to take the milk for ourselves. I am already fantasising about all of the butter, cheese, ice-cream, yoghurt etc. I can make. In reality I will need a whole herd of goats to make my foodie dreams come true, including some boys for the goat curry.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

St James' Day

Today is St James' Day in Spain. It is a national holiday and the celebrations are most intense in Santiago, Iago being Spanish for James. Last night I drove to Santiago to enjoy the famous fireworks. The city was buzzing with happy revellers, no vomiting, no violence just happy people. It was a beautiful warm evening and perfect for sitting outside a bar with a beer and tapas.
The police had only allowed the maximum 6,000 people in Obradoiro Square at the front of the Cathedral to see the laser light show so we had to content ourselves with sitting on the steps of the square behind the Cathedral in the Plaza de Quintana. People watching was wonderful and the time soon passed. The  fireworks did not disappoint, amazingly bright and loud. The Spanish certainly know how to have a good time.





Sunday, 22 July 2012

Rappa de Bestas

I have just been to my local Rappa de Bestas. This is where the local wild horses are rounded up off of the mountain and held in a coral. They are then assessed, some in poor condition are sold for meat, the new foals are separated from the heard temporarily and the adults are wrestled to the ground by the local young men, to be wormed and treated for any problems they may have.




It may seem extreme but for the rest of the year the horses live free and unmolested on the mountain, probably a better life than many factory farmed animals. Vets are in attendance and many of the young men are kicked and bitten but it is another rite of manhood that has been going on for generations. There is of course, music and food afterwards. The most popular mode of transport is a horse if you have one. And a high spirited stallion is the envy of all your friends.
The local Ferrari above.....

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Making Progress

Sometimes a new task makes me feel as though I am getting somewhere. There are only so many hours in the day and it is difficult to remain positive when all you can see are jobs that need doing. At the moment my daughter Catherine and I are building the enclosure for the goats. This involves 50 metres of 1.5 meter high wire fencing and around twenty five 2 metre posts. The heat means that we have to stop in the middle of the day as it gets too hot to work. We are however getting there and it is a great feeling to look at the posts from the bedroom window. Visible progress hurrah.

As part of the redesign of the enclosures the turkeys are currently free range and loving it. They have grown quickly and are very friendly and interested in all we do. This includes inspecting all of the post holes for edible titbits and filling them in again by scratching. I don't know how I would manage without their help!

For the first time the flower seeds we scattered in spring are starting to look flowery. It looks as though it was meant and they seem to be withstanding the regular assault from chickens and ducks. In my fantasy I have a low maintenance cottage garden. Lots of bees and butterflies, scents and colour, rich and fertile and intoxicating to the senses. The reality of course comes with brambles and nettles and chicken dust baths.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

We are getting goats

Today I visited a good friend to see the goats she is going to let me have. The mum is called Tensing and she has her first kid, recently born who happily is a girl. I am currently in the process of building a large enclosure onto a stable that the goats can roam in. I hope to have sufficient milk for my needs and have help in the garden from the goats keeping some of the vegetation in check.
Here is our lovely kid who is still to be named.
 Standing on the rock is first time mum Tensing

Here are some of the goaty gang getting up to mischief as usual.

Finally I went to an Artisan fair this afternoon and bought a hand made Queimada set which is a traditional flaming alcohol cocktail typical of Galicia. It is always nice to speak to the potter directly about his wares.

Friday, 6 July 2012

More Ducklings

Yes we have another batch, hatched overnight. Twenty I think, but they wouldn't stand still. All look very well and I am thinking I should be ordering bird food by the truck load. There is only so much crispy duck one person can eat!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The 'thing' in the loft

There has been something in the loft since we moved here. We now sleep in the main room beneath the loft and you can hear it making noises. It is too big for a rat as it thumps and there is only one of it. It is most active early mornings and late evenings. Most of the time it sounds like it is playing football up there and dust occasionally falls between the brown varnished wooden boards that form the ceiling. My best guess is that it is a stone marten seen below. I have tried to see it by climbing into the loft with a torch but it freezes and I haven't been able to see it yet.
I have found that I get very intimate with wildlife here that you don't see very often in the UK. There are bats in the loft, salamanders in our store and the drains, that emerge when it rains. The birds are numerous and noisy, owls shout most nights and the pair of buzzards fly over every day around 4pm looking for a careless chicken. I have mice in the house and stables and Nosher, my cat has killed at least two rats that I know of and our other cat bought a very live water vole into the kitchen as a gift last summer. Lizards sunbath on the walls of the house, I suspect badgers dig in the soil banks and have made a path across the land. I am grateful that I have not encountered any of the numerous snakes yet. Don't get me started on the wolves in winter, the wild boar etc etc. I really am very lucky to live here.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dependency

