Monday, 29 April 2013

Appreciating the Little Things

I have been away for the weekend, no they didn't finally lock me up for being insane, I had to return to the UK to do the yearly lets visit Nan trip. This entailed me and two children having  along, hectic weekend in the freezing cold. We left hubby in charge at Casa Chaos and he did a fantastic job in my absence.

I have come home even more tired, which is never a good thing, however, the time away has made me appreciate what I have, and what I never want to go back to in life. Everywhere you go in the UK there are people, pushing, shoving, and generally having no concern for others. The weather was OK  no that is a lie it was freezing cold in fact I stood on Brighton Pier with the temperature of 9c, and thought I am going to die.

It was lovely to see family and friends, and these are the elements of the UK that I do miss, but other than Asda, give me Casa Chaos any day! I have come home and am enjoying the  peace and quiet, appreciating all those small things that I had forgotten were there.

Chicks were born whilst I was away, and Jake and Finn are now huge. Billy has still not returned, and Jill is still as huge as ever! but apart from that all seems well, and I am now ready to face the next 12 months with enthusiasm and determination :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Pigeon problems

Just as we think the rats are playing nice and keeping out of my way, pigeons have taken over and are becoming a huge pain. They wait until the food goes down, and like an army they swoop and eat every thing in their path. Now I have been researching what I can use to get rid of these annoying flying vermin, and it seems there are many fantastic solutions.

Rice is the all time favourite to feed pigeons, some say it makes them explode mid flight and others say it simply bloats them and kills them. To be honest I don't care which version happens, although exploding pigeons does sound quite funny.

A lady was trying to advise me on "natural" ways to remove the pigeons, and suggested removing the food and water sources. Fantastic advice I will take away all the food and water, and yes the pigeons will be gone, but every other animal will be dead, so a bit drastic! There is no natural, lets be nice and shoo them away action.

A gun is next on our list, and hubby is rather excited about this fact, and too be honest I am beginning to agree with him that a gun may be useful. We could all take pot shots as these annoying birds, however, I am still liking the exploding pigeon idea. Yes I know it is cruel, but so is eating all my goat food so Jill cannot eat it, so all is fair really.

Google has produced many fantastic ideas including alka seltzer and baking powder, apparently it reacts with their stomach acids and again they explode. The fact that there are many websites dedicated to how to kill pigeons indicates I am not alone in my quest. So, operation lets kill the pigeons is starting, and I will report back which method caused the best results....all in the name of science and experiments of course.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Is free ranging best?

Billy wandering off is not unusual, but he has been gone with no sightings for a few days now, through the calima which is the worrying part. I do feel that I am partly to blame for Billy's disappearance, as I kept stealing his eggs. I felt that for a while we would stop breeding, and that Billy could lay eggs for me to sell, and look after Finn and Jake. However, Billy had other ideas, and the last morning that I saw him, he had this look of determination.

We had been finding all of Billys hiding places and relocating the eggs to the kitchen, but it seems that he is smarter than us, and that he has found a new secret place to lay. I do hope that is the case and that he is ok, as I would rather he returned with ducklings behind him, rather than not return at all.

I have discovered that this is the worst part of free ranging, as you never know where something is at any given time. All you can hope for is that their stomachs lead them home, and that they appreciate the life they have. Would I want to cage all of the animals, no not really, as to me they need a sense of who they are, and although losing them can be tough it is the circle of life.

Anyway I have tried to contain the chickens in the POW camp and that doesn't work so well, and the goats always find a way out, so in all honesty opening the gates saves me time, energy and repair bills. So, lets hope that Bily is ok, that he is being stubborn and refusing to move until he returns smuggly with duckings, or god forbid he is stuck in a pipe again......rushes off to check the pipe!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Cooling down

Every animal has its own unique way of cooling down when the heat gets too much for them, and I feel for the animals at this time of year. There is only so much we can do to help cool them down and providing more water than usual, paddling pools, and spraying them seems to be the way forward.

The ducks of course have the pond that they use frequently, the chickens hide in the shade of the trees, the cats maintain comfy positions in the garage where it is cool. The dogs however find it more difficult, and attempt to find someone cold to lay. We often spray the dogs as this is the ideal way to allow them to run around and remain cooler.

