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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Thinking about autumn...and a new addition

It is still stiflingly warm here in BG, but autumn will arrive one day, probably when you least expect it. We have heard strange bird sounds in the garden and there have been many bee-eaters passing over. The orioles have gone quiet, though are still around and our swallows have deserted the garden, though we are not sure if they have left yet as we have not seen the gatherings we saw last year. But then again we don't go out as often as we did.

In the garden the flowers are looking tired, with the exception of the morning glory which gets better and better, despite being pruned by goats if it dares to creep through the wall. So I have started to cut things back. The dahlias are more or less finished, though if we have a wet spell some might pick up.

The tomatoes are nearly done with just a few of the large pink ones and lots of cherry toms. The aubergines have a new lease of life since the Colorado beetles have finished. We have had a few of the yellow peppers and squats, but with buckets full arriving from both sides we have had far too many to cope with. There are plenty char grilled and frozen and I made some chutney with some and tomatoes and chillies. A bucket full was exchanged for a load of figs. The squash are looking all burnished and will soon be collected and put in a sunny spot to ripen so that we can clear the land. The coloured ones by the septic tank, according to Google, are particularly fine to eat but don't keep so well. We are not putting potatoes in as it is still so hot and mostly dry, but when the onion patch has been turned over  the chard will be moved and spinach, lettuce, land cress and maybe carrots will go in. The beetroot are just about finished and land cress, which has done so well, has gone rather strong and tough. What a great plant though. So as soon as all these things are collected and moved we will protect the chillis and open that half of the garden to the geese and chickens and they can start to clear and fertilise.
So many peppers, and real beauties

The chillies are still green, very mild too

Weedy pepper plants in our garden, no wonder Venka thinks we need more! But we have plenty....really.

Lots of figs

The brassicas are suddenly doing well again, despite a huge infestation of flea beetle. We are hoping Jordan doesn't notice and attack with his poison spray.. The broccoli has started to throw out proper flowering sprouts now, though a couple of plants still have blind ones, and they are a lot sweeter and more tender. We don't yet have a bad infestation of caterpillars though I have seen the odd one, but I am picking the larger leaves from the plants for the chickens so maybe the eggs were laid on them. There have certainly been a lot of cabbage white butterflies about. I was worried that the sprouts were forming on the Brussels too early but they seem to be OK, looking healthy and not growing the sprouts any bigger. We really don't want them until it gets cooler, sprouts are not good in boiling hot weather!

In the fruit line we are still picking raspberries and have plenty for the annual sherry trifle stashed in the freezer. The rest have gone into raspberry and apple jam. There is another small batch of rhubarb (strictly speaking, a vegetable) in the freezer. The peaches have been picked and eaten, the ones on the resurrected tree being yellow fleshed and larger. And the figs will be picked and dried soon. The watermelons are still arriving from neighbours front and back and we are still picking our own minis. All the sad grape harvest are dried and ready for cakes and mincemeat. They are not the same as commercially dried fruit, but they are our's and that matters.
The last of our peaches, the smaller ones the delicious white fleashed variety, the bigger ones are yellow fleshed.

Baba Danke sent us a few figs one day too, and with already having a jar of fig jam given by the lady who had the cockerels, I made a very yummy fig and almond tart, with jam on the bottom, almond sponge then halved figs and sliced almonds on top. As Venka and family were round to fix their well pump I sent her back with half, still warm. It seems it went down really well and she made it do five portions, three of which went to the daughter in VT. We had our's with some good vanilla ice cream, lovely.

Yesterday we were presented with half a bucket of small figs by a British friend so I have a bowl full steeping in sugar ready for fig and ginger jam, a couple of trays in the dehydrator and the chooks and geese had the squashed ones. I quite liked the jam we were given, but would not eat it regularly on bread, but with ginger and lemon added it should have more bite, I do like a bit of sharpness in jam.

And so with the garden covered we come to the livestock, who seem to be doing OK. Egg production seems quite good at the moment despite a few of the hens moulting. The chicks are doing well and are roosting like grown ups, growing really fast. The geese are the geese, noisy rabble and enjoying having two ponds. Frogs and toads have taken up residence in and around the water and the 'natural' pond seems to hold water well considering it was just dug out. It must be because of the soil, when wet it is like slippery clay.

Boy chick (yes, another!) looking all grown up.......

..............until you see him next to Chubba, then he looks tiny.

We have, as the title suggests, a new addition to the holding. Dave was sorting out the well the other day, cutting a hole in the lid to put the hose through. As Venka's pump went back down after being fixed (been down ten years so good going, manufactured in 1978!) as their well is not deep enough, we have to be careful to keep to our sides so that our hose doesn't get tangled again. It needs a winch to get their's out as it is attached to a very heavy metal pipe, big job.

