THE ANNUAL VISIT

•June 14, 2013 • 11 Comments

Dave and Juliet arrived here in Bulgaria after a two day ride  from  Kas in Turkey.

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He’s ridden to Bulgaria on his trusty Yamaha XT660R.

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Next they’re heading off in to Romania and/or Macedonia.

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After lunch and a catch-up of a years worth of  gossip they have to head back to Veliko Tarnovo.

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Juliet’s helmet with the floppy ears attached is way cool!!

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Must try to take next years photos from a different angle or something, or better still, the Mrs. might let me have a day off so that I can visit some bike rallies, I wonder what bike he’ll ride up on next year :)

VISITORS FROM TURKEY

•June 16, 2012 • 18 Comments

A motorbike arrived at the gates the other day, Dave and Juliet from Turkey, he drove up from Kalkan in Turkey to Bulgaria in the car, they are staying at Dougs place near Veliko Tarnovo (VT.) and borrowed his girlfriends bike to ride around Bulgaria on. Doug is a legend amongst long distance riders and adventure riders, riding around the World twice plus many long distance rides, he now runs a bikers camp in Bulgaria near VT with his girlfriend Polly.

1996 Yamaha 660 Tenere.

I  love the twin headlights on the Tenere, just like the Africa Twin.

It was absolutely great to touch, feel and smell a motorbike again after an absence from bikes for a year now while the endless house renovations slowly lumber on, of course we had to sit on Polly’s bike and pose for photos.

I’ve “Virtually” known Dave via his blog (DickyB’s Turkish Delight) on the internet for probably 5 years or so now, it was great to finally meet up after all that time, Juliet is a fantastic painter, we  spent the whole afternoon chatting and Linda gave them a tour of the house (unfinished) then a tour of the barns (Unfinished) and a tour around the garden (Unfinished)

Before we knew it, the afternoon flew by and they headed back to VT.

The main gate is also unfinished :)

Heading back across country to Veliko Turnovo.

HOMEMADE CHEESE AND YOGURT

•June 3, 2012 • 18 Comments

An update first on our little farm, the two baby goats have been sold to market a couple of weeks ago and since then all the milk has been ours, she produces a constant two liters per day, but occasionally 2.5 liters.

Opinion is very much divided about pasteurizing Goat milk, since it doesn’t contain anywhere near the amount of harmful bacteria that cow and sheep milk contains, many say there’s no need to boil it. We’ve done both, sometimes we pasturise and sometimes we don’t, there’s no difference we can tell, so it’s  probably just one of those things you have to decide for yourself!!

FETA cheese is the easiest cheese to make so we started with that, also if it goes wrong and you have your temperatures to high it just turns in to RICOTTA cheese, so you have two chances with the same milk. The milk is heated to 37-38c then the Rennet is  added, about 5 drops per liter, stir in gently then leave under a cover for half an hour. Pour off the whey and scoop the cheese (Looks like Cottage cheese at this stage) in to a muslin bag, squeeze then hang the bag for and hour or two until all the remaining whey has dripped out.

Set the cheese in to a mold then you are supposed to leave it for a month to mature, but we eat it the next day, sometimes we’ve put garlic in the cheese or salt.

The whey isn’t wasted either, you can either boil it up for RICOTTA or use it for animal feed, we just use it for the dog,cats and chickens.

We’ve also made yogurt, heat to 40c and add two table spoons of live yogurt per liter, stir in gently then wrap up in a towel or insulate the pot for 8 – 12 hours to keep it warm, turns in to natural yogurt and then just add fruit or what ever takes your fancy.

We’ve also grown our very first string of garlic, since that’s been successful we’re going to plant much more this winter.

Garlic yogurt is one of my favorites, very nice on chips.

BUILDING A FIREPLACE

•May 11, 2012 • 22 Comments

At long last work began, and actually completed for once, on our temporary fireplace in the lounge. We considered all sorts of materials along the way but I really wanted it to be made of traditional materials, brick and stone, not just any brick or modern brick but old brick!!

The old stone slabs I found quite by accident in the chicken run buried under soil and chicken poo.

I had previously molded a concrete slab to act as a base, the stone was cemented on top with a single row of facing bricks.

After much asking around we finally managed to buy 330 old second hand bricks, they cost 10 stinkie each (4 pence) The difficult thing about working with old reclaimed bricks is that they are all slightly different sizes.

I liberated an old air vent from a friends rubbish pile, this will be the fresh air supply intake in the future, when I get around to it!!

Two metal strips to make a bridge over the air vent cover.

