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Thursday, 30 July 2015

We seem to have had a spending spree.....

But only on things we really need, honestly. Well, nearly.
Well OK, we didn't really need this nice big brolly....but it was a bargain in the sales

What we are really pleased with is the honey extractor. It looks as if there will be plenty of honey this year and it makes sense to get maximum extraction from the frames we will be harvesting. I'm not quite sure what we are going to do with it all, but I think Dave will have to develop a taste for it, I already like it.

It does three frames at a time

We have also bought two armchairs as the springs on my sofa have given out. These are faux leather, so although maybe not the best material for a heat wave, easy to clean after the animals have clambered over them.

The same couple who delivered the chairs also delivered a pal for Splash. We have ummed and aaahed about what best to do about him, he desperately tries to play with any cat which comes along and has got into trouble on occasion when a cat was less than friendly. But he needs to use his energy and Bella can't cope with the claws. She doesn't mind a run-around but soon starts worrying after being ambushed a few times. Then we had to decide whether a kitten or a grown cat. Being as Splash has no manners (being mostly hand reared) we thought a kitten might find him a bit much, which is a shame as friends have kittens that need a home. We did have our eyes on Colin, but someone else really wanted him and took his sister as well so fair's fair. So when we saw a little grey cat needing a home, vaccinated and castrated with a passport, same age as our boy though never been a pet as such, we arranged to take him in. (The chairs just happened to be waiting for a buyer too) and he was duly delivered. He is a little smaller that the boy and very petty, very playful. But won't give poor Bella a moment's peace! And won't stay still for a photo shoot.
One of Splash's night time 'friends'

I'm sure Bella will get some relief from cats eventually, but for now she is putting up with this much gentler boy

My best boy trying to keep cool

Of course the spoilt brat is not amused. But no growling or spitting is going to spoil the new boy's manners, he has been raised with other cats and knows how to behave, will not be drawn into an argument, but on the other hand will not run away either. Luckily Splash is not inclined to attack, he is feeling a bit insecure and would much rather attach himself to my foot! I'm sure they'll be fine. I just hope that the chickens put the new boy in his place as we can't have anything chasing loose chicks. I'm sure he'll learn.
I wouldn't bother with Bonnie, she won't play

I have also acquired a couple of new kitchen gadgets. One is a heavyweight bottle capper which needs a bit of TLC but will save a struggle in the long run. The other is a simple plastic tomato pulper which will spit ot the skins and save me making a sauna of the kitchen. Cheap as chips but I hope it works.
The double handed thingumy you have to use brute force with

And the new old one which hs a long handle for the job

Be interesting to see if this works, it only cost less than a fiver

And finally we decided to buy a new fridge for dairy as the old one was getting jumbled. So off we went into town...but bought a new fridge freezer for the kitchen instead and the old one, which came with the house, can go to being a dairy fridge. We were going to bring a small one home in the car but instead have gone bigger with cold water tap and it will be delivered on Sunday for the princely sum of 5 leva....about one pound and eighty pence! So we have a new fridge freezer with the large fridge at the top and three drawers in the freezer, and the old one will be going upstairs for cheese and milk etc Could even fit some sauerkraut in. Yum.

Dave has finished cladding some shelving to make a new larder, but of course it isn't big enough so he is doing another one

My contribution, an olivewood spoon for a latch!
Who left the camera strap dangling?

The heat and dry weather is continuing. I don't use the pool a great deal as it warms up too fast. It was totally emptied the other day and filled with cold well water, so cold it was a quick dip, squeal and out again, I suppose feeling colder as we are so hot. But three days later it is too warm and Dave is thinking longing thoughts of the public pool at Polski Trambesh, early morning as it gets packed'

The garden and trees round about are suffering even though we are watering. Dave dug a hole and three feet down there is still no moisture. The butternuts, cucumbers, melons, maize, peppers and brassicas are all crisp and dead looking, the sweet potatoes which love heat, also need proper water and look sick (I gave some slips to a friend who is growing his in a polytunnel and the humid heat has done wonders...I told him I might need some of the potatoes back...) The flower beds are a bit of a mess, we have done some tidying but it's just too hot, even for Dave. The insects are enjoying the wildness of the garden but I have not the energy to chase after hummingbird hawk moths or the lovely butterflies. There seems to be no let up for another two or three weeks.
My poor scabious, all brown and crisp

I must pick the rhubarb before it dies

The promise of a bumper crop of raspberries...if we get rain

Some don't look good

The beans which had picked up are giving up

Some tomatoes are doing well

Others aren't

And some are creeping through to next door

Multi coloured cherry tomato sauce
Courgettes looking sick

With distorted fruit

Caulis opening and tiny

One sweet potato looks OK

Oh dear, melon

We won't have too many butternuts this year

Even artichokes are giving up

All except one

Chillis doing OK

Dave went to the market yesterday and came back with the ugliest chicks you have ever seen! They are naked neck chickens and a friend was saying how he wanted some. Dave bought them for him as he has been so kind to us it is just a little something to say thanks. So a mad rush to deliver, chat, put the world to rights and dash wack before milking. Phew. Thank goodness the air con works in the car...the car has just had it's MOT, and if anyone is interested, that with insurance and a mended tyre cost the princely sum of about a hundred quid. Bargain!
Naked neck chicks...they're supposed to look like that. only a mother could love 'em

Talking of tyres, Venka had asked Dave to take them up to their field where they grow melons and beans, they collected a car full of melons but on the way back there was a puncture. poor Venka was distraught...but it could happen any time. So then we had six huge melons, sweet ones and watermelons. e's going picking beans with them at the weekend...hopefully without the car!

