Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hog Roast anyone?

What is it about pigs that make people either imagine them with an apple in their mouth on the dining room table, or as the cute, talking pig in Babe.....for those animal lovers out there we are the first option.

We had discussed getting a pig, to rear , fatten up and eat, now some people think that we are mad, and to those people I can't believe it has taken you this long to work that out. As with everything here in the mad house, there was much discussion, and very little planning involved. we asked around about piglets, and how you go about rearing them to ensure that they are healthy and of course fat! (hog roast!)

Google again became my friend, and I read pages and pages about the best way to keep  our new addition to ensure that they were happy and healthy. I soon gathered that keeping a pig really is not that difficult, feed it everything, give it plenty of water, shade, and a huge mud pit, and hey presto your pig will be as happy as a pig in s**t.

We knew that purchasing a pig would be our largest expense to date, therefore, we wanted to ensure that it would be worth it, and needed to assess how much pork our new friend would provide. Now we all like pork, and there is plenty to do with it, however, we soon estimated that our fat little friend would produce over 65kg of that's a lot of bacon!

Undeterred and ready with the cookbook in hand I went in search of a pig, again not a huge amount of thought went into how I was getting this pig home if I found one. I always reason where there is a will there is a way! Alas, I could find no pigs, not even a whiff of bacon anywhere, oh well there would be no hog roast for us.

We decided to call into the garden centre on the way home, to purchase some herbs, well part of the pork supper could still be grown...I would like to point out that our local garden centre is nothing like anything you would have ever seen. It is more like an overgrown back garden, where an old Spanish man waves his hands and tells you to find it yourself!

Whilst wandering through the overgrown plants and trees, a small movement caught my eye, as there at the back past the forest, through the wardrobe (oh no that's a different story) there were pigs!! actually there were pigs, sheep, goats, horses and dogs. There was a miniature zoo, and I had my eye on the hog roast again!

After much negotiation, and discussion on who was actually going to "do the deed" when my new addition needed to be butchered, we were in ownership of our very own piglet. As the Spanish guy carried her back to my car, it suddenly dawned on me "how the hell was I getting this pig home" before I could question this fact, the guy had flung her in the boot, shut it, and told me not to open until I was at home.

I felt this was sound advice, and leapt in the car ready for an interesting journey home, on the way home, names were discussed and Peppa was chosen. I felt confident, happy and ready to fatten Christmas Dinner, until the moment one of my children turned to me and said " You have told Daddy that you have bought a pig, haven't you?" OH crap, I knew there was something I was supposed to do!....

Friday, 29 June 2012

Operation duck pond begins

When we moved in there was a resident duck here, which we quickly named Daphne (original I know!) and although she looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, we are convinced she thinks she is a chicken!

Childhood memories of Beatrix Potter came flooding over me one day, and I knew I had to have my own Jemima Puddleduck. Now for those of you that know me well, you will know I am quite impulsive, and when I want something I want it yesterday....operation find me ducklings begun!

We enquired in the usual "farmy" places, but alas the Chinese restaurants had beaten me to it, however, I received a tip off that there was a farmers market in Jinnemar! If you know GC well, you will know that visiting Jinnemar for anything is dangerous, it is one of those lock your doors and pray you have tires when you return to your car type places...

However, I was undeterred and casually dropped into a conversation with my husband one day that I wanted ducks, therefore, a duck pond needed to be dug, lined and filled NOW! I often use the claim that "we" will be doing this activity, however, in reality it means that he will be doing all the hard work, whilst I sit and give my expert opinion...

So, the digging begins, and he has a look on his face expressing that this is going to be the smallest duck pond in history, where as I have grand ideas of full scale waterways! Needless to say the man putting in all the effort wins! The pond is filled, the little duck house in place, the straw plumped.....all I need now is my ducks.....

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The eggs go in the nesting boxes!

Chickens have always been considered one of the easiest of all farm animals to look after, you only need to provide them with food, water and somewhere cosy to lay their eggs! Yeah right, where do people get this idea from as chickens are a nightmare.

When we moved in there were over 60 chickens and cockerels, on this ratio with my basic chicken knowledge we should have been getting a nice pile of eggs everyday! hmmm then why were we only getting on average 5 a day, something had to be done.

