Monday, 5 June 2017

SUMMER HAS COME EARLY .......

9th May
Rain was forecast, but didn't materialise - we need it for the field of corn we sowed a couple of days ago.
Heavy rain is forecast tomorrow; which means I can have a kiln firing, so today I packed the kiln to the gunnels!
This evening we went to M&M's new house for dinner (with Vince & Lola and Karina); of course it is lovely, lots of colored bottles embedded in walls, lime plaster (over straw bales) walls (not a straight line in sight), handbuilt cupboards which could happily grace a hobbit's home - I could go on and on, it's very quirky with lots of interesting details!

10th May
Where's the day of rain that was forecast????? Put the generator on regardless, as I needed to fire the kiln.
The rain appeared this afternoon; very cold and heavy. We put the ewe with the new twins in the dog shed and opened the field gate and sheep shed, for the rest of the flock - the goats immediately sought shelter.
A low milk yield today 1.5L this morning and ZERO this afternoon - the kids feed from their mums far more when it's raining (boredom eating) and the mums don't feed much, because they are sheltering, so less milk is being produced (that's our theory/observations).

11th May
Cold, wet and miserable ...........
I think it's going to be another low milk day (1.25L this morning).
Hooray, I finished Rebecca & Paul's wedding present!
I hung it up on the decking to photograph, I don't want to take it down (I'll have to make one for us).
I was right about the low milk day - another ZERO litres this afternoon; we've had thunderstorms on and off all day, so the goats have been sheltering in the pole barn - nothing for them to eat in there.

11th May
Ok I've had enough of the rain now!!! I'm back in winter clothes.
I'm rubbish at technology; I've been trying to edit my cover photo and header on my Quinta Glass page - I just can't find the buttons to press to upload new photos, it's very stress making ...... managed the header after several attempts, but can't find anyway to change the cover - I give up!!!!
Last week when we went into CB we saw some garden furniture that was really cheap; a table, four chairs and an umbrella for less than 100€ (99.99!). A bit modern for our taste, but too cheap to be choosy - of course it wasn't in stock! So this afternoon we took a trip into town to see if it was back in stock - it was! We came home so excited, unpacked the box ....... One chair was put together wrongly, two chairs had pop rivets badly put in and one had rivets missing!!!! Then we spent the next hour trying to assemble the table (turned out the instructions were wrong, really truly they were!*). But it's erected now and our lower deck looks very smart.
*In fact the whole thing is very poorly constructed (the price was too good to be true!).
Every year, around this time, Looby goes off her food; she just stops eating, doesn't even get up when I serve their meals. The only way I can get her to eat is to hand feed her, one piece at a time (attention seeking?). Today we're trying cat biscuits mixed in with the dog biscuits.

13th May
Happy Birthday Jane! Xxx
A bit dull, but dry ......
We're meeting T&D at the soup festa, in Proenca a Velha, this afternoon. Then going en masse, to the olive press, to demand our oil!!!!
Well that was a waste of time!!!!! Couldn't find anyone to take responsibility for our oil, it was suggested we come back on a weekday when the Junta is open. The soup bit of the festa happens tomorrow, with hundreds of different soups to taste and vote for.

14th May
So in the night I had a brilliant idea; Georgia and Hazel are in milk, but we don't need more, so we were going to let them dry up, then I thought of my idea - give the goats to Thomas & Diane on a long term loan (as they're not getting milk from their cow).
The first ever Spring Fair in Penamacor (a collaboration between the Camara, us (the immigrants) and a Spanish association) was a resounding success. Fantastic atmosphere, lots of attendees and lots of fun.
Then I came home to a fridge full of milk!!!! 5L is being clabbered overnight for Chevre and 7.5L I made into Halloumi (I was still making cheese at gone 10.00 p.m.).
And I have earache again!

15th May
Margo (our cat stealing neighbour) has sold up (she moved in last September) and guess who's back????? Jasmine, our unloyal cat; the new neighbour hasn't moved in yet, so she could well dessert us again!
Made Chevre.