However, Charlie took this one step further yesterday when he leapt in the pond, for a good 10 minutes he refused to get out. He swam, sat, laid and generally cooled down in the murky green water, and once he had decided that was enough he took a mud bath next to the pond. Charlie returned looking very smug.

However, I was not allowing him in the house, so he had to have another bath to wash the attempts of the first bath off. I must admit there were times yesterday that the pond did look must be hot!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Calima time

OMG its hot, and yes I know we all moan when its cold, and we moan when its hot, but its REALLY hot! I don't think that you ever get used to the calimas here, as it goes from comfortable to intense heat within hours. In traditional Casa Chaos style the water went off just as the calima hit, which is just fantastic as water is an essential part of coping.

Animals have no built in sense of how hot it is, so everything tends to stay out in it, and there is little we can do apart from water, water, water. So, when there is none this is a HUGE problem which I needed to solve. Now, our water goes off a lot, which I usually put down to the fact that it is an old house, but it typically comes back on within an hour.

I spent most of yesterday walking back and forth between the kitchen and bathroom turning the taps on to see if we had water, very much in an OCD fashion. No matter how many times I did it still no water, let the phone calls begin.

Now getting sense out of anyone here is difficult, firstly no one will accept responsibility for the problem, and usually no one admits there was a problem in the first place. This is frustrating to say the least  especially when all I wanted to know was why there was no water. When I finally got through to someone who knew about the water, they said that it was two things 1. I had turned something off or 2. something was broken.

I did point out that if I had turned something off, didn't he think that I might have turned it back on to get water! So, I was guessing it was number 2, but no it seemed there was a third option that he didn't fancy telling me about. There was a guy working on the pipes down the road, and he had turned off the water, and had forgot to turn it back on, but this was not confessed until after I had rung!

30 seconds after putting down the phone, voile we had water! off I go to hose chickens, and the ground, and everything in the area. Lets hope it passes quickly, then we can all moan about something else!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

How Not to Buy A Goat

Being crazy myself, I tend to have crazy friends, so when I get called to go and collect a goat with a friend, I have no option but to say yes. So, I find myself the other afternoon, hot, tired, and bouncing along an old Canarian goat trail in a friends jeep that has seen better days! We are following the goat man, who cannot drive, but has assured my friend that he has goats.

This goat farmer, she found whilst in the petrol station as she decided that she wanted a goat, and asked the guy filling her car up, and yes it is a perfectly normal question in our world. To her delight the guy was the crazy goat farmer, and is who we were following to our potential death. As the track got narrower, it also got steeper, and I did think that I was going to die.

We all jumped out of our vehicles, whilst the goat farmer rambled in some unknown language and set off at a fast pace. For a brief moment I looked around, and it was stunning, but my moment was removed with the sound of people shouting and waving for me to climb down the mountain. I thought I was crazy, but my friend has been promoted to insane!

As we made out way carefully down the side, the goat farmer attempted to sell my friend dogs, sheep and even a donkey. Thankfully she was strong, and had goats in mind, and just as I was about to moan and give up, I could hear goats. There was hope in my heart, but the goat farmer crossed the barranco and begun to hike back up the other side, I was not impressed.

Suddenly my friend announced that the guy we were following could in fact be a mass murderer and how on earth would anyone find our bodies! Thanks for that comforting thought as I begun to see if my phone could get signal out in the wilderness, don't be silly why would it possibly work! Why do I let myself get into these situations, up a mountain with a complete stranger trying to find goats!

Finally we reached the goats, and after much waving, negotiating and laughing business was done and we were handed a baby goat on a bit of rope. As quick as we handed the money over the guy had vanished, leaving us to get back tot he car with a goat. As we made our way back to the car, I kept thinking thank god we only bought one goat, and remind me to practice how to say NO in the future!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Morning Rant

I choose to blog for me, it is a fantastic way to document what is happening, and provides an on line diary for me to look back on and reflect. I am a sharing type of person, which is why I allow you all to have  a peek into life, and maybe realise that your life is far calmer! Which is why I don't expect an emailing claiming that what I write is c**p.

Now as a human being attempting to make a go of something I know nothing about, a little support from the people who take the time to read the blog is not too much to ask. However, if you feel that what I write is c**p feel free to keep moving, don't stop, and never return! Yes, I am banishing you from my blog, and I have made peace with that!