I spoke to the local feed store lady who advised changing their feed, and the chicken man who advised chopping their heads off! drastic methods but this is Spain! Initially we thought we would go with the feed store lady and if that didn't work then the chicken man could be let loose and do the deed!

Google is an amazing tool and I set about researching the best way to get my chickens to lay, did you know there are so many websites and forums for chicken owners, sad but true! new nesting boxes were built, straw was fluffed, new chicken pen built, new feed in the feeders and we waited....

Nope it was decided that we had feral chickens that quite happily fly out every day and lay their eggs within a 2 mile radius of the finca, you name it they lay there. Basically anywhere that isn't in my nice, comfy well appointed nesting boxes....operation follow chicken had to begin! Yes we spend our days stalking chickens and following them, honestly my kids do have other things to do, but what could be more fun than following a chicken for 20 minutes, for it to walk back to where it started!

After many weeks of stalking the chickens to a virtually criminal level, we had discovered where they were we know they do lay eggs, the need to turn them into Sunday lunch can be postponed until another day. Now all we have to do is discover why they want to lay 80ft up a mountain rather than in their warm, cosy box...whoever said chickens were dumb, knew their chickens well!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I found my piece of paradise....

Well the decision was made we were moving to culo del mundo as the Spanish call it, “ass of the world” is the translation.... although only 10 minutes away from civilisation it felt like a different world. There were no tourists, PR’s or looky looky men shouting “alright mate” Don’t get me wrong resort has some good points.....I will let you know when I find them.

I grew up on a farm, and my childhood memories were great, all the little animals, feeding time, having fun, and of course no hard work....god, how different it is when you are an adult. When we agreed to take on the Finca, I naively believed that it would fit in with my already busy life, how stupid was I...

Within a short space of time, I was found on several occasions with my head in my hands stating “what the hell had I done” my childhood memories where deceiving me as this farm life was bloody hard work...if I wasn’t picking fruit that had no idea what to do with, I was chasing the ever escaping chickens.

Did I not mention the animals oh yes, added to our own mini zoo which we brought with us; we now had over 60 chickens, a duck (who believes that she is a chicken) and numerous animals that made strange noises in the night...

My mantra became I will not be defeated.....determination had always been my strong point, and after watching chicken run (the movie) I was more determined than ever before that my little piece of paradise was going to succeed...

Monday, 25 June 2012

How it all begun.....

We moved to Gran Canaria 6 years ago full of hope, big dreams and an English mentality that everything was going to be easy.....oh how our eyes were opened...

It all started on a holiday as many of us do sitting on the terrace enjoying the mild evening weather, watching the sunset, drinking Sangria and debating all the reasons why we should up sticks & move to Gran Canaria. Then we went back to our normal life getting on with day to day things until the next holiday, but on the last holiday to GC we thought “what if?”

It started as a conversation we had and then it became more and more a “why not” the kids were at a good age to up sticks and we were selling our business anyway we were at a crossroads in our lives and just needed to decide which direction to go in, so we choose the sunny direction.

The tickets were booked the house & business sold the kids and I had done our teary farewells we were ready to leave, still wishing we had learnt Spanish but were confident we would be ok, after all we were moving just outside the tourist area, and honestly believed they all speak English don’t they.

How wrong we were, if only we had enrolled in that Spanish class speaking the language would have opened up more opportunities for us it also makes the island a lot bigger so many are afraid to leave the resorts as they might have to speak to a Spanish person! 

When you can walk into shops and not have to draw pictures or play a comical game of charades trying to be understood, it does make life easier if you are determined then you will get by but I know of many that won’t travel up the island as they really can’t cope with it all.

We started a business, settled into life, made some friends (or what we thought were friends) and begun our new life.... unfortunately the "crisis" begun and like many other foreigners abroad we had some tough decisions to make.

We found ourselves back at that crossroads, wiser, older, browner and more determined than ever before to stay but move away from the "Fraggles" as the brits abroad had been christened....I dreamt of the farm life, animals, trees, my own chickens, how difficult could it be, after all there is no rain and mud to contend with. 

The Hunt for the perfect finca began......