Saturday, 17 June 2017

"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY COLANDERS" don't ask ........

1st June
Claire volunteered to weed the herb bed (Jasmine helped too!).

Then we stuffed the sausages; we're getting quite adept at the sausage linking .......

2nd June
Happy Birthday Jean. Xxx
The kiln firing was rather disappointing, it was overfired (spiky), but I still managed to make up a bunting garland for our decking (with all the 'seconds').
Brett carried on haymaking, I made him birthday cake (chocolate fridge cake).
5.00 we accepted Chris & Di's invitation to "drinks down the bar" (with Bap and Greg & Sarah) - of course we didn't get home 'til gone 8.00!!!

3rd June
Happy Birthday Brett XXXXX
So Brett's birthday treat was 'allowing' him to spend the day haymaking - he honestly wanted to!
His present is 'in the post', truly!
Claire brought balloons and candles; we decorated the decking and had afternoon 'birthday tea.

4th June
On Friday we made Sunday lunchtime plans with C&D. We made potato, chard and cheese pasties and took some birthday 'cake'.
We've decided to separate the mothers and kids overnight (so we get milk in the mornings).

5th June
2.5L of milk ......
I've trained our 'workaway' to milk!


Into Fundao to buy lots of plugs (onion, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce) - lots of work for this evening!
Brett finished the big field and started cutting the goose field.
So about 200 onions planted and my bum hurts!

6th June
HOT!!!!
3L of milk ......
The cat gets hot too!
Claire and I made Chevre (flavored with onion plug tops and garlic - Boursin).
Gardening and haymaking, we're going to take the day off tomorrow and go to Meimao barragem.

7th June
2.5L of milk
36C in the shade ........
We decided to have a proper day off and eat lunch in the café at the barragem (they do prawns and octopus), so after doing all our chores (and Brett watching the rugby) we packed the truck with loungers, towels, kindles, water etc and off we set ........ only to find that the café was only selling drinks and ice creams (no food menu)! But we were fine; we stayed there until lunch time, then drove back to Meimoa and had the 7€ menu de dia at the restaurant (consisted of (1) bread and olives, (2) soup, (3) turkey, chips and salad, (4) choice of puddings (5) wine or beer,(6) coffee). Then we went and laid by the river beach.
1L of milk this evening .......

8th June
36C (shade) ............
3L of milk but I had to fight for it ... I think the goats are on heat again! They were not interested in food and both had to be dragged onto the decking.
Our 'workaway' is earning her keep; Claire and I spent two hours this morning and two hours this afternoon micro-weeding the chickpeas, mainly purslane (two wheelbarrows full). We're starting to ache ......

9th June
And now I can't move, my back is giving me gyp!
Claire and spent the afternoon in the studio, making bunting. Brett was haymaking.

10th June
Not much better .......
We spent most of the morning at Diane & Thomas's; we're borrowing their electric sheep shears (ours are broken), so that we can shear our sheep this week (not looking forward to it!).
The bunting was good (slightly underfired if anything).
Brett used our new toy, the wheel rake, to turn the hay .....


11th June
Today we had a day off; I got up at 8.00 and we had finished all our chores by 12.00!!!!
We took a picnic to the baragem at Idanha - it was lovely.
But then we came back home to the dreaded sheep shearing!!!!
Well, as anticipated, it didn't go brilliantly; after about 45 mins we had a half shorn sheep and gave up.
Their wool is so thick the shears can't cope, we're going to buy some hand shears tomorrow and then try again (slow & steady, the electric shears are scary).

12th June
Bloody hot night, hardly slept.
Oh no it's got to 40C (in the shade) ........
CB was nice, as lots of the shops have air con. We got the hand shears and have made the decision to shear early morning, while it's still cool.
Lots of the photos are courtesy Claire this post (the 'arty' ones).
One of our boys
Ducklings .....

13th June
6.00 start!
One sheep sheared with hand shears (1 hour 30 mins); then we had breakfast and milked the goats, second sheep sheared with a combination of hand and electric shears (about an hour).
Hand sheared on right (obviously)
Electric clippered to left (best yet!)
We thought about having another go this evening, but it was too hot (38).
Claire made 'Cheddar' cheese with 10L milk to take home.
Stuffed (Chevre) courgette flowers in beer batter


14th June
6.00 start (again)
Two sheep shorn (electric shears mainly) and first sheep tidied up!
Getting the hang of this now ......
Andrew bartered some potatoes and garlic for eggs, which we exchanged this morning on a water collection (drinking water from the fonte) trip on our way back through the village we scrumped some lemons (they were lying in the road), so we came home with a load of FREE food & drink: a box of new potatoes, garlic, big bag of lemons and 30L of drinking water
Claire made orange juice (our oranges) and lemon juice (scrumped).
I helped Claire make (well I directed whilst she made) two aprons (one baby, one adult) to take back to Denmark.
This evening we went to O Jardim for dinner (the owner was very jolly for a change, the food was ok).
Tomorrow we shear BIG ram - not looking forward to that!

15th June
Nos (internet) is down.
We all overslept and didn't get going until nearly 7.00. The ram is HUGE and very STRONG, we had a game plan; we'd bring the sheep out of the field, via the tarpaulin, then Brett would wrestle him to the ground, I would lead the sheep off to the field whilst Brett and Claire would tie his feet and restrain him ........ it worked at treat!!!!! He struggled, but no more than any of the others and he sheared like a dream (probably because he's so solid) and he was the quickest yet. I got up real close and personal dagging his backend and trimming his scrotum (this is the ram that butted me head on in both my knees!).
Ram in foreground 
We're feeling very relieved! Only one sheep (last year's ram lamb) to go .......
As it was Claire's last day we spent the day at Meimao baragem with a picnic.
There were a couple of exhibitionist English females waxing their armpits - why???? The water was fabulously cold, I just bobbed around on a noodle!
Sunset!

