Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The aliens are landing

Night times in casa chaos are typically calm as everything is in bed and acting as normal as they possibly can. With the nights being darker, everyone is rushing around to try and get things done before it is pitch black. You forget how dark it is in the campo, no light pollution at all, which is fantastic. However, it does mean that when strange lights appear that they are questioned.

Last night there was a lot of noise, and strange lights hovering above next doors orchard, which could only mean one thing. Either the aliens had decided to land their spaceship there, good choice, better than on my trees, or the strange Spanish man had decided that in the pitch black was the ideal time to pick fruit. Yes you guessed it, the later was the cause of the lights, noise, and general activity.

Now I know I'm no expert fruit picker, but even an uneducated person would know that picking fruit was better done in the daylight! However, my neighbour has decided that in the dark, with a cherry picker and torches is the best time to be picking his crop. I appreciate he may be busy, and that there are very little opportunities to gather his fruits...but come on in the dark!!!!

Maybe this is the prime time to be picking fruit, and I am in fact the strange one for picking mine in the daylight, when I can see what im picking, where im standing and more importantly what is stood next to me in the orchard!! you will very rarely get me in there if it is dark, as it comes across as a scene from the Blair witch project, and I do not want to be found dead next to a mango tree.

So, even if he is a genius and every farm should have fruit picking sessions through the night, I will not be joining them any time soon!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The date has been set....

Finally we have decided the date that peppa will be butchered  she has one more weight in but we are confident that she is at her target weight. I am not announcing the date to anyone, as I am concerned that I will have a mob of angry "save Peppa" campaigners stood in the drive. However, the butcher s booked, and the realisation of rearing an animal for meat has set it in.

Peoples reactions over the whole Peppa thing still amazes me, and I have found very few people that are interested, or understand what we are doing. Far too many people judge, condemn and make comments that make no sense. They seem to have an image stuck in their head of a small piglet that looks cute, that was raised in the house as a pet.

Trust me Peppa is not cute, she is over 100kg of pure destruction, and has a means et of teeth on her, which have been used on all of us at some point. Maybe it is just human nature to judge things and comment on areas that you have no idea what you are talking about. Am I a pig expert no, but I have consulted the experts, which included Google, and have ensured that everything is going to be done correctly.

The whole journey has been interesting, and now as we discuss the parts of the pig that the butcher will keep , and the parts that we will have it makes the process seem more realistic. The Spanish butcher cannot believe that we do not want her head and trotters, but honestly he can keep those. However, on the same token I am amazed that he turned his nose up at the liver and kidneys!

Although, I have eaten pork all my life, I have learnt a huge amount about just how much can be used from the pig, and that pork produced the most edible meat than any other animal. So, as we prepare for this final part of the journey, we will still hold out judgement as to whether we will rear another pig.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Careful what you wish for!

All summer I have gone on and on about rain, how we need some, that it would be fantastic to have some, however, now we have some, can it stop now! Yesterday the rain started in the morning, it was brilliant, it felt fresher, cooler, and the trees were dancing in the rain. within two hours of the continuous rain, I was beginning to grumble, as it got colder, darker, and everything was wet!

It then rained for 12 solid hours, and I very quickly remembered why I lived in the sun, as everything turned to mud, sludge and was leaking. Casa chaos is an old house, therefore, when it rains, things aren't so water tight, and there are leaks. The outside furniture got soaked, the terraces flooded, and the animals all attempted to hide under shelters.

The ducks loved the rain, and were staring at everything with puzzled looks to question why we were all complaining, as they danced in the puddles, and swam round in new ponds that were quickly appearing. I however, remained in the house as the rain got heavier, and thoughts of getting very wet when it came to feed everything loomed.

We just are not designed for rain, the chickens have no where to hide, the boxes for the chicks have wholes in them, and the whole area fills like a swimming pool, but hey we needed the rain. Spending the afternoon up to my ankles in mud, and trying to figure out how I would feed everything without the food getting washed away, I returned to the safety of my dry house.

This did not improve my mood as the dogs, cats and humans had walked muddy footprints through the house!! Yeah we needed the rain, but I'm hoping that was it, for a while, although when I got up this morning it looks as if there may be more on the way!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Winter is here!

The clocks have gone back which always causes chaos, and people always forget that they should have done it, which is amusing. It also signifies that winter is finally here, and we won't have any more excessive heat. I know I live on a hot island, but come on there is only so much blue skies, and sunshine that a girl can take.

Therefore, to wake to rain this morning was lovely, it freshens everything up, gives the trees a well earned soaking, and reduces my water bill, so, a win win situation.  The rain here is strange as it will often rain really hard, and soak everything, but within a short space of time, be dry again. Which is what it has done this morning, rained for hours, and now has stopped, to allow the sun to poke through the clouds.

Hopefully we will have some more rain this week, which will give my oranges the boost they need, and ensure that we can begin picking soon. As with the mangos. I am no orange expert, so presume when they look like an orange, feel like an orange, and are orange they are ready! The oranges we are looking forward to as there are so many possibilities  and we all love oranges so no pig/goat/duck/chicken will be getting those!

So, with winter around the corner, and Halloween nearly is pumpkin carving, and scarecrow making day!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Why I don't leave the house

People often ask me why I don't leave the house that much, and a few are concerned that I am turning into a hermit. The truth is the effort to leave my bubble, sometimes  just isn't worth the hassle, as it is like a scene from the Krypton Factor Assault course. Where I don't come out of the end of it a winner, but a very poor loser!

