Tuesday, 28 March 2017

AND NOW LAMBS .......

6th March
I'm so excited (for Thomas & Diane, of course)...... they have bought a cow! Once they get it (they reckon two weeks) it will be in full milk, I'm sure they'll be able to spare some cream for us occasionally (they are very generous).
The handmilker was a godsend; Jelisa's udder was so hard, but eventually we had a milk flow and she softened nicely (hopefully now the kids can get a purchase) and we have goat milk in the fridge.
We had to take the new kid and mother from the vegetable garden, to the goat's maternity shed, what a struggle. The mother (now named Satan!) has never been on a lead before, in fact she was always quite standoffish, she fought and screamed like a banshee (if you've never heard a goat scream you won't realise how penetrating/distressing this noise is) the whole way - and, for something so small she's very strong, my arms were nearly pulled from their sockets (I'm not exaggerating!).
Satan & her kid!
I made chocolate fridge cake, as Claire and Judith are coming to afternoon tea tomorrow.

7th March
Thank goodness we had the milker; this morning Satan needed relieving on one side - sometimes the  udder gets so full that the kid is unable to feed from it. She stood well (with her head in a bucket of food) while we tried to get the teat cup on her - she's so small the milker was too big to go under her, in the end we had to prop her on top of it!
Satan has been renamed - Lucifer!!! Lucy for short. Today she lost her kid we searched high and low (they are very good at hiding) after a couple of hours she was found underneath a pile of olive prunings!.
I had a lovely afternoon with Claire and Judith; lots of chatting and tea drinking was had. AND Claire brought me two large bagfuls of lemons, some are the size of grapefruits.

8th March
Today is warm .....
I was going to do the washing but thought 'why waste all that generator electricity?'. So instead I spent the day preparing glass for a kiln firing - I'll do the washing tomorrow and fire my kiln at the same time.
Brett is on the final phase of his fencing; splitting the big field into two. We have named all our fields/paddocks; we have ..... Top field (highest point of our land), Lavender paddock (where about an acre of lavender bushes grow), Goose field (where the geese live atm), Olive grove (it has our oldest olive trees in it) and one we can't think of a name for (it's kind of featureless). We also have Poultry island (where the chickens live) but that's not really a field and bottom field (in front of the house).

9th March
27C in the shade (and we're not used to it!). Today I saw the first swallows of the summer .......
It's funny the things that make one happy; today I found wire wool in the Drogeria - I'm going to use it as inclusions in my glass.
The kiln is on (generator) and ..... I'm doing the washing by solar (as the kiln is running continuously, for the next hour or so, and the solar is fully charged).
Brett finished the fencing.

10th March
Another hot day ...
Haha,  I was up at 6.30 as I couldn't wait to open the kiln! And I'm very happy with the results - I spent all night worrying that the inclusions might have caused massive air bubbles, but it was fine.
Quite a complicated procedure, using a paper doily as a stencil


I think I used too much wire wool!
Pam came round to do some felting, I prepared more glass for fusing - fab day.

11th March
Not so warm today, the sun was hiding .......
Pam and I went to the car boot sale in Penamacor; I didn't buy anything, but I spoke to lots of people. Carly gave us a tour of her new shop - juice bar and gift shop, she's made it really nice, I hope she makes a go of it. She might be interested in having some of my glass to sell.

12th March
A cooler day and very windy .....
I did another kiln firing today; I've made a few small pieces (suncatchers etc) that might sell quite well in Carly's shop.
This evening we're out at Chris & Di's with P&M (who leave at the end of the month).

13th March
Still cool and windy (I'm back to wearing a heavy jumper).
Of course we had a late night last night! It was fun, we had a good old gossip and set the world to rights.
Yesterday's kiln firing didn't all go to plan, the small pieces didn't fully slump so they'll need to be refired, my dish however I'm very pleased with:
I think I'll call it my Arsenic & Old Lace range (I want to do some more A&OL panels, Nicky & Rich gave me some wonderfully distressed mirrors that will be perfect to include.
I spent another day in my studio preparing glass for firing - I LOVE my studio!!!
Brett started making field gates for our newly fenced paddocks - then I'll have to paint them.
We lit the fire again this evening .....

