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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Just not enough hours in the day

As another week has gone by and the changeable weather for March here in Bulgaria restricts work in the garden so other tasks indoors take over. No matter the weather, each day after the goats have been collected by the goat ladies Zhumbula and Galia or fed if it is raining and the other animals on the smallholding have been fed and checked I go to Sara's grave for a coffee and a 'chunner' before I get ready for the day ahead without her.

Although worrying about the delay in getting the garden organised it is foolhardy to even consider working the ground for sowing carrot and beetroot which are next on the list for as the soil although friable when dry become a bit of a nightmare when wet as it compacts quickly and clings to your shoes creating a good workout as you try and clump up the garden an extra four inches taller. In addition to this we have had the occasional night temperatures below freezing which would only halt germination further. The weather is so deceiving and recently the return of migratory birds such as White Storks and Dalmatian Pelicans to Bulgaria after the winter have been seen over the east towards the Black Sea. The occasional sunny day makes me think at last spring has truly arrived and encourages me to take the now lanky tomato plants that Sara foolishly sowed too early into the still surviving poly tunnel to then a day later to be returned back into the house due to falling temperatures. This year most certainly is the first year where a fire still regularly needs be lit in the house to keep warm at night.

Being restricted to indoor activities has enabled me to start getting things made or arranged for the first car boot sale of the year. After the making of the brown sauce which already has had 'the thumbs up' with taste tests I have been searching for more jars to make raspberry jam. Friends have given me jars, but sadly many of them are the large jars used for storing bulky items such as preserved vegetables or tomato sauce (lutinitsa) a regularly bottled produce and the jars are too large for jam, but nothing is wasted. Having purchased some glass paint I have decided to try selling them as tealight holders, so currently the kitchen is full of an array of different coloured jars or jars that require colouring before the external paintwork is applied. From initial responses they seem popular and so it is all systems go with painting jars in the next week.

Washed and ready for decorating

Internal painting completed

Finished article (trail test), 

Sara used to also make greetings cards and had before Christmas bought in preparation for this years car boots a bulk of card making things. Although limited with time Sara would have hated them going to waste so a couple of mornings I have got a few cards made up as well. 

A few decoupage cards prepared

Most of the items produced do not raise a great deal of money and pretty much only cover the cost of making them. It takes a little time to adjust to the fact that you cannot expect to command prices as would be paid in the UK. Car boots were one of Sara's highlights of the month, an opportunity to meet already made friends from other villages and to also make new acquaintances. The number of friends she made was evident by the number of them attending her funeral. So hopefully if I can organise myself I hope to have cards, tea-light holders, sauce and jam for sale at the first car boot at the end of the month. This will be another hurdle I need to overcome, dealing with life without Sara, but a hurdle I must confront and deal with in order to continue on living here in Bulgaria and living our dream. l will not become a hermit or recluse, but the occasional excursion to town or the market has to be planned well in advance to take into effect that I need to deal with home life on my own first. Simple examples such as preparing a meal, being around to ensure the dogs are not on their own too long, to being in when the goats come back from being out all day all need to be considered, At the moment it is not possible to ask our neighbour to let the goats in as she has done on occasions for until the forty day period of Sara's death has passed she and any other Bulgarian will not cross the gateway to the property, another Bulgarian custom that I do not fully understand.

On the poultry and livestock front the next lot of chicks are due to hatch next week and out of the eleven Light Sussex eggs that were set, eleven of them appear fertile when candled ten days into incubation, so 'Storming Norman' the cockerel is definitely "doing the business". Of the fifteen Light Sussex eggs I bought from another breeder so that any hens from those I can keep to increase my flock, fourteen of those appear fertile and should hatch a week later.
 Storming Norman


At the moment I have not candled the Indian Runner duck eggs (eighteen eggs set in the incubator) to assess fertility and will do that in the next few days. Of the five female ducks, three are laying regularly and fortunately 'Coco' the chocolate coloured female has mixed in with the rest of the flock. She was not named because of her colour, but because I was concerned that she may have been hatched under a chicken as she seemed to be imprinted on chickens rather than ducks. She appeared a little bonkers as she chased after the chickens giving them verbal abuse rather than mixing with the ducks. Over time the ducks decided they no longer wanted to roost in a separate shed to the chickens and all sleep in the same shed and since then Coco seems to have weaned herself off her chicken infatuation,
Coco

