There was an error in this gadget

Friday, 26 June 2015

It's all a bit hectic here

But luckily we are having a cool spell which makes things easier. Following on from getting the pool, we have also had air conditioning fitted in the bedroom in an effort to get more sleep. We haven't used it yet though, the nights have been cool enough and one night, after having rain all day, we even had a light cover on the bed!
Despite the chill, Dave is making good use of the pool
Our neighbour asked if I would make a cake for her friend one evening at 6.30....for next day. After all they do for us how could I refuse? So a carrot cake was duly made and iced the next morning at 6, taken round before Dave went out. A couple of days later the recipient came back with the cake box and three kohl rabi and two (obviously prized) cherry tomatoes inside.

Dave seems to be flitting into town a lot lately, but on one trip he bought a couple of locally made things for the kitchen which are nice.
Can you see what it is? Maybe not a great colour for a clock with gold hands, but a pretty pate all the same

My new fruit bowl....

....filled with fruit

My beautiful old fruit plate..... filled with tomatoes. I've just given aa load away!

With rain comes more work of course. The weeds and veggies have put on a spurt and giant courgettes and cucumbers abound. The ducks are still eating them but I get filthy looks after the initial excitement from the chickens. The tomatoes are ripening at a good rate, which I have mixed feelings about as they are not all what were sown. As I reported before, the large pink tomatoes have turned out to be small red ones and they have tough skins so only really any good for cooking. I was so looking forward to large, juicy, fleshy toms and am having to make do with small sharp cherry tomatoes. They have done well from very small and compact plants which try to hold on to the fruits by curling round them. The chickens have had a share as something takes bites out of some of them. Out on the plot the small, yellow and unfortunately not vert tasty pear shaped tomatoes are also ripening, as well as the red currant sized ones. I keep looking at the green ones in the hope that I will know when they are ripe, but as yet I don't think they are.

They don't look it, but these are tiny

And these are cherry sized

The first of many bottles of tomatoes goes into store

The beans are still doing well. I am nearly at enough for the freezer and if I have time will make some bean pickle which went down quite well last year. The borlotti will soon be harvested and I will be freezing a lot fresh to save on soaking time when I forget.  The beetroot were suddenly getting huge so I had to make more chutney and pickle a load. The ducks enjoy the leaves. The carrots are still doing well, the red ones are not to vigorous but the white ones are huge. they are all very tasty. The potatoes are much bigger now and the ones I was disappointed with (they went mushy) have settled down and now cook well. They make a great crispy roast but with a waxy instead of fluffy middle. Most of the Bulgarian leeks are doing OK but unfortunately, after the rain, my seed raised plants were strimmed along with the weeds, though they may grow back. Dave has gone through the weed stumps and found all but ten of them Ah well. Most of the brassicas are doing well and we have had more green sprouting broccoli. The sprouts. however, have been attacked by aphids so I may try sowing some more.
Just a few of what was picked and processed this week The kale is lovely
Yummy roasties
Peppers for the cucumber pickle

All the viney things at the end of the garden have suddenly taken off. The butternuts, melons and sweet potatoes are all looking great. The early sweetcorn (minus some more strimmed plants) is fattening, with one plant having four cobs.
Cantaloupe melon


Sweet potato

Sweetcorn. There must be two plants here to have four cobs

In the borders the zinnias are going great guns, the roses are gearing up for a second flush of flowers and the dahlias are lovely...except the prized chat noir has got damaged in the wind. That's sad. The scabious are now flowering too, happy insects.
The large dahlias

And a little pompom

The scent from the one carnation is incredibly strong
No idea what this is or where it came from. Nice though

The climber which did so incredibly well earlier is starting up again

Monarda, the flowers are great, the plants are chewed

Unusual nicotiana

Pink scabious...with a couple of passengers
White scabious....
Our first sunflower flower. We didn't sow any this year, but they are all over the place. There is quite a thicket in the poultry pen

The old dunny is nearly covered in morning glory.