I digress. As Dave was fiddling about he heard what he thought was a bird piping, but it got stronger so on investigating the lane he found a kitten shouting for mum. He came to tell me about it and said it was this big...holding his hands nearly a foot apart. Took the camera and came back with a picture of a ginger kitten with gummy eyes. We have managed to avoid taking in any pets as it could be a problem if ever we had to go back to the UK and find a rented house. It would be so easy to take in some of the desperate creatures. Anyway, all went quiet so we went to see what was going on. But as Dave opened the gate this little scrap who had settled there tumbled into the garden and determinedly made it's way down the steep steps. It is minute...and sick by the looks of it. More five inches less tail! As it wrapped it's tiny body around my feet I couldn't move as I had a long skirt on and couldn't see the thing. Of course that was it, we couldn't turf it out. We could not have lived with ourselves if it had been found dead on the lane. It seemed to be used to humans and handling and it seems it wanted to live here! Dave went out to ask neighbours if it belonged to anyone but no-one admitted to it.
When Dave saw him first, a pathetic scrap

So tiny, but with a big voice

So Splash, so named because of a splash of white on his back, seems to be part of our family. He is very young, maybe four weeks, can eat chicken but can't lap milk or water so has to be fed with an eye dropper. Not too many fleas and his eyes are much better for a clean up. So a dash over to the friend who we got the geese from, twenty minutes away, for goat's milk, better for babies than cow's milk, he has a voracious appetite but we are worried that he has not had a poo since he decided to live here two days ago. He wees OK, goes out to the flower border to perform, so we are hoping it's because he was so empty and skinny when he first arrived that his system is slow to work. But he is very lively so we are trying not to worry just yet.
Will you be my new mummy?

OK...come and have a wash then

Eyes cleaned and looking a bit healthier....and still loud!

It's exhausting finding a new family

It's exhausting looking after a new baby

Of course, Bella is besotted as she is with all baby animals. But she is big and Splash in tiny so he tends to get pushed around a lot. Splash has decided that Bella will make a great buddy and follows her, climbs on her and invites her to play. Bonnie, like me, can take or leave cats, she just accepts anything new with a sniff and that's it.
Sorry if there is telly noise, I can't hear it on my notebook.

And more!


One besotted Bella
But he is cute and fingers crossed he will soon start the bodily function which turns my stomach and gets dogs licking their lips. Dave is putting into practice all the stimulating practices he used when rearing baby zoo animals so hopefully it will work eventually. Of course, he was supposed to be an outside cat...but you can't leave such a little scrap out to the mercy of rats and martens.................


  1. Delightful. No you can't just leave it, have to take it in. Good luck little puss.

    1. He's doing well and has had a poo at last. Eating and drinking and playing well. Hopefully he will be lapping soon too so then will be a bit more independent, but he's only around four weeks old, maybe a bit less.

  2. Fab, he's a cutie! I have a feeling we'll end up with all sorts creatures if the Mrs gets her way :-\ I don't think our dog will be quite so good with cats as your Bella though!
    We're not moving over until next March now, bit more time to get sorted. Headed over next month to stay for a while though, get the house keys etc, fight my way through the jungle garden. Excited!

    1. We have done well to resist for fifteen months, but I would hate to take in a lot of animals then have to re-home if we had to go back for any reason, it would break my heart as we had to re-home the horse and chickens to move out here, so I know what it's like. You might be surprised with your dog, Bella will chase any furries which wander in to the garden but babies are her bag, she loves them. Bonnie doesn't care and will get up and walk away if he comes near.

      Hopefully you will still have decent weather when you come over next month, the temperatures given for the whole month are in the twenties. But yes, with the humid weather we have had weeds have been a nightmare this year even if you are here to fight them. Don't forget your panga and pith helmet!

  3. Haha I will bring a pith helmet! Going to shatter the piece with my strimmer I think!

    Yeah, might have to teach our dog some restraint somehow. She's a big old girl, bulmastiff cross, so it's more a fear of her squashing things!

  4. Your little kitten looks to have a lot of spunk and personality, as well as such a cute face. Imagine, making your way in the world when you are so tiny as him! He couldn't have come far. Wonder where the rest of his litter is.

    1. You hit the nail on the head there Cynthia, he is a strong personality. He must have been pretty desperate and certainly had not eaten for a while, he was so skinny. We did ask around as he was so young to leave his mother, and Dave looked around the bin to see if there were any others. But we have heard no loud crying anywhere. He is doing well though and seems to be growing by the minute. He is about four weeks old.