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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Pumpkins and squash.

All last week Venka was collecting squash from our garden, and we ducked out of sight in case she sent any in our direction......

But the other day harvesting began in earnest. Pallets were laid in a sunny spot and Venka, Jordan and Dave started collecting. There were more shapes and sizes than we thought, but luckily you don't get huge amounts to a plant. When they finished they had a lovely mound of fruits, a sight worthy of a still life painting. They will stay there till frost threatens, at least a month, to ripen, then be stored in the cellar. And yes, some will be coming to our cellar. I like pumkin and squash, but not all the time.
Dave has now started on the huge task of clearing the land ready for us to take control. Of course, he has to do it all NOW! We have moved the fence which keeps the dogs in 'our' side so that the dogs have more space. Bella is helping, and after a mad five minutes lies down to supervise. When she is totally exhausted she hangs out on the back of the sofa where she can see what is going on through the window.

I have started to harvest the kale, eating some and freezing some. Not sure I need to freeze brassicas, after all there are fifty cabbage and thirty-ish broccoli out there as well as the kale. We have also had more beans, chard and some baby beets, and I have made a batch of herb butter for the freezer, using chervil and chives planted after we arrived. It is lovely to eat stuff we have planted ourselves.

And talking of butter, I have managed to skim off enough cream from the farm milk to make a small pat of salted butter. And small though it was, it was yummy. I just wish I could find cream. The old couple who supplies the milk also makes sirens cheese and yoghurt, but no cream.

I have started making my own sirene (like feta) as milk is so cheap, but although it is nice enough, it needs some tweaking to get more flavour into it. I will persevere. I have tried pressing it hard and leaving it for a couple of weeks too, and it makes a crumbly cheese, a bit like Wensleydale, but lacking flavour. More research needed.

We had a bit of wind a couple of days ago which knocked off a load of next door's pears which were hanging over our chick shed. We will see which ones come out with a bruise and do something with the rest. They are a bit hard yet, but as soon as they ripen a bit I will bottle some.

The four Shumen chicks are doing really well, Solo has reverted to chick behaviour rather than admiring herself in the mirror. Unfortunately the yellow chick didn't make it, but as it came out of an egg from a young hen who had just started laying I suppose it isn't a shock. And we don't really want to breed backyard chickens anyway, they are just for house eggs.
DIY is carrying on apace, always some little job to do. A floorboard replacement (hope the woodworm is historic) lips to be put on doors to direct the rain away, everything treated with woodworm treatment just in case, painting, painting, painting, all doors and windows need preparing and painting before winter. Unfortunately the people who did them last time just painted over flaking paint, and they really need stripping completely, but we can live with a bit of a rough finish so a good going over with a wire brush and rub down with sandpaper will do.

The nights are noticeably cooler now, which is a relief, not least because one of the local bars has started to play loud music till two or three in the morning, keeping the whole village awake, so we need to be able to close the windows for four hours. It's not every night, but I can't see the villagers putting up with it for long, most of them are early risers. It is easier to sleep with the lesser temperatures though, we are still only using sheets. The days are still hot and though I was painting well before nine this morning, I was sweating like a pig. ('Scuse the mental image!) The long range forecast is more of the same, with a bit of dampness, really needed, next week, but temperatures not due to drop below 20 till the 17th September. Then they will go up again.

Still loving it.

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