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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Everything is growing again

An early start for the car boot sale

It's a funny old time of the year for gardeners. We know what jobs need doing but as ever we are controlled by the weather. Last week Dave planned to start the rotovating but right on cue we had a couple of days of chilly rain, so then the ground was too wet to work. With the temperature of the soil still high this means that the weeds have started to grow again as soon as the sun came out, which it did on Sunday while we were car booting. Then it went in, then out....coat was on and off constantly as there was a cool breeze whan the sun went in.
Dave plugging holes in the chimney to stop rain coming in....this is when Angel decided to have a chat with Dave!

Anyhow, we were confined to the house for a couple of days so we both got creative, Dave did another lion painting and I made some more cards.

The geese....also known as waterfowl....were particularly pathetic in the rain and apart from coming out to see the sky, decided it was far too wet and demanded to go back in to the garage. The visiting girls were allowed into the wood shed so that they could scratch around and dust bathe, which meant they could make demands from the gate as they saw us emerge from the house. You can tell their Mum spoils them! My ex-batts are a hardy bunch and look rather pathetic as they get soaked through, but they have the choice of tree shelter, their own room or the open 'barn' where their feed is and they can dust bathe, they just prefer to wander around looking for worms, and of course the muddy water in the puddles where the rain in directed down from the gutters is soooo much better than the fresh tap water (actually the water tipped from the water bowl when filling it with fresh is always better too)
One of the visiting hens lays large eggs, but this one was a whopper...and very wrinkly

The kitten is a proper cat, likes to sit in the sun, but insists that a warm lap or furry body is in order when there is any wet stuff. The dogs....well Bonnie gets stressed in case it might thunder, but at the clink of a lead buckle is suddenly an outside dog needing a nice walk. Bella just does Bella things whatever the weather.

So on Monday and today the sun came out and it was soon too hot to sit in it for long. Coffee break was as long as I could cope with. But as mentioned, the ground is still warm and everywhere is greening up again. There are masses of self sown seedlings from californian poppy, cosmos and nicotiana, roses are having a spurt of growth, the nicotiana we thought were spent have grown new leaves and pushing out more perfume. The bees and hoverflies are enjoying the ne flush of flowers as well as other insects/The grass is growing so the strimmer has come out...whoever thought that geese would be good lawn mowers? They prefer my cabbages! Dave also managed some rotovating today....keep out of the sun? No chance. He doesn't care how hot it is. He started with the chook pen, I thought he was being nice to them, giving them some fresh ground to scratch in. But actually he did it for me, which l found rather confusing as that is now the bird pen, not my seed bed. Never mind it might be a good place to put the peas in spring. But he did get round to the patch for the garlic which can go in soon.

Cosmos amongst the weeds

Beans in the lawn

Insects everywhere

Salvia starting to flower again

Cornel buds ready for spring

Marigolds proving poular

An old hive is attracting bees, wasps and flies

One of the tiny white spiders on the echinacea

Shield bug on cosmos

Old fashioned rose

Californian poppy

Tired and worn out morning glory......

.......and new ones coming through

Verbascum come alive


.........with resident

Teeny aster

Tomato seedling

The waste area by the pool is loving the weather and the herbs and nasturtium are going wild

Oh dear, what lives will die. We have had an abundance of frogs and toads this year

The walnuts are now dropping every day. About a quarter are black or half black inside and although I had intended to store them naturally in their shells this year, I have changed my mind as I don't see the point in storing rotten nuts. So I am back to shelling and freezing them. There will not be as many as last year and they are a bit small, but you can't have bumper crops every year.

We are enjoying the fresh leeks and cabbage regularly now, a change from psb. Both are really romping away now, you can almost see them grow. The seeds have germinated so hoping for at least a month of half decent weather to get everything well on the way. Still no sign of any caulies but the chooks and geese can have the plants after they have gone through the psb. Waste not want not.
Radish, can only be grown in the cooler months

Mint for the freezer, leeks for tea

Huge cabbage

Sparkly web

Sparkly goose feather

We have (again) had a sort out of the spare room which has become a dumping ground. We got rid of some of the stuff we brought with us from the UK, thinking we couldn't live without it, and a couple of single beds which we will never need as it is very unlikely we will get more than two visitors at a time. I thought we had a lot of bedding spare as I had bought quite a lot in case we needed it, but couldn't find any. Strange. But anyway the room is a lot tidier and summer clothes are mostly put away.

