Sunday, 24 June 2018


3rd April
We're going to be pretty sociable for the next few days and for some reason I seem to be catering for each event! So today was a big catering binge:

This evening Erd is coming round (Nicky & Taliss are in Lisbon) for dinner and Scrabble - roast pork, brocolli, baked sweet potatoes and (Brett has requested) Yorkshire puddings.

Tomorrow we've been invited to Alex's birthday BBQ - I'm marinating belly pork and making old fashioned bread pudding with stale sourdough bread.

Thursday we're going round to Vince and Lola's, so that they (Brett and Vince) can look at my generator - I have pork ribs par-cooked and for marinating in the fridge, I'll make a salad tomorrow.

And on Friday we've invited our new neighbours (Noelia & Lief) to lunch - to ring the changes we'll have roast leg of lamb with wraps, salad and taziki.

It rained a lot today but I did manage to pot our new citrus trees up into big terracotta pots - I discovered that the trees were obviously bare rooted (much cheaper to buy) last week, the compost just fell away from the roots, what a rip off!!!l

6th April
Tuesday evening was fun - mainly because I beat Brett and Erd at Scrabble.

Wednesday's BBQ was not a wash out, although we did have to retreat undercover at one point.

There was so much food (mainly meat!). Our pork was very disappointing; it was very undercooked and therefore tough - it responds best to long slow cooking (so perhaps not the best thing to take to a barbecue!!!).

Thursday was a success; Brett and Vince stripped down my generator, diagnosed the fault (so now we have to source the spare parts). Meanwhile Lola and I prepared lunch and drank wine! Vince has loaned me his generator until I get mine mended.

Today Noelia, Lief and Lianze (nearly 4 years old) came for a lazy lunch; we ate outside in the sunshine.

And now we're socialised out!

Brett has managed to finish pruning the olive trees in the vegetable garden - it makes such a difference to the look of the place.

Looby is really getting on our nerves. She spends the whole day trying to escape the quinta and the evenings whining and pacing. We know it isn't her fault, but it's still bloody annoying - only another 2 weeks to go ...

7th April
Nicky and Tallis are back from Lisbon. They and Erd came around this morning, stayed for lunch, nearly stayed for dinner, but we're eating too late these days (after the animals are away) - so another day of socialising!

8th April
Hoorah, actually did some work in the polytunnel - potted on nearly 100 tomatoes and sowed a few trays of seeds. We'd like to sow some seeds directly (winter squash etc) but the ground's far too wet.

I made 2L of goat's milk into Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) - five hours simmering on the range. It's delicious on ice cream.

9th April
We went to the vet tonight and got told that we have to register our animals (goats and sheep). It's been on our 'to do' list for a while - it's now moved to the top of the list!!!

Bloody Looby; all evening long pacing and whining ...
11th April

I'm gradually potting on all my seedlings but now I've run out of trays. Yesterday I potted nearly 100 sweet peppers (5 or 6 different varieties).

Today I made cheese: Chevre, Halloumi and Ricotta.

We should have loads of milk tomorrow - we castrated Lucy's kids (ouch!!!).
12th April

We've had loads more rain, consequently gardening has ground to a halt.

And we're getting so much milk I've started making Cheddar (needs 10L so cheese making every third day) - I'm already bored with it (I hate having to steralise all the equipment)!

13th April
We've been really worried about Lily; she had a lump (which is getting bigger daily) behind her jaw (lymph gland?). So today, as we were going into CB to pick up Helen from the train station, we took her to the vet (whilst fearing the worst). We're so relieved; it turned out to be an infected salivary gland - she's on a course of antibiotics for the next eight days.

Saturday 14th April
We had a daytime craft meeting for a change. Lola's friend, Titi, came to teach us macrame. I made a necklace (first 'caging' a heart shaped stone I carved ages ago) and started a bracelet. It was a lovely day; Titi was a very patient and good teacher, we had lunch on the decking and relaxed in the sunshine.

Brett is doing lots of gardening atm; it's looking very tidy.

4.00 found us at Bar do Clube with the usual suspects (plus Helen and Richie).

