The countryside is still looking very green after all the rain we have had, apart from the barley, rape and wheat fields most of which have been harvested now. The first of the sunflowers have now lost their yellow and their faces are turning brown but the plants are still green and strong. Other varieties are still yellow. The wild flowers are lovely still, the blue daisies and yellow verbascum, purple salvia and mauve mallow, pale pink hollyhock and wild carrot. Just a few of the mass. The trees along the side of road and field are dripping fruit and any wind results in not only a fall of fruit but of branches too.
|He just couldn't resist!|
|A new bird for us, we think it's a night heron|
|We were given four carrier bags of apples from a fallen branch, two went to Venka's pigs.|
We have seen some different animals while out and about, hares displaced by the combined harvesters, stoat and weasel, terrapins in the pools and river. The martens are leaving their calling cards by the gate at night, making me nervous for my chickens.
|The first terrapin Dave has seen out here...unfortunately dead. I have seen them but the disappear so fast!|
In the garden the weeds continue to grow, a constant battle. next year we are going to compact the veg garden and give more space to chickens and other fowl. We will be cutting down on tomatoes, beans, courgettes and butternut squash. And although the summer sprouting broccoli is doing OK the flavour is not as nice as the winter variety so will give that a miss next year. I would like to expand the strawberry patch but we seem to have lost a few plants over summer, not sure why. We have seen evidence of mole crickets on tubers so maybe that is a clue.
The raspberries are suddenly producing a lot more fruit and we seem to have two varieties. We did get two bunches of cuttings from the market and the chap did do a lot of explaining about them....but in Bulgarian! This second lot are paler and the fruit not as tight as the earlier ones. Suits us as it extends the season. We have had our first charentais melon this week and very nice it was too. It was slightly under ripe but sweet, fragarant and juicy all the same. The aubergines are cropping too, but the Colorado beetle have moved to them and to be honest we are not fond enough of them to worry too much. Yesterday Venka gave us four beauties which will do us for a while, along with a bag of yellow beans (we have pulled our's out, we don't like them much....maybe she thought they had failed!) The okra, another veg we can take or leave, are also cropping and I will try pickling some. Aparently they are transformed into something wonderful. We'll see.
|Our little aubergine|
|and Venka's large aubs|
|Tasty little melon|
We have had masses of tomatoes. The plum toms which seemed to be hit by blight and were showing signs of rotting have rallies and I picked a whole bucket of large, sound tomatoes yesterday and only one damaged fruit. I have given a lot of tomatoes away, but they tend to get replaced by the neighbors, the other day a carrierbag full pf gigantic fruit from our neighbours behind. Time to send them some more cherry tomatoes which make them giggle!
|Bucket of plum toms.|
|One from the neighbour weighing in at 550g|
|1 lb 3 oz in old money|
|Just don't know what to do with all the cherry tomatoes but they will take up less room sun dried. That idea got rid of the sun, very dull today!|
|Dave bought the agapanthus in memory of Mum, there was always a competition between the two of them to see who's could flower first and who had the most flower spikes. This one has a way to go.|
Last week's car boot sale was the busiest yet. We sold masses of chutney and did a bit of bartering too. One lady had a box of veg (and a bag of our yellow beans for her pigs) in exchange for some natural remedies, and another chap gave me gooseberries in exchange for a couple of small jars of home made peanut butter. Dave took his paintings along and there was a lot of interest in them. There was a television crew there too, from the Bulgarian equivelent of the BBC we were told which is great publicity for the sale which is so busy now that they are out growing the field they use. Sellers range from businesses to the lady on the corner who has a few bits and pieces in a carrier bag, a really good mix of British and Bulgarians.
|Tried something different to go with the lemon curd this week, mint jelly and chilli jelly. Unfortunately only sold one jar of mint jelly to a chap with a very sweet tooth|
On a sad note we have lost my dear little Darcy hen, she of the twisted feet, and so named as she used to dance everywhere at full speed to keep her balance. She was one of the first shumens we bred and a real sweetie who put up with cuddles, unusual in the shumens. I miss her cheerful presence. She was never the strongest bird but happy in her own little world.
The chicks are driving their mum crazy. They are always through the fence as they are so small, and spend their time either in the compost heap, dodging the geese or in the thicket between our house and the neighbour. I will be very surprised if they reach old age! But they enjoy life. The older cockerel chicks are starting to find their voices and we will soon have to be moved on. The gang of four are a real bunch of tearaways who are constantly having mock battles and get through the fence somehow to get to my chard on the other side which they leave lacy. They are all different and will be going to their new homes (hopefully) as small cockerels rather than Shumens as the colours are not good for pure breds. We will not be breeding them any more, they are expensive to rear and too small for most people to want. Such a shame, we love them.
|The adults anxiously watching the chicks disappear...|
|This young lad has a lot of red feathers coming through and a pale ear, not right for his breed|
|Very long legs this one|
|The gang of four|
The bees are going from strength to strength and the hive is now full of honey so we will need to take some out, very exciting. Dave has bought a larger hive from a chap in the village and someone has given him another which needs repairing, so the colony will be moved into a larger, better insulated home soon. A honey extractor should be arriving any day so we had better start using more honey instead of sugar. trouble is we don't use a lot of sugar! I feel a barter coming on....and a search for honey recipes for the car boot sales.