I have a renewed interest in cooking now that the cooler weather is here. After a summer of mediterranean and Bulgarian style meals I have had a hankering for the occasional stew and Yorkshire pudding. Eggs need using so there are also occasional puddings. Oh dear, the waistline suffers. It makes a lovely change to cook proper food rather than jam, chutneys and sauces.

Yorkies filled with stew and psb

Lemon surprise pudding, very light but very sweet

An alternative to kedgeree which I have been yearning for. This is salmon and a bit of smoked salmon for flavour. Cured the hankering and delicious

Beans from Venka, useful for stews, and a litre of rakia for Dave. We've also recieved another bucket of peppers (groan)

There is not a huge amount of pet news. Kitten is growing and getting rougher. He is spending a lot of time outside if it isn't raining, even stalking the geese who are allowed on the lawn at the moment. It is a worry but the geese only really come up when we are about. And there is always the tree. There is horse electric tape around the plants to keep the geese where they should be, not electrified, it's not necessary, but means that the cat can get out of the way easily.


Bella can now play properly with Splash and they have hours of fun. Bonnie is now quite happy with him as long as he doesn't play with her tail, and doesn't move away when he snuggles up to her, usually he is found around her bum! She has even occasionally looked a bit playful, she certainly is with Bella now that the evenings and early mornings are cool.

Monday, 22 September 2014

They come and they go....

.....from the poultry houses.

The first to go was the largest goose. Sadly he had never been the most agile (they are all really clumsy but he was worse) and was inclined to tip over at times. But lately he had put on a lot of weight and was huge so his legs were not coping too well. Amazing as they don't really eat that much. So it was decided he had to go before he started to look too unhappy. Poor Dave did masses of research, not helped by me of course, but in the end he says it was a lot less traumatic for the goose than it was for Dave. I haven't gone into detail with him, I don't want to know.

But the real trauma came while trying to prepare the carcase. We had agreed that it would go into the freezer for him and the animals over Christmas. But in the event he was so horrified at the amount of fat the poor creature was carrying around that that idea went straight out of the window. He had taken sheets of information printed from the internet on how to prepare for the table, but in his own words, by the time he had finished it looked like a plucked (easy bit) roadkill! He persevered in respect for the bird and he would also learn a lot from the experience, but in the end decided that it was a waste of freezer space and was going to be a real struggle to fit it in. So instead he chopped it up and boiled it for the animals, keeping half a breast for later. Another shock...there was only two sandwich bags of meat on the whole bird, the rest being fat and bones. I remember my mother getting a goose for a change many years ago and being very disappointed at the amount of meat on it, glad that she always did at least two meats on Christmas day.

So now Dave had a dilemma. After a lot of soul searching he has decided that his butchery skills are not up to presenting an oven ready goose for a special meal on Christmas day and has had to let the three people who had asked for one that he will not be doing them after all. Lucky he found out now rather than later. It would have been no problem in the UK, my brother is a master butcher, but it is a long way to come for a small job. So now the rest of the geese are for sale....alive!
And then there were four

Which brings us to the chickens. Someone I know has moved into our village, and with unfortunate timing she sold just before she was due to visit the UK then go on holiday, being away for about six weeks. As sales go through so fast there really was no way of avoiding the clash. Her ex partner drove over from the UK to pick her and her three dogs up and drive them back, so he helped with the move. But the problem was who was going to look after her eight ex-batt chickens. As we have mixed all our's we had the Shumen pen available which is separate from our lot. They seem quite happy in there though had to be shown how to get back in to bed. But this morning I was greeted with a chook on it's back, very dead! Oh dear. These things happen and no-one knows how old the commercial hens are when we pick the poor, skinny baldies up from the market. It looks as if the move was just a bit traumatic for her. She was one of the older ones. On a positive not the others are getting on with laying.

