Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fish, cow, hummingbird and snail

Fishman is back. I told you that didn't I? We can never tell when he will turn up but it is always a Wednesday or a Thursday but it could be once a week, once a fortnight or once a month. Last week he appeared at the gate


He has his cooler on the back, full of fish, so I called Danilo outside to decide what we would buy. We decided on Chinese Carp - I would have loved the giant prawns but at US$20 a pack we decided against them. Fishman pulls his scale out of his fetching special scale handbag and he weighs them.

I went inside to put the fish in the freezer and upload the photos and as I was uploading them, Danilo called me from the back garden to go there with my camera. As a dutiful wife I obliged. I asked him what I was supposed to be taking a picture of and he said there was a cow in the garden. He wanted a picture for evidence of escaping cows again. I could see no cow, but I set off along the track with the soon to be goat enclosure on the right and the proper garden on the left. No cow.

I continued past a mother hen and her chicks - all of the hens have chicks at the moment, so we are surrounded by them - until the odd passing hawk swoops down and takes one away. But still no cow.

As I continued down the track I looked to my left into the overgrown yuca and sweet potato garden, and there it was. The cow - or bull I later discovered.

I walked closer to try and get a photograph, and he walked towards me.

And then he gave me an evil look out of the side of his eye. That is a seriously evil look.

And then he started chasing me. I was screaming (as you do when being chased by a bull), Danilo was doubled over with laughter, the dogs were barking their head off, from a safe position in the house, and the bull galloped after me all through the garden, trampling over plants and scattering squawking chickens everywhere, which stopped Danilo from laughing. I made it safely into the house, while Danilo was chasing the bull. Unfortunately due to all of the new projects, gates, goat fences, walls, the bull could not get out and ran past the window chased by Danilo (in blue), while the dogs enjoyed the show.

As Danilo chased the cow, I sat down once again to upload the photos. We have a hummingbird who always comes to visit and I can never get a picture of him or her, as he is too fast and by the time I have turned the camera on it is too late. I get pictures of the flowers he has been on

which are right next to where I sit, slaving away at my computer, where the balcony used to be.

But this time, as the camera was on, I got him!

Not brilliant but I am getting there.

Now returning to my garden. I noticed there were two lovely red tomatoes so I went out to pick them, with great excitement. Tomato sandwich for tea.

Or not. A sneaky snail had eaten them all.

So time to break out the egg shells which FB friends tell me will keep the snails away, and prop the tomatoes up on sticks.

Meanwhile Danilo tells me the green peppers have turned from green to black so they must be rotten. Oh ye of little faith - from green, to black, to RED!!!

I have this vegetable growing down to a tee now. Two snail eaten tomatoes and one perfect red pepper! And the black one will be red by the end of the week and loads of green tomatoes too.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How does your garden grow?

It has been a busy week in the campo.

Having finished the first gate which is to the left of the house and is open in this picture.

Danilo built the second gate to the right. Same sort of idea, branches and barbed wire.

The front garden will be filled with flower beds, avocado trees, a gravel and concrete driveway and benches to sit on. The gate has an ingenious closing mechanism involving a bit of metal and a bit of wire.

Behind this gate is my secret vegetable garden. It is walled so no dogs can get in there, no chickens and no cockerels.

I have tried for years to grow vegetables with almost zero success. I have read the seed packets carefully, planted seeds to the right depth in a straight line, put the packet on a stick at the end of each row so I know what I have planted, and they have not worked.

So I decided to plant Dominican style. No digging little rows, no cleaning the soil of stones and making it nice and fine. Just chuck the seeds down, don't mark with seed packets on sticks, and wait and see what happens. It didn't take long.


These are peas (proper peas not Dominican pigeon peas) or could be green beans or Hava beans. Who knows, but this is in less than a week..

This could be radishes, or cucumbers maybe, or carrots.

Green peppers - or maybe red or yellow? Do they change colour or are they born red or yellow?

More mysteries. Could broccoli or cauliflower or maybe lettuce?

And more can't remember what I planted although could be chilli peppers.

And this is lemon grass - essential for Thai cookery.

Meanwhile I thought Danilo had had enough of building gates, but he has spent all of the last three days in the back garden, which is full of flowers near the house and then around an acre or so which is overgrown. He has been putting Mr. Trump to shame and is building a fence, quicker than the Mexican Wall, all around the bottom part of the garden.

Not only between the flower part of the garden and the lower part, but around the whole of the lower part. I spotted the stepsons putting wire way down the bottom.

Now why do we need to put in a new fence and improve the fencing around the rest I asked myself. It appears we are going into the goat breeding business. What he and I know about goats could be written on a postage stamp, but when I ask the locals and tell them we are going to have goats they all say the same;

"They escape"
"They eat everything'
"Their pee stinks"
"They need a copper supplement"

The joy of keeping goats is fast approaching. I just hope they will be more successful than the guinea fowl business, the duck business, the turkey business and the bee business. Watch this space.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Goodbye to Barbara

My neighbour Barbara has died. She was diagnosed with cancer, multiple myeloma around two years ago. This a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. It does not have a good prognosis and even less here with the cost of chemotherapy being out of the reach of most people. When people say "she died following a long illness, bravely borne," that was Barbara. She had to spend most of her time in Santiago having dialysis as her kidneys failed almost as soon as she was diagnosed and as time went on her bones started to crumble. She must have been in tremendous pain - pain management not being the best here. She was no more than 50 years old and was the centre of our little campo, always laughing, helping people, and is sorely missed.

While her husband Miguel was away with her in Santiago last week, I was feeding his dog and his chickens.I had no choice over the chickens as if I didn't feed them, mum, dad and 13 babies would come to the gate and squawk at me till I fed them.

No to be outdone, we have  a few chickens here with babies. Here is Pollo Negra with her nine chicks, eight are black and one white! The other black ones are all keeping warm underneath her.

And at last the wall is finished in the front garden. Danilo decided we needed two gates, one large one on one side, in case we need to get vehicles into the back of the property and a small one for me to get into my veg patch on the other side. I thought gates looked like well, gates. This is a series of sticks held together with barbed wire, but it works and will double up as a washing line for my knickers and socks.

Now just the little gate to go and Lobo can be allowed out of the dog house.

All fine on the book front. The title is "Life After My Saucepans" and then a sub heading of "Lifting the Lid on Living in the Dominican Republic". I have done the front and back bits and sent off the photos and some reviews of What About Your Saucepans? so now just waiting for the editor to get back to me and keep on working on it.