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
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.
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).
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.
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.