Take yesterday as an example, I was meeting someone for coffee  a very special lady, who has always been there for me, and who I speak to everyday, but rarely get to see. So, this was a monumental occasion, and I had even brushed my hair and put on a clean top! So, I was ready, I took two deep breathes and picked up my phone, keys and bag and went to leave...this is where the chaos begins..

I have to grab the kitten and make sure that she is in the house, as she is too little to be outside, whilst trying to push Charlie, the ever escaping Yorkshire terrier back into the house with my foot. This has to be done without causing attention to Max who believes that everything is a game, including trying to leave the house, OK part one complete...

Down the stairs and past the rabbits, oh crap they have no water, so reverse to the tap and fill the water bowls, moving on past the goats to discover that Jill has escaped through the fence and is heading up the mountain, oh double crap I've got flipflops on! Oh well no time to put boots on so into the orchard to get dirty feet, Jill back in the orchard, and note to self must clean feet with wipes in car!

Ok, I can see the car, it is in my sight, past the main orchard and all chickens present and correct, wait what's that I can see oh treble crap there are three escapees basking in the sunshine, shall I leave them, oh crap, crap,crap I know I can't, so off to the feed store to get corn. I have worked out that the chickens throw a victim over the fence everyday knowing that I will appear with corn to get it back in, hence they all get corn, which is quite a clever plan, just not today!!!

Escapees back in and sworn at, ok moving faster now as I am already late, I reach the car, throw my bag in and notice out of the corner of my eye there is a duck, which is a good thing, however  the duck is not where it is supposed to be. So, back out of the car, and round the ducks up, Jessica/Justin refuses to move, oh why today you stupid huge ugly duck!

Ducks back in pond, and I walk briskly to the car refusing to look left or right, focused on my goal of the gates. I drive down to the gates, open them, jump back in and drive through to the safety of the barranco, close the gates, and breathe...Off I go to civilisation  and coffee I have made it..only 20 minutes late, with dirty feet oh crap, I still need to clean my feet, oh well they are under the table, and people wonder why I don't leave the house!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Free range chickens

Chickens typically go into coops of an evening, and get let out in the morning, but here like everything else my chickens are not the norm! Apart from the fact that I don't have a big enough coop to house them all, rounding them up is an impossible task! People never seem to understand the concept of free range, and still believe that free range chickens are controlled in some way, but mine aren't!.

I needed to catch five pullets the other day, and although every day they are in the pig pen at feeding time, on this occasion they thought they would take a little wander. When I say a little wander I mean to the back of the orchard and sit there staring at me as if to say HA we aren't stupid.

So, up and down the orchard we went trying to catch my wonderful free range chickens  who seem to have an ability to walk really slowly until you are within grabbing distance and then speed off faster than the roadrunner. Thankfully, their stomachs got the better of them, and eventually we caught them, but not without running the distance of  a football pitch at least 5 times.

People are really quick to tell me how they should be put away very night, and that it will make them easier to catch, and that leaving food trails will help me to catch them. I would love to leave these helpful people in the orchard with a bucket of corn and the army of chickens I have and see if they nicely follow anyone into the coop!

I think we take the concept of free range to the next level as realistically I have feral chickens that we feed and they produce eggs, it is a relationship that works well for everyone! That is until we need to catch them for something, which thankfully doesn't happen that often. But, the rooster man is due soon, which is filling me with dread, as he will expect the roosters to all be stood in a line waiting for his arrival, a bit like a line of school children going on a school trip.

I know this will never happen, which will result in hours of shouting, swearing in two languages, and being lectured about why my chickens need to be put away at night!! Oh well, I have been putting this task off for long enough, and need to book him in, so will dig out the trainers and be prepared for an afternoon of exercise, just what I love NOT!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sad animal lady

I  remember when I was growing up there was always the old lady that had far too many animals, and everyone used to think she smelt, well I do believe that I am turning into that lady! Since we moved to Casa Chaos we have very few visitors, don't get me wrong I didn't have people banging down my door wanting coffee mornings before, but I did see a few of my "friends"

I have noticed quite rapidly that people wont leave the comfort of resort and venture out into the wildness, battling with the long 10 minute drive from civilisation! I saw one of my "friends" the other day, and she made polite conversation about animals, and made up crap excuses why she hadn't been to see us. It dawned on me at that point that she thought I was mad, and why on earth would anyone want to live where I do, with animals, dirt and chaos!

She claimed that it was too far...err 10 minute drive, that it was cold...well colder than sat on the beach, but far from cold, that there was mud! well actually more dust than mud...and last but not least there was animals!!! god forbid she might actually have to come into contact with a four legged creature. She went on to tell me that animals were dirty, stinky creatures that need to be kept away from people!!! At this point I did wonder how we were ever friends in the first place.

There are days when I think I am going insane and seem to spend more time talking to the goats than other human beings, however, to be honest, I get more sense from them. I now fully understand why old ladies surround themselves with animals, as you get more respect, love and conversation from them than a huge majority of the human race.

So, there you have it, I am the lonely old lady surrounded by smelly animals, slowly going I care nah not really, its when the animals start talking back that I think I might have been pushed over the edge!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


If you have cats you will know that they are all unique and have distinct personalities, however, until living here I didn't understand the clear differences between domestic and wild cats. Before moving to GC we didn't have cats, I didn't really like cats, and considered their habits to be annoying. However, my children nagged and nagged, and eventually we were given a small, manky looking wild kitten that had been found in a bin.

Finding kittens in bins is incredibly common, and many wild cats are poisoned leaving their young to fend for themselves. So we ended up with Thomas (original I know!) Thomas was fab, he was so unique, and didn't like the whole cuddly, sit on your lap thing, which drives me insane! Unfortunately  many people hate cats here in GC, and he was poisoned, and died.

