Friday, 28 July 2017

MAYBE I SHOULD BATHE IN MILK ..........

14th July
Only 43C today ....
4L of milk today, most ever!
Into Penamacor (BP check).
We watered, weeded and picked ......
Di is back in the UK, so we invited Chris for a couple of beers (three at the most) at bar do clube - we never learn! Seven beers later we stumbled home!!!!
So much for me making cheese this evening!
Then we bobbed around in the pool for a couple of hours ........

15th July
I had no choice but to make cheese today as we had 16L of milk filling the fridge and every available vessel (and that was before I milked this morning!

10L made into Halloumi and 6L trying another recipe for Mozzarella!
12 hours later, I have a big jar of Halloumi (it works nearly everytime now ) and several balls of Mozzarella (still rather rubbery) and only 4L of milk (today milking) in the fridge (tomorrow it'll be 8L).
We did have a couple of hours off when we went to visit Sarah & Greg (unfortunately Greg was working, so not at home). We've invited them to dinner Thursday evening.

16th July
Only 43C today!
Another 4L milk ......
A huge group of us went to the Idanha barragem for a picnic lunch - it was a fabulous afternoon, lots of bobbing around in the water!
We picked our first two melons today (Gala), slightly under ripe but very sweet and juicy.

17th July
40C (it's cooling down!!!).
And another 4L of milk ........
The morning was lost speaking to solicitors and writing letters (boring stuff). While we were on the phone Brett was jiggling around playing with his shorts; after the call he dropped his shorts and a centipede dropped out (I didn't see it). We have these big centipedes here (Scolopendra cingulata, also known as Megarian banded centipede, or the Mediterranean banded centipede), it has a rather nasty bite (and can cause anaphylactic shock)- fortunately Brett didn't react.
It's the time of year when harvesting produce gets boring! There's just so much to pick; then we have to eat or process it. Apart from basics like salt, pepper, sugar/honey, flour, rice, pasta etc every meal is prepare from ingredients we've grown/raised. We are eating pretty much a vegan/vegetarian diet atm (very occasionally we eat meat to make room in the freezer!). But I shouldn't moan, we came here to be self sufficient and we're more or less achieving it (it's just bloody hard, continuous, work!).
Anyway just finished dinner and we're off to the pool with a couple of beers!!!!

18th July
We are no longer using any shop bought milk but we still had 11L of goat's milk in the fridge. So today I made (a very long winded) cheddar, took me all day.
Brett harvested carrots and beetroot.
The carrots went into a tub of damp sand and the beetroot cooked for pickling.

19th July
A bit cooler today, only 31C - I can cope with this.
Pickled beetroot made.
Sundried tomatoes started.
Goat's milk yoghurt sieved to thicken.
More melons picked (and tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and cabbage).

20th July
Greg & Sarah are coming to dinner tonight, so I spent all day cooking and cleaning.
Everything for dinner is from the quinta. Starter; A meze of Presunto ham, mozzarella, melon (watermelon and Gala) and cherry tomatoes. Main: Roast chicken, smashed potatoes, ratatouille, lemon glazed carrots. Puddin': Creme caramel (made with goat's milk).
Brett harvested the potatoes, not a particularly good yield - as he said if we needed to grow potatoes to survive we'd be dead! We get blight, always have, it was here when we came - we thought we'd avoid it in a hot, dry climate.

21st July
Happy Birthday Saskia xxx
We had a good evening, sitting out on the decking; eating, drinking and talking. We didn't get to bed until gone 1.00.
Today's cheese is Creamy Feta (slow ferment method), it has to ferment at room temperature for 24 hours - I've put it in the darkest corner of the kitchen to keep it as cool as possible.
Brett is really into vegetable gardening this year and it shows, far less weeds than in past years.
Claire brought us an amazing book on fermentation (The Art of Fermentation, Sander Ellix Katz); today I prepared a bucketful of tomatoes to make Conserva Cruda Di Pomodoro (Fermented Tomato Conserve).