I am a duck

With the sheer number of eggs I am getting at the moment excluding the Light Sussex and Indian Runners. I am getting a minimum of eight eggs from Sara's hens a flock of ex-battery hens and various mixed breeds which means pretty much eggs on the menu each day. I decided that as in the summer I will be pretty busy in the garden to have a go at making quiches that I could then bake and freeze to be taken out in the summer and defrosted and eaten with salad.  Sadly I still have not got fully to grips with the oven, so although not burnt, more toasted, two red pepper and salami, one salmon and sweetcorn and one cheese, leek and sweetcorn quiches were successfully made and minus one which has already been eaten are now frozen ready for the summer. I was even more chuffed that they were made from scratch in that I had also made the short crust pastry myself. With a little more practice they may look a little more appetising.

Homemade shortcrust pastry 

Near burnt offerings, but edible.

The goats Millie and Tilly (aptly named Tubby Tilly) due to her rotund shape go out daily weather permitting and the new billy and ulgy brute still has the hots for Millie so much so he got overexcited and came steaming into the garden as Millie shot out of it to escape his advances. Fortunately he realised his mistake and shot back out the garden legging up the road chasing Millie and then when she ran back to the herd he then settled down and all of them went of in a more orderly fashion. This being the case hopefully now at last Millie may be pregnant (in a week she should be back in season if she is not). If little Tubby Tilly has been mated it will have also been by 'the stinker' being the new kid on the block, as I do not think she was although rotund was caught by the old billy as she was in season mid February so should have been back in season, but unlike Millie who lets everyone know she is in season, Tilly is a little quieter and does not tell all and sundry. I need to keep a check on their charts, but hopefully one should give birth at the end of July/beginning of August which will then enable me to make cheese during the winter. I still keep toying with the idea of an Anglo-Nubian goat as they have a higher yield and a higher butterfat content to the milk, but trying to get a good type here in Bulgaria is pretty tough and they do command quite a high price in comparison to the usual goats found in Bulgaria. Still we can all dream.

As for the dogs and cats all are their usual selves except Bonnie the Lab. Bless her is now coming up for thirteen years old and of I night time I have to carry her up the stairs as her back legs have occasionally given way under her which has made her a little nervous of going up them. She is fine in herself, eating well and does not seem to be in any pain. but I have put her on Glucosomine just to help her joints.  The morning walk for the dogs which is only around the block takes a good fifteen minutes in comparison to five minutes due to Bonnie. Although they do not really need the walk as they have access to the garden ad lib, it is still a habit they have from the days back in the UK where as soon as Sara went to work I walked them before I went to work.
 The 'old girl' Bonnie

 Permanently asleep other than food time Charlie

 Me and my shadow Bella - always there with me making sure I am OK, well I think more using me as protection

Don't mess with me Spud

There is not a lot going on in the garden at the moment other than plants that have lay dormant over the winter are now beginning to appear and blossom, 

 Peony

 Peach blossom


Early peas

Broad beans


Raspberry canes 

 Rhubarb

The potatoes that Sara had ordered are now being 'chitted' ready for planting. Sara being Sara always wanting to trial things decided on five varieties and as most are good for storing seems like my diets will be mainly spuds throughout the winter.







So as you can imagine my days seem to be pretty much full on, getting up around 3.30am and crashing out at 9pm and then I still do not seem to have got everything done in the day. Still it stops me from dwelling too much and getting on with our dream, but I know sooner or later I need to streamline and reduce the workload somehow, but tomorrow is another day.

  


   
   




45 comments:

  1. Ruth Ballantyne17 March 2016 at 06:58

    Hi Dave, really enjoyed this and will become a regular reader. Hope to see you at the car boots, love the tea lights holders and will certainly have a few.

    Cheers

    Ruth Ballantyne

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading it - Sara had put so much effort into the blog it would have been a shame to let it go. I hope to try and write something on a weekly basis time permitting. I had better get going doing more tea light holders then.

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  2. Love your writing little brother. So proud of you. Love you and always in my thoughts xxxx

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    1. Thanks Big Sis - trying to write on a weekly basis, but not too airy fairy, just down to earth chunnering. Love you too xx

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  3. Lovely idea with the tea lights they are pretty, you do sem to have a heavy work load and over time you will stream line it to suit your needs, its still early days, the quiche looks yummy well done :-)

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    1. As you say Dawn the workload will be adapted to enable me to maintain our dream, but also to enable me a little bit of me time.

