Thursday, 19 May 2016

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY. .....we've had enough now!

6th May
Raining and the 10 day forecast is for rain every day - I'm worried about J, S & J's visit!
1.5L (most ever!) of milk this morning but (there's always a but...) our pump was struggling to start with; Georgia stood for an extra 5 minutes until it suddenly kicked in (she was fine, she was eating!), so now we're worried the pump is going to die on us - today's job order a spare pump.
I've solved the CaCl2 problem; I'm going to get it sent to Sarah and she will bring it when she comes in twelve days time - 500g of white crystals in a plastic bag, what could possibly go wrong (Brett thinks Joyce should carry it as she looks less like a drug mule!).

7th May
Still raining!
We made Halloumi and Ricotta cheeses with fresh milk we've been saving in the fridge - Halloumi still isn't rubbery and squeaky, we don't know what we're doing wrong.
I played with acrylic paint and stencils, doing some monoprinting. Interesting technique using two pieces of glass.

8th May
I'm getting fed up with this wet weather, the dogs are going stir crazy and everything is damp; everytime we go out we get wet, but our clothes aren't drying out - we're running out of clothes!
And of course the solar is low, despite the new batteries, as there's no sunshine for charging.
We had some Halloumi for lunch - it was definitely squeaky!

9th May
And more of the same! Today we had rain, hail and thunder storms.
We decided to invite C&D and Andrew for dinner (all vegetarian). I made gnocchi for the first time ever,
very easy but time consuming, which I mixed with broad bean pesto (every bean hand peeled by me!); we started the meal with fried Halloumi on a bed of green salad and finished with goat milk ice cream sundae.
Andrew managed to get me some glycerin from CB so I'll be able to make some fabric paint (acrylic paint, water and glycerin); so I'll be able to do some printing over the next few days.
The meal was a great success; lots of compliments and everything eaten - I will definitely add gnocchi to my menu repertoire; it's really easy, if slightly time consuming.

10th May
And still it rains, though the sun did come out for a few hours this afternoon; the garden however is far to wet to walk on.
I picked masses of wild plants that I would like to use for printing (I'm pressing them atm to try and make them more 2D, as some are a bit thick) - umbellifers (Queen Anne's Lace, Hog Weed), Shepherd's Purse and Quaking Grass (I love the heart shapes), Wild Oats and a host more ..... for some reason my tablet corrected Hog Weed to Howled and Quaking Grass to Quacking Grass!
6.45 this evening there was a very strange light outside; black clouds and bright sunlight - the photos don't do it justice.

Then at 7.00 we had an impressive storm (very windy, very wet).

7.15 the sun was out again ......
I hate my gas oven (I know there's always something!); it haphazardly turns itself out and it burns everything from the bottom up. Karina suggested I put tin foil around the bottom shelf, so I tried that and it practically stopped cooking - there doesn't seem to be a happy medium, the choice is either raw or burnt!

11th May
As the weather was still rubbish we went into CB for some retail therapy. I bought stuff for my printing phase and Brett bought clothes and sheep food - it wasted a few hours.
This afternoon I carried on with my monoprinting experiments.

12th May
Another wet, miserable day.
I made cheese (Halloumi and Ricotta); I saved five days worth of milk in the fridge, so I didn't need CaCl2. The texture seems much more like the Halloumi we're used to - I stirred it continuously for 40 minutes (before we stirred occasionally) and I pressed it for longer and with a heavier weight. I still can't get it to fold without cracking, but that could be because I'm cutting it into pieces that are too small - can't wait to try it, it looks squeaky!
The logistics of Rebecca's wedding is stressing me out; there's so many different venues, miles apart, and I won't have any transport, booking accommodation (at nearly £100 per night single occupancy!) is a worrying factor, then trying to work in visits to Will and Hen - I'm getting rather anxious .......

Friday 13th May
Happy Birthday Jane Xxxx
The sun was out this morning, we still had plenty of rain, but the sun was around.
I made a Gelli Plate
to print off (cost about 7.50€); 2 cups of glycerin, 8 pkts gelatin, 2 cups of boiling water - it made a plate 13.5" x 9", a similiar size ready made would cost about £50. I spent the afternoon playing at printing.