15th April
Helen and I finished our bracelets and then did some printing with the Gelli plate. We're going to make cards for the carboot next Saturday.

16th-18th April
Lots of fun in the studio, mainly making cards.

We had a fermentalist meet up at Nicky's. Lola instructed us in the making of a fermented Baba Ganoush (it won't be ready for two weeks).

We took a selection of cards with us; (1) to show off! (2) to ask opinions on pricing (one of the hardest parts of selling artwork). The general consensus was no less than 2.50€ each!

19th April
A trip to Spain; the market was rubbish - no fabric to buy - we bought onions (large white salad onions and strawberries). However the day was not lost, we met up with Lola and Nicky, Erd, Tallis and Erd's mum for a tapas lunch (Erd treated us, as a thank you for the goat kids we're giving them).

Then everyone (bar Lola) came back to our quinta for the afternoon!

20th - 26th
Helen picked up a nasty chest infection/cough (on the plane we think) - which she kindly shared with us!

We didn't do the carboot; inclement weather (cold with heavy showers) again, which would have ruined our cards - I'll try again in May.

We were supposed to go to Fundao on Monday (to buy veg plugs and ducklings) but we all felt too ill so that was aborted.

I roped Helen into helping me design, and make, my hat for Lily's wedding.

We started by making flowers with wire, wood glue and nail polish! The wire was bent into a flower shape, dipped in glue (to fill in the petals) and, when dry, painted with nail polish - it looked easy on the video!!! Helen persevered with that method, I, wanting instant gratification, used tissue paper and glue to make my petals - after several days we had a good selection of flowers.

Lola had loaned me a couple of hats to adorn but they were too heavy for our flower creation so ... I fashioned a cloche hat shape out of wire, wrapped it with material, attached the flowers and some beads (it's not finished yet but it's looking very promising - definitely unique).

Then Helen went home ...

Feeling really crap!!! I woke up at 03.53 (and never went back to sleep). I'd showered by 06.00.

We had to process some chickens; the cockerels are fighting and doing some real damage to one another (we had to isolate two). These birds are really aggressive (they bite humans too), they're usually very docile. We had our largest bird yet - 11lbs.

On Tuesday (three days ago) I had a message from Duarte " I know you don't sell sourdough bread, but it's my family get together this weekend and I would really love to have five of your loaves for our picnic"!!! I had to immediately revive my starter, Wednesday evening I made the dough, let it prove overnight, then he came and picked up the uncooked dough (as I didn't have time to do anymore), he has to knock it back, shape it, leave it to double in size and cook it - I didn't charge him! He came bearing gift ... Shitakii mushrooms, tasters of three different Irish cheeses made by his friend (with cardoon as rennet), and some of his olives.

Andrew had his annual picnic at his quinta; which would have been fun had we been feeling better.

Took the chickens across to Vince & Lola's (to put in our freezer).

The bits for my generator have arrived.

Brett gardened, whilst I suffered and played with my hat!

Still suffering, but had to make cheese ...

30th April
Off to Fundao to buy vegetable plugs

P.m. planted:

150 x onions

42 x peppers

40 x sweet potatoes

50 x tomatoes

21 x aubergine

Bearing in mind I'm also growing all of these (bar onion) from seed in the polytunnel - these are to give our harvest a head start.

1st May
Beltane Blessings (as we say around here!) ...

It's that time of year when our fridge is FULL of milk products: bottles/jars of milk (obviously), kefir, buttermilk, clabbered milk, (we have yoghurt but bought from Lidl!), whey and then we have the cheese: Halloumi, Chevre (fresh and maturing) and blocks of Cheddar-type (at various stages of maturity).

The sow had her piglets - SEVEN (which is a record for her) however only ONE is still living - four weren't fully formed and she's already managed to squash two! She really is a rubbish mother, totally unaware of her offspring.

2nd - 4th
I finished my hat, made a brooch and have even started my dress.

Nicky & Erd were going to have our pair of Erzgebirge goats but decided (after several weeks of pen building and choosing names) that they weren't ready for them (slightly put out); so today they went up for sale on the Penamacor page.