16th June
Claire went first thing (bus from Fundao to Porto). We're going to really miss her, she's been a great help; helping me in the garden so Brett was free to make hay, getting stuck in with the sheep shearing, milking goats, picking oranges and making orange juice, scrumping lemons, getting up early to weed vegetables, let out and feed the poultry etc. It's been a good two weeks .........
Starting to get regular harvests from the vegetable garden
The temperature soared to 42C, in the shade; horribly hot - we need our pool!
Tomorrow our hay gets baled.

17th June
We have our own bales of hay - another of our many 'firsts' since we've been in Portugal.


A short list of 'firsts':
~Generate our own electricity
~Breed pigs (poorly!)
~Produce our own olive oil
~Make wine solely from grapes
~Milk goats
~Make cheese
~Spin wool
~Bale our own hay

Monday, 5 June 2017

SUMMER HAS COME EARLY .......

9th May
Rain was forecast, but didn't materialise - we need it for the field of corn we sowed a couple of days ago.
Heavy rain is forecast tomorrow; which means I can have a kiln firing, so today I packed the kiln to the gunnels!
This evening we went to M&M's new house for dinner (with Vince & Lola and Karina); of course it is lovely, lots of colored bottles embedded in walls, lime plaster (over straw bales) walls (not a straight line in sight), handbuilt cupboards which could happily grace a hobbit's home - I could go on and on, it's very quirky with lots of interesting details!

10th May
Where's the day of rain that was forecast????? Put the generator on regardless, as I needed to fire the kiln.
The rain appeared this afternoon; very cold and heavy. We put the ewe with the new twins in the dog shed and opened the field gate and sheep shed, for the rest of the flock - the goats immediately sought shelter.
A low milk yield today 1.5L this morning and ZERO this afternoon - the kids feed from their mums far more when it's raining (boredom eating) and the mums don't feed much, because they are sheltering, so less milk is being produced (that's our theory/observations).

11th May
Cold, wet and miserable ...........
I think it's going to be another low milk day (1.25L this morning).
Hooray, I finished Rebecca & Paul's wedding present!
I hung it up on the decking to photograph, I don't want to take it down (I'll have to make one for us).
I was right about the low milk day - another ZERO litres this afternoon; we've had thunderstorms on and off all day, so the goats have been sheltering in the pole barn - nothing for them to eat in there.

11th May
Ok I've had enough of the rain now!!! I'm back in winter clothes.
I'm rubbish at technology; I've been trying to edit my cover photo and header on my Quinta Glass page - I just can't find the buttons to press to upload new photos, it's very stress making ...... managed the header after several attempts, but can't find anyway to change the cover - I give up!!!!
Last week when we went into CB we saw some garden furniture that was really cheap; a table, four chairs and an umbrella for less than 100€ (99.99!). A bit modern for our taste, but too cheap to be choosy - of course it wasn't in stock! So this afternoon we took a trip into town to see if it was back in stock - it was! We came home so excited, unpacked the box ....... One chair was put together wrongly, two chairs had pop rivets badly put in and one had rivets missing!!!! Then we spent the next hour trying to assemble the table (turned out the instructions were wrong, really truly they were!*). But it's erected now and our lower deck looks very smart.
*In fact the whole thing is very poorly constructed (the price was too good to be true!).
Every year, around this time, Looby goes off her food; she just stops eating, doesn't even get up when I serve their meals. The only way I can get her to eat is to hand feed her, one piece at a time (attention seeking?). Today we're trying cat biscuits mixed in with the dog biscuits.

13th May
Happy Birthday Jane! Xxx
A bit dull, but dry ......
We're meeting T&D at the soup festa, in Proenca a Velha, this afternoon. Then going en masse, to the olive press, to demand our oil!!!!
Well that was a waste of time!!!!! Couldn't find anyone to take responsibility for our oil, it was suggested we come back on a weekday when the Junta is open. The soup bit of the festa happens tomorrow, with hundreds of different soups to taste and vote for.

14th May
So in the night I had a brilliant idea; Georgia and Hazel are in milk, but we don't need more, so we were going to let them dry up, then I thought of my idea - give the goats to Thomas & Diane on a long term loan (as they're not getting milk from their cow).
The first ever Spring Fair in Penamacor (a collaboration between the Camara, us (the immigrants) and a Spanish association) was a resounding success. Fantastic atmosphere, lots of attendees and lots of fun.
Then I came home to a fridge full of milk!!!! 5L is being clabbered overnight for Chevre and 7.5L I made into Halloumi (I was still making cheese at gone 10.00 p.m.).
And I have earache again!

15th May
Margo (our cat stealing neighbour) has sold up (she moved in last September) and guess who's back????? Jasmine, our unloyal cat; the new neighbour hasn't moved in yet, so she could well dessert us again!
Made Chevre.