22nd July
Every other day we thoroughly water our vegetables (the day in between we water our field of maize) and harvest all our ripe produce - today's offering: a big bucket of courgettes, tomatoes and peppers (more work for me processing this lot).
1.5L milk out in the heat, making yoghurt; it's not as creamy as Greek yoghurt, but I can make it thick by straining out some of the whey AND it's free!
24 hours later and the Feta looks as if it's going to work! Last time I used this method (slow ferment) I used a buttermilk culture (mesophilic) as my starter and it didn't work; instead of the whey fermenting and the curds sinking, the curds fermented and floated (it wasn't wasted, the pigs liked it!). This time I used active whey as my starter, saved from making the cheddar, and I have lovely soft sunken curds (which now have to drain in mould for 24 hours). This means I can now experiment with making aged Chevre.
The cheddar has had two days air drying next stage was cloth wrapping it with butter muslin (coconut oil was used to hold it together - traditionally this would have been lard). Now it'll mature for a few weeks (unfortunately in the fridge as we have no cellar or cool areas).
More tomatoes sundrying; we've nearly finished the seven big bags I made last year. Mainly blitzed up with olive oil to make a fabulous paste; great as the sauce for pizza,on toasted bread as part of a meze or simply used as flavouring in sauces/soups).
This evening we are going to the local produce festa in Penamacor, it was brilliant last year. However as the time to go out gets nearer we're becoming less and less enthusiastic.

23rd July
We went to the festa last night and it was disappointing. Nowhere near as much going on as last year, not that many people, the stalls were 'same old, same old'. We ate from a food stall (Brett had Leito cooked in bread, I had pizza), it was ok, but Brett still felt hungry. So we went to JCJ's (Brett had a burger and we shared some chips). Then we went home.
Jelisa is not up to par; she stood on the milking table not eating and spitting out her cud! She could be on heat (it doesn't feel like heat) or she could have eaten something that disagrees with her.
My Conserva Cruda Di Pomodoro has a white mould on it (it's supposed too!) I'm so excited.
Today I made a fermented salsa (tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper, active whey and salt). It'll be ready in a few days.
The feta cheese is out of the mould and air drying for 24 hours. And I'm trying to make the slow Mozzarella again (using whey as my starter). These slow ferment recipes take days to process (but I'm not using any chemicals just natural organisms), fortunately at lot of the time is just hanging around.
Top (L to R): sundries tomatoes, yoghurt, Conserva Cruda Di Pomodoro
Bottom: sausages, mozzarella, feta
A big fire, of signifigance, between us and Escalos de Cima .........

24th July
Happy Birthday Claire! Xxx
Jelisa is back to normal, apart from a litre less milk (she obviously didn't eat much yesterday).
Mozzarella is still rubbery - I think I'll give up try g to make it
Mark is over for a flying visit, so he came to dinner and stayed overnight.

25th July
The heat is coming back! And so are the wildfires - they're in Castelo Branco region this time ......

26th
The Conserva Cruda Di Pomodoro was ready for the next step; removing the skins and seeds, then straining through cheese cloth - well my mouli sieve didn't work, a metal sieve was not much better, I ended up using the juicer (which is crap) and the amount left is pitiful!
Back to cheese making experiments; today I started an aged Chevre, Crottin (translation from French apparently is little turd!). It has to ferment for a couple of days, until a white mould grows on it (unfortunately room temperature here is rather hot).

27th July
And this morning my curds are floating, which means they have yeast fermenting away in them - I'm 100% sure it's the temperature (perfect temp for bread making), it will have to go to the pigs .....
So we decided to have a day off and go to the barragem. We left the quinta, drove along the track to the village and there's a HUGE boulder in the middle of the road,
no way around it (thank goodness we weren't fleeing from a fire!). We had to back up, go back to the house for crow bar, shovel and rope. Whilst we were moving it Joao & Hilda turned up - they thought we'd crashed the car.
LOST IN TRANSLATION: We told them we were off to Meimao (and Meimoa to eat); he was saying (in Portuguese) the 'soupa de pedra' was good, then he looked at his watch and seemed to be saying come and quickly have some soup with us ...... we said "We don't understand", but he was bring his fingers to his lips (eat food), pointing towards his house, saying "rapido" - so we said "ok" (couldn't think what else to say!). Then, as we drove to their house, we realised/decided he said 'go quickly they start serving at 12.00' (or words to the effect). Oh dear, our Portuguese 'nao es bon!'.
This evening we harvested half our black eyed beans.
Beans before harvest

Thursday, 13 July 2017

SUMMERTIME, but the living's not easy .......

2nd July
We spent all morning in the vegetable garden - weeding, watering, harvesting (beans, onions, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes, aubergine .........). For their first time ever we have managed to grow melons, the only problem is we don't know when to pick them!
Wow, my UK phone costs 40p/minute to ring anywhere in Europe (it used to cost 4p before roaming charges were dropped) and my Portuguese phone costs me 50c/minute to ring UK - I need to find a better deal.
This afternoon was spent making cheese (Halloumi). This self sufficiency lark is very time consuming!
Look a
Flippin' heck, I caught Brett sneaking out of the house with apple cider vinegar (bought, therefore expensive, as I have run out of homemade); he was going to use it to clean the car's windows!!!!! I 'squawked', rescued the ACV and gave him white vinegar from my studio (he refused to try my homemade red wine vinegar!).
And then he went to give the beetroot leaves, which I had washing in a bucket of water, to the pigs - they were earmarked for the curry!