One of the barriers I have had to break through since my move to Galicia is a lack of confidence in my own abilities. I think that this is endemic in the lifestyles of many. The current system educates us to be 'consumers' and that means that we are sold gadgets and services that we are told we can not do without. Unfortunately it starts young, with the education system only giving us a limited skill set in preparation for the job we will later have (if we are lucky). We are told that we should buy ready prepared food, buy everything ready made, leave everything to the professionals.
It took me weeks to pluck up the courage to have a go at my first attempt at plumbing. This involved fitting a desperately needed outside tap pictured below.
I was frightened that I would create leaks where none had existed before. I soldered several joints and it has proven to be a brilliant success. In a similar vein, Tim knocked in some fence posts for me and I created the turkey run out of scraps of chicken wire and old electric fencing tape. It had to be high because they are good fliers when young. Below are the turkeys in their run from my bedroom window.
My neighbours here are typical of many Galicians, they have multiple skills, many still grow their own vegetables, kill and process their own meat, make wine and distil a strong spirit from the skins and pips. They keep ancient tractors on the road and some still use working horses and oxen in the fields. Their skills with orange baler twine are legendary, using it to hold up trousers, secure fences, weaving it into ropes with multiple uses and even using it as a lead when taking the house cow out to graze in the evenings.

I just need to take inspiration from my small successes and get on to the next task, there is no substitute for just having a go.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fruitfulness

The season of plenty has started here. This morning I harvested my garlic, and given the rather extreme weather we have enjoyed, I am very pleased with it. This is it drying in the sun before storage.


I also had raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries for breakfast (with yoghurt) and planning on a mixed herb salad for lunch. No doubt if any of the ducks give me trouble today I shall be having one of them for tea.
One of the downsides of the current hot weather we are enjoying is the fruitfulness of the flies. A friend is very well organised, there are fly screens on every door and window and the swatter comes into play if an intruder manages to bypass the machine gun towers. My house however is a prime target with its productive feathered and furred inhabitants. I am forced to rely on sticky fly papers and the help of local spiders. Another great excuse not to dust away the cobwebs.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Home Internet Access

At last, yesterday two nice men fitted us with a satellite dish and now I can access the net whenever I want to. Tim and I had gone down the Movistar dongle route which gave us such a poor intermittent signal that it was unusable. We tried another company, Intermax who promised to cover our area, but on arrival it seemed there was no signal. Finally the satellite company has worked. We asked for a phone as well and although we have one, we have to wait an indeterminate length of time to be allocated a new phone number. These seem to be as rare as hens teeth and you have to wait for someone to die before you can take over their phone number.
Having the Internet opens up many possibilities for us. The main fantasy is that we win the Euromillions lottery, but failing that....Tim might be able to get a job in IT working from home. I really miss the snoring and the toilet seat being left up.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Brief Rabbit update

To my surprise I discovered that the pregnant rabbit gave birth around Sunday night or Monday morning. Rustling in the straw gave it away. I don't want to disturb them so I don't know how many there are but I have seen one briefly emerge, pink and rat like. Having got her on Sunday from the local market it was much sooner than expected. The escaping male is now happily living free range in the stables and courtyard. Seeing him kicking up his heels and running in the sun (when we have some) is lovely. He is fed in the stables and has his open hutch to sleep in if he wishes. Life is riskier for him but he is happy and that is life....