Did these two with a paper stencil I cut out

It disintegrated after the first print!

Printing on fabric, love this design

14th May
A bit dull, but no rain today.
Thomas and Diane came to pick up one of the piglets, so I made lunch - Thai beef salad, Diane brought a Paleo 'ice cream' made from blitzed up coconut, pineapple and strawberries, sprinkled with chocolate.
Brett watched rugby while I did more printing. I cut out a stencil from a very thick acetate using my wood burning tool - I was very impressed.

I've sent for a thinner acetate which Sarah will bring together with the 'drugs' (Calcium Chloride) and acrylic paints that I've bought this week - it's great having visitors!

15th May
At last, the sun came out today (our batteries charged to 100%).
Brett spent the day mowing and strimming; tidying up outside in preparation for our visitors.
I did the washing (it's the first time we've been able to use the line for a while!) and made (last year's) Christmas presents!!!

Poor old Hazel is on heat; she was being pestered by the Billy, the male kid and the horned ram; then Billy and the ram started head butting one another, Billy's head was bleeding - so the ram was segregated to the field (he wasn't happy), obviously it's Billy we want to mate with her.

16th May
I think we can safely say summer has arrived!
While Brett went back to his block work I prepared olive fly traps. We bought five traps that have a dry bait impregnated with pheromones and an organic insecticide, but we need more for the amount of trees we have. I have researched (googled) homemade olive fly traps and, as it's not possible to get some of the ingredients suggested (torula yeast being one), I kept searching until I came up with my final design - 2L bottle, with 5mm holes in shoulder (made with my wood burning tool), a bright yellow ring painted around the bottle's circumference (acrylic paint) and filled with an ammonia smelling bait, which attracts the female fly, - urine!!!!! So I'll be peeing into a bucket for a couple of days!
Brett is trimming the sheep and goat's hooves (only one or two an evening as it's quite physical with some of our rams); tonight we did the horned ram, my job is to kneel on their neck to keep them still, he's very heavy and strong - I have an impressive (and painful) horn gouge up my shin!

17th May
A dull but dry start to the day, then the sun came out about 11.00.
Brett borrowed P&M's Karcher (jet wash) to clean the decking then I used it to clean the rugs - it was very impressive.
I did lots of cooking in preparation for our visitors; ice cream, lemon curd, fudge and chevre cheese. The cheese should have taken 6-16 hours to form curds, mine had formed in an hour!!!! Which means I've done something wrong, on 'googling' I think I put in too much rennet - 1/4 tspn rather than 2 drops; who's have thought it would make that much difference? It's chemistry rather than cookery! I left it for the minimum time it could take to set, then set it to drain.

Brett strimmed and made the area around the house and the decking look good.
Have I mentioned that I HATE my oven? Tonight I cooked toad in the hole (one of Brett's favorite meals); I managed to overcook (burn) the bottom of the batter, whilst the top stayed unrisen and under-cooked! Whilst the squash (on the top shelf) was practically raw; it was not a nice meal!
By 11.00 p.m. the cheese still wasn't drained enough - so I went to bed!

18th May
Another lovely day .......
First thing (after doing all the animals, milking the goats and returning P&M's Karcher) we 'nipped' across to Spain to buy a few bits of tapas type food. Of course Spain is an hour ahead so we only just made it (phew).
I carried on cooking and cleaning, while Brett rotovatored between the vegetables (we have such healthy weeds!).
My Chevre cheese is not a creamy cheese, it's crumbly but it has a good flavor and will work well in salads (next time I'll be more careful with my quantities). However the whey is brilliant; full of protein with a sweet creamy taste, I used some as a base for a chilled pumpkin soup, the rest went to the pigs.
Today's HATE goes to ....... Clingfilm that doesn't cling! Why do 'they' make it? What's it for? Can I stab someone with it? I don't want to wind it round and round my bowl, so it clings to itself - it's supposed to cling to my bowl, and even if I did want to I can't turn a bowl of liquid any which way - spit, spit, spit!

19th May
Sun, sun, sun ......
I was up early (way before 7.00) as today we have VISITORS and I have lots to do.

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