3rd July
Wendy & Kevin gave us some plums, I made jam ....
Wildfire between our village and the next this evening (21 fire engines, 5 planes, 64 people); out now (phew!).

4th July
Every other day our mornings are full ......
Get up
Animals out and fed
Milk goats (3L today)
Breakfast
Weeding, watering and harvesting
Feeding goats, sheep and pigs with the weeds
Back to the house (for a well earned drink) ....... it's 12.30!!!!!
Vegetarian lunch, mostly from the quinta: carrot dip, crisps (bought), pickled cabbage/sauerkraut, goat cheese; actually Brett's wasn't veggie, he had sausage rolls (our pork).
Vegetarian dinner, ALL from the quinta: Saganaki cheese (well our version - fried Mozzarella), beetroot salad, carrot salad, beer (bought!).
Need to eat more beans .......
Made clementine cake for tomorrow afternoon.

5th July
Up at 6.30! Don't know why, I was awake ........
Another 3L from the goat's, need to make cheese but we have guests coming this afternoon (Nicky, she and her husband bought P&M's place, and Taliss, her daughter). Nicky wants me to teach her how to sew.
Ew, I saw the young Billy pee on his face!!!! He seemed to be able to control his penis, so he was peeing forwards, then he turned his head so it caught the flow. He's in with our milking females and he thinks the smell makes him attractive to them! He's only in with them because he jumped out of the sheep field .......
Nicky is hosting a beginner's fermentation workshop - I gave her my Kombucha Scoby 'hotel' (about a year's worth of spare Scobys).

6th July
Cheese making today as I had 11.5L of milk in the fridge. 7.5L made into Mozzarella
and 4L is clabbering, so I can make some Chevre ....... and that was most of my day gone! Until I discovered the whey from the Mozzarella had split - so I had to make Ricotta!

7th July
Happy Birthday Lesley xxx
So our bank (Norwich & Peterborough), in it's wisdom, has decided to close it's current accounts section. We chose it because it had no oversea fees for purchases or cash withdrawl (it did have it's limitations - €250/day cash limit). So looked around for a better deal (Money Saving Expert) and Halifax Clarity Credit card came out top (as long as you pay off the balance each month). Great, I have a Halifax current account (my money gets transferred from there into N&P each month) so this should be easy - wrong!!!! We have a Portuguese address (we have a UK one too, but we're not there obviously) and therefore not eligible for the card (EVEN THOUGH I BANK WITH THEM ALREADY) how absolutely ridiculous. And that goes for all UK banks and credit cards. My Halifax card charges 2.75% plus £1.50 per cash withdrawl (ATMs here have a 200€ limit per transaction)......so if anyone has got any good ideas?????

8th July
Happy Birthday Lauren xxx
A typical smallholding start to the day, as in you never know when something unexpected is going to happen! Whilst letting out and feeding the geese I could hear plaintive bleating, so went to investigate.
The young Billy (the one who jumped out of the field to be with the milking females) had jumped back into the field overnight with the rest of the flock. He had managed to get his foot through the stock fence as he went over, twisting the second strand down over the top strand, thus snaring his lower leg. He was well and truly stuck; three feet on the ground and a back leg caught at the top of the fence. We needed wire cutters to release him (he can't put his foot to the ground atm) - of course the fence is ruined!!!
The billys and rams are in full-on rutting mode; it's mayhem in the field, they're fighting and molesting the females, egged on by Jelisa and Lucy who are flirting from the other side of the fence - they'll get their comeuppance tomorrow as they're being put in the field with the rest of the flock!.

9th July
Happy Birthday Rebecca xxx
As Brett is working next week we took today off and went to Meimao barragem.
As soon as I start wearing sandals I have problems with dry cracking feet (always have, they're fine if I wear socks). I have a pathetic, (12v) battery operated, machine that sands off the dry skin, but it's not very powerful or effective. So Brett has loaned me his mini orbital sander (180 Watts, I can only use it when the generator is on) - it's scary, but it does the job! I wonder if chiropodists use them? Ok, looked it up; Chiropodists use razor blades - I wouldn't try that myself!

10th July
Brett was up at 6.00 ....
I tried out a different Mozzarella recipe, it is a much longer method than the one I usually use (it's titled 'traditional'), fingers crossed I get the salad Mozzarella this time.
6 hours later - I didn't! It didn't stretch, it tastes and sounds (squeaky) like Halloumi, so I'll try making Saganaki cheese with it.

