Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Streets paved with gold, well maize actually

Windfalls and wild gatherings

Autumn always reminds me of getting ready for something.....the days here are still warm and sunny (except for today which is rainy) and the light has changed, it's even bluer, except for today 'cos it's raining.
The nights are a bit chilly and fires have been lit.
Gathering stuff from the wilds is our favourite thing to do, storing or preserving and putting to bed. Lots of chestnuts being eaten by the fire, cooked up apples and quinces with custard! risottos of wild mushrooms...all sounds very English don't it?
There is still plenty of work to be done, the brassicas are in for the winter, green manures coming up, broad beans and onions and garlic planted. Huge bonfire has been made but not lit. Still waiting for the peppers, aubergines and tomatoes to finish so I can tidy them away......

Friday, 18 September 2009

and then there were three......

Unfortunately we had to cull one of the chickens, she had suddenly become very poorly and couldn't breathe, we tried lots of things to help her, including poking a feather covered in oil down her throat. I spent hours on-line trying to find out what could be wrong with her and lost sleep over the whole thing.
I now have a wealth of knowledge about preventative measures you can take to keep your chickens well, but when it comes to cures there are really only two options, well three actually, make them comfy and see if they get better on their own, take them to a vet and three put them out of their misery.
We tried the first option, the second option got taken out of the whole process as they only cost €8 each, and we couldn't justify spending more than that on them in their entire lives, esp. as I can't afford to go to a physio about my knee, so the third option it was.

Harvest festival

thanks to all who helped carry the pumpkins up to the truck and then helped eat huge pumpkin curry

Monday, 14 September 2009

It's raining it's pouring

Outside our house yesterday...........

Mega Arroz Doce

The last of our summer events took place here yesterday.
An enormous 3 meter wide pot was bought in from Lisboa and Intermarche supplied the ingredients, the local spoonmaker made the spoons and the cooks from the Centro cooked the pudding. A crazy idea but it worked. A fantastic day was had by all, the roads of Benfeita were closed off, people came from all over to watch and eat. Some of the local artisans had been asked to set up stalls, including Rick who much to the bemusement of the locals, stood and made a paddle using an axe! The event marked the end of the cafe and the end of the summer. Loud thunder threatened us all day, with a few spots of rain here and there and quite literally, as everything was winding down and the pudding had been eaten, an enormous gust of wind blew in, sending the sheet music for the band that were playing and giant Lime leaves, everywhere. The heavens properly opened for the first time in months and the village was reduced to a river of mud in a matter of minutes, lightning lit up the sky and thunder so loud you'd have thought the mountains were collapsing around us.
A very dramatic end to the whole day and the whole summer. There is a distinct chill in the air today, Autumn has arrived..........

Monday, 7 September 2009

Accidents will happen

Completely unrelated to most of the things I write about, for those of you that are following the blog 'cos you know us, will know that I like to horse ride. I was invited sometime ago to ride out with some new friends, I've tried to go on a weekly basis but haven't always been able to. Anyway I have recently been quizzing my friend on her horse whispering knowledge and we decided last week that that's what we'd do.
Having no need for my hat as we would be working on the ground, I left it up at the house. We had a great time with the horses, I learnt alot and felt that I had generally had a good first experience with all three horses. At the end of the session, we thought it might be nice for me to see what I could do on Maurice. Bearing in mind he had no saddle or reins and I no hat. I did fleetingly think "oh, but I haven't go my hat on" and then promptly got a leg up. Maurice started moving forward and suddenly decided to turn towards the only tree in the yard, or rather the only dead tree in the yard. Now I've been riding horses off and on for 40 years, I have ridden bareback before, but I have never ridden bareback, bridleless and hatless. As we approached the dead tree, the only branch hanging off the tree was looming and in my head I was saying duck, duck and my body did something completely ridiculous, I clung on to the branch, which didn't budge the horse continued forward, I didn't let go of branch (why?) and promptly fell off the back of Maurice. I cut my head open first and then landed very badly on both knees. Anyway, the upshot is that obviously I feel very silly, I was lucky not to have hurt myself more, I drove home with blood/egg on my face and have been hauled up in the house, hobbling around ever since. Will I continue to ride, of course I will.
I have put this link here so for those of you interested in bareback, bridleless riding, you can see how it should be done

Sunny side up

As I have just mentioned the cupboards are full, the freezer is full and I'm picking about 5 kilos of tomatoes a day so Rick made a drying rack so we can sun-dry stuff. We ran out of space on the first one, so today he built another one.
We're also drying figs; plums and chillies. They take up alot less room and there's very little work involved and no money!!

Chilli Jam

Cupboards are groaning with chutneys, pickles etc and am now having to ask the ladies of the village for jam jars. This is an all time favourite as is great with so much and not too hot so most people can stand it

Fig tart

As you can see I got a bit bored of laying the figs in a nice orderly way!! still tastes good though

Wind tunnel

The wind and the sun between them have destroyed the plastic on the poly tunnel, so I've decided to rip it all off and make it something else. We didn't really need all that space to propogate and unless I want to still be eating tomatoes in 3 months there's not alot I can't grow outside. Reluctant to remove the whole thing as may come in handy I'll grow stuff up and around it and hopefully create some shade for next summer.