Thursday, 14 April 2016

MURDER AND MAYHEM ......

24th March
Thank goodness for Google; my ice cream custard curdled slightly whilst being heated (I'd stop stirring to look at a message!) ..... What could I do to rescue it? Easy, just blitz it in the food processor (I'd already tried sieving, but my sieve was too coarse) worked a treat, lovely velvety custard (phew).
I think I might have diagnosed Crackling; there's a condition called Dippity Pig Syndrome - if it is that he should be better in a couple of days.
Yay, I've ordered my dehydrator; I can't believe I paid more for the postage (£44), to Portugal, than for the actual dehydrator (£34.99) - but at least they post to Portugal! I could have bought one from Spain (a different one) with only 7€ postage, but this one had very good reviews (the Spanish one didn't) I am very excited!

Brett's going great guns on the studio, he's already installed some of the lintels.
Andrew came to lunch, then we went to Pam's (with Katrina, Lola and four others) for Diane's soap making workshop. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and our (I paired up with Lola) our soap looks fabulous, very Lush. We have to wait until tomorrow to unmould it, then slice it - then wait SIX WEEKS until we can use it.
It looks edible!
But our day was completely spoilt when we put the goats away and went to feed the cat - all her kittens had been killed; they had a puncture wound to the back of their necks, the cat had obviously tried to protect them as there was white fur all over the place. Totally miserable!!!
We went to Vince & Lola's for dinner, it was a good evening, despite our despondency, my fudge sundaes were a hit.

26th March
Cold and wet - matches our mood!
The piglet is still having trouble with his back leg(s), which kind of rules out dippity pig syndrome (which I really wanted it to be as, although it looks distressing, it's not that serious - it also tends to be pot bellied pigs that get it). We now suspect it could be navel ill (which gives piglets an inflammation in their leg joints) - so we've put him back on antibiotics; and, having weighed him (3.5 kilo), he's on a much higher dose (1/16 of a tablet, 1/4 Lilies dose). Of course we can't take him to the vet as it's a bank holiday weekend.
Huh, the soap won't turn out of the mould; I've tried knocking the bottom, shaking and banging - all to no avail.
I messaged Diane, but she was teaching another course today. I googled 'unmoulding soap' and the first thing I read was' do not use a metal mould' .... let's hope Diane can suggest something. I tried freezing it for 10 minutes (hoping it would shrink away from the mould), cutting around the outside with a sharp knife, banging it down hard (upside-down) on a bread board - in the end I had to cut it in half, as one end was loose, turn that piece out then prise the other end out with a pallet knife.

27th March
Easter Sunday and Summertime so we lost an hour of sleep!
M&M came to lunch, bringing the meat (shoulder of lamb) with them, I prepared the veg (roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and steamed fava bean tops) and pudding (fudge sundaes).
The animals didn't go away until gone 8.00 which means we ate late (10.00), I wasn't hungry by then!

28th March
Grey and drizzly.
We did our chores, mooched around a bit, lit the fire, I did some weeding and potting on in the polytunnel - our hearts aren't in it atm, we're both tired and stressed.
I'm so worried about Piglet's, his leg isn't getting any better, he seems to be losing his appetite and he's stopped playing with Lili; Brett says he's just going to go from one illness to another because he was the runt and not meant to survive - it's hard once you become attached to them (even though he is terribly bad tempered!). He has this cute response; if we lie him on his side and stroke him under the chin he instantly (and I mean instantly, within seconds) falls asleep - it works every time.

29th March
Both goat's milked well this morning (Georgia from both sides, about 600ml, and Hazel one side, about 400ml).
Brett needed the dentist (he had a filling fall out last week) so we had a quick trip into CB. We spoke to the vet (Agriloja) who gave us a course of antibiotic injections for the piglet; I feel much more positive now that we have proper medicine for him (finger's crossed).
We checked Mark's house for him - it's fine.
On the way home we checked our post box; a letter from Joyce and a card from the postman to say we have a parcel at the village post office (I expect it's the butter churn and paddles).
We had another 1/2 litre of milk from Georgia tonight, that's 1 1/2 total today and we're only milk them when they absolutely need it; so for Georgia that's twice a day for her right udder and very occasionally, both sides for her and left side for Hazel.

30th March
We have a YELLOW warning today for snow and high winds. .......
I think piglet seems a bit better this morning (or is it only wishful thinking?); is he less squealy and perhaps using his leg more? Time will tell.
Brett put the joists for the mezzanine in; it makes the building look very solid.
I did boring stuff like food shopping, house tidying, floor sweeping and washing, cooking etc. alongside piglet minding (with lots of chin stroking!).
So much for the yellow warning; it's been a lovely day.
Piglet was no better this evening, he gets another injection tomorrow - I wish it would hurry up and work.

31st March
The predicted storm came in the night, high winds and heavy rain; we were snugly tucked up in bed.
Piglet was much worse this morning; he could hardly stand on his legs, kept falling over then couldn't right himself and was constantly squealing with pain. We gave him his injection early, but we don't hold out much hope.
We did a whole load of gardening today, including planting out 36 winter squash - and now the weather forecast says -2 tonight!!!! That would really be the final straw ..????
We're feeling very sad ..... Piglet died; he didn't make it to his 4 week birthday at 5.30p.m. today.
He wasn't right from day one, he was a completely different shape to his siblings (his back was rounded and his buttocks were narrower than his shoulders) - perhaps it was a mistake to try to save him?

