Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Wild Goose Chase

On the 27Th of December we lost our gander, he was only ten months old and appeared fit and healthy , needless to say the geese were very upset as was Simon, not so much me, as Gandhi and I had a love hate relationship, I should say more of a hate relationship as he took every opportunity to attack me! However, as we had five geese we needed a gander, so the next day we went out on the proverbial wild goose chase, we had seen about four farms with geese, so we went to them all to see if we could get a replacement.
As is the way in Spain, if someone cant help you, they might know someone who can, but in this case we drew a blank.
We then traveled to the last farm that we had seen geese, but once again they could not help, so our helper,[also a Simon] asked if they knew anywhere that we might get a 'ganso', dictionary definition of a male goose, the female being an 'oca' and the plural of goose is 'ocas', this however proves not to be the case.
Simon our helper speaks fluent Spanish, so he asked did they just keep the 'ocas' for eggs, no came the reply, we breed them! By now we were all thoroughly confused, but if you have two ocas how do you breed them asked Simon, the reply amidst laughter was simple, one is a 'oca hembra' [female] the other one is a 'oca macho' [male] simple isn't it? so just ignore the dictionary, it doesn't allow for country folk.
The next day was spent trying to phone any breeders listed in the yellow pages, but being Xmas we failed to make contact with any of them, Xmas here continues till the 7th of Jan. However, on the Sunday we made the break through by phoning the shop where we had bought the geese from, and hey presto, they had two ocas macho's, so a mad drive to Padron which is a 100 k away, and we are now the proud owners of two ganders.
We had decided that we needed to try to find out what was the cause of Gandhi's early demise, with the possibility of eating him , it was very obvious on inspection of the internal organs that he had had a heart attack, and I found a large blood clot in his right ventricle, so we had roast goose for dinner, after all, this is why we have geese, to eat, although it should have been his offspring. This also marked our first 100% home produced meal, which is what we are aiming for.
R.I.P Gandhi

Saturday, 20 December 2008

One week on from the big snowfall and things are now returning to normal, last Monday we attempted to get into our local village but found the road was blocked by fallen trees, so Simon went out with the chain saw and removed four big trees that were across the road, we then tried again to get to the village to find a 50ft tree across the road and on the electricty cable, which accounted for us still having no mains electricty two days on, so back home again. Then a police car came down the lane, they must have been contacted by one of the locals, and power was restored about four hours later.
What we have learnt by this is that although we no longer live on campo, if you live in a very rural area you do need a generator, a chain saw and a four wheel drive, also a deep freeze is a very good idea.
Although snow might look very romantic on cards, it can do an incredible amount of damage, this last fall has devastated half the forest just up the road, no wonder wood for log burners is cheap, we have been assured that this weather is not normal, so we will put it down to climate change, not global warming!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The first week of Dec has been rather a waste of time, first being without power and the snow, then having a helper that was not able to help as he was disabled, although he failed to mentiion this when he contacted us. So a day was spent in getting his room ready, and having to drive yet again into lugo to pick him up, a day explaining what an axe was and how to use it, which he couldn't, Then another trip to Lugo for a hospital appointment, and again , the next day to Lugo to drop our helper off, so the C/H instillacion is now a week behind and it is looking less likely that we will be moved into the new kitchen by Xmas.

The end of Nov and the start of winter?

November was quite a good month although we had a fair amount of rain, it was mild with some lovely warm sunny days. However this all changed on the 28th, when we arrived home from lugo to find a snow plough parked up at our turn off from the motor way.Spain is very good at being prepared for snow, so we guessed that we had it on the way, later that night the lights went out, and all we had was a few old candle stubs, so we did the practical thing and went to bed. the next day we awoke to six inches of snow, and still no power. We had talked about getting a generator, but this had been put on the long finger. We attempted to drive up to the moterway, which we knew would be clear but had to abandon that idea, come the afternoon the snow stopped and it did start to thaw so we thought the we might be able to get out if we went down to our village, the onto the motorway, this we managed and got ourselfs to Lugo, bought a generator, and home we went. The power was off for the best part of two days, but now we have a generator we will not be caught out again, although none of the locals seem to mind having no electricty, we like our creature comforts.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Last of the summer crops and flowers.

Autumn is now here, and the trees are showing some lovely colours, we have had about four days of rain, but now the weather is dry but chilly but very warm in the sun. We have picked what will be our last courgettes and the last of the strawberry's today, we have been cropping both since May, I'm still trying to find time to plant more strawberry's in the new tunnel so we might get early ones next year.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

As I'm working downstairs painting all the new ceiling boards I've had the fire on, this woke up a beautiful Peacock Butterfly, we will have to find it and find more suitable accommodation for it.

We haven't seen many Salamanders this year and were worried that our lovely cats had been feasting on them, however we found on the other evening making it's way to it winter quarters.

I'm not sure what happened to Oct, I know it came, but it also went very quickly, our last helper Chris did a great job harvesting the maize and then hanging it up in the big barn, and we hope we have enough for all our livestock for the winter months. We also had a start made on the fruit tree pruning, we only found out during the last week that Chris was with us that he knew how to prune, just wish we had known before.

