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Monday, 25 May 2015

New babies

I mentioned on a post a couple back that we have new babies, and we now have four adorable chicks, two dark with chestnut heads and two yellow with spots. They are so much bigger than the little bumble bees that are pure Shumen chicks.They are being raised without heat and seem to be doing OK in their own pen in the chook house.. They have a small box with shredded dishcloths hanging that they can snuggle into, or if it takes their fancy, three mop heads hanging just above ground. No idea on sex yet, but we do have the facility to keep another boy if Sevi won't get on with one.
First day
A week old and out with the big girls....but in their own pen....

....with mops....

....and dishcloth box. They are big, strong chicks

Little duck is having a job sorting out it's identity, though until we find out otherwise I think it's a girl due to the colour coming through. Cagney is only worried about her if he is in trouble and ducky is spending a lot of time meandering about on her own, a true forager/fly catcher like her real parents. She is swimming with the bigger ducks as long as there aren't too many at a time and is starting to grow feathers at last. But in the excitement of being let out in the mornings she can't decide whether she is a duck or a chicken, though at that time she tries to follow the ducks. I'm sure it will all sort itself out soon.
Ducky with the chickens, some of the ex-batts are moulting a bit

Showing coloured feathers

Resting with Mum. It's been very hot and humid

In the garden we have harvested the first sowings of peas and broad beans and pulled the plants out to make way for more peas before the next bout of stormy weather due this week. Some people have already had damage done by hailstones and I hope we can avoid them. We are eating lots of our own veg now, buying only potatoes. Peas, broad beans, baby beets, carrot thinnings, chard, spinach, courgettes, garlic, onions and salad leaves, as well as a few strawberries and rhubarb. We have swapped jam and chutney for cherries as we have none, which have gone into the freezer temporarily while I get things together to make jam. I will also be drying some in the dehydrator.
Looking up....

.....and down. Filling up

Not a huge haul

But there are more to come

Trying to use eggs up, chard, onion and garlic tart, delicious, with home made mayp and garden veggies (apart from the tomato!)

Today's bag, peas, courgettes, garlic, onion, multi coloured carrots and a little brocccoli,

We don't always have potatoes with pie, but these were our's...see below

Peas please...need more peas....poor starving Bella

Some of the cherries, unfortunately too small to use the stoner, but tasty all the same

One thing which is not so good is we have been struck by the Colorado beetle. There are revolting, fat, shiny grubs everywhere. The most affected are the earlies and we pulled up one badly affected plant to stop the little blighters transferring to the neighbours. It wasn't altogether successful and I had to spray with a home made spray I am trying with water, washing up liquid and neem oil. No idea if it will work but it's worth a try. Other than that, it's a patrol round all the potatoes every morning with a bucket then handing them to Dave to deal with.
Most of the potatoes are flowering

Horrible, red, shiny Colorado babies

Even though it's too early to pull up this potato (ravaged) it still should have had more than seven potatoes.

See paragraph above

The flowers are really bursting forth now. Most annuals and perennials have buds and many are breaking. We have scent from sweet peas, stock, lavender, nicotiana, roses....and broad beans! 24 hour perfume. Lovely. The peonies are done now, but we have our first rudbeckia, hydrangea, loads of roses, much better than last year despite the aphids, there are ever more buds on the hollyhocks and they are now tall enough so the flea beetle damage is left behind. We have buds on zinnia, echinacea, echinops, cosmos, dahlia and plants we have forgotten what they are. It will soon be a riot of jungly colour and scent.

Stock getting ready to release their scent

We know we should cut the pink out, but we rather like it


Philadelphus (mock orange) perfuming the roadsides. lovely

Yesterday we went into the city (again) this time to our neighbours' daughter's flat . It was up several flights of stairs....phew, in a building constructed by Grandad Jordan thirty years ago, in the hilly, cobbled streets of old town Veliko Tarnovo. The views are truly spectacular, taking in the old fortress Tsarevets where there is a spectacular sound and light show. Talk about a grandstand view! We were not sure what to expect only that it was the family occasion this time for the grandson who it seems has been sent into adulthood with a ceremony involving water, flowers (many) and bits of paper stuffed into pockets. It is very hard to know how to behave and react on these occasions as we have no idea before hand what we were involved with. But it was a very sad and proud time it seems and we are more than privileged to be included in this very intimate gathering. The man of the day was driven off by his parents in a car decorated with balloons and flowers and we and the grandparents had to make our way home to shut the fowl in before the pine martens came out for a free meal. We and another friend who was there earlier took pictures and videos for the family and will print them off for them soon.

Packing up the car with goodies prepared (and grown) by our neighbours. The bread was the best yet, seriously moreish

It was a hazy, humid and stormy day, but I have included a lot of pictures taken from the balcony.

Looking over the residential area and shops towards the fortress

Looking up to the mountains

The sun came out late afternoon!

