Wednesday, 10 May 2017

And still more babies ....... .

14th April
I spent the day cooking and cleaning, as T&D were coming to dinner (Halloumi, sundried tomatoes and Greek styled olive tossed pasta, garlic bread, mixed salad, deconstructed Eton mess/fudge sundae i.e. I put everything on the table and people assembled their own concoction). Brett spent the day mowing and strimmering, to make the quinta look tidy.
OMG we had a panic at this afternoon's milking; we'd brought the goats in, Jelisa was hooked up to the machine, about 30 seconds into her milking the pump stopped working!! It turned out that one of the wires had fallen of (and a second wire fell off as we were examining the pump), fortunately I was able to solder them back on (phew), otherwise we'd have had to resort to hand milking!!!!
We had a lovely evening with T&D, who still have the calf (hopefully his owner will be located soon).

15th April
Stupid bloody bank!!!! Brett has ordered a drum mower for the tractor (so we can cut the grass long and then get someone in to bale our hay, we want to make lots this year) which means we have to travel daily, to the cash machine, to take out money so that we can pay for it (cash on delivery as we don't have a Portuguese account).
OUR money is sitting there, in our account, but we're only allowed to withdraw 250€ per day! Makes me want to spit .....
The gardening (weeding, planting, sowing and watering) and milking are taking up a big chunk of our day.
Started watching a very strange film, Elle.

16th April
Happy Easter ........
We didn't have time to do much this morning (after doing our chores, milking goats and going into Penamacor to get out money) as we were invited to a lunchtime picnic at Andrew's quinta (along with Chris & Di).
It was a lovely afternoon; sitting under the shade of a tree eating, drinking and talking. And, of course, having the Grand Tour of Andrew's fabulous Horta (vegetable garden).
Finished watching a very strange film, Elle!

17th April
I spent most of the night awake with earache .....
So much milk ...........
So time to make cheese (going to make a hard one today). The worst bit of having all this milk and cheesmaking is sterilizing the equipment. Everything (milking machine, bottles, sieves, pots, strainer etc) has to be washed in hot soap water (cooled from boiling) then rinsed a couple of times in cooled boiled water and then left to dry naturally.
Mesophillic starter added to 5 litres of milk and left to clabber (fabulous word!) for 24 hours.
We had to do the 'money trip' to Penamacor. Then gardening, gardening, gardening (Brett is mowing our verges to make the place look tidy)........ He can work tirelessly in the heat - I can't!

18th April
Off to CB for Brett's dental appointment.
We tried to arrange to visit Mark's friend Amelia (sent her an email). Even though we didn't hear back from her we went to, what we think is, her house (being built) and had a good look round - it's HUGE with fabulous views, it will be stunning when it's completed.
Back home to the cheese making ...... added rennet to the clabbered milk, left it for 45 minutes to set (the curds should become the consistency of creme caramel and the whey separates out), it didn't work - the curds were tiny (no good for the next stage of the hard cheese recipe) so I just strained them through cheesecloth - Result: a very tasty cream cheese!!!! I've made a delicious Chevre!

19th April
Lightening and rain overnight. Today is cooler and rather windy.
Brett made a goat milking table.
I played in my studio, preparing exciting experimental stuff for a firing.
Our drum mower arrived today.
OMG I forgot to feed the dogs this morning (again!), I didn't realise until I took down their dishes this afternoon and there were left-overs, from our meal last night, (their breakfast!).
OMG (2) we used the new milking table; Jelisa jumped up quite happily (well front legs, back had to be maneuvered on), Lucy had to be totally lifted up (then she did her collapsing legs thing!). But both goats, once their heads were through the restraint, milked like a dream - it even seemed quicker than normal (well done Brett).

