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  • Anna


Life is full of ups and downs, some major and some minor! Nonetheless we aim for harmony and balance and, more often than not, we are able to achieve it. But currently life in the Alentejo and the greater part of Portugal is not achieving balance or harmony with its weather.

If we were on holiday then the endless days of glorious sunshine, the lack of any noticeable winter and total lack of rain would be a delight. However, we are not on holiday and the ramifications of these three things have far reaching, detrimental effects.

Our gorgeous piggies are fed with special pignuts containing all the various minerals and vitamins they need to keep them in good condition. Add to this the Pig Bucket of kitchen scraps, ranging from fruit, veggie peelings and salad leaves and you would think them contented porcas! But nonetheless, they do enjoy a blade of grass or two. They enjoy turfing up soft, rain sodden earth with their noses to prise out bugs of different shapes and sizes. They relish the feeling their trotters sinking into mud, rather than clattering on hard baked earth and the opportunity to wallow in a muddy puddle is an unsurpassable joy. But, all these pleasures have been denied them in recent months.

You could count on one hand the number of days that rain has fallen since September. The ground is hard, the dust rises in the haze of sunshine as though it were mid-summer and there is barely a blade of grass to be seen. Indeed the pigs spotted a blade or two on the other side of the fence and uprooted said fence, in order to squeeze their noses under the wire to grasp the blade with their teeth. The gap was sufficient for the remaining piglets, of which there are now four, to take the opportunity to squish flat and manoeuvre themselves under the dislodged wire before scampering out onto the track in search of anything that looked remotely green. Leaving their mother’s languishing in the dust bowl.

The seven pound hammer and lots of swearing followed the intrepid escape from Alcatraz, as we endeavoured to restore the boundary. Finally the watering can was enlisted to soak the ground in order to enable any chance of success. But water is so scarce that you hardly dare waste it on such measures – but needs must.

Fortunately we were given some straw at the end of last year, which as you will see from the video, provides a certain amount of entertainment along with some nourishment of a different source. But with no grass grazing for herds of sheep, cows or horses straw is a main source of food for which the farmers are paying dearly for anything of any nutritional value.

As I write this I see the start of drizzle and hold my breath for the hope of rain promised today. I am now truly grateful for any morsel of dampness, from drizzle to a thunderstorm whatever comes is wonderful so long as it is wet!

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