We then went on to have a black cat, domestic one called Whiskers! he was immediately drawn to my husband who loves cats, so they were a match made in heaven  Whiskers was cool, came and went no real fuss, but did the cuddly thing. However, very soon after moving to Casa chaos he was hit on the road, we still do not understand what on earth he was doing up there!

We came to Casa Chaos with two other cats, Felix who was a rescue kitten, that I found being dragged behind a skateboard by some children, and we believe has some brain damage, or he is just incredibly dopey!! Felix is a domestic cat he loves cuddles, purrs all the time, does that annoying padding thing when you are trying to watch TV, but we love him all the same!

Yoda was another rescue from up a mountain, where his mother had been poisoned and there was an incredibly ugly little kitten sat next to her yelling at the top of its lungs. My husband brought this ugly, little, wild thing thing, and I said no more!! he took it to the local animal charity but it was closed, fate seemed to be working, and Yoda stayed. He is wild, therefore, comes and goes when he wants, rarely lets you get near him, never cuddles, and lets you know that he is in charge.

After Whiskers was killed, I wanted to replace him, and went on the search, as with all our animals it had to be just the right cat. A friend of mine was fostering kittens and had mentions that one was a monster, uncontrollable, and far more playful than all the others, Diablo seemed the perfect name and he joined the chaos!

Wild cats are difficult to home, as they are incredibly independent  and show know similarities to domestic cats at all, therefore, very few people want these cats! Therefore, when one turned up at TARA the animal charity, they knew who they could call...and Tazzy came to join the chaos....

She fits in well and is a typical wild cat, very similar to Yoda in personality and looks. We think in some bizarre twist the have to be related as we managed to get a photo of them together the other day and OMG they are alike!

Monday, 22 October 2012

I don't live in a Fairytale....

I was truly shocked to come home yesterday and find three emails outlining how these followers felt disappointed  and upset by my use of the "P" word, in yesterday blog. If I had known that using the word Pasta was going to cause so much offence, I would have chosen a different word. All joking aside, is it really that offensive to use the word, penis (sorry used it again)

What struck me the most from these emails was the fact that they felt the word was unnecessary  and that whilst writing my blog I could have omitted it, or written about something else. I stated from the beginning of this journey that I wanted to write about actual events, and things that happened here in Casa Chaos. My writing style may not be to everyone's taste, however, its me! People who know me, comment that the way I write is the way I speak, therefore, honest, open and upfront.

I don't live in a fairytale, things go wrong, animals die, and events happen that are considered a bit "yucky". I would love to be able to write about fluffy chick, and perfect oranges all day, however, real life isn't like that. I want to show the ups and downs of our life, our failures as well as our triumphs, and give the followers a peek into our chaotic life.

Things go right, things go wrong, we often start something for it to end in chaos, but every step we are learning. I am having to think on my feet and learn quickly, and many times this causes amusement, and sometimes disaster. I wanted to share these moments, and be honest about it all, however  people seem to think this is wrong.

I'm not going to change the way I write this blog, and although I would hate to think that I caused offence, sorry but this is the real world, I don't make any of this stuff up, therefore, it will be graphic, dirty and occasionally funny! If you want fairy tales and happy endings, you need to read a different story...but if you stick with me you never know, there may be some happy events that will raise a chuckle or two. I don't believe in fairy tales...but, I do believe in happy endings! (oh, and unicorns)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sexing a duck....

We are 90% sure that Jessica is in fact Justin, and that we not only managed to buy a crippled duck, but also the wrong sexes! After much research and speaking to a local Spanish guy it seems that there are clear ways to sex a duck these include:

1. The tail feathers...which is what the "expert" duck seller supposedly did  and oh yeah got it wrong!
2. The red comb on their faces is larger, brighter, and uglier, well yeah it is but that is because the ducks face is bigger than all the others!
3. Male ducks don't quack apparently  but neither do Muscovy ducks, which is what we have, so surely that makes no sense as both male and female ducks don't quack....
4. Male ducks are larger, yeah, ok, that one could be a good indication, however, we just thought she might be fat!

Just as my boredom levels were increasing, and I was fed up of hearing useless ways to tell me if my duck was either a mutant female duck or a male duck, the Spanish guy asked if I had seen the ducks "pasta stick". I stopped in my tracks, and questioned whether I had heard correctly, as penis in Spanish is pene, which when spelt penne is a pasta.

No, I had heard right, and the Spanish guy went onto explain that just as a male duck jumps off after doing the deed, you can see his willy for a split second and it resembles pasta! At this point years of working in kitchens raced through my mind, what type of pasta? was it Penne, spaghetti, bucatini, fettuccine, there was so many to choose, some with very bad images going on in my head!

I had to venture further into this weird conversation and innocently asked what style of pasta, where he smiled and said Rotini Pasta of course! at that split second I knew that was what was in the jar in the kitchen, oh my god for years I have been buying pasta that looks like a ducks willy!!!

Armed with the new information and different ways to check the duck, I opted to consider the first 4 ways, and need a volunteer to check for the last one. Although I am liberal requesting that my children examine the duck to see if it has a piece of rotini pasta sticking out of it after it jumps off a duck, may be considered too weird even in Casa Chaos!

Grown up decisions...

Peppa is nearly ready, she managed to put on a whopping 18KG in a week which means that she is now an impressive 86KG. There are no rules when it comes to her being butchered, however, we want to ensure that we do the whole process as accurately as possible. Who am I trying to kid, we are blagging it as with everything we do, I keep Googling, asking and searching for the many answers that now need to be asked.

