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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Busy, busy, busy

There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day at the moment. We are well into the planting season over here so trying to keep weeds manageable at the same time as we prepare beds for seeds and put in supports and dig trenches....actually Dave does all the heavy stuff and I come along and plant, or stay in and cook if it is too hot outside and go out later to sow, weed and water. The neighbours have started to plant tomatoes out inder plastic, which gets another layer in the form of blankets or carpet to keep the heat in at night. I am trying not to panic, it is still only the beginning of April and I am sure my tomatoes will catch up once they get planted out later in the month. Dave is still digging trenches for the next batch of plantings, with encouragement from Venka who , with mime, is indicating that the edges of mounded earth should be firmer (and tidier I think!) Today we have planted a Bramley apple tree, a bit of a long term project and a bit worrying as the tree was expensive at the equivalent of nearly twenty pounds.

The veggies are romping away, the potatoes will soon need earthing up, the peas have their nets put in place and the broad beans are a good few inches high. From other seeds we have parsnip, beetroot and carrots showing. We will be sowing beans next week, runners, climbing French and borlotti, as well as the local yellow bean. Also Dave has taken my 'seed' bed back from the chickens and hopefully they will have got rid of at least some of the bugs. It is all rotovated and raked ready for salad leaves, radish, spring onions, chard and spinach. I just hope it rains. The well pump is still at the menders and there is a huge amount of garden to water with a can.

The flowers have changed a bit too, as well as the very fragrant narcissus we have tall white flowers which on googling seem to be giant snowdrops, or spring snowflake. There are lots of anemones on their way out, all different colours, peonies are budding up and the red tulips are different now, a rounded shape rather than pointed. Venka gave us some canna lilies to put in and we have bunched all five together. In the wild there are lots of flowers appearing too and alpine strawberries.
Five cannas from Venka

Peony in bud

Snowflake, eighteen inches high

And in the wild

Alpine strawberry

At the river,

An egret

Looks like the stork is sitting

We are hoping we are over the problems with chicks. The new blue eggs are not looking too hopeful and the maran eggs we ordered have not materialised, so we will stick with shumen for now. There are two chicks with the maran chicks, both girls, four younger ones, seven eggs under Cagney and twelve in the incubator. Sevi and his girls seem to be giving us just about 100% fertile eggs, so fingers crossed the electricity and incubators will do their stuff this time. The chicks we have now are all spoken for.

Dave has turned over the house hen run and the ladies had a whale of a time hunting out grubs and worms, and those pesky mole crickets. Dust bathing has taken on a whole new meaning as the ground is so dry, and Cagney has a really good 'soak' when she is turfed off her eggs for food, water and exercise. Even the little ones are enjoying it. They have been out as the temperatures have been in the mid twenties, and you can't put the marans out without their little friends or they all get really distressed at the separation. Of course it will be a while before the tinies get out.

Very happy hunting ladies

Cagney having her lovely bath

We had to take the car to the garage last week. The exhaust came apart and the window washer pump wasn't working. This situation is one we dread as the car is a major cost out here. Dave went off for a walk into town while the garage did their stuff (and got me more wild garlic) and to make sure he had plenty of money to pay for the repairs. He was shocked when he was presented with the came to 70 leva, about thirty quid. What a lovely surprise! And to think we have been without windscreen washer most of winter because of the worry about cost.

Two commissioned paintings have been delivered this week. A large tiger picture for a birthday pressie for the man who has everything, delivered to a cafe in town where friends were having lunch. They must have been happy as they have ordered another small picture. Also a dog portrait for friends in the village..  And another personalised card We went to the car boot sale today with Dave's picture board, cards and home made biscuits and there was a lot of interest in the pictures, by British and Bulgarians, with a couple of people particularly interested in the painting of the lion, Tejas. All the biscuits went and a few cards. But the weather was dull, cool and drizzly and the sale was very slow to start, added to that it was the first one in the village and not all promised sellers or buyers turned out. We had to keep everything in the car most of the time. We were parked next to the people who run next week's sale which was very useful as we could pick their brains as to what might sell. It seems anything home made in the way of food is popular. Also they speak Bulgarian, very useful.

The biscuits, with small samples for people to try

Our stand
It seems we have a resident nightingale in the garden. It's pure song is an absolute pleasure, but not sure if it would be if the windows were wide open all night, it is too cold overnight for that. We are still waiting for the migrant orioles to return though.
A new dog has appeared in the village. It seems everyone likes him and I must admit he/she is very appealing. Bella and it have hit it off and the other day I let Bella out after Dave had gone in to town, then realised he had left the gates open. Bella's friend was outside and that was an excuse for the onset of sudden deafness as she joined her friend. However she soon chickened out and came back. I am not trying to cast aspersions on the mutt, but Bella had her first tick after this, not bad going as ticks are a bit of a problem with all the street dogs and animals wandering about.
Bella's pal

Bella's hungry tick, it didn't get chance for a meal
In the kitchen I set about using the two bags of ransomes Dave brought back from Kaufland. I made a banitsa, a pie made with greens and white cheese in filo pastry. For greens I used a mix of he ransomes (wild garlic) and chard from the garden. A couple of spoons of thick yoghurt and a couple of eggs and there was a pie for now and next day's lunch and two small ones for the freezer, handy to grab if we decide to pop out with the cameras.
Chard and ransomes

Local Sirene cheese, like mild feta, just over two quid a kilo

The rest I used in garlic butter and walnut and garlic pesto for the freezer, with a bit for some pasta tonight...yum, also a bit for some smoked mackerel pate.
Walnut and garlic pesto in an ice cube tray

Wild garlic butter

Smoked mackerel pate
And finally, friends.
Pearl and Millie

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