Chopping, scratting and juicing

I keep meaning to write a blog post roughly every month, but yet again time has just flown by and I realise it now more than 2 months since my last post, so with the weather being a bit over cast and dull it’s an ideal time to get caught up on what we’ve been up to which has basically been chopping, ( wood and fruit ) scratting apples and juicing ( apples and quince).

As mentioned in our last post we were hoping to get the roof done on the main part of the house in August but this didn’t happen. Partly due to other commitments our roofer had and partly due to us having my daughter and her friend coming over for a couple of weeks. Work has now started and all though the roofers have been rained off a couple of times the weather has been kind to us and it should hopefully ( weather permitting ) be finished in the next week or so. It probably would have been finished by now if we didn’t have such a complicated roof structure, we have 6 hips and 6 valleys which means a lot of tile cutting. All the old tiles are getting cleaned up and stacked most of these will be getting reused on the summer kitchen next year. In the house we now have all the window and door curtain rails put back up along with the curtains ready for winter and even though it’s not that cold yet ( only had the fire on a couple of evenings) we have put all the winter rugs down in readiness. As we have learned in the past, the weather can go from mild to freezing in a couple of days.

We enjoy not having any immediate neighbours. The down side to this is that the garden next door is like a jungle and we had lots of trees and saplings that had grown so tall they were learning onto the roof of our barn and house. The other downside was that it made the back of our house very cool and shady which made it an ideal  habitat for mosquitoes so when I started to re-point the brickwork I was  getting eaten alive by them, so re-pointing came to a standstill until we could sort the trees out. Because the owners hadn’t maintained the trees we got permission to cut them  them back ourselves. While we were all ready in wood cutting mode we also tackled the pile of wood we had acquired over the last couple of years from broken tree limbs and general pruning, so this has finally all been cut up into firewood and kindling.

My daughter and her friend came over for a holiday at the beginning of September, they planned to have a weeks beach holiday in Varna on the black sea before coming to stay at our house for the second week. They rented an apartment in Varna which meant I could go and join them for a few days. We managed to fit in the museum, cathedral, Roman baths and the sea gardens, along with a bit of shopping and a couple of days on the beach. I have never been on for lying around on a beach but I have to say I had a great time just chilling and chatting with them both, along with the odd dip in the sea. I was rather nervous about them coming to stay at our house, after all rural Bulgaria is not for everyone, but they enjoyed it and better still my daughter is wanting to come back again next year.

Even though the garden has taken a back seat this year we still seem to have spend a lot of time processing food and alcohol. This year has been a great year for apples and since we both like cider we decided to put them to good use. We did make a batch of cider 2 years ago but only on a small scale, this year we have upped production to 110 liters, that’s a lot of scratting and pressing so we invested in an apple scratter and our neighbour ( also a cider drinker ) invested in a press which made processing a lot easier. So after a day of pressing with Dmitry and Andy lending a hand and advice we managed to produce the 110liters of juice for the cider. With the pulp we now have 100 litres of apple cider vinegar fermenting away. Along with the apples our quince tree finally decided to produce a decent amount of fruit, which was surprising considering earlier in the year one of the main limbs fell off and the weight of fruit has partly uprooted the tree. Over the next few days these are being made into quince cheese, chutney, quince jelly and cordial. We also had a bit of a stock take of our preserves and fruit and nuts stores. Firstly we decided to process all our old walnuts to make way for the new harvest, this was followed by the hazelnuts and then we went on to last years dried fruit. We now have plenty of cakes and flapjack to see us though out the winter. We also noticed we had run low on picked garlic and picked onions so they have been restocked along with pickled cherry tomatoes, just because we had a lot of them and our usual green tomato chutney. While I was pickling and chutneying Joe was fermenting, making sauerkraut and fermented gherkins.

The vegetable beds are now ready for winter. Along with our usual winter planting of garlic, spinach and spring onions, I decided to have a go at winter planting lettuce, peas and beans. So far everything is doing well only time will tell on how they survive the winter. The remaining beds that aren’t in use at the moment have been manured then covered with strips of the lino we took out of the living room, hallway and bedrooms to help keep the weeds down.




  13 comments for “Chopping, scratting and juicing

  1. Sandra harris
    October 22, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Superb achievements again , I love reading your blog . Looking forward to catching up with more news from Dmitry on a hike next week in Devon . Well done ! Love sandra

    • Julie
      October 22, 2018 at 7:20 pm

      I’m sure Dmitry will have plenty will have plenty of news for you. Hope the weather stays nice for your hike

  2. October 22, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Good to hear from you again Julie and like your daughter our sons came over to stay at our village house in September and although it was their first time in Bulgaria they had a whale of a time and will be back next season. Our house is now closed up winter but I’ll be returning on my own early next year to get builders in to make the basement habitable and get the garden planted up ready for the growing season but as we still have no heating in place and as I don’t drive all these activities will be a challenge. It appears that we will eventually living in Bulgaria fulltime as husband is now completely sold on the “good life” as long as we get an internet connection and a TV, but all in good time and as he’s much younger then me and he cares for his Mum as well as working it may be a while yet. Thanks for the paint tips for the basement floor it worked out well but I stopped painting when it became obvious that new wiring, insulating and plastering need to be completed before the floor work can continue. So hears to next year and a couple of months n BG by myself. Katt

    • Julie
      October 23, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      It’s good to know you are happy with your painted floor. I know it is not always possible but I try to use the main rule of decorating which is to start at the ceiling and work down. Any time I have ignored this rule it always results in a lot extra work. I hope you both enjoy the good life as much as we do when you finally get here, it can be a lot of work at times but very rewarding.