16th May
Georgia and Hazel have gone! And I feel quite sad, they were our first goats here (along with Billy, Hazel's brother).
Whilst cleaning the loft bedroom, for Rebecca & Paul's visit, I banged my head on the low beam (the same one I spend all my time saying "mind the beam" when people go up there); I have a bump, a headache and feel slightly sick - I'm sure I have concussion (Brett thinks I'm being overly dramatic ....... dramatic moi???).
Brett is blocking up the new bathroom, he's nearly at window height.
The chickpeas, beans and corn are all starting to coming through in our field, no sign of the mangle wurzels.
Every evening we do an hour or so of weeding, its rather satisfying and the weeds are fed to the pigs. However this evening's session was horrendous, so many biting flies, I'm covered in itchy bites - they can even bite through clothing.

17th May
A very successful trip into CB; we got all the stuff for our field irrigation for 135€ (far better than 600€!) - we asked Reuben (in Regacentro) to advise us, we're very pleased with the outcome.
I spent most of the afternoon cleaning the dresser and everything on it (I don't do it very often!), it looks all 'sparkly'!
Oh no!!!!! We have Colorado potato beetle larvae on our potatoes ...........

18th May
I spent the day cleaning, tidying, making beds, even cleaning windows - the house is sparkling!

19th May
Rebecca & Paul arrived mid afternoon, they had been up since 4.00 so we had a relaxed evening. I think they liked their wedding present - they made all the right noises.

20th May
We chose the right weekend for a trip to Idanha a Velha, they were having a festa! In fact nothing much was happening ...... loud music, a tombola stall (every festa has one) and a BBQ - Rebecca & Paul treated us to lunch. On the way home we picked ELDERFLOWER (for champagne).
As we ate a big meal at lunchtime I prepared a very simple dinner (mainly from the picnic we'd originally taken for lunch) - cheese, ham (both our own of course!), salads, bread, hummus, fried pita and crisps.
We have these birds that sing all night, I thought they were just ordinary birds - turns out they're Nightingales (we 'googled' their song).

21st May
Milk overload (again)!
2L 
Rebecca brought citric acid, so I made my first ever Mozzarella - very impressed, and it only takes 2 - 3 hours.
So we had to have Mozzarella and tomato salad with dinner; therefore our roast pork meal became pork and salad in wraps with mayo and chili jam AND Mozzarella and tomato salad! Very nice .......

22nd May
And they've gone! A lovely, if short, visit. Feel a little bit flat.
Jelisa and Lucy gave 2L and 1L of milk respectively this morning; once again I had milk overload - I made more Mozzarella (with 7.5L of milk, that's the maximum size pot I have = 1.25lbs of cheese). And I started off my Elderflower champagne (2L).

23rd May
34C (the temperature's rising ........)
3.25L of milk this morning - I'll need to make cheese tomorrow, as today we popped into CB (to book car in for it's MOT, to get more connections and pipes for the irrigation system, buy some hand tools for weeding and BEER from Lidl!).
We've invited our vegetarian friends (Chris & Di and Andrew) and Stuart for dinner on Friday (as we have lots of cheese!); we'll have Halloumi, watermelon and mint for a starter, pizza (with Mozzarella) for main and trifle (because it's easy) for dessert. Andrew will have to have a tour of the garden so Brett is mowing all the verges and we're going to attack the weeds in the veg garden this evening ......

24th May
Both female goats were off their food this morning (the boys were fine) and Lucy had to be chased to get her onto the decking - we think they're on heat (so do we want more goat kids???? We have had a message from someone who wants female kids next year!).
I couldn't even get Lucy onto the decking this evening; fortunately she didn't need milking
This evening we went to dinner at Vince (Irish, but also speaks French) & Lola's (French, also speaks English and Portuguese) along with Marc & Meike (Belgian, speak French, Dutch, English and Portuguese) and Marieke (French, speaks only French) & Helder (Portuguese, also speaks French) - interesting evening, most of the conversation was in a kind of pigeon French/Portuguese! We ate outside, entertained by an electrical storm in the distance.

25th May
HOT 35/36C ............
Wow milk yield is low today 1/2L (Jelisa, morning milk) after several days of 3.5L. The goats were wormed; so their milk will be going to the pigs (it's not a waste, it's not a waste, it's not a waste ..........).
Tomorrow we have C&D, Andrew and Stuart coming for dinner (7.00); 6.30 is tour of the garden (Andrew), so today we've been doing lots of weeding!
The chickens (meat birds) are really suffering in the heat, unfortunately their time is up or they will just die (one already has). So today we moved the second chest freezer into the living room.
I thought my water kefir grains had had it but today my water kefir is fizzing all over the place (must be the heat and I've been trying to rescue it).
Hooray both goats came in for milking this evening; neither of them actually needed milking, but I gave them a bit of food and cleaned & Vaselined their teats (to stop them cracking) - they like routine.

26th May
We both had a horrible night. It was very hot, we couldn't use the fan because the inverter kept bleeping! As soon as it gets hot the solar stops being efficient (both the panels and the batteries don't function well in the heat!) - we had exactly this problem last summer, this year it's happening much earlier.
I can hardly move; my back is very painful - I think it's from helping Brett move the chest freezer from the workshop to the living room (it was heavy and awkward).
Of course the goats milked well this morning - I took off as little as necessary (which was still 1.5L - typical).
I spent the whole day preparing food .........
Starter: Fried Halloumi on a bed of watermelon triangles tossed with rocket, mint and lemon balm (looked very pretty).
Main: Vegetarian pizza (tomato sauce, lamb's quarters, mushroom, onions and mozzarella), meat version (similar with added bacon and chorizo), coleslaw and a peeled broad bean salad.
Pudding: Trifle made with aguadente cherries.
We spent the whole evening (until gone 1.00) out on the decking; it was lovely, apart from the biting insects.