14th March
The wind has dropped.
Brett carried on with his gates. I did a kiln firing and prepared more glass for firing.
This evening I spotted a snake, a white snake, probably an albino ladder snake.
I put a photo of it on Facebook, to see if anyone could identify it - it has caused such excitement, apparently it's exceedingly rare, we've been asked to try to catch it now!

15th March
Another dish (arsenic & old lace range) that I'm really happy with, but the small pieces still need hotter/longer.
We caught the snake; Mark came and took photos and another Mark took it away to study it (identify it), but he's bringing it back.

16th March
I mixed paint for the gates (adding blue pigment to the pale blue we used in the kitchen), it's a duck egg blue color - we're trying to get the feel of a farm we both liked, in Wales, that had lots of pale blue painted gates. I painted two gates - they take forever! Making gates takes a while too, Brett had to make one today for a slope, the uprights are upright but the rails are 'on the piss', should look 'right' in situ.
Mark brought our snake back and confirmed that it is an albino ladder snake; it's back living in the chicken run.

17th March
RIP Uncle Bill.
Happy St Patrick's Day ......
Too achy to continue gate painting; so I rearranged the studio (probably a far more physical task!), prepared some glass for sandblasting and then had a frustrating sandblasting session - I couldn't get the pressure to turn down, so it was blasting off all my masking. In the end Brett depressurized the tank and swopped to the other outlet nozzle on the compressor, then it worked fine (but not before spoiling a load of glass) - annoyed!
Ooops, I fed the dogs this evening and there were scraps in their bowls from last evening - I forgot to feed them this morning!!!! They hadn't said anything .......

18th March
I'm going through a really achy phase atm, especially at night when all my joints feel tender; so today I made Turmeric and Cinnamon Capsules (they're supposed to be anti-inflammatory):
1/3 cup turmeric
1 tbspn cinnamon
2 tbspns honey
1 tbspn coconut oil
Good twist of black pepper
Whizzed up in my mini processor (which I bought as a spice mill, but it doesn't work for that very well!), then form into little balls (I made about 40). I tried wearing plastic gloves for the last bit but they were too cumbersome - is now I have bright yellow palms!!! I'm going to take one three times a day, fingers crossed (well perhaps not, too painful!).
I carried on painting gates (martyr that I am), whilst Brett hung gates - his wonky one looks good.
Gate to vegetable garden (sheep are in veg garden!)

Wonky gate, on a slope
Oh dear, I went up to look at the newly hung gates (well two are hung, the wonky one isn't as we can't find any hinges that will work on it); the dogs saw me and came running, the sheep were spooked by the running dogs, one sheep tried to jump the fence, another tried to go through it -they've ruined the fence and I've been made to feel it's my fault! Fortunately the sheep seem ok.
I took 1/2 litre of milk off Jelisa, just to take the pressure off one side, which bodes well for when we're milking her properly (lots of cheese and ice cream). Lucy, for a change, didn't need milking. We're still waiting for delivery of our new pump, we, mentally, thank Diane & Thomas daily for the loan of their hand milker.

19th March
Hot ......
We heard the first cuckoo this morning ......
I'm so bored with painting gates!!!! Only another five to go .........
This afternoon I spent a sweaty two hours in the polytunnel, weeding - the weeds grow so fast compared to my vegetables!!!
The sow is 'bagging up' and building a nest - and we just thought she was fat!

20th March
Spring has Sprung ......
One of last year's lambs gave birth overnight (of course we didn't realise she was pregnant).
A trip in to CB to buy more paint for the gates - and they didn't have any in store.
This afternoon we started pruning our grapes - we want the place to look tidy and cared for.
We tried to house the new lamb this evening, the mother was having none of it, so we had to leave them out - hope the lamb's ok (we couldn't even check it was feeding).
The sow started giving birth this evening; she had had one, Tamworth coloured one, by midnight.