Monday, 11 June 2012

Rabbit Mania

Finally the pork mountain is reducing and we shall soon be needing an additional source of meat. Still no pics sorted due to technical difficulties but we have three beautiful rabbits. My daughter has named them so it might be harder to slaughter them. If they breed well and are not too much trouble perhaps I might not have to do the deed for a while. The male is silver and 5 months old, we should have called him Houdini as he has escaped three times since we got him (less than 24 hours ago). He is called Shadow and is in the flimsiest cage. We had to make do with scrap wood and rotten storage boxes covered in wire which he has the knack of stretching. I will either save for a commercial wire cage or see if he is ok living loose in the stables. I am just not sure if he will get on with the broody ducks. There is also a wild rabbit coloured mature doe who is pregnant and called Juno. Finally the totty element is covered by a very pretty beige female who is 3 months old and who needs a bit of maturing before she can be mated. She is my daughters favourite and is called Honey Bunny. There is a home-made outdoor run which they can take it in turns to enjoy and trim my grass at the same time.

I have just enjoyed a couple of weeks with my visiting children. We swam in the sea in our underwear as the day was unexpectedly warm. Probably a horrifying sight but we were past caring. My vegetable garden progresses well with fresh peas, mange touts and the first pick of fresh strawberries of the year. The taste of sorrel has been a revelation, potatoes are emerging and lettuces are madly maturing. I have to fight ducks for them as they can stretch their heads through the chicken wire for a surprising distance. We also went to a wonderful  musical evening at a friends house with a home-made stage and great local music. The evening was full of fun and laughter and a mix of locals and ex-pats. Between bands everyone spontaneously sang Galician songs and danced to Galician bagpipes and tambourines. The sort of night when its so good to be alive and among friends despite the drizzling rain. A world away from tweeting to virtual friends.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Ducklings ahoy

We have five mad little Muscovy ducklings, our first and they are very cute. They are fairly independent, just needing mum for warmth between feeds. I hope to get some pictures on here in the next few days. We also purchased two turkey poults at a local market which are settling into another stable. They appear to be standard bronze turkeys which is ideal for us as they taste good and mate naturally. Male double breasted birds are unable to mount females so they have to be artificially inseminated which seems to be a crime against nature. We are now looking for another couple so we have one to eat and an unrelated trio left for future breeding. Once they have settled down we will build them an outdoor run so they can behave naturally and still be safe from the many Galician predators.

I also have a broody hen sitting on more eggs and two duck nests being filled with eggs prior to further brooding. It will be a difficult balancing act to control duck numbers, quite why the world is not knee deep in muscovies I am not sure. We plan to keep our core flock of 1 male and 6 females intact and eat or sell/give away everything else. Any less than 6 females is bad because the males are well endowed and mate frequently, females have been known to die from too much attention.

Finally Tim has secured another contract which is brilliant news in many ways. He is off to central London on Monday for as long as they need him. Obviously I shall miss him and will be advertising for a bed warmer locally as soon as he is gone.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My man is back

Tim's contract ended a little sooner than we expected but it is brilliant to have him back home. Despite the drizzle and heavy rain that has been falling for a couple of weeks now As Petas once again is full of the sight and sound of a canoodling couple who have missed each other terribly (sick buckets provided).
Although we survive apart we flourish together and so the apple blossom is a little more beautiful, the bees buzz more sweetly and the rain feels a little warmer and falls more gently when we are together.

Enough of the mush.... the downside is that Tim is once more on the corporate job hunting treadmill, pretending that he loves computers and would love nothing better than to be in a battery cage being fed pellets that fall from the ceiling and writing pointless code. It is currently a necessary evil but we both dream of the complete escape for both of us. A dream that I suspect increasing numbers of disillusioned lab-rats share. We are tied by the bonds of a mortgage however so compromise is the name of the day. As Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."


Monday, 2 April 2012

Reality check

Well dog ownership has not turned out to be a bed of roses. Yesterday they climbed over a wall into my courtyard and killed a 6 week old chick whilst I was on the phone to my daughter. They have killed my chickens before, they are terrier cross collie types and it seems to be in their blood, along with chasing anything and everything. They still run up the drive and chase cars, they nearly killed my cat when he fell off the roof in front of them. I didn't know cats could run that fast.... They also chase the neighbours cows and generally they are a nightmare. They jump or climb my gates, walls and fences or dig under them. When chained they are so miserable they won't eat or drink. Otherwise they are affectionate, toilet trained and eager to please.

Very regrettably I took them back to the dog home they came from yesterday. I am still feeling dreadful but I was worried about the psychological damage I might have caused by chaining or enclosing away from me (the courtyard is at the back of the house) and at 9 months old they have time to be adopted into a more suitable home without the temptation of livestock. With hindsight I probably picked dogs with unsuitable temperaments for a smallholding setting. I just couldn't compete with their urge to chase.

