Good news at our finca in rural Mallorca

Animals can be perverse. You boast to a friend that your cat always does a certain thing: for example, you say its name and it flicks its tail; you say its name twice and it flicks its tail twice; that kind of thing. Of course, the fickle feline never obliges when you try to demonstrate this amazing feat to your friend.

So, perhaps you can guess what happened after I posted about our little cat Sweetie’s eight-day absence…. yes, she turned up last night.  Looking rather thin but otherwise apparently fine, she wriggled under our gates and came to greet her siblings, who sniffed around her as if trying to work out where she’d been (which was probably what they were doing…none of them told us). Beamer seemed particularly pleased to see her and immediately began to give her a jolly good wash.

And Sweetie was back, as she always had been before, for her breakfast this morning. She seems pleased to be back again and, thankfully, Pip has chosen to ignore her.

We’ll probably never know where she was, what she was up to, or why she didn’t come to our finca in Mallorca as usual. We’re all just pleased she’s back and unharmed.

The prodigal daughter gets a good clean-up from big brother Beamer

 

 

So long, Sweetie…

When we took on the responsibility of caring for the feral cats that were born on our finca in rural Mallorca (in two litters to the same mum), we knew that some of them would one day no longer be with us – for whatever reason. We lost Brownie, as a very young kitten, when she jumped out of an old almond tree in the lane straight into the path of one of our neighbours as she drove home. Poor Maria – an animal lover herself – was unable to stop her car in time, despite driving relatively slowly. Brownie is buried at the bottom of our field, just a metre or two away from the very spot where she was born.

Quite some time later, Bear – a lovely black cat (born in the same litter as Beamer and Dusty, still with us, and poor little Brownie) – disappeared. Although we hadn’t been able to pick him up for a cuddle, he did enjoy a fuss and seemed perfectly happy around the finca but, one day, he didn’t come as usual for his breakfast or dinner. We never saw him again and were unable to find out what had happened to him. We like to think that he decided to strike out on his own and be independent, preferring this to the possible alternative fates.

Baby Bear and Right Patch were both from the second litter and they too disappeared while still quite young. We had expected some of the kittens to leave once they felt ready to be independent, as that would be natural cat behaviour, so we were pleasantly surprised that the rest stayed with us.

Searching in vain

One of the problems of losing a cat in the country is knowing where to look for it. In a village or town in the UK, we would have put a notice on lampposts or checked whether any neighbours had accidentally shut the missing feline in a garage or shed. But here, in our part of rural Mallorca, we’re surrounded by fields – many of which are overgrown, having been long abandoned.

For just over a week we haven’t seen Sweetie – one of the cats from the second litter. At the end of July she would have been six years old which, for a feral cat, is probably a good age – given the perils of rural life (hunters, poisoning, disease, etc). But Sweetie – like the other six cats that have adopted us and remain here – is no longer truly feral, as she has almost always come for her daily breakfast and dinner and to drink from the several water stations we maintain for our feline family.

Sweetie as a kitten

One for the ‘Lost’ poster…

Chilling out in our dining room window recess

Beamer’s bestie

The little spayed cat was always nervous around humans (including us) and would rarely allow us to stroke her (unless she had her head down in her food bowl). She had a very special bond with her older sibling Beamer though and they used to have regular mutual grooming sessions; at times, she would bury her head in Beamer’s tummy fur – as she and her other siblings of the same age had done for comfort, after their mother Jetta had abandoned her offspring.

Sadly, Sweetie wasn’t popular with Pip – the female kitten dumped here more than two years ago, changing the dynamic of the cat clan. Although we’d had both females spayed, Pip had recently started to hiss at Sweetie sometimes and even chased her away a time or two. Perhaps that happened once too often for Sweetie to tolerate?

She had long had her own territory on the finca of our neighbours and good friends Maureen and Peter, and came back to ours only for her food and water. Maybe she decided on a new life of self-sufficiency? We’ve called her and searched for her in as many places as feasible, but to no avail.

In the meantime, we miss seeing this shy little cat and watching those affectionate moments she regularly shared with Beamer. And we’re sure he’s missing her too.

Come home, Sweetie, if you can…

 

 

Poppies popping up – but not on our finca

Rural Majorcan poppies

A blaze of colour, although the farmer probably didn’t appreciate the invasion of his cereal crop!