20th April
I remembered to feed the dogs!
Lucy still had to be lifted onto the milking table; but the milking itself was a 'one man' job.
We had an impromptu morning at Vince & Lola's (returning their plough), which was nice.
I carried on with painting gates; we have to have the place looking nice when visitors come! We had a message from Claire today and she's going to visit in June (she's going to be our workaway!) - 'happy dancing' ......
Bloody goats! All of them, two mothers and their three kids, were all inside the old water tank, underneath the solar panels. Brett had to put in a ramp to get them out; which the kids thought was great fun - up and down they went hopping and skipping, whilst the mothers just stood. They had to be coaxed out with food!
This evening both goats hopped onto the table under their own steam, admittedly it was a slow process, with continual encouragement from us, but they're intelligent animals and they learn new tricks quickly (five weeks ago Lucy was the Satan goat from hell!).

21st April
Brett has thwarted the goat kids; he's put an electric fence around the solar panels/old water tank.
Both nanny goats now get onto the milking table - clever animals.

I'm busily accumulating milk so I can have another try at cheddar; I need a minimum of 10 litres,  which I should have by tomorrow - I'm getting about 2 litres a day.
Tim, Zoe and their kids (Matt and Amy) came to lunch. I kept it simple (I didn't want to get into a competition with Tim, he cooked a huge banquet) frittata, boiled eggs, salads (pasta, coleslaw and tomato), bread, goat cheese and some of our ham, kefir or iced tea to drink - actually quite a nice spread.
T&Z came with the intention of looking at kids and lambs to buy, but I think they wanted exactly what we haven't got for sale - female lambs (we're swapping the ones we have for piglets from Diane & Thomas).

22nd April
It's five days since I last made cheese and the fridge is heaving with milk (10 litres); so it's a smallholding day for me making cheese (hopefully cheddar-like), ricotta (waste not, want not!) and sausages (we mended the meat grinder AND IT WORKS!).
Today we learnt that ricotta means re-cooked (like panna cotta means cooked cream), therefore cotta means cooked in Italian.
Brett made a counterweight for the tractor (so it doesn't do wheelies when we have the various farm machinery attached to the back of it) and planted several more rows of cabbage (7 cents per plug) so that we can feed greenery to the animals.
Praise indeed ...... before stuffing the sausage skins we cooked a couple of small sausagemeat patties, just to check seasoning, texture etc. Brett's verdict: "there's nothing we can do to improve this/I would be proud to serve these to people/Mark Tipping would have loved these", so he's a happy bunny!
What a left down; we watched the finale of Broadchurch.

23rd April
St George's Day - I remember some Saint's days from my, brief, time as a Girl Guide, when I was ten or eleven, (I can also tie a reef knot, behind my back - why on earth was that a criteria for getting a knot's badge???).
The cheese was unwrapped and salted, it now needs to mature for a couple of weeks.
You would think that having a sausage stuffing attachment, on my food mixer, would make the task quick and easy - wrong!!! Firstly the instructions were wrong 'replace round disc with sausage funnel', when they meant cutting blade (ground down the end of the funnel). And the sausage meat just didn't feed through .... I managed in the end!

Kiln firing ........
Painted another gate - three to go .....

24th April
I spent the morning in my studio, designing and leading up a panel with one of the pieces that came out of the Kiln this morning.
Arsenic & Old Lace featuring Ghost Hare Triskelion
Sardines waiting to go into a panel
This afternoon I painted two gates - one to go!

25th April
Freedom Day = Public Holiday .......
Poo, now I have earache in my other ear (Brett thinks the infection traveled from ear to ear via my brain!).
The garden is starting to look good except .... we had rain the other night so the weeds have taken off with a vengeance!
So Brett has had this brilliant idea; the solar shed, that he's building onto the front of the house, can be increased slightly, a small part will become the solar and boiler room and the rest will become a bathroom and the best bit ....... the current bathroom will become our dressing room (I'll have somewhere to put my clothes!). Once again we're pondering ...... should we have a bath????

26th April
Brett dug and filled the footings for the bathroom (lots of smiley faces!).
I had made Halloumi and Ricotta (it takes a good four hours).
And then we both made sausagemeat (we've got 10+lbs of meat minced) then tomorrow we have the fun job (not) of stuffing the skins.

