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Friday, 5 February 2016

Feeling impatient

I need to relax and enjoy the weather more (I'm British, I have to moan about the weather) and I have done this last week. We have had t-shirt weather, even going without fires, but I am determined not to be lured into a false sense of security. I know we have some minor minus temperatures on the way...only down to -5C, but cold enough to be a problem to young plants.

The snow went pretty quickly once it started in daytime temperatures reaching 20C in the shade. It was lovely, all the animals perked up, shoots and snowdrops appeared (and mud) The bees are out and about more. Even the goats were picked up by the goatherd for a wander up in the fields. Then it rained....then snowed today! And we had hoped it would soon be dry enough to get something done on the land.
Bonnie enjoying the sun outside......

....and inside with Bella


Goats stretching their legs and stripping bark

Ducks dabbling in the mud

Even the flies came out

20C in the shade

However. Spring will soon be here and jumping the gun will not gain any time now that we have no polytunnel. Anything started too early would soon be knocked back and things will get going all the quicker if conditions are right.
A shield bug made it's way into my sister's house

Once the snow had gone Dave could get to the tunnel and rip off the cover. Sadly underneath there was all the purple sprouting broccoli, which was coming to it's peak, not only squashed but badly frosted, as were the cabbages and kale. All that were left to eat were some sprouts (which were delicious, frost really does make them sweeter) and of all things, some parsley seedlings! So it's back to buying fresh veg, a woman cannot live on frozen veggies alone! (But man can)

My poor veggies

Surviving parsley

But despite the bitter weather, life is coming to the garden. There are things coming up, some of which I can't identify, some is chickweed which is great for the fowl, the blackcurrant cuttings are showing life with fattening buds. The lawn snowdrops, which come up in either singles or up to three tiny little flowers, are all over the place and the larger ones in bigger groups are recovering after a bit of frost burn.
Blackcurrant cutting

The old one is looking good too

Tulips coming up in the fig. I hope the cat doesn't grow....or multiply (horror)

Not sure what they are, but they look healthy

There was once a lawn....but what's left is studded with single snowdrops

An unusual bunch of four tinies

Our small buddlea snapped by snow

The roses are breaking leaf bud despite the dreadful cold

Dave is frustrated with the weather too. He likes to try to keep with the local traditions when he can and on 14 February he should be pruning the grapes. But as regular readers will remember, their supports collapsed last year and new metal ones are waiting to go in. He managed to dig the first few holes ready for the supports to be cemented in but they are now full of water.

Out in Poultry Towers there is noise and lots of it. The ducks seem to be thinking about getting ready to lay. I thought the Indian Runners were quieter than the big birds we had last year, but they have found their voices and are using them. Ah well, they are still rather charming. Hopefully now the worst of the weather has moved on we will get some eggs. Meanwhile, though the general laying flock have stepped up a gear, one of the Sussex has stopped laying. We have set the eggs from the other hen to check fertility after the scare with the cockerel and frostbite, which actually came to nothing in the end, his comb has returned to it's normal colour and looks healthy, not black or flaky. The rest of the incubator has been filled with layer's eggs to justify the electricity, not just for hatching but also keeping them warm.

The six first hatched chicks have now been moved into the outside shed with their heat lamp and are growing well and their wing feathers are coming in.
The hybrids are much smaller than the Sussex

We still don't know if Milly is in kid. We have stopped milking her completely as the little she was giving was unpleasantly goaty. Their former owner was over recently and was very complimentary on their condition which was nice. I think Milly may be starting to moult as she stood for a long back scratch the other day. They have made a good job of stripping the broken branches from the pear and apricot which kept them occupied while they were stuck indoors, not that they seem to mind being in, but they went off with the goatherd very happily when the snow melted.
Stripped branches

The scar on the apricot tree, looking pretty rotten in the centre. I would still like to keep the tree though

One great result of the snow hanging about so long is that the cats are at last good friends, rather than Spud (almost) tolerating Charlie. They spend hours chasing each other round in rough play, much to Bella's disgust. She'll find any excuse to seek attention and pretends to be frightened....but Charlie is often to be found cuddled up with the dogs overnight so she's not that bothered really. During the day the two cats are choosing to sleep in the same place. Spud tries to tempt laid back Charlie into play by lashing him with his rather ridiculous long tail, then growling if Charlie takes the bait. They had moved outside when the weather perked up and were chasing up and down trees and walls instead of the stairs and furniture, but they are back by the fire now. I am hoping that eventually Spud will be happy to have the sort of life Charlie likes....mostly sleeping with breaks for hunting, play and food, and will stop scrapping with the local cats. They are so very different those two.

