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Thursday, 24 December 2015

A meaty time of year....

As the year draws to a close we have had rather a meaty time of things. As is now usual, Dave has been round to help our lovely neighbours with the work that goes with having your year's supply of meat prepared. First the two pigs, then the steer. It takes a bit of the hard work out of it for them to have a strong, young (ish) man to carry hot and cold water down the length of the plot, then carry chunks of meat to hang in the air. But gosh there is a lot of work in preparing for the freezer, rendering fat, bottling meat, curing fat, and mincing, making sausages and patties. Never mind chopping a mountain of bones. The meat usually hangs out in the cold for a few days to 'dry' but there has been a problem there this year. The weather has been so good that a) it's too warm and b) there are still flies about because of it. Our poor neighbours look exhausted.

So anyway, the slaughter season is over once again. There doesn't seem to have been so much around us this year, and certainly our neighbours have said they are having less beasts next year. Unfortunately not everyone does 'the business' behind closed gates, and a trip to a nearby village revealed a pig killing on the lane we turned in to, with quite a crowd hanging about. But this is Bulgaria and old traditions are still alive and well.

So, from buying a half lamb to have some meat in the freezer for the year, joining the surplus cockerels, we now have a mountain of beef and pork ribs, mince and steaks, even liver. And bottled chicken. And today we received more beef ribs and mince from another neighbour. We have half a freezer full of meat now! All for one person.

Today Dave went round delivering cards and cakes and mince pies to the neighbours. They were only little cakes, a token to thank them for their help and advice over the past year. But being the generous people they are, one neighbour sent the meat, a pot of snowdrops, a litre of rakia (we'll have to start bathing in it!) and two litres of wine. I feel sorry for those who do not mix with their neighbours, this is what we like about Christmas here, not trees and presents and spending a fortune you can't afford, but useful tokens and help each way throughout the year. It matters not a bit that I am a veggie tee-totaller!
There is still an unclaimed cake in the cupboard. Whatever did I do before Dave sorted these out?

A few awaiting delivery. Dave did the decorating this year, and a great job he made of them


We really didn't need anything in return, but happy to accept

I just hope the goatherd (a bottle of whisky) and his goat ladies (chocolates) take their tokens as a thank you for their kind hearted handling of our two well settled and happy goats! We don't need any milk or cheese!

We had a visit from a lovely friend...actually two....last week which is always nice as it gives me chance to do some cooking. Another spiced pumpkin cake went down really well, and quiche with oven potatoes and apple coleslaw. And we got pressies too, a very unusual poinsetta and chockies. Yum.
A very unusual colour

We went out for a meal with friends and friends of friends the other day, about thirty of us in all. Dave even got a comment from the car parking attendant about the English invading the city! It was nice to see people but we were both feeling a bit rough, coming down with colds and not sleeping too well, plus sadness at another friend passing away. So we left early with a bag full of brussels sprouts on stalks for the goats! Dave is now in the full throws of a cold, I have yet to go down with it.
Dave's starter, baked brie and blueberry jam

And my fried eggplant in eggy batter

Dave's 'breast' of pork with honey (ribs)

I didn't want a big meal, so had tomato, avocado and mozzarella salad covered in weird crumb....

Other news...the two young chickens are both laying now so we have plenty of eggs again. Dandy seems to have been accepted by the ladies, he seems a gentle soul though has certainly found his voice since the new boy arrived! But he is only little so I think it's good that we want to keep them apart. We might give the new boy a couple more hens once we know what the new girls' eggs look like, the two young ones are big enough and strong so should cope OK.

