Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Teach me to keep my mouth shut

I had just finished blogging a couple of days ago saying how quiet it was. Idiot. I pressed published and all hell broke loose.

Danilo put all of the hens and roosters in houses at the front of the house to make it easier for me to feed them and less chance of the puppies murdering them. However one black hen, called Coja (lame) as she limps was sitting on eggs in the wood next to the house. Every two days at 10 am precisely she comes to the back door to be fed and watered and then scuttles back into the woods. This day she did not turn up.

I finished blogging and all of the dogs went onto the precarious balcony and were barking at something. I assumed there was a cow in the garden and really was not looking forward to herding it and its mates but when I looked everywhere, there was no sign of any cows. In the end I went out to investigate and there were 10 chicks just in front of the balcony and Coja inside.

The balcony has a wrap around dog house that starts at the front of the house and goes all the way round. We boarded it up at the back and cut a hole in the wire and use it as an extra hen house.

Coja sensibly wanted the chicks inside but as it has a concrete step at the bottom, the chicks couldnt get up to get through the wire. I got some celery and laid a trail for Coja to get her outside, through the opening which there is now, and put a bread board there as a ramp for the chicks. Slowly one or two started to go in. I went back inside and heard cheeping and one stupid chick had somehow made it onto the dog side of the run. Dash into dog run and rescue said chick and went back outside to put in inside the run. Coja was in the far corner with a couple of chicks, so I scooped the others up and put them in with her. I could still hear cheeping and lo and behold, Sweepy the puppy is in the garden with a chick in his mouth. Run over and rescue chick who looks pretty badly injured and put it back in the run with mum.

There are eight black and brown chicks and two yellow ones, and it was one of the yellow ones Sweepy had got at. The problem is it can't walk now and flaps its wings to try and get a little momentum which works unless it is stuck behind a wooden pillar. When it can't get to mum it cheeps at the top of its voice, so I have to run outside and rescue it. Given that I cannot get into the hen house I have devised a series of handy scoops to scoop it up and then deposit it where mother hen is. One is a margarine tub on a piece of string so I can put the chick in the tub and then lower it down on top of mum and jiggle till it falls out. I can only use that thought if the chick is close to the fence and I can get my hand in. If not I use useful chick scooping tool number two, which is a kitchen sieve taped to a broom handle so I scoop it in that and then transfer to the margarine tub.

I am pleased to announce that chick is still alive and now appears to have one leg working so is even getting around better.

In the meantime Sweepy continues to be a pain, escaping hourly from the garden and looking hungrily at the chicks. Given his mum is brown and his dad white I have no idea why he looks like a black German Shepherd and  at five months old he is bigger than both of them and the most disobedient dog I have ever known. I really cannot believe how he could be so cute as a little pup and now such a monster who has a total mind of his own and adores eating chickens.

Now time to head off to the colmado up the road. I laugh every time I walk up there as I pass this place...

An elderly man used to live in a wooden house here, which was built on top of the concrete base you see. He died and as is normal he left his house and possessions to his kids. But he didn't own the land, so they just came with a flat bed truck, took the house down, plank by plank and off they went. At least they ended up with a house!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A successful launch

Danilo's launch as candidate for mayor for Guayacanes with his new party, the PRL went well. Apparently there were over 3,000 people there which is almost everyone who lives in the municipality.

He was even emblazed across women's chests.

And Bavarotty sang.

He actually does sing opera - well sort of opera, but I don't think Pavarotti has anything to worry about. I don't have a video of him at the launch but here he is along with the obligatory female boobs and buttock shaking and him crotch clutching. If it doesn't work embedded you can watch him here.

The latest polls give Danilo over 80% so if he can keep it up he may even win and while he is away being famous, I stay at home and look after the animals. Well, I don't do a particularly good job as I seem to lose a few chickens each time he is away. This time one of the neighbour's fighting cockerels escaped and got into our back garden and fought with our nice tame cockerel. This happened at around 6.30 in the morning so I ran outside and yelled for the neighbour to come and get his rooster, which he did. He also picked up our rooster and tried to hand it to me covered in blood. I don't do holding roosters and especially not when covered in blood. Also I have no idea how to cure them, so I told him to keep hold of it and make it better. He first said it was dying, then it was fine, just appeared to have lost its eyes. In the event he had lost only one eye and recovered.

Apart from that little incident it was actually quite a quiet time, and Danilo came back for a while to do the jobs which needed doing such as to fix the water pump (he had to call a man to fix it) and mend the fence so the puppies could not escape (puppies took 5 minutes to escape again).