Add caption

Saying goodbye

Dave has started on a new painting, this is a real departure for him and is a commission from a friend who wants a huge clourful picture in three parts. Watch this space!
I think he'll need a bigger paint brush than that!
And finally I will end with some bugs. I have tried looking on Google to find out what they are, but I seem to be a useless researcher, so it will have to be a basic description!
Cute little cricket

There was a nest of tiny wasps on the cucumber plant

Really tiny!

Ermmm....a bug

And a colourful spider, but very quick and I didn't get a good picture


  1. As usual, a beautiful array of flowers and veggies. I love the roses. Hope you can get rid of the nasty Colorado beetles. Nice that you got to go on a day trip with the neighbours for their family celebration.

    1. We'll never get rid of those wee critters unfortunately. Every year the neighbour's taters are stripped of all leaves...saves them getting rid of them! They offered us a spray the other day, but were curiously pleased when we told them we don't spray anything except soapy water and sometimes a drop of neem when pressed

  2. Thank you for a lovely glimpse of Bulgaria. How cute are those chicks!

  3. Just come across your blog and wondered if you fancy swapping links. Mine is

    1. Certainly, I am trying to work out how to put things on the page, computers are a world too far for me. But will have another go. My blog is very basic compared to your's though.

  4. I enjoy hearing about duckie, he or she is so cute. My red hens are in that messy half moult stage too - they look a right state next to the pristine cockerel. Veggies coming along a treat, but I wondered when you sowed the carrots, as they have grown really fast? The few that we have which bothered to germinate are only about an inch high after a month or so.

    Before I forget, the last two bug pictures are both spiders, and the cool spider with red on it is a jumping spider - they are the coolest and cutest of all spiders.

    Great you are getting invited to these social events, but also amusing that you don't know what they are about! One day you will understand it all, and look back and laugh. :-)

    1. Hi Mandy. We sowed the carrots in March when we had a warm spell. It very much depends on whether we get some rain and warmth at the same time. We have had failures but last year's carrots were so good that we ended up freezing them as it was too warm to store them in the cellar. Might as well have given them away, frozen carrots are awful! This time I am growing multi cloured carrots to amuse the neighbours but will sow some late ones for live and learn. We are just eating the thinnings at the moment, but I sow in a wide drill and don't do traditional thinning, just doing it as we want them as babies.

      Thanks for the spider ID, as you say, cool. Our taters are planted by the septic tank...which is where those revolting red bugs end up....ugh!

  5. Oh and forgot to say - ugh - Colorado beetle! I don't mind the adults, but the grubs are icky! It's usually adults that I find and I crush them between two big stones. Hate killing things but some have to go!

  6. I am very impressed by your lovely, well weeded, vegetable garden. Also how much further forward all your plants are than ours. Here in Northern Ireland the weather is still cold and damp. The only thing that is growing madly is the wild garlic.

    1. I think wild garlic must grow well here as it seems popular, but I don't know where. I buy large packs of it in the supermarkets, great mixed with spinach and wilted, or for making pesto. The garden is not as weed free as it may look, especially since the rain the other day!

  7. Your blog helps my family. We are waiting for each of your post to arrive, as we are very near to our Big move to VT. I decided to help you as well with your Colorado b. problem. I was growing on a farm in a near proximity to Bulgaria and my parents were against chemicals as well. You have to start fighting with the beetle long time before it's appearance. In Autumn dust your ground with some wood ash. In Spring as you are planting potatoes, put onion and garlic's husk with your tubers (as beetles do not like the smell of rotten husk. In Winter Colorado beetles are sleeping up to 70cm deep underground) or put a handful of wood ash. In Spring, as you are planting your rows of potato, plant rows of garlic (calendula) in between potato rows. Garlic and calendula plants have a very distinctive smell, as they grow. You can plant rows of beans as well. But now you are in potato puberty time. You are doing the right thing by using the liquid soap but try to make it more effective and add up 150-200gr of fresh garlic or wormwood (widely spread in Bulgaria) for each 10litres of soapy water. Or alternatively, you can use the same wood ash. Just dust your potato plants. In 2-3 days you should see the real effect. But the most important thins is to start early!

  8. Sorry, I forgot one thing :). May be it is better to collect your beetles in some water jar? They can not swim and your soul is in peace :)? Thank you for your lovely stories.

    1. Tat iana, you could be on to something there. They are certainly not as bad as last year. All autumn and winter we have been using wood ash on the garden where we are going to plant crops which might benefit, as much as a way to use it as to what benefit it might have. Also the least affected plants are right next to the onion and garlic bed. I have heard that growing hemp between rows helps too but that has it's own problems. The neem in the soapy water is supposed to suppress the appetite rather than kill them, which is one reason why I used it as it will only affect anything in direct contact or ingesting it....I'm told. Dave collects the beetles. I love to see bugs and take pictures, but only handle them if I really need to. They go into the septic tank where their end is maybe not so pleasant.

      Thank you for your lovely comments. And I hope your move to VT goes smoothely and your future is happy.