27th April
A group (10-12) of us got together (well Jo and Karina organised us) to buy a load of Paulonia Tomentosa (Princess/Empress tree); by buying in bulk (400+) we got about 16% discount. They were delivered today. Ann & Martin (and a couple of friends who are staying with them) came back to our quinta afterwards so Ann could look at my glass - I sold the Greenman panel, two seahorse mobiles and have a commission for three more mobiles (the money is all going into a pot so I can buy more supplies).
Stuffed a whole load more sausages - I even learnt how to tie them like a butcher (from youtube!).

Sharon was dripping this evening and being very vocal - I think she's in labor, Brett thinks she's on heat .......

28th April
Another full on Smallholding day ......
Checking the goats Sharon definitely appears (to me) to be giving birth (she's got a water sack protruding), Brett's not convinced (he says she's not big enough).
This morning we went to help Thomas & Diane dispatch their boar (we're going to share their meat, then they'll help us do our boar and have half our meat).
When we came home we checked on Sharon, she was lying down with the rest of her flock looking relaxed and well, no sign of a kid.
The afternoon was butchering and freezing the meat.
Then back to feed the flock and check on Sharon. She came straight in for food with obvious signs that she had indeed given birth - but no sign of a kid! A search of their field revealed a tiny, alien looking, kid fetus; she'd obviously miscarried - we're just pleased she's ok, she's too old to be a mother again.
This evening I managed to milk the goats on my own, thanks to Brett's wonderful milking table and the way the goats have adapted to it - both of them voluntarily come onto the decking, jump onto the table and put their head through the restraining bars to eat - once their head is through the bar is locked into place, which stops them from escaping (they don't mind, they're too busy eating!). Tomorrow I will need to make cheese again as the fridge is full of milk (thank goodness we haven't got a cow - though I would like fresh cream!).

29th April
A well deserved day off, unfortunately it's raining!
Oh dear I can't be bothered to make cheese today; however, it's been a week since I made the 'Cheddar' so we thought we'd try it (I have little patience/need instant gratification!), it was good, not Cheddar as we know it, Brett reckons more like a Wensleydale. Anyway I will wait until I have 10 litres of milk and make another Cheddar (we can easily use a 2lb wheel in a week, or two).
The weather had improved by this afternoon; but by then we'd started watching a film, '28 days later...' - not very good, full of cliches!
I can milk the goats on my own; Jelisa eagerly comes in first while Lucy paces about outside bleating (I'm sure she's saying "get a move on" in goat language). Jelisa is being very affectionate at the moment rubbing her head on me and enjoying a scratch (Brett thinks she's on heat!).

30th April
Wet, cold and windy ........
Didn't do much.

1st May
Cheese making is coming around too often! It takes a good part of a day. I made another wheel of 'Cheddar'.
Our milking machine hasn't arrived, it's been a month, delivery was quoted as (up to) 30th April; I've sent a message to the seller and if I have no joy I'll ask for a refund - Ebay guarantees money back. Annoying though, as we would rather have the machine!
Great, we had a reply from Vlad (in the Ukraine) our milking machine has been in Customs since the 11th April - but no one thought to tell us (the tracking number they supplied didn't work). He's given us a telephone number, so we can ring them ..... great, our favorite task, trying to talk/understand Portuguese over the phone!!!!
I advertised our goat kids for sale on Facebook this afternoon ...... MY ADVERT (I tried to make it catchy):

FOR SALE: Goat Kids
Do you have large, unmanageable, areas of scrubby grassland?
Do you spend hours strimmering?
Would you like, FRESH, milk?
Would you like to make your own cheese?
If you answer "yes" to one or more of the questions above YOU NEED GOATS!!!
2 x female kids, born January 2017
Very friendly
Both their mothers are good milkers
50€ each
3 x male (castrated) kids, born March 2017 (ready to go beginning of June)
Very friendly and playful - will make good pets
40€ each
I had sold the two females by this evening!

