Friday, 19 June 2015

STILL EXCITED ABOUT THE TRACTOR!!!!

5th June
Brett was back working on Clare & Andy’s floor today; they had a good day yesterday and he arrived home two hours earlier than anticipated J.
I, stupidly, fell over whilst leading the goats from their shed to the field; I’m blaming it on my dizzy ears, however, I was impressed with myself as I managed to keep a hold of their leads! The dogs were sweet; they came running over to me, I’m convinced with concern on their faces, and started licking me.
I’ve been trying to do an hour’s weeding in the mornings (before 9.00 and the heat of the day) and the squash patch is starting to look better; it helps that the plants are just beginning to take off (Andrew has fruit on his and mine are only just flowering), I’m wondering if it’s the mulching that’s helped?
The sheep’s eyes are much improved and the horrible grass seems to have shed all its seeds. We have one black sheep with a dull patch in one eye; but even that is better than last week when it was white and she was blind, so I’m hoping it will continue to heal. It will definitely not happen to them next year as (1) we are aware of the dangers now and (2) we have our tractor to cut the grass before it goes to seed.
Will & Gill are looking at camper vans; I’m so excited, if they get one, they’ll be able to come and visit us (YIPPEE!!!!!).
This evening all the Pedrogao crowd were invited to Baptiste’s (he bought a mansion next to the church in the village); we sat outside, under a lemon tree, on rickety old chairs and benches, at tables laden with food and drink, looking just like the stereotypical Mediterranean gathering they have on films and in adverts!

6th June N/I
My goodness it was hot today (the hottest day so far); I didn’t want to do much and having a bit of a hangover and inflamed Eustachian tubes didn’t help. I did manage a bit of weeding before breakfast.
Looby went off; we thought she’d gone off to the river as she was hot, but she came home dry, panting and even hotter. So I threw a bucket of water on her - she thought she was being punished!
Will & Gill have bought a camper van and they’re coming to visit October half term – I am so very happy and excited JJJ. Bugger the summer, roll on autumn ...
I made stuffed vine leaves (our own leaves no less); stuffed with rice, onion (ours), garlic (ours), and mint (ours) ... I wonder if I can grow rice? I was very pleased with them; they were very tasty and they look super impressive too!
We were supposed to go to a film show (Pride) on P&M’s decking tonight but, as my hearing is rubbish atm, we decided to give it a miss. Also, as it doesn’t get dark until well after 9.00 it was going to be another late night.
There’s a lot of social events going on at the moment so it’s necessary to ‘pick and choose’; tomorrow we’re having lunch with Marc & Mieke (I’ve made chocolate mousse, I was going to make honeycomb but I’ve run out of golden syrup and I can’t get it here) but we could also have gone to a concert played in a mine in one of the local Geo-parks (P&M and a crowd are going to that).
Our new hens have started laying.

7th June N/I
I was up and out well before 7.00 – it was actually rather chilly!!! Our billy goat was a bit frisky this morning ....
I offered to be the designated driver when we went out for lunch; is a good excuse not to drink, I don’t enjoy drinking alcohol mid day (and it’s easier for me to see when it’s not dark); but as Brett didn’t want to drink either he drove anyway.
We had a lovely afternoon sitting out under a huge fig tree and we were given cherries to take home (M&M have eighteen huge trees, I’m very jealous).
M&M have a new puppy; she’s an Alentejo sheep dog (a BIG breed) she’s only 3 months old and her feet are as big as my hands! She’s absolutely gorgeous
On our way to M&M’s we saw a whirlwind right next to the road and on our way back it rained!!!! We were so excited, but it did nothing to wet the ground so we still had to water!
We think that our vegetables aren’t as lush as they should be and that this is down to lack of watering; we’re making a concerted effort to give them more and any subsequent plantings this year we will put in troughs, which we can flood (it’s how the Portuguese do it).
Then this evening we were treated to an electrical storm ...