27th May
Dull and grey ........
Plucking and gutting chickens with a hangover is not to be recommended!!!!!
My back is still giving me gyp .........
Bottled the Elderflower champagne.

28th May
The solar can't cope with both chest freezers being on, so we had to condense all our meat into the biggest freezer; this meant leaving out .... several joints of pork (to make into sausages), two bags of sundried tomatoes (to make into paste), chicken livers (to make into pate?).
Another full on day of homesteading; processing the last of the chickens, making tomato paste (sundried tomatoes soaked for a couple of minutes in boiling water, olive oil, seasoning; blitz it all up in the liquidiser - delicious), Mozzarella (6L of milk from before the goats were wormed), I didn't have time to make the pate or lemon curd (tomorrow afternoon? In the morning the car is booked in for its MOT).
The solar isn't happy, this evening it was on about 40%, which is close to shutting off (the freezer will be turned off overnight).

29th May
Some days I wish I hadn't bothered getting up - today was one of those days.
To start off with it was difficult to get up, as my back is still iffy.
When we bought the meat birds (as chicks) the guy threw in a free chick, she grew into a lovely young hen. She's been with the meat chicks since she got here, last night Brett transferred her into the laying hen's shed. This morning she was in the corner of the shed, with blood all over her bum - the hens had practically pecked her to death - Brett had to put her out of her misery. I feel so sad, she was absolutely pristine and healthy yesterday - I'm not liking my hens today!
The trip into CB was successful, if stressful; the car passed it's inspection and we got one of the documents that Customs wants (to release our milking machine) from Finances.
Then the day deteriorated again ......
We started mincing the pork for the sausages and "BANG" the grinder exploded spraying meat everywhere! It was the same nylon part that broke back in January - we think it's made to break, to protect the engine and gears, if there's a jam in the mince (Brett had only just cleaned it out). I've sent for two replacement parts this time!
And, last but not least, whilst trying to clean the blood and guts off the floor, the mop broke - so I had to do as good a job as my back would allow.
It really was a shitty day!!!!! Tomorrow will be better, Claire arrives .........

30th May
Brett is starting to prepare the fields ready for hay making - it's going to be a long few weeks!
Claire arrived at 4.00, so much to talk about.
For dinner (pork Thai curry) we picked broad beans, French beans, peas and beetroot tops, we also picked radish to pickle tomorrow.

31st May
34C in the shade ......
A completely homesteading day .......
Claire and I made:- mozzarella, pickled radish, sausages (coriander, chilli & garlic, cranberry, garlic & thyme and sundried tomato paste and mozzarella) and lemon curd.
Brett cut the hay in the big field with his new drum mower.
We gave away our 3 year old hens (to Kimberley & Lawrence (5) and Pinnah & Eric (1)), as our pullets are laying now.
Totally knackered.

1st June
The inverter was beeping in the night (the batteries were down to 40%), we had to turn off the fridge and the freezer - but I have a plan ..........
Claire and I spent a few hours in the studio preparing stuff for firing this evening (thus saving the batteries!).
Brett started mowing a second field.
We planted out more melons, cucumbers and courgettes and sowed about 100 winter squash.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

And still more babies ....... .

14th April
I spent the day cooking and cleaning, as T&D were coming to dinner (Halloumi, sundried tomatoes and Greek styled olive tossed pasta, garlic bread, mixed salad, deconstructed Eton mess/fudge sundae i.e. I put everything on the table and people assembled their own concoction). Brett spent the day mowing and strimmering, to make the quinta look tidy.
OMG we had a panic at this afternoon's milking; we'd brought the goats in, Jelisa was hooked up to the machine, about 30 seconds into her milking the pump stopped working!! It turned out that one of the wires had fallen of (and a second wire fell off as we were examining the pump), fortunately I was able to solder them back on (phew), otherwise we'd have had to resort to hand milking!!!!
We had a lovely evening with T&D, who still have the calf (hopefully his owner will be located soon).

15th April
Stupid bloody bank!!!! Brett has ordered a drum mower for the tractor (so we can cut the grass long and then get someone in to bale our hay, we want to make lots this year) which means we have to travel daily, to the cash machine, to take out money so that we can pay for it (cash on delivery as we don't have a Portuguese account).
OUR money is sitting there, in our account, but we're only allowed to withdraw 250€ per day! Makes me want to spit .....
The gardening (weeding, planting, sowing and watering) and milking are taking up a big chunk of our day.
Started watching a very strange film, Elle.

16th April
Xxx
Happy Easter ........
We didn't have time to do much this morning (after doing our chores, milking goats and going into Penamacor to get out money) as we were invited to a lunchtime picnic at Andrew's quinta (along with Chris & Di).
It was a lovely afternoon; sitting under the shade of a tree eating, drinking and talking. And, of course, having the Grand Tour of Andrew's fabulous Horta (vegetable garden).
Finished watching a very strange film, Elle!

17th April
Hot!
I spent most of the night awake with earache .....
So much milk ...........
So time to make cheese (going to make a hard one today). The worst bit of having all this milk and cheesmaking is sterilizing the equipment. Everything (milking machine, bottles, sieves, pots, strainer etc) has to be washed in hot soap water (cooled from boiling) then rinsed a couple of times in cooled boiled water and then left to dry naturally.
Mesophillic starter added to 5 litres of milk and left to clabber (fabulous word!) for 24 hours.
We had to do the 'money trip' to Penamacor. Then gardening, gardening, gardening (Brett is mowing our verges to make the place look tidy)........ He can work tirelessly in the heat - I can't!