Poppies seem to have been late emerging this spring on Mallorca. Perhaps it was because of the huge amount of rain that fell on the island over the winter months?

I love poppies and was keen to plant some in the garden, imagining a future scene reminiscent of Claude Monet’s famous Poppy Field. A welcome gift of California poppy seeds was liberally sewn over the small patch of our garden that has more than an inch or two of soil.

Lost to the lane

Last year a few of these seeds did grow into poppies but, this year, we haven’t had a single one in the garden. However, the wildflower-strewn verges of our lane have become home to a few that are more West-Coast America than rural Mallorca. Ho hum. Well, this is a breezy island…

A touch of Monet on Mallorca?

Elsewhere in rural Mallorca poppies are having a field day (pardon the pun). On our way back from an appointment in the town of Sa Pobla yesterday we spotted a particularly colourful field. I didn’t have my camera with me, so the image is courtesy of my iPad. And there are quite a few similar displays of poppies elsewhere on Mallorca…just not in our garden.

 

 

Text and photo Jan Edwards©2017

 

Mallorca 312 passes our rural finca

Earlier this week a placard was tied to a post near our home in rural Mallorca, warning us that the lane would be closed yesterday for about five hours from 14:00h because of a sporting event. The event in question was the Mallorca 312 – the most international of all cycling events held in Spain. Of the 6,500 cyclists taking part, 33 per cent were from the UK; presumably Mallorca had greater appeal to these Brits than Yorkshire, which had its own racing event (Tour of Yorkshire) happening yesterday.

Our lane hasn’t been closed since our first few years of living here, when the Manacor Rally used to come through the valley. We were forced to be either at home all afternoon or out somewhere for the duration. It was a noisy but entertaining spectacle and we could watch some of the action from our terrace, so we always stayed home. Souped-up rally cars and old stone walls occasionally had brief encounters and, after the local council had invested in building new walls for the community’s shared watercourse in the valley below us, the rally was moved to a new route.

Road closed!

Our lane closure yesterday wasn’t much of an inconvenience to us or our relatively few neighbours, but many people across Mallorca were cursing the event because main roads through the mountains and in the north and northeast of the island were closed to vehicles. Social media was buzzing with complaints and stories of delayed journeys, as well as triumphant messages from race finishers.

I certainly felt sorry for any holidaymakers who arrived on the island yesterday morning only to learn that the road to their destination was closed for several hours. Or those staying in places like Deià, forced to leave the village before 7am for an afternoon flight home, because the road was part of the race route and vehicular traffic was suspended for the morning.

Looking at Lycra

Meanwhile, The Boss and I walked up to the corner of our property during the afternoon for a prime view of cyclists coming up the hill. It’s a steep haul on foot and several of the cyclists evidently found it tough to negotiate.

One of our Mallorcan neighbours was already spectating with her son, seven-year-old grandson, and a couple of his friends and we joined them in clapping and encouraging the participants as they passed us. Also there were a female marshall (who must have been desperate for a pee by the end of the event) and an official photographer. We offered to make them tea or coffee, but they’d come prepared with their own food and drink.

I had my own camera with me and, having reviewed my numerous shots, I can tell you I won’t be changing careers anytime soon to become a sports photographer. Respect to those who manage to take sharp photos of sportspeople on the move…and look good in a hi-vis vest.

During our time as Mallorca 312 spectators we saw Lycra in every hue imaginable; it’s certainly a colourful sport. We heard quite a few English-speakers and, as we bystanders shouted out  ‘Ánimos‘  (which means encouragement), I did later wonder whether they might have thought we were calling them ‘animals’…

 

Text and photos Jan Edwards©2017

Helping stricken wildlife on Mallorca

Some interesting emails have arrived as a result of writing this blog. I have written before about the production company for UK reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, which contacted me to ask if I could ‘arrange’ for a “typical  Mallorcan farmer and a goat” to be available to them while filming on Mallorca. Er, no, sorry.

Pigeon in peril

This weekend I had an enquiry I was happier to tackle. Sue – a British holidaymaker – was staying in Palma Nova, a resort in the southwest of Mallorca, and had encountered a pigeon in trouble. It seemed to have string tightly tied around its foot, which was swollen as a result. Sue had fed the stricken bird by hand but wanted to get help for it. But how?