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  4. Well done Dave, very newsy and interesting. People like myself love candle holders so I think you will have a market for them at the car boot. Given any thoughts to the shabby chic hearts that you can buy on e-bay in bulk. Alexa bought us one for our 2oth Wedding Anniversary and my Bro-in-law branded our initials on it. Will send you a pic if you interested in seeing it. You can also put babies names on them with ribbons etc. XX

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    1. I am sure they are the sort you gave Sara and I when we moved over here as a going away present which said "Home is where the story begins". It still hangs up in our window upstairs. The biggest problem is the price and postage which would make them not cost effective selling them out here. But thanks for the suggestion. Time will tell re the tea lights. xx

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  5. Those quiche fillings sound delicious! I am impressed you had time to make them with all you do every day!

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    1. Experiment is the key, sometimes they taste good other times never to repeated. At the moment as soon as I am awake I am up and ready to go but by the end of the day ready for bed and a good nights sleep.

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  6. Great post Dave, you are doing well. Cooking, creating, gardening, housekeeping as well as looking after all of the animals.....you will be shattered. Make sure you get some 'you' time, you will need it. Loved the pictures of the girls, sorry to hear Bonnie is struggling a little but she is doing pretty well given her age. Take care and thank you for taking the time to post each week.

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    1. Many thanks for your words of support Jackie. Tomorrow will be my ;me day, as off to the local bird fair to try and get a couple more Light Sussex hens maybe and meet up with a couple of friends.

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  7. Love to hear how you are doing, living the dream for you and Sara. The tea lights are beautiful. Its good to be busy but dont over do it, find time to chat to others as this is important too.
    Sending best wishes from an unusually sunny Somerset, take care, Michele

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    1. I know it is important not to overdo it, but at the moment it is trying to assess priorities and then adjust and then reassess to finally make what Sara and I achieved more stream lined and able to manage it on my own. By the way can you send some sun over here please.Ptiaten den (have a good day)

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  8. So glad you're continuing the blog, it feels as if Sarah is writing through you
    Teresa

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    1. Bless you. It is impossible to find the time to be able to write about everything and how I am generally dealing the loss of Sara, but she inspired me then and still does now, hence the continue writing.

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  9. Oh that sounds harsh that no Bulgarian person will enter your property for 40 days, is a time when support is needed most, cultures are different. You can visit them though.
    Love the tea lights!.
    Would simple things like iced biscuits, chocolate rice crispie or cornflake cakes sell?.
    Quiches as you have lots of eggs?.
    Regards Kirrie


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    1. Sadly Kirrie some car boots will not allow you to sell food that can be eaten on site so am restricted with that one and also Sara had tried selling cakes, but they were not cost effective and some times they sold and another time they would not. In addition to this anything iced or that has topping/ingredients that are likely to melt again a no no as in the height of the summer they just melt. Therefor things that are not perishable are best and as for the tea light holders effectively recycling as someone was going to throw out the jars. My neighbours although will not come in do keep an eye on me and have invited me round for meals and coffee, just one of those customs I have not got to understand fully.

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  10. Glad to see another blog post and that you are carrying on with the dream. Sara would be so proud of you. I'm so impressed with all your skills. The quiche look delicious. I can't make pastry for anything, my sister makes me a bunch when she comes to visit. Good luck with the car boot sale. You will have a nice variety of things and I hope the tea lights go well. Looking forward to the next post.

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  11. Glad to see another blog post and that you are carrying on with the dream. Sara would be so proud of you. I'm so impressed with all your skills. The quiche look delicious. I can't make pastry for anything, my sister makes me a bunch when she comes to visit. Good luck with the car boot sale. You will have a nice variety of things and I hope the tea lights go well. Looking forward to the next post.

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    1. Ma y thanks Janice, I amaze myself at times at how diverse I can be with my skills or attempts at making things. Ultimately boils down to a little skill, but one hell of a lot of self belief. Sometimes they works sometimes they fail, but you always learn from your mistakes.

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  12. You have inspired me to have a go a glass painting! I need some colour on the open shelves in my kitchen which hold my dehydrated produce and thought I would have to buy some coloured glass jars, but now I won't....I shall paint them myself!
    Looking forward to your next blog......

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    1. I glad the blog has inspired you Vera and that you are enjoying the read.

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  13. Love the jars with the tea lights and I am impressed with your quiches. Coco is a lovely looking duck, very pretty. You do seem to be working very hard but coping very well too. I am so glad you are keeping the blog going.Don't work too hard though.

