New Year, new challenges

According to the calendar it’s been 3 months since I last posted anything but for me it’s been just over a month. I spent November and December in the UK so there was nothing for me to write about. I thought there wouldn’t have been much done when I got back, mainly because every time I looked at facebook Joe seemed to be at some party or get together 🙂 but I was wrong. He had managed to get the guttering done around the newly tiled roof, plumbed in the boiler in the bathroom and fitted the sink in the preserving room and had found time when the weather permitted to start work on the new path down to the animal sheds and new bases for the water containers to stand on. They have all been a bit low to get a watering can comfortably under them. I was also surprised to arrive home ( 29th December) to find xmas decorations up and a xmas cake, I do love Denise’s xmas cakes. I might have missed our anniversary, my birthday and xmas together but we had a lovely New years eve at a neighbours along with a bunch of friends.

The New Year didn’t set off to a good start, the first in a list of unfortunate events was the washing machine breaking down, not a problem in Summer but in sub zero temperatures it’s not much fun. A few phone calls and Joe managed to track down a washing machine repair man. I have to say the service was great, he arrived, found the fault and came back the next day with a new part and fitted it total cost 30 leva ( £15 ).

I had only been back a week when we had a fox attack our geese. Unfortunately our 2 female geese were injured in the attack ( not a scratch on our male) after assessing their injures it was obvious one had a broken wing which we bandaged and secured until we got her to the vets. But the wing was so badly broken that we had to put her down, ( she didn’t go to waste she is now in the freezer ) .Our other female goose just had minor injuries which we treated and she is doing well and is back with her male partner. A couple of weeks after the fox attack we had an egg bound duck, yet again a trip to the vets but she didn’t make it.

Then just this week Joe was putting the birds to bed when he heard running water in our barn. On further investigation we found a hole in the barn floor with water running under it. We immediately turned the water off. We couldn’t ( and still can’t) explain how water from a burst pipe that is a meter down was running only 10cm under the barn floor. The next shock came when we looked at the meter, this leak had used 530 cubic meters of water, to put that into perspective we use about 30 cubes a year. It must have been leaking for weeks but we hadn’t noticed any lack of water pressure in the house or wet patches in the garden.Before we started to dig we needed to secure one of the upright posts that hold the barn roof up because it was right next to the trench we were going to dig. So after a day of digging we finally found the pipe and eventually found the leak which was inconveniently under our path to the animal sheds, so we had to dig a tunnel under the path to put the new pipe in. We noticed that when the pipe had been installed, before we got the house, they hadn’t surrounded the pipe with sand to protect it but had just back filled the soil in, this soil contained broken bits of tile and rock and we think it was one of these that had punctured the pipe. The new pipe is now installed, we have put it on a bed of sand and covered it with a thick layer of sand to hopefully stop any further leaks and we now have water again.

After the fox attack on the geese we decided they needed a new predator proof home. Their old house was next the the wall, which allowed the fox to get over the wall and into their run. The geese were put in temporary accommodation until we could sort out a new home for them. The new house and run has been built in the orchard but away from the wall. This means that if we need to go out in an evening the dogs can get up and down the boundary wall so anything coming over the wall again will have to get past the dogs first. While Joe started sawing and planing wood for the house I cleared all the saplings and unwanted shrubs from the run which took quite a while but they are now in their new home. Whilst doing the new goose run we decided to also split the pekin ducks from the chickens with the hope that they might breed this year. While Joe was busy with the goose house I set to on a new home for the ducks. The area we chose had a broken old cement floor so my first job was to dig that up; under the cement was a very uneven limestone floor so that got dug up as well. The floor was levelled and a brick floor laid down. The area already had 3 walls, so it was just a case of latting the missing wall and making a door, which Joe quickly made up and there we had it, a new duck house.

We’ve managed to get most of the path cemented down to the animal runs, there’s still more to do but it is very weather dependant. All the limestone that has been dug up from the path and the duck run will eventually be used to make some permanent paths in the garden.

Last year before I headed off to the UK I decided to have a go at winter planting some peas and beans, as an experiment I covered half the bed with plastic and left half of it open to the elements. The plants under the plastic have done really well even though the plastic blew off one very cold night and they did suffer from being frozen but they have recovered well. In the area that was left uncovered I really thought nothing would grow but we do have some beans and peas that have survived the winter, only time will tell if they make it to spring.

We have decided this year to make more time for ourselves and so as a start to this plan we have started going to Bulgarian traditional dance classes twice a week. We are so far behind the rest of the class that the teacher has us go 30 minutes before the class starts so she can show us some of the steps before the main class starts, not sure if we will ever be any good at it but it is a great way to keep fit and hopefully will improve my ( lack of ) language  skills. Baba Marta is on the first of March and each year I say to myself I’m  going to make some martinitsas ( bracelets) but never get round to it. But this year I have made time to sit down with some embroidery thread and make some. I know think I’m doing OK with a basic design so in the next couple of weeks, time permitting, I hope to try some different ones.


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