Friday, 14 February 2014

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY ............

1st February
Happy Birthday Steph! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Oh dear the puppy has taken to following Brett and Looby home after their last evening walk, he then whines and paws at the door asking to be let in, we're having to steel our hearts, this is the time he should be with his sheep.
And after Looby's walk, this morning, he came back with us bringing another dog with him! Brett managed to chase it (the other dog) off - three dogs equals a pack and then we'd have real trouble. He spends most of the day with us, he's bored on his own and he's only a baby. Oh dear we've broken the shepherds dog, it's no longer a fierce guard dog!
Brett started making the duck and goose sheds and I made a very simple cold frame, balancing a sheet of Perspex on wooden joists. Then I planted a whole load more seeds: fennel (bronze and Florence), strawberries, leeks, gigantic chives, and coriander.
This evening we went out for a meal with P&M; Pam is off to England in the morning for two weeks.

2nd February
Our new friends, Karina and Alex, came to afternoon tea, they brought Alex's dad (Alex) and their friend (Sean) who is living with them; I made tomato tarts, with the olive pastry, and lemon (free lemons) and olive oil cake and Karina brought homemade doughnuts, so we had quite a feast.
K&A are a lovely couple; Karina is Russian and she knows, first hand, homesteading skills I've only read about like root cellars and Kvas (which I've learnt should be made with bread), I'm going to learn a lot from her - especially as she likes to cook. Alex is British? or is he? His father was brought up in Hungary (so maybe he Hungarian, I'll have to ask) and they've lived in Thailand - a well traveled group.

3rd February
It rained a lot over night; which meant the ground was too wet to weed or plant up (just when I'm all enthusiastic); although I did have to replant some of the escarole that had been dug up by something overnight - I blame that pesky puppy!
Talking of which, the sheep have gone (and so has the puppy) which means we can walk around our quinta with Looby off the lead. This afternoon we gleaned a whole load of hay that had been left behind (it probably came from our quinta originally) for our chicken sheds.
Brett has nearly finished his third poultry shed (it just needs a door) soon we'll be able to pick up our ducks.
It rained again this evening and the weather forecast predicts rain for the next ten days (again!), so tonight we were back to turning off the fridge overnight.

4th February
Happy Birthday Joyce!
RAIN, RAIN, RAIN, oh yes and snow on the mountains - however the long range forecast for March is beautiful bright sunshine every day (and that's when I'll probably be replanting all the seeds that are in the cold frame as they're not getting any heat at all and will probably rot in all this moisture!).
We didn't have any sweets for a 'video & sweets' day so I made a chocolate cornflake cake, but I'm now panicking as I've nearly finished the golden syrup and I haven't seen it in the shops here. We watched 'Safe House' (and listened to the rain); it was a fast moving action thriller with Denzel Washington, easy viewing.

5th February
It didn't rain much today so Brett was able to finish the duck shed, hopefully we'll be able to pick them up soon. Brett thinks they'll be able to swim in the stream at the bottom of our land, which is flowing quite rapidly at the moment, I think they'll get swept away and won't be able to make their way back home!
Chris and Di came to dinner, we had butternut squash and goat cheese lasagne (a Nigella Lawson recipe) - I found it a bit bland.

6th February
Happy Birthday Alexandra XXX
It's raining, it's pouring .................................. it was a really horrid day, not a nice day to be outside, so we stayed inside. Well we went to the font to collect water first and then called in at the post office - I had a parcel from Helen and a letter from Joyce!!! What lovely surprises, thank you!
Today I had a yearning for Heinz type baked beans; you can get them here, in the big supermarkets, but they are more than 2€ a tin and I'm not paying that! So I made my own version,
they actually tasted quite authentic and next time I might blitz the sauce so there isn't lumps of onion in it; total cost about 1€ but, as it made the quantity of a good two tins, that makes it less than 50c a tin.
The duck's house is finished
and we've arranged to pick them up on Saturday, they will be completely free range as the chickens have the poultry netting.
Typical the big hens prefer the little chicks house to their own!

7th February
Another dull day, so I played with some of our brine cured olives. I made some into a vegetarian tapenade, the last lot was very popular. I flavoured one jar of mixed olives with oregano and parsley and another jar with garlic and chillies then filled the jars up with olive oil - I love all this free produce!
from left to right: Tapenade, Green Olives with Herbs, Black Olives with Garlic & Sundried Tomatoes, Green Olives with Garlic & Sundried Tomatoes
In the UK I would have bought just small tubs of flavoured olives for £'s a tub, now I have large jars full.

8th February
We have ducks, a trio of Pato Mudo (which look exactly like Muscovies); they spent the first few hours huddled at the back of their shed,
but it wasn't long before the white female started exploring. She was the first out of the shed, the others followed, she was the first through the fence, the others stayed put! She was very easy to get back in, we just walked slowly towards her and she pushed her way (quite forcibly) through the wire netting - the male is far too big to fit through so the females will hang around near him even if they both get out. Or so we thought .................... about 5.30 p.m. I went out to check on them all three had disappeared - they were halfway up the track on their way towards the other sheds!!!!
It must be frog mating time; when we go out in the evening the air is full of the sounds of croaking frogs, funnily we haven't seen any!