I also had an American visitor who came for a couple of days which was lovely, and she came laden down with dried mushrooms, Indian spices and dog treats and toys.

The blog is now being translated into Spanish a couple of days after the English version has been posted so if you want to read it in Spanish you can do so here. The same person who translates the blog is also translating the book into Spanish which is very exciting, and really wierd to read it in Spanish. One chapter done so far and ten to go.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The crazy life goes on

Ooops sorry again for taking so long. Usual excuse too busy. Plenty to update you with so prepare for a long read, with few photographs as my camera has decided not to work any more. Hopefully a new memory card will do the trick.

The run up to Christmas was crazy busy with work and Danilo up and down to the south coast campaigning. We thought we might actually cancel Christmas due to a shortage of funds but a kind donor provided the cash so I did the usual British Christmas lunch and the kids turned up. I didn't bother putting  up the tree as the three puppies are at that full on destructive stage, so it would have lasted five minutes.

One of my favourite pastimes is sitting on the balcony with my morning coffee but that pleasure has been taken away from me, as the usual superb Dominican workmanship was short lived.

Not only are the floor boards breaking but so is the balustrade.

It is seriously wobbly and so needs to be replaced - I assume with concrete but not sure when that will happen.

Christmas came and went, and then I had two lots of visitors, both from overseas with their Dominican partners. Not only is it nice to speak in English for a while but the visitors always come laden with goodies, so my chocolate supply has been restocked for a while.

Chivirico decided that he did not want any presents this year from Santa but that he wanted to play Santa and instead of having a sack for him, he wanted to hand gifts out to poor children on Kings' Day which is January 6, the day children traditionally receive their gifts here. We had some lovely donations and off he set to hand out gifts.

Don't think I am being creative here, I just can't get the pictures to go where I want them to!

So, back to politics which is having a major impact on my life as Danilo is having to spend more time campaigning than he is here. Now I have no problems at all being on my own, but it has its challenges.

Firstly the car. My beloved jeep.

I don't know if you remember but it broke down around six months ago. They said the pistons broke but it has taken me ages to save up the cash to fix it.  The piston broke as beloved husband drove in in second gear for miles - as he can only use first and second in a manual car. He can't do the jiggly bit to put it into third. So the local mechanic says RD$30,000 to fix which is a fortune, around U$700 and which we don't have. The jeep sits there for four months as I try to save the money and meanwhile I walk. Everywhere. No taxis or motoconchos here. Then Danilo announces he has a mechanic to fix it and off it goes but it appears this mechanic couldn't fix it as he was born after jeep was built. So Danilo finds a man who actually works with Mitsubishi engines - perfect he thinks. The jeep returned on Christmas Eve with Saya (number one dwendy) who went to pay the final amount which was more than I would have paid locally. I checked everything as have learned to trust no mechanic. Windscreen wipers. No only do they not work, which they didn't when the car went in, there are no wipers anymore! Exhaust had to be soldered - wasn't, was tied on with wire. Coil appears to have disappeared and has been replaced with hand made one! White smoke pouring out of the back as it appears the mechanic didn't know it was a petrol engine and put diesel in it. And for the icing on the cake, a new oil filter was fitted, but no oil was replaced. Saya drove it over 150 miles with no oil. I filled it up with oil but there are still clouds of white smoke and I have been told that it is fine, the smoke will go, and I don't need windscreen wipers as there isn't much rain.

So I sort of have transport but I daren't go far in case the lack of oil caused serious damage, nor on main roads as the white smoke continues to pour out of the back.

And then there was the earthquake. I was sitting at my desk working and it sounded like a train was coming. The dogs all ran in, and I went to run out to see why there was a train coming as there are no trains here, and I promptly fell over as the floor was moving. Then, all the windows shook, bottles flew off the kitchen counters and once I made it outside I was met with a massive dust cloud. My first and I hope my last earthquake. It was only a 4.6 but the epicentre was not far from me, around 10 miles northwest.

As I mentioned in the last blog, Danilo is now candidate for the PRL party, which also supports Danilo Medina to be president again. This is his new poster.

He planned a major launch for the new campaign and I was a bit surprised to get the poster for that.

Yes it involved some sort of concert with the main artist being none other than Bavarotty, and yes he does sing sort of opera amongst rapping.

The launch was a success, with three quarters of the electorate turning out for it so so far so good. Apologies again for the delay, must do better,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Unos meses más de tristeza

Gracias por la traducción de Ambiorix Paulino

Perdónenme por haberlos hecho esperar tanto tiempo, pero he estado hasta la altura de mis ojos de ocupada.