11th July
Brett was off before 7.00 again.
37C .......
I did all the animal chores and the washing - boring but necessary jobs.
Tomorrow we're off to CB (we have a long shopping list on our way back we're calling in on Amelia (Mark's friend) who is going to introduce us to Bill - a prospective stained glass window customer!

12th July
40+ ......
We had a successful shopping trip - I even managed to buy some sandals!
Bill wants a transom (a glass panel above his front door) but ...... he doesn't have a preference for colors or design, "You're the artist, you decide. Whatever is easiest for you", was his input! His budget? "As cheap as possible" - do I really want this commission?????
After dinner, it was so hot, we stripped off and spent an hour in the pool; it was lovely just bobbing around and putting the world to rights. Then we came in, looked at camper vans and drank beer. We're both in a good place at the moment.

13th July
It's going to be a hot one; it's 10.00 and already 34.5C (in the shade) ............
3.00 44.5C: that is hot, and even hotter if you go out of the shade. All our tubs of water were too hot to put your hand in!
We harvested a load of vegetables and went down to introduce ourselves to our new neighbour (Eloise) - Chris & Sasha were there working, they looked hot and tired.
We bobbed around in the pool again this evening, it really cools your core temperature. Then we came in and drank beer - it's the most thirst quenching drink!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

WEEDING & WATERING ........

17th June
43C!!!!!!
We got 133 bales of hay (at a cost of 70c per bale = 93€) from our three fields.
As rain is forecast for the next three days Brett wanted to get it under cover (a dirty, itchy job); I drove the truck Brett did the dirty, itchy bit!
This evening was an annual village festa (actually it started at noon), everything was free - lunch, beer, dinner. We went after we'd put our animals away; Greg & Sarah had been there since 12.00! Chris & Di since 4.00! We had a lot of catching up to do!!!!! But we managed!
Dinner was bread, barbecued pork and sardines (no vegetables) and red wine.
Bap's traditional village group played, a fabulous dancing group danced (the men wore wide brimmed hats), we left when the 'Euro-pop' group were on!!!!!

18th June
Dreadful, dreadful news masses of people killed (62 so far) some in their cars trying to flee massive forest fires in the Coimbra region.
This story has dominated Facebook today; people trying to contact loved ones, updates on the 'worst wildfire' since records began, offers of food, clothes and accommodation. And around us there's a haze, we can't see the mountains, we can hardly see the village water tower. And it's only June!

19th June
Last sheep shorn! He was a big boy (last year's ram lamb, about 16 months) and a real struggler - we missed Claire's help.
Nicky & Rich messaged us, they're coming round tomorrow evening.
A fabulous electrical storm this evening; but, as the fires on Saturday were probably started by lightening, rather scary!


20th June
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEL!!!!!!!🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈xxxx
We're really hot in bed, unable to sleep; we've tried covering ourselves with wet towels and having a fan on - it works to a degree, but not that well. Brett has had an idea; as it's colder outside at night we need to bring the cold air in, so ........ we're going to put a hole in the bedroom wall and insert an extractor fan (the opposite way round to usual) so it will suck the outside air into the bedroom. Today we went into CB to buy the extractor fan and bits and pieces (came to about 20€).
We went in late-ish, so we could get worm tablets for Lily (the vet opens at 3.00). Everything took so long, we didn't get home until gone 5.00 (Nicky and Rich arriving at 6.30!).
A mad rush to get food organised (and wash the floor) and we were ready for guests! Fortunately N&R are easy guests, once they arrived we relaxed and had a good evening.

21st June
The nights start drawing in ........
Brett installed the extractor fan.
I have a new cheese book and have found a traditional (slower) method for making a creamy salad Mozzarella (the curds are left in the whey overnight to ferment) - mine is always a bit rubbery (so best used on pizzas!).

22nd June
The extractor fan worked, it was still warm (it isn't air con. so can't work miracles) but far more comfortable than of late - well done Brett.
My mozzarella didn't work - the curds wouldn't hold together, perhaps the room temp was too hot?
We should have known better!!!! "We're going to the bar at 4.00 for a quick drink" said Chris & Di - five and a half hours later (it was dark) we arrived home to put our bemused (but thankfully safe) animals away! They are such a bad influence!

23rd June
House tidying with a hangover is not fun .......
Debbie & David arrived one and a half hours late as their train broke down - it was great to see them.
We started by making them pick their dinner (a bucket of French beans).