9th February
Happy Birthday Mark!
Atrocious weather, it was raining all night and still raining in the morning but, in spite of this, the hunters were out in force - hopefully it's the end of the season today (we have been told it's the 2nd Sunday in February). And it's not nice rain it's icy cold, I spent the day in copious layers including two thick jumpers - and that was indoors!!!
One of the ducks has laid an egg!!!!
Pam is in the UK, so we invited Mark (the birthday boy) around for lunch; chicken pie, which was fun to make (not) square plate (no baking tins small enough and round pastry (bought because I have no rolling pin); so it looked rather rustic. but it tasted fine, jacket potatoes and the first harvest of  our own broccoli.
I made Mark a recycled glass jar chandelier for his present, 
I think he likes it, I know Pam definitely will!

10th February
Hoorah, the sun came out today so we actually got some work done.
First we moved a ton (a real ton in weight) of wet logs from outside the house into the wood shed, to dry out - we had to load them all into the truck by hand (one at a time), drive over to the shed, then unload them by hand. Then Brett did some chain sawing while I was supposed to be shredding the olive prunings, but they wouldn't fit into the shredder opening; so I spent the afternoon cutting and sawing the olive wood into more manageable pieces - very boring! (and they've yet to be shredded!).
Our white duck is dead; we don't know how or why, we just found her lying in the back of the duck house this morning - we're thinking it could have been the stress of the move, the other two seem to be fine. They kept escaping and wandering off a long way from their shed, so Brett put another two runs of fencing around their run - so now their fence is three stock wires thick, that put pay to their escaping! We're only going to keep them shut behind a fence for a few days, so that they get used to their duck shed and come back to it in the evening - we're feeding them just before dusk to get them into a routine.
I got Brett to cut nearly a foot off my hair today!!! It was getting very straggly at the ends but the worst thing was I was getting dreadlocks!!! It was a real struggle to get a brush through it; that's what happens if you wear your hair in plaits for days on end and frequently wear a hat!

11th February
I'm getting really fed up with the rain now!!! We've had yet another day where we couldn't go outside the door without getting completely drenched. So nothing else to do but ........... a 'video & sweets day'! We watched Smokin' Aces - not really my cup of tea, but it passed a bit of time.
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!!! Tonight we had a Moroccan Chicken Tagine (actually it was in a Le Cruset casserole dish!) using the lemons I preserved a few weeks ago, they are absolutely fabulous, really, really delicious, the whole thing is edible (even the skin and pith); I'm going to make more tomorrow.
We had a really strange light this evening; it was a full moon, but it was misty - very eerie! (unfortunately impossible to take a photo).

12th February
I made a big jar of preserved lemons,
Sunshine in a Jar!
it made the kitchen smell fabulous (even I could smell it a little!).
There truly is nothing much to do in this weather, it's too wet to work outside, it's too dark to work inside - I am starting to get thoroughly bored now. I did a bit of craft work, I copied a design I liked on an internet site (Dottie Angel Ltd) for a hanging heart with lace (she had posted the instructions so she wanted people to copy!).
I've been making quite a few hearts recently:
Foil Hare Heart
Wire Heart with Red Heart detail

Embossed Foil Heart with Beads
And I've even been asked if I will sell the Hare Heart!
The weather in the UK sounds horrendous, Brynaman is without electricity, trees are down, roofs blown off - hope the Barn is OK! Just realised if Brynaman has no power our tenants will have no heat, lights, way to heat water or cook ....................

13th February
Sunshine!!!!! At last it looks like we have a break in the weather, tomorrow we have a bit more rain then it's turning nice for a while (according to the forecast).
It was a very good day today; we built our cold frame (2m x 1m) at a cost of less than 30€, which I think is a bargain.
And ........... my first tomato is through!!
You need good eyes to see it!!!
So exciting, now the seeds are in a warmer frame they're going to popping through like nobody's business (what a strange phrase, I wonder where it came from?).
It felt so good actually accomplishing something today, but give me a few days of good weather and I'll be moaning about working too hard!
Our daft dog sleeps in some really weird positions.

14th February
Valentine's Day; now did I get a card or not? ................ (Brett did!!!).
But hopefully this is the last of it for a while.


  1. Hi, Sandra! We are climbing the walls here too :) Hopefully there will be sunshine from tomorrow. You are making me feel guilty that I haven't updated my blog in awhile. I am just going to do that now. Happy Valentine's to you and Brett by the way :)

  2. Wasn't today lovely, no rain!!!! AND I have three tomato seedling through in the cold frame - I love this time of year.
    We haven't forgotten we're coming to visit you soon we're just waiting for a run of a few nice days (then we won't feel guilty socialising!). We will see you soon.