21st March
By 2.00 she'd given birth to a black one and that was it ...... two!!!!!
And the black one is acting just like 'Runt'; he spent the morning in the house on a hot water bottle,  I tried feeding him with goat's milk, but he wasn't interested. He's back out with his mum, but we think she laid on him! We're letting nature take it's course this time; but it's very hard and distressing - it was equally/more distressing last year when Runt suffered (for longer because we took him in) and ended up dying anyway at three weeks.
We pruned more vines today and are thinking of buying more plants, I would like some seedless grapes so I can make sultanas.

22nd March
Well we weren't expecting that ..... both piglets were dead this morning, the sow had crushed them in the night!
We had a trip to Vince & Lola's today, to borrow their plough attachment for the tractor.
When we got home Mark and his friend Amelia were outside our gate. We got Mark fixing the pump for our electric milking machine (an 'O' ring was missing, so no vacuum was being created) and we got Amelia to ring up a Portuguese company that sells proper milking machines - so a very worthwhile visit for us ..... we gave them lunch!
We got 2 - 3 times the amount of milk from the goats than we have been getting, from using the hand pump (thank you Mark); we're still looking into the proper machine (so far we just have photos and the sellers assurance that this is a far superior machine to any of the cheaper machine on sale in Portugal!).
This evening the wonders of modern technology had me 'speaking' live to my friend Karina, who's in Russia atm - amazing. She and Alex have also bought a cow ......

23rd March
Cold and showery .......
Brett has made a jolly good job of the vines in the vegetable garden; he's pruned them, put in new posts and wires so that when they grow they can be trained, however ........ while he was doing this he left the shed open and Lily had a whale of a time rodent hunting - she destroyed four unopened bags of plaster, a couple of bags of tile adhesive, scattered the contents of several boxes of car boot paraphernalia and generally made a bloody great mess!!!!
Look at this mess ......
I spent the day in my cold studio.

24th March
There was ice on the animal's water this morning.
Smallholding never seems to go to plan, today it was Thomas & Diane's turn; I've made up some new smallholding proverbs .........
~ don't count your piglets before they're weaned.
~ don't count your bacon before it's killed.
You have to be in the know to understand them!
I did a firing this afternoon, looking forward to the morning .......

25th March
Frigid this morning .....
I'm very pleased with my new range of dishes 'Sardines'.
The 'sucked in' edge is caused by a hot spot in my kiln (overfired).
Stove lit early, I made lemon curd.
Then we had heavy hail.
Followed by thunder & lightening.
More hail.
And then a thunderstorm right overhead .......
3/4 litre of milk off one side of Jelisa, just to soften her up - I can't drink it fast enough (I'll have to make freakshakes).
This evening is P&M's leaving do at Bar do Clube - it's going to be hard to leave our warm cosy house to go there!
We actually had a good evening at bar do clube!

26th March
Happy Mothering Sunday!
Beastly weather today, cold and wet ......
I had a lovely long phone call from William this morning.
We had a very lazy Sunday (fire lit early and watched films).

27th March
Bloody hell, one of our original ewes (lambed Sept/Oct) was giving birth to twins when we went to check on the flock this morning!!!! We're overrun with offspring .........

Monday, 6 March 2017

OVER RUN WITH KIDS .........

12th February
It would have been my father's birthday today .....
An awful day; last night the goats were put in the shed (the sheep don't seem to mind the rain, I think the lanolin makes them waterproof) and they stayed there for much of today.
The generator was needed this morning so I got another firing done; I'm getting quite a lot of work that needs leading up (not my favorite task!).
We timed putting away the animals badly, we got hit by a deluge and had to take shelter in the barn for a good quarter of an hour; water was pouring off the land around us, by the time we got inside the house we were soaked through. A good evening to snuggle up close to the range.

13th February
I still love unloading my kiln in the mornings, it so exciting; the painted pieces go in with dull grey paint and come out with black shiny paint! I now have another three panels ready to lead up.
Boxing Hares
Running Hare
Winter Tree
Brett wants to finish fencing the quinta, whilst the ground is wet; that should keep him occupied for a while - but not today as it's raining on and off all day.
I leaded up two panels, unfortunately the battery in the studio was low so I didn't complete the soldering (I'll finish it next time the generator is on).
Greenman
Sweet potatoes were put into water to chit; we want to grow enough to feed to the animals this year.

