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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A bit of sun

Sorry for the delay in between blog postings. but as you can imagine things are still a little busy here in the BG smallholding. Each day has its moments where I still dwell of the loss my Sara and having to deal with legal aspects of informing the relevant persons/authorities in the UK of her death does not help in these circumstances. Various forms needing to be completed and sent to UK of which these now need to be seen as a priority especially as it is nearly two months since Sara's passing and that the garden has now pretty much been organised and planted for the growing season. I still am finding the strength to get through each day without her, but at times when I least expect it I hit periods of grief and can be set off by the most smallest of things. From going for a meal in town and being on my own, to trying to cut my hair alone, to watching TV when I have time alone to asking her advice as to what I should now be planting in the garden and where, to wanting to chat to her about the chicks and the eggs due for hatching all have their effect on me., but as I have said before and I will say again, I pull myself out of these periods by more work and keeping myself occupied. So now I am a slimline baldy as the combination of work and emotional stress I have lost a little weight and to avoid those embarrassing moments from where I have left tufts of hair from cutting my own hair and that 'the thatch' is receding I now shave my head.

Anyway now onto the events of the week and many there have been.

During the week and having periods of blazing sunshine and temperatures hitting the low thirties and that the concrete base now fully hardened I set about putting up the pool so that when I get overheated working in the garden I can throw myself into it to cool myself off.
Pool all ready for summer 

With the high temperatures the dogs and cats have more sense than me and laze around in the shade. The goats are going out daily, being collected by either Zhamboola or Galia at just after 8am and coming back on occasionsas late as 6.30pm.

Spud finding a shady spot at the height of the day
during the days of temperatures hitting the low thirties

One day last week Millie the goat was very listless and initially I thought maybe she had the start of bloat which she has had once since being here, but as the day drew to a close it became evident that this was not the case. Leaving her overnight and having a very sleepless night in the morning she was much the same not eating and looking very dejected. After a brief call to my friend where I got the goats from, myself and my niece loaded Millie into the back of the X-trail to take her to the vets in the next village to find out that the vet was away on holiday, so back home we went. Getting back home I shouted over the wall to my neighbour and when she appeared said "Millie bolen, stomach ne robota, mozhebe telephone vet Tamanoshka" (effectively Millie ill, stomach not working (a common problem when overeating other than bloat so my friend informed me) telephone vet Tamanoshka) . Tamanoshka is the lady who has previously dealt with our neighbours livestock when they were ill and ten minutes later Tamanoshka and my neighbour Venka were buzzing the bell at the gate. Tamanoshka elegantly dressed even after cycling to my house wearing a red beret to match her red bag that contained her veterinary equipment and drugs entered with Venka Immediately Tamanoshka checked Millie's temperature which I had stated to them but saying it was 104 they could not believe, but  then realising later they only quote temperatures in Celsius not Fahrenheit. no wonder they looked shocked when I said sto i cheteri (104) and continually kept saying ne, ne (no no). Anyway after Tamanoshka injected Millie with antibiotics and vitamins Venka and I then went about giving her (Mille, not Tamanoshka) a drench of bakers yeast and water. As I held Millie, Venka carefully spooned the pungent concoction into Millies mouth. The next day Millie was much better and had started eating again  and although easy to handle to allow Tamanoshka to give her antibiotics and vitamins, the opposite was the case when Venka and I tried to gve Millie the drench. On day two and more so on day three I think I ended up having more on me than what went down Millie's throat during the process, Thankfully Millie is back to her normal self going out each morning with Tilly with the goatherd and returning back late in the evening.

Tilly aptly named 'Tubby Tilly' has one thing on her mind FOOD, whenever she goes out she is always browsing along hedgerows along the lanes way at the back of the herd before they get to the main feeding area outside of the village. Her latest thing she has started doing at home is managing to get into the area which I had though was goat proof where I put the chicken and duck feed in. This area is designed to avoid the goats getting to it and risk them getting bloat from eating wheat grain. Having recharged the car battery to enable me to ensure the electric fence was running at its optimum as I thought she was jumping the fence, before I could set the fence up I caught her in the 'no go goat zone' and so chased her out and stood around to see how she manages to keep getting in. I now can say I am the proud owner of a Limbo dancing goat, somehow although she may be considered podgy, she manages to get through a hole no more than 40cms high x 30cm wide at ground level to get to her goal, the food dish. After a few quick adjustments Tilly is now officially on a duck and chicken free diet.
Millie back to her normal self

Tilly aptly named 'Tubby Tilly' as all she does is eat.

Or look for trouble.... "Now can I get in through that chicken shed hatch"?

In the garden, things are now growing with gusto be it from the new shoots on the heavily pruned lemon tree (Sara never did things by half), to the Aqualegia and Heuchera and as for the vegetables!!!!

