Tuesday 24 June 2014

The Kitchen Project moves on a bit......

And this is my temporary kitchen,
looking like a shed,
all in a general muddle although I do try to make order.
Do you see the bowl on the table in the front of the photo?
That is my washing up area.
Do you see the red bowl beside it?
That is my drainer.
The hot water I get from the sink in the bathroom,
which is just beside me.

I have not had a proper sink for six years.
I have probably said this before.
I am not moaning,
Just saying.

here is the 'proper' kitchen,
with the rat-run holes between the walls and the ceiling
now all filled up.
which I am going to start painting,
when I have done other things....

...and here is Lester filling in a mousehole,
the mouse having given away its hidey hole,
when he was starting to work on this area of the kitchen,
which is where the cookers are going.
out of the wall the little mouse jumped,
which the dogs enjoyed,
nothing like a mouse chase to perk the energies up.
The concrete plinth that Lester is sitting on
 is where the Rayburn is going to go.

..... and here is the other cooker,
it is a SMEG,
that is going on the wall behind it.
That came from Italy. 
The Rayburn came from the UK.
Crikey!!! Global cookers!!!!


....and this is what Lester managed to do today,
which is to start building the open sided hut in which the cookers are to go:
two short half height walls at either end of the L shape,
and the block brick wall to cover the up and down mountainous landscape
of a wall which once had the old bread oven in it.

The kitchen when we arrived in 2008

...it's coming along!!!

Weeding this morning in the veg plot for Lester,
and while he did that 
 I made seven pots of peach jam,
and eleven pots of apricot jam from the fruit
he brought into the house from the trees he planted
when we first came here.
He felt as proud as anything when he walked in through the door with the harvest.

Lunch was homemade sausage meat and egg pie
( DIY sausage meat from the big girl pig we slaughtered a while back,
the eggs were from our hens, and the butter for the pastry was
from the cream of our cow)
I failed on the veggies for lunch though,
and we had chips!
But I did make DIY baked beans:
( can of cooked haricot beans, rinsed, then put into a pot with a little cold water in the bottom to stop the beans from burning, added a dollop of mustard, and huge squirting of Heinz tomato ketchup, then heated everything up. Tastes the same as a 'proper' tin of Heinz baked beans, but are a fraction of the price that tins of Heinz beans cost here in France).
Meanwhile, into the All American Canner went a frozen leg of male goat,
and that will be for the dogs to eat over the next couple of days.

.....but then the stormy weather did me in,
and I went to bed for the afternoon,
and that is when Lester carried on with the wall in the kitchen.
He is working very hard for us at the moment,
and I feel privileged to have him walking in stride beside me.

Hope you have someone who walks beside you as well,
sometimes irritating you because none of us are perfect,
but most times helping to pick you up when  you stumble.

Hope you are not as zapped as I am if you are currently having day after day of stormy weather!

Monday 23 June 2014

Nudey sheep, bottled cherries, & left overs

And here are the overcoats of the sheep,
now removed by the shearer man, 
who sported a tennis player type white headband around his forehead,
which did not look quite in keeping with his swarthy nut brown-ness,
but he has been and gone for another year.

At the moment I do not know what I am going to make with my pile of spun wool,
no doubt inspiration will land upon me one day.
Last years fleece got too much dust from the house on it,
so became unspinnable.
Looking forward to spinning again,
love the sweet smell of the wool,
and the oiliness of the lanolin on my hands,
feels very homesteady.

The sheep girls were very chatty with each other out in the field today, 
I think they must have felt very relieved to get those woollen coats off.

The cherries,
they have all been picked, 
although most of them were a bit tatty around the ears,
I think it was because we had difficult weather for them,
anyways, here are the last of them having a sunbathe to redden them up.

Eleven jars of cherries now in the larder.
Cherries jar up very well,
far better than eating them straight off the tree,
and suffering a runny tum afterwards.

So what to do with a pot of lamb and vegetable curry,
which was left over from lunch.
I could: 1) give it to the pigs / dogs / chickens.
2) Have it for supper.
3) Save it for lunch the next day.
4) Invent another meal with it.

