Sunday, 18 December 2016

When will I start feeling Christmasy ............

23rd November
It's turned very cold, there's snow on the mountains.
When I was feeding and letting out the animals this morning I caught sight of a dog sized creature in the sheep's field; the sheep and goats seemed fine, no panicking or milling around, just peacefully grazing. So I thought no more about it, until this afternoon when Brett brought one of our lambs in. She has two deep puncture wounds, one in each buttock. I only got a glimpse of the animal, I had the impression it was a dog but it could have been a large fox (I wonder if it's the same creature that ate the goose eggs?). This evening all the young lambs, kids and mums are shut up in the maternity shed! Very, very, very worried ......

24th November
Nothing untoward happened in the sheep field overnight (relieved, but not relaxed).
I've been making all these cards recently; I literally have to cut and bend card to size and shape as there's nothing like the Works/Range etc hereabouts, so no access to card blanks - not a big range of envelopes available either. So today I had to make three lots of different sized envelopes - feeling achieved!
It was a beastly evening, forecast to continue all night and all tomorrow. Our older sheep and goats were in the large field with only trees for shelter as we'd moved the their shed outside the field for the babies and mums. At 11.00 p.m. we were feeling guilty that they were exposed to the elements so we cleared space for them in the pole barn then ...... I just opened the gate and called them, out of the pitch black twelve pairs of glowing eyes (I was wearing my head torch) rushed towards me, they seemed very happy to be in the barn.

25th November
Brett says that was the worst night we've experienced here; torrential non stop rain and wind. And the wind is bitterly cold.
Lily refuses to leave the house, she has to be shouted at to get her outside for a toilet break - she can 'hold it' for an awfully long time!
We fed and let out the animals, then lit the fire and candles (solar is being rationed) - it's like living in a cave!
I spent the day sitting in front of the fire, wearing my head torch, drawing on pieces of lino.
We're hoping to start olive picking soon.

26th November
Still stormy, wet, windy weather. No olive picking today!
I made baked beans on (sourdough) toast for lunch (comfort food!).
I managed a few hours in the studio this afternoon.
Our sheep and goats are so good. While it's been stormy we've had the whole flock (18) around the house (so they have shelter) but in the evening we shut the mother's with recent offspring in the shed (because of the lamb* attack three days ago). We split them up when we give them their evening meal (just a handleful of pellets to keep them tame); the mothers know they're special and will follow me into the corral, whilst the rest follow Brett with the bucket.
* The lamb is healing nicely, fingers crossed it won't happen again.
The downside of having the sheep and goats around the house is that they have eaten all my herbs (Brett had to take my fencing away to build the solar shed); I'm hoping the plants will think they've just been hard pruned and will grow back

27th November
Still too wet to pick olives.
Brett rearranged the sheds over by the vegetable garden so that the shed at the back can be used by the sheep and goats, overnight, when it's wet.
The winter squash are keeping well and are now on shelves in the big shed which looks rather impressive with the squash, trays of potatoes, trays of sweet potatoes, 5L bottles of olive oil and bottles of wine.

28th November
Brett at work.
I did all the chores, then cleared all my clothes and material, from the sleep platform, to the loft over the work shop - up and down stairs lots of times carrying heavy boxes (shattered). Now I have to sort out the boxes and try to throw stuff away!

29th November
Brett at work.
Feeling a bit crap; I had a headache all night, woke up with it and feeling sick.
Pam came round for coffee, which helped as it stopped me dwelling on feeling rough, and stayed for lunch; so we had a good old chat - I can't believe she's leaving ...
Bloody goose pecked me as I was putting them away - I have a big black bruise on my arm.

30th November
Judith (she owns a 20+ acre quinta just outside the village) came to lunch today; she's very interested in knitting, crochet, embroidery etc. so she's coming to our craft group meeting next week (Weds 7th).

1st December
Soddin' hunters all around us at 7.00, pellets raining down on the roof! Today is a bank holiday which is why the hunters are out in force.
Hooray the generator works! I can't use it for the kiln yet, it's got to be run in for 20 hours. Even though it's raining outside and there's no solar and we have electricity courtesy of the new generator. It's much cheaper to run than the old one as it's diesel and, hopefully, we'll be able to get a card for green diesel which will make it cheaper still.

2nd December
We need the weather to improve so we can pick olives, apparently it's a bad year so we might only manage half as much as last year.
I think I'm losing my marbles! Today I made a kefir cheese cheesecake, looked and tasted good - then I realised I'd forgotten to add the kefir cheese! I had to ladle the filling off the base, mix in the cheese and pour it back on the base - doesn't look so good now! 3 hours later ....... I grated chocolate on top, looked good and tasted wonderful (and, because of the kefir, good for you!).

3rd December
The weather deteriorated throughout the day, so we put the sheep in their new shed; a couple were a bit nervous, but greed prevailed. So they're now snugly ensconced in a warm, dry, shed with lots of food whilst the weather rages outside and we can relax!

4th December
An ok hunting day (distant shots can be heard) and the sun came out.
We had a couple of hours olive picking (60 kgs) this morning, then Annika & John (people Brett works for) treated us and C&D to lunch in Meimoa (absolutely stuffed!).