Just getting up, pretty even before it opens
I hope this doesn't grow!!!!
Mini allium

Ivy leaf geranium, lovely colour

The grapes are still looking good...all fingers crossed for a good year


And the stonefruit is not worth mentioning. An apricot or two fell and the purple plum seems to have lost most of it's fruit, the wild plum has few fruit though those there are are much bigger than usual. The mini pears have suffered in the wind....but the quince are looking great.
Lots of quince

There are still a few purple plums on the tree

But there are a heck of a lot more on the ground

Healthy looking walnuts

But there are always some manky ones

And the bees seem to be doing OK too. The frames Dave took out have been rebuilt and work has well and truly started on the new frames. Hopefully we will have plenty of honey for our own use this year.

In Poultry Towers Cagney is in the last few days of incubation. It has not been that easy for her. If the cage is left open Chubba is inclined to kick her out to lay her useless, soft egg in there so poor Cagney is having to be shut in during laying times. Whe she does come out Sevi starts to chivvy her around, naughty boy. Once she gets rid of him she has to deal with Ducky who is determined to keep his bond with Cagney going. Cagney is equally keen to see the poor confused duck off.
Hello Mum

I'm right behind you mum....

The big news is that we are very close to getting the goats. The hay is made, most of it delivered and the rest coming today (so he says). We have also had wood delivered which is another story, but suffice to say that it has been an exhausting time and thank goodness for the wonderful residents of our street who helped to move the hay into the garage and stack it, especially the lady who I didn't know and had to ask who she was. I'm just glad the bales are not the big, heavy UK sized ones, I don't think I'm up to lifting those now.

We went over to visit friends and meet the goats properly this week and what a lovely day we had. It started off badly when the sat-nav went on the blink and we couldn't find the map. So we had to make a detour for a new one. We have only been once before, in the middle of winter when there was so much ice on the trees they were white. This time evrything was green and flowery and lovely. The village is higher up and a little behind us in the lowlands. There were many different butterflies flitting about (only managed to capture one)
Meet Milly (mum) and Tilly (white kid) We were going to have the black kid but someone else has taken a fancy to her and we don't mind what colour we have. Tilly is so sweet I'm rather glad

Mabel looking interested in Dave watching the milking

Dad to the kids

Another interested lady

All sorts of colourful birds, like this beautiful peahen.

A black and white butterfly

Handsome boy
Feeding time for the cats

Gorgeous Colin, unfortunately spoken for

And his sister Olivia Neutron Bomb

Shame she's female

And the pony, looking stuffed

It was wonderful to catch up as we (especially I) have had little chance to chat lately. Lots of views on growing veg exchanged, animal chat and gossip. Wandering out to meet the animals and birds, more chat...where did the time go. Then a wander up the hill for a vegetarian feast, a collaboration between friends at the bottom and top of the track. More chat. How exhausting is chatting? Then a mad dash home to let the dogs and cat out as we hadn't realised how long we had been talking.  They were fine, no problems. But it is lovely to be in more open areas and watching so many butterfies and birds than we don't always see in the centre of the village. Interesting that we see so many blackbirds but they seem too shy to hang about here, though we did have one early spring.
The view from the balcony, high above the village

Dave's first attempt at modern art in pride of place

Lovely grub

The ones we didn't eat came home with I really have to give the plate back?
Lemon and lime curd. I made this to put inside lemon and lime yoghurt cake I took with me, recipes below
And back home....the first damsel fly we have seen in our garden

Lemom and lime yoghurt cake

250g plain flour
250ml plain yoghurt
2 eggs
75ml veg oil
zest and juice of one lemon and one lime
200g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 tsp bicarb
pinch salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together with the sugar. Add flour and baking powder and bicarb. Mix well and pour into a lined 23cm cake tin. Bake at 180c for 35 minutes (test with a skewer, if it comes out clean it's done)

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar to zest and juice of half a lemon and half a lime. Skewer the top of the cake and pour the mixture over. Allow the cake to cool for half an hour before transfering to a cooling rack. Can be served as is, or with cream, or filled with buttercream or as I did, make some curd , yummy (so is thick Greek yoghurt with the curd mixed in)

Lemon and lime curd the easy way.

180ml mixed lemon and lime juice
Finely grated zest from the fruit
175g sugar
3 eggs
125g unsalted butter

Heat all the ingredients gently in a saucepan until the first bubble appears, stirring all the time. Transfer into sterile pots. Makes two small or one large jar of curd. Refridgerate and use within a month (yummy in yoghurts/ with cream and custard as a fool/on toast or fresh bread)