I had a conversation with the butcher the other day, and thought that he was going to deal with everything, and return her shrink wrapped, in bite size pieces with no trace that she had been standing in our orchard a few days before. Oh how naive I am!!! I was asked a million questions, which I had no idea of the answers. I made myself look an Inexperienced farmer...oh wait I am!

The biggest decision that it appears that I need to make is when she will be butchered, and this seems to be causing debate. I have never changed my opinion that she will be butchered, I have no desire for her to stay, and can happily see her as a bacon sandwich..however, to make the final decision seems to be an issue. I think today we will need to make the final decision and the arrangements will be made.

Someone asked in the beginning if we would do this whole process again  and too be honest I'm not sure at the moment. I want to see it through until the end, and see what we get from her in regards to meat. Overall keeping Peppa was not a major issue, it didn't cost that much in food, just stress, and nerves every time she got out.

So as the day looms for her to go off to be butchered we will continue to stuff her full of carbs and know that she has had five fantastic months. I have no moral problems about the pig rearing process, and still stand firmly that this is the best way to produce natural, home grown meat.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

People really are stupid.....

I have always considered myself to be an intelligent person, and stupidity drives me insane, but people I come into contact with seem to excel at stupidity. It amazes me that so many people do not know where chicks come from, yes of course they know they come out of eggs, but don't get the fact that you need a rooster to assist in the process.

Another statement that amazes me is the "do you have to have a rooster for the chickens to lay eggs" again what a stupid question, of course not, chickens will lay eggs all by themselves. I get asked extremely stupid questions, by people that I have always considered to be intelligent. I have people that think all eggs have chicks in them, and that we have to check before eating.

It also amazes me that people do not put the connect between animals and the items they buy in the supermarket, I knew a child once that believed all chickens came shrink wrapped with Tesco's stamped on the wrapper. He didn't understand that the chickens were once very much alive and running around and that some people didn't buy them from the supermarket.

I came into contact with the worlds stupidest woman the other day, who does get the award for being the thickest Fraggle on this island. So, the conversation went along the lines of:

"oooo how sweet you keep chickens"
"errr yeah"
"What do you do with them, are they pets?"
" nope, they are for the eggs"
"oh do chickens like that lay eggs"
"all chickens lay eggs"
"then what do you do with the eggs"
"eat them, sell them"
"OMG you eat the eggs"
"yes, dont you eat eggs?"
"well yes!, but only from a shop, not ones that have actually come out of a chicken, that is barbaric"
"so, where do you think your shop bought eggs come from"
"from the egg factory of course, I would never eat something that came out of a animal"
"all eggs come out of chickens somewhere, yours just get packaged before you eat them"
"no they don't I get them from the Hiperdino, there are no chickens in there"

After 20 minutes of trying to get this incredibly stupid woman to acknowledge the fact that ALL eggs come from chickens, I gave up and  just pondered if they track me down on purpose to make the most incredibly stupid statements, or sadly there are people in the world that believe these things!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Duck extension finished

The duck extension is finally finished, and looks fantastic, my long suffering husband has performed miracles again on a non existent budget and some clever skills. The extension is designed to allow the ducks to get away from each other and hopefully lay eggs. However, at the moment it is where Nellie hides to escape Jessica/Justin the monster duck.

We learnt a lot of vital lessons from our first duck house building, and lost ducklings due to it not being secure enough. Therefore, the extension had to be water, rat, bomb proof which is why it took longer to build. Every side, gap and smallest crack was cemented to ensure that nothing could get in to the ducks.

The extension isn't that big, but it is adequate for the purpose it was intended, and Nellie loves it, and spends a huge amount of time in there. We are hoping that someone will decide to lay eggs in there, but as of yet nothing!

But as we are still unsure of the sex of Jessica/Justin, I may never get eggs at this rate, as we are really unsure of what sex Billy is so at the moment any eggs would be a miracle. However the extension has given them more room, which they are all loving. Now to think of the next project which will involve a hammer, nails, and some sweet smiling at the husband!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Are they aren't they.....

We have both the rabbits and the goats which appear to be getting very friendly with each other, obviously with their own breeds and not jack with miss Thunderpussy etc.. anyway, spring seems to be in the air although it is autumn, and everyone appears to be happily mastering the art of jiggy jiggy. This is great, and what they are here for, however, it then poses the question are they pregnant.

Apparently, there is no scientific way of finding out, you simply have to wait, which is that patience thing again! I did consider pregnancy tests, however, the thought of attempting to get Jill to pee on a little white stick is not appealing.

According to Google, we will know that the rabbit is pregnant when she starts to rip her own fur out and make a bed with it! animals are strange. I can confirm there has been no fur ripping, so maybe nothing happening there.

Jill apparently will get fat, well she is doing that, but that may be due to her constant supply of leaves and goat food. Other than that the first we will know about a baby goat is when there is three goats in the orchard instead of two!

In all fairness, we were supposed to monitor things a bit better and calculate due dates etc...but hey this is casa chaos so that was never going to happen! So the jiggy jigy continues, the animals continue to get fat, lets hope that we get some babies at the end of all of this!

Lucky the chicken

Well yesterday was another typical day in casa chaos, everything running around, lots of noise, and the usual amount of shouts of "mummmmmeeeeeeeeee". Just as things had begun to quieten down, and I was sat with a cup of coffee, I heard the screeching tone of "mummmmmmmeeeeeeeeee come quick" now at this point I always think "oh do I have to" but stupidly I do, and it always ends in me ending up somewhere that I would rather not be.

This time it was my daughter screeching, and talking really fast about chickens, reservoirs, dead animals, and water. Once I had pointed out that she needed to breathe in between words, I discovered that there was a chicken in the reservoir drowning. I enquired how one of our chickens had ended up in there, and she said that it was in fact one of the neighbours chickens.

