The weather hasn’t been too cold so far on Mallorca this winter, although February is looming on the horizon and it’s the month that can bring snow and very chilly conditions. Even though the mercury hasn’t plunged too far down yet, we’ve kept our Jotul wood-burning stove going 24/7 since some time in November. The Boss likes to “keep the walls warm”. We’ve been quite warm too (and there were winters here when I thought I’d never say that).
In previous winters we’ve had to perform the routine task of cleaning out the stove pipe about once a month. It’s a tedious task – and a very messy one. We have to let the fire go out, then remove the metal pipe connecting the stove with the chimney entry point, and then clean out all the black gunk that’s accumulated inside, before putting the whole thing back together.
Making a Pass or Two
Did I say ‘we’? Tut, tut. It’s actually The Boss who does the lion’s share of this cleaning job. He’s the one up the ladder cleaning the chimney access and taking the pipe outside to clean it out. I just stand at the foot of the ladder passing him the necessary implements, like a surgeon’s assistant: “bucket”, “large metal pokey thing” (I’ve no idea what it used to be), “small metal pokey thing” (ditto), and “mirror” (so he can see up into the chimney). The whole job takes about an hour – time we could certainly use more enjoyably.
This winter The Boss gave the stove pipe and chimney a very thorough clean before lighting it for the first time. And, unlike previous years, we haven’t had to clean it again until today. The stove has a way of letting us know when it’s necessary – and it usually involves stinky smoke filling the room. It was today. Job now done.
We can only conclude that we’ve been buying cleaner-burning wood since we changed our supplier to one in Porreres. We also get more for our money there. And that’s always a burning issue.
We currently have two poorly pusscats: Sweetie and her big brother Beamer (who only recently had the ordeal of being tied up somewhere by someone, until he escaped – twine still tightly around his neck – and came home). They’ve picked up a virus which has left them with a nasty case of the trots. They’re temporarily indoor cats – about which they’re not too thrilled – in quarantine in our annexe, in separate cages. Still, they’re happier there than during the car journeys to the vet’s in recent days . . .
For the time being, we’re having to medicate them twice daily, give them a special diet (and lots of extra TLC), and clean out their cages several times a day. Thank heavens for disposable gloves and antibacterial spray. And Betadine, for all the scratches we’ve sustained to exposed bodily parts during attempts to pop pills and administer their liquid medicine. The latter smells of oranges and lemons (not favourites on the feline menu) and obviously tastes vile, as it makes the cats foam at the mouth.
A Home for Hens?
With our sick cat care duties currently consuming a surprising amount of our time, it doesn’t seem appropriate to broach the subject of keeping more animals. Since we moved to rural Mallorca nearly ten years ago, I’ve had a hankering for hens. We have plenty of land where we could let them run free, and I’m sure The Boss could knock up a suitable hen house in a spare few hours; for an ex-banker he can turn his hand to a very impressive variety of DIY tasks.
But as much as I’d love to be able to collect fresh eggs from our own free-ranging chickens, I think we’re probably stretched to our animal-keeping limit – certainly when it comes to veterinary expenses. Besides, with seven feline adoptees stalking about the place, our finca in Mallorca could be a dangerous place for a feathered flock. I recently learnt that one of the collective nouns for cats is a glaring – and I can just imagine that’s what seven pairs of eyes would be doing if we had chickens strutting around the field!
So, I’ve no need to learn the art of chicken-keeping. I’ll just stick to chickens as art – the only hens likely to call our finca home.