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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Is it really September?

The heat has returned with a vengeance. The pool is emptied and refilled, the tomatoes are still splitting, the weeds are going mad...and we have a new flush of courgettes. Actually, they are welcome as there is not much else in the fresh line and we haven't had many lately. The brassicas are still going into the animal pen steadily. All the corn is picked and raspberries are still giving...managed to dry some to sprinkle on yoghurt during winter. The only other things producing are chard, a bit of kale and peppers. The celery and leeks are just sitting there...doing nothing.

In the flower garden we have a continuation of a new flush of blooms, the dahlias have been great, especially the larger ones and the cannas, very late, are looking like they might get a flower in before it's time to retire for the year.

Cute little spider on the grapes

Out and about there are signs that autumn is not far away. The storks have left and there have been reports of huge flocks flying over. The bee-eaters are getting noisier as they gather to do the same, and the golden orioles, of which there seem to have been a lot fewer this year, have quietened their song so that you don't notice when they disappear.

Along the roads the trees are ripening their seed pods and some are even changing colour. There are apples and pears dropping and soon there will be walnuts too. The last of the summer crops, maize and sunflowers are being harvested and soon everywhere will be ploughed and sown with over wintering rape and grain.

But it is still 40C today

It's been all change in the paddock lately. First of all we lost our beautiful cockerel Sevi. We are not sure why, he was bright enough, eating but looked sad. He had a bad moult and was growing new feathers so we think that maybe the heat got to him. It is so quiet out there.
Our Sevi when the goats arrived

But it's not just due to the lack of crowing...Ducky has also gone to his new home with two girls. Peace in the duck family at last. Ducky had just taken over in charge and was battling to know whether to continue to sleep with Mum in the hen house (where he was harassing the youngsters) or take up residence with the older ducks. The decision has been made for him and the original drake is having a well deserved rest with just two girls while Ducky settles in with his two and some geese, chickens and pigs...and very large dogs!

So the three amigos' tail feathers can re-grow and I am confident that two, at least, are boys, they are sparring a lot. One is the one who has no tail, not sure why, and the other the white one. How did we get a white chick from a blue/black cockerel and a brown ex-batt?

The other happening in the pen is that Milly is going down to one milking. Her milk has dropped down a bit lately so we have decided it's a good time to wean her on to one milking, making it easier for Venka to milk while we are away. Presumably the browse has less goodness in it now which will affect the milk yield. Hopefully Milly can put a bit of weight on for winter. As soon as it cools down a bit Dave will be sprouting some oats or barley which is very nutritious and everyone in the paddock will benefit.

                                           Dave playing with Tilly

Forty days after her death, Dave went to our neighbour's funeral/memorial at the weekend. A bus picked up the villagers and the widower and took everyone to her home town an hour away. He said it was a lovely, gentle ceremony and he was honoured to be included. I made some shortbread biscuits at Venka's suggestion, and without going into detail (it was a whole day) Dave came home with a bag of goodies obviously with some symbolic meaning and if anyone knows what they are please let us know.

The decorated shortbread biscuits are becoming a staple at local celebrations

Bread and butter, a mug with a sachet of 3in1 Nescafe, sweeties and biscuits, plus a little cup of chopped nuts

In the kitchen I have been trying to use fruit from the freezer and have made more why is my freezer still full? I thought the bananas in the fruit bowl were a little too far gone and added some chopped dark chocolate to a cake, then topped it with goat cheese frosting and sent some next door. Really nice. Also made some pickled onions as Dave has suddenly developed a taste for them...the last lot have been sitting around for a year!

Not sure about bronze maize, cooked, tough and ...odd

We will not starve this winter

We've also had some nice veggie soups and casseroles from our own produce, I'm not sure why we don't eat more of these things, I think I just forget and fed up of doing things by the evening. Good at any time of the year
And finally, Dave has upgraded his camera to one with a better zoom so that he can get photos of wildlife from a distance...and the moon. Unfortunately he wiped the pics he has taken before I had chance to load them onto my computer


  1. Hi, my name is Michele and have recently discovered your blog. I have never been to Bulgaria but am hoping to soon. I am from Somerset UK and my dearest best friend of 25 yrs is Bulgarian. I asked her about the goodie bag from the funeral. She said it is an old custom whereby the guests are all given food as a symbol of sharing a last meal with the deceased, who is also given food in order that they do not go hungry in the next world.
    I really enjoy your blog, please keep the writings coming. Best wishes Michele x

    1. Thank you so much for that Michelle. We thought it might be something along those lines. So much custom here involves food. It's a delicate subject but I think we know a lot more about funerals now.

      Welcome to our world. I hope you get to come to this wonderful country yourself soon

  2. I'm glad you found the answer to the goodie bag question. Unusual they wait so long after the death before the funeral is held. I thought the UK was strange enough with about a 2 week delay!

    So sorry to hear about Sevi - you must miss him a lot. And I'm glad Ducky has gone to his new home where I'm sure he'll be very happy. He grew up to be very handsome! I'm glad we don't have your heat but it is 19c here today and set to be similar for a week, and it feels so chilly! :-)

    1. From what we can gathr there is a forty day mourning period. But usually funerals are held very soon. There is only one crematorium in Bulgaria (we are led to believe) and that is in the capital Sofia. That is where the lady in question died so she was cremated and later, on Sunday, the casket was laid in the family grave where her son is buried.

      You know, we really do miss Sevi, he was so handsome and good natured, with a nice short crow.

      Yesterday it hit 42, today not much less. The tomatoes continue to cook.......

  3. I am so sorry to hear of Sevi's demise. Cockerels are such a very noticeable part of the flock and it will be very strange for you to adjust to not having him. I know it sounds a bit callous but will you replace him? Many of our neighbours don't bother with a cockerel but we think the flock behaves more naturally with a boy in charge.

    1. Yes, we have got used to having a cockerel, but worry a bit as he was such a good natured lad and any replacement would have a lot to live up to.

      Saying that, the three amigos are all looking like boys and one is definitely crowing, the white one (who is trying to mate wit the ladies) and the one with no tail are definitely boys and the smaller, prettier one we hoped was a girl is growing tail feathers. These are all Sevi's offspring, from battery hens