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Thursday, 23 October 2014

I think we're ready for winter

Today is feeling very autumnal. It is a bit cool and very wet, we might even have our first fire of the year later. We have been warned that there will be very wet, even snowy weather, around this weekend. Frosts by the end of the week.

Yesterday was a busy one. Super stressful morning. Went out to go to the market and found a box by the car. We knew what would be in it before we looked, and sure enough, there were two tiny kittens huddled in the corner, at a guess under two weeks old. The box hadn't been there long and the kittens were asleep so not cold, so we made a snap decision to leave them there as we would be gone only a short time. Our neighbour was watching from her gate and with builders opposite they would be quite safe. Off we went, first stop vet to see if he had baby kitten milk, fat chance. Give them raw cow milk he says, like this one has....little kitten in the shop.

Returning home, neighbour still there, box gone. Phew. Next worry...where? On questioning neighbour it seems someone came and took the box away. Strange how she knows everyone in the village but not who took the box! We have enough with the rescue kitten we already have, and if we ever had to return to the UK we would have trouble enough finding a rental with two dogs as well. And the last thing we need is a name for taking in all waifs and strays that no-one wants or will prevent! Obviously everyone knows we took Splash in when he rolled up at a few weeks old. Consolation is that they cared enough to take them away again instead of leaving them for village dogs, cold or pine marten to take them.

Anyway, back to 'normality' and it was an afternoon of clearing the garden of anything we wanted to keep that isn't frost hardy. The chilli plants came out and we potted up the largest one and put it upstairs in the corridor to see if any more fruits ripen. We have given up on the idea of keeping any plants, we only need a couple and they are easily grown from seed. While we were pulling up the others for the compost heap there was frantic Venka beckoning us over and she took them, no doubt she will be pickling the fruit. In return she gave us a huge pumpkin, much better suited to themselves to feed to the pigs! We managed to reinforce the fact that we do not want any more pets thank you very much! Now please pass that to the relevent friends and relatives.

The butternuts are in the cellar which seems a bit warm so I hope it will cool down with the weather. All the geraniums are put into sheltered places, they can be put away later and will cope with a little frost. I brought in eight decent sized cabbages which I shredded and made into sauerkraut...all three jars of it. I can't believe how much you can pack into a kilner jar. But heck, what a mess. It is so simple to make but clearing up afterwards takes an age! Dave has moved the rhubarb, the lettuces are in and there are just the leeks to sort out. I will leave them for a bit as they might put on a bit more growth with the rain. The brassicas we will use and feed to the chickens as and when.

Lots of chard, wilted and chopped for the freezer. My legs were burning sitting in the sun

Dave found these in the compost heap, there seems to be several ideas about who's grubs they are, so we asked the chickens for their opinions.....

Daft thing, you'd think he was never fed!

I also made more jam this week. I know I said I wasn't going to do any more, but having ginger to use, quince, apples and medlars I had to do something. So we now have rhubarb, quince and ginger jam and quince jelly, along with spiced medlar jelly most of which is staying in my cupboard. The colours of the jellies are amazing and they taste good too! The rest we will take to the car boot sale if it isn't called off due to weather, but I think they are a bit to exotic for most tastes over here. (Or is it?)
Straining the juice

Quince jelly
Spiced medlar jelly, stunning colour

Rhubarb, quince and ginger jam

Venka's contribution, a crate of apples

I have been around the garden taking photos for future reference. I know I do this a lot but it is useful to have them on here as most photos go onto a hard drive for safe keeping....never to be seen again! But with frost due I wanted to take photos of the cosmos which seeded itself this year and is now flowering, the roses which were quite badly hit in summer by changeable weather and are now growing vigerously. The late insects are busy, mostly flies, bees and hoverflies, but also a few butterflies, most striking being a deep, bright, small yellow one which won't stay still for a moment.
Self sowm morning glory amongst the herbs

