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.