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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Easter comes and goes and then back to the ever expanding list of tasks.

As it is raining today I thought I would take this opportunity to try and get up to date with the blog to let readers know what is going on, but more so that I am doing OK.

In the Bulgarian year, this week was a major period as the Orthodox church celebrates Easter (1 month later than in the UK). So a couple of days earlier I was frantically boiling and decorated eggs to hand out on Easter Sunday. As part of the celebrations on the Sunday, the greeting of the day to friends and neighbours was "Hristos vozkrese" ("Christ has risen") and the answer "Voistina vozkrese" ("He has risen indeed") was given back. During the greeting eggs were handed out along with easter bread called "kozunak". The collected eggs are then used in a ritual of tapping the eggs (a bit like the game of conkers) and takes place just before the main meal of the day. Each person selects his or her egg. and then tap their egg against the eggs of others.The person who ends up with the last unbroken egg is believed to have a year of good luck.

 Painted eggs and Kozunak

During the last two weeks, yes two weeks from the last post (where does the time go) lots of things have been going on and things in preparation for the forthcoming arrivals.

Last year I lost a few bales of hay from a leaking barn roof so with a little help managed to strip off all the tiles and battens and then place a waterproof membrane beneath the battens and tiles when they were replaced. Once that was completed I then managed to replace the piece of plastic at one of the entrances to the barn with a new more substantial door, Well I say a door but more a piece of plywood painted and battens with spacers inside the barn to hold it in place so hopefully the hay and lucerne I will get this year will stay dry (fingers crossed).

  Note to myself - replace the plastic on the other door to the barn.

In the garden with a little warmth and now a little rain things are suddenly beginning to hide the once bare soil. Within the next month the garden will not look the same. Sadly I had almost an OCD regarding weeds and even with hoeing regularly (almost on a daily basis) the little blighters still appear. I have just got to accept that as long as I can keep them under control, but not out of sight totally that will have to be the case. I refuse to use weedkillers and grow everything organically as Sara had always wanted to do. Space is now becoming limited in the garden now that the last plantings have occurred mainly pumpkins and melons. Earlier plantings now need regular tying up and managing in order to get them to crop to their maximum.


Sara's peas and beans that she planted two days before she died are now flowering profusely and beginning to fruit so soon there will be daily pickings of produce to be added to the daily tasks

The tomatoes now need regular checks for removing side shoots and tying the rapidly growing plants up. Even with recent low temperatures some flowers have set so not long before the first tomatoes.

At last the runner and french beans have got going 

All the five varieties of potatoes are now growing well and after being "earthed up" are reappearing again.


More onions. The pre winter ones will need harvesting next month

The sweetcorn beginning to come through. The cobs will be used not only for freezing, but also some for the livestock and the spent stems used for the goats, 

Beetroot for more chutney making

Carrots are on a go slow and do not seem to be growing as quickly as other produce

Lettuce which I can see many will end up bolting and have to be fed to the ducks and chickens

A regular supply of strawberries now and seem to be earlier than my neighbours possibly due to the heat generated from the weed suppressant I have used.

The garden flowers now are begging to grow and some already in flower and at last providing a little colour in the garden.
Scented Peony

Rose bud with a spattering of raindrops (Sara loved fresh rainfall on flowers and would be dashing around the garden with camera in hand to capture the images).


Dahlias appearing

Blue delphinium (shame the raspberry canes are only in focus)

Self seeded Nicotania (will create a headly scent along the path at the side of the house) and yes a rogue weed.

Yellow Geum

Flowers on the grapevines

Much has happened with the goats this week to prepare for the new arrivals. More DIY creating a dividing gate/wall to enable me to house the new arrival/s separate from Millie and Tilly until they get used to each other. It has been in place for nearly a week now without it falling apart so my DIY skills must be improving.

Galia the goatherd lady had informed my neighbour a few days ago that Tilly had fallen in a hole whilst out her daily walk with the rest of the herd. Galia had to lift her out of it and then wash her down as she was caked in mud. Now whether this had anything to do with it or that it was just coincidence, but sadly Tilly aborted two months into her pregnancy. It is quite common for goats to abort around this time so as I have already said it may be just coincidence. She is now fine after a couple of days being grabbed to clean her up and is back to herself happily munching browse, hay and grain and living up to her name of 'Tubby Tilly' as food is the only thing on her mind. Still fingers crossed that Millie will be past the two month time in a couple of weeks and will go full term and kid at the end of July.


Tilly convalescing after her aborting.

Part of the two month goat foetus that Tilly aborted (damaged as Millie or Tilly had trodden on it)

On a slightly better note the 'juniors', the flock of Light Sussex and Indian Runners chicks and duckling are growing really well and hopefully should be ready for new prospective homes in the next couple of weeks. I think they should be gannets not chickens or ducks as they are eating me out of house and home. Still they are doing really well

Sadly partly due to an error on my part only two of the latest batch of twenty four Indian Runner eggs hatched. Humidity is important in the latter part of incubation along with not turning the eggs and what with my mind on other things (mainly dealing with legal paperwork reported Sara's death in the UK) I got muddled up with dates

Latest Indian Runner ducklings

The Indian Runners are still laying on a daily basis so much so that some eggs have been send to friends for them to place under broody poultry they have. Even better is one of my Indian Runners has decided to go broody albeit in the most inappropriate place, slap bang in the middle of the chicken shed where the flock of ducks has also now decided to roost. She is currently sitting on eight eggs and keeping herself occupied whilst brooding by keeping the nest tidy around her so much so that she had now managed to move the nest into the corner of the shed, basically moving it around 60cms.

The beehives are still looking good after the split and much activity from both hives as they go out collecting nectar from the surrounding acacia trees that are now in flower and an important source of food for them. 

