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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Everything is upsidedown........

The building work is coming along slowly. There have been hitches, the latest being the springs going on the builder's pickup with the weight of materials, so they have had a couple of days off while it's fixed. Apparently not the first time! The walls are up so that Dave has to climb through the window aperture to get to our food store in the cellar. While the fence was down the other day Jordan took the chance to come over to chat with the builders while their boss was away, so now his curiosity is satisfied, helped along with Dave's mime of me having to climb the outside stairs in the winter every time I need the loo and slipping on the way down!The garden looks like a builders' merchant's! Except these builders actually use the ashtray provided. I wish they would clear up after themselves though, Bella keeps coming in with fag packets and beer bottles, and very pleased with them she is too!

The dogs have also discovered what is inside the stones which keep falling from the tree. They have developed a taste for walnuts. Bella brings them in to the house regularly and they are added to a pile if they are in one piece. It worries me a bit that Bonnie is spending so much time in that part of the garden, but that is partly because next door have cats who use our garden as a loo.....yeuch, dogs are so disgusting!

The chicks are all living together now, though not really in harmony. The bigger chicks give the smalls a bit of a hard time. There are three feeders and two water bowls in the shed but they still squabble. Generally though at feeding time they stick to their sides of the shed even though there is no barrier any more. The big chickens generally ignore the chicks now, though they will have a go if middle boy gets too big for his boots. They are all perching and although we have now switched off the red heat lamp they have a night light otherwise the tinies sleep on the floor, which we don't want them to do in the bitter weather. Meanwhile, the adults are looking decidedly moth eaten as they continue to moult. The pens look as if there has been a huge multi-coloured pillow fight!

One of the teenagers has discovered that there are treats available in the afternoon and has joined the big guys in the scramble for tasty morsels. They are not supposed to have anything other than chook food but out here you don't waste anything if you can help it, and with not having a pig they at least have a little of the waste bread and cooked veg. Only a little though.

Autumn continues despite the fantastic weather. The trees lining the roads are looking very bare now, in contrast to many of the fields which are sprouting lush green growth which due to the weather is looking very spring like. Even though winter is not far off it lifs you spirits to see it. There is a blue bloom to some hedging, the sloes have to be seen to be believed...but the best ones are always in places where you can't safely stop the car for a photo.

 Our village

We have had the garden ploughed. Angel came back from his grape picking in Italy earlier than we thought. The tractor and plough are a bit big for our small plot (he does contract work) and it took a bit of manoevering which has compacted the soil again. We are now looking at buying a rotovator. Venka took the chance to come over and inspect the veg. Dave has managed to get her to agree to take the giant cabbages, leaving the smaller ones for us. We are thinking of making a couple of bottles of sauerkraut just to show willing. It's supposed to be brilliant for the digestion. She is desperate to get our little patch cleared and suggested that it was time to bottle the leeks! I dug them all up and have frozen them all, so they are ready when we want them. We had some of the skinny ones last night, yummy.
 At last, the last batch....

 She can't get her head around the Tuscan kale, where you pick off the leaves as you want them and leave the rest to grow on. And the purple sprouting broccoli which will not be ready till next year. Leaving stuff in over winter is obviously not on! If they don't survive then so be it, but they are the biggest strongest plants I have ever grown. On the other hand the Bulgarians are planting lettuce by the dozen and make our twenty or so look a bit lost. Dave accidentaly 'weeded' out my land cress, bless him. He thought he was helping!.The beets, chard and carrots are growing fast while the weather is good, and we even have november roses.
 Dave had to hold the electric cable to the well pump out of the way....
 Bella keeping an eye on procedings from the bedroom...

 It's all too exhausting so a nap on the banned bed is in order. Don't think this is going to happen regularly girls! No dogs on bed please!

We found some sage and rosemary at the market the other day, really good plants which will have time to settle before the bad weather sets in. They cost less than three quid for the two. We made a mistake with parsnips though. We were so excited to see them as they are rare apparently, that we bought a kilo without asking how much. They were over three quid! I roasted them all and froze them, leaving the thin bits to have next day. But they were woody and fibrous and inedible. Another lesson!

I had a birthday on 31st (no witch jokes thank you) and Dave surprised me with a lovely bunch of flowers. He found a florist in our local town and they made it up for him with roses, carnations and chrysanths, with a froth of gypsophila. All carefully wrapped so that they could be put in water without changing the display or damaging the skirt..Venka also gave me a lovely bunch of chrysanths from her garden.
The day started with a lovely sunrise, which unfortunately didn't come out best on camera!

 And a lovely hand crafted card....

When the builders don't turn up for any reason I get to work making bread etc. The kitchen looks like a bakery sometimes.
And I have made the mincemeat. The recipe is very loosely based on Delia's cooked one, which ends up looking sludgy, but is in fact very good when made into pies. I use my own mix of fruit, whatever I have in the cupboard (this year, golden sultanas, jumbo raisins, a few currants, dried cranberries, cherries and walnuts) and no peel, I hate the stuff, but compensate with more orange and lemon zest.

We have been handed some pumpkins to put into the cellar. Luckily a more manageable amount than we feared, but still far more than we will ever eat. Not sure how Dave will get to the cellar but I'm sure he'll manage. I will bake one giant today and freeze the pulp in batches for future use. Will be trawling the internet for ideas.

The ladybirds are collecting in multicoloured groups for hiberntion. This little group will prevent us from finishing the painting on the landing. Still, there is always next year.
 All sorts of new critters are appearing, and we are told there will be some huge moths making an appearance soon. Can't wait.


  1. I wouldn't know where to start with a comment. There is so much in this blog. I love walnuts so envy the dog those. The building work will make a big difference I am sure in the winter so that's a good job done. Flowers always cheer you up on your birthday so good choice to Dave and they look gorgeous. You seem to have a good plan in place with what and when to sow so you should have more of a variety next year for your needs. We should like to see a photo of you dear Sara, as it looks as if Dave and the dogs are alone on this great adventure!! (I hate having mine taken too) but an occasional sighting would be nice. Lots of love Cindy XXXX

    1. You know me better than that Cindy! Anyway someone has to take the photos.
      The flowers were a total surprise, I had wondered why he was so long in town a couple of days before.