 Lemon Tree

 Overwintered geranium starting to flower again

Clematis Broughton Star first flower that is being trained up the wall near the gate.

  Aqualegia (Lady's Bonnet)

Currently I have now planted in the garden, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, beetroot, strawberries, runner beans onions, shallots, garlic, a few aubergines plants (as I am not overly keen on them), fennel and cucamelons (I eventually managed to work out what some of Sara's abbreviated labels meant). It will be interesting to see what the neighbours think of cucamelons as anything out of the ordinary they are flummoxed by, They could not cope with little green tomatoes last year thinking they were unripe until I ate one first. In the next few days after digging another few trenches I will plant peppers and hopefully by then the butternut squash and melon seeds will have germinated and grown enough to plant out. The potatoes having how sprouted and showing their tops above the ground have been earthed up today. Sadly the polytunnel gave up and  finally after sudden gusts of wind caused the already weakened frame from heavy snowfall to finally break so currently the garage stroke junk hole looks even more of a mess. A job for next week!!!.

 Onions and garlic (sadly no polytunnel)


 Sara's beans and peas now beginning to flower

 Tomato plants and more and more tomatoes

 Runner and French beans

 Potatoes ready for earthing up

Earthed up potatoes

Shallots and more onions


There are a couple of areas in the garden that I am now growing plants which can be prone to being invasive and hard to control. One area is beside the pool and had already been set aside by Sara for herbs, and currently it contains thyme, sage, lemon balm, Moroccan mint, and pineapple mint and as time goes by I will add more to it.
Herb garden

The other area is behind the outside toilet and is effectively a raised bed in which I have planted comfrey to use once it is established along with nettles to make an organic fertiliser as Sara wanted to to grow produce organically.   
Young comfrey plant

This week also saw the task of trying to split my existing bee colony to prevent possible swarming and create a new colony. After purchasing two new hives the colony was split and placed into the new hives. Although the hive is very strong with lots of larvae, capped cells, honey stores, drones and workers I still have not managed to find the queen as she is unmarked, but then I think in time and experience I will find her. With all stages of a healthy colony she has to be there, it is just she managed to evade me on this occasion. Fortunately I only got stung twice during the whole process, so using dried cow dung as the burning element in the smoker when dealing with the hive seems to work effectively. Being a relative newbie to beekeeping and this being my first time at splitting a colony all things seems good at the moment with activity occurring in both hives now five days later. As a precaution I am giving them additional feed to help establish both colonies fully, Time will tell as to if I have been successful, fingers crossed. Yet another massive learning curve in the process of trying to maintain as near a self sufficiency lifestyle. .

Two new and now very active beehives
(nothing occurring when the photo was taken as it was first thing in the morning and very cool)

At Poultry Central it is still ever expanding with the small outside run now covered around with pea netting for when I first put 'Bill and Ben' the two Indian Runner ducklings with the Light Sussex chicks they immediately went through the mesh. I have also had to cover the top with pea netting as Charlie the cat decided to try and run off with one of the chicks, but fortunately caught him in the act and saved the little chick and returned it to the fold unharmed.
  Bill and Ben the Indian Runners and 
the ever growing flock of Light Sussex chicks 

Now the warmer weather has arrived so have more of the migrant bird. Cuckoos are frequently heard throughout the day and nightingales singing at night at the bottom of the garden. Finally I saw and heard the first golden oriole singing in the huge walnut tree that stands in the middle of the animal pen, a bird so look forward to seeing and find the starling that perfectly imitates the oriole a bit of an annoyance when it sings like an oriole in March.

Male golden oriole
Finally for this week the weather has also seen the appearance of masses of butterflies which whenever I walk up to Sara's grave flit constantly around the roads and up at the graveyard. On one of the daily early morning walks with the dogs I found a cold, but alive Swallowtail butterfly laying in the road. Picking it up I carefully carried it home and held it whilst it slowly became more active from the warmth of my hand and then placed it on the clematis to enable it to warm itself up further from the rays of the slowly rising morning sun. Checking later it had finally warmed itself sufficiently that it had flown away. My sister whilst she was over said that maybe Sara had been reincarnated as a butterfly for whenever we went to her grave a butterfly would come along. Well if that is the case on this occasion, Sara you gave me comfort albeit too briefly, God bless you my darling.


  1. Oh the trials of goats, I am still trying to teach ours manners, they go so excited when I o to feed them, with two adults and four kids all leaping at me to get to the food bucket, your garden is looking great and I love the pool area :-)

    1. Goats, yes testing at times but I love em. Hopefully next month there will be new additions to the herd not Millie and Tilly giving birth although they may potentially be pregnant and give birth at the end of July, but possibly an Anglo-nubian doe and kid to increase milk yield in the future for making goat cheese in the winter when the garden is dormant.

