. . . and I’m not rolling along.

We are having work done by our third set of builders and on Friday afternoon I was shifting boulders to use in building stone walls at the entrance to the quinta. Suddenly the front right wheel locked. Carefully and slowly I had to shift the tractor off our road, with horrible grinding noises coming from the wheel bearings. It sounded expensive. I phoned the mechanic, who came and helped me to remove the front loader and to make the tractor drive on three wheels back to its garage. Alfredo was unhappy with my limping green Agrokid and promised to come back the next morning to diagnose the problem.

  

He reckons the lower ballrace failed and a fragment moved into the drive cogs, where it caused a tooth to shear off. This bit of gearwheel then smashed off more teeth from two cogs as I drove the vehicle off the road. We are waiting to hear the situation for replacement parts.

Leatherhead it ain’t.

Picture taken from our land at midnight. Three days earlier there was a forest fire a few miles to the west of our quinta. These are worrying because we have strong and hot winds at this time of the year so a fire can become voracious and move quickly to devastate the land. These fires are too intense for people to approach and have to be dealt with by powerful hoses on fire engines – provided water is available. We have a drought now following rainfall of only a few centimetres in the whole of last winter. We went to bed with smoke and ash in the air and an orange glow on the horizon.

On the kitchen floor, next to our bedroom, was this little fellow – newly dead. Our neighbour tells of her friend’s child who got into bed and was stung by a scorpion in the sheets. Writhing in pain from the venom, the child had to go to hospital where she was sedated and anaesthetised for two days, sweating and moaning in pain under her coma. Janet said she thought there was another which ran under the fridge. Just to be sure I pulled it out and in the corner was the other scorpion, tail high ready to sting. Clearly the winner of a fight. I killed him – little ones grow into big ones and make lots more. We didn’t have this problem, nor the fires, in Surrey.

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Because the rebuilt house had no windows and still has no doors, we’ve had swallows living in it for over five weeks now.  I can’t do any electrical wiring as their nest is in the main entrance, and I don’t want to disturb the baby birds.

Pic: swallow on my weathervane, waiting to take a turn in the nest.

We have a dozen swallows living near to the house and they fly in and out all day, visiting their relatives. The chicks are getting much bigger – not long now before they fly.

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This partridge on our land is bigger than a pigeon and much more solid – so they are in demand as game birds. They are usually served in twos. I prefer to see them trotting around the farm, although they are pretty stupid and will run along the road rather than fly or turn off into undergrowth.

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The storks have now hatched; these pictures were taken on our way to the shops recently. There were more nests in the colony but these three were all in one tree.

A week ago we were sitting under the veranda when we heard a helicopter nearby.  I went to investigate and saw smoke rising from the hill to the north of our land.

Two minutes later a fire engine drove up our hill, and the helicopter flew  nearer to us.  Another fire engine arrived, and a spotter plane.  Their arrival is reassuring when you own twenty acres of woodland starting at the hillside shown in the first picture,  and the wind is at 40°C and blowing steadily!

The helicopter brought buckets of water from a pond nearby, and stayed in action as more firemen arrived until the fire was put out.

All was doused in half an hour – well done Bombeiros!

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JJ the JCB man told us the culprit was found in the coffee bar in our village. He is a known arsonist, unemployed, and does it to see the action. Eventually he will be brought before a judge again, but JJ reckons he’ll get away with it again.