Friday, 20 August 2010

You Can Take The Girl Out Of The Village.......

But not the village out of the girl! I've been into town shopping today and while it's lovely doing something different from the normal I do miss the peace and quiet of home. Some people live their lives entirely in a town and thrive on it but to be honest I don't miss the hustle and bustle. Yes, it's easier to find things you need, public transport is abundant and there's plenty to do and see, but for me it's not what I want or need in my life right now. I'm happier at home or even down in the village cafe chatting over coffee with the local ladies.

The village centre is always kept clean and tidy, at this time of the year it's full of flowers and most mornings is quite busy with people buying bread, meeting up and generally doing their morning chores. Friday mornings are the busiest since it's market day and everyone seems to be in a good mood. A lot of the villagers have no transport apart from donkey/horse and carts so rarely go out of the village, they survive on food grown in their gardens and basic necessities that can be bought in one of the many shops.

When we first moved here I did find one or two of the shopkeepers quite blunt but now that we know them all better things are great, and they're used to me asking the bulgarian names for things by now! They do appreciate that I am trying to learn Bulgarian even if sometimes I struggle with things I don't usually buy.

I'm not sure I'll ever be totally fluent in Bulgarian but do enjoy being able to have a conversation with the lovely friends we have here. Reading and writing Bulgarian is something I find very hard and admittedly I don't really try. Place names, food items and road signs I can manage but that's about all. Maybe I should add learning to read and write Bulgarian to my winter things to do.

The piglets are growing up so fast and are hilarious to watch as they dart around the yard and will play with anything they can get hold of - tonights game involved an empty feed bag and they looked like they were having a great time. Mum is totally unconcerned when they are in the yard and usually carries on munching at the bits of grass growing while they play. They are so unfazed by us being around and enjoy a bit of a scratch. We still have 3 of the older piglets here too and they are getting rather big and have been busy making themselves a wallow by tipping their water bucket at least twice a day! They're filthy but happy and that's what counts.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A Task A Day

Today I feel like I've not achieved much, I've felt too hot to do anything outside so have pottered about indoors for most of the day, not really doing anything in particular but doing something! The washing is done and hung to dry, another load on the go. The bathroom and kitchen have had a quick whizz round and tidy up, the animals are all happy and I've sorted out collection of barley for 2 of our friends.

Yet still I feel like nothing much has been done - so off to the kitchen I went to make pease pudding. While there I got to thinking that if I could set myself a task to cook/make something for the winter every day then it would soon mount up and I'd start to feel like I've achieved more. So that's my new challenge and I'd be really grateful if you could help me by sending recipes that I could try and I'll let you know how I get on. To add to the pease pudding today I've also roasted peppers for the freezer, pureed a load of chillies we were given (these will be frozen in ice cube trays) and am busy right now making fresh tomato and bean casserole which will also be going into the freezer for the winter (and tastes fab I must add!).

I've finally managed to take a photo of a hummingbird moth in the garden. They're wonderful to watch but dart about very fast and so are hard to catch on camera. Their wings make an amazing noise as the pass close by and they love the flowers I have growing. The vegetable garden is a bit of a washout this year as it was so wet for so long. I'm not going to stress about it though, just need more careful planing for next year and to try and preserve/freeze as much as I can from the produce we do get. The neighbours have been bringing cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and chillies by the bagful and I'm very grateful for anything they can spare. Hubbys sister has had a great crop of pumpkins and courgettes, and some of them are already frozen or made into chutney.

Just a quick thanks to new readers and those who continue to read my blog. I'm loving the comments and it's great to know people visit and comment.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Straw Bale Building

Over the last 2 days our straw bales have arrived for animal bedding over the winter, we've moved and stacked them but have run out of space in the barn so some will have to be under plastic until we need them. It has renewed my interest in building a straw bale structure at some point in the future though. It's something we're both interested in and would like to try. Unfortunately the bales we get here are not all of uniform size or shape, probably down to the old machinery used by the village corporation. They are cheap though and would be fantastic insulation for a timber framed house.

So far we have the hay, lucerne, straw and barley all in and stored for winter feed. Still to collect is maize and corn, plus maize stalks if we can (they're free so go quick). Hopefully we're well prepared for this winter. The freezer is already full of food for us to eat and we could possibly need another freezer. We have to be aware and remember that if the weather is really bad we may not be able to get out of the village to the supermarket for a few weeks. But fingers crossed the winter won't be too bad or long.

I like all of the season here in Bulgaria and even when the weather is really cold it doesn't feel as low as the thermometer is telling us. On the flip side though the summer can be just as harsh with high temperatures, humidity and no rain for weeks. In the summer we sometimes moan we're hot but in winter we moan about the shorter days! Maybe this winter I'll get round to some decorating or finally sorting through the things we still have stored in boxes.

Hopefully I'll muster up the courage to get back on with riding Maya when the autumn gets here, although we've still not had time to build a fenced in paddock. I miss riding horses and still miss my lovely Sol, that I sold before moving here. He was the perfect horse for me but there's no reason why I can't have a similar relationship with Maya. Milka on the other hand prefers to be handled by men, she tolerates me but is always better for hubby. Admittedly neither of them have done much work this year and it shows - as they're rather podgy right now and so am I!

Well it must be animal feeding time as Vasko is barking at the windows - he's quite impatient and does love food. It's the only time of the day he gets excited so I best go get them all sorted and settled for the night. The piglets are already stealing mum Charlotte's food so will be getting their own meals from tomorrow.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Preparing For Winter

Yes, I know it's only August and the weather is fab, but we have to start preparing for winter already. Hopefully we'll have another 8-10 weeks or so of really nice weather but you never really can be certain so it's always better to be prepared. We still have lots to do before the winter arrives but luckily autumn is usually quite mild here.

Our "To do" list goes something like this :-

  • Chop and stack firewood, remembering to keep the older, drier logs at the front
  • Finish off gable ends of house and roof tiles
  • Get barley, corn and maize milled for animal feed.
  • Thorough clean out of barn and stables
  • Re-attach central heating pump and re-fill the system
  • Defrost and clean the small freezer then re-fill
  • Plant trees and winter vegetables in October
  • Drain down boiler and water pipes in Bulgalow, check lagging on all other pipes and replace if needed
  • Clean out woodburner and flues thoroughly
I'm sure there are more things that could be added but I'm tired now so can't think! In between trying to sort all that out, keeping up with the everyday jobs and taking care of the animals we'll have to collect the rest of the animal feed that's been ordered, unload and stack the 120 bales of straw (when they arrive) and fit in a week off from other work when hubby's oldest son and his friends arrive for a holiday.

Today we collected and bagged 660 kilo's of barley, tomorrow it's bags of mixed grains for the chickens and over the next 2 weeks we'll have to collect and bag the maize and corn. We're fast running out of space but will find somewhere for it to go. For the animals we should have enough feed, hay and straw to manage through the winter and at the moment there's still enough grazing to keep them happy through the day.