Now any normal person would have said "oh well its his problem then", but no not me, so off I trudged with a towel, a pool skimmer and two over enthusiastic children arguing about who was getting in the murky, cold water. As soon as I reached the water, I realised that this poor chicken had been in there some time, and she needed to get out sooner rather than later before she lost the ability to tread water and drowned.

After some clever scooping we managed to get her out of the water, and wrapped her in a towel, on route back to the finca, I thought that it was going to die at any point. We popped her in a box with straw and kept changing the wet towel to attempt to dry her out as best we could. Now where to put this chicken was a debate, as we have animals everywhere, silly me, my daughters bathroom was ideal!!

My son has become very practical when it comes to animals, and decided that IF she survived he wanted to call her Lucky. I was seriously doubting that she would, but hey we had tried. The next morning I carefully opened the door to the bathroom expecting one dead chicken  but she amazed me by walking past clucking.

Knowing she couldn't live in the bathroom for ever we decided to move her to the orchard, where she would now have to contend with my hardened POW inmates. As we released her she run off without a second glance, but later she came back to the front of the orchard and seems to be settling in well. She is one "Lucky" chicken and I'm hoping that she appreciates I let my coffee get cold for her!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Proud mum moment

There comes a time in every parents life when they take a minute, stop and feel immensely proud at what their children have achieved. I did that the other day, in the orchard, yes of course I am referring to the chickens! Raising the chicks from small bundles of fluff and watching them grow into fully grown chickens, or roosters as it appears is incredible. Its amazing that we have achieved to not kill everything, and that the chickens are thriving.

Our first batch of chicks have always been referred to as the famous four, and out of the four there are two chickens. Ruthie, is one, and she looks like domino, who is one of our best layers, so we had faith that she would be a good layer too. However, we knew we had to wait, until the pullets were old enough to lay, but patience isn't my strong point, and waiting for anything is a chore.

Everyday when I go to feed them, they gaze up at me as if to say "sorry still no egg" however  the other day Ruthie was sat, not moving but sat which is unusual. I thought the worst as I always do and proceeded with caution, however, as I got closer, she slowly stood, to egg!!! I felt so proud, and if possible would have hugged the chicken, but this was a step too far even in my mad world.

The egg was small, formed, perfect but I'm waiting for a recipe that requires 1 1/2 eggs in the ingredients to be able to use Ruthie's first egg! I am beginning to think that her egg producing was simply to shut me up as there have been no others since, but she laid. We managed to rear a chicken from a chick and got an egg.....that quite amazing in my mind....sad but true!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Inferior duck keeper

Every time I have a question to ask the professionals it brings it home to me how inexperienced we are, and how little we know about what we are doing. I can blag most things things, however, the reality that we have living, breathing creatures that can die if we get it wrong is daunting. We are learning along he way, which has cost us some animals, and some tough lessons, however, its all such fun!

The duck extension is finished, and my husband has done a fantastic job as always, providing the ducks somewhere to lay, and escape jessica the monster duck. I am concerned that Lucy hasn't laid for some time now and that the other ducks don't seem to be laying. Therefore, I thought I would venture into the expert territory. Going onto any forum with experienced people is daunting, as they can be incredibly helpful, but also make you feel extremely stupid.

Last night they made me feel the later, with trepidation I posted my question, well in fact it was three, I thought I would hit them on mass. I wanted to know why Jessica was so big, why they weren't laying and  when they would have ducklings. Three straightforward questions I thought, but no within minutes, I was made to look stupid, and completely unaware of anything relating to ducks.

I failed at the first hurdle when the expert on the forum asked " what breed are the ducks" oh god how am I supposed to know they are ducks. It rapidly went down hill from there, and even after I provided photographic evidence of the ducks, it was too late, the damage was done, and I was seen as the thick duck keeper.

Like machine gun fire, the questions kept coming, and I just didn't have the answers, I retreated and left the forum. I do now know that my ducks are Muscovy ducks, that ducks don't lay all year round DUH how could I not know that and that jessica is fat! oh and that I really need to research better before attempting to join the elite animal keepers on professional forums.

Noise complaints

I had a complaint the other day about the noise, now I was expecting this person to moan about the children, maybe the dogs, or more likely my shouting at the children. However, they complained about the chickens! this left me speechless, which is unusual, and in disbelief that anyone could complain about the chickens.

In the UK people complain about chickens, and think that they smell, bring disease, and are not the type of animal to have in your average three bedroom semi in London. However, I live in a Finca, that if I fell over and needed assistance I could be screaming for some time before anyone found me as I live some distance from other human beings. Therefore, the fact that one of my neighbours (I use the term loosely) has decided that the noise is too loud is incredible.

In my chickens defence  they make very little noise, unless they are proudly alerting me and the whole neighbourhood to the fact they have laid an egg. This noise I would never consider to be offensive, and can think of far more irritating noises, such as dogs barking, loud music, kids playing, or annoying neighbours voices!

The cockerels do make a bit of a racket, however, it is not all day and surely a cockadoodoodo once in a while cannot be the issue. I asked the neighbour if it was the cockerels causing the "noise" problem, and he said nope, it was the clucking of the chickens!!! well I was amazed and pointed out that the chickens are there to stay, and that his hearing must be incredible. I think I will offer to buy him some ear plugs, oh and a life whilst I am at the shops!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Goat noises

When I wake in the morning, I love the fact that nothing else is awake and I can have at least 30 minutes of pure, indulgent silence. I log in, check emails, browse Noseybook (Facebook) and drink coffee....bliss...However, as I sat here this morning, drinking my coffee, enjoying my quiet time, with no sounds at all I suddenly heard the strangest of noises.