14th February
Happy Valentine to me .........
I now have three panels leaded, soldered and ready to cement (my all time most unfavourite part of the process!). And today's firing means I should have all the glass to complete another two panels.
Hare Triskelion Roundel 
I tried using the tile cutter to cut rings of glass from wine bottles; it didn't work, the glass just shattered any old how. I was going to slump them in the kiln to make glass doughnuts, but I can't see that happening now.

15th February
I leaded up three more panels,  so feeling pleased with myself.
Unfortunately I think there's something wrong with the inverter I use in the studio, not the battery (as Brett put a fully charged battery on for me); the inverter alarm keeps going off and then the power switches off - which means I didn't manage to solder the panels.
Brett spent the day clearing the land where he's going to fence next(he's reclaimed about 10' of ground around the perimeter).

16th February
And the sun is out!!! Better weather is forecast for the next few days.
Over the next few days we have to spend about 1000€ on fence post, wire etc. So I asked the bank (n&p) to increase our daily withdrawal limit from £250 to £500 - they said "no", for security reasons the card withdrawal is set at 250€, bloody ridiculous it's our money! So now every time we pass a bank machine we have to withdraw cash.
Ha that was worrying ........ we went to buy our first 100 fence posts, passing through San Miguel De Acha, where there's a bank machine. I put in my card, card number, amount I wanted to withdraw and ....... the machine froze! I called Brett, we punched all the buttons, nothing happened (we're in the middle of a village that just happens to have a bank machine next to public toilets - no bank or shop attached or anyone to talk to) after several (panicky) minutes it came back to life!!!!! We got our money and card (phew).
As the sun was out I sowed seeds in the polytunnel (it was bloody hot); tomatoes, peppers and chilies, aubergine and cucumber (only five trays but it took me a couple of hours).
I soldered the glass panels; I now have six waiting to be cemented. I'm contemplating trying to sell stuff on Etsy (Brett's idea), so now I've got to think of a catchy name for my 'company'.

17th February
We bought gate posts today (already 600€ spent), but didn't use the cash machine in San Miguel De Acha as it frightened us yesterday! Fortunately we needed to go into Penamacor for animal food (unfortunately completely the opposite direction), so used the one in mini-p (where there were people we could talk to if necessary).
I spent a horrible, but productive, afternoon, in the studio, cementing six panels; it's such a messy job and I always have to throw away at least one scrubbing brush (which makes me feel wasteful) as there's no way of cleaning it.
I spent a frustrating evening creating a Facebook page for my glass, it's called 'Quinta Glass & Crafts'. I don't understand half the options/instructions, I can't open my messages and when I try to 'view page as a visitor' I get a blank page!!! Bloody technology .......

18th February
Pam came round to sort out my Facebook page (she downloaded an app). She said I also needed an instagram account to share my photos easily (and add hashtags??????), so I signed up using my Facebook account. However when I signed in it said ..... my password was wrong, then it 'deactivated my account for violating Instagram terms' - I hadn't got as far as opening the account. In reply to my email for help they wanted me to send a photo of me holding a piece of paper with, handwritten on it, my name and a code - how would Instagram recognise me in a photo?????


19th February
The generator is on to do the washing so I'm experimenting with my kiln; I've put on my slumping/fusing programme to time how long it actually takes.
01.00 R 500 (1 hour: raise temp to 500C)
00.01 R 850 (?: raise, asap, to 850C)
00.10 H 850 (10 min: hold temp at 850C)
00.01 C 560 (?: cool, asap, to 560C)
If I could switch off here that would save me lots of time!!!!! But ......
Annealing: (this is the bit that takes the time!)
00.17 H 560 (17 mins: hold at 560C)
00.34 C 540 (34 mins: cool to 540C)
00.17 H 540 (17 mins: hold at 540C)
00.34 C 520 (34 mins: cool to 520C)
00.17 H 520 (17 mins: hold at 520C)
End (generator can be switched off).
The timings suggests this programme should take 3 hours 11 minutes (which would be great!) however 1 minute to raise from 500C to 850C is not feasible so I'm timing that and the cooling from 850C to 560C.
Five and a half hours later ....... heating up from 500C to 850C took exactly one and a half hours, cooling from 850C to 560C took fifty minutes, which makes the whole programme five hours and thirty minutes (cost of 6.60€), which is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. If I can make sure the kiln's full to capacity and I do the washing, hoovering etc, at the same time, then it's not too extravagant to run this programme occasionally.
Brett has started putting in his fence posts, it really changes the look of the Quinta.

