Saturday, 4 June 2011

Abruzzo Diary of a Country Lady - Part 1

Chikita has just laid an egg!

I am awakened every single morning by the sound of vociferous crowing, not by a cockerel, but by the 4 chickens who happily reside "chez moi". I love this sound and it means they are so proud to have just laid an egg. I was delighted to be able to take this snapshot of Chikita who had just laid one of her fabulous daily white eggs. Berry is looking on waiting her turn to sit inside my plant tub that has now become the official laying area. The beautiful plant that used to reside here is no more, as it has been squashed mercilessly. This big green tub has also become the place for the cats to have a kip during the day. So all in all this area is now a centre of refuge, peace and calm for a lot of animals.

I saw one fleetingly the other day behind my pots and I let out a blood curdling scream, audible only to one man and many beasts.

"My dearest, what's up?" K asked casually as he ambled, yes, ambled towards the source of the screaming fit.

My face ashen white (slight embellishment here for dramatic effect), I pointed behind the pots next to the chicken pen.

"I've just seen a long black slithering hissing SNAKE!!"

" Yes, there are a lot in this area, you do know that, Jan, don't you??!!

Yes, I suppose I did, but at that particular moment, it didn't really help matters.

So where does one go from here? Does one abandon one's idyllic country lifestyle just due to a close encounter with one of its reptile residents?

The answer, of course, is No!! It's a part of the everyday mix of surprises and unexpected events that keep me fascinated with life in Abruzzo.

Every year in Cocullo, a village in Abruzzo, there is a festival in honour of snakes. Please read all about it in this Life In Abruzzo blog post "Getting Slippy at Cocullo Snake Festival". It's a fascinating read, and you will find out what an ophidiophiliac is!!!

Other Resident Reptiles
Image of toad found here:

The reptiles do not stop here, however. There are two resident toads who appear only at night time inside more of my pots. Yes, I can confirm they are ugly creatures, hence the term "as ugly as a toad". Now I can say that this comparative phrase is absolutely true.

I stared in utter fascination at a very unusual coloured toad sitting very comfortably and in a very relaxed state, right in the middle of one of my prized pots containing seedling carrots. On closer investigation, I discovered there was another toad buried underneath the soil under the top toad, so to speak.

If you are wondering what I am going to do with these carrot seedlings after being in such close proximity with 2 toads, I can confirm that I have chucked them into the compost bin and will start again from scratch. I don't think I would have the stomach to eat fresh carrots straight from a toad's mouth, would you??

Should I take a photo for posterity? The thought entered my mind. It was after midnight, the moon was shining bright ahead, and I was on my way to bed.

At this point I have to explain that my house is an old "casale" with living quarters downstairs (formerly the stables) and we have to go outside every night in order to get to the sleeping quarters. I find this is very quirky and I love it! It takes me almost an hour to get upstairs sometimes when I inspect each pot for the following creatures of the night:
  1. snails and
  2. slugs
I dutifully dispense of such creatures by genteely as befitting a country lady, flinging them back into the nature where they came from by means of a stick, which I always carry with me for such purposes. It's slightly tedious, but it's my routine now and I don't mind at all. .

Anyway, I digress!! Back to the toads!! I don't like them. They don't blink, they just stare ahead and I can't bring myself to hurl them genteely back into nature. I just can't. Full stop. Anyway, I have since found out that toads apparently eat slugs and snails, so now I'm thinking maybe that's not a bad thing.
In addition, if you would like to read about how toads can sense impending natural disasters such as the earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009, please click on the link from Italy Magazine called "Some croaking seismologists".

Fluffy Kittens
The 4 kittens are growing and are in a very playful stage. I love watching them gambol around and they are absolutely adorable. Samantha who is still a kitten herself, is a wonderful mother and I enjoy watching how she teaches her little ones to copy her. They don't mind being picked up and are already very sociable kittens, with very definite characters.

Feeding time

So, as you can see, my life is surrounded by many diverse animals here in the beautiful Abruzzo countryside. I am learning from them on a daily basis.

The "Abruzzo Diary of a Country Lady - Part 2" might be imminent soon. I just feel that EFL is only one part of my life. I would like to write more often about the other totally different side of my life here in Abruzzo. This is the only place for it on my blog.

Poppy field near home, photo taken on May 30th 2011
More about Beautiful Abruzzo
In my mind Abruzzo is Always Green! and More Abruzzo in the News
by the very informative About Abruzzo blog.

Chikita the Movie Star

Chikita proudly showing off the fact that she's just laid an egg!


Leahn said...

Hi Janet,

One of things I liked about your blog when I first started reading it, was the personal touch that you add with your stories about your life.

It makes a very welcome change to just ELT!



Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Leahn

Thanks for commenting here :-)
I also enjoy reading your stories of your life in the Canaries - as you say, it's nice to read extra things about someone as well.


Abruzzo Up n' Down said...

Hi again Janet,

I like so much each your post about Abruzzo! About the wildlife in Abruzzo and the snakes, I want to remind you that this year the Feast of Snake Catchers is on 1st May.
Are you planning to go there?

A presto!


Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Gianluca

Thank you for visiting my blog again. Lovely to see you. I'll put the date in my diary than hopefully wlll try to go to the Feast of Snake Catchers!

Warm wishes


Abruzzo Up n' Down said...

Ciao Janet,

so, we will meet there! It's a fantastic feast!

Janet, I put your link in my Friend Sites Page (you can find that here:

I will be happy if you will put our link ( your blog. It would be a great help for me!

Thanks in advance Janet.

I hope to meet you in Cocullo next month!

A presto


Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Gianluca

Thank you for adding my blog on to your very interesting site on Abruzzo, packed full with great information. My blog is more anbout teaching English for teachers and students, but I do try to write occasional posts about Abruzzo as well. I wll be happy to add your site onto my blogs on Abruzzo, so my readers can find out more information on this beautiful region!!

Hope to see you in Cocullo, if it is possible.

Kind wishes


Anonymous said...

I have been to abruzzo once before and definatley plant to go back again! Your blog is beautiful and very well written! Grazie Mile!


Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Emily

Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment. I am glad you liked Abruzzo - it is indeed a lovely region!

Where are you based in Italy?

Best wishes