Well I’d like to tell you that this is shot taken with my camera but it’s not. But we are pretty damn sure that one or more of these rascals has been visiting us recently at night. We had our neighbour P and her house guests James and Mary Lou over for drinks the other night and when ML went outside for a smoke she was convinced that she saw a large shape run off into the nearby bushes. The other night we were returning home from dinner out. I went round the back to open the door. We have no lights outside and it was pitch black – I was using the lit screen from my mobile phone to find the lock for the key – when I heard the sound of a largish animal running past and off into the nearby undergrowth….I nearly cacked my pants.
Of course it could have been a dog or large cat. But next morning we found large ruts in the garden where we’d recently cleared the area. Some animal had been rooting around and had made a right old mess. We then found cloven hoof prints in the ashes bed where we’d burnt off all the grass/weeds etc. Big ones. Far larger than a deer’s for example. Anyway deer don’t dig huge holes in the ground. Here’s the hoof marks:
My son-in-law thought they might be after the acorns which fall from the oak tree, which is possible but would they need to dig so deep for them? We’d also been digging up some of the weed-trees which shoot up everywhere here and grow really fast – the abandonned garden next door has trees double the size of our 3 storey house so they can be a real nuisance. I thought they may be after the soft roots which became broken off. But as we’ve dug more of these things out we’ve noticed a mass of bean-like bulbs beneath the surface which these trees must shoot from. Thousands of them. I’m sure the boar are after these – and they’re welcome to them.
Yesterday C and I finished clearing the really dense patch of land deep in the olive grove heading towards our oak tree. It’s been a 6ft jungle ever since we bought the place and now it’s clear. This is a shot of the area taken a few days ago. We actually managed to get to those olive trees in the background and prune/harvest them but it’s a reptile’s haven in there and I was never comfortable wading about in it.
It was really hard work but so satisfying to get it done at last. No hiding place for the reptiles but it looks like I’ve created a bloody Italian smorgasbord for the local hogs. I’m sure the porker will have been back overnight to snaffle up all the bean bulbs we dug up – I’ll take some more shots if he has.
Meantime I want to tell you about my new tool which has been brilliant in digging up these useless trees. It’s like a wide-bladed pickaxe. You see them on news reports from Africa of people tilling the soil. I bought it because whilst we were away we had two things pinched from our garden – a spade and a trampoline which we use by the pool as a make-shift spring board. I’m glad that was all that disappeared – it could have been far worse – but disappointed that it happened. Our reception here has been nothing but friendly and welcoming. I’m absolutely sure it’s some bloody ex-pats not locals who nicked them because few Italians have pools and they never seem to use spades – they have wide shovels for snow etc and triangular pointed spades but not the oblong shaped flat edge-bladed spade. They use this tool I’ve got for digging. All the action comes from the shoulders and arms rather than the more powerful legs as with the spade. I wouldn’t like to dig a trench with it but it’s more useful at getting beneath things like weed clumps, roots etc. It’s got the word bellota on the tool but I think that must be a brand name. Anyway I know you must be dying to see it so here’s a shot of my new mate having a well-earned rest:-
Having got this I feel like a true paesano now – and yesterday I looked every inch of one. Not a pretty sight. The day before ML and P came round and took discreet pictures of me in my sweaty togs, strimmer in hand, face mask on attacking the jungle. They are going to put prints up at the door to ward off evil spirits and wild animals. Ha ha. I just hope I’m clutching my bellota if the boar ever decides to have a face to face about who really owns the plot of land. Bring it on porkmeister.