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Thursday, 5 June 2014

No bed of roses

It might seem, sometimes, that almost everything here in Bulgaria is good and great. But it is not always the case, and the last week or so has been a real downer.

The weather continues to be wet and with it comes problems. I touched on this in my last post and things are not getting any better yet. After the death of the little chick, a couple of days later another one disappeared. We have no idea what happened but it is always a problem when little ones have freedom. They had plenty of cover in the veggies, this also means that cats have cover too. We also have magpies around so it's anybody's guess what happened to the other little grey chick. There are no feathers and no body, and no commotion or the dogs would have noticed. So that left Cagney with two.

They were very lively, first out in the morning and straight to the veggies to see what they could find. They would come back if it started raining. Cagney was less and less bothered about them unless they were threatened, but with this disinterest came a return to her pre-maternal ways and she decided to take her rightful place as head of the perches. We can only assume that the chicks were damp at bed time as they were both dead in a nest box next morning. So very upsetting. Cagney spent a good hour sitting on a log looking over the garden, giving gentle calls. But is now over it and bossing everyone as if the chicks never happened. In hindsight maybe we should have put the chicks in the nursery, but then they would have been distressed anyway, being free spirits. I don't know whether to blame the weather or myself.

Anyway, also with the chickens, we had a major de-mite and (maybe) worm this week. Red mite is a big problem here with the damp, warm weather, and when Dave called in to the vet's shop for wormer four people in front of him got spray for the chickens. We have our own we brought with us so they have all been dusted apart from the smallest chicks. Unfortunately the nursery and chicken house have board ceilings so there is not much chance of getting rid of the blighters, but we can spray and dust regularly to try to keep things under control and the chickens are not showing any sign of extra itching. The wormer we have been more cagey with. We were told to add the liquid to water or feed, but there is no label and no instructions on amount. We don't think anything has a particular worm problem, but I am afraid the little cockerels became guinea pigs to make sure the solution we made was not too strong. Luckily they are hale and hearty but we will wait till we can get some Flubenvet from the UK, we have used al our's.

One of the Shumen ladies has decided to go broody. We were in two minds what to do after the tragedy of Cagney's brood, but she is a very feisty girl and did not take kindly to being ousted from her nest, growling and screeching and fluffing herself up like an angry black grouse...scary, haha. But we will give it a go and she is sitting on nine eggs, chunnering away to herself. But she will not be pampered, she would not appreciate it.

The geese are nearly feathered now with not much fluff to get rid of. They seem to be doing OK, but are not just a little handful for Bella to babysit any more. If anything she is a bit frightened of them now. Bonnie takes no notice!

Both Dave and I are suffering from major insect bite attack. Unfortunately we can't just not go out, veg needs picking and fowl need tending...and bees of course. So we can't avoid being outside in the garden. It is keeping us awake at night so we are both rather grumpy, me more than Dave. One thing I miss about supermarkets is that you can get so much for this kind of thing. We can get a lot over the counter at the chemist here that you can't in the UK, it's just a language problem. Meanwhile we stink alternatively of tea tree oil and germolene...or even mouthwash if we happen to be in the bathroom!!!

A pair of swallows have decided to build it's nest in the nursery. We have tried to persuade them otherwise, but they are insistant. The problem will be trying to get mother in at night after the chicks have hatched as we can't risk leaving the window or door open with martens about. Some of the chicks will be going to their new home soon hopefully, we will have to try to home the others soon too.

We made the decision to pull the garlic up this morning. It was suffering slightly from rust but more worrying was the one I tried to pull up to use that was rather rotten. Luckily it seems to be pretty isolated and only a couple gave cause for concern when pulled up. It has been set to (hopefully) dry in the greenhouse with the door open. I hope it does OK, it is a good crop of mostly large bulbs.

We have given up trying to start caulies and bought twenty plants in the market for about 80p. Of course we can't plant them as it's raining! They will be going where the peas were, most of which are now in the freezer. We have quite a few fruits on the tomato plants even though the plants themselves are pathetic, stunted and contorted. The peppers have also started showing fruit and those plants are tiny. The cherry tomatoes in the troughs are doing OK though. The borlotti beans are setting but we have fallen foul of not translating the pack properly and it seems they are a dwarf variety. We were relying on them to form a screen for the pool but may have to re-think. The tomatoes would have done the job had they grown. I have started to freeze broad beans now, they are doing alright but have had a really weird crawling weed round them, creepy. I have sown more carrots and beetroot as the weather is wet, they eithe will or won't grow but as it's warm and wet... Dave loves the beetroot I pickled recently, though for me it could be sweeter. I have made some beetroot chutney to go to the car boot sale with the courgette chutney too. We are not taking the paintings as we worry about them getting damaged in the rain and Dave has a commission or two on at the moment. The picture of the lion has been sold to a lovely lion mad home in the UK, sent through the post successfully and arriving within a week. Excellent result.
The weird weed

baby borlotti

Sulking cucumbers

Beef tomatoes

Gone to seed salad leaves and parsley

White chard...
...and red

We have lots of flowers in the garden when it's dry. The roses are doing well in the rain, if a little brown around the edges, and the poppies are delightful. The dahlias are about to flower. Just a few days rain will make such a difference. Please. We have a lot of little red spiders, which I think are jumping spiders, rather cute. And a large daytime moth, a cream spot tiger moth maybe. Most butterflies have given up with the weather.

Jumping spider

Cream spot tiger moth

Just a red rose
Dave has had an early birthday present, a bee-keeper's tunic with attached hood, much more practical to grab than his usual boiler suit and Aussie hat.

Add caption
 And finally some of the girls
Hello, got anything nice?


  1. Sorry to hear about your chicks.
    Dave looks very happy with his birthday present!
    I've seen your mystery plant here but I can't remember the name of it. The spider and tiger moth photos are beautiful.

    1. Hi Cynthia. It seems the weed is called dodder and is not good news if it flowers as the seeds can lay dormant for years. It's parasitic so once the broad beans can be pulled out we might get rid of it if there is no more about.

      Learning do much.

  2. Maybe next spring will be perfect! But it sounds like your veggies have done Ok if you are freezing and canning. So sorry about the baby chicks. It's hard to be a tender heart and raise animals. And that weed is indeed creepy! Sounds like you'll be busy getting to it before it flowers. And a late "Happy Birthday" to Dave.

    1. This is certainly a very unusual spring, the locals are saying it is the worst for 50 years!! But some things, as you say, are doing well in the rain. Peas, broad beans, chard, courgettes,,carrots, beets and brassicas. I have started to freeze even chard. There is only so much the chickens and geese will eat.

      Dave says thank you very much, but he opened both his parcels early...his birthday is on Wedneday! Naughty boy.