The visitors
Our lot have sort of settled down. Sevi having my girls to play with, though some ignore him, presumably these are the ones who don't lay. It's hard to tell who is and who isn't when you have seven the same colour. We have been able to let a friend have eggs again as our's seem to have picked up the laying, and am continuing to freeze them for winter.
Sevi is very pleased with himself, as is his favourite girl, lame and ugly Chubba (left) His tail feathers are coming through well now after his moult

On a more cheerful note the garden has taken on a new lease of life since the nights are cooler and we have had the odd spot of rain, though daytime temperatures are still holding up, with 28 in the shade today.. The self-sown beans are romping away, making Dave twitchy and wanting to get the hoe out. Some of the nasturtiums have struggled to survive the heat of the summer but now we have a load of new plants coming up. Shame nothing likes to eat them. The larger plants are picking up and flowering again. Some of the morning glory which has been spectacular has worn itself out, but other plants have germinated and are doing their best to cover the ground. The cosmos which have beeen so disappointing, most of them having a very short life, have started to give more colour to the border. Our cabbages may look small and tatty compared to the neighbours' huge and bug free heads, but they are big enough for us as we do not freeze them, or bottle them. Though we will try making a small amount of sauerkraut later. The leeks are lovely and the psb keeps on producing. We have sown carrots, beets and salad and will see how they go. We have had quite a lot of figs and l have introduced Dave to fig and gorgonzola salad. l wasn't sure he would go for it but has asked for more, so all good. The walnuts are slowly dropping, but are small and mostly empty. We have a fight to get to them before the wildlife.
The moved chard is looking good in the border.....

......and round by the pool area

Baby nasturtiums

And nicotiana

Cosmos and new morning glory come to life

Strawberry bed sorted


Venka is still sending us bottled veg/fruit and I have managed to nick some tiny tomatoes which she grows to decorate the bottles. The seeds are drying ready to be stored for next year. No idea what I will do with them, though the yellow pear shaped ones are quite tasty the red a bland.
This is a huge jar with a real mix of tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, okra and water and yellow melons

Almost currant sized

On the down side, the caulies have not done anything. I didn't realise they were so hard to grow and have decided they are not worth the space when they are so cheap to buy. The sprouts, I have decided, I put in far too early. I have recently found a planting table for our area and I was indeed a couple of months too early. There are some small sprouts on and some blown ones. We will leave them in and eat the tops later. Must pay more attention to local lore next year.
Tiny sprouts.....

....and blown ones

Other than all that there is just a kitten update to do. Suffice to say he is thriving and growing, getting into scrapes, has found out where we go at night and is not about to be left downstairs on his own! We leave the door open in case Bonnie needs to go downstairs to hide from thunder or rain especially as the windows are still open, and the door will be left open in winter to let the heat go up the stairs. So it was inevitable that he would make his way up. But he is such a strong willed little chap and though I detest animals on the bed, this little scrap knows how to get on undetected and with his engine turned off. But now he has to realise that when I get up to go to the loo it does not mean play time! Thank goodness we have put the summer duvet on so we can hide from those teeth and claws. If he doesn't settle we might have to crate him, and he has a loud voice.

He is very boistrous now. Even Dave gets fed up with the scratches and bites. I don't think he's nasty at all, but is missing rough play with siblings. The rest of the time he is so amazingly cute, still only just old enough to leave Mum, but independent, scooting through the dogs' legs to get out of the door first, getting into the chooks whenever possible. But he has a respect for the geese and finds the apricot tree a good place to sit and hiss at them as they go by. Bella, and occasionally Bonnie, are starting to play properly. they have us in stitches sometimes when charging around the box and fig on the 'lawn', little Splash hiding inside and coming out to incite more play before dashing back in. Bella is being more rough, if that's the word, bowling Splash over and nudging his tummy while Splash batters her nose. It's still not a dog, but will have to do.

You might have to concentrate on the following, it was rather dark

I'm fine....I wanted to go up the tree anyway

Finally, Dave has finished a couple more paintings. After starting a large elephant painting and abandoning it when he found a flaw in the canvas, he has finished the debrazza monkey and  done a rhino too.

I love this