Tuesday, 28 March 2017


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 .........

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