I have learnt that there are two choices: make peace with the dirty dishes, chicken shit, weeds, dirty clothes and fingernails, or keep fighting and becoming more stressed. I feel the same about people that take the time to write to me to moan and criticise. What I write is shared because I am generous, and if you don't like it, then leave, I am showing you the virtual door!

So, with my morning rant complete, I can move on with my day, and go back to my chaotic life, which I choose, and chase some chickens that hate me.  Watch my fat goat that has an eating problem, as people are now presuming, and wait for something to break or go wrong.

Want to stay and watch the chaos unfold, then I am glad to have you :)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Tough Weekend

It feels at the moment that there are very few joyous events in Casa Chaos as in the space of a few days Miss Thunderpussy has died, followed by two 12 week old bunnies. One day they were fine, and the next dead, which is far harder than if they were ill. I was asked those immortal words again "why" and yet again I have no idea.

I Googled but to be honest it provided little comfort, loads of information, but nothing that made me leap out the chair and scream "yes that's it" I have always considered rabbits to be tough, and we have kept rabbits for years with no problems. The only thing I could think of was poisoning, but how everything they eat and drink is fresh, and rabbit friendly.

So, we spent the day dealing with tears, questions, and dead bunnies, staring that the remaining two, seeing if there were any signs, but nothing. I can feel my determination and passion, waiving and thinking that all of this is too much. There are only so many dead animals someone can cope with in their life, and too be honest I have had my fill.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Lucy back on Eggs...

Well Lucy is back on eggs and I am hoping that it is third time lucky for this happy little duck that desperately wants to be a mum. In the attempt to keep Lucy and her eggs safe she was relocated to the dog house, and is in solitary confinement. I have even covered the entrance to the dog house with a towel, so that Jessica does not realise where she is. Thankfully Jessica/Justin is not that smart, and hasn't worked out that she is hidden in clear sight.

Once Lucy has hatched this batch, I think I will sell duck eggs rather than ducklings, as we have become attached to Finn and Jake and it appears that they are staying in Casa Chaos. I am beginning to realise that this farming lark is not as easy or straightforward as people make it out to be. I have often been told that I have  a heart of stone, but even I am getting to the point of watching animals die, go missing, and leave us, is all too much.

However for the minute, we wait and see what Lucy brings, and hope that she hatches a full brood for her to mother and love. Ducklings grow up so fast and Finn and Jake are now huge, not needing Billys attention at all. Which means that he is back laying eggs, so every day we play hunt the egg! With success at the moment thankfully, as for the moment I am happy to make less money through the eggs, without the worry or stress. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

How Stupid Are You?

I am convinced that all of the stupid people were dropped on this island to begin a new community as an experiment, as surely you cannot have this many stupid people in one place out of sheer luck! I was talking to a fraggle the other day about the farmers markets, and how successful they have become. She said that they are an enjoyable day, but some times the farmers are rude.

Now this I find hard to believe, and asked her why she says that, however, once she told me some of the ridiculous questions that she asks the farmers you can see why they get so angry. Apparently it is normal for her to ask:

"Was this picked fresh this morning"- as I explained to her, think about that logically, I know farmers get up early, but as the market often opens at 7,30am. For the last hour he was setting up his stall, before that he drove to the market, and before that he would have had his morning coffee, brushed his teeth, and kissed his wife goodbye.

At what point do you think he had time to pick everything for the market as it takes hours to pick quantities of fruit and vegetables. At this point I have a picture of the farmer out in the fields with a headlamp on at 1am  picking veg so that this stupid fraggle can have freshly picked veg from that day! Another favourite question of hers is:

"I know you are not open yet, but can I buy something now as I'm in a hurry"-  Would you ask the same thing of the local cafe? You can just imagine this fraggle stood knocking on the cafe door, peering in and asking them to make her a coffee , as she is running late! If the farmers stop for everyone that asked them to sell produce before the bell, they would never be ready for when the market did open.

