12.10.38

A lot cooler. No snow now visible on the Atlas, but perhaps obscured by clouds.

Have installed the hens & goats. Hens about the size of the Indian fowl, but of all colours, some with a species of topknot, white ones very pretty. These are supposed to be laying pullets but have not laid yet. Twelve brought crammed together in two small baskets, then sent on donkey back about 5 miles, at the end of which one fowl was dead, apparently pecked to death by others. They appear not to like maize, probably not used to it, or possibly when unbroken it is too big for them. Arabs always keep them in completely grassless runs. Tried giving them some green stuff at which they pecked not very enthusiastically. Hope they may take to it later.

Goats are tiny. Searching all over the market could not find any of decent size or with large bags, though one does see some not actually bad goats in the flocks that graze on the hillsides. The breed here is very shaggy and tends to get its coat dirty. Of ours one, a tiny red goat, is evidently about to kid soon. The other, somewhat larger, supposed to be in milk, but doubt whether she will give more than 1/2 pint a day at first. After feeding up for 10 days probably a pint. Arabs all scandalized at the idea of giving grain of any kind to goats. Said we should only give them grass. If given grain they drink enormously & swell up. Quite good chopped fodder (lucerne I think) sold in the bazaar for 10c. a bunch. One franc’s worth should be enough for 2 goats for a day so far as green food goes. Gave them for their first meal mixture of barley & bran. They had perhaps not seen such a thing before & took no notice of it. Then later smelt it & got to work on it. Goats here do not object to eating off the ground. They are very shy but being so small are easy to handle & do not try to use their horns. They are gentle with each other & do not quarrel over food. Were taken to house in panniers one on each side of a donkey, the donkey’s owner sitting in the middle.

The only form of mash given to fowls here is bran. Grocers here, & apparently everyone else, have never heard of suet – ie. for use in puddings etc.

M. Simont’s¹ oranges just beginning to ripen. Dates not ripe, but rather dry & poor. Walnuts very poor. Pomegranates exquisite colour inside. The reason why so many dates are gathered when bright yellow is said to be that they are a kind which is used for cooking.

Curiously enough, among the general misery of the animals here, the sheep are very good. They are a long-tailed kind, fairly large, apparently fat (the mutton is quite good & tender) & with very thick, firm coats. They are very docile & tend to huddle all together in a bunch, which makes them easy to manage. When buying a sheep a man carries it across his shoulders, where it lies completely docile like a large slug. A man will ride a bicycle holding a sheep like this.

¹ M, Simont, the butcher, owned the villa the Orwells rented from 15 October. It was set in an orange grove. Peter Davison

*To see a list of the Orwells’ purchases, click here.

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12 Responses to 12.10.38

  1. Daniel says:

    “Twelve brought crammed together in two small baskets, then sent on donkey back about 5 miles, at the end of which one fowl was dead, apparently pecked to death by others”.

    Must’ve sucked to have been a chicken then and there.

  2. Jordi Fibla says:

    My own oranges, now bigger than a tennis ball but not yet the size of a golf ball, are just getting yellow. Looking at them through my study window, I can feel for a moment in Mr Orwell shoes 70 years ago, although about 1000 miles North from his villa rented amid an orange grove. Should I have a goat and a couple of pullets running about the premises, the illusion would be complete. But things are wondrous enough as they stand.

  3. the ridger says:

    “completely docile like a large slug” – what an image!

  4. Michael says:

    I spent one of the most formative periods of my life in Marrakesh and have long been a fan of Mr. Orwell. Imagine my delight at having stumbled across this diary and its following! Where to begin? I want only to thank the organizers and the family of the author for doing this.

    I wonder whether his repeated references to Arabs are, in fact, Arabs, or whether he is referring to Berbers or to Moroccan residents generally. Apologies if this has been clarified already in the daily discussions.

  5. Dominic says:

    “completely docile like a large slug”

    I’ve never seen a wooly slug. Do you suppose Mr. Orwell was describing a sheep clipped of its wool?

  6. Sir Alphonso says:

    Maybe he was describing a sheep that turned into mush.

  7. Sir Alphonso says:

    Woops, meant to say, “turned into mush when it got salt poured on it.”
    There goes my hilarious joke.

  8. Andrew says:

    michael-
    most of the discussion of cultural differences have been in the order of arabs/jews/europeans. i can’t recall having seen mention of the berbers specifically – i figure in orwell’s context, ‘arabs’ just means the non-european, non-jew locals… i may have glossed over something, though–

  9. When Orwell described carrying sheep draped over the shoulders, it put me in mind of figures in a Christmas creche. They seem to usually include (mine does) a shepherd carrying a sheep just that way. Unexpected, satisfying connection.

  10. Pingback: Nibbles: Link, Mango, Chickens, Apples, Urban, Aquaculture, More chickens at Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

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  12. Pingback: 18.10.38 « THE ORWELL PRIZE

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