18th April
Off to CB for Brett's dental appointment.
We tried to arrange to visit Mark's friend Amelia (sent her an email). Even though we didn't hear back from her we went to, what we think is, her house (being built) and had a good look round - it's HUGE with fabulous views, it will be stunning when it's completed.
Back home to the cheese making ...... added rennet to the clabbered milk, left it for 45 minutes to set (the curds should become the consistency of creme caramel and the whey separates out), it didn't work - the curds were tiny (no good for the next stage of the hard cheese recipe) so I just strained them through cheesecloth - Result: a very tasty cream cheese!!!! I've made a delicious Chevre!

19th April
Lightening and rain overnight. Today is cooler and rather windy.
Brett made a goat milking table.
I played in my studio, preparing exciting experimental stuff for a firing.
Our drum mower arrived today.
OMG I forgot to feed the dogs this morning (again!), I didn't realise until I took down their dishes this afternoon and there were left-overs, from our meal last night, (their breakfast!).
OMG (2) we used the new milking table; Jelisa jumped up quite happily (well front legs, back had to be maneuvered on), Lucy had to be totally lifted up (then she did her collapsing legs thing!). But both goats, once their heads were through the restraint, milked like a dream - it even seemed quicker than normal (well done Brett).

20th April
I remembered to feed the dogs!
Lucy still had to be lifted onto the milking table; but the milking itself was a 'one man' job.
We had an impromptu morning at Vince & Lola's (returning their plough), which was nice.
I carried on with painting gates; we have to have the place looking nice when visitors come! We had a message from Claire today and she's going to visit in June (she's going to be our workaway!) - 'happy dancing' ......
Bloody goats! All of them, two mothers and their three kids, were all inside the old water tank, underneath the solar panels. Brett had to put in a ramp to get them out; which the kids thought was great fun - up and down they went hopping and skipping, whilst the mothers just stood. They had to be coaxed out with food!
This evening both goats hopped onto the table under their own steam, admittedly it was a slow process, with continual encouragement from us, but they're intelligent animals and they learn new tricks quickly (five weeks ago Lucy was the Satan goat from hell!).

21st April
Brett has thwarted the goat kids; he's put an electric fence around the solar panels/old water tank.
Both nanny goats now get onto the milking table - clever animals.
Jelisa

Lucy
I'm busily accumulating milk so I can have another try at cheddar; I need a minimum of 10 litres,  which I should have by tomorrow - I'm getting about 2 litres a day.
Tim, Zoe and their kids (Matt and Amy) came to lunch. I kept it simple (I didn't want to get into a competition with Tim, he cooked a huge banquet) frittata, boiled eggs, salads (pasta, coleslaw and tomato), bread, goat cheese and some of our ham, kefir or iced tea to drink - actually quite a nice spread.
T&Z came with the intention of looking at kids and lambs to buy, but I think they wanted exactly what we haven't got for sale - female lambs (we're swapping the ones we have for piglets from Diane & Thomas).

22nd April
It's five days since I last made cheese and the fridge is heaving with milk (10 litres); so it's a smallholding day for me making cheese (hopefully cheddar-like), ricotta (waste not, want not!) and sausages (we mended the meat grinder AND IT WORKS!).
Today we learnt that ricotta means re-cooked (like panna cotta means cooked cream), therefore cotta means cooked in Italian.
Brett made a counterweight for the tractor (so it doesn't do wheelies when we have the various farm machinery attached to the back of it) and planted several more rows of cabbage (7 cents per plug) so that we can feed greenery to the animals.
Praise indeed ...... before stuffing the sausage skins we cooked a couple of small sausagemeat patties, just to check seasoning, texture etc. Brett's verdict: "there's nothing we can do to improve this/I would be proud to serve these to people/Mark Tipping would have loved these", so he's a happy bunny!
What a left down; we watched the finale of Broadchurch.

23rd April
St George's Day - I remember some Saint's days from my, brief, time as a Girl Guide, when I was ten or eleven, (I can also tie a reef knot, behind my back - why on earth was that a criteria for getting a knot's badge???).
The cheese was unwrapped and salted, it now needs to mature for a couple of weeks.
You would think that having a sausage stuffing attachment, on my food mixer, would make the task quick and easy - wrong!!! Firstly the instructions were wrong 'replace round disc with sausage funnel', when they meant cutting blade (ground down the end of the funnel). And the sausage meat just didn't feed through .... I managed in the end!

Kiln firing ........
Painted another gate - three to go .....

24th April
I spent the morning in my studio, designing and leading up a panel with one of the pieces that came out of the Kiln this morning.
Arsenic & Old Lace featuring Ghost Hare Triskelion
Sardines waiting to go into a panel
This afternoon I painted two gates - one to go!

25th April
Freedom Day = Public Holiday .......
Poo, now I have earache in my other ear (Brett thinks the infection traveled from ear to ear via my brain!).
The garden is starting to look good except .... we had rain the other night so the weeds have taken off with a vengeance!
So Brett has had this brilliant idea; the solar shed, that he's building onto the front of the house, can be increased slightly, a small part will become the solar and boiler room and the rest will become a bathroom and the best bit ....... the current bathroom will become our dressing room (I'll have somewhere to put my clothes!). Once again we're pondering ...... should we have a bath????

26th April
Brett dug and filled the footings for the bathroom (lots of smiley faces!).
I had made Halloumi and Ricotta (it takes a good four hours).
And then we both made sausagemeat (we've got 10+lbs of meat minced) then tomorrow we have the fun job (not) of stuffing the skins.