Brett has stared building our outside kitchen.

4th June!!!!!
Well my blog hasn't been updated for a couple of months (had a few complaints!) so I'll post this and try to do better from now on!

24th June
I've been trying to upload photos since the 4th June but for some reason I can't. I've googled the problem but either the solution doesn't work or I can't understand the jargon. So I'm posting my blog without photos.

Any advice (in easy to understand language) gratefully received!

Monday, 2 April 2018


28th February
Well my butter making didn't work! First of all I tried using my (virgin) manual butter churn - by the time my arms had given up nothing had happened. So I thought I'd use my moulinex mixer - the cream frothed up to about four times it's original volume but no hint of butter! I think perhaps my cream was tainted with milk? I need a cream separator.

9th March
The wells are more or less full, the land is saturated, our track is getting squelchy (soon it'll be undrivable) and still it rains.
Apparently totally annual rainfall for our area averages at about 1000mm (that's a meter in one whole year), we've had 600mm in the last 12 days!!!!! Elise and Yurk (two separate neighboring quintas) are both flooded.
Our vegetable garden is under water, so it's a chore to pick the brassica (the sprouting brocolli is still going strong and more cabbages are ready to harvest).
Yesterday our Fermentalists meeting was at Mount of Oaks (MOO, a local community). I was super excited because I wanted a tour of their place - it was too wet! I made an orange (ours) and red pepper salsa - looks interesting and tasty, I think it will end up quite runny like a sweet and sour chili sauce.
19 people attended the meeting (plus Taliss and Leonie), the group is getting rather big. Me, Nicky, Lola and Jo came from our area (it was an hour's drive to MOO).
I have a Mother's day card and present from Hen (& Indi) - I won't open it until Sunday.
Update on mother's day present: Hen contacted me to see if it had arrived. I said 'yes' but I hadn't opened it; he said I could if I wanted too ...... wow, it's fabulous, a garland made from recycled metal, in the shape of leaves - when the rain stops I'm going to put it up on the decking - thank you Henry & Indi Xxx.
Tonight we had another storm (thunder & lightening) and tomorrow storm Felix arrives (Red warnings) .........

10th March
Today we pulled two vans out of the mud (Pete & Alan's), last week it was Sophie's people carrier and last month Hatti's van - our 4 wheel drive truck is in demand with all this wet weather.
I put my mother's day present up .......
It 'tinkles' in the wind ......
We're getting a little bit bored now!!!!! I played in the studio this afternoon - I'm thinking of making some cards to sell at the carboot.

11th March
Happy Birthday Karen. Xxx
Ooooh goody, it's raining! It's getting a bit boring now ......
We took a walk down to the river; it was raging. But it had obviously been nearly 2m higher on Friday (we could tell by the debris trapped in the branches of the trees).
This afternoon I carried on with my card printing .......

The marbled paper I made years ago when we lived in Wales.
The tomatillo seeds I sowed have germinated in the hundreds rather than tens! So I'm going to pot some seedlings up and try selling them at the carboot. I spent the evening making paper pots (from supermarket flyers) so I don't have to get rid of my pots (I felt very smallholderish!).

12th March
Last week I decided that as I was milking Lucy once a day I might as well milk first thing and milk Jelisa too (with views of cheese making). Day (1) I had 2.5L, day (2) Lucy's kids had found her left udder and she didn't need milking. However today Jelisa came out bursting - I took 2L off her and 1L off Lucy (so perhaps cheese making is back on, I only need 5L per batch for soft cheese).
No rain today so we did some outside jobs (potting on (me) and mucking out (Brett)).

13th March
Another 3L milked this morning. I don't have enough for cheese as we're using it in our tea/coffee etc.
After six months of a persistent dry cough (I haven't had a full night's sleep in months) the doctor tells me it's the pills I'm taking!!!! She's given me a new prescription, fingers crossed.
After years of buying crappy meat slicers and slicing ham or bacon as thinly as possible by hand we might have access to a proper meat slicer. Lola has a Portuguese friend who wants to sell one (50€), it sounds very promising as it weighs 20kgs - we're going to view it tomorrow.
Erd came round this afternoon to help Brett service our truck (he has ramps). It's purring now, job well done!
I continued making paper pots .........