8th June N/I
CB again!!!!! This is getting boring; but we thought this was the last trip for a while .... we bought the grass cutting and scarifying attachments for the tractor, so tomorrow we could start mowing ...
We managed to pick up a few emails, on the free wifi in town, on our mobile – but couldn’t answer anyone!
We got home, unloaded the attachments, Brett attached the grass cutter and ... the ‘power take off’ connection is too long!!!!! So we have to go back tomorrow and exchange it, what a pisser L!

9th June
A small harvest ...
Please note the two tomatillos at the front!!
It's starting to be that time of year, when we can eat from the garden and Brett gets bored with beans and courgettes every day!
So we came home with the same PTO connection; the man apologised for not telling us we had to cut it to length! Brett had to cut 35cms off each end; sawing through a plastic pipe and angle grinding through metal tubes –how were we to know that? But now it works and we’ve just got to learn how to use it – because it seems awfully slow atm and cutting our grass is going to take weeks if not months!
This evenings meal: chicken breasts pan fried in olive oil, with tomatillo (and tomato) salsa, new potatoes and a medley of climbing beans  - everything grown/raised on quinta except the tomatoes (which we will have by next week).
So tomorrow the grass cutting starts in earnest!
'Darling Buds of May'!


10th June
Bloody brilliant; the battery on the tractor is ‘dead’; we were supposed to be given a new one! We tried jump-starting the tractor with the truck, but it wouldn’t; now we’re trying to charge the battery – Brett says it could take 36 hours, that’s if it takes a charge at all!
So no grass mowing today; I carried on weeding the vegetable garden – unfortunately the weeds are growing faster than I pull them up!!!
OMG Brett strimmered around the paddock below the house this afternoon; he called me 'come down here I want you to see our neighbour's garden' - you can't see much of it from the house because of the hedgerow between us. It is lush, weed free and HUGE; it's absolutely immaculate and the plants looks so healthy - it's inspirational. He says I have to aspire to that next year! It has to be down to their watering; we need to talk to them to find out what they are doing different to us, they are using furrows to plant their vegetables in and I think flooding the furrows every other day – we’re using hosepipes and sprinklers.
Not good photos, but at last I have pictures of a bee eater showing the magnificent colouring ...


11th June
RAIN!!!!! Real proper rain, so we didn’t have to water tonight J. And the temperature dropped dramatically to 22°; I spent the day in leggings and a jumper.
After much playing around Brett got the tractor started and spent a while working out what gears, speed, revs etc are needed to get the optimum grass cutting from the topper; it’s quite complicated, the revs have to be high so that the PTO moves fast enough (but our rev counter doesn’t work!), but you don’t want the tractor moving fast so it has to be in a crawler gear ....... anyway, he worked it out (with some research on the internet) and cut the whole of the paddock below the house. Now all he’s got to do is teach me how to use it!
We 'love' out tractor!
I potted on herbs and plants for around the house/decking – I’m determined it’s going to look nice; unfortunately all my large ceramic pots were left in Wales so all I have atm is plastic ugly ones.
We’ve had poo on the decking every morning for a couple of months; traced it up to a hole in the house wall – Brett thought it could be mouse (too small for rat, phew!), I hoped it was gecko, turns out it’s BATS and there’s baby bats in the house wall ... so Now I’m not in the least bit worried by it.
We have very demanding Muscovy ducks;
"Is it dinner time yet?"
'Little Miss' actually comes in the house to tell me it's her dinner time!
The floor is filthy because of muddy feet (it's been raining); you can see our rain catching barrels lined up outside on the decking

12th June
Well Brett taught me to work the tractor and topper (it took all of 5 minutes!) and this morning I worked for about two hours (with a 10 minute coffee break, to let the tractor engine cool down), and cut all the grass in Lavender paddock (about ¾ - 1 acre, I left the ¾ - 1 acre of lavender); it was actually very relaxing once I got my confidence and I feel as if I’ve done something useful. I didn’t realise what dirty work it is I was covered in dust and itchy all over, and sneezing nonstop.
Brett played with the tractor this afternoon; he tried out the scarifier, it needs a longer attachment but it will work – I don’t like what it does to the land but it creates a good firebreak.