The animals seem to be coping OK, but Bonnie is really feeling the heat and even Bella now she is being pestered by cat! The three amigos (I so hope they aren't all boys) are doing well, the chicks are growing like mad suddenly and one has developed a topknot. Mum Cagney has shed most of her feathers, choosing a good time to moult but looking like an old mop. The ducks sre fine as long as they have regular water changes. The drake is a bit quieter and has lost his colour, Ducky is getting his colour and is definitely squeaking like a boy
Cagney looking moth eaten

The goats are doing OK too, still getting two litres of milk which is still going into the freezer though I did get time to make some cheese and yoghurt with some. Little Tilly is enjoying games of chase with Dave who has built her a bit of a climbing frame. We have given them the dough trough for their hay to try to keep it from being spoiled, they don't eat it from the hay bags...but I bet they will when they are hungrier in winter. Unfortunately Tilly thinks the trough is to play in, little madam.
Naughty Tilly
And a couple of bugs

Friday, 24 July 2015

Out and about

We've had reason to go out a bit this week. It's not pleasant in the car so it had to be early in the morning, breaking into our gardening time. But we needed some shopping so thought we would take the cameras and call in at the river on the way. It was nice to hear te blackbirds, thrushes and orioles singing, but best of all there were plenty of kingfishers. It was good to see them as they had been a bit thin on the ground since the floods last year. There wasn't much else about, but thousands of beautiful demoiselles...and a madman in the water.
A pair of beautiful demoiselles

There were a few of these quite large butterflies around an old camp fire

Demoiselle acacia

Kingfisher. It was across the river in the shade so a bit dull

Some sort of dragonfly rear, a long way off and chance picture

He just can't help himself! Newly bald (shaved) Dave

The next day we went to another section of the river, nearer home. There was a stunning sunrise but unfortunately my camera couldn't pick up how red the sun was on auto. But it seems the weather is making critters hide, we saw hardly anything.

What was a surprise was the road. We seem to have gone 'posh'  in the village. The road has been resurfaced and kerb stones either replaced or re-set. It seems it is to accommodate heavy traffic expected when a new main road link is built, not to benefit the village. Also most of the side tracks off the main village roads have new stop signs and we have proper white lines...we always wondered who had right of way in the village centre!
Our new stop sign, they are everywhere!

Smart kerbstones

And a proper crossing, on a bend and out of sight of drivers till the last minute, normal here!

No pot holes and centre lines, very posh

Then there was the mad dash one evening to pick up oats from our friends we got the goats from. We had a good nosey round the nursery, lusting over the lovely clematis plants newly arrived, but being very good and only getting one as we are tight for space. And a couple of cannas, and a lovely sapling. Oh dear. We also came away with the loan of a pile of cheese moulds and a cheese press, Will be using some of the gallons of milk cluttering up the freezer. The drive home was a bit frantic, trying to beat the dark and night creatures getting our birds. But all was well, the goats were enjoying being out in the cooler evening. (however, next night someone who shall remain nameless orgot to shut the duck's door. So they were out before him this morning!)
Being in the nursery brought back those memories when we used to trawl the garden centres in the UK when we were bored

Hundreds of beautiful, healthy clematis. If we only had room....

We can fit in a couple of white cannas somewhere

Albizzia julibrissin

Our sapling
Cheese excuses now

Moulds of all shapes and sizes

Guinea fowl on the roof

And in the pen.

Mama Muscovy with her babies

Overloaded bee on the table, having trouble taking off

Back home we are getting on with processing what is in the garden. The runner beans have given up in the heat, the cucmbers are going to have to come out, they are too bitter to eat and I will sow some more if I remember. More chard has been picked, shared with the animals, wilted down and frozen. Red cabbage is braised with onions and apple and batch frozen. I had to take something out to get food in and so some blackcurrants, strawberries and gooseberries have been turned into cordial. The borlotti beans have been picked just in time, they were starting to pop. Just as I finished podding them Dave came in with two bags of white beans from a neighbour across he lane, and tells me he has offered to help pick Venka's beans on Saturday, a huge job involving the whole family, from which they will get several sacks of beans, all of which will need sorting for quality, a job we helped with last year, taking six hours for five of us, including breaks for lots of food.
Pointy red cabbage

Braised with apple, onion and brown sugar. If it tastes half as nice after being in the freezer I will be happy

Our borlotti beans and two bags of white beans from the neighbour

Onions from the bottom bed, mostly shallot size but with the odd medium, and a baby artichoke

Third chard pick this week, the goats and birds enjoy the less than perfect leaves

Potatoes keeping well in the ground..with the exception of the occasional chomped one

Yet another basket of goodies

The roses are all flowering again, but the blooms don't last in this heat

The dunny is looking great, the morning glory is called Heavenly Blue, perfectly matches the sky and loving the hot, dry weather

Some rather large courgettes for the animals, no idea how I miss them we only have three plants to check!

Cabbages are in and under protection from the sun

More blackcurrant cordial on the left, five large and two regular jars of gooseberry and strawberry cordial. Nice, but gooseberry and rhubarb will be sharper and more refreshing. (Next time)

We had some very sad news this week. We were sitting in the garden with some friends when the church bells rang twice. We discussed the fact that they had been quiet lately, the bells signify a death, a series of one ring for a child, two for a lady, three for a man. This goes on several times a day until the funeral. Later we found out the two bells were for the lovely lady who lived behind us, who had a fall a while back and had not been home since. A lovely, warm, generous lady who spoke in such a way that she was difficult to understand, (but that didn't matter, we managed and laughed) who was forever pressing biscuits, sweets, money and rakia for Dave keeping her verge strimmed. Passing us bags full of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and pumpkins, later on big slabs of frozen roasted peppers. Her husband had ad a fall last Christmas and is now very frail himself, unable to do his garden which has quickly turned from immaculate to jungle. So very sad, such a lovely couple.