|I use the trays from the dehydrator to dry tomatoes in the sun, covered with fly mesh|
The beans are going to be pulled out to dry for when there is no browse for the goats. All the brassicas look sick as mentioned before, which is annoying as all the caulis were forming heads but have stalled, the curds opening and going yellow. The cues are bitter, again because of the water, though if you catch them immature they are ok. The peppers and chillis are withering on the pants too. All the potatoes are dug and will be graded into sacks or processing piles. The leeks are just sitting there and the chard....is doing OK! Oh, and the courgettes have given up! Some might say that's a good thing, but the goats like them.
Now, you could say,,,why not water at least twice a day? Afer all we have a well. But it seems like a waste of water when it will just be for veg we possibly have enough of. I know the neighbours do but they need to be able to sell what they can to make a few pennies. Yes it might get boring by the end of the year to have little variety, but it won't kill us. It is looking like another month before we get rain so we are unlikely to be able to get peas, carrots and beets in as we were hoping. The ground is just too hard to work.
|What to do with walnuts and mis shapen carrots?|
|Cake of course. There was a bit much mixture in a new recipe and I kept having to get more tins out|
Today when Dave was out buying a new printer (the other is not old, but not worth fixing) as we suddenly need a working one (sod's law!) and Bella was outside waiting for him, she suddenly shot in with tail between her legs which was a bit worrying, so I went out but couldn't see any reason for her concern so thought she had maybe seen a snake or something. When Dave came home and pointed to the grape vines all over the garden I felt a right fool. The 4x4'' stakes had snapped and the vines were on the deck flattening the flower border....and I hadn't noticed! He has managed to prop it up with added straps around the apricot tree and hopefully they will be OK for a few more weeks till the grapes are ready. There are just so many that the weight was too much. I would hate to be the one to tell Jordan the grapes he is looking forward to for his rakia have gone on the compost heap
|Flattened border. These plants look healthy in the shade of the apricot tree|
So I think the reason we feel busy is because everything is such an effort. I have never sweated so much in my life...and I spent most of my working life on a stable yard or in a kitchen! Dave is making very good use of the pool, but I am fussy...I don't like it too warm! But when it's emptied a bit (onto the garden) and filled from the well it's lovely, almost worth getting hot and sweaty. I will confess we have also allowed Bonnie a minute a couple of times, she so misses a good play in water and a minute of swim time perks her up no end. I know we shouldn't, but it's worth it to see the puppy in the old girl.
I have got into a habit of making yoghurt and soft cheese now, there is only so much milk we can fit in the freezer and there is a lot you can do with soft cheese, especially when you still have a stash of Lidl cheddar to keep the need for 'real' cheese satisfied. Our neighbour is quite impressed that we are using it so and feeding the whey to dogs and chickens (and the compost heap) During the quieter times over the autumn, and especially winter, we will be experimenting with making harder cheese, but first we need to get to a cheese shop on our up and coming trip home to Kent and stock up on one or two things.
We have just taken some honey from the hive, not a huge amount but plenty to keep us going. We can afford to take a bit more as there is enough and excess to keep the hive going over winter. But they are looking after it better than we can so if we don't need it we will leave it there. Meanwhile what we took is being filtered for the second time and has been tasted and tasted again...very thick and yummy. It is lovely with the yoghurt and the cheese (no figs this year though) and the last of the frozen walnuts from last year, with the fresh season's walnuts coming up soon. Hopefully better than last year's, they certainly look it but there are a lot of old black ones falling at the moment.
|Uncapping ready to spin in the new honey extracter. The cappings go back to the bees after the honey has dripped out. They will take any honey left and the wax can then be cleaned ready to use...watch this space|
|We worked fast before too many bees came to see what we were doing. They came and started to take the honey back|
We only have one more car boot sale to do now so I have been able to cut back on the jam and chutney making. I am still making cordials for our own use as we need to keep the fluids up. Blackcurrant is definitely favourite, followed by gooseberry and strawberry. I like gooseberry and rhubarb as it's a bit lighter, but the peach I made last week (they being about 40p a kilo) I don't fancy and even sweet toothed Dave is not that keen on. I have some peach and raspberry which might be better but that is not being opened till this lot is drunk. The pepper and pear season is not yet over, with apples and quince to come too. We have not had any red peppers donated to our cause this year which is a relief, we had far too many last year (and green ones earlier this year) and if the neighbours can get a few pennies for their excess I would rather they did that. I know a lot of people make sauces to bottle ready to just grab, but I would rather just bottle the tomatoes as a base for the other veggies going in fresh, I prefer the just-cooked flavours...and anyway we seem to have acquired enough for emergencies!
|The second half of the pantry is done, filling up with preserves very quickly.|
The animals are now starting to get fed up with this weather. There has been a lot of moulting in the poultry pen with feathers everywhere but most are coming through it and are starting to lay...except the ducks who have almost stopped for the year. I have to say they have done very well, they have been laying consistantly since february and we have sold enough to pay for the food and some of the chicken food too. But we are going to have to do something about the boys. The older drake (looking rather washed out after a 'busy' summer) is harassing Ducky who is looking splendid, no doubting thet he is a boy with his curly tail feathers and squeaky voice. He still shacks up with the hens, but I think if the drake went the ladies would accept Ducky as the successor.
|Picture for Mandy, the three amigos|
|Little grey chick will get a heck of a shock one day doing this!!!|
|Hot birds at bed time....notice the two naughty swallows above them...no doubt spreading their parasites! Cheeky pair|
|Ducky starting to look grown up|
|And the drake fading to look like a girl|
The goats have really settled now and though sometimes they can't get into their house as it's full of feathered friends, they are happy in the shade of the walnut and pear. They are hilarious when they start playing with each other, Mum Milly being gentle with young Tilly, who is not so gentle back! Dave takes them for walks most days and they are slowly getting used to people and dogs suddenly appearing and the odd car or tractor. Foraging amongst the wild growth means they pick up allsorts and the variety has to be good, and of course, being ruminants, they can enjoy it all again later at their leisure (who knew goats burp so much?)
The cats and dogs are flat out all day, usually with legs in the air but sometimes they still want to cuddle up which is uncomfortably hot. I wouldn't have thought a small cat could generate so much heat! The two cats are playing a lot in the evenings and early mornings, getting on really well now with just the odd reminder that Splash is top cat. The boy occasionally visits us upstairs at night but the grey cat doesn't. It is far too cool for cats with the air con going full blast. Bonnie is happy with it, Bella hides under the bed.
|Fascinated with the printer|
|The 'easy' apricot is abandoned for a game of chase in the big plum tree|
|Cuddle with Bonnie....|
|Splash checking his territory. He sits and watches the babas at night when they go out and sit on benches for a chat. They think he's hilarious|
And finally, an early morning visit to the river revealed a couple of animals we have seen but have been rather camera shy. There was a lone jackal hunting rodents in the stubble, unfortunately a quarter mile away but fun to watch (there were buzzards and a hare in the same field)
The other thing was a terrapin basking on a log. We've caught glimpses before but this was the first picture on 'our' stretch of the river.