Bothe echinaceas still flowering

Geranium (pelargonium)

his year's self sown cosmos, about to be cut down by winter unfortunately

And those nicotianas still keep flowering and smelling


In the hen house poor Cagney is losing feathers by the fistful, as is her friend Chubba. They were last year's chicks so this is their first big moult. They are unlikely to lay till next year now, and the Shumens too it seems. There are feathers everywhere. Even Sevi was more threadbare than we have seen him before, but is looking much more dapper now. His ardour has not been affected. The ex-batts are laying four between the six, so at the moment there are enough for us and a friend who has some from us every week. Things have calmed down since the last of this year's boys went to a new home, Sevi is much relieved!
Poor bedraggled Cagney
Just lately I have succumbed to cooking comfort food, a dreadful habit, and I hope that I can now control the urge. It's just that it's that time of the year when it seems OK to slip, but for me it is never a good time. SIGH
Walnut and cheese sausages, home made coleslaw (almost healthy)

Dave's roast pork dinner. We do use smaller than dinner plates

Cheese scones, treat size lemon drizzle buns

Oooo-er, fish and chips, made with those square fish portions which fall apart when defrosted...which unfortunately means it takes more batter....
Update on the above (Busy talking so blog has taken all day) The fire is now lit and Splash has investigated and purred his approval after seeming a bit unsure initially. I can see the dining chair near the fire will become a favourite place. I wonder if it waill calm him down......

The dogs are very happy!

And finally, a short video showing what poor Bella has to put up with. To the background sound of Downton  Abbey


  1. The fire looks so cozy. I'm wondering if you would share your veg sausage recipe. I'd like to get a little more adventurous with my nut protein (no grubs, tho! Ew!) and I'm not thrilled with any of the recipes I've tried so far.

  2. Sure, it's a bit vague as I am a bit of a grab and throw cook, depends what I have.

    Two handsfull fresh breadcrumbs
    A good handful of walnuts, chopped as fine or coarse as you prefer
    A cup of crumbled sirene, (feta) or any other odds and ends you have drying in the fridge
    Two cloves of garlic, minced (or an onion, sweated till soft)
    One large egg
    A few sage leaves, chopped
    Pepper (no salt if you use sirene)

    Mix everything well and chill for half an hour.
    Form into sausage shapes and fry gently till golden brown or if you have the oven on, bake on a greased tray until brown, the outside should be crisp. If the mixture doesn't hold together in shape, add a little milk, it will depend on your bread and egg.
    Serve however you want, Any you don't eat will freeze

  3. I'm glad someone took the kittens away but I hope to a good home! Those chafer grubs in the compost - if they are the same as here they are Rose Chafers and are good for the compost as they eat rotting vegetation and help turn your waste into compost, so don't feed them to the chickens! The ones you find in soil (usually under turf) are Cockchafers and not good news as they eat plant roots, so those ones get fed to my chooks.

    I was going to ask for the veggie sausage recipe too so pleased to see it above. Surprised that you have frost forecast before we do! The jellies sound lovely and you have been very busy as usual. :-)

    1. As in most of Eastern Europe, it seems, feral/street dogs and cats, call them what you will, are a fact of life, they have to be tough to survive. Whatever we think of the way they do things, the people here are not intentionally cruel (You should see Venka with baby animals!) but they are survivors and will not feed and raise animals which are no use. Education on neutering (which is viewed as wrong) is on going but funding is inclined to disappear. But whoever left the kittens there knew what time we usually go to the market and obviously watched and cared enough to take them back. The trouble is Brits have a name for taking in any needy animal, and as has happened, as soon as it was known that we took in Splash we are thought a soft touch. If we knew we were definitely able to stay here we would take in more, but feel it would be irresponsible. As I don't like cats (sorry) I think one is enough, and he's a little terror haha. I still think he, and maybe litter mates, were dumped in the communal bin, but Dave couldn't see any others.

      As for the grubs, we do regret giving them to the chooks, this act is usually reserved for mole crickets and we assumed that is what they were, as we had been told. But common sense tells us that if they live in compost they must be working it. Trouble is too many people give opinions and no-one really knows!