Survival of the fittest

Sunrise Maroma 4 Feb 14Beautiful red sunrise over La Maroma this morning to greet us, and we had a ringside seat with a cup of tea thrown in for good measure.  Still fiddling around with bits of unpacking, there were quite a few loads for the washing machine, a newish Bosch.  We have a lot of sentimental attachment to this washer, having brought it over in a trailer from England four years ago, along with a chest of drawers and some other bits and pieces.

The trailer had successfully completed the journey, all 1,500 miles of it, without complaint and literally as we arrived on the coast within sight of La Maroma and about 35km from home, it died.  Its bearings had burnt out and one wheel was hanging by a thread. Somehow managing to cram all its contents into the back of the 4×4, we abandoned said trailer and went in search of help – no mean feat as it had just gone 2.30 and everything in Spain stops for two hours!

The trailer was duly patched up, and the Bosch, nestling in its wooden outhouse, has given us faithful service ever since.  Oh, except for the time it didn’t work because hungry mice had made a home inside the detergent tray and became quite partial to some cabling.  Oh, and because we only have solar power, the whole of the washing ritual is best done after quite a few hours of continual sunlight.  This time of year because the water is very cold, it takes more power to heat it up which can lead to fluctuations, so the internet might go on and off, as might the lights, and we’ve even been known to turn the fridge off.  If there isn’t much sun, and we have to do a wash, then we resort to the gennie and even then only one of them is powerful enough.  You see, it’s just a question of juggling the system.  Drying clothes is obviously a piece of cake when the sun shines, but at most other times the log fire will be lit so both upstairs bedrooms are super warm and things dry overnight.

Surviving flowers 3 Feb 14 (1)Surviving flowers 4 Feb 14  (1)On to more exciting matters.  Wandering around outside, I was pleasantly surprised to find some geraniums that had not just survived, but were in flower.

Surviving flowers 3 Feb 14 (2) Surviving flowers 4 Feb 14  (4)So were the glorious euphorbia which have colonised very nicely.  There were two clumps of daisy type flowers in yellow and purple which our nearest neighbours gave us.

Surviving flowers 4 Feb 14  (3) Red hot poker 31 Jan 14Surviving flowers 4 Feb 14All the rosemary bushes were flowering, some lavenders and a red hot poker aloe too.  Great news is that there seem to be lots more bees around than last year and for some reason they seem particularly drawn to dark blue vehicles.  As they’re out in such force I do wonder whether they are scouting around for a new home.  Certainly they’ve christened poor little Amie; she’s now spotted with their pollinated poos.

Processionary cocoon 6 Feb 14  (1)The not-such-good news is finding (and successfully destroying) two processionary moth nests in two of our self-seeded young pine trees.  At this time of year around us in the campo you will see what look like glistening balls of cotton wool high in the branches of pine trees.  These are the nests or tents of a particularly destructive pest, the processionary caterpillar pupae which destroys pines and cedars right across Central Asia, North Africa and southern Europe.  Everywhere here in the Sierras you will see their calling card –  browning, spindly looking pines on their way to certain death.

Processionary cocoon 6 Feb 14  (2)Each tent can contain up to 200 maturing caterpillars and it’s not just trees they destroy; their harpoon-like hairs can cause a severely itchy rash that can last up to three weeks, cause temporary blindness and respiratory problems.  The danger to a pet can be much worse and should one sniff, lick or bite a caterpillar it would almost certainly suffer a severe allergic reaction which could cause airway closure and death – some have lost part of their tongue after licking one of these dangerous creatures.

Processionary cocoon 6 Feb 14  (3)As you can gather, nests have to be approached with great caution and dealt with accordingly.  Had we not destroyed the caterpillars, they would then fall to the ground and begin a single file procession into underground burrows to remain dormant and emerge as harmless moths.  It’s a shame that so many of the little blighters had to be destroyed, but another of those necessary evils, I’m afraid.  As I look around, there are at least four more tents in nearby trees, but far too high for us to reach.

Chainsaw logs 6 Feb 14A few more tasks.  Firstly some logs to cut up for the hungry fire.  Luckily, we’re still using up the freebies left for us by the Junta team when they cut down and thinned out the pine trees around us here in the Parque Natural.

Pruning vines 3 Feb 14Joe then pruned some vines and did his best to straighten up both the mimosa and the eucalyptus trees alongside the almacén, staking them as firmly as he dare but the prevailing wind has triumphed and we’ll just have to live with them bent as they are.

Pruning Mimosa 3 Feb 14 (4) Pruning Mimosa 3 Feb 14 (1)However, both trees were impacting on a thuya and a cypress, so some branches had to be lopped.  The mimosa will be in flower soon, a bright glorious shade of yellow. Apart from El Jéfe, our centuries-old olive tree, these two beauties are our favourite trees.

Boar and El Jefe 4 Feb 14Noticed that Bertie the wild boar had moved to the shelter of El Jéfe while we’ve been away..

… and there was I thinking that he’d been safely tucked away in the almacén!

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1 Response to Survival of the fittest

  1. jbfoggy says:

    It is hard to believe how strong the winds are up in these mountains. Cobweb removal a speciality…

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