In preparation for the coming car boot sale I have now put my hand to making beetroot chutney along with more raspberry and apple jam as at each car boot sale I have sold out of it. So before Sunday I need to make more brown sauce along with cheese scones amongst other things.


Finally before I sign off I would like to thank my niece and her partner for their support over the last few weeks when on occasions I have a bad moments trying to deal with the grief of losing Sara, but also their help physically with some of the tasks in the garden. They are now on their way back to the UK, but hope to return soon. Now once again I am in a period of re adjustment occurring with being on my own again, but being busy and positive is helping me with each day and ensuring that looking forward to new ventures in the smallholding here knowing that Sara is beside me in spirit helps with part of my grieving process.

Well I must go now as tomorrow is a big day for me of which you will hear about in the next post. Once again thank you everyone one of my readers in not only reading about my life out here, but more so the many messages of support that helps me go on continuing living the dream that Sara and I had together out her in rural Bulgaria.


  1. Sara may not be there in body but her influence on the growth of your crops can be seen. Logic says your weather plays a bigger influence but you're not that far away from us, so I'm crediting Sara's preparation work.

    1. Many thanks Tracey, maybe just maybe she was having a go at me when it thundered last evening to say get out there weeding and make sure to not hoe between the onions only between the rows!!!lol Bless her she was and still is my inspiration.

    2. I am very sorry for your loss firstly.

      I live in Bulgaria and would like to buy Indian Runners, can you tell me where I can buy some?

  2. I was wondering if Tilly could have multiple pregnancy and still be pregnant, I did hear of this before some-where, it was just a thought, your garden is looking fab and well ahead of ours :-)

    1. Time will tell Dawn with Tilly. Sadly due to her rotund physique it will be hard to assess if she is still carrying pretty much until she drops. Regarding the garden I cannot wait until the plants are fully developed and suppress the weeds, but then what would I do instead of weeding!!!!lol

  3. Wow, the garden and livestock are looking good!

  4. 24/7 work schedule though to maintain it Janet as you and Mark well know now you are living a similar lifestyle in Spain.

  5. The garden is looking good, that blue delphinium is a stunning colour. Do you keep your goats for milk ?

    1. Thanks Mark. Yes the plan is to milk the goats once the kids are weaned and then produce cheese over the winter months when the amount of work in the garden slows down.

  6. All the veggies and flowers look really healthy Dave. Over here we are a lot more behind. Shame about the goat but hopefully she will get pregnant again. XXX

  7. We have for the last two days had heavy rain so rain stops lay on the ground as it is too wet. So next week plenty of strimming, weeding and tending growing plants. It is unlikely Till will come back into season for a few months, but Milly is definitely pregnant and should give birth at the end of July.

  8. Everything is looking great. Well done Dave. I have just been given a dehydrator for my birthday. I remember Sara saying she had one too. Do you have any tips for especially tasty dried snacks or the best veg to dry? Best wishes, Michele from Somerset.

  9. Everything is looking great. Well done Dave. I have just been given a dehydrator for my birthday. I remember Sara saying she had one too. Do you have any tips for especially tasty dried snacks or the best veg to dry? Best wishes, Michele from Somerset.

    1. Belated Birthday Wishes Michele. The dehydrator was Sara's thing and as we had so much sun (normally) I used to use an old mosquito net to protect the chunks of tomatoes and sliced red peppers that I had laid on aluminium foil, within the day they were dry. Sara used to dehydrate mushrooms, pineapple (as a special treat), water melon, grapes, garlic, apple and pear. It seemed the secret was to make sure that the fruit was sliced very thinly and as the heat on her dehydrator as generated at the bottom if you place too much in it it is necessary to rotate the layers or make sure to not put too much in so the heated air can circulate. Good luck. Dave

  10. Your crops are coming on a pace. I love the style of the Runner ducks and poor Tilly, I hope she is able to go full term next time.

    1. Sadly so are the weeds Alcea Rosea 31!!!lol The main thing is that Tilly is fine now so fingers crossed for later in the year.

  11. Looks like you are going to have a great crop there Dave. I discovered last year that my porch dries things out far better than my dehydrator does. I do love to dry rose petals in the dehydrator though as the fragrance is divine.

    1. Sadly I do not have a porch so I'll continue with the aluminium foil or dehydrator, but nice idea about rose petals will have to try that.

  12. Everything is looking great in the garden. We have finally got our veg plot planted this weekend. In the U.K. we have had frosty mornings until recently but now at last some lovely sunny weather.

    It was a shame about Tilly but at least she is okay. I love the photos of the junior white sussex and runner ducks and the latest runner duck chicks are sooo cute!

    You are getting so much done, you should be really proud of yourself. I love reading these updates and can understand that it's difficult to make time when there is so much to be done.

  13. Just not enough hours in the day - today strimming, laundry, put up a gazebo just in time for a storm. Goats fed and milked, now 6.45pm and now to bake 70+ cheese scones for tomorrows car boot. Hopefully I'll find time for a kip!!!!lol

  14. Everything looks great. I have just bought some strawberry plants which I've had to protect from the cats! I've planted some tomato plants too - I'm a bit hit-&-miss with my gardening, but let's see what happens! I hope your cheese scones came out well. I'd definitely be buying your chutneys if we lived closer.

    1. I must admit at the moment the gardening here is a little hit and miss for me for Sara was the brains I was the brawn in preparing the ground for planting. Thank goodness for Goggle, but I do also watch what/when the neighbours are planting now and will definately be following their trend more than what Sara did as she did have a habit of planting too early, bless her. Cheese scones were a bit of a disaster as the setting on the oven seems to be a little high to what the dial states so need to look into that so cheese scones became cheesey bites and all sold so that cloud had a silver lining in the end.

  15. This is the end ...