We still have flowers and insects in the garden. It's really weird as the roses are still in leaf, the weeds growing, daffodils growing and the birds and toads are singing! We have had a good few frosts which has zapped the rhubarb, but the lettuce are continuing to grow as are cabbages and carrots. Good job we have lots of mouths to feed! We are eating broccoli and beetroot too. And fresh herbs still.
Feeding on scabious

There are still lots of buds on

Roses in full leaf
Anemone coming through

Lots of lush weeds

Buddleia growing lots of new leaf

More young nicotiana coming in to flower


Carrots, beets and cabbage

The carrots are pale, but very sweet and tender
Looks like a spring garden, not winter

My sister recently bought a carpet for her sitting room from someone who sells quite a few second hand on facebook, and after seeing it we indulged too and now have a very smart clean one for the winter, pure wool too. It may not be the most practical colour given the amount of mud the dogs bring in sometimes, but it will help to keep us warm for the winter (when it arrives) and I love it!
Not that we need keeping warm a lot of the time at the moment, the fire is only in briefly...enough to knock the animals out. They have a very busy life you know


I would just like to thank all my regular (and not so regular) readers and contributers a very Happy Christmas and good health and happiness for the coming year. Thank you all for your support.

16 comments:

  1. Hope you have a good Christmas and a happy new year love your blog

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  2. Thank you Diane. And we hope you are having a good day too.

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  3. Merry Christmas to you. I hope you are having a lovely day. It has been an interesting pleasure to read of your life in Bulgaria - thank you for sharing.

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    1. Had a lovely, stress free day thank you.

      And thank you for the lovely comment

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  4. Enjoy reading your blogs through the year. Thank you for your inspiration. Wishing you a Happy New Year. We purchased/signed our house in this month so look forward to much of the same next year. Near Sozolpol.
    Rosemary

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    1. Thank you Rosemary, and a happy new year to you too. Enjoy your home in Bulgaria

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  5. Well Christmas is more or less over "bar the shouting" and its been almost a "Bulgarian Babas" one for me. Christmas Day went fine a lovely meal with the family, its the one feast I get to cook nowadays. The soreness in my jaw began to worsen and I was beginning to question the wisdom in trying to try and put up with it until I could gat to the dentist this Tuesday. Floods on Boxing Day and even 16 floors up I /we had a power cut. Being a prepared type I came into my own since I moved into my all electric high rise in 1998 I've had a wind-up radio, ditto torch a camping stove with lots of gas, bottled tap water changed every two week and loads of candles, which still didn't stop me wanting to go to bed as soon as I'd lit the candles. Anyway in much pain this evening I'm off to the emergency dentist hopefully for some antibiotics to ease the pain and swelling before I get to my own dentist ASAP. Happy New Year from Kath and Toy Boy, ps my grown up sone who both live on the same estate as me have stopped laughing and started planning their own survival kits.

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    1. Haha, bet they're laughing on the other side of their faces Sorry to hear of your tooth troubles, always one of the most miserable pains and I hope they can sort you out quickly. The floods have been terrible, rather like Bulgaria twelve months ago and more.

      Happy New Year to you too Kath...and Toy Boy of course.

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  6. Happy New Year to you from snowy W. Canada. It's been snowing all day here so we've got quite a bit added to what was already here. Supposed to get above 0degreesC by new years. Love your new carpet.

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    1. Hi Janice, and happy New Year to you and your family. We have been having good frosts but the days ave been so warm that it's not doing any harm. It is all set to change and it's time to change sandals for boots and thermal socks and t-shirts for woolies

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  7. Yes I forgot about the flooding over there, I saw some pictures on BIB where you and yours affected? Happy New Year to you two as well and please "keep on blogging".

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    1. Mostly by the coastal areas and Plovdiv area, but some all over. We were lucky, we just lost some crops.

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  8. Best wishes for a happy healthy New Year to you both from us in Spain. We have enjoyed your blog so much through the year, and comparing your veggie growing efforts to ours has been excruciating, ha ha, but has spurred us on to try harder next year. xx jane and steve

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    1. Thank you Jane and the same to you two. We did have some failures, weatherrelated (after the floods, the drought) as I'm sure you'll appreciate. But although we didn't do too well with peas, broad beans and potatoes, our three most usefull, there were other things to fill the gap. I am already starting on next year's crops.....experimenting with the polytunnel. It help having a workaholic husband!

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  9. Happy New Year. Thank you for the lovely descriptions of Bulgarian life in 2015. I hope the new year brings you and Dave all the good things in life. We had a sweltering New Year's Eve at the beach here in Oz but a delightful cool change has just blown in for New Year's Day :-)

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    1. And a Happy New Year to you and your's. Turned truly bitter here...a bit of a relief really....more normal.

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