November has been a very busy and, at times, exciting month for us. As we pass further into spring time, more birds and insects appear on the farm as well as a surprise visit from a wild cat kitten (Geoffreys Ocelot or Gato Montés).
One of the many insects that appear in spring time
Earlier in the year we had decided to plant a cash crop to provide us with an income for the forthcoming season. So we
ploughed and prepared some ground and hand planted around 2000 melon seeds (honey dew) and butternut squash seeds, plus a couple of rows of sweetcorn and a part row of small, sweet, red peppers. An irrigation system was dug and after a week the first seedlings appeared – and then some disappeared, thanks to the local hare population! Which means we will soon have to re-sow the ‘missing’ plants.
Watering the melon field before sowing
Late one afternoon we saw smoke above an adjacent farm. As most of the locals burn their fields to remove stubble and dried grass, we were not at all worried. However, as time passed, we could actually see flames quite close by, and spread over a very wide area. On investigating we found that a wild fire had started and was covering most of the 60 acre farm opposite us. Graciela asked if the fire brigade had been called and offered our help. The local policeman told Graciela that the brigade were on standby and would come out if it got serious! Five of us neighbours put out the fire with our shovels and pitchforks. That took us just over two hours of very hot work. Once the fire was out, everyone thanked each other, and went back to their farms, job done. No excitement, no shouting, no orders, just everyone pitching in and quietly getting the problem sorted as a team. A very down to earth approach.
Fighting the fire on the next door farm
The fire was spreading across the farm
Spring not only brings new plants, birds and animals to the farm, it also brings weeds in vast quantities. If we take even a week off weeding, the irrigation ditches soon become choked. Not surprisingly we have spent some time cleaning our 5 kilometers of internal ditches.
Not all the ‘weeds’ are unwelcome though. The irrigation water brings with it a whole host of seeds that self set in its edges. So far we have harvested many handfuls of asparagus (more of that later) and we have mint and fennel growing on the ditch borders as well as some grapes!
Wild asparagus picked on the farm
Our old apricot trees and quince trees have blossomed and it looks as though we might get a good harvest from them this year. The large fig tree is not doing very much at the moment, but the four smaller trees are heavy with green figs which will be picked soon.
Quince tree blossom
Our area once grew asparagus and all the irrigation ditches in the area are covered in asparagus plants, ours included. These plants are wild, but the asparagus spears are of excellent quality which we have tried and thoroughly enjoyed. However many of the public know that wild asparagus grows here too. They come and pick it from the public supply canal, and since our farm was not farmed for many years, they have been picking it from our ditches too. So we have been plagued with people coming onto our farm to collect asparagus (sometimes to sell later in the street). All have left the farm when asked and we have had no problem, but we have decided to put up proper perimeter fences to replace the single strand of barbed wire that currently defines our borders.
Putting in fence posts and cleaning ditches
Our farm entrance has had a face lift too and now sports a set of wooden gates with our farm logo carved onto the top bar of each gate.
The new wooden gates at the farm entrance
And, of course, we take time off to enjoy ourselves too!
Graciela, Nenina and Titan