Left overs, this is what the curry had become, something to get finished up.

So what I did was put it into a canning jar,
so we could have it when I had no time to cook.
In other words, use it as a fast food meal in the future.
Into a jar it went, just one jar though,
I could have put it into two smaller jars,
but thought that there was no need to be so frugal.

....then into my precious friend of a canner,

....et voila! Dinner for another day. 

My halo feels quite bright and shiny,
hope yours does tooooooo!!!!!

Wednesday 18 June 2014

A lemon, and the light changes

The light changed today, and the shadows started lengthening. There is also a chill in the air, warning us that in a few months time we shall need the wood burning Rayburn alight, which would be a bit difficult to do because it is still in the hallway, waiting to be put into place. Still, there is a warning in the tonight that time is passing and that the man of the house needs to get a move on if we are not to have another cold winter, which I don't mind having, but I think that six winters of no heating really is enough to endure. 

I was surprised that the light changed today, and that the brightness of the early half of the year is now over, and that the warm glow of late summer has already arrived, and it not yet being half way through the year. And the grass on the fields is taking on an August look, rather than a late June look. Still, we shall have days and days of warm weather ahead, of that I am certain. 

Could do with a drop of rain though. When I was in the UK I dreaded seeing clouds in the sky, and got quite depressed when it rained, but here we yearn for rain, not loads and loads of it, but just a few drops here and there during the summer to help the growing things along. Speaking of which, I have conquered the flea beetles on the brassicas, and although not looking particularly attractive due to the many, many, holes which now festoon their leaves, (and you should see the kale - it looks even worse) they are thriving. We also have tomatoes on the way, which is early, or perhaps it is the tilling of the soil which Lester has been doing on his mini tractor which has pushed them on. But the peppers, chilli plants, and aubergines are all looking a bit sorry for themselves although do have flowers starting to appear. 

And look at what I found on the floor of the half barn:

.....our first lemon, grown on this little plant:

....which is six years old, bought when we were living in the caravans, so had to endure all that we endured except that we did not get frost bite like that little plant did, almost frozzled to death it was, and yet it survived. It is looking straggly because it does not get enough light, but we can't put it outside because the chickens and geese might have a go at it, so it has to wait a while before it can get all the light it needs. It always has flowers somewhere on its branches, and would have more lemons but the dogs tend to keep knocking them off when they are hunting flies which buzz around the windows. 

This lemon was put into a lemon and coconut cake. There is another lemon coming along at the top of the little plant, which keeps trying to be part of the self sufficiency team here, even though it struggles, bless it. 

So, the light has changed. Not to worry, the light changes back to its early year brightness just before the end of the year, and that is when we need it to do so because it will help bolster our spirits just before the wet season hits us, and the inevitable flooding starts. 

Bye for now. Am off to see how Lester is doing on the veg patch, which he has been working on all day. It is looking very tidy now. Plus he mowed the paths, nearly mowing the feathers off the young cockerel boy as he wandered aimlessly along with his little gang of henling girls, none of them paying any attention to the machine which was coming up behind them. All escaped. Just. It was not as if Lester was intending to despatch them, just that he thought that they would get out of the way quicker than what they did. 

Another hen lost to the fox, with a scattering of feathers telling us that this had happened. Good job that Lester did not run over those henling girls, as we shall be need them to replace those which have gone down the throat of the foxes. 

Ho hum, and off I go. 

Sending blessings to you, 


Thursday 12 June 2014

Have you seen the shearer man?

Just a loose request really, but have you seen the shearer man? The tall one, very swarthy and gypsy looking, lean as a plank, open shirted, trousers of a sort of leather, and often draped in drips of sweat. Would you have seen him about? If so, would you ask him to come a-calling, only our girls are desperately needing seeing to, and if they aren't done soon they are likely to start fainting all over the place, and maybe even expire. It's not nice to have a big thick coat on when the temperatures are heading upwards. 