14th March
No milk this morning!!!!
What a bargain!!!! The meat slicer is a proper heavy duty one. It might be old but the blade is still sharp (scarily so), it sliced our bacon thinly, no trouble at all - very happy, it's a quality piece of kit.
Proper bacon ...

17th March
Happy St Patrick's Day!
I didn't go to the carboot. The weather has been inclement all week and rain was forecast; it actually didn't rain while the carboot was on but it was bitterly cold - only three stallholders turned up.
Sara & Greg turned up at lunchtime with my Amazon parcel (Kilner jars), the courier had dropped them off at Bar do Clube.

18th March
Brett off on a bike ride ..........

2nd April
Happy Easter!!!
Well my blog writing has gone to pot! I don't know why, I used to write it religiously, every evening after dinner (maybe it's because we're eating and therefore sitting down later?).
So what has happened in the last 2 weeks?
We have 'processed' two large rams and our big boar. We are experimenting and making Macon and Mam (mutton bacon and ham) as well as making bacon and ham (we're going to build a smoker) - you can tell we're still very happy with our meat slicer!
Macon ...
Vince and Lola are housing our big freezer in their shed (we can't run two off the solar) which is brilliant.
On Thursday Brett and Vince are going to look at my generator (fingers crossed they can fix it in time for Helen's visit, 13th April).
Today we went to CB and met Mark for lunch. Hopefully he's back in Portugal for a while. A while back I was moaning (on the blog) about not being able to get cotton easily - Mark's mum sent me a box of thread (thank you Mark's mum xxx), I'm really chuffed.
The weather had improved last week (it's been raining all over Easter). We went to Fundao market and bought a couple of lemon trees and a lime tree (our third attempt at growing these). These ones will be kept in pots on the decking until they have matured a bit. We're always very enthusiastic about our garden in the spring.
Brett has pruned all the olive trees in the vegetable garden. It is looking very well kept ..... and still the brasiccas are giving us vegetables (red/green/white cabbages, calabrese, brocolli, kale and chard (I know chard isn't a brassica!).
Nicky & Tallis came round last Sunday (whilst Brett and Erd were on a bike ride). We picked wild greens from the quinta - chickweed, hen bit, dead nettle, yellow wood sorrel, salad burnet plus a few herbs, to make into a wild herb omelette - delicious. The left over herbage was made into pesto.
Poor old Lobby is on heat, it makes her so restless. She's lying outside in the dark ...

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

WE NEED RAIN ...........

1st February
Happy Birthday Steph! Xxx
Brett's been working at Jo's this week (plus his bike ride every Sunday) so I've been on my own for a few days - it makes me realise I would hate to live alone!
Today I decided to do some (much needed) weeding; nearly 2 hours later, a wheelbarrow full of weeds (mainly grass), but hardly anything to show for it - though you can actually see one row of carrots now.
I sat outside in the sun to eat my lunch - it was bloody freezing!!!! The sun was shining but there was a bitter wind blowing from the north - I soon came in!
Next week I'm hosting our fermentation group (The Fermentalists) so I've been making a few ferments for our taste and share session. I've so far got ....... ginger ale, sourdough bread (it's in the freezer), chili paste (the one that nearly killed Brett!), pickled radish, curtido (cabbage, onion and carrot) AND I found some pickled garlic I made 13 years ago (it's gone black but it will taste sweet). We'll be making (as a group) beet kvass and ginger bug (I won't as I already have one).

2nd February
I now have a Portuguese Social Security number, which means I can sign on with a doctor at last.
Bloody Chronopost (delivery people) sent our electric fence controller back to Germany because they said had been unable to deliver it. We got one text from them saying they'd tried to call us twice (funny, we had no missed calls) and an email asking how we would like to get our package - the link wouldn't allow us to do either of the options (track the package/rearrange delivery) - so they sent it back! Everyone has issues with package deliveries, we've been ok until this one.

