Potato field

Potato field

“Aiii Jabali!..” Villager O wails. “Aiii Jabali…this monster will be the end of me. Oh it will be, I tell you it will. Have you seen what it’s done? Why me?” She’s got a small hoe in her hand, and with an exasperated look on her face she climbs over the barbwire fence.

Jabali; Wild boar.

I find it a bit odd that villagers use the Spanish word Jabali for wild boar, and not its Galego equivalent, which is Xabarin. But it surely came in handy for this A to Z challenge.

“It’s destroying all the lameiros, the grassland.” Indeed it is. Patches of tusk-ploughed-over earth visible in the grass behind her. She’s just been trying to undo the damage, flattening the dug up patches. “And where does it enter the field?” she asks,herself and me. It’s only a small patch of land.

I crouch down at the barbed-wire fencing looking for evidence. Some hairs. But unless there is an albino Jabali around, it is more likely to be the  hairs of one of her dogs, I deduct.

In the corner of the fenced-off plot are some brambles, it could have barged itself through there. Or maybe this Jabali is the showjumping variety.

“I think it’s hiding in there.” with a jerk of her head she indicates the overgrown plot a bit higher up, with brambles that thick it resembles dunes, new ones having attacked themselves to old ones. “We’d need to burn that lot down to be honest.” she says.

We both walk back to the village when we see villager C and her husband. Villager O uses the opportunity to Jabali-wail at them too. C shrugs her shoulders. “You’re not the only one, the Jabali doesn’t care whose land it is. In one of my plots it’s dug holes assi grande, this wide,” she stretches out her arms as wide as she can, “Filled with water.” She shakes her head. “A jabali with a luxurious taste, wanting his own swimming pool.” I joke. I get a wry smile in return.

“It’s been down the fonte too. God help you if you want to plant your potatoes there this year.” Villager O comments to me.

“If it ever dries out.” I remark. Nods from the others in reply.

Pretty much since moving here four years ago, I’ve been allowed to use a plot of land from one of the villagers down the fonte, where in the olden times the villagers used to get their water from. At the top of the area is still the old well, but it is no longer in use now. Due to recent horrid weather conditions and due to the fact the plot is low-lying, it’s turned into a swamp. I won’t be planting potatoes there any time soon.

“Maybe rice might be a better idea.” I ponder out loud. “We’ll turn the entire village into a rice plantation.”

We all laugh.

The wild boar problem, I found out to my surprise, is a relatively modern problem. In the past it wasn’t around that much because it simply didn’t have that much space to hide. Most areas were farmed and forests were kept clear of brambles and other invasive bushes. Times are different now. The Jabali has large areas to roam, hide and procreate. Although the hunt does catch them, they don’t catch the ones near the village.

“If it isn’t the government messing with our way of life, then it’s the Jabali making things impossible for us.” Enraged Enrique rants; “If only I could shoot the bastards!”  he refers to the Jabali. Or maybe the government too. He keeps an eye on his two cows which are grazing the verges of the lane. The village equivalent of taking your dogs for a walk and stopping to have a chat with the neighbours. “But there are laws. Laws to protect the Jabali. Laws, straight from Europe. And for what? Aren’t there enough of these bastards around already? You know what would happen if I’d shoot one of these bastards? I’d end up in jail! Isn’t that ironic? Who will protect us?” he rages.

I agreed with all he says.

I’ve been quite lucky these last few years, but I’ve experienced the boar devastating myself too. I had secured the fencing around the small plot at the fonte, even the bottom of the fences, with logs, otherwise, villagers had warned, the boar would just lift the wire, however thick. If there was a log horizontally at the bottom, and the wire secured to that, and that secured to the fence posts, then it would be far more difficult.

But the bastard got in anyway one day. As soon as I’d entered the plot I’d seen a large part of the plot ploughed over, the nearly ready for harvest potatoes all gone. He’d been digging away under the fence, had managed to snap the log and bend the wire.

You might think I’d  gotten angry, all that carefully tended crop destroyed, but I stood there in awe looking at what he’d done. And I smiled. It was natures way of telling me how strong it was. How difficult it was to defeat. And that gave me a kind of solace.

Stop it. I told myself. You’re not Paulo Bloody Coelho.

And I returned to the village, knowing I had been initiated into full peasantness and I now too could claim my right to wailing.  Aiiii Jabali…Aiii Jabali..

8 thoughts on “Jabali

    • Yes hugely determined..At the moment when going in the hills, it genuinely looks like it’s ploughed over whole plots…There used to be one at the edge of the village who wasn’t scared and on occasion you could see from the car! I’ve never encountered one walking though..

  1. Thought I’d got away it! Hadn’t though. Very moving finish. Seeing the devastation of your crop by the Jabali as an initiation into peasantry while accepting defeat graciously, brought a lump to my throat – again! Well done Barbara. Love your village tales. xxx

  2. We have wild pigs here on Maui too, but the deer are more of a problem. I can’t believe it’s illegal to shoot the jabali – that seems crazy. Pig hunting is a popular local activity, and the pigs are eaten. – Courtney @ mauijungalow.com

  3. My entire potato crop last year amounted to a cheque from the local hunt for 30 euros – compensation for the fact that the jabali destroyed it all! Like you, I found some solace in learning from the experience…..this year the hunt are lending me an electric fence. We’ll see if that works! It really is devastating after a lot of work. Makes you appreciate why small farmers need subsidies – if it’s not the jabali it’s the birds or the weather…..

  4. Pingback: K is for Knowledge | CHICADEROCK

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