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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

We are told that this week.... potato planting week. Our neighbours pointed this fact out when we were round there having pizza last week. Aside from the fact that we had not yet picked up our ordered seed potatoes, the weather had other ideas. This week we have had wind, rain, snow and a touch of ice, with just a smattering of sun. The snow, in two batches, was wet and slushy and ideal for making more soggy mud. So no potato planting this week.
Bella and the cat go off for a play in the dark

Potatoes in waiting, five varieties to try

On the up side, the peas that Dave sowed have made an appearance despite the neighbours thinking they were in too early. My 'fancy' tomato seeds have germinated and are growing well. The sweet potatoes we set in water to grow slips (shoots) are growing least two of them are. They were hard to work out, the pointed end is supposed to go into the water, but two had two pointed ends and I got one wrong I think. I've turned it around but shouldn't need it if it doesn't work.
Pea (honest!)

Rooting sweet potato

Last week we also had some friends over for lunch. It was nice to be able to cook for someone other than just us, and some of Dave's precious beef was put to use, braised long and slow, and I also made a cheese and onion quiche in case anyone wanted to go lighter. There was also salad and potatoes baked in the oven, followed by chocolate brownies. All went down well. The friends were the ones organising the art exhibition Dave is involved in and it gave us chance to go over the finer details. Dave has just finished another painting, this time of bee-eaters. We are all looking forward to their return, such beautiful birds. We all agreed that our tongues were tired from too much talking!

We had a busy day today too. It was market day and we went off to buy some tomatoes and onions for chutney. I usually make it from just our own grown veg as we sell it so cheap at car boot sales, but we needed some spiced tomato as it is so popular. I had already made some chilli, ginger and garlic jam and used all the jars I had, but luckily the market man is back with his matching jars and we stocked up. Venka and Jordan were also there, selling their excess garlic.
Chilli, ginger and garlic jam

Lovely with fried cheese

We have lost a few hens over winter due to different reasons, so a detour to the animal market to pick up three ex-commercials yielded some rather healthier looking birds than we had last year, and they look slightly different, though still red, and have darker feathers, all intact. They still have rather pale combs and are wary of the outside world, but they will soon pick up. One has already laid an egg.
 They spent the night huddled together....and are now sitting on the roosts in the sunshine. No doubt they will get the message about roosting at night eventually!

Not the prettiest of birds, they will look better when their faces are a brighter colour

Also in the hen house, Cagney, one of our original backyard hens has gone broody. We thought long and hard about whether to let her sit, and which eggs to give her. Only one Shumen is laying so we have decided to try her with a few duck eggs. After losing all the parent reared chicks last year one way or another, no fault of the worried mothers, and having so many of the incubated chicks turn out males makes it an expensive waste of time.

Sevi is very happy to have three more ladies....they are running away as fast as they can!

Update.....Cagney is now happily sitting on seven duck eggs, delighted to be allowed to brood, clucking away quite happily, bless her.

Fuzzy mare and her filly foal outside Baba Danke's house as we sat in the car...random photo of a regular sight. The foal's legs must be wrecked before they are a year old, they have to keep up all the time the mother is working and at this age is attached to mum by a collar so are constantly moving at an angle.
After settling the new girls in it was off to the British food fair, not for food, but to pick up our seed potatoes ordered earlier from Morgan's Plants, it's closer than going to their home. It was lovely to see Graham after the break in car boot sales, we hadn't seen him or David Morgan since before Christmas when we went to their Christmas get-together. Of course it would be rude not to check out Andy Freezerman's new mobile shop while we were there, where we felt we had to buy such luxuries as salted butter, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and British sausages. We can get cheddar in small packs in the big supermarkets but the butter, bacon and sausage are elusive and Dave has not had either for two years. Called in at Lidl for tinned baked beans (I usually make them) and he enjoyed a cooked 'breakfast' for tea, where I had cheese scones with proper butter. Back to healthier eating tomorrow. We had eaten fish and chips at the foodie venue (frozen fish in batter, real but greasy chips) Feel well greased and no doubt there will be a price to pay with indigestion later.

Dave had re-kindled his interest in goats and has started to look into their requirements again. There was great excitement when a book arrived in the post...only to find that a friend of our's could have let him have the same one for nothing! Never mind. There is too much information on the internet with so many different ideas, so having one reputable book might be better, as well as our friends with their practical experience here in Bulgaria.
And ending with a couple of frosty photos
A rather weak looking hyacinth in the lawn

Even weeds look pretty with frost

The perennials are growing well


  1. Love the painting of the Bee-eaters! Surprised about spud planting time so early though, but I just play it by ear according to the weather. Hope the duck egg rearing goes well, and also surprised you can get b. beans in Lidl. We can't, except on the very rare occasion that they do a British food promo. But we are well stocked up anyway, one advantage of being only a ferry ride from Blighty!

    1. Dave says thank you. With spuds, they do two plantings here, but as we are plagued by Colorado beetle the sooner you get the early ones in the better, Then there are two cycles of beetle and timing for the second planting should be just after the second hatch, then they have gone before the new leaves emerge.

      We found the beans by accident in Lidl, things are often found in random places if they are not a native food. They were with tinned veg and cheaper than Kaufland. They and pineapple are the only tinned food we buy, two tins a month to go with egg and chips for Dave. i would rather have my own home made ones, lots of other veg incorporated. One thing we really do need is good cheese, they have started to stock 1kg blocks of mild cheddar and 250g of mature. I hope they keep it up as the local yellow cheese is like tasteless rubber after what we are brought up on. You can get some French, Greek and Italian cheese, and if very lucky, Manchego. But very expensive.

  2. The bee eater painting is wonderful. You have a very talented husband there! we had bee eaters nesting on our finca the last two years but last year they chose a very silly spot and got washed out in a thunderstorm. Luckily the babies were about to fledge and we were able to save them. Envy you the potato choices... we get two varieties here... white or red... and they don't even know the names of those two. Our Lidl here doesn't do baked beans, the local supermarket did but when they ran out they didn't re-order so I have to make them myself - but its nice to indulge sometimes.

  3. I love the bee-eaters too, we have a few colonies quite close, and can hear them while in the garden. We have bees but they are too close to the house in the middle of the village to be food for them. looking forward to that sound...and the golden orioles too.

    You're right about junk food, once or twice a month is a real treat. How things change, I never thought of baked beans as a treat!