27th April
A group (10-12) of us got together (well Jo and Karina organised us) to buy a load of Paulonia Tomentosa (Princess/Empress tree); by buying in bulk (400+) we got about 16% discount. They were delivered today. Ann & Martin (and a couple of friends who are staying with them) came back to our quinta afterwards so Ann could look at my glass - I sold the Greenman panel, two seahorse mobiles and have a commission for three more mobiles (the money is all going into a pot so I can buy more supplies).
Stuffed a whole load more sausages - I even learnt how to tie them like a butcher (from youtube!).

Sharon was dripping this evening and being very vocal - I think she's in labor, Brett thinks she's on heat .......

28th April
Another full on Smallholding day ......
Checking the goats Sharon definitely appears (to me) to be giving birth (she's got a water sack protruding), Brett's not convinced (he says she's not big enough).
This morning we went to help Thomas & Diane dispatch their boar (we're going to share their meat, then they'll help us do our boar and have half our meat).
When we came home we checked on Sharon, she was lying down with the rest of her flock looking relaxed and well, no sign of a kid.
The afternoon was butchering and freezing the meat.
Then back to feed the flock and check on Sharon. She came straight in for food with obvious signs that she had indeed given birth - but no sign of a kid! A search of their field revealed a tiny, alien looking, kid fetus; she'd obviously miscarried - we're just pleased she's ok, she's too old to be a mother again.
This evening I managed to milk the goats on my own, thanks to Brett's wonderful milking table and the way the goats have adapted to it - both of them voluntarily come onto the decking, jump onto the table and put their head through the restraining bars to eat - once their head is through the bar is locked into place, which stops them from escaping (they don't mind, they're too busy eating!). Tomorrow I will need to make cheese again as the fridge is full of milk (thank goodness we haven't got a cow - though I would like fresh cream!).

29th April
A well deserved day off, unfortunately it's raining!
Oh dear I can't be bothered to make cheese today; however, it's been a week since I made the 'Cheddar' so we thought we'd try it (I have little patience/need instant gratification!), it was good, not Cheddar as we know it, Brett reckons more like a Wensleydale. Anyway I will wait until I have 10 litres of milk and make another Cheddar (we can easily use a 2lb wheel in a week, or two).
The weather had improved by this afternoon; but by then we'd started watching a film, '28 days later...' - not very good, full of cliches!
I can milk the goats on my own; Jelisa eagerly comes in first while Lucy paces about outside bleating (I'm sure she's saying "get a move on" in goat language). Jelisa is being very affectionate at the moment rubbing her head on me and enjoying a scratch (Brett thinks she's on heat!).

30th April
Wet, cold and windy ........
Didn't do much.

1st May
Cheese making is coming around too often! It takes a good part of a day. I made another wheel of 'Cheddar'.
Our milking machine hasn't arrived, it's been a month, delivery was quoted as (up to) 30th April; I've sent a message to the seller and if I have no joy I'll ask for a refund - Ebay guarantees money back. Annoying though, as we would rather have the machine!
Great, we had a reply from Vlad (in the Ukraine) our milking machine has been in Customs since the 11th April - but no one thought to tell us (the tracking number they supplied didn't work). He's given us a telephone number, so we can ring them ..... great, our favorite task, trying to talk/understand Portuguese over the phone!!!!
I advertised our goat kids for sale on Facebook this afternoon ...... MY ADVERT (I tried to make it catchy):

FOR SALE: Goat Kids
Do you have large, unmanageable, areas of scrubby grassland?
Do you spend hours strimmering?
Would you like, FRESH, milk?
Would you like to make your own cheese?
~
If you answer "yes" to one or more of the questions above YOU NEED GOATS!!!
~
2 x female kids, born January 2017
Very friendly
Both their mothers are good milkers
50€ each
~
3 x male (castrated) kids, born March 2017 (ready to go beginning of June)
Very friendly and playful - will make good pets
40€ each
...
I had sold the two females by this evening!

2nd May
Andrew agreed to make 'the phone call' for us (his Portuguese is excellent); he dialed the number, laughed and put the phone down ...... he had been answered by a recorded voice giving options - option (1) "if you would like to speak in English please press 1"!!!!!
So I made the call; turns out it was to CTT (Portuguese Post Office) not Customs. Customs has our package, they might want documentation from us (fiscal number, proof of address, proof of purchase), they haven't asked for anything yet (we might get a letter), we have to phone back in a week to see if there's any news, they can hold on to our package for a maximum of 90 days (and there's nothing we can do to speed them up!) - bloody brilliant!

3rd May
A day of cooking and cleaning as we have Vince & Lola coming to dinner. Starter: mixed homemade goat cheeses (Cheddar style, soft Chevre, moulded Chevre and Ricotta) and homecured air dried ham. Main: roast pork leg (Thomas & Diane's), roast sweet potatoes (nearly the last of them) and I picked our first French beans and some peas. Pudding: tiramisu (courtesy of Lola!).
We had a fablous evening and drank loads of Jerapiga!

4th May
Chaos at the milking station.
We had to bring Hazel and Georgia, with their two kids (Tinkerbell and Bauble), down to the house this morning; as the kids were being collected this afternoon.
There was lots of head butting, rearing, pushing and shoving between the new group and Jelisa, Lucy and the male kids.
Then, of course, they all wanted to come onto the decking for the milking session, as food is involved! Poor old Lucy was so distressed she didn't eat whilst she was being milked.
It is her kid stealing her food!
The fridge is full of milk again!!! We now have to decide whether to milk Hazel and Georgia too (do I want to be making cheese daily?).
The female kids went this evening. Georgia and Hazel didn't seem that bothered! The kids were obviously rather distressed, but they will be completely spoil and made into pampered pets.