It has been the normal thing that the shearer man just turns up and shears them. It is a bit of a scramble when he does this, because he never gives us warning, just comes. For four years this has happened, but in May. It is now the middle of June. It has become urgent that those fleeces are removed. So now it probably looks like we are going to have to do them ourselves. Ooooeerrrr! It's bad enough trimming Boolie's thick coat. At least he doesn't wriggle about, not like the sheep do, although they do sit quite resigned once they are positioned on their bottoms. Am now researching shearing equipment on the web. Hope the shearer man comes soon though, not sure we are up to getting fifteen sheep sheared, plus their hooves cut, plus each one being dosed with wormer. 

And the band? We rocked it!!!!!! But not in the manner of a super duper rock group at Wembley Stadium, just five friends having their first little gig at a local village venue. We played for 45 minutes. Some of it was good, some not quite so good, but we did alright, better than I thought  we would. We played to over a hundred people, who listened for some of the time, didn't for some of the time (well they were eating their lunch!), clapped and joined in for some of the time, and generally seemed to enjoy our music.

As for my three songs, with no amplification as yet, my voice did not carry very well, nor did the sound of my keyboard. This was mentioned by some friends sitting next to the stage and hissed at me to turn up the volume, which I couldn't do because I was at full stretch anyway. Trouble is that my keyboard speakers are directed upwards, not outwards, so the heavens could hear me but not anyone sitting in front. Not to worry, I did my best, but thought that perhaps I would forgo the last song. But no, I found myself intent on being heard at least for one song, so I stood up, kept one finger on the start note for each verse so I didn't go out of tune, and belted the song out. Everyone was talking when I started but by the end of the first verse all were listening. 

I do not regard myself as having a good singing voice, but I filled that space. I don't know how I do this, It just happens, but never when singing by myself or in front of friends, always when I am up in front of a large gathering. It is as my voice comes from somewhere else, belongs to someone else, and I cannot own the sound it makes. But the best thing is, that Lester stood up alongside me as well, and played his mandolin in accompaniment. Team work, that's what it was, and for that I feel very blessed.

Not so hot on the teamwork are certain tasks which are being required out in the veg plot, such as the daily check on the brassicas to see what lovely little butterfly has laid her eggs on them, or how many flea beatles are in residence on the leaves. It is a tiring task, requiring close inspection, and squirting of soapy water should any result be found. I am fighting a losing battle, but I shall keep on fighting and perhaps will end up with at least one meal out of the lots of plants which are currently under attack. I get this job because I have more patience. Lester, on the other hand, does the close weeding. He seems to have the patience to poke about in the seedlings to get the weeds removed. He could do with more of my involvement with this. I could do with more involvement with the insects. 

Lots of biting flies about now. This year is one humdinger of a year for insects wanting to have a munch on us. With two warm and wet winters behind us the local population of insects must surely be at its highest peak for years. 

So, hoping the shearer man comes along as we have just looked at the price of the shearing clippers. Ouch! 

Hope all is well with you, and that you have some good teamwork in your life.


Sunday 8 June 2014

Lester cleans up, and we have a practice.

The snake: (continued from yesterday's post).
That pile of fence posts into which the snake had gone, and which had been cluttering up the courtyard since they were rescued from the flood waters last year, have been moved. I have been wanting that untidy pile to be shifted for a long time, and it took the fright of the snake to get Lester to get the job done. 
So in the foreground is the where the pile was, and in the background, the doors to the half barn, which is where we sleep. The snake was over by the step. If it had been of a mind to do so, it would have been quicker for it to have taken shelter inside the barn rather than slither the over to the wood pile. 

Apparently the snake was a whip snake, and non poisonous. Lester said that it still gave him a fright, and that he didn't care what sort of snake it was, it was horrid (or words to that effect).

Anyway, a pile of stuff got shifted out of the courtyard, which is a good thing. The snake is probably still in the courtyard though. We are being watchful.