Han sido unos meses de tristeza donde la gente y los pollos han caído como las moscas. Sukin, el dueño del colmado, a solo cuatro meses que se le murió la esposa, ha fallecido. El se sentía bien, fue a pasarse una quincena con a su hermana y nunca regreso. Dicen la gente que le dio un derrame celebral que lo metió en una coma y termino en un ventilador hasta que me imagino que tuvieron que apagarlo. Su casa esta vacía y el colmado permanece cerrado.

Ahora tengo que caminar 15 minutos al otro colmado – supongo que buen ejercicio perro tienen una perrita chihuahua que me odia y siempre corre a morderme los tobillos – de todos los nombres se dicen Donkey.

La otra mala noticia es que se nos están muriendo todas las gallinas. Nadie sabe decir porque, aunque algunos dicen que tiene que ver con el cambio de las estaciones del verano al invierno. Yo le pregunto a la gente a ver que es lo que esta pasando y ellos me dicen que las gallinas no se mueren, sino que se duermen de noche y no se levantan. Hmm...  Hasta ahora se nos ha ido Sprout and Cranberry, dos pavos y nos quedan el hijo o hija de Sprout and Stuffing así es que hasta ahí llego la gran empresa de beneficio de Danilo. Monster también se durmió y no se volvió a levantar, algo que también me dejo muy triste. Por ahí en el patio andan algún hijo o hija de el. A algunos vecinos se le han muerto más de 100 gallinas.

Los cachorritos Sweepy y Grita van creciendo y cada día se ponen más vivos y molestosos – se comen los muebles, le caen atrás a las gallinas y molestan a Belinda. Hace unos meses le prestamos los servicios de Lobo a un señor que trajo a su perra Alsatian a aparearse con el. Lobo puso de su parte y la perra salió embarazada. El señor nos había prometido una cría pero después nos enteramos que en vez de eso el los vendió y Danilo le dijo que no le volvía a prestar a Lobo. Luego se aparece con un perro que supuestamente es hijo de Meg and la hija de Lobo (que el tiene) y un Belgian Shepherd. El perro era del tamaño de una chihuahua cuando lo trajo y yo estaba lista a devolvérselo. Pero el pobrecito es muy lindo aunque si sale hijo de un Belgian Shepherd yo seré un hombre Chino.

 Fue bautizado por Danilo, conozcan a Rin Tin Tin.

No me han llegado muchas visitas en los últimos meses  aparte de una mujer inglesa. Todos fuimos al rio con ella y Chivirico para que disfrute de esa gran experiencia Dominicana de bañarse con ropa en el rio con agua fría, cocinar y beber ron. No seguimos todas las reglas ya que la comida fue comprada, yo no me metí en el rio y en vez de ron bebimos agua, pero la intención estaba. Aquí están mis muchachos lindos, de izquierda a derecha mi hijastro Christian, Chivirico, esposo Danilo y hijastros Dany and Alberto.

Y claro, ninguna entrada estaría completa sin hablarles de lo último en la política, cosas difíciles de creer, aunque son verdaderas.

Entonces, llegamos al plazo donde se han completado las encuestas de opinión y quedaron en que la persona con  el resultado más alto y un margen de 10% seria el candidato. Danilo tenia mas de 50% y el alcalde actual 9%. Anunciaron todos los resultados en el país – menos el de Guayacanes. Parece que decidieron darle la candidatura al alcalde and el partido – PLD – dice que le darán un trabajo a Danilo. Hasta ahora le han dado nada, y el se han registrado como candidato con otro partido. A este partido le llaman PLR - Partido Liberal Reformista, encabezado por un hombre que le llaman Amable Aristy, entonces se han juntado el señor Feliz y el señor Amable. Al señor Amable le gusta ayudar a la gente y por eso se han de llevar bien. El partido del PLD era morado y este nuevo es amarillo y verde y a Danilo le han dado una semana de plazo para que cambie todos sus letreros y para que pinte su casa de campaña con los nuevos colores. También tendrá que cambiar la estrella del PLD al girasol del PLR.

¿Y funcionará? Vete tú a saber, pero me gustan los valores del nuevo partido. De mi parte toca trabajar durísimo para recaudar fondos suficientes para seguir adelante – nada nuevo en eso!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Another sad couple of months

Once again sorry for keeping you all waiting for so long, but honestly I have been up to my eyes.

This has been a sad couple of months with birds and people dropping like flies. Sukin, the owner of the colmado, whose wife died 4 months ago, has died. He was fine, went to visit his sister for a fortnight and never came back. Apparently he had a stroke, ended up in a coma on a ventilator then I assume was switched off. So his house is empty and the colmado closed.