It was one of those noises that you stop, listen and ponder what the hell it is, and I had never heard it before. Like any mother I am tuned in to every noise, and can distinguish  between a chick in distress, and a hungry duck. But this mornings noise was strange, loud, and was going to involve me leaving my coffee.

After a few more minutes there was a weird flapping alongside the groaning, bleating, yodelling and I realised it was the goats and not a Chewbacca as I first thought! So, I knew I didn't have to walk far as I can see them from the safety of the house. Coffee in hand, flipflops and PJ's (thank god I sleep with something on) I moved towards the goat pen, and decided that a torch may have been better than a cup of coffee.

As I was approaching the pen the flapping, yodelling, gargling noise got louder, and I begun to consider if the goats may be choking (jack had an issue with a mango once) and that my daughter is far better at sticking her hands down animals throats and retrieving objects than me! Oh well I was here now, but no choking was occurring  nothing in fact, they both were stood staring at me, as if to say "what the hell are you doing stood there"

So, off I went back to the safety of the office, and yep you guessed it I Googled weird goat noises, I am curious if one day Google will reply with WTF go away! but no in good Google fashion it didn't let me down, and there were many people asking the same question. Thank god for experienced goat farmers out there that knew that the flapping noise was in fact Jacks tongue, and the yodelling, was his mating call to Jill....of course that would have been my next guess after Chewbacca!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

What do chickens eat

It amazes me the amount of things that chickens eat and enjoy, to the point that they are not far off Peppa in the eat anything competition. There are several things that are harmful to chickens including avocados (thanks to the bright spark that thought they would plant a couple of trees in the top orchard) raw potato skins, and onion. However, surprisingly they can in fact eat meat, and mine love rib bones.

Everyone thinks that chickens eat corn and vegetables, however, you will be surprised what mine consume when allowed to, and it can be amusing to watch them scramble for the treats. I have been researching again (did I mention Google is god!) and that maggots are good for chickens. Therefore, the maggot hunt begun...

Now we are surrounded by water here, and there are hundreds of fishing boats so maggots must be readily available. I just had to find the place to go and purchase my maggots , one helpful fan did suggest getting some meat, leave it to decompose and voilà, we have maggots. this doesn't appeal to me in the slightest, but I have tracked down the local tackle shop, so I'm off there manana to buy maggots. How exciting my life has become, most people go to the mall on a Saturday, I'm going to the maggot shop!

Giving treats like everything should be done in moderation  however, I have  a plan that when I return with the maggots I intend to throw them and run. I'm hoping that Google hasn't let me down as if the chickens don't eat the maggots, I might have  a huge fly problem very soon! Will keep you posted....

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Biggest mistake yet...we think!

Like everything here purchasing the ducks was done in  a rush, therefore, we didn't research anything about them, including how to tell what sex they were. We relied entirely on the judgement and knowledge of the guy selling us the ducks. This may have been our downfall, as now we are not entirely sure what sex of ducks we have.

We are supposed to have Billy (male) nellie (female) lucy (defiantly female) and Jessica (not sure any more and could in fact be Justin) Jessica is huge, beyond normal duck size to the point that people think she is a goose! We always believed that she was just big boned, however, after last nights jiggy jiggy attempts with the other female ducks we are no longer sure.

Jessica is rather frisky, and is trying to get it on with the other ducks, which leads me to believe that she may in fact be Justin. However, as I rushed off to Google to see if I could identify the sex of ducks easily, I discovered that I was not alone in the mistaken identity duck area. There are thousands of duck owners just like me, wondering why their sweet girly ducks are getting it on with everything that moves.

Apparently it is very common for female ducks to be show no interest at all in male ducks, but have a soft spot for the other female ducks. Only here could we have managed to pick one cripple duck and one gay duck in the same batch!!Oh well, it looks like it is down to Lucy to give me ducklings, come on girl get on with it!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The best time of day

When my children were smaller people used to ask me what was my favourite time of day with them, my replay was when they were asleep! the same seems to go for casa chaos. We spend all day in a rush  chasing, shouting, picking, planting, etc etc that as it gets to dusk, everything is reduced to a calm state and it all becomes enjoyable.

This is defiantly my favourite time of day, and I can often be found wandering, not rushing, but casually taking a stroll and appreciating what I have here. Everything is calm, has been fed, and nothing is having a drama which is a miracle. The animals are snoozing, and the heat has gone for the day making it enjoyable to be down in the orchards.

Some one asked me the other day why I was still here is Casa Chaos as I seem to be moaning about it all the time in the blog. This amused me as if you think I am moaning in the blog, you are reading it in the wrong way. I have a strange sense of humour, which doesn't always come across well when written, however, I am far from moaning.

There are times when I think what the hell am I doing, but I do that about loads of things, however, the majority of the time I consider myself to be extremely lucky. I live on a beautiful island, in the peace and quiet, surrounded by trees. I must admit I do enjoy living here more at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning  but what else have I got to do with my day. Other than chase pig/chickens/goats/ducks/rabbits, feed everything 10 times a day oh and work full time....

Monday, 8 October 2012

Operation fatten Peppa

We have weighed Peppa again, and it looks like we need to begin operation bulk her up, as she is under weight for the duration of her lifespan. Before having Peppa I didn't know that there were targets for the pigs weight, in fact before having Peppa I didn't know a huge amount about pigs at all!! Therefore, Google is god, and everything is a learning curve, which works 90% of the time.

When we aquired Peppa we were told that in November she would be collected, and transformed into edible bite size pieces, which sounded easy. However, on researching more, I soon discovered that I should have been told a few more pointers, such as how much to feed an ever expanding animal, and what she needs to eat to be succulent..I mean healthy!

