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Friday, 31 October 2014

And so, back to t-shirts

The snow has gone, leaving behind a lot of broken trees, wrecked roads and mourning families. It hung around a few days despite the temperatures being well above freezing. A trip to Lidl for shopping showed how much more snow fell just down the road There were banks of snow at the sides of the roads and shrubs with leaves on had caught a couple of feet, causing collapse. As we came out of Lidl it started snowing heavily again, but it was the tail end and yesterday it rained and melted the remainder of the snow in the garden.

The road to Gorna, still pretty white

Surprisingly the flowers are, though they have all been flattened except the new generation of cosmos, and the roses which have soggy flowers but have otherwise survived the snow. Because we have had no frost the dahlias, nicotiana, cosmos and marigolds are still covered in flowers. The trees I mentioned as being bowed down under the weight have stood back up now, but the fig is a sorry sight. The raspberries still have flowers and fruit on them, though not many and they don't make it to the kitchen, Dave has developed a taste for them.
Poor figgy






Raspberry flowers....

...and fruit

Lettuce flourishing. This was one of three living lettuces from Lidl which we ate from then planted

So we have had to move the fence to stop the dogs coming in with stilts made from sticky, slippery mud. This means that the chickens have been restricted to the 'goose' pen again.There is plenty of space for them all but of course they always want to be somewhere they can't be. There are some very funny haircuts amongst them, and poor Cagney was looking even worse. She has started to sleep in a nest box with Chubba to keep warm presumably, poor thing. She is a strange mixture of brand new, crisply marked feathers, pin feathers just coming through and bald patches. Never the most beautiful of hens. Sevi is sporting a distinguished grey look as pin feathers grow on his black head.
Distinguished Sevi

Poor Caggers

What a mess

We have changed their feed slightly. They get the same base layers mix, with a bit of added wheat (left from the geese) and fermented for a few days. They were not that excited at first, but once Sevi started to tuck in there was no stopping him. It is fairly common here, having supposedly several benefits over the dusty mix usually available. The natural fermentation is supposed to act as a probiotic, keeping the good bugs in the gut healthy and working efficiently. It is also supposedly more easily digested and fills the tummy faster so less feed is used. We just have to be careful not to let the fermentation go on too long and turn the liquid to alcohol, sounds like fun but poisonous to chooks! For treats they are getting the walnuts we don't fancy, in the shell but broken. Gives them something to do and they get a hit of protein, vitamins and omega 3 amongst other things. So hopefully we will be seeing some lovely, glossy new feathers though eggs will be a bonus.

It was my birthday today so I have made myself a cake...well a tart anyway. It's only fair isn't it? Also, as we went shopping this week and have proper cheese, I had cheese scones for my birthday tea, with butter, home made of course. Good job we had a healthy lunch! The cake/tart was cherry frangipane tart, with real, proper vanilla custard. I usually have cherry and almond cake for my birthday but I can't easily get glace cherries and have had none for a while now. I am not unhappy though, the tart was lovely. I based (as usual) it on a Paul Hollywood recipe, but used some of my spiced medlar jelly on the base instead of apricot, and frozen cherries instead of pears, plain pastry instead of sweet and almond extract instead of vanilla. Also, my loose bottomed tin is only seven inch so used two small ones as well. Did I mention it was loosely based on a recipe? Haha.
Dave made me a beautiful birthday card

Birthday present, he finished tiling the kitchen wall, a job put off for a rainy day. I re-oiled the top for the winter


I have also made some raspberry liquer with some undrinkable rakia we were given (luckily a small bottle) some sugar and some of our precious raspberries. Someone will have to try it to see if there is enough sugar, but it is a lovely colour.

I have frozen the chillis till I know what I am going to do with them, but some sort of chilli jam is favourite as I have just been given a load of apples and I am sure I will be able to find a recipe to adapt somewhere....better get some more jars! Maybe I will look for a chilli sauce recipe at the same time.

With the weather changeing we are seeing less of the neighbours. Their outside fire is less evident and they don't hang about after the animals are seen to. Dave still takes them eggs if we have plenty since they are not getting any from their chickens.

