Life in the country

Our weather has been awful this month. According to the local paper we have had nearly a whole year’s rainfall in just 2 days! For the first time since moving here we are actually thinking of not watering the farm as we have had so much rain. How different from last year when we saw no rain at all in the three month period December 2009 to February 2010. Let’s hope this is not a permanent state of affairs as the solar powered drier we built has not been capable of drying any fruit recently.

Apricots drying in the sun last month

The other day we were driving down one of the dirt roads to our farm when, passing a neighbour’s farm entrance, we saw their grandson waving us down. So we stopped and out came the neighbour, the family and all their dogs. After discussing the weather, horses, fruit prices, the lack of irrigation water, local gossip, the problems with teenagers and watching the dogs all play in the sun, they finally got to the reason they needed to stop us. Their tractor battery was no good and they needed a jump start very early  next morning so they could go cutting alfalfa.  It is a different rhythm in our part of the country as well as very different ( and politer) customs. How nice to be able to chat for nearly 2 hours before asking someone a favour. So different from the rush of modern city life.

The road to our farm

However, one not nice thing in this part of the world, especially around holiday times, is the number of pets abandoned by their owners in the country. We have seen many dogs by the side of the road and have come across wild dogs passing through the farm. Working near one of the irrigation ditches a couple of weeks ago we heard loud meows and went to investigate. Crawling out of the public irrigation canal were two very young kittens. We fed them and left them for a couple of days in our woodland, then Mary and Fred went all soft and we brought the cats home for them. The kittens are settling in but appear to be a little on the wild side!

The two abandoned kittens just out of the irrigation canal

There is a family of woodpeckers on the farm who have raised young. As they get used to us moving and working on the farm it is not unusual to have one perched close by.

One of the woodpeckers keeping an eye on us

Our vines plant should be pruned so that they do not produce grapes this year. Instead they are meant to put all their energy into growing. But we let a couple of plants grow a bunch or two so we could see and taste our first home produced grapes. As these are wine making grapes the skins are quite tough and full of taste (tannin) and very, very dark.

Our first bunch of real wine making grapes on the tractor bonnet

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