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Saturday, 31 May 2014

The weather has caught up with us

It had to happen. Most of Europe seems to have had a milder and drier winter than usual, but now rain, and worse, huge hail stones, are causing havoc here in Bulgaria.

We had a lovely spring, with fruit and nut trees setting well and it looked like being a good year again. But it was very dry and we have been watering for a while and wishing for a little rain. You know that old saying? Be careful what you wish for? It was bound to happen, other parts of the continent have been having floods for a while. We are relatively lucky here, but half an hour, and even less, from here people have been flooded, the river Yantra is swollen and looking dangerous, no doubt impacting on nesting birds such as kingfishers. There are rivers running down the roads in villages, many of which have no mains drainage. A friend of our's who lives further up the mountains has posted photos of huge hailstones which have not only damaged cars and properties, but wrecked fruit and nut trees and crops in fields. With barley already turning yellow there is not the suppleness there to help it right itself. Even here there are branches on the roads from just rain and wind. It is a sad situation for those living in rural areas who rely so heavily on the trees in their gardens and planted veggies to not only feed them through the year but also bring in a little income to help with utilities. We are told we have another ten days of thunderstorms with rain and hail, I hope the weather forecast is wrong as it usually is, but often the only time they get it right is if it is going to be bad.

So here on our little plot we are in a very soggy, muddy situation. We have had small damage in comparison to some, just a few broken plants, rather a lot of fruit and nut fall, and unfortunately the loss of one of Cagney's chicks. We have no idea why, but they are very independent and wander off all over the garden...although they also go with Cagney when she lays if they happen to be around. But they have taken no notice of the weather though there are plenty of places to go to keep dry. Now, we could try keeping all of them in somewhere, but I am not sure if that is fair. One day they will be big enough to be stopped by the fence, but they forage in the garden all day at the moment and they are developing into really tough little birds. They have never been confined and to do so now would not be best for them, they are fully feathered and we have no idea if it was the weather or not. It's sad to lose one, but it had a nice, if short, life.

So why are we in here mum?

Can anyone join in?

Bit crowded in here. Can't you kids go out to play?
The geese, however, have had a change of house. They had outgrown the nursery shed and as they are growing so fast and feathering up it was time for their own pad. So they have moved to the garage where they can be confined with plenty of space when the weather is so bad they would be paddling in mud. They have the best of food and graze as much as they want, whether on the lawn, round the wilder parts of the garden or out on the lane. But they have to taste everything and my poppies have become must-have grab and go snacks. Dave tries to move them past as fast as he can but they are like naughty kids. It can be a problem though. One managed to find some twine and got it firmly wrapped around it's tongue. There is all sorts of stuff buried in the garden and unfortunately the chooks unearth undesirable things from time to time. So out came the scissors and a very relieved gosling went off to tell it's friends all about it's adventure. The same gosling later got it's head through the fence and couldn't work out how to get out. Kids!

One other side effect of all the rain is the rate that veg are growing, courgettes have to be picked every day or we have marrows. I am having difficulty keeping up with peas, mange tout an sugarsnaps and have lots of all three in the freezer to perk up winter meals. The Bulgarian peas have almost finished now but the British ones have started and seem huge after the petit pois. We have also got plenty of broad beans now so will be starting to freeze those today. The spinach which had started to go to seed has perked up. I have been chucking the seeding ones in to the chooks but now the chicks  are chomping on the fresh growth which means we have spinach to eat with chunks taken out of the leaves. Carrots and beetroot are swelling well too. So many lovely veggies. Heaven. And the potatoes....they are better and fresher than any expensive Jerseys, absolutely delicious.
The smaller courgettes, the big ones went to chook and gosling

So, hopefully the plants which have suffered will perk up again, the nicotiana are so fragile but will re-generate. The sunflowers will hopefully stand up, the courgettes lost some leaves but that will not slow them down, the big hydrangea will have to be cut back again as it did last year, and will be split into smaller, more manageable plants...though four bits were chopped off and re-planted last year before it was cut to the ground and it has come back just as big with just as many flowers this year.
Poor hydrangea, such a flop

My gorgeous rose, all soggy and ruined

Flattened sunflowers

Broad beans bent over

The first poppy chose now to bloom

Dave is feeding the bees every day too as they are not getting out and about as they should. Luckily sugar is cheap. When they do go out they are very busy though, coming back laden with pollen.
Of course, being confined to the house, it would have been a good opportunity to get some chutney made or cakes baked for the freezer, but with the electricity going of at intervals I decided being lazy for a couple of days was a better option. But I did put in a lemon surprise pudding...the biggest surprise being that it was orange! And lovely it was too. And Venka has been busy with the jam pan and sent us some strawberry jam, I didn't mention I had just made six jars.

And finally, one very small moth who took shelter from the rain. Tiny but incredibly intricate, just look at that fringe!


  1. It seems it is feast or famine where rain is concerned -- always too much or too little. Still, it seems that you are harvesting a lot from your garden. We have flood warnings today, too, my back garden is afloat, and water has come into my basement.
    Too bad about your chick. Your comments from the one who joins Mum for the daily egg-laying made me laugh!

  2. Hi,
    I've enjoyed reading your blog, from start to finish. What an interesting year you have had.

    1. Thank you Lynne. It has certainly been interesting, I don't know how we would cope with 'normal' life in the UK now. There is still so much to learn, major things this year being language (sooo hard) and pickling. And I am starting to realise that the warm and wet weather is starting to have an affect on the health of the crops in the garden, with fungal infections and rot starting to show. Hey ho, we have hopefully planted too much so can afford to lose some. But the weather is quite unusual this year it seems.