Life On The Farm Part 4 - Clive And June's Story

Published on 31/03/2009 in Expat Life

Junes dogsOur life here in Spain has not always been a bed of roses, we have had our fair share of tragedies and disasters along the way.

A year after her arrival our lovely little dog Paja was killed on the road outside our house.

When it happened I ran next door to Remes and Gracia in tears and was given a cup of chamomile tea.  Remes helped me pick poor Paja off the road and we buried her in the garden.  I was upset for weeks afterwards, missing her funny little face and character.

Clive then had a head on collision with a lorry and wrote his car off.  Luckily he was not hurt.

Worst of all, our house caught fire, after we had very stupidly gone out and left a fire burning in the hearth.  We got back to find the house full of thick black smoke and an armchair and wall by the fire still smoldering.  Our lovely parrot, Oscar, was dead at the bottom of her cage but incredibly, all our other animals were outside – an amazing piece of luck as in the cold weather they are normally snuggled up indoors.

We comfort ourselves in the fact that poor Oscar wouldn’t have suffered, but it is a terrible loss, as she had been part of our family for about 15 years, since we were given her by Clive’s mum, when she herself moved to Spain. Janet had rescued her from a pet shop in the Isle of Man as she looked so sad and had a broken wing and no feathers. Oscar said hundreds of words, all in our voices, she was just like a little person.

I had never been happy about her boring little life, though, and have tried to convince myself that she is better off dead as she could have lived in her little prison for another fifty years!. She was stuck in her cage, day after day, with only the rare taste of freedom if Clive or one of the boys had time to let her out.  She loved to stand on their shoulders and snuggle up to their face, or feed their fingers as if they were her babies.  She hated women though and though I was the one that fed her and cleaned her out I got no thanks for it and she loved to peck my fingers (while at the same time saying ‘ooh! you bugger’ in Janets voice!).

The house was a terrible mess after the fire, the smoke had even got inside the fridge. Nothing was spared and the clean up operation was huge.  Our friends and family were amazing though and helped for days on end with the cleaning and re-decorating.  The Spanish insurance company was not so helpful though – we eventually had to settle for a payout of only about half of our loss.  Needless to say, we have now changed insurance companies and use a fire guard!

Junes dogsLife carries on.  A few months after Paja died I persuaded Clive to let me get another rescue dog, so we got ‘Scruffy’ – a worthy replacement.  Then a few months after that little Suzy was dumped outside our house, skin and bone and a shivering wreck.  Clive was persuaded again and Suzy became a very grateful member of the family.  We think she was a hunting dog that perhaps was abandoned because she was no good, as she is terrified of guns and bangs and even if you swat a fly on the wall, she runs and hides.

Thunderstorms traumatise her completely, and she occasionally has epileptic fits which are very unpleasant to witness but I am assured by the vet are not a problem.  She is a funny little character and likes to be carried like a baby.  She gets very jealous if I give any other animal attention as she is so desperate for love.  She is very kind with smaller animals though, and will allow the cats and kittens to play with her and groom her and she has even been known to suckle our kittens and baby goat (another story!)

Elizabeth also had her Christmas present from my parents ‘Phoebe’, the little white ferret who has the sweetest nature and lives loose in Elizabeth’s bedroom, sleeping in a drawer.

Poor Elizabeth has to hang a spare quilt cover down from her high cabin bed so that Phoebe can climb up and get in bed with her.  If she doesn’t do this, Phoebe trashes her bedroom at 5am to get attention!

As well as Simba, our big English ginger tom, we gained Rambo, as a little ginger kitten.  He lives up to his name as he is very sweet and loving and licks your nose – before taking a chunk out of it! Another of our cats is Buffy (as in the vampire slayer) who came to us one Halloween (hence the name).  I was out riding when this tiny little tabby kitten, no more than eight weeks old, started following me.  When I arrived home, approx. two miles later, she was still with me so of course she had to stay.  Our latest addition to the cat family is Spike. He is a gorgeous little grey kitten with stripy legs.  Clive found him in a basura on his way home from work (again on Halloween – spooky!)

Junes parrotOf course Suzy has taken him under her wing and he is a very spoilt little kitten!
We were very keen from the start to have free range hens, so once we had sorted out suitable night time accommodation for them they duly arrived.  Scruffy thought Christmas had come early and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to chase them. 

We also discovered that he could get through the hole into the chicken shed.  Luckily we soon taught him that he wasn’t allowed and we haven’t had a problem with him since. Our other big worry was remembering to shut them in at night and sadly one night we forgot with tragic consequences – we woke up in the morning to find them all dead and scattered around the field – clearly a fox had been to visit.  It was very upsetting.

We quickly replaced them but we always have the worry that one day we will forget again – we need to invent a door that automatically closes at night.  Meanwhile they run free, wreaking havoc on my precious garden, but looking so comical that I could never bring myself to fence them in. One of these days when I’m digging over the garden I am going to accidentally chop one of their heads off as they are always pecking the freshly dug soil for worms. 

The only other worry we have had with them is chicks – that is definitely a learning curve.  It was exciting the first time we realised that we had a broody hen, but we soon discovered that every time a new egg was laid she gathered it into her collection and soon had too many.  We decided to put a cross on the eggs she had already and remove any subsequent ones – not as easy as it sounds.  I am ashamed to admit that we did serve up a half boiled chick for breakfast! 

We learned by our mistakes and the next time we had a broody hen we separated her until the chicks hatched and were big enough to go in with the others.  The worrying doesn’t stop there though, as you then have to decide when they are big enough to go out.  One year when the chicks were running around outside two eagles started circling overhead.  Luckily I was outside with them at the time and was able to protect them but it was quite worrying at the time.

One of the hens got caught in a stampede in the horses field and just curled up under her wings and gave up.   When I rescued her she had a broken leg but apart from that was fine.  Our friend Sue is a nurse so she came round to have a look and we put a splint on the leg, not really feeling very hopeful.  I kept her in a stable for three weeks and after that she was fine, she didn’t even have a limp!ught in a stampeed e and was able to protect them but it was quite worrying at the time. 

Of course now, with the recession affecting everyone, life is very difficult.  With so many animals to care for the financial burden is huge and with our income cut dramatically due to holiday bookings being down, and Clive having no building work, it is an incredibly worrying time.  At the moment we are just trying our best to keep going, and keeping our fingers crossed every day that a holiday booking will come in, or Clive will get some work. 

We just have to hope that things improve soon.  If anyone reading this is interested in doing some horse riding, or knows any one that might be interested in a holiday with us, with our without riding, then please get in touch.  Our website is  Phone number 660294457.

If you have any building, maintenance, painting or landscape gardening work needing doing in the Malaga/Granada area, then please call Clive on 639351889.    

 To be continued…………….

Written by: June Wolfe

About the author:About the author: If we can be of help with anything to do with living in Spain, caring for animals etc please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help.

Phone  June on 952 111 569 or 660294457  e-mail  see the animals on our website -

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