We now are at the stage of one step forward and two steps back! When Simon cut a hole to get the new hot water tank into the attic he found that many of the old ceiling boards needed replacing, so the new water system is now on hold while we replace the last ceiling, all the others have been done, my part in this is painting all the new boards, a job I hate, and again the work on the garden is on hold. Still most of our veg have done very well this year, and we have even had a yellow carrot! all from the same packet, and Organic seed, I guess it was the one that got away.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The last window is now in place, so things should be warmer this winter, the next job is to plaster the ceiling in the kitchen/ dining room and then sort out the plumbing, so hopefully we will be organised by Xmas,

The maize is now being harvested and hung in the barn to dry, to feed to the rabbits goats and hens during the winter, this is our helper Chris's project.

We have a reasonable return for the effort but next year we will have to use far more manure as maize appears to be a heavy feeder.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Most things seem to grow here, although we probaly didn't grow enough potatoes, here we have parsnip, onion, carrots, potatoes and celery, now to make the stew.

Now we have a helper from the Channel Islands, he is doing a very good job strimming and have brought the stinging nettles back under control.

We have now said farewell to our helpers Carl and Lauren, they were with us for just over two months and did fantastic work, Lauren having no fear of heights has pointed half of the house and Carl laid all our tiles for the new kitchen/ dining room and made a super job of laying a patio of the old roof slates.

We now have two new arrivals, the rabbits, Lucky ['cause he didn't get eaten], and Lucy, hopefully they will breed for us and provide our protein for next year. We have had rabbits before, the only ones in the world that didn't know what to do, so maybe we will have more luck this time. They are being very carefully guarded by Robson, our Jack Russel he thinks they are his.

All of our veg have done well with the exception of the swede, we will try again next year. the first parsnips that were dug were huge, weighing in at 2kg, but they were at the end of the row, so had more space, the others are better size at threequaters kg.

This weekend we hope to harvest the maize, subject to the weather.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Also in August we went to an Artisan fair in Samos, more traditional dancing, a wonderful monastery and Organic honey ! um.
Medieval Village View

The second week of August we went to a craft fair held in the medieval market place of Agolada, there were many lovely things, but the highlight was the market place.

Lauren pointing a wall, she's making a grand job of it.

Our helper lauren rotovating for the new tunnel

Five dancing girls

The pool in the Temple

Birds and Mushrooms?

At Eulalia there is what is described as a Pagan Temple, however it is lacking any Pagan symbols, and would appear to be a Roman 'House of Pleasure', the wall carvings are of dancing girls, and the beautiful coloured paintings are of birds and plants, possibly mushrooms and morning glory. It is pre Christian, dated at about 2000 AD.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

It was a rainy day so we decided to go exploring.

There are many interesting places to visit locally, and taking time out seems to increase energy to continue with the gardens and renovation works, our current helpers seem to be enjoying their stay and have been with us now for over six weeks, we will miss them when they go.

Monday, 25 August 2008

A wonderful specimen Eucalyptus

For the first time we have had a go at growing maize to feed to our hens and geese and also the goats, it's not going to be a big crop, but we think the animals will enjoy it.

There is always so many vegetables at this time of year, we have peppers and cherry tomatoes, plus a huge number of cucumbers, the land being so fertile requires very little manure, and most things grow well.

We had a problem in June with Colorado beetle on our potatoes and I spent many hours destroying the little blighters, we will have to find an easier way next year.

Galicia has many very old trees and with age comes character,there are many large sweet chestnut trees and ancient oaks as well as some specimen eucalyptus, we still think that it is Spain's best kept secret.

The new well fitting windows

This is a typical style of the old windows

I think these two had done their bit

Although August is the month of Fiestas, work on the house is progressing well, thanks to our two super helpers Carl and Lauren, and the window firm from Lugo. We had been promised our new windows the third week in August, and surprise, they arrived on time, so this winter will be more comfortable than last year, with eight inches of roof insulation and the well fitting windows.

The older Galicians are a very hardy lot, they all seem to have just the kitchen with old ranges as their main living area, and windows that do nothing to keep out the elements, but they all seem to live to ripe old ages.

Carl has finished tiling our new kitchen /dining room floor, and is doing a super job on laying our old roofing slates as a patio area at the front of the house, and Lauren has done a brilliant job weeding the vegetable garden, Simon is trying to finish the new guttering, but despite all the work going on, we still manage to get to see some of the Fiestas, and to take our helpers out sightseeing.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Fiesta Day, Traditional Galician music and dancing

A magic stone in the woods

This was animal housing under the house, soon to be our new living room

We now have a very productive vegetable garden

The garden for leisure

There are over 30 types of Orchid in Galicia, this a Tongue Orchid

One day these little bundles of fluff will have young , destined for the table

And this was how our bedroom turned out just four months later.

The house was derelict for many years and we sure had running water! This was to become our bedroom

Galicia is a place of mountains valleys and rivers, and very green in more ways than one

Chicken in the Woods
August has been a very mixed month weather wise, the first half of the month we had to water the veg daily, but it has now turned much cooler. We had a very heavy thunder storm two days ago, and water flooded our newly tiled floor, done by Carl, a wonder helper who ,with his girl friend Lauren have been with us for three weeks. we picked our first REAL runner beans yesterday, the type you get in the UK, not the flavourless spanish ones, what joy!
It's not all work here though, Aug, being the month of fiestas has given us all a chance to see and enjoy the local crafts and produce, and the Galician dancing and music.