20th February
Happy Birthday Lily (dog!), we've had her three years today.
Opening the kiln was exciting; (1) I'd put in a couple of pieces of bunting with different techniques for holding the fastenings (both worked)
(2) I made some textured glass by slumping it over cut out pieces of fiber paper (worked nicely)
(3) the Greenman mould was very disappointing, hardly any definition despite obvious signs of overfiring (spiky edges).
I have a VERY IMPORTANT job, lining up the fence posts; I stand one end of the fence line shouting/gesticulating "away/towards" until all the posts are nicely in line. Unfortunately today the fence line was so long I couldn't actually see the post I was supposed to be lining up with!

21st February
A frosty start to the day.
One of the roundels I cemented has a thin slice of agate plated with pale purple glass - the cement oozed between the two pieces! I have taken it apart; a horrible, filthy job. The roundel wasn't actually that impressive once it was finished; so I am going to add some sandblasting to some of the glass - I've been masking off areas with PVA glue and sticky backed plastic.

22nd February
Every day I look at my herb garden and think "I must weed that" - today I started (it's going to take a while!).
Lily found a ginger tabby cat (presumably male) in the vegetable garden a couple of days ago; he was very beaten up, with scratches/bites on his head and legs. He was also petrified of Lily who was barking enthusiastically at him. Today he was on my potting table in the polytunnel; after extracting a yapping, excited, Lily, I walked back to the house to get him some cat biscuits - maybe he can keep the voles away from my vegetables? I think I'll call him Orlando (the Marmalade Cat).
Brett started putting the fence wire on the posts; soon we'll be full fenced. Brett took the dogs with him, he came back with just Looby; I realised this when I heard Lily barking from a distance! She was the other side of the goose field fence (off our quinta); I got her back and now she's licking all her paws like crazy (I can't see anything wrong with them) - do dogs get stung by stinging nettles?
This evening we're off to dine with Alex & Karina.

23rd February
Lily is fine this morning, so I think it WAS stinging nettles.
We had a lovely evening at A&K's, we didn't leave until close on midnight (which is jolly late for us). I came home with masses of seeds (some of which I have no idea what they are as the packet is written in Russian - I wouldn't know how to enter that into Google Translate!!!). This morning I sowed the tomatoes (mainly black varieties which I think have more flavour), peppers, chilies and pumpkins. She all gave me loads of herb seeds, so this afternoon it was back to weeding the herb bed; I'm finding lots of Lemon Balm seedlings.

24th February
We went into CB to buy paint for the field gates - the old gates need a fresh coat and Brett's making several new ones. We were going to buy the same 'duck egg blue' we have on the island but we think it could fade a lot in the sunshine, so we've gone for a darker shade, rather National Trust looking (much like Payne's Grey mixed with blue). Still no Ross Cobb chicks or black POL hens!

24th February
I'm so bored with weeding the herb bed, it's taking forever, so this afternoon I painted the field gate to Lavender paddock - it took more than two hours!!! Then, after I had cleaned my brushes, Brett came along and pointed out the bits I'd missed!


26th February
Rather damp and chilly today ......
We had a bit of a smallholding start to the day (1) spraying the goats - the warmer weather has resulted in the emergence of parasitic insects, ticks, lice, mosquitoes etc. (2) culling of muscovy males - last years ducklings are fully grown and fighting one another and raping their mothers (the females went to other quintas), so it was time for them to go.
We were going to go to the olive oil festa in Prohenca a Velha (mainly to ask where OUR olive oil was!) but it was too cold for an outing, so we lit the fire and stayed in.