5th May
We had a long shopping list (mainly for the new bathroom and the garden), so had to go into CB today. It wasn't a fantastic success, we had to do lots of compromising.
For the bathroom we needed: a shower tray, glass bricks (to let light into the shower), a window and we wanted to look at tiles (for the floor, walls and shower). So we ended up with ........ a much bigger tray than we went for - 140cms long, a smaller window, glass bricks with bubbles rather than colored glass (2.99 v 5.49!) and nothing in the way of tiles (they were all big and not teribbly nice).
For the garden we wanted maize to plant up the vegetable field and irrigation to water said field. In Agriloja 2.5 kilos of corn was 20€ but in the shop we bought from 5 kilos was just 2€!!! 1/20 of the price. And the irrigation???? Well what we went in to buy would have cost us over 600€, so we're going to see if we can bodge it (600€ would buy an awful lot of corn!).
Our three nanny goats who are not being milked are very full (Georgia and Hazel because their kids have gone and Sharon because of her miscarriage), but we just can't cope with more milking with our little machine - it would end up breaking, fingers crossed Customs releases our new machine soon.

6th May
A day of cheese (Halloumi and Ricotta) and ice cream (experimented by including the Ricotta, so a bit like a cheesecake ice cream?) making ..... and there's still litres of milk in the fridge! We have a glut ........
New method of heating the milk slowly (1 degree per 5 minutes)
Brett planted our Princess trees.

7th May
I spent the day in the studio (I need to complete Rebecca & Paul's wedding present before they arrive in 10 days time!!!!).
We had a text from C&D inviting us to the bar at 4.00 (to celebrate the start of summer!); we decided to be sociable, but only go for an hour or two (as we had all our evening tasks to do).
On our way out of the quinta we noted one of the ewes had given birth to twins!!!!! We checked the lambs were feeding and looking healthy, then went to the bar ..... FOUR hours later (!!!!!) we arrived back home, the goats and ducks were queuing at the decking and the geese had put themselves to bed! But we did have a good time; Greg & Sarah, Stuart and Baptiste were there too.

8th May
It's gone hot again .......
We used our seeder to sow chickpeas, black eyed beans, mangle wurzels and maize in our vegetable garden field - fingers crossed they germinate well, and not too many weeds.
This evening we had to take the dogs to the vet, for their annual vaccinations - that was fun!!!!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

BLOODY MILK ......,,

28th March
I'm made a clock for my studio (I'm too tight to buy one!).
This afternoon we went round to Judith's for afternoon tea; she has a lovely big quinta with mowed lawns and flower beds.

29th March
Brett and I had a gardening day. I sowed lots of seeds and excavated channels, for watering, in the polytunnel.
Brett cut grass (tractor) and rotavated (rotavator, until it broke (again), then tractor).

30th March
I hate housework!!! I tidied, swept, dusted and washed the floor this morning - by this afternoon the floor needed doing again (I didn't!!!).
Pam, Nicky (her house buyer) and Taliss (Nicky's daughter) came round this afternoon - they exchange contracts tomorrow.
Brett finished the supports for the vines,
then plough the vegetable garden field
- looks good.
This evening we went for our 'last supper' with P&M at O Fontanha (skewer restaurant) - we might never see them again!

31st March
Well we did see them again (this afternoon) when we went to give them an agate and leaded glass roundel that I spent today assembling, as a house warming gift.
I forgot to take a photo after it had been completed!
Brett did more ploughing and grass cutting in the vegetable garden; tomorrow we're going into CB to buy fruit trees and new vines (eating grapes, preferably seedless so I can make sultanas).

1st April
We bought three peach trees, two plum trees (well one's a greengage) and two seedless vines (one black, one white); we're very excited.
We also bought paint for the remaining gates - so that's me sorted for next week!
I heard the first bee eater today (definitely summer!).
OMG we've just ordered a proper milking machine; we've gambled and gone for the cheaper Ukrainian one (£375 v £1100), fingers crossed it's not 'too good to be true'.

2nd April
We're well into this gardening lark; Brett rotavated the unplanted side of the polytunnel, while I carried on weeding the herb bed - I uncovered/discovered horseradish, comfrey and wild rosemary (all of which I thought I'd lost). And I dug up and (I'm very proud of myself) disposed of (ok I stuck it in heaps under trees, in the hope some of it might grow!) FIVE, very full, wheelbarrows of mint roots. Now I need to get herbs and edible flowers, to fill all the space I've created.

3rd April
This morning we spent lots of money (several hundred euros) on posts etc for supports in the vegetable garden (mainly for espaliering and fanning fruit trees and bushes/canes) - let's hope we can keep up with the weeding!
When Nicky & Rich came round they gave us a whole load of vegetable seeds, many in envelopes with hand written names; one merely said 'mole deterrent plant', so I sowed some of the seeds today. Then I researched, on the internet, to see what it might be, as the seeds are very distinctive; turns out it's Castor Oil plant - the most deadly plant to man!!!!! It's the plant that Ricin comes from! So they're going in the bin then ......

4th April
Happy Birthday Alex xxx
Our milking machine was dispatched today.
We went to lunch at Tim & Zoe's quinta (we've never been before). It's HUGE, 10 hectares, fabulous views (including Monsanto), very nice. Tim had cooked a veritable feast. We had a lovely time.
The muscovy ducklings have started hatching ......
We have the weirdest radishes growing; they are over (soft and hollow) but when I pulled them up for the pigs there were new radish (crisp, hot and juicy) growing below the original radish.