3rd February
Today I helped Brett burning scrub up in the top field. I'm not the best person to assist him as I spend all my time checking the fire isn't getting out of control (I'm petrified of making a wild fire, where as Brett is totally blasé and, I think, doesn't take the dangers seriously enough!).
So I stayed back at the house, after coffee break, and made Scrumbles (and learnt a new vocabulary!). A Scrumble is a freeform piece of crochet; once I have made a bunch I can join them together (a bit like patchwork) to make something - I want to make a jumper. My first two Scrumbles .........

4th February
Joyce would have been 89 today ......
I'm trying to replicate one of my favorite dresses (Ewa I Walla design), my one is very old and falling apart. I've chosen three different materials (an old, patterned, cotton duvet cover from Lola, a muslin skirt from Debbie and an old duvet cover from Debbie). The underskirt is patchwork and will be made from the two duvet covers (this will take the most time to construct), the muslin will make the top skirt. Once made I will dye the whole dress a faded purple color (and keep my fingers crossed).

6th February
Happy Birthday Alexandra Xxx
Brett took the car to the garage to get the cam belt changed, it's going to take all day so he had to cycle home (good job he's fit).
It's freezing cold, literally, atm. Every morning the animal's water is frozen (1/4" - 1/2" thick) and, although it's sunny, it stays cold throughout the day. We have taken to lighting the range earlier and earlier.
Despite this I have germination in the polytunnel (the seed trays are in a cold frame on top of polystyrene too); so far a few tomatoes, loads of tomatillos and I can see a bean cracking open - spring is springing!!!!
As I have no lemons I made preserved oranges today - they should work the same?
Last week Diane told me she had made nettle cordial - of course I had to make some too!!!!! I bottled it today; it's a pretty pink color and tastes delicious (Diane says it's good with gin!).

8th February
Brett handed me a 'dead duckling' this morning; he'd found it floating on the duck pond (that had ice on it, unfortunately I'd broken it!). It was soaked through, freezing cold, completely limp and no movement.
I dried it off as best I could, wrapped it in a towel and put it on a hot water bottle. Then I lit the range. I continued to dry, rub, wrap in dry parts of the towel for the next hour ........ then it's mouth opened and shut - it wasn't quite dead! Three hours later, and lots of TLC, it was squeaking and jumping out of the basket it had been cocooned in. I put it back with it's siblings - job done! Now I can't tell which one it is.
I hosted our fermentation group this afternoon. We made Torshi, an Iranian ferment - we have to wait a month to taste it.

9th February
Brett went off on his weekly bike ride today. I spent the day sewing patchwork for the underskirt of the dress I'm making - it's very time consuming.
Lucy is SO pregnant, she looks as if she has at least three kids in her and her udders look fit to burst - she MUST go into labour soon!

11th February
Nope, no kids yet. Poor Lucy looks so uncomfortable; she has black skin but her udders are so full they're red!
We spent the day in the veg garden. Transplanting cabbages, weeding, sowing garlic and broad beans. There's so much food ready to eat - different types of cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, beet, radish (plus the stored onions, sweet potatoes and squash, frozen sundried tomatoes, eggs) .........
One of Brett's cauliflowers ........

12th February
Still no kids!!!!!
Went into CB for a boring shopping trip!
No kids when we got back either!

13th February
She's going to *POP*, her udders are ginormous!!!
Went to help T&D collect hay from Tim's place this morning (hay is in very short supply now). Diane gave me some magic tea for my cough and chest (I know one of the ingredients is hibiscus), it's a very pretty pink colour.
We need rain; the wells are still almost enpty, the grass isn't growing (hardly any growth since we cut hay - that's 10 months), people are worrying about feeding and watering animals this year - we're worrying about feeding the animals and watering the vegetable garden this year!
Dinner this evening: broccoli & stilton (made with calabrese), fried broccoli (sprouting), baked sweet potatoes.