13th June


Another cooler day, it’s going to heat back up next week.
Since tiling the kitchen floor the living room has become a ‘dumping ground’ and hasn’t been cleaned or tidied! That was all remedied today and it’s now looking as good as it can with unplastered walls, concrete floor and (dusty) shelves full of tools. The hoover was its usual crappy self belching out dust clouds – I HATE it, if I had stairs I would throw it down them, useless bit of kit!
My Bell’s Palsy was playing up today; I had a horrid jaw ache and started worrying that I was going to have a relapse, I went to bed early with pain killers.

14th June
Woke up without the pain in my jaw and I can shut my eye; big sigh of relief! But feeling very tired and the dizziness has come back – oh woe is me ...
We had real rain today and lots of it; and thunder and lightning – it was just like being back in the UK! And all we could keep thinking was ‘this is great for the garden’!
We had a relaxing day watching videos in our newly cleaned living room.
Andrew came round and gave us some of his garden produce – carrots, parsnips and beetroot
AND a bottle of his delicious (with chips) beetroot ketchup.

15th June
When I let the Muscovies out this morning I saw two eggs in their shed, on further investigation I found a nest, twelve eggs in total
there’s no way we’re going to allow one of them to sit for another 35 days (they’ve both done 70 days already this year), so I took them out. We’re overrun with eggs atm;
we have goose, duck, chicken and the young hens are laying well too ... lucky pigs and dogs!
Our first ripe tomatoes (from the polytunnel) – we had ‘Greek’ salad for lunch,
all our own produce (tomatoes, cucumber, onion, basil and olive oil) except the cheese (maybe one day), that was from Lidl!
We dug up our potatoes using the tractor with the scarifier attachment; it worked a treat and was so much easier than digging by hand.

16th June
We spent the day in the vegetable garden; Brett on the tractor and rotorvator, me with a fork (weeding). At last the garden is starting to look more kempt; it helps that the plants are beginning to take off (unfortunately weeding is like the Forth of Firth bridge!).
While we were in the garden we were called by a couple (Portuguese) walking around the quinta next door; they were looking for the Roman fonte (it’s across the stream just behind our goose shed, not on our land). We invited them over to our quinta (they had quite a walk around as it’s impossible to cross the stream at that point) and showed them the fonte (battling our way through brambles and bracken to get to it) – I think they were quite disappointed when they saw it!
Every day or so we pick up a bucket full of oranges (windfalls) and squeeze about 3L of orange juice (how much would that cost in Tesco?); it’s delicious, once chilled. And everyday we harvest a few vegetables.

17th June
Back in the garden for me; weeding and mulching ...
Brett in the big field strimmering around the perimeter in preparation for taking in the tractor to cut the grass (we’re fighting about who’s going to be driving the tractor!).
Tonight I made a cake in a frying pan (recipe courtesy of Karina, thank you); it seems to be quite a good consistency, we’ll see tomorrow when I fill it and we try it.

18th June
I filled and covered the cake with chocolate ganache
I honestly think if I didn’t know better I would have thought it was cooked in an oven; the texture/consistency is perfect. Glenn and Mark came to lunch and took some cake home with them (unfortunately they don’t have fridge so I think the ganache might have suffered).
I had a horrible BP jaw ache attack (I went to bed for a couple of hours), so didn’t go to the sheds to see Mark & Glenn off, which is a shame as I apparently missed a very impressive whirlwind.
This evening I cut grass, while Brett shifted stones from the field (we think it’s years of scarifying, it brings the stones to the surface – like pigs do!).



19th June
Still feeling crap (achy jaw, covered in swollen, itchy, mosquito bites (three on my face) and tired) and sorry for myself.
I couldn't resist picking a few tomatoes and yard long beans for lunch ... 
AND there was a swallowtail butterfly in the polytunnel.
Brett had to strimmer a large area of the field as it is covered in stones and you can’t see them easily until the grass is cut.
I took it easy today ...

20th June
Happy Birthday Mel!!!! XXX
I’ve had the above tagged onto the end of my blog for weeks – so I don’t miss the BIG day (like last year)! Hope you have a fab party XXXX.


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