We are just over half way through our Finca* sitting and have enjoyed doing something different.
The first evening, after Polly and Lily left, first things first – a shower. Not that I can’t shower in privacy on the boat but being able to have the space to move about and raise my arms and not have to dry the pod/heads cabin out and put everything back when I’m done, was novel. The showers ashore in Alcoutim are fine, hot water and lots of pressure but the spray head is interesting. The top of a coke bottle has been put around the nozzle otherwise the spray goes everywhere. It’s also in the back of your mind not to hang about as others may be waiting to use the shower.
Neil put the chickens away. They followed him to the chicken run like children following the pied piper and I watered the 10 or so plants that have been newly planted and an avocado tree Christian is hoping will take.
At night the fridge is unplugged so as not to draw any power. The Finca is powered in the summer by two solar panels, same as the boat. The fridge is smaller than the one we currently have on Gleda. It must take some managing to have cold drinks and keep food chilled.
We have been sleeping on the boat as with the breeze its generally cooler and more comfortable for us. When we left we had 1 dog, 1 cat, 3 sheep and 7 chooks. Result. This is our regular check morning and evening – 1 dog, 1 cat, 3 sheep and 7 chooks.
We settled into a routine of Neil going over when he gets up, between 6am-7am, and letting out the chooks and feeding. Then we both go over for the day after we have had breakfast. Taking supplies for the day including lunch and dinner.
I have essentially spent the time on the sofa outside the kitchen door sweltering and reading. It has been so warm. Too warm to do anything physical. I had ideas about walking the footpath above the Finca either to Sanlucar or up to the small river but frankly it has been too hot to venture out into the sun.
Not moaning about the heat; coping with the heat. After years of British summers getting more and more like British autumns, some sustained hot and sunny days is what we we wanted. After all, if it gets too much we can just up anchor and find cooler climes.
We have been using Polly & Christians wooden boat, ‘Lila’, to move to and from the boat. The dock into the river doesn’t rise/fall with the tide so an inflatable is likely to get damaged at low water on the river bed. We have put our engine on it although Neil mainly rowed or we have just started to paddle together, like a canoe. I have had to change to one of our dinghy oars as the wooden ones are too heavy for me to hold up comfortably. I’m very clumsy getting in/out of dinghies and even more so out of a rigid where you can’t step on the sides. However, we are likely to need a new tender for next season and a rigid is a possibly so I’m giving it a go.
As an aside, ‘Lila’ is just the type of boat I imagine Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five had. However, I think there must of been some artistic license in how 4 children, a dog and a load of camping gear fitted in a boat like this and was then rowed by an 11 year old.
One evening Neil and I were playing with the girls basketball and hoop (we won’t say playing basketball as it was nothing like) and Sula and Nikita were obviously unimpressed. I wish I’d of had a camera as they sat side by side with their backs to us looking over their shoulders in disdain. Our skills, or lack thereof, had no impact on them.
The second evening I went around the garden watering the newer plants, I was chased by the chickens. One even had a peck at my legs. Maybe it was my multi-coloured dress that they took exception too. I haven’t worn it since. On the whole the chickens have been easy to put away, they follow you in to the chicken run. One evening however one of the girls was having none of it. The others had gone in OK and the head count showed one missing. It took us a while to find her as she was being quiet but then after a chase around the garden (bearing in mind it is a large ‘garden’) we corralled her into the chicken run. I thought it might of upset them but as there were 7 eggs the next day, obviously not.
The sheep just do sheep things. Eat and poo. They have the run of the Finca and we just need to make sure that they have water and every couple of days Neil cuts down some bamboo so they have fresh leaves. The amount of bamboo that grows up this river, I wouldn’t be surprised to see pandas!
Sula is usually waiting on the dock for us in the morning and generally walks down with us in the evening. She is a very inactive dog during the day, I assume because of the heat. Polly said that she doesn’t bark much in the day but more likely too at night when “things” come out. One evening we had just got back to the boat and it was nearly dark when we saw her on the dock stand up and start barking into the river bank, then run up into the garden and continued barking. Neil was so intrigued as he had never heard her bark before that he went ashore. He didn’t see anything but said something was obviously about as Sula was alert, pointing into the bushes, barking and running around. I think she had a busy night that night as she wasn’t on the dock the next morning but in her usual spot on a sofa on the terrace.
Nikita is a tiny tortoiseshell cat and bizarrely has a thing for Neil, who is not in the least bit interested in her. She tries to get on his lap and he doesn’t let her. While he was stood at the table she was right behind him and he didn’t see her. When he stepped back, he trod on her and she hissed and bit him hard on the ankle. Oh, the air was blue. Within a couple of minutes we had washed the wound and put on some aloe vera and sudocrem (all I had to hand). I would of thought that would of put her off him but no, the next day she was still trying to get close to him. I’m gutted, I’d love to have her on my lap and pet her but she’s not interested in me, only when I’m giving her the evening feed.
We had some visitors, Andrew and Regine who are Finca sitting, 3 down. I was sat in my spot reading and Sula in hers sleeping. Sula didn’t wake or move and it was only when I heard an “hello” that I knew we had visitors. Had a good chat, nice to see people.
One night we had a real blow on the river. That would of been the night to sleep ashore but didn’t realise how strong the wind was going to be or how uncomfortable with ‘Lila’ banging against the fenders we had put out and the wind against tide and us lying across the river made for a very rocky and stressy night. Neither of us slept much. Neil got up about 1.30am to move Lila to the back of the boat where she would sit more comfortably. It was still blowing hard the next morning and we used the engine to get from the boat to the Finca. Up at the house, there was hardly a breath. Well protected from the north winds.
We are expecting Christian and the girls to be home by Sunday at the latest. Polly went to England and not sure when she will be back.
We have a few days left of being Spanish farmers.
* In English usage, a finca refers to a piece of rural or agricultural land, typically with a cottage, farmhouse or estate buildings present, and often adjacent to a woodland or plantation.