14th February
For goodness sake Lucy GET ON WITH IT! She looks so uncomfortable and can hardly walk with her udders forcing her back legs apart.
We had to put one of our yearling rams out of his misery today. Big ram (weighs about 18 stone) rammed him into the shed wall - we think he had internal injuries. Big ram's will be gone next week!

Saturday 17th February
We did the carboot today. Not terribly good this time, but I did manage to swap a couple of cauliflowers for a bag of lemons.

Sunday 18th February
And still Lucy hasn't produced!!!!!
The hunting season ends soon; so hunters have been more active these last couple of Sundays; shot was running down the roof!
I made lemon curd with my bartered lemons.
Dress prior to dyeing:

Underskirt (patchwork) detail
I dyed my duvet dress (purple); I'm very happy with the results (see 26th for photo). Hopefully tomorrow I can finish sewing it? I had to dye it prior to finishing the sewing as synthetic thread doesn't take the dye (I can't get old fashioned cotton thread here), so now I can finish the sewing with the appropriate coloured thread.

Wednesday 21st
Big bully ram has been dispatched .......
I didn't get my dress completely finished (but it's good enough to wear with a jumper!) - I love it, it has exactly the right weight in the skirt.

Thursday 22nd
What a fabulous day!
We had a trip to Spain with Nicky, Erd and Tallis. I wore my new dress (of course)!
I bought fabric,
I'm going to make a blind for the bathroom.
vegetables, different flavored paprikas, saffron, a couple of types of dried chilies and then we went for a tapas lunch - bread, olives, tongue, gambas, langoustine, calamari rings, calamari a la plancha, a mixed plate of potatoes, chorizo, eggs and ham, beer and wine (which came to 8€ a head).
And ........ when we arrived home hoo-bloody-rah-about-time-too Lucy had kidded!!!!! Unfortunately two males which we had to bottle feed as they couldn't latch on to her ginormous teats! (I took 3L off of her just to make her comfortable!).

23rd February
Hoorah, the kids had obviously fed overnight (only from one side, but that's a start). Took 1L from her (just to make her soft).
sodding goose attacked me - made a hole in the top skirt of my new dress!!!!! Brett said 'why was I wearing it whilst doing the animals' - because 'it's new and I love it'!

26th February
We lost another duckling today; it came out of the shed first thing, then this afternoon we could only see two. Seven were hatched so that's pretty poor survival rates. We don't know if it's predators or our other ducks that are picking them off.
I had to patch my new dress!!!!!!!

27th February
A lazy day as we're actually having a bit of rain!
We've started drinking Lucy's milk (she's producing far too much for her kids), it's really creamy - I'mgoing to attempt butter making this week.

28th February
A proper storm this afternoon; heavy rain and thunder.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


I'm writing off November and December!!! I was in the UK for most of November and the first two weeks of December.
Then, once I came home, I was ill for several weeks (in fact I'm still not 100%).
Consequently Christmas was a quiet affair. We didn't buy one another presents (probably our cheapest ever Christmas!) and I've yet to buy them for family (can't get motivated). We spent Christmas day at Nicky & Erd's with Hattie & Garf, Erica & Francis, Homa & Ellie and various children. It was good fun. We supplied the turkey, brocolli (Brett's pride and joy), sausagemeat, pigs in blankets and giblet gravy - all from our quinta!
Boxing day we invited friends around, in the evening, for a cold buffet (though I did make bubble and squeak) and drinks.
New Year's Eve was a quiet night in, and bed by 11.00!!! (We did have the option to go out).

My birthday present from Brett arrived on the 3rd January .......
a pressure canner (all the way from America), so now I can can all my vegetable gluts. But first I have to collect preserving jars and the smallholder in me baulks at the thought of buying new jars at 75 cents - 1.50€ when these same jars can be bought, filled with beans or chickpeas (at any supermarket), for 54 cents!!!! So I've put out a call to all my crafty friends to give me these jars if they're going to throw them away.