I now have to walk about 15 minutes to another colmado - good exercise I suppose but they have a chihuahua who hates me and tries to nip my ankles - called Donkey of all things.

The other sad news is everyone's chickens are dying. No one knows why, although some say it is the changing of the seasons from summer to winter. I keep asking the locals to try and get to the bottom of it, and they say they don't actually die, they go to sleep at night and don't wake up. Hmmm. Well we have lost Sprout and Cranberry, the two turkeys so only have son/daughter of Sprout and Stuffing so that puts paid to Danilo's money spinning idea. Monster also went to sleep and didn't wake up which I am very sad about too. We do have the odd son and daughter of his. Some neighbours have lost over 100 chickens.

The puppies, Sweep and Grita Mucho are growing like topsy and causing total havoc - eating the furniture, chasing chickens and annoying Belinda. Several months ago a man borrowed Lobos bits and brought his long haired Alsatian dog to mate with him. Lobo performed splendidly and the dog was pregnant. We were promised one of the litter. Well he sold them all and Danilo told him he was not allowed to borrow Lobo again. Next thing we know he delivers a dog which is supposedly the son of Meg and Lobo's daughter (who he has) and a Belgian Shepherd. Now this dog was the size of a chihuahua when he arrived and I was all for sending him back. However, he is cute, but if he is the son of a Belgian Shepherd then I am a China man.

His name - christened by Danilo, I hasten to add -  is Rin Tin Tin.

I haven't had too many visitors over the last couple of months, apart from an English lady, and we all went to the river with Chivirico and her so she could experience that important Dominican event of bathing in your clothes in the freezing water, cooking lunch and drinking rum. We didn't quite do all that we should in that we bought lunch, she and I did not get in the river, and we had water rather than rum, but the thought was there. Here are my handsome boys, from left to right stepson Christian, Chivirico, husband Danilo, and stepsons Dany and Alberto.

And of course, no blog would be complete without updating you on politics, which of course is totally unbelievable, but true.

So, we got to the stage where they had done opinion polls and said that whoever had the highest with a margin of 10% would be the candidate. Danilo had over 50% and the existing mayor had 9%. Every other place in the country was announced - apart from Guayacanes. It appears they will give it to the existing mayor, and the party - PLD - said they would offer Danilo a job. So far nada, so he has signed up to be the candidate for another party. This other party is called the PLR - Partido Liberal Reformista, and the guy who owns/runs it is a chap called Amable Aristy. Amable means Friendly so we have Mr Happy going with Mr Friendly. Mr Friendly is into helping people so it should be a good fit. However, the PLD was purple and this new one is yellow and green so Danilo has a week to change all his posters to yellow and green and repaint his campaign headquarters, and change the PLD star to the PLR sunflower.

Will it work? Your guess is as good as mine, but I like the values of the new party. So my job is to work my little cotton socks off to raise as much money as we can to keep going - what's new!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Adios Stuffing and Hola Cranberry

It has been another animal dominated couple of weeks while we still wait for the party to decide who the mayoral candidate will be. There are over 1500 pre-candidates awaiting to hear their fates supposedly based on opinion polls although the names of the companies doing the poll are not being released. Will it all be done fairly? Your guess is as good as mine. Today the party election committee is announcing the name of the person who will be the liaison officer for each of the areas where the candidates have to be selected by poll but no date as to when the actual selection will be.

Anyway, back to the animals. The first is some sad news about Stuffing, or Etuffee as Danilo pronounces it.

Stuffing, the great friend of Monster and husband to Sprout and father of one (other turkey chicks or poults as they are known, died), has gone to turkey heaven. He had been sick for a couple of weeks, not eating so Danilo was force feeding him, but was also depressed. He wouldn't come out of his house so Danilo would take him out and he would go back in at 6 pm on his own as it was getting dark. This particular night it was raining but had stopped and I went to take the dogs out for their nightly pee and poo run. Danilo was at university. Unbeknown to me, Stuffing had not gone to bed and was lurking outside his pen and the dogs went for him. I tried to get them off him, but it was too late and he was dead.

I decided to save the dogs getting into trouble I would put him in his house so that Danilo would just think he had died of his illness, so that is what I did, and then went to bed.

I woke up when Danilo returned and said sad news about Stuffing. He said he knew and he had found the evidence that the dogs had killed him. I said no, I had just spotted him dead in his house and asked what evidence he meant. He wryly said that the fact his head was not attached to his body was a tad of a giveaway. R.I.P Stuffing.