Finally my daughter is unwell and waiting for neurological tests, she is only 22 and its a pretty horrific process to go through. Although it is not life threatening, it might be life changing depending on the results. Sometimes Spain feels an awfully long way away from family. Thank goodness for the telephone. I can't do very much for her physically but I am an available ear which is the best I can hope to be at this time.

To end on a better note, Tim has got his 3 month contract and the money is slowly dribbling through so my plans to set up a brothel for the locals has been put on hold.....

Friday, 2 March 2012

Hanging on in here

Well despite all the problems I am still hanging in here. Tim is currently in Exeter desperately trying to secure a 3 month contract and I remain in Galicia keeping the home fires burning after cutting the wood first of course.

It is not how we wanted it to be but it will hopefully help us to survive a bit longer. Spring is springing here, all I can hear are woodpeckers drumming away, the birds are singing lustily and my peas are starting to emerge. This winter has been very cold and frosty but NO real rain to speak of. Our seasonal stream has dried up already, none of the grass is growing and the newspapers are full of local farmers spending fortunes on dry food for their cattle.

We hoped for rain yesterday but after thunder and lighting no rain actually fell and today is bright and sunny with a clear sky again. After last years drought people will be in real trouble, I am reluctant to plant too much because I will have to water it by lugging buckets of water about. The dry weather hasn't stopped our drake and cockerel from pestering their ladies though. Eggs are in abundance and I had 3 chicks hatch on Valentines Day which are still alive despite the best efforts of their mother, who in a frenzy of scratching likes to bury their food and water as soon as they are put down. I am surprised they haven't starved to death, but their is still time I suppose.

Finally I couldn't do all of this without the support of all of my friends out here. A cup of tea is always available in any one of a dozen houses if I wanted it. The sense of community is alive and well in Galicia and long may it stay that way.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Yet another new beginning

One thing you can't stop is the wheel of life from turning. After a year living in paradise it looks like Tim and I will have to return to the UK to earn some money. When we came out here Tim had a permanent job with remote working but after it stopped he has been struggling to get another job from here.
Rather than spend lots of time apart we are hoping to go back to the UK together so we can maintain our married status and I can keep my feet warm while we try to get some bills paid.

The good news is that we are not the people we were when we came here. Galicia has shown us life as we want it to be. It is achingly beautiful, the people are amazingly generous with their time and indeed with anything they can give. We have raised our own pigs, grown vegetables, kept poultry and performed so many tasks that would have stumped us in our previous life. We have drunk wine, spent time with very good friends, had more than one night singling along to Tims guitar playing, in other words we have really LIVED LIFE.

I have spent precious mornings watching the sun rise over our valley (I never had time to do this in the UK) and precious memories of the glorious summer nights, when we rolled in merrily from a party late at night and then sat on our patio and just gazed awestruck at the clearest stars I have ever seen. You can see the milky way from our patio and more stars than you can imagine. So....I have had a privileged year and it has made us both doubly determined to get back here by hook or by crook as soon as we can sustain it.

In the mean time... does anyone know any house sitters????

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New beginnings... again


This time of year is very exciting. A whole new year to enjoy. Tim and I have just finished fencing our first bit of veggie patch with supplies paid for by my mother as a Christmas gift (thanks Mum). As it was our first bit of cultivated ground we put in it all of the fruit bushes we had bought with us from the UK, most of which seem to have survived. It is therefore going to be the official soft fruit area which we hope to net this year. Last year the birds cleared all of the currents in one morning. A massive flock descended like a plague of locusts. We did get some nice strawberries though and a handful of raspberries (the ones the ducks didn't get). We also lifted the huge piece of black plastic and moved it on a bit and I now have a beautiful area of dead grass for this years proper veggie patch. Turning the thin soil over is a complete joy as the thick former turf parts like butter. As I found out last year, trying to dig through the living turf was a nightmare. Even using the local satcha (mattock) I struggled.

I now find I am behaving like a miser, going though my tub of veg seed packets whilst fantasising about the huge luscious crops I will grow in my new veg patch. Of course the reality is unlikely to match the fantasy (like so much in life) but it is the new year and the time for dreaming of the good year to come.