Saturday, June 5, 2010

Update 05 05.06.2010

Phew! It´s hot and loads has happened since our last update. Mooch often thinks of witty, informative and interesting things to write about in the blog when he is digging, planting, watering or just pottering, but when it comes to writing it down things always get forgotten… we shall do our best to include the best bits! Plus, the trusty Canon camera has given up so we are back on the Fisher Price model which takes actual batteries and has to be held together with tape, so if you have an old digital camera that you would like to donate to the blog please let us know.

So, since our last update lots of nice butterflies and flying things have arrived but chasing them around the allotment trying to get photos proved to be a job best left to experts with big things on their cameras, still, we have some photos which we are saving for our special blog de bichos, which will appear in the future.

The most exciting addition to our little empire of natural wonders is bees… lots of them, too many to count. Mooch brought them home in the car one evening at the end of April, a full working colony of about 30,000 bees. They settled in well (under the mimosa tree, not in the car) and we have constructed a new hive for them next door for when they fancy a change of environment. We have lots of photos and lots to write so we will do a separate blog de las abejas soon. Hopefully we will be robbing some honey in the near future. Thanks to Mum, Dad, Claire, Tim, Joe and Holly for the bee equipment, what a nice birthday present. Mooch also bought a bamboo bicycle for some reason... this should feature again sometime in the future. Confused? Becky was.

It is incredible how quickly things grow when it has rained a lot and the warm Spanish sunshine gets to work. We had WWOOFERS Alex and Danny from Southport (near Liverpool) staying with us for a couple of weeks in early May, they had their own elevated luxury accommodation (la caravana) and helped out loads at one of the busiest times in the huerto. You can see from the photos how much everything is growing and the main work at this time was prepping the final beds for planting, weeding the ones we´d already planted and watering everything to make it grow more (including the weeds)… the joy of organic gardening is weeding you know. The guys also became very experienced in the fine art of strimming, in fact they strimmed nearly everywhere… we really must get a mower or tractor one day. Not only did they help us out with the allotment and the land, they also house-sat for us while we sloped off to the WOMAD Festival in Cáceres with friends Riccardo, Trish, Jacomo, Noah, Helen, Sarah and Marsha for the weekend. The family of Nardi are always fantastic company and a great help when they come to stay, and the highlight of their stay was a bonfire in the garden… Fantastic company, great food (thanks Marsha), wonderful music and loads of fun… we miss you all. If you are reading this and you fancy the idea of house-sitting for us in the future, please contact us, it´s fairly easy and a nice way to relax in peaceful surroundings.
Just as the early May crowd were leaving new WWOOFERS arrived from Austria. Franz and Dagmar are doing a six month tour of Southern Europe by motorbike. They managed to make it up the long bumpy track to Pan de Trigo despite carrying more than a hefty amount of luggage on each bike. We spoke English most of the time but also some Spanish and German, making it a very international experience. We quickly realised that Franz was allergic to Pan de Trigo and he couldn´t breathe or sleep properly in the countryside, even after a healthy dose of Dagmar´s magic herbal concoctions, so we decided to get busy on the house in Alburquerque instead, Franz and Dagmar stayed in Alburquerque for most of their visit. There is little in the way of organic farming to be done in the town house so we made the most of Dagmar´s tidy painting skills and Franz´ carpentry knowledge. They both worked incredibly hard for us and helped Mooch to really make a difference on the house, in fact with a few more hard days work, the house will finally be ready to rent as a holiday home, we have our first guests arriving in July and the website will be online very soon. The biggest job was laying the first half of the patio in the garden, which was only possible due to the Austrian tradition of starting work at 7am, about 3 hours before the Spanish… Vielen dank Franz und Dagmar!

To finish off this little update you can see from the pictures that everything is growing well and we are already aprovechando from the fruit and veg that is ripening all around us. We are eating fresh lettuces, rocket, pak choi, cherries, strawberries, mange tout, sugar snap peas, spinach, oranges, medlars, onions and we have just started eating the best new potatoes ever (we would say that wouldn´t we). Ma and Pa Hancock have just arrived to help us out in the garden and to make some jam, and we bought two new chickens from the market last week… look out for the chicken blog update soon.

Other snippets. The bees came from a nice man called José in Alburquerque, he has over 600 hives. Expert herbalist and grower José (a different José) has been over to excitedly advise us and bring us some rare vegetable species to grow including Mexican vine potatoes, wow!

Thanks for reading. ´ta luego!

Just one last thing, if anyone knows of a better BLOG programme than this one please let us know, doing a blog is meant to be relaxing and fun... using this software is extremely frustrating, it has taken over two hours to publish this little update... rubbish! We are hoping to transfer our blog to another page soon if that is possible, please let us know if you know how to change blog host, thanks!