16th May
Georgia and Hazel have gone! And I feel quite sad, they were our first goats here (along with Billy, Hazel's brother).
Whilst cleaning the loft bedroom, for Rebecca & Paul's visit, I banged my head on the low beam (the same one I spend all my time saying "mind the beam" when people go up there); I have a bump, a headache and feel slightly sick - I'm sure I have concussion (Brett thinks I'm being overly dramatic ....... dramatic moi???).
Brett is blocking up the new bathroom, he's nearly at window height.
The chickpeas, beans and corn are all starting to coming through in our field, no sign of the mangle wurzels.
Every evening we do an hour or so of weeding, its rather satisfying and the weeds are fed to the pigs. However this evening's session was horrendous, so many biting flies, I'm covered in itchy bites - they can even bite through clothing.

17th May
A very successful trip into CB; we got all the stuff for our field irrigation for 135€ (far better than 600€!) - we asked Reuben (in Regacentro) to advise us, we're very pleased with the outcome.
I spent most of the afternoon cleaning the dresser and everything on it (I don't do it very often!), it looks all 'sparkly'!
Oh no!!!!! We have Colorado potato beetle larvae on our potatoes ...........

18th May
I spent the day cleaning, tidying, making beds, even cleaning windows - the house is sparkling!

19th May
Rebecca & Paul arrived mid afternoon, they had been up since 4.00 so we had a relaxed evening. I think they liked their wedding present - they made all the right noises.

20th May
We chose the right weekend for a trip to Idanha a Velha, they were having a festa! In fact nothing much was happening ...... loud music, a tombola stall (every festa has one) and a BBQ - Rebecca & Paul treated us to lunch. On the way home we picked ELDERFLOWER (for champagne).
As we ate a big meal at lunchtime I prepared a very simple dinner (mainly from the picnic we'd originally taken for lunch) - cheese, ham (both our own of course!), salads, bread, hummus, fried pita and crisps.
We have these birds that sing all night, I thought they were just ordinary birds - turns out they're Nightingales (we 'googled' their song).

21st May
Milk overload (again)!
2L 
Rebecca brought citric acid, so I made my first ever Mozzarella - very impressed, and it only takes 2 - 3 hours.
So we had to have Mozzarella and tomato salad with dinner; therefore our roast pork meal became pork and salad in wraps with mayo and chili jam AND Mozzarella and tomato salad! Very nice .......

22nd May
And they've gone! A lovely, if short, visit. Feel a little bit flat.
Jelisa and Lucy gave 2L and 1L of milk respectively this morning; once again I had milk overload - I made more Mozzarella (with 7.5L of milk, that's the maximum size pot I have = 1.25lbs of cheese). And I started off my Elderflower champagne (2L).

23rd May
34C (the temperature's rising ........)
3.25L of milk this morning - I'll need to make cheese tomorrow, as today we popped into CB (to book car in for it's MOT, to get more connections and pipes for the irrigation system, buy some hand tools for weeding and BEER from Lidl!).
We've invited our vegetarian friends (Chris & Di and Andrew) and Stuart for dinner on Friday (as we have lots of cheese!); we'll have Halloumi, watermelon and mint for a starter, pizza (with Mozzarella) for main and trifle (because it's easy) for dessert. Andrew will have to have a tour of the garden so Brett is mowing all the verges and we're going to attack the weeds in the veg garden this evening ......

24th May
Both female goats were off their food this morning (the boys were fine) and Lucy had to be chased to get her onto the decking - we think they're on heat (so do we want more goat kids???? We have had a message from someone who wants female kids next year!).
I couldn't even get Lucy onto the decking this evening; fortunately she didn't need milking
This evening we went to dinner at Vince (Irish, but also speaks French) & Lola's (French, also speaks English and Portuguese) along with Marc & Meike (Belgian, speak French, Dutch, English and Portuguese) and Marieke (French, speaks only French) & Helder (Portuguese, also speaks French) - interesting evening, most of the conversation was in a kind of pigeon French/Portuguese! We ate outside, entertained by an electrical storm in the distance.

25th May
HOT 35/36C ............
Wow milk yield is low today 1/2L (Jelisa, morning milk) after several days of 3.5L. The goats were wormed; so their milk will be going to the pigs (it's not a waste, it's not a waste, it's not a waste ..........).
Tomorrow we have C&D, Andrew and Stuart coming for dinner (7.00); 6.30 is tour of the garden (Andrew), so today we've been doing lots of weeding!
The chickens (meat birds) are really suffering in the heat, unfortunately their time is up or they will just die (one already has). So today we moved the second chest freezer into the living room.
I thought my water kefir grains had had it but today my water kefir is fizzing all over the place (must be the heat and I've been trying to rescue it).
Hooray both goats came in for milking this evening; neither of them actually needed milking, but I gave them a bit of food and cleaned & Vaselined their teats (to stop them cracking) - they like routine.