Splash is starting to be a little independent. Now that the door is shut a lot of the time he is going out and staying out for about...let me see....ten minutes or so, all on his own. He has a loud voice now so there is never any doubt when he wants to come in. I have to admit I can be a little over protective. I don't like him going out alone at night with owls and pine martens about, never mind territorial adult cats. He still seems so little.
S' cold....

So brave

Sunday, 26 October 2014

I don't think that was supposed to happen!

We have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast with the last car boot sale looming. It has been for cold and minus temperatures following rain. Which is bad enough...but who sent snow? It is a full month earlier than the first snow last year.

It's only October for goodness sake! And not only did we have a few inches of snow, which had started to thaw by bed time, we have no minus temperatures. And today it is snowing again. We are thankful that we have not had the strong winds that a lot of Bulgaria is experiencing.

The country is suffering again, with a state of emergency declared for Burgas on the Black Sea coast and homes being evacuated, flooding, strong winds, fallen branches and trees and landslides throughout the country. My heart goes out to those affected and we count our blessings that so far we have merely been inconvenienced. There will be many who will be happy to see the end of this year.

So the last car boot sale was cancelled and I feel a bit sad. I hated them at first, but now I quite look forward to them as a social occasion firstly and as a means of distributing excess produce and household items second. Still, only five months to the next one. I hope the weather forecast is wrong about the -5 they have given in the next few days.

 It is really beautiful, the snow, probably more so as there are still some leaves on the trees. This is causing some of the problems over the country as the weight of the snow settling on the leaves is much greater than normal, when snow arrives after the leaves have fallen. I heard a loud crack this morning and am hoping it was just rhe fast growing trees on the border which are really brittle and still have all their large leaves.

Trees bent to the ground by the weight of the snow

The dogs are loving it of course, and Bonnie has once again tried being puppyish, bless her. The excitement just makes her think of one thing though....BALL! And at least the snow has stopped the dogs bringing in piles of mud.

There's my ball Dad....

Hello, here's me....

Splash would not go out yesterday. Far too cold and everywhere looks very odd to a little kitten. But today his nosiness and need to be involved got the better of him. While Dave was getting bags of straw from a previously cat free zone to put around the water metre/stop tap pit, and more for the chickens to play in, Bella was excitedly running around and Bonnie wandering aimlessly about, he just had to go and see. So off he went, trying to avoid Bella racing about, falling into deeper snow, but determined to find out what was in that shed he hadn't been in.

Dare I....

Don't seem to be able to avoid the white stuff.....

Where did Bella come from?

Brrrr, not sure this is a good idea....

Nearly there....
He came back rather faster than he went!

And of course, after being out in the awful weather you have to toast yourself by the fire....or anywhere else that is warm. Splash soon realised the fire was a good thing. Baba socks lying around on warmed tiles are just the right size for a kitten bed. All three animals are quieter when the fire is lit...and it's easy to be lazy and not do too much ourselves in the warmth.
Hot air and a water bottle

A warm tummy

Or  a computer, all nice and warm

Warm tiles and Baba socks

I'll keep Dad's thin top warm.....(shame about the eyes)

But in the cold, a devil is unleashed. A playful little devil that is. He is constantly on the move, wanting rough play with either Bella or us. We resorted to giving him a mirror which kept him amused for ages, looking for the kitten behind, batting him and sidling up to him for play. I have mixed feelings, he seems to need a playmate and he can't have one.

The chickens are just mooching. They can go wherever they like but they have plenty of space with their large house, barn and path free from the white stuff. If I ask very nicely Dave will get something cabbagey for both lots to peck at. And now they have straw to pick through too. Luckily the ex-batts are still laying enough eggs for me to get more in the freezer for those leaner days.
Did I hear someone mention cabbage?

No sign of the visitors, too busy in their straw

And we are continuing in the comfort food theme with soup, nice bread and roasted veggies. I am going to have to do something with the chillies and squash, I planned on taking some to the car boot, find a recipe for chilli sauce. Or something.
More butternut soup and cheese and walnut bread....lovely
And it's still snowing.