Our three, very old (3- 4 years),Peking ducks were dispatched. We made duck breast prosciutto (bacon)
and duck confit (salted for 48 hours, then slow cooked in olive oil for 4 hours) which resulted in a delicous and tender meat.

Brett is planning his next build; a dog proof compound with three large buildings for sheep and goats, so that we can sleep soundly at night - at the moment (if it isn't raining and they're in the shed) the flock gets put into the old pig pen (by the house) and we sleep, with the window open, on high alert.

Weds 17th January
We have new neighbours. We didn't notice until this evening when we saw a light; they're behind the pig run (so quite close). They appear to be living in a stone ruin that only has two walls! We think the man was building a fire. There only appears to be two people; a young child (2 - 3 years) and a man (presumably the father).

18th January
I started a disgusting job - cleaning, with bleach, all the books that have been in storage since we left the farmhouse (7 years). Some of the boxes had been invaded by mice so I had to throw away quite a few of my (mainly recipe) books which had either pee or chewed damage (heartbreaking for me!). Until the living room is completed the books will live in the loft over the workshop.

Friday 19th January
I finished cleaning the books, I only managed to salvage one of the cardboard boxes, the rest were smelly with old mouse infestation.
Last Friday we had a visitor - Pedro (Ollie & Anna's dog). Today he turned up again. Unfortunately for him he came via the, very overgrown, quinta next door and was stuck in brambles - our dogs alerted us to his plight. We managed to free him and yank him over the fence onto our land but he's covered in lengths brambles which are obviously painful as he snaps when I try to remove them (I've done what I can) - I haven't managed to get hold of Ollie or Anna yet!

Saturday 20th
Wow what a surprise this morning - muscovy ducklings!!!!! No duck has been sitting, well not during the daytime, and it's been very cold.  At least six so far (plus a dead one - I think the male did that). Neither of the females seem terribly interested, so we've got to leave them (vulnerable) until one takes ownership. The male will be locked out of their shed, at night, (fortunately we have a spare shed) for the next week or so.

21st-31st January
Bloody bug has come back; this time I have a nasty, persistent, cough which keeps me awake most of the night. And my chest hurts - it was so bad the other day I likened it to having been shot (not that I ever have!), I think all the coughing strained my inter-costal muscles. I'm on my 5th bottle of cough mixture!
On the duckling front we're down to three! The others disappeared, one at a time, we have no idea to where or who. As they are free range (and they need to be as they eat grass) there's not much we can do to protect them, we do separate them (and their mother) from the other ducks over night.
The weather is fabulous atm; the sky is clear so we're having sunny days (with lots of warmth) and cold nights - the solar is working well.
I have spent time in the polytunnel sowing seeds (tomatoes, chilies, peppers, aubergine, beans, tomatillos). On the negative side, no one's wells are filling up yet so people are worried about watering vegetables in the summer; we might move our vegetable garden and take advantage of the (full) well on the abandoned quinta next door.
The broccoli and cabbage that Brett grew is doing really well. And I've discovered (char grilled) fried broccoli, it's delicious - tastes a bit like 'fried seaweed' (which is actually cabbage!) that is on some menus in Chinese restaurants.
Our craft group met last Friday (first time since last spring) we did freeform crochet - I can now crochet a shell/spiral. It was a brilliant, if slightly drunken, evening. My offering of nibbles was a plate of thinly sliced duck prosciutto and three month old 'cheddar' (goat's) cheese (I was showing off!!!)
it went down very well.
Diane & Thomas came yesterday (to pick up some hay). Diane has a canner and has informed me that I need special jars for canning - the ones with the disc lid and a screw band to hold it down (mason/bell jars) which are really cheap in America, very expensive (about 4 or 5 times the American price, plus postage) in UK, and non existent in Portugal - bugger!!!!!
We sold our small fridge (drink's fridge) as we were only able to use it for a couple of months of the year (when the solar is at it's peak). The fridge size gap, we thought, could be shelved and used for vegetable storage or even put a wine rack in there. The dogs had other ideas - they've commandeered it as a (very tight fitting) kennel!!!!
We had to shine a torch in there, that's why Lily is in the spotlight!