I read that whatever you feed your pig, the meat will taste of, well lets hope we all like mango pork! however, other than that, scraps and pig food she doesn't get a lot of anything else. It seems she isn't getting enough of what she needs. A pig according to Google, did I mention it is god! needs to be between 90-100KG for slaughter.

Back in August when we weighed her, with the magical measuring tape, and the scientific calculation she was 36KG, which I thought was OK, however, yesterday she is weighing in at only 68KG which means she needs to put on at least 27KG in a month!!! Therefore, operation lets feed the pig till she bursts must commence.

I have no idea what will happen if she is not up to weight, I don't know if she will taste bad, or not be as good a quality meat, however, I set out to do this project correctly, maybe haphazardly, but I do not want to fail at the last hurdle. So, Im off to find high protein, fattening foods to feed Peppa, and I will hit that target weight, its like fat camp, just in reverse!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Helpful Neighbours

As I write this blog there is a heavy hint of sarcasm, as my neighbours are not helpful, to the point that I question their intelligence level. I had a phone call from one of my neighbours the other day about a chicken, not any old chicken but a brown chicken! That was the start of the issue as I have loads of brown chickens yet I was supposed to identify this particular chicken.

They were calling to tell me that one of my chickens (the brown one!!!) was in the barranco with a lot of chicks. Firstly, the barranco is huge secondly what brown chicken, and thirdly, are we actually sure it was mine! The finca next door has chickens, and some of them happen to be brown, so there is a vast possibility that this chicken was in fact theirs.

However, I dispatched the children to go and locate this chicken and see if it had in fact escaped from the POW camp and needed to be brought back. They searched everywhere, but couldn't find the chicken brown or otherwise. So, I had a conversation with another neighbour, who told me that the chicken was brown, yeah I'm gathering the colour of the chicken, however, location details would be helpful.

When pressed for more details, they said the "brown" chicken was under a cactus!! this was a s useless as telling me that the chicken was brown as there are hundreds of cactus's. I was expecting them to tell me that the cactus was green, just to be even more helpful! After a long search, no one could find the brown chicken under the green cactus, so we gave up and conceded that it belonged to next door.

However, if you are driving past the huge barranco, and see a brown chicken under a green cactus with chicks grab them and throw them over my gate please!

Farmers market...

Visiting the farmers market for me is a day out, and I find it relaxing to wander through he rows of freshly picked produce. At one time I would have felt the same warm feeling from wandering through a shoe shop, how things have changed. There are several different farmers markets here, some are designed for the tourists, where the farmers sell neatly bagged "Canarian" produce. However, I prefer the traditional farmers markets with the odd shaped veg, and the items that you have no idea what it is.

The market can be slightly intimidating at first, however, once you learn to go with the flow, and enjoy the experience it can be fun. There are always fruits and vegetables for sale that I have no idea what they are, or how to cook/eat them, but that is part of the fun.Farmers who have to produce crops for a living have a hard life, and make the rest of us seem like we are playing at the farm life.

The people that are selling their gods are fun, and full of stories of how they got their prize carrots and peppers to look so big and wholesome. There is very little profit in the produce that they sell, however, they keep returning week after week. The fruits and vegetables are seasonal, therefore, you are never sure what you may get next week. But, this is all part of the charm of the market.

The world we live in today takes an awful lot for granted, people who buy from supermarkets expect their fruits to be the perfect shape, and exotic fruits to be available all year. The knowledge that natural fruits and vegetables are seasonal seems to pass them by, and the prices are always up for debate! Next time you are in the supermarket, spare a thought for the farmers who have to rely on so many different factors to guarantee a bumper crop for very little profit.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Mango leaf delicacy....

As we approach the end of mango season the trees need to be trimmed and prepared for the next batch, therefore, my husband takes great pleasure in pretending to be a master at topiary and trimming the trees. This of course causes a large amount of excess branches and leaves, which need to be removed. The branches are supposed to be dragged to the huge pile in the barranco, which is waiting for the go ahead to burn, however, my son has other ideas.

My children have the ability to turn a straightforward job into an argumentative mammoth task, and gathering the branches was just that! All they had to do was drag the branches to the barranco, return and repeat...but oh no, there was arguments, debates, and I was pretty sure there was going to be full blown punches thrown.

When asked what the problem was I was informed "it was too faaaaaaaaaaar" in a whiny voice that only children can achieve. I asked where he would like to take the leaves and he said he had an idea, I braced myself as the 10 year olds ideas are often not that good. In his defence he has come up with some good ideas, however, they usually involve Lego, not mango leaves.

I left him to it, and wandered off to do one of the other many tasks on Casa Chaos, and returned 20 minutes later to find no branches where I had left them. I was optimistic, and thought he had managed to complete a task without a drama. However, I noticed the pile had moved, but not to where it should have been. The pile was not in the goat pen, with my son sat in the middle of it, slowly feeding one leaf at a time to Jack and Jill.

The goats thought this was heaven, not only had they been brought a delicious pile of juicy mango leaves, but they had their own personal picker and feeder. I went to point out that this was not exactly what I had meant, however, all three were quiet, contented and this in this house is a rarity, therefore, I left them to it, and thought the peace and quiet was far more valuable, then the branches being put in the barranco.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Max had to go the vet yesterday for his next set of puppy jabs, which was  no big deal, and he is very good in the car and in the vets. We like the vet and his English is typically very good, so between a mix of Spanish, English and smiles we can get through a consultation. However, something got lost in Translation....