Photo courtesy of all-free-download.com

Sue spent some time searching the Internet and found my blog about life in rural Mallorca. At some time after midnight, she sent me an email explaining the problem and asking about bird sanctuaries. When I found the email next morning, I realized that I didn’t have an answer.

Thankfully, a quick ‘shout out’ on social media gave me details, which I was able to pass on to Sue. I hope the story had a happy ending…

So… if you find a wildlife creature on Mallorca that needs help, contact the following organization (which is part of the Balearic Government’s department for the environment, agriculture, and fishing):

COFIB – Consorcio para la Recuperación de la Fauna de les Illes Balears – Tel (+34) 971 144 107

Must go; just seen an email arrive from a production company planning to film on Mallorca for an American TV programme … let’s hope no goats are involved.

NOTE:

I’m grateful to those who responded to my plea on social media and, particularly, to Vicki McLeod – who responded almost instantly. Vicki is a brilliant professional photographer on Mallorca and can be reached through Phoenix Media Mallorca.

Text  Jan Edwards ©2017

Food service as usual for our feline birthday boys

Six years ago today our cats Beamer and Dusty were born. These two fellas are the only survivors of the litter of four born in the old abandoned casita on the other side of the wall at the bottom of our field. They’re also the elder siblings of three cats born later in the same year to the same mum.

Our finca quickly became their finca and their favourite restaurant. We serve a pretty good breakfast and dinner, apparently, even if the food is the same at each meal!

Being a bit of a softie, I’d love to treat them to something special to eat on their birthday. But, on the few occasions (such as Christmas) when we’ve bought them fresh chicken breast or rabbit, they’ve turned up their cute little noses and demanded their usual dry food diet. Cats are notoriously fussy…

Beamer and Dusty were, however, seemingly happy to pose for their birthday portraits. In fact, they were attentively waiting for the breakfast that they could hear The Boss preparing in the kitchen. For these semi-feral cats, having their food served to them twice a day probably makes every day seem like a birthday. Happy birthday, boys!

Beamer: “I can hear cat biscuits being poured into a bowl.”

Dusty: “Why sit on a stone wall when you can sit on a wooden chair warmed by the early-morning sun?”

 

 

 

 

 

No tea or coffee for Mallorcan tradesmen

You’d have to be very handy at DIY never to need a tradesman of some sort on Mallorca. Although The Boss has surprised me many times by his ability to turn his former-office-worker’s hands to a variety of tasks around our country finca, we’ve had our share of visits from plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and various ‘técnicos’ coming to install or fix things. And, in case you’re thinking I’m being sexist here, not one of these workers has ever been a woman.

We’ve noticed one major difference between workmen on Mallorca here and those in the UK: the locals don’t seem to need to be fuelled by hot drinks to get going.

I’d opt for the coffee if I were you

When I lived in the UK, I always offered any visiting tradesman a tea or coffee. Nobody ever refused, although those spending any length of time in the property rarely wanted a second mug of my tea; someone once told me I was the only person they knew who was capable of making grey tea. And it wasn’t Earl Grey!

My first memory of a hot-drink-fuelled tradesman was Bob, who – on several occasions – laid carpet or flooring in my home. The first time I opened the door to him, he said good morning and, before he’d even stepped over the threshold, asked: “What comes from Brazil?” Slightly taken aback by this strange question, I mulled for a moment: “Coffee?” “Thanks,” said Bob. “Milk and three sugars please.”  Our Bob turned out to be a constant joker, as well as an excellent carpet fitter.

A painter and decorator called Alan used to do a few jobs for me. He was a salt-of-the-earth character, good at his job (he loved decorating), and was super-trustworthy. Hearing his three-wheeled Reliant Robin roaring up the lane was my cue to switch on the kettle. Although I don’t drink tea (see above for the reason), I always had a large box of tea bags in the cupboard when Alan was due to start a decorating project. I’d make him the first one of the day and (for the aforementioned reason) he was happy to put the kettle on and make any subsequent cuppas he wanted. In volume terms he probably shifted more tea than emulsion.

Beware the Brits and their brews

It’s different here on Mallorca: we always ask tradesmen if they’d like a tea or coffee during their visit. And, without fail over the years, every single one has declined our offer. Could it be because they fear that Brits are going to serve revoltingly weak instant coffee, instead of the gutsy brew they’re more accustomed to in Spain?  Or perhaps my reputation for making barely drinkable tea has spread…