  2. Nice to read your catch-up blog, and nice to share your new pathway in life. As for goats, we gave up keeping them because they were such hard work, and prefer instead to have two Jersey cows who are much bigger but much better behaved.

    1. Fortunately and better for them they go out with the goatherd throughout the day. The time they can be pests is when they are unable to go out and then cause mischief. Still it keeps me on my toes. They always say never work with animals or kids. Well I know what I prefer.

  3. Those goats are lovely looking gals, very majestic. Your life sounds like a study in perpetual motion at the moment. I hope you get time to eat properly. The butterfly story was especially lovely. Best wishes.

    1. I am eating OK Curly Club albeit less and invariably all this extra exercise and emotional stress has helped me lose a few pounds. A couple more weeks and hopefully the new girl, maybe girls arrive on the block.

  4. The garden is all planted and looking well Dave. Love the flowers as well and the herb garden certainly is a good idea. The goats look in good shape and hopefully are having babies for you, which would be great news. Shame we're not nearer as could have done you a good haircut. I do Nev's hair number 3 all over, unfortunately only the one style in my repertoire, ha ha. Lots of love and hugs. XXX

    1. Many thanks Cindy. The goats hopefully will be due i they are pregnant at the end of July. Take care you guys and enjoy your break. xxx

  5. We use to have goats years ago, they were so mischievous once they got out went down the road and into the hosiery factory all the women came running out my mother who was baby sitting at the time ,for children not goats, was not amused. Take care look forward to your posts

  6. Thanks for the giggle Diane, much appreciated. Millie when I first started walking her was a bit of a nervous wreck and on one occasion a dog came out of the undergrowth and she bolted and ran down the road towards home. I called Sara to open the gates in case she went home, but she and Tilly stopped right down the end of the trackway as a couple of people were walking up it and then bellowed like crazy until I arrived.

  7. Loving your blog as always. Sara as a butterfly is a lovely thought, she will be with you always then, sharing your new adventures. Looking forward to hearing about the new goat additions when they arrive. You will have your hands full, but they look lots of fun. Well done with your first hive split. Im quite new to beekeeping also, but as my hive is not as well populated as this time last year i have decided to boost my colonies by trying to capture a passing swarm with a bait hive. fingers crossed. Take care, best wishes, Michele from Somerset.

  8. Loving your blog as always. Sara as a butterfly is a lovely thought, she will be with you always then, sharing your new adventures. Looking forward to hearing about the new goat additions when they arrive. You will have your hands full, but they look lots of fun. Well done with your first hive split. Im quite new to beekeeping also, but as my hive is not as well populated as this time last year i have decided to boost my colonies by trying to capture a passing swarm with a bait hive. fingers crossed. Take care, best wishes, Michele from Somerset.

    1. Hopefully next week the new arrivals will be here so lots to do in preparation for their arrival.

  9. So glad that Millie is okay. The veg plot is looking great and the chicks and two runner ducklings are so cute. You are getting so much done. Do look after yourself too though. I too love the butterfly story.

  10. Love the butterfly photo, it's so delicate!.
    Oh the goats are so lovely, like the character of tubby Tilly!.
    Just to let you know it is snowing here in Scotland, late in the year, my little newly planted herbs n seedlings are not happy!. Erm more doomed!.enjoy warm weather.
    Oh well :).
    Regards kirrie

    1. Thanks Kirrie
      We are due heavy rain and thunderstorms over the next few days so I suppose it will give me time for making jams and chutneys ready for the next car boot. Fortunately most plants are now in and getting established although we had a very cold couple of nights which gave the toms a bit of a fright. Regards Dave

  11. Glad you got your pool up - you have to have some perks. Your garden looks immaculate. Reminds me a little of my grandparent's plot. I hope you had a good time with your sister. Did you have chance to experiment with the cheese? Hope so as it does you good to try something new. Lovely story of the butterfly. I quite frequently talk to my parents even though they are not here. It calms me and helps me put things in to perspective at difficult times. You have to do what is right for you and that is all that matters. Take care and you are quite a good writer; another skill you did not know you had. Kind regards.

    Pattypan (aka Tricia)

    1. Many thanks Tricia. Saldy the garden will not look immaculate for long as a bit of rain and weeds come from everywhere, but I refuse to use weedkillers. Tried the cheese it was edible, but you could not eat too much of it at once. Regarding writing they say practice makes perfect. In my zoo career I had written a few acticles on handrearing primates and other exoeriences and wrote a book (well more a pamphlet as only 60 pages)of my trails and tribulations when training and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro back in 2010 which was for raining awareness and funds of Black Rhino conservation and a more personal matter. All the family have gone back to the UK now so another period of readjustment required. Oh well time to go as need my first cup of coffee of the morning now all the beasts are fed and watered.

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