2nd May
Andrew agreed to make 'the phone call' for us (his Portuguese is excellent); he dialed the number, laughed and put the phone down ...... he had been answered by a recorded voice giving options - option (1) "if you would like to speak in English please press 1"!!!!!
So I made the call; turns out it was to CTT (Portuguese Post Office) not Customs. Customs has our package, they might want documentation from us (fiscal number, proof of address, proof of purchase), they haven't asked for anything yet (we might get a letter), we have to phone back in a week to see if there's any news, they can hold on to our package for a maximum of 90 days (and there's nothing we can do to speed them up!) - bloody brilliant!

3rd May
A day of cooking and cleaning as we have Vince & Lola coming to dinner. Starter: mixed homemade goat cheeses (Cheddar style, soft Chevre, moulded Chevre and Ricotta) and homecured air dried ham. Main: roast pork leg (Thomas & Diane's), roast sweet potatoes (nearly the last of them) and I picked our first French beans and some peas. Pudding: tiramisu (courtesy of Lola!).
We had a fablous evening and drank loads of Jerapiga!

4th May
Chaos at the milking station.
We had to bring Hazel and Georgia, with their two kids (Tinkerbell and Bauble), down to the house this morning; as the kids were being collected this afternoon.
There was lots of head butting, rearing, pushing and shoving between the new group and Jelisa, Lucy and the male kids.
Then, of course, they all wanted to come onto the decking for the milking session, as food is involved! Poor old Lucy was so distressed she didn't eat whilst she was being milked.
It is her kid stealing her food!
The fridge is full of milk again!!! We now have to decide whether to milk Hazel and Georgia too (do I want to be making cheese daily?).
The female kids went this evening. Georgia and Hazel didn't seem that bothered! The kids were obviously rather distressed, but they will be completely spoil and made into pampered pets.

5th May
We had a long shopping list (mainly for the new bathroom and the garden), so had to go into CB today. It wasn't a fantastic success, we had to do lots of compromising.
For the bathroom we needed: a shower tray, glass bricks (to let light into the shower), a window and we wanted to look at tiles (for the floor, walls and shower). So we ended up with ........ a much bigger tray than we went for - 140cms long, a smaller window, glass bricks with bubbles rather than colored glass (2.99 v 5.49!) and nothing in the way of tiles (they were all big and not teribbly nice).
For the garden we wanted maize to plant up the vegetable field and irrigation to water said field. In Agriloja 2.5 kilos of corn was 20€ but in the shop we bought from 5 kilos was just 2€!!! 1/20 of the price. And the irrigation???? Well what we went in to buy would have cost us over 600€, so we're going to see if we can bodge it (600€ would buy an awful lot of corn!).
Our three nanny goats who are not being milked are very full (Georgia and Hazel because their kids have gone and Sharon because of her miscarriage), but we just can't cope with more milking with our little machine - it would end up breaking, fingers crossed Customs releases our new machine soon.

6th May
A day of cheese (Halloumi and Ricotta) and ice cream (experimented by including the Ricotta, so a bit like a cheesecake ice cream?) making ..... and there's still litres of milk in the fridge! We have a glut ........
New method of heating the milk slowly (1 degree per 5 minutes)
Brett planted our Princess trees.

7th May
I spent the day in the studio (I need to complete Rebecca & Paul's wedding present before they arrive in 10 days time!!!!).
We had a text from C&D inviting us to the bar at 4.00 (to celebrate the start of summer!); we decided to be sociable, but only go for an hour or two (as we had all our evening tasks to do).
On our way out of the quinta we noted one of the ewes had given birth to twins!!!!! We checked the lambs were feeding and looking healthy, then went to the bar ..... FOUR hours later (!!!!!) we arrived back home, the goats and ducks were queuing at the decking and the geese had put themselves to bed! But we did have a good time; Greg & Sarah, Stuart and Baptiste were there too.

8th May
It's gone hot again .......
We used our seeder to sow chickpeas, black eyed beans, mangle wurzels and maize in our vegetable garden field - fingers crossed they germinate well, and not too many weeds.
This evening we had to take the dogs to the vet, for their annual vaccinations - that was fun!!!!

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