The brick laying was very slow work, I couldn’t find a pointing trowel anywhere so I just built it all using a wall paper scraper :)

The 14 x 14cm beam 4m long cost me 30 lev (12 Pounds) I’ve only used 1.5m on this fireplace the remainder will be used on a much bigger ingle nook type fireplace that I might get around too later in the year.

The chimney breast took me all day to make but is actually just layers of plasterboard sheet with the detailing also made from plasterboard.

Couple of layers of stain varnish.

Everything is now blended in to the back wall.

All finished, one old fireplace.

THE SECRET LIFE OF FARMERS

•April 25, 2012 • 14 Comments

Most people believe that farmers spend most of their time counting up their millions in EU subsidy’s and grants, then for fun at the weekends drive tractors as slow as possible down the narrowest road they can find just to hold traffic up. Being a farmer is actually a little more difficult than that, you have to watch your animals for one thing, and without the aid of a sun brolly!!

I wonder if there’s an EU grant for a sun brolly?

By early afternoon everyone seeks shade.

Time for some Female bonding..

..Life on the farm.

HOMEMADE GOAT MILKING STAND

•March 23, 2012 • 17 Comments

Never for a moment did I ever think before moving to Bulgaria that I would find myself chasing a goat around a field with my tape measure in hand with the classic Benny Hill chase tune playing in my head, when a goat doesn’t want to be measured they take quite a bit of catching, they’re surprisingly nimble and fast you know!!

Linda wanted a milking stand making, we looked on the internet for some photos and some ideas and came up with the following contraption,its made from standard sized planks and posts from the local wood yard, posts are 8×10 cm and planks are 2.5×10 cm and 2.5×16 cm with some 3x 4 cm roofing timber.

All the wood and screws etc came to about 35 Lev (15 GBP)

With just basic tools and some rudimentary measurements I started my epic wood butchery project, the length of the four posts was 130 cm.

The external width of the frame is 62 cm and the table height is 45 cm, the external length is 94 cm.

By the end of day one most of the frame was up but we needed to catch the goat once again to measure her neck, goats have very skinny necks it would appear, couldn’t believe what I was reading on the internet but it turned out to be correct, they’re necks are only three inches thick.

The length of the head scissors is 90 cm with a head slot cut in of  4 x 20 cm long.

At the end of the first day the frame, table and head clamp are finished.

Day two of  construction under the hot sun begins with a hinged ramp, the ramp is 80 cm long and 62 cm wide. I made the ramp hinged instead of rigid so it could be raised up to stop the goat kicking backwards once it was in position. Today the temperature was in the high twenties again, only five weeks ago it was -25c the seasons change very rapidly here!!

The feed box and some bracing were the last pieces to make,the top of the  feed box was 87 cm from the floor,  the contraption is starting to take on the look of  something from the French Revolution, so we have called it “Madam le Guillotine.” Ties for the goats legs can be placed on the four posts if necessary for a troublesome goat.

Linda modeling how a goat fits inside “Madam le Guillotine”, Linda was easier to catch and strangely  shares many similar measurements to a goat!!

All that’s left to do now is for Linda to spend a couple of days painting it!!

OUT ON A LAMB….

•March 3, 2012 • 22 Comments

Well its just one week today that the baby goats were born, we got off to a bumpy start but perhaps being thrown in at the deep end, head first with concrete blocks tied to you is maybe the best way to learn quickly!!

One of the goats wasn’t feeding by himself at first very well so we went to a mother and baby shop, mimed “Baby bottle for our little goat” The shop assistant found it very funny when Linda and I were miming goats complete with fingers sticking up on top of our heads for the horns and making “Baaa” sounds, must learn a bit of the language one day.

Mum and babies, one week old.

Its amazing just how quick animals can walk about from birth.

Puppies are cute, kittens are cute but baby goats are just seriously cute!!

We decided to let them out into their field today for the first time, Linda gave the chickens a talking too and told them not to frighten the babies!!

We thought at first that the chickens had come over to start some trouble, but they were just curious to get a good look at the new arrivals!!

Whilst I your gallant reporter got on with the important job of taking photos, Linda was mucking out all the stables and coops.

This area was the veggie plot but now will be sewn with Alfalfa grass and be for the goats.

Once the dogs had a good sniff of the goats they were happy and settled down, I would just point out to any animal lovers reading that at no time were the dogs in any danger!!

Goats like to play and climb, Linda sat contemplating how to make them swings and a slide.

Time for a quick feed then back to jumping and springing about.

Linda meanwhile had begun construction of a goat play ground.

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