I explained that with these sorts of questions, it is no wonder that the farmers are slightly rude, and have no time for people like her. Surely is it too much to ask for you to be polite, wait for the bell, think before opening your mouth, and simply enjoy the delicious fresh produce! Unfortunately  on this island, it would seem that is asking FAR too much!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Early Mornings

When I tell people that I am up before 6.30am they think I am mad, and to be honest so do I most mornings. As my alarm goes off, it is often still dark outside, you can tell the temperature is cold as the tip of my nose tells me to stay in the bed. The reason I get up so early, is because it is "me" time, the only time it is quiet in Casa Chaos. This is the time when I can drink coffee uninterrupted  and when I can do the things I want to do, including sitting quietly.

Getting up at this time can be a struggle as I know that I will have to put my feet on the cold floors, and remove myself from the warm bed, but it has to be done. I will need to find the quickest route to the kitchen, where the kettle is waiting for me. It is quite sad that the only time I can find "me" time is in the dark and cold, and before anyone else notices that I am out of bed.

Every day is becoming like Groundhog Day, and I can feel my exhaustion levels rising and my love for Casa Chaos diminishing. I want more "me" time than 20 minutes in the morning whilst huddled around a cup of coffee to keep warm, the problem is where do I start and how do I achieve that goal. Don't worry I am not leaving Casa Chaos, I do sit sometimes and think how it has totally absorbed my life, and sometimes there has to be more then this.

I need to recharge my batteries, and spend some time doing the things I want, easier said than done, but there has to be a way! Anyway my 20 minutes are up, the children have risen, the dogs and cats have discovered I am awake, let the day begin.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Chicken Math Which Will Make you Cringe

A lady in the village yesterday was informing me that I should be really rich as I am selling my eggs, and doing really well. People like this make me chuckle, and often have no idea what goes into raising animals, or running a business. You will be amazed how much you spend out, and the return is typically so little that any sane business person would walk away.

Chicken math is madness, and makes no sense at all, unless they are your chickens, then it all becomes clear, well as a muddy puddle. Over a year ago we started this journey, we inherited the coop, and some of the chickens, so that was a bonus. We repaired what was here, therefore, spending very little on materials, but do you count the labour?

We fed the chickens for months with no real egg production, so that cost us at least 200€ in feed, and using the eggs as there were not enough to sell. Therefore, we were running at a loss immediately  and had to get back the money that we were investing without any profit. I was determined to make a profit, and ultimately chickens are capable of doing this.

I bought the batteries, which cost 200€, we were now 400€ in the red! The feed bills continued to grow and slowly the egg production increased, but as we sell them at 2€ for 10 and have to buy the cartons, this was an incredibly small profit, and a long road ahead. By the time we pay for the water, spare feeders, bedding, replace fencing, and give some roosters to the food project we are back deep in the red!

So, at this point are you sitting there wondering how on earth chickens make a profit  the honest answer is they don't, well not a huge one. However, they do provide my family with fresh, free range eggs, and hours of amusement.  My goal is always to make money, but I also think that providing a healthier, happier life for my family is also vital. Maybe one day we will break even on the chicken thing, and if we are lucky we will make a profit!

Braxton Hicks?

Do goats have Braxton Hicks is the debate at the moment, as I was so sure that Jill was ready to have her kids, but it seems not. She is back up running around without a care in the world, which is more annoying. Who knows when she will give birth, but thank you all for the messages, and offers of help.

One woman was telling me yesterday that assisting with the birth is all to do with the size of your hands, thank god I have big hands! I did point out that she however, had very small hands and that she was more than welcome to pop over to help!

I have also been sent many videos showing goat births, thanks for those, nothing better to put you off your breakfast! I think it is one of those things that you cannot prepare for, and if I need to delve in I will, or I will phone a friend with small hands, and a calm manner. I have a few of those on speed dial thankfully.

So, we all wait with baited breath and hope that Jill remains in the pen, we have evicted the chicken and her chicks, so that is a start. I will of course let everyone know the moment we have babies, and if you are really lucky you will have photos of a small hand delving around assisting!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Green Duck

The duck pond is one of those things that is a necessity, the ducks love it, but it is disgusting most of the time. If I had a huge bucket of money I would have a filtration system fitted, to remove the endless task of cleaning the pond. It is one of those jobs that I think if I ignore the pond fairies will appear, and clean for me....Yeah right! back in the real world.