All the chickens went up the tree last night, and it took ages for Lester to get them down again. He thought that the snake was probably in their hut, and that they had taken fright. But he manhandled them back into the hut. We don't want to lose any more hens to the foxes. 

Went to church this morning in Mazeres, a little village just down the lane. I play my keyboard so the people can sing to live music rather than taped. It is an English service, held once a month. I don't join in with the words of the service, but use the time in between the hymns to go into a zone of calmness. Lester says that he has been watching internet videos about the way that gardening, particularly veggie gardening, can also put one 'into the zone'. He says that he wants to achieve this state of being. A friend asked if those gardeners were growing any particular type of veggie, such as 'pot', which would account for them being 'in the zone'. Lester said that he thought not, but would investigate further, but not by 'doing' pot, but by re-watching the vids. I await with interest the outcome. Lester says it is the hard work of veg plotting that results in the zone arriving. I await with interest to see how long the zone takes to arrive for him. 

Just had a long practice on the keyboard. Finally got Lester to have a practice with me,  because we have a little gig coming up tomorrow afternoon, and we really do need to get some tunes into a better state of being. We are playing at Mazeres village fete, during the community lunch, which should be accompanied by plenty of wine. That should help everyone to loosen up. We are also having the lunch. So we should also be loosened up. Which should improve our playing enormously. I hope. There is, I feel, still much room for improvement.

Have invested in band equipment though.... speakers, a mixer, and microphones. It would seem that the band is to go forward, no matter how well, or not, that we do tomorrow. 

I am singing three songs. I have never sung solo before, unless it has been with a choir, and then it has only been a line here and there. I am singing, but also playing the keyboard at the same time. My tummy already feels nervous. But I do have this deep rooted amazement that I am doing this at the age of 67. 
I think it is nice to be amazed by the antics one gets up to. 
I think it is nice to surprise one's self. 
I think it is fabbo to live a life which is taking on a vaguely eccentric tone.

Hope you are still able to surprise yourself by being yourself.


PS. Dead mice at the bottom of the laundry basket, which have hitherto gone un-noticed, provides the elusive, much thought about, reason as to why one's undies waiting to be washed have suddenly taken on an unusually exceptional pong. 
The dead mice was found.
It had been dead quite some time. 
The pong had been going of for quite some time as well.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Lester has a fright!

It is not normal for Lester to have a fright. But he did. It was the snake that did it. And it was not out in the grass, where you would expect a snake to be. And had he not recently taken precautions about this very same thing happening by cutting paths through the long grass so we could walk without snakes running over our toes. No, this one was not out in the long grass at all. Nor was it rolling along over the newly cut paths. This was on the stones. Of the courtyard. Just by the doors to the half barn. Ready to roll across unsuspecting toes, which it almost managed to do, but was thwarted by the toes of Lester being encased in sturdy thick socks, which was a good thing. It would not have been nice to have had a snake hanging from Lester's foot. 

Lester was quite disturbed, as would anyone, especially because he was en route to his favourite patch of ground to do a bit of 'natural' watering, and had left it a wee bit too late so was quite pressed and needing to do some urgent action. One foot outside the door. The other foot outside the door. Hey presto. One snake slithers past within an inch of his next step. A big snake, he said, huge, and 'this long'. 


Into the wood pile, he said it had gone. 

....so on a snake hunt he went.....

.....but changed his mind after lifting one piece of wood off the pile. It was not a snake hunting day, he decided. Best to leave that for another day. 

Indoors we all went. 

Then a while afterwards, the exact same scenario was repeated. Loo stop needed. Quicker to go water the courtyard that trundle through the house. One foot outside. Two feet outside. Snake zooms across his path, within inches of his feet, going from where it was to where it was going, which was in the log pile again. 

OOOooeeerrrrrr!!! It would seem that our menagerie is increasing!

For Lester's parents......(his father is very ill)

...and one of the four olive trees in pots alongside the front of the house,
and covered in blossom. 
Looks like I shall have to investigate how to harvest olives and what to do with them afterwards!

Hope you all have a good weekend. Vx