5th & 6th December
Two more days olive picking and we've barely managed another 40 kilos (100 kilos total) it really is an abysmal year - we'll probably find all the mills have shut early now too!
I've gone off the horned ram; since he attacked Brett I've been quite wary of him. I obviously got too complacent, and let my guard down yesterday - he butted me from behind, knocking me off my feet, fortunately Brett was there, as he was revving up for another attack - he's got to go .....

7th December
I got up early to make fudge for this evening.
We took our pathetic harvest to the mill, the guy there said it was a "muito mal" (very bad) year for olives; he didn't even quibble about taking them even though: (1) we're not in his area (we're Penamacor, the mill is Idanha a Nova), but we did go there last year after some haggling and (2) they normally ask for a minimum of 500 kgs, to get your own oil back. We'll be luck to get 12 litres this year.
My friend, Jo, sent me a parcel ....... boots and fabric dyes (thank you Jo xxxx).
I think the red laces will have to go!
I spent the afternoon preparing the studio for Craft Club, I even washed the floor!

8th December
Happy Birthday Mark (I think!).
We had great fun and merriment, last evening, making stars and wreaths out of old books and pages from magazines.
Karina and Mary displaying their wares .....
My wreaths, the one on the left has 3D stars on it.
This morning I had to tidy the studio - my goodness what a mess, and the floor .......
Brett is working today and tomorrow.
Feeling virtuous ..... I've written all my UK cards and will post them in the morning - my writing deteriorated rapidly over the evening!

9th December
Cards posted.
And quite a few Christmas presents purchased as Pam took me into CB today - now I'm feeling smug! Except none of the presents were for people in UK, those I still have to source.

10th December
I spent a fruitless day trying to find presents to send to family in UK - feeling frustrated!

11th December
Lots of hunters around today, fortunately not shooting too close but they were walking through some of the neighboring quintas.
I'm dyeing a couple of dresses with the dye Jo sent me.

12th December
I was quite excited this morning as I was bartering produce this afternoon (sweet potato for horseradish roots and eggs for lemons). Originally the lady (who I'd never met) sugessted one potato for a root and she had about six, so that was fine. Then this morning she said she had 10 roots for me, so I put together over a dozen large sweet potatoes and threw in a butternut squash (I was feeling generous) - look what I got in return!!!!!!
The decking planks are less than 4" wide!
Three proper roots at best, a few broken roots and some tiddlers - I feel like I've been diddled!
At least Bap gave me a dozen lemons for six eggs.

13th December
A quick (very foggy) trip into CB to get electric wire fixings, so that we can put the pigs into their new enclosure - moving them should be entertaining as Brett is convinced he can lead them past all the lush growth (grass, weeds etc) and other obstacles with a bucket of food!
Christmas is coming ..... the ham is being brined.
Oh dear our internet router has died; we're back to very slow, intermittent, village Wifi, whilst standing in the open doorway, .........
This means I won't be able to post my blog any time soon.
We even checked that we paid our last bill (yep, on 23rd Nov) BUT, of course, we can't find the receipt (and we paid cash); so let's hope we've not been cut off.
This evening we joined A&K at Sasha & Chris's for an Iranian meal; an aubergine and chicken stew (very tasty), crispy rice and salad.

14th December
Lola and I went to an office in Penamacor to try to get us a card for green diesel (like red diesel in uk), we would save 20-30 cents a litre. Unfortunately the guy said our tractor needed to be matriculated (licenced to drive on the road), which it isn't - so now we need to try to matriculate it (but the guy said it was very complicated). I took Lola to O Cave for lunch, to say thank you for trying (she was my interpreter).
Lobby, the bitch, ran off this evening; last time she did this was in the summer (August 21st to be precise) so we've let our guard down. It's worrying because several people we know have lost dogs (and because they're lost you never know what's happened to them). Fortunately she was back within two hours and is now in 'the dog house'!

15th December
Well I take it back, operation 'pig move' worked a treat; big boar followed Brett and the bucket, I kept the other two following by gesticulating and waving the shepherd's crook. We now have three very happy pigs in over an acre of scrub - I wonder how long it will take them to clear it!
Spot the pigs (there's two pigs in this photo)
Big boar .....
Ok, UK presents ordered and paid for (internet shopping) - I'm no longer smug about my Christmas shopping!
This evening we watched 'Gravity' (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney); I spent the whole film tensed and holding my breath!!!
It was tipping it down with rain when the film finished, we started worrying about the sheep and goats so ...... head torches and wellies on and a bucket of food, up we trudged to their field, called, and, with Sharon in the lead, the whole flock ran straight into their shed (it was rather hard to count all eighteen with them milling around, but we're confident they're all in there) and now we can sleep comfortably in our bed knowing they're safe and warm. On the way back Brett checked on the pigs - they had found their shelter and were sensibly sleeping inside.
Apart from the lack of solar we don't mind this weather as long as our animals are comfortable.
Brett is working tomorrow.

16th December
I had a restless night; I spent it rehearsing moving the sheep from the shed to the field, on my own, whilst avoiding the horned ram (round and round my head it went all night).
When the actual event happened it was easy - they were so interested in their food they went straight into their field (after all that rehearsal I forgot the shepherd's crook - it was to ward off horned ram if he attacked!).
Bloody hell there's an icy wind blowing off the mountains; why did I choose today to do the washing? Working outside on the decking, plunging my hands into lukewarm/cold water, was not nice.
This evening we watched 'Pride' a feelgood film.

17th December
A quick trip to CB to exchange our router, and now we're back online!

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