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    1. Many thanks for your concern Carol. I know I cannot maintain this rate of workload longterm, but at the moment it is giving me the opportunity to keep myself busy and not dwell on the the loss of Sara, but also so that I can assess whilst working what tasks to prioritise and where to make adjustments. Tomorrow I am having a me day and going a bird fair to see if I can get a couple of unrelated Light Sussex hens and met up with a couple of friends, so no major work tomorrow.

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  14. Oh love, you are doing so well. Those tealight holders are really pretty. I did smile at the thought of you making cards. Perhaps I should teach my hubby how to use all my crafting stuff just in case he should ever need to.
    I wonder whether pickled eggs are enjoyed out there or is it a British thing. Perhaps you could try selling a few jars.

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    1. Many thanks Cherie.
      Sara had made some pickled eggs as a trail (1 jar with beetroot juice), maybe one day think about it once everything in the garden is sorted nd planted out

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  15. Hi Dave, Kudos to you for keeping up the blog. You have my respect for all you do and the way you are keeping yourself together.
    You've got a lot on your plate with all the critters and the garden.
    Take care.
    Jandra

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    1. Many thanks Jandra for your support. As you say a lot on my plate at the moment and a need to streamline, but at the moment assessing each day and any hurdle I come to, but no matter what will be here in Bulgaria.

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  16. Beautiful tea light holders - Sara would have been proud of them :)
    Pleased to hear you are managing, and the dogs are looking after you! Love this blog - so pleased you've kept it up.
    Take care - don't work too hard
    Emma

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    1. So pleased you like the blog Emma and as Sara had put so much work into it and is her legacy it is not right to let it stop, but finding the time to do it stresses me out at times knowing there is so much to do, but no matter what it is a priority to ensure Sara's spirit lives on in my writings. Oh well must get that first cup of coffee of the morning (currently 3.30am).

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  17. Love the pictures of spud, what a handsome well fed cat, remember the pictures of the tiny pathetic looking scrap of a feral kitten that adopted you both!.is it friendly?. Or are feral genes are stronger?.

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    1. He has his moments. It is not uncommon for single kittens that are hand-reared to be aggressive and as we suspected him to be only around 3 weeks old when he appeared at the gate and had to be fed milk by a syringe initially it certainly rings true with him. He is very much a Jekyll and Hyde character one moment purring like crazy sitting on your lap and then the next moment it starts with his tail swishing and you have pretty much a five second warning before hell breaks loose and he attaches himself to your hand. On the whole he is not too bad but sadly although he gets on well with Charlie our grey cat and the dogs is very much a street cat and is always getting into scraps and generally is always carrying some war wounds. Wouldn't change him though its all part of his charm and although Sara never considered herself a cat person she had a soft spot for him and would regularly plonk himself on her for attention, quite often at the most inappropriate time sucg as when she was writing her blog and he would walk all over the laptop keyboard.

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  18. Has spud being fighting? Looks like in the photo he has a scabby nose?.

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    1. He is always fighting, stroppy street cat is not the word.

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  19. Just had a little thought... Do you have a spare room that you could offer as a 'working holiday' let... Maybe offer to pick people up at the airport and offer room only or self catering in exchange for a few hours each day grafting. They can sort out meal arrangements themselves...

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  20. Picking people from the airport would take a big chunk out of my day as is 2.5 - 3 hours drive to Sofia so would not be cost effective and also I like my own space and not have to worry about visitors.

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    1. I know just how you feel. I like my own comfortable mess without having to worry about looking after other people. I think you have enough on your plate to worry about just now.

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    2. Pretty much sums it up Cherie.

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  21. Pretty much sums it up Cherie.https://www.afu.ac.ae/en/sau/vision-and-mission/

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  22. Dave, move your ass n give us an update!.
    No leeway given at all.
    I,m having a shit night Irish lodger n her friend are singing cum by a my lord or whatever, n reading bible in my lounge, lost will to live decamped to conservatory then bed.
    I,m atheist everyone to their own, but bible class stuff in my sitting room NO!.

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  23. Will do Kirrie, at the moment madness here as a combination of many things to do trying to organise for the 40th day service, getting ready for the first car boot of the season, sorting out pens for chicks and the occasional chance to stop for a coffee. Hopefully try and write something by midweek.

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  24. Lovely to see your garden growing, gardens and animals are the best kind of work, your tea lights are very nice 👍

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