Dave has been keeping a check on the bees which seem to be pretty active, raiding the chicken food on warm days which they do before there are many flowers about, though they should have plenty of honey from last year. He has managed to get hold of two brand new hives so is ready if there is any danger of them swarming later on.

I've been doing a bit of baking etc while incarcerated, still trying to use eggs as fast as possible. I also made some jam from our own raspberries....there is nothing like home made (and grown) jam to go with the first crumpets I have made. I say crumpets....they are sort of crumpety pikelets sort of thing. The batter was a little thick and I don't have any rings so they were a mish mash of shapes and sizes. But they taste exactly as they should and have all the right spring and chewiness, but not enough holes so the butter runs off a bit instead of going down the holes. But they are delicious and I am planning on doing more soon. I probably chose the most complicated recipe of the bunch I looked at, but with a small adjustment to runniness I will stick with it.
I also had a birthday cake to make for Venka to take to her grandson. Boy cakes are difficult, but luckily flowers are commonly given to man (he's 20)  and with the cake being chocolate brown and blue flowers seemed right. It was rather short notice as we were due to go out. We sent some sparklers and candles so they could decide what they wanted.
A rather rushed cake

Banana cake, raspberry jam and crusty bread

Very odd looking crumpety things

But they taste just as they should


  1. Warmer temps makes everything better! Sorry about the has a way of interfering. Your collection of animals all look healthy and happy! The cake, bread and crumpets (is that like an English muffin?) w homemade jam made my mouth water! Have a great week...greetings from a still cold Kentucky!

    1. Not like a muffin though you would think so as it's a sort of bread. It's very British and difficult to explain, the crumb goes from top to bottom and there should be more holes on the top so that the butter can sink through. Or cheese if it's melted on. They tend to be eaten toasted and hot and very unhealthily during winter.
      Next time will be better.

  2. OMG you have so given me a yearning for crumpets! I do find that many of Paul Hollywood's recipes are trickier than others but are usually delicious once you get them to work. I have never made crumpets though... might be a step too far. The veggies are disappointing but at least you did get some sprouts - I haven't had a decent sprout in three years and it just doesn't get cold enough to grow them here... I can live with that though... I couldn't live with your minus temps! x

    1. Yes, there are some things that are very British and hard to find elsewhere, though ex-pat shops sell them at eye watering prices. I wouldn't say the recipe was difficult, just a lot of stages so really they should only be made if you have no warm, sunny gardens. The only bit to think about is the amount of water to add later and that should have been a bit more I think. Whatever...they've all gone!

      The temperatures are easy to cope with as the days are so beautiful usually. I used to think that -2 was cold in the UK, but here -8 in the day when the sun is so strong and you don't have to go to work is no problem. We can cope with that for a couple of weeks. Plenty of wood to burn Soon be spring!

  3. Impatience and frustration seems to sum up February in Bulgaria. We know we have much to do and the weather keeps teasing us with the promise that soon we'll be able to do all on our list, only to change and make us wonder 'when'

    1. Exactly Tracey! Feeling even more frustrated with the loss of the polytunnel which I was hoping would be coming into it's own by now. Mr Morgan is trying to get me to have a 'proper' one but I think it will be just too big.


  4. Oooh you shouldn't have shown those yummy things at the end! :-) The cake is amazing and beautiful and if that is a rush job I'd love to see what you can do when you have some time!!

    What a sad state the polytunnel frame and crushed PSB are in. I hope the plants will survive a bit of being bashed about (I'm sure they will). I'm amazed by your changing temperatures and I can imagine how frustrating it is when the temps reach that high to want to start getting on with spring jobs. It's nice to see signs of spring though with bulbs coming up although here it is all happening too fast and way too early!

    1. Thank you Mandy. Now I need someone to bring me some more icing from the UK, I hate being without!
      The psb has gone to the animals. With the polythene resting on the plants they got badly frosted and were limp and the shoots had burned. So the animals had a play with them. Looking back at last year I'm up to speed on most things but hoping Dave can get rotavating this week so the peas and broad beans can go in. We have the last good frost forecast (-5) tonight then we are into 0 and plus temps. Yippeeeee....
      And we had a glut of eggs this time last year too. Happy neighbours!

  5. Wow you're an excellent cook, lucky Dave and lucky neighbours.

    1. Thank you....but you don't see the failures! Haha