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.

 

 

 

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