The house is barely visible now, except through the windows of a light aircraft. By July I’ll be dragging a hose over rock solid rubble trying to resurrect green things and hoping the well doesn’t dry up. These days, I go to sleep at night wondering whether the vegetation will have broken through the foundation by morning. The track is undetectable, the donkey house, the hen house, and I forget what else is out there, all submerged along with wheelbarrows, loungers, shoes, shears, umbrellas, football, rolls of wire fencing and other white trash detritus. The wild flowers have trunks, the poppies are over my head; large animals have made tunnels. Tough grass is hoovering up the water and nutrients meant for the olives and orange trees.
It doesn’t seem right to measure the farm in acres; most of the growth is vertical. Each acre is 43,560 square feet, and the stuff growing on it is, on average 4 foot high. That equates to 174240 cubed feet of problem per acre. I watched Arturo fix an ancient tractor he bought secondhand in Seville. He made it look easy which obviously it isn’t. We don’t have a tractor. We do have a strimmer which is a bit like going to war with a peashooter, but after half a day of getting it to start it lasted precisely 6 minutes before giving off smoke and its bits melting, and so it’s currently in the probably can not be fixed pile in the shed. And I have a kind of scythe which I like using but which is slow and dangerous.
The obvious solution is to fight nature with nature. Juan, a sprightly 81, and father of every farmer in a 20-mile radius bar Fernando and Fernando’s cousin Fernando (and who, incidentally, once owned this house and land and therefore keeps a critical eye over proceedings), has located a small herd of sheep for me. Unfortunately what with the paperwork and everything, they are not going to be ready to make the journey from distant Olvera, until July when all the grass has dried up and become an unappetising fire hazard.
However, as an interim solution, Fernando has lent me Canalita and Saltalinda, his bolshy and belligerent donkeys. They arrived with Fernando and Fernando’s cousin Fernando, full of attitude last week, having finished all the grass on Fernando’s side of the fence. The difference to our own fields is so far imperceptible, although I did notice they had eaten a Cuidado con el Perro sign, part of a cat litter tray I’d left out to deter mice from the car, and a glove, and that they are considerably fatter.