The pond was disgusting yesterday, I knew that it was but thought I could walk past quickly and not notice. Unfortunately, Billy appeared from the pond just at that moment, and you know you have a dirty pond when your duck is green. How embarrassing to have a green duck due to non cleaning of the pond. Thankfully Billy didn't care, he stood there waiting to be fed, a strange shade of green, but I was mortified!

Operation clean duck pond had to be done, and this meant now, so late last night the duck pond was emptied. Some plants got watered, the ground got a soaking and when we all got bored of walking, the water just got thrown around. Some was thrown at jack who was trying to help by head butting everyone into the murky water, and some was thrown at the annoying rooster that keeps escaping. So, all in all a productive evening, the ducks have clean water, the plants are well fed, and the goat got yet another bucket of water over his head!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

We are in Labour...I think?

Well after posting fat pictures of Jill, it appears to have prompted her into having her kids, and I do believe that she is in labour. Now I am no expert, and I was referred to as the crazy goat lady yesterday, but a quick scan of Google revealed some facts about goats and labour. However, even without Google, there was no doubt that Jill was showing signs, as she reminded me of many a pregnant lady that I have known.

Jill was pacing up and down, then she would lay, sit, get up, lay sit get up, she was also very ratty with Jack, and fretful. The way she walks and sighs as she lays down reminds me of a heavily pregnant lady, but all of these was not the clear indicator. When she turned yesterday to display her lala, or lady canal as Mrs S calls it,  there was a huge amount of water and discharge.

Panic set in, oh my god what if she has it through the night, or up a mountain, or if it gets stuck, or if no one is around. With all of these questions racing through my head, I turned to my husband in sympathy, for him to state, "oh well I'm off to work" Thanks for the support there, thankfully he was slightly more supportive about his own children when they were born.

I went to prepare a nice big bed of straw for Jill in the goat house to discover a chicken sat on eggs, fantastic, not what! In all honestly Jill doesn't go in the goat house much, which is obviously why the chicken moved in! I kept checking on her every 20 minutes, until it got dark, as you know I'm not good in the dark, so then she was on her own!

As of this  morning no babies, but there again I don't appear to have any goats either, she better not be up that bloody mountain in the cave!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Nude Farming

I am sent many things every day, some are useful, others strange, but many are simply amusing, and make me sit and chuckle. I opened an email from a friend the other day, and laughed from beginning to end, which caused my husband to ask what on earth was causing so much amusement. The source of this chuckling was due to the concept of nude farming.

Yes, you read that correctly, apparently there is a farm which has been founded since 2007, which believes that animals don't wear clothes, therefore, why should the farmers. Errr hello are these people insane! well yes slightly in my opinion, but hey what do I know! As you read through the website, it all seems very nice, tranquil surroundings, content animals, oh yeah and naked people.

There are apparently many different activities that you can join in with every day, to ensure that you are kept busy. The list is vast and includes:

Sow your own oats
Pet rabbits
Collect eggs and a prize is given for the most inventive way to carry an egg!
Soak in the hot tub, as long as there is no cheese being made in it that day
Search for hairy asses
Judge cucumbers
The list goes on and on, and with every event they offer guidance and support, I would imagine some farmer may need slightly more support than others.

Oh, and there are strict rules regarding sleeping with sheep, thank god for that, as I thought there were no rules for a moment! I must confess that collecting eggs, rounding up goats and picking fruit in the nude does not appeal to me. All I can keep thinking about is where the hell you would put 30 eggs, no prize is worth that surely!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Fattest goat in history

Jill is huge, beyond fat and moving into the world of needing to go on Worlds Biggest Loser! Everyone keeps asking if she has had her kids yet, and the answer is NO. Someone even doubted if she was pregnant the other day, and asked if I was sure that she wasn't just fat. Well unless Jill has eaten all the cake and more, she is either the first obese goat or is heavily pregnant.

I must admit she does seem to have pregnant for ever! but I have no patience and have no idea when the magical moment occurred, so in all honesty she probably hasn't been pregnant for very long. I managed to get close enough to her yesterday to take some photos, and there is defiantly something moving inside her. Lets hope it is a goat, and not something from an Alien movie.

So for the moment we will all have to be patient  and wait for the arrival, I do think there is more than one in there, but who knows, I am often very wrong.