1st April
The winter squash survived the night, thank goodness.
We had quite a social week last week, in fact we have been very sociable since before Christmas; it's quite tiring going out or entertaining after a day of working. So we made the decision to curtail the socializing for a while - yeh right, we have guests for lunch, Saturday, and dinner, Sunday!!!
I made two litres of goat milk ice cream; if I could make sugar (I'm working on it) all the ingredients would have come from the quinta (oh yes and vanilla extract!).
Andrew has a lovely border of globe artichokes, which I envy! Today I created my own version in a bid to rival his i....... (globe artichoke wars!).
Brett continued blocking up.

2nd April
Nicky & Rich came to lunch (quiche, jacket potatoes, salad, goat milk ice cream with salty toffee sauce); we always laugh a lot when they are here!
Our potatoes are coming through!

3rd April
Showery day, so I didn't manage to do anything I had planned.
A&K  came over this evening so I could teach Katrina how to use her sewing machine. Brett cooked dinner; baccalhau (one pot meal, but masses of washing up!) and bread & butter pudding.
The sewing machine was a mini/travel machine; everything about it was in miniature, but it was functional and easy to operate - it would have been brilliant to have in the camper when we were traveling

4th April
We were woken to a tapping on the window; it was a Hoopoe, it kept flying up to the glass (it wasn't trying to fly through it).

I took a photo from outside to see what it was viewing;
though I think he was probably being territorial and attacking his own reflection - we could hear him hoo hoo hooing all day long (between window attacks!).
As it was raining we went into CB to buy all the bits necessary for our next smallholding task - processing the boar, the time has come for him to go. We bought another freezer (he won't fit in our current one!), boxes, bags etc.
This afternoon our Amazon Spain order (solar panel for the electric fence) arrived along with our Amazon UK order (dehydrator) - I was impressed that they managed to coordinate and deliver the two packages together, very efficient.
I now think that the Hoopoe is wooing my glass birds!!!! Perhaps he thinks they are female Hoopoe? They are actually red kites (it's a scale model of one of my degree pieces).
OMG we took the dogs to the vet for their annual vaccinations; we arrived at 20.15 and got home around 23.00!!!!! At least it's over for another year.

5th April
The Hoopoe was back at the window this morning, so I've moved my glass (otherwise he'll never get a mate!).
We went to talk to the planning department to (1) get a couple of month's extension to build the studio and (2) to confirm the height we are allowed to build, front and back. (1) she told us to come back in May for the extension (2) 3.5 metres at the front (which is what we thought) and 4.5 metres at the back (which is .5 metres more than we thought - brilliant!).
We borrowed the battery recharge/revitaliser, from PaM, for our old batteries (that will be used in the studio/workshop).
Lola brought Leone round to look at our babies Brett picked up one of the piglets - they are HUGE!!!!


6th April
The bee eaters and swallows are back .......
Brett carried on with his blocking. I spent the morning gardening (lots of weeding) and this afternoon doing the washing and cooking. Brett's work looks impressive, mine always needs doing again either monthly, weekly or daily ........

7th April
More weeding, gardening etc planted out sweet potatoes today.

8th April
Wendy & Kevin came to collect their seedlings (I've been looking after them while they were in UK) and for Kevin to ask Brett's advice about building a block building.
One of the female geese decided to build her nest out in the open; tonight she decided to sit - we put a crate over her, to protect her from predators.

9th April
I went back to language class today; it was just as bad as always - I don't want to go anymore!!! I really, really am rubbish at languages, I try but nothing stays in.
This evening we had a lovely night out, P&M's for dinner (Lou was there too).

 10th April
Rain ........
So now we're hand feeding (literally, I'm picking the food up in my hand and putting it in it's mouth - it's the wrong shape for a spoon!) a turkey (scrambled egg with breadcrumbs, water with antibiotics). We thought we'd bought three females and one male, it looks like we have three males and one female and, of course, it's her that is unwell! She's not looking well at all, we don't expect her to last the night.

11th April
The female turkey was still alive this morning.
Another parcel arrived at the post office (thank you Steph xxx). This one contained the Mesophillic starter (for cheese making), a probe thermometer (for cheese and soap making) and a book by Diana Henry 'Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons' (for me, because I like cookery books).
As it was a miserable day we went to CB to buy a few bits and pieces. We met up with Mark (who is back for a flying visit) and his Portuguese friend, Amelia - they chatted to us whilst we ate lunch.
This afternoon I made up my Mesophillic culture, it takes 24 hours, soon we could be making our first batch of cheese.

12th April
Rain, hail stones, wind and bright blue sky with sun - a real 'mixed bag'.
The female turkey was still with us!
It looks like Georgia's kid has started feeding from her right side - no milk for us this evening! Typical as we have just taken 9 litres out of the freezer in preparation for cheese making tomorrow!
C&D were supposed to come for dinner but Alfie  had to be rushed to the vet for stitches this morning, so they postponed.
We took 9 litres of milk out of the freezer tonight, ready to make into cheese tomorrow.

13th April
The gloomy weather is forecast for the next ten days!
The female turkey is still alive, she looks frail alongside the males, but she does seem perkier today.
Today we made our first ever batch of goat cheese - Halloumi; a gallon of milk made about 1lb of cheese (plus a small block of ricotta). We were going to make a Chevre cheese too but our, brand new (arrived on Monday), digital probe thermometer broke (whilst we were making the Halloumi)!!!!!
Slowly heating the milk

Cut curds

Pressed curds

Finished Halloumi, after curing, in hot whey, and salting

Fried Halloumi ........
Brett is taking C&D into CB tomorrow, to take Alfie back to the vet - so he'll look for a thermometer while he's in town.

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