On our return from the UK a few weeks back it was quite a surprise to find that the processionary caterpillars had sneaked in and adorned most of our young pine trees with their silky tents; they managed to get at nine trees in all.
They had also attacked 6 trees in our pine copse, our pride and joy, which is entirely self-seeded and seemed to have sprung up from nowhere about five years ago. The pine trees themselves have a tough time of it when, potentially, a minimum of 150 caterpillars can creep out of a single nest at the dead of night to feast on young, succulent needles. Not many trees fully recover from the onslaught. I read in the local papers recently that the processionaries are on the rise in Andalucia.
These hideous things can be instruments of disfigurement or even death for curious pets and can cause severe irritation or even anaphylactic shock for humans. The caterpillars are so dangerous that, once reported, the powers-that-be (allegedly) have a duty to send a SWAT team out to dispose of them. But in reality, I guess most people probably lack the will to jump through the necessary bureaucratic hoops, so they don’t bother. Most of the danger comes from the caterpillars’ tiny hairs and we are counselled to wear full protective gear, even goggles, when attempting to dispose of them.
So, for some reason best known to himself, Joe eschewed protective gear and on the spur of the moment decided to attack each nest with a knife and a twig, pulling off the sticky nest (like white, writhing candyfloss), laying it to the ground and annihilating the occupants by stomping with his work boots. He didn’t escape totally unscathed as he developed a nasty rash on a few fingers. It’s never a pleasure to feel good about killing hundreds of little creatures, but I have to say we felt enormous relief when they’d gone. That is, until next year.
The four extra solar panels have proved a worthwhile investment as they are keeping our system well topped up with power. We really had quite a difficult time of it over the last five years or with insufficient panels and one dysfunctional battery that was only diagnosed as such and replaced recently. We also had generator problems.
I can’t believe the difference, even on days when we’re literally in the clouds. Firing up the generator for an hour or so keeps the whole electrical system topped up, and it’s a real treat for us after all these years! Perhaps what’s not so good is the fact that we’re relying for top-ups on the poor old Robin generator which has been on its last legs for years. There’s no way on earth I can start the damned thing, and although Joe has a certain knack with it (which I’ve never been privy to, but I’m sure it involves tickling its tummy and whispering sweet nothings in its oily, rusty ear) it can take him between 5-10 minutes to start.
We still have the ‘new’ red generator, but despite it being ‘fixed’ last week by Jose-Maria, it starts and runs, but doesn’t put out any charge. By the way, the Nissan is now pronounced fit and has been sitting proudly on our drive for the last three days. To fix it took three visits to Jose-Maria and the not insignificant matter of greasing his oily palm with 950 euro. Since the Nissan’s return it appears to have an oil leak but maybe he slightly overfilled it when he serviced it? We can only hope this is the case.
We haven’t seen much evidence of Ricardo and the goats until recently. Instead of continuing to sulk about the new road, he’s now taken to driving up and down it in his clapped out and very noisy red jeep, rounding up his tatty herd by hanging out of the window, shouting and beeping his horn, like some hooligan cowboy.
Last night they decamped by the Belgians’ swimming pool, and this afternoon they scrambled past our fence, nonchalantly chewing as they went. Very amusing because at exactly the same time at the other end of our land, Ricardo was noisily chugging up the hill in the opposite direction probably looking for them!
For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us. Richard H Baker
What a lovely day it’s been, a veritable pink cloud day.