26th May
We both had a horrible night. It was very hot, we couldn't use the fan because the inverter kept bleeping! As soon as it gets hot the solar stops being efficient (both the panels and the batteries don't function well in the heat!) - we had exactly this problem last summer, this year it's happening much earlier.
I can hardly move; my back is very painful - I think it's from helping Brett move the chest freezer from the workshop to the living room (it was heavy and awkward).
Of course the goats milked well this morning - I took off as little as necessary (which was still 1.5L - typical).
I spent the whole day preparing food .........
Starter: Fried Halloumi on a bed of watermelon triangles tossed with rocket, mint and lemon balm (looked very pretty).
Main: Vegetarian pizza (tomato sauce, lamb's quarters, mushroom, onions and mozzarella), meat version (similar with added bacon and chorizo), coleslaw and a peeled broad bean salad.
Pudding: Trifle made with aguadente cherries.
We spent the whole evening (until gone 1.00) out on the decking; it was lovely, apart from the biting insects.

27th May
Dull and grey ........
Plucking and gutting chickens with a hangover is not to be recommended!!!!!
My back is still giving me gyp .........
Bottled the Elderflower champagne.

28th May
The solar can't cope with both chest freezers being on, so we had to condense all our meat into the biggest freezer; this meant leaving out .... several joints of pork (to make into sausages), two bags of sundried tomatoes (to make into paste), chicken livers (to make into pate?).
Another full on day of homesteading; processing the last of the chickens, making tomato paste (sundried tomatoes soaked for a couple of minutes in boiling water, olive oil, seasoning; blitz it all up in the liquidiser - delicious), Mozzarella (6L of milk from before the goats were wormed), I didn't have time to make the pate or lemon curd (tomorrow afternoon? In the morning the car is booked in for its MOT).
The solar isn't happy, this evening it was on about 40%, which is close to shutting off (the freezer will be turned off overnight).

29th May
Some days I wish I hadn't bothered getting up - today was one of those days.
To start off with it was difficult to get up, as my back is still iffy.
When we bought the meat birds (as chicks) the guy threw in a free chick, she grew into a lovely young hen. She's been with the meat chicks since she got here, last night Brett transferred her into the laying hen's shed. This morning she was in the corner of the shed, with blood all over her bum - the hens had practically pecked her to death - Brett had to put her out of her misery. I feel so sad, she was absolutely pristine and healthy yesterday - I'm not liking my hens today!
The trip into CB was successful, if stressful; the car passed it's inspection and we got one of the documents that Customs wants (to release our milking machine) from Finances.
Then the day deteriorated again ......
We started mincing the pork for the sausages and "BANG" the grinder exploded spraying meat everywhere! It was the same nylon part that broke back in January - we think it's made to break, to protect the engine and gears, if there's a jam in the mince (Brett had only just cleaned it out). I've sent for two replacement parts this time!
And, last but not least, whilst trying to clean the blood and guts off the floor, the mop broke - so I had to do as good a job as my back would allow.
It really was a shitty day!!!!! Tomorrow will be better, Claire arrives .........

30th May
Brett is starting to prepare the fields ready for hay making - it's going to be a long few weeks!
Claire arrived at 4.00, so much to talk about.
For dinner (pork Thai curry) we picked broad beans, French beans, peas and beetroot tops, we also picked radish to pickle tomorrow.

31st May
34C in the shade ......
A completely homesteading day .......
Claire and I made:- mozzarella, pickled radish, sausages (coriander, chilli & garlic, cranberry, garlic & thyme and sundried tomato paste and mozzarella) and lemon curd.
Brett cut the hay in the big field with his new drum mower.
We gave away our 3 year old hens (to Kimberley & Lawrence (5) and Pinnah & Eric (1)), as our pullets are laying now.
Totally knackered.

1st June
The inverter was beeping in the night (the batteries were down to 40%), we had to turn off the fridge and the freezer - but I have a plan ..........
Claire and I spent a few hours in the studio preparing stuff for firing this evening (thus saving the batteries!).
Brett started mowing a second field.
We planted out more melons, cucumbers and courgettes and sowed about 100 winter squash.

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