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Friday, 12 September 2014

Autumn is marching on

We are still getting occasional rumbles of thunder and a bit of lightening, but nowhere near what we were promised thank goodness. We have had a bit more rain and the weeds and even flowers are putting on a spurt of growth.
New nicotianas growing

On the other hand, the leaves have started to fall from the trees and the walnuts are starting to drop. Soon it will be a daily task to collect the nuts, a valuable source of goodness for this vegetarian and even Dave eats some....preferably in cake but he will eat anything put in front of him and actually enjoys cheese and walnut sausages and burgers, and walnut and lemon pasta. The tomatoes are done really, they go soft quickly after being picked so need eating soon. We are still getting aubergines and peppers and the chillis are going red quite quickly now. But everything is covered in mud splashed up by the rain. The neighbours are on their second sowings and I think next year my good intentions to do the same must be put into practice. We have some self seeded beans coming up and I am tempted to leave a couple to see what happens.
Dave's chillis, not very hot but enough for us

 I dug up the parsnips the other day. I started by just digging one up to see how they are doing, but when I cut it in half the core was very woody and unappetisingly brown. As we want to put garlic there for next year I decided to dig up the rest, they are a real mixture of large and small, some woody and some not, some brown in the centre. There are enough for us, we don't eat that many. but if we grow them next year we will put them somewhere where we will see them and water them more to see if that helps.


Not a massive amount, but enough for us

And today we had our first little cabbage, a savoy, and it was delicious. The geese have had two on the end which they grab at as they pass and we have left them in so that they protect the others, but will they eat leaves if you offer them? Of course not, they only want growing things!

We have started harvesting our figs. They are the small ones but just as good as the large ones. I have just made a large batch of jam with some I was given and have dried some, so they are now going in to the freezer for winter use. But before that one of my fig and almond tarts I think. We still have a handful of raspberries a day, they are lovely and I am looking forward to seeing how they do next year.

What a treat, brie, figs so fresh and a dab of my fig and ginger jam...well I had to try it!

Out and about autumn is befinitely on the way. Most of the fields have been cut with just a few sunflowers left, and next year's rape and wheat is showing green. The fields are once more a patchwork of subdued colours. The buzzards are more visible in the field looking for worms and we came across a dead jackal in the road, they become active at this time of the year as the youngsters look for new territories.
Poor thing, the jackal

The great migration is continuing. Clouds of noisy bee-eaters are flying over and below them swallows and martins are filling up on the insects which are abundant after the rain, ready for their flight. Tits and woodpeckers have returned to the garden, and the goldfinches and sparrows are feasting on sunflowers still. Dave has dug our's up as he wanted to finish fencing the chickens in (and cat out!). The stalks have been piled in the chicken run and the sparrows are leaving the chicken food alone and sticking to the oil rich sunflower seeds.
The 'done' sunflowers, alive with sparrows, goldfinch and great tits
The last piece of fence goes up. Bit of a rush job after finding Splash in with the chickens and Cagney and Chubba bearing down on him........
Bonnie supervisor, enjoying the fresher weather

The chickens have been mixed together for the winter as we would like them all to sleep in the nursery which should protect those with big combs from frost bite. Poor Sevi was affected last year and a couple of ex-batts came with it. Most of the Shumens still prefer to sleep in their own house but one has defected. Three chicks are supposed to be going to new homes this week, but there has been no word from their potential owners. I'm not bothered about the girls, they can stay, but someone wanted a boy. If he went there would just be one boy left. The run has been extended to include the patch where I had the chard, some now relocated to the flower borders, and herbs as well as some slow carrots and beets. Pulled the carrots and had them as babies. The chooks have done their worst with the chard we didn't move. But although they are enjoying having a patch with vegetation still growing, when it was first opened up they made straight for the new gate to see if they could find something better on the other side! They can go through there later, when the tomatoes are out.

Such excitement

The geese look on

Can we go through here too?
Stripped chard

Sevi is very pleased with himself, having another ten ladies. He is strutting about chunnering to himself. problem is, all the chickens are moulting at the moment and he, with a rather sparse tail with one tatty feather hanging on, is not really dressed for strutting.

The geese, meanwhile, have been given the squash patch to forage about in.as well as their usual pen. They are also moulting and the grey one with curly feathers seems to have white, normal feathers coming through. The white gander is getting huge and I stay away from him.

A single feather in three parts.

We have spent time with our neighbours this week. Jordan is showing Dave how to make rakia...from pumpkins! They really do make it from anything. It will be two weeks before the next stage. The day after we spent six hours round there, with Jordans's cousin who lives in the village, sorting beans, removing stones and chaff and discoloured beans from the white ones. Sacks of them. We are assuming they have a field somewhere where they grow them and they went off for the day last week with a few youths in tow, presumably to harvest.`We were well looked after, with breakfast of hot cheese bread and coffee before we started and a three course lunch with rakia in the middle. Phew...they don't half eat!
Behind here the fire for bottling and preparing rakia is lit

Aprez rakia, the result of quality control sampling!

Splash kiiten continues to do well, but our legs and arms are looking the worse for wear. Give me a puppy any day! At least they learn what 'no' is fairly quickly. As Splash gets more active and agile he is taking a leap at your legs so there is no warning so that we can field him. The dogs get it too. Bonnie is getting more tolerant and seeing Bella play-bow to this little (growing) scrap is hilarious.

The first time he put himself back into his box for a snooze

Big ball! The neighbour is still sending pumkins across. This one is a whopper

I want Dave to paint this

Taking advantage of Bonnie hiding, yet again, from a storm

And finally, we have had the first butternut squash soup of the year, and it was delicious with home made garlic and rosemary bread, though the picture is marred by the top of the milk going everywhere

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