5th April
The mother ducks (yes there's two sitting on the same nest) are sitting tight, so far I've managed to count five ducklings.
A&K had a lunchtime BBQ birthday party for Alex; it was great fun. Unfortunately we were the first to leave as we had goats to milk. And thank goodness we came back when we did - Lucy was so full she was literally squirting milk out (she must have been pressing on something in her lying position), very weird.
Poor old Diane & Thomas are struggling with their new cow, she not used to being milked and she's rather feisty ........
One of our young chicks was in their water bucket this evening. We have no idea how long it had been there, it looked dead (it was soaked through and freezing cold) ....... but five hours later with lots of TLC, a box in front of the heater, a hot water bottle to sit on etc it seems to be recovering.
We put her back in the shed at midnight (it was the best way to keep her warm).

6th April
And this morning we couldn't tell which was the drowned chick!!!! They all rushed out saying they were starving. Feeling good ........
Mrs Muscovy came out with eight ducklings, later Mrs Muscovy 2 (he has two wives) came out with three more very young ducklings (who shouldn't have left the nest yet) so we shut her (Mrs 2) in the shed with them (there could still be eggs hatching)
Brett prepared the ground ready for vegetable plugs and seeds. I cooked as Wendy & Kevin are coming to lunch tomorrow.
This afternoon Brett called me over to Lucy, so I could see her leaking milk (I hadn't seen it for myself); she had a continuous fountain of milk flowing from her udder (she doesn't 'let down' that well when she's being milked!). She was just lying on the ground with milk pouring from her.

7th April
Twelve ducklings came out of the shed this morning!
Wendy & Kevin came to lunch today (chilled pumpkin soup. Focaccia, sundries tomato jam and rocket tart, our dried ham (ours)
with melon, coleslaw and mixed salad).
This evening we planted four trays of potatoes (ours from last year). This year we're planting everything close together hopefully this will reduce the number of weeds.

8th April
Off to CB to look at farm machinery (sythe mower and hay turner) and to buy furniture for the lower deck (the table and chairs on it atm came with us from Wales and are on their last legs).
There were only eleven ducklings when we got home. We searched and searched but couldn't find the twelfth.
This afternoon I planted our fruit trees, while Brett finished the post and wires. When we got back to the house there were only ten ducklings!
This evening we castrated our three male kids; a really horrible job, we feel bad, but it means they'll have longer lives.

9th April
Our goat kids aren't happy .........
We feel mean!
They're not feeding much so their mothers are full. We milked Jelisa (both sides) this morning 3/4 litre and again this afternoon 1.5 litres - we're literally taking off enough to make them comfortable (the machine isn't capable of anything more). We found blood in the milk from Lucy (panicked as it could indicate mastitis) we were actually relieved when we discovered she had a cracked teat (treating with vaseline), and feeding her milk to pigs and dogs!
We had afternoon tea at Claire & Phil's, and came back with .... Lemons!
This evening Brett was standing on the decking and saw a wild boar on the abandoned quinta next door (we're bordered by at least fifteen quinta and quite a few are abandoned) - of course, by the time I got out there, it had disappeared into the undergrowth.

10th April
1 litre from Jelisa (both sides) and 1/2 from Lucy (one side) at 9.00 a.m. Hope our new milking machine arrives soon.
We went to Fundao market today for vegetable plugs: brocolli, cabbage, piri piri, capsicum, onions, cauliflower (white and Romanesque), tomatoes and Brussels sprouts......
A full litre from Lucy today (just milking one side), unfortunately she's still bleeding so we can't use the milk (lucky dogs and pigs!). And another 3/4 litre from Jelisa (one side).
I made Halloumi and Ricotta; tomorrow I might make ice cream.
We didn't get all our plugs in, mainly because we had to wait until it was a bit cooler and then we have so much to do (animals, watering etc); but those we did get in are looking good.

11th April
It was over 30C on the decking today ......
We had lots planned and it all went to pot, as Brett's tooth pain hit crisis point, and we had to take a trip to CB for him to a
 have root canal work (took out the nerve).
We managed to get all the plugs planted today; the tomatoes are looking rather limp/dead!
Oh dear Z&T found an abandoned calf (which they brought home!), just days old and hungry. Fortunately D&T's cow took to it and allowed it to feed. Now they've got to find the owner.

12th April
30+C in the shade ..........
Hoorah, we didn't need to milk either goat this morning; it won't be such a chore once we have our new machine (hopefully any day now).
We have Diane & Thomas coming to dinner Friday; so today I'm busily making goat's milk and goose egg ice cream, I'm stirring away when it suddenly dawns on me ...... Diane is allergic to goose eggs (well duck eggs actually, but she doesn't eat goose eggs, as a precaution) and, as the boys are feeding again, I'm now out of goat milk - bugger!
Lots of vegetable gardening today.
This evening Jelisa gave us an easy 1.5 litres and Lucy 1/2 litre (we're still feeding hers to the dogs and pigs)......

13th April
30+C ........
One of the duckling was smothered overnight; then there were nine!
Lucy's milk is blood free (it needs to settle overnight and the blood precipitates out, very easy to see); Hoorah from us, boo from pigs and dogs.
It's so hot and I have no summer clothes so I spent the day adjusting dresses I made last year; removing the underskirts and sleeves - much more comfortable/wearable now, if a trifle short!