Stuffing has been replaced by a new male whose name is Cranberry. He has only been here a day but seems to be settling in well, and follows Sprout and baby Stuffing around.

He is only about 4 months old so hasn't start puffing up and strutting and gobbling yet but seems like a happy enough chap.

Since Stuffing departed this life, Monster had refused to sleep in the house they shared and has moved in with everyone else into the cellar. I expect it is because he is afraid his head will fall off in the night. The cellar is now getting very crowded at night time as they all jostle for their favourite specs on the stick.

There is now a little more space however as two of the hens, la negra and la india (the black one and the brown one) had been laying eggs in the same plastic container. When they were ready to sit on them it was a tad squashed and when hens sit on their eggs they never leave them.

So Danilo made them a bigger nest and now the lesbianas as they are now known can snuggle up together for the next 21 days until their chicks hatch. That could be interesting as the eggs all have the same father - the one and only rapist. I wonder if they know that or whether it will only become apparent when the chicks are born and they all look alike.

And today, another pair of chickens, with equally inspiring names, la negra 2 and la india 2 who also laid their eggs together and whose father is Monster are now squashed in another plastic container together. Looks like will be busy here in a few weeks time as each pair of hens are sitting on around 15 eggs.

Apart from the feathered animals, we have four puppies left, two of which will be going in a week or so.  They are now 10 weeks old and  are causing total havoc, chewing everything they can and messing up the house. Can you see the state of the floor? That is because they dip their feet in the water bowl, run around in the mud and then run back in the house.

We are thinking of keeping two, this is one called Sweepy (Weespy) who has the most enormous ears which I assume he will grow into one day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Snakes and Fowl

Well we had an interesting experience the other night.

Danilo was doing his washing, as apparently I don't wash clothes like a Dominican woman. It appears I put dirty clothes in with less dirty clothes which you are not supposed to do as it makes all clothes dirty instead of all clean. Also I don't use enough bleach (as would like clothes to stay the same colour) and I use the spin dryer which I thought was to take the water out of the clothes so that they dry quicker but apparently it is not good and ruins them, so you have to take clothes straight out of washer, dripping with water, put on hanger and then hang on barbed wire fence.

Anyway, I digress. It was nearly 8 p.m. Danilo was doing his washing and I was deciding what to make for tea when there was a blood curdling scream from outside in the woods. We have a mahogany wood running the whole length of our land but only a couple of yards from the house. The chickens often go in it and roost in the trees at night, some even fly 20 to 30 feet up in the air to a branch. The dogs go there to play sometimes as well.

Danilo yelled that a snake had a chicken and went tearing outside in shorts and flip flops. I was instructed to follow. He ran to the wood and we could hear a chick screaming and saw its mum high up on a branch. I ran to get the machete and Danilo climbed the tree, stopping after a few feet so that I could pass him the machete.

We have a black hen, who had five chicks and she would spend the day in our garden and then take the chicks to roost in the wood at night. She was sitting on a branch making a hell of a racket while next to her, the snake was eating her chick and she was desperately trying to peck the snake to death, with zero success. Danilo got up into the tree, around 15 feet up, and promptly dropped the machete, so I passed him a stick and he proceeded to try and kill the snake with the stick.

Mother hen flew off with her two remaining chicks, I was in charge of shining the torch and the neighbours appeared at the fence to see what was going on. I asked one to come and help and he said no, that he was scared of snakes!

It took a few minutes, and normally we never kill snakes but when they start eating the chickens it has to be done.

The snake was dead and once it dropped to the ground we could see that it was a Hispaniola Boa Constrictor. And not a small one at that.

Apparently where there is one snake there are more, and Danilo assures me he can smell one (??!!) and it smells like a big one, in the area near one of the chicken runs, so we wait for another night. Apparently they feed at night as that is when the hens and chicks are up in the trees.

Meanwhile, the black hen is down to two chicks, and she very sensibly now brings them to sleep in the cellar, which is becoming a tad overcrowded at night.

She also has a couple of roosters as security guards - one on each side of her and chicks. Meanwhile Sprout is also in the cellar with her brood at night and in the day she potters around the garden with them.

However, she has developed a nasty habit of trying to fly into the house. Firstly she flies up closer to one of the windows and then tries to actually fly into the house. Here you can see she has flown up onto the top of the cellar door and then tried to make it in through the window.

I had no idea turkeys could fly but if you have never had a turkey flying around your house, you have no idea the noise they make. They are like bloody helicopters. Here is a video so you can see what a mean.

On the political front, no news which I suppose is no surprise. It appears that the companies who will carry out the research have still not been selected, so we still need to wait and see what will happen.