      • October 26, 2018 at 1:14 pm

        I know Julie that’s why I stopped painting the floor because there’s so much dirty work to be done it would have been a waste of time and money however work will recommence as soon as the electrics and plastering is done,

  3. Sally
    October 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    In awe at your achievements as ever Julie and Joe. The new roof looks terrific, but it is the sheer scale of your food and alcohol production that leaves me staggered as to your energy levels!!! So glad your daughter could visit! By the way, there was an interesting documentary recently about the number of Brits that are choosing to move to Bulgaria instead of the more familiar Spain. Look what you have started!
    PS if you like it, Marmite is great for repelling the dreaded mosquitoes (eating it I mean!!) or take Vit B tablets.

    • Julie
      October 29, 2018 at 8:32 am

      Thanks Sally, we need all the alcohol to see us through the long winter months 🙂 I hate marmite, but do take vitamin B1 which seems to help with the insect bites only problem is I can’t get it here so when we have visitors I get them to bring me some. I’d be interested to watch the programme you mentioned if you can remember the name, but not to worry if you can’t.

  4. Anonymous
    November 30, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Greetings Julie , I’ve been reading all Joes older posts (because I’m itching to get back to our village house so re-reading everything )and just want to know did you stick with the composting toilets or not?

    • Joe
      November 30, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Hi, Joe here. Yes, 4 1/2 years later we still have our composting toilet, pretty much as we first designed them. We may remake them smaller in a few years, as the barrels will be too heavy to lift and empty easily when we get older.

      Regards, Joe

      • Kath
        November 30, 2018 at 5:26 pm

        Thanks for your quick reply Joe. My fella, being a lot younger than me wouldn’t even consider a house unless it had an inside bathroom so that’s what we’ve got however it took me ages to work out why the soil pipe ran down from upstairs through the basement (on the north wall) until I realised that if it was outside it would freeze up in the winter. When I return hopefully in March next year we hope to get builders in so we can fully use the basement and have upstairs as sleeping quarters but are currently at loggerheads because he wants an internal staircase and I think that if we do have this work done it would need to be closed in to stop the heat rising. Ah well worse problems to have. Our garden is small compared to yours with loads of fruit tree’s I’m thinking of starting a veg patch up on my return but have no idea what to plant as spuds and tomato’s can be bought cheaply from stalls in the village centre.

  5. Kath
    December 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Greetings to you both, I find that when I’m missing our Bulgarian home I take time out to read about what you’ve been up to and it cheers me up and gets me thinking about work needed to be done at our place, so another couple of questions.
    We had our basement ceiling sprayed to get rid of wood worm now I read that you’ve treated your ceiling with linseed oil, I suppose that I should de the same when I return on my own in early March so what is the name for linseed in Bulgarian ? Armed with this I’ll be able to get the bus to the local DIY store in the town to purchase it.
    Second question would our Mayor know who I can get fire wood from, it would have to be ready cut as I have no means of cutting it and as I don’t have any woodburners at the moment I thought that I’d get some to store and if necessary buy a stove (again from the local DIY store) if I cannot manage with a hot water bottle in March.
    While I’m here may I wish you both a Very Happy Christmas and a productive New Year.

    • Julie
      January 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Kath, sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I’ve been away for 2 months in the UK and not long been back home. Linseed oil does not kill off the woodwom or other critters, but it does feed the wood and stops it drying out and it makes the wood look nicer by bringing out the grain and colour of the wood. It is called bezeer za dervo in bulgarian. We can get wood via our mayor but we have to put the order in in March and it arrives sometime between May and July it is the cheapest way to buy it but it does arrive in large lengths that then needs chainsawed and chopped. We can also buy wood that has all ready been sawn and roughly chopped from our nearest town, the price of this wood varies though out the year and we tend to find it cheapest in about July. All though it is a lot dearer than the village wood it is a lot less work. As for buying wood at this time of year I don’t know how much it would be but you will be paying top price for it. If you find it too cold in March ( can be chilly of an evening) you could always get a calour gas fire to put you on.
      Hope we don’t have to much snow when you get here.

      • February 6, 2019 at 9:32 am

        Thanks for the advice Julie, I hope that you had a good time back in the UK. Happy New Year what are you up to now?

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