Monday, 29 April 2013

Mixed Blessings

Sunday I woke up to a light covering of snow all around. Today it is very sunny but with gale force north easterly winds, it would be so lovely if it wasn't so cold.
My daughter Catherine has come to stay with me for the summer to give me a hand and to assume responsibility for the livestock. If she enjoys it, her stay may become permanent. She has bought an incubator with her and 12 hatching eggs, Marans and Barnvelders. Both of these breeds are utility birds and should produce meat and eggs for us. We also bought a second puppy, Toby, to keep Sam happy which Catherine will take under her wing and train. So far he has been very well behaved although Sam is exhausted with ensuring he doesn't take anything belonging to Sam. Sam being a terrier is fully in charge, and is clearly senior dog. The cats to our surprise, seem to be fine with the new addition as well.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Warmer Weather At Last

Finally the weather has improved, mixed days of clouds and sunshine and a gusty wind today. The plants are trying to make up for lost time and the new peach tree is in full blossom.
Due to the very wet and cold winter I haven't been able to do very much to the vegetable beds and so they are very overgrown with weeds. I need to clear a lot of ground before I can get my seeds planted. My second batch of tomatoes also failed and so I will probably buy some plants in from the local market this year. The plastic on my small greenhouse rotted and many of the seedlings inside died from damping off. A poly tunnel is high on my list of wants but it will have to wait until I can save for the materials.
The squashes are also damping off. I also need a cold frame, they go from toasty in the propagator to cold in the house or colder outside with bouts of intense heat in the sun. I seem to end up with one of everything which is not very helpful with plants that need to cross pollinate.

The puppy has been a dream so far. Apart from a slight touch of kleptomania meaning he can't fit in his basket for shoes, string, scraps of bone, twigs and single socks he is wonderful. Great with the animals and good company. His best friend is my 7 month old kitten, Monty. They play tag in the grass for hours.
Monty has now been neutered and seemed to get over it very quickly. He is now mousing freely, his preferred method of dispatch is decapitation but he leaves the rest of the offerings around the house and garden.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A Late Spring

I kept getting excited by early signs of Spring but I am still waiting for any sign of warm weather. I take heart from the fact that the weather is warmer here than the UK (not very difficult) but the almost continuous rain just drags on. The Galicians are not very happy either. I haven't seen any potatoes being planted, normally they are in by now. Vegetable gardens remain neglected all around, little ploughing has been done and the land sits with puddles on it and full drainage ditches.

I am also having problems with rats here. Although I haven't got any in the living areas of the main house they are in the stables (the ground level floor of the house) and in the loft. I hear them scrabbling and squeaking at night. I am reluctant to use poison as it kills predators and might possible kill my own cats. The trapping is only partially successful, my eldest cat does his best but I only see evidence of the occasional rat kill, usually the corpse, or part of a corpse in the sitting room. I therefore decided to have another try at keeping a dog. I found a perfect litter of mixed breed puppies at the local Sunday market. They were 30 euros each and were described as very small. I think there is some Yorkie in there somewhere. We have called him Sam, he is two months old and has made a great start. He has shown no tendency to chase livestock (unlike my other previous hooligan pair). He sticks to me like glue is biddable and so far I haven't had any problems, there is of course still time for him to develop bad habits.
I hope he will in time become a great ratter. Finally yesterday we said goodbye to the male goat who returned reluctantly to my neighbours. Pepe who is 86 came for him with the usual loop of string. The goat ran madly round the stable as though it was a 'wall of death' bouncing off the walls. Pepe flung himself at the goat and finally secured a leg. He was nearly knocked flying several times. Finally Pepe won and dragged him out of the stable. Somehow I can't see Pepe sitting in a nursing home with a cup of coco for a few years yet. Assuming that the goats are both pregnant, they should be due to deliver around the middle of July, very exciting times for us.