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Sunday, 11 October 2015

More tidying

We (or more correctly, Dave) managed to get the onion sets in before the heavens opened and the temperature dropped, and planted the lettuces. Brrrr He has also uprooted the tomatoes, we have brought all the golden butternuts up (but left the green ones for a while) and are monitoring the weather to see if it is worth digging up the sweet potatoes and potting some peppers before we fly off to the UK.  At the moment temperatures are forecast as low as 2c, but any lower and it could be dicey. It changes so quickly at this time of the year.

The last of the tomatoes, not too many green ones

The butternuts, not masses after losing all the earlier ones when they split, but they will keep us going and hopefully be used before we get sick of them! There are still half a dozen green ones on the plants

One for the goats, not sure what did this, maybe mouse or mole cricket

We have three crates of walnuts now, as well as the ones already frozen

On the left from our tree, on the right from next door's overhang. Very different
The winter bed looking tidy. The onions are under nets to stop the cats from digging them up

The flowers which were so perky last time I wrote are looking soggy and fed up now but they can stay a while, we'll just pick up the bits that fall through the weight of water. If the sun comes out so will the bees. The morning glory keeps flowering!
Soggy canna

All the flowers above are photographed by Dave

Dave has been very busy decorating all downstairs and the spare room, so we are ready for visitors due soon

He has also put some hanging shelves in the cellar ready for any produce and flower rhizomes which need a frost free home over winter

So we have had the first fires of the year, just to test the new flues. We soon realised we are a bit early when it got too hot and we had to open the door. But equally it's a bit cool without it in the evenings too, that awkward time. Most of the animals approve, but Charlie is a bit wary and jumps if a log moves. He'll soon get used to it though, and as I check this back he has taken Spud's place by the fire.

Spud enjoying the heat
Bella tolerating Charlie in a strange position

zzzzzzzz all is peaceful

This really is a lab!

Spud now prefers a fleece on the floor in the bedroom since Charlie has found his spot on the bed

Helping at the computer

His spelling's a bit dodgy though!

Out in the paddock we had a bit of a scare when Milly managed to get hold of too many walnuts and got a belly ache. She didn't have full blown bloat as goats sometimes get, but was rather quiet for 24 hours. Dave hovered over her (which she loves) and rubbed her tummy and gave her some bicarb and she was back to normal by next morning, shouting for attention every time she saw Dave. Today Venka came round to see what Dave does when milking as she will be doing this chore while we are away. Unfortunately Dave got things in slightly wrong order and Milly was a bit unsettled...she does like her routine. But she'll be fine. Venka is very experienced.
Milly chatting to Charlie...probably asking him to pass her a squash!

As for the other residents of the paddock, all is calm and quiet. I think we have two boys amongst the three chicks but as yet they seem quite calm. One has very feathery legs, like a Marran. The ducks are moulting heavily so have stopped laying altogether. The hens are giving plenty at the moment though so we still have a few to give away.

But some have been put to good use in baking. Today was the last car boot sale of the year so I made a couple of cakes, a ginger slab and a rhubarb and custard, (links below) to take with us, as well as some fruit buns for the freezer. It was a very wet morning and normally we would have given it a miss, but a few people had asked for things and it's nice to close on a good note so off we went, waterproof coats and boots donned....and got soaked! Not many sellers showed up and very few buyers even though most of the stock went as the ones who did brave the weather bought chutney and jam for winter. We were eventually beaten by the weather so soaked through and cold we packed up at about 11, when some customers turned up and asked if we were leaving already. Hmm, three hours in that weather, I'm sorry but we don't have a lie in because it's wet and enough is enough! The cake went down OK with friends though.
White chocolate and dried raspberries make for tasty rock buns...Dave approved!

Fruit buns, rhubarb and custard cake, ginger slab and brown and white bread
I was going to leave the rhubarb, but it put on a spurt of growth in the rain so I pinched some
Setting off in the rain....

...yeuck, must be mad....

...Dave acting the fool....
....and going home, even wetter.

Also new from the kitchen, I made what the Americans call dilly beans, lightly pickled runner beans. They use French beans but there shouldn't be much difference. We haven't tried them yet but we'll see, they might be nice. I just don't really eat many pickles. We have enough beans in the freezer and they are still producing well...though at the moment it is far too wet to walk safely on the land.

Used self sown fennel instead of dill, and some nice fat garlic cloves

They look OK, if a bit grey

I hav also done a bit of dehydrating. I have done some sliced garlic as it's so handy for chucking into stews and casseroles during winter, and some Portabello mushrooms which cost us less than two pounds for a carrier bag.
Two nice jars of garlic

Beautiful mushrooms

Dave had a couple of the largest ones stuffed with some of our own ricotta and some ham and baked

And we had mushroom and garlic yummy soup

The rest of the carrier bag, well over a kilo, went into two jars. Great for adding depth of flavour to soups and stews
And apart from this bounty, we have been given a crate of peppers from Venka and now have to think what we are going to do with these.....

A strange but surprisingly light and moist cake, though I used home made creme pat and twice as much rhubarb. Nice.

A nice light ginger cake recipe, though I did as others suggested and did half syrup and half treacle, and upped the ginger to four teaspoons


  1. I too have been drying mushrooms. Although it is quite wet and dull at the moment here in Spain I hung some ceps up in net bags around the kitchen as an experiment and they are drying really nicely. I used to have a dehydrator in England but we thought we would be on solar energy over here so we got rid of as much electrical gadgets as we could before leaving. Luckily it is a very dry climate for most of the year so drying things (including washing) is never an issue. The mushrooms are a first for me though.

    1. Ooo ceps, lucky you. I don't like the texture of mushrooms but love the flavour. It seems it's a good year here but I am not confident enough to go foraging, and it has to be said, not keen enough on the mushrooms. But ceps do have a great flavour.
      I use the dehydrator for some things, especially this time of year . Like you, it's great to be able to dry washing year round, despite extreme low temperatures in winter

  2. The boot sale must have been miserable, I hope you had some cover to shelter under! Your veg patch looks very neat now and lots of green grass again. Love the dog and cat photos - it's like that here but just with cats. They are really happy when we light the woodburner! Good idea to dry the mushrooms.

    1. Haha, though we were wet through,we had good company, otherwise we would have left earlier. No shelter, it was supposed to be fine!

  3. We loved reading about the change in season. A lovely sleepy time of year when the Earth starts to store up its energy for next Spring. We are still basking in temperatures well into the seventies but it's getting noticeably cooler and fresher at night. Enjoy your trip to the UK!

    1. Thanks Janet. I like autumn too, the end of hard graft for me for a while, though Dave always finds things to do. We have beautiful sunny days throughout autumn and winter when you can get out and even sit in the sun, interspersed with bitter cold made easier to bear by the dry and sun and can be so beautiful....and we can actually see the birds in the garden! We have short bouts of rain or snow, but not the constant dreary drizzle of the UK...and little wind. I enjoy this time of year as long as I don't have to go far, not sure if a warm winter would suit me.

  4. Adore your blog about life in Bulgaria, if all goes to plan will live in Greece in 4 years time.

    1. Thank you Jacqueline. I have to admit Greece would have been our first choice had we been able to afford it, but don't regret coming here at all. I hope your plans work out well for you.