When we arrived the vet recognised Max, as he had seen the set of puppies when they were first brought in, and commented how big he was now. I mentioned that he looks odd as he has one ear that sticks up, and one ear that flops down, making him look rather cute. With this the vet said to pop him up on the table and he would sort it out. I didn't catch the last bit, so enthusiastically popped Max on the table, but was confused when the vet got the clippers out....I had never seen a dog that needed shaving for his puppy injections.

As I watched the vet shaving Max's floppy ear, I stood with my mouth open wondering what the hell he was doing, to be told he intended to tie max's ear to straighten it. At this point I got defenceless of the ear and grabbed it and covered it with my hand, WTF I never said touch his ear, I said it was quirky, floppy, and cute, not an issue to be tied and forced to be straight!

At this point the vet saw my face and apologised  as he thought I wanted the ear "corrected" and tried to convince me that Max would look better with two straight ears. I was having none of this, and gave him a look that portrayed very clearly to move away from the ear!!! He quickly gave him his jabs, apologised again and looked sorry for himself.

On the way out he asked to weigh Max, which I said wasn't necessary as I knew he was 11kg, he argued that he was less, so on the scales he went and came out at 10.10kg, the vet attempted to look smug, until I pointed out Max was 11kg until he shaved the fur off his ear!! With that I took my floppy eared dog home, and pondered why we live in a society where everything has to be perfect, and nothing can be quirky or unique!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

RIP Daphne....

Animals dying will be something that I will never be comfortable with, and although I know this is part of nature, it all seems so cruel sometimes. Daphne was our adopted duck (the one that thought she was a chicken) and dint live with the other ducks, however, she was part of Casa chaos. We knew very little about Daphne, including her age, or state of her health, which didn't help when she had problems.

We came home one day to find Daphne in the orchard as usual but she seemed unwell, as she wasn't running off when you approached which was unusual. She then had some sort of "fit" where she was doing back flips, and flapping madly. I had no idea what on earth was happening, and went to grab a towel to throw over her, when I returned she had stopped. I knew she must have been really ill, when I could easily pick her up and carry her to the car.

I could see she was very ill, and this wasn't a time for Google, it was time for an expert opinion, i.e the local vet. Now our vet is lovely, friendly  helpful, however, as I discovered has no knowledge of any animal other than a domestic pet. As we rushed into the vet with Daphne in a box, the vets face sunk as he realised I didn't have a puppy in the box.

His diagnosis was vague, and the poor man had never been this close to a duck, let alone had to examine one and tell the distressed owners what to do. As we all stood there staring at each other, not knowing what to suggest, as I'm no duck expert either, the assistant voiced her opinion of "orange sauce" this was not helpful!

The only diagnosis that the vet could suggest was that she had something wrong with her brain, and as we didn't know how old she was it could be simply old age. In typical vet style he told me to take the duck home and simply let her die. This is always an easy suggestion, until it is your pet/animal/duck that you are being told to simply let die! I hate seeing animals suffer, and would rather they were put out of their misery, however, the vet had no intention of assisting in this task, and Daphne was put back in her box.

Somewhere on the journey home Daphne decided that it was her time to go, and she never gets any easier seeing the animals die, whether it be a chick, or a beloved pet. This part of Casa Chaos is hard, however, it is part of farm life! RIP Daphne.....

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Great Egg Hunt..

Every day if feels as if we are on an Easter Egg hunt, although not as much fun, climbing through, over and under every small gap to recover eggs. Still the chickens continue to lay everywhere, and anywhere as long as it isn't in the nesting boxes. A majority do manage to get in the boxes, where it makes it easy to collect the eggs, however, there appears to be the rogue few that refuse to be normal!

Having free range chickens is great, however, it does provide them with a huge amount of choice of where to lay, this includes in the furrow, behind bamboo plants, under bridges, anywhere that involves one of us crawling on our hands and knees to find the eggs. The not so adventurous hens will remain in the nesting boxes, however, there are others that are determined to send me insane.

We have to look in every item that may look comfortable for the chickens, and you never know what you may find. Some lay in buckets, and storage containers and others lay just on top of bales of straw...we even have one that climbs the wall and gets into the goat house to lay an egg in there!

We have to go through this long trek everyday to ensure that we gather all the eggs, because if we leave any we will end up with more chicks which we just don't need at the moment!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Yes I am slightly strange...

I have never had an issue with admitting that I am strange, unique some would say, quirky is another word, however, I prefer strange.Therefore, I like to surround myself with strange people, animals and decor. I love quirky properties, and unusual things in the garden, and am always on the look out for strange items to fit in with Casa Chaos.

My garden is not attractive at the moment we spend so much time focusing on the animals, and orchards that the bit we call a garden is neglected. However, I think it is time to make an effort in this area, and have been on the look out for different items to place in the garden. One of my favourite features in the garden/drive is the chair.

You may be wondering why a chair would be amusing, however, when you notice that it is attached to a pole and is 10ft of the ground, then you may raise a smile. People walk up the drive and will often ask why we have a chair attached to the pole, "why not" is often my reply. In fact it is there because my husband thinks he is funny, and when we were clearing out the garage he found the chair, and kept asking me where to put it.

As I was typically tired and stressed I pointed towards the pole and said "over there" he took this literally and screwed it to the pole! MEN!!! however, I love the chair and want to find a table to go in front of it up the pole. On searching for other unusual items the other day, I came across some excellent Gnomes, don't all raise an eyebrow these Gnomes are excellent with machine guns!

Another item I saw the other day was a fantastic advertising cow, which I think would look brilliant sat in my drive. Well if people are going to talk about me, they might as well think I am completely mental, and this might encourage them to stay away from Casa chaos.