27th February
We went into Fundao on a whim, as we need chickens NOW, and we were lucky; we came home with six black POL hens, thirteen (he gave us one free!) Ross Cobbs and I bought two rosemary bushes (one upright, one prostrate) at three euros each.
We had a letter in our postbox from our bank (N&P), they're closing all current accounts! So now we have to open a UK account (with free withdrawals in Europe) from Portugal - bugger!
We fed the sheep and goats at 5.45, they all came in to eat. 6.00 I went to lock Hazel, Georgia and their two kids in their shed and there's Jelisa giving birth to twins - she was eating 15 minutes ago!
Literally 15 minutes old!
We increased our animals by 21 today!

28th February
It's March tomorrow!
Both Jelisa's kids are male - shame.
Clean and dry after a night in the shed. 
Brett took the dogs with him while he continued fencing; he came home at lunch time minus Lobby (he hadn't even realised she'd run off, bloody dog), looks like she's on heat again. I thought she'd done all that last month, she had all the signs but this time she's got a glowing red 'bitch bit'!

1st March
Happy St David's Day!
I'm halfway through weeding the herb bed, the area that is left is a thick carpet of mint, chickweed and clover - I'm getting really bored with it now, I decided to paint a gate ..... Unfortunately, we both agree, we don't really like the blue/grey paint we bought the other day! So it's back to a choice between green (that we already have, but the paint is an interior emulsion which doesn't protect the wood) or pale blue (like our island), AND then we didn't have any pale blue paint left, so that was the end of that idea!
All day long there's Looby pacing and whining (she'll be like this for 2-3 weeks) and Jelisa bleating because she's lost a kid (or two), I've seen her down on her belly crawling under the decking looking for them. Between the two of them I'm slowly going mad ........
Ok the quinta is dog proof, Brett fenced the last gap today - this should mean I don't have to worry about Looby anymore.
In the end I spent the day in my studio, tidying up and preparing glass for firing tomorrow evening when I have a craft meeting.

2nd March
We took a quick trip into Penamacor and on the way back called in to see Annika & John (who move here permanently last week). Thomas was there doing some plastering; he and Diane went to the festa at the weekend and asked about our oil (they haven't had theirs either). Apparently the cold weather over Christmas caused the oil to solidify in the tank, we have to wait for it to warm up, so the oil become liquid, then it can be drawn off (proves it's cold pressed!!!!).
As we use the generator whilst we have the craft meeting I prepared glass for a long firing.
Looby was allowed outside untended, she didn't go off quinta! She did spend an awfully long time just staring at our neighbor's quinta; our neighbours are selling up, after six months.

3rd March
Rainy and cold.
Paper making was fun, if a bit messy.
My firing wasn't a great success, but lessons were learnt and I spent the day cutting glass for my next experiments.
This stuck to mould!
Bloody sheep and goats, they've been let out of their field and put the other side of the Portuguese gate, so they can eat all the lush growth in and around the vegetable garden; they spent most of the day lying next to the Portuguese gate asking to be let back into their field!

4th March
Tidied and cleaned the house, made cheesecake; we have Nicky & Rich coming to Sunday lunch (roast mutton, sweet potatoes, squash and Swiss chard - all from the quinta!).
Brett shut the sheep and goats on the vegetable garden - so they spent all day huddled next to the gate!!!

5th March
Ok so they have grazed some of the vegetable garden - all my Swiss chard, bloody typical.
Lunch was fun; Nicky & Rich always make us laugh.
Poor old Jelisa's udder is HUGE, especially on one side; so I decided to milk her, to make her more comfortable ....... the electric milker didn't work (there was no suck), and milking by hand was nigh on impossible, as her udder was so taut - Diane has said we can borrow their hand milker (meantime we've ordered a new pump from Amazon Spain, hopefully it will arrive quickly).

6th March
Decided to pop into CB to (1) buy new paint for the gates, (2) get more fence posts and (3) to pick up milker from D&T; as we passed by the sheep and goats we saw that the kid we bought last year had kidded (she's only a baby herself).