24th June
Didn't do much, well obviously quinta chores (including lots of gardening), and erecting the swimming pool - pity the temperatures have dropped (they'll soon heat up).

25th June
Happy Birthday Pam xxx
Everyone but me spent the afternoon weeding the vegetable field. I was in my studio cutting out a large bird lino cut and then printing onto my green dress - I'm so happy with the results ......

The pink background pattern is printed from a plastic placemat!
The birds are linocuts

26th June
Started making Chevre (10L milk) from my new book (slow ferment method) before we went out.
Went to Meimao for the day, treated to lunch.
The curds were fermenting and bubbling (not supposed to) when we got home, we think because our 'room temperature' is too hot atm. Strained the curd (as it wasn't going to make Chevre) and put it into a mould to see if it could be rescued.

27th June
Lots of weeding and watering.
Yesterday's 'Chevre' is very crumbly, but it works well on tomato salad (already picking our own tomatoes).
Helped Debbie print fish one of her dresses, last time she did a linocut she was at school (a long time ago!!!!). She was very pleased with the results.


This evening it rained ........

28th June
Went to Monsanto (we did take D&D there on a previous visit, in 2015, but it was foggy!) and then we were treated to lunch in Idanha.
On our way back home we drove through Proenca a Velha: so stopped off at the Junta to ask about our oil. WE HAVE OUR OIL!!!!!! A measly 8L from 96kgs of olives, should last us a few months (probably not until next olive harvest). We also picked up D&T's oil, which we will drop off tomorrow.
This week has gone very quickly, D&D are off first thing in the morning.

29th June
Up at 6.30, in CB by 8.00 ("goodbye D&D, see you next year"), at T&D's by 8.40, back home and milking the goats by 9.30 .........
Relaxed for the rest of the day (apart for some hoovering, as Looby is shedding dreadfully).

30th June
Lots of weeding today ........
Stuart & Helen go back to the UK tomorrow so we went to the bar for a few hours, as C&D weren't with us we managed to get home before dark!

1st July
We had a lovely lunch and gossip at Wendy & Kevin's today.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

"YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY COLANDERS" don't ask ........

1st June
Claire volunteered to weed the herb bed (Jasmine helped too!).

Then we stuffed the sausages; we're getting quite adept at the sausage linking .......

2nd June
Happy Birthday Jean. Xxx
The kiln firing was rather disappointing, it was overfired (spiky), but I still managed to make up a bunting garland for our decking (with all the 'seconds').
Brett carried on haymaking, I made him birthday cake (chocolate fridge cake).
5.00 we accepted Chris & Di's invitation to "drinks down the bar" (with Bap and Greg & Sarah) - of course we didn't get home 'til gone 8.00!!!

3rd June
Happy Birthday Brett XXXXX
So Brett's birthday treat was 'allowing' him to spend the day haymaking - he honestly wanted to!
His present is 'in the post', truly!
Claire brought balloons and candles; we decorated the decking and had afternoon 'birthday tea.

4th June
On Friday we made Sunday lunchtime plans with C&D. We made potato, chard and cheese pasties and took some birthday 'cake'.
We've decided to separate the mothers and kids overnight (so we get milk in the mornings).

5th June
2.5L of milk ......
I've trained our 'workaway' to milk!


Into Fundao to buy lots of plugs (onion, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce) - lots of work for this evening!
Brett finished the big field and started cutting the goose field.
So about 200 onions planted and my bum hurts!

6th June
HOT!!!!
3L of milk ......
The cat gets hot too!
Claire and I made Chevre (flavored with onion plug tops and garlic - Boursin).
Gardening and haymaking, we're going to take the day off tomorrow and go to Meimao barragem.

7th June
2.5L of milk
36C in the shade ........
We decided to have a proper day off and eat lunch in the café at the barragem (they do prawns and octopus), so after doing all our chores (and Brett watching the rugby) we packed the truck with loungers, towels, kindles, water etc and off we set ........ only to find that the café was only selling drinks and ice creams (no food menu)! But we were fine; we stayed there until lunch time, then drove back to Meimoa and had the 7€ menu de dia at the restaurant (consisted of (1) bread and olives, (2) soup, (3) turkey, chips and salad, (4) choice of puddings (5) wine or beer,(6) coffee). Then we went and laid by the river beach.
1L of milk this evening .......

8th June
36C (shade) ............
3L of milk but I had to fight for it ... I think the goats are on heat again! They were not interested in food and both had to be dragged onto the decking.
Our 'workaway' is earning her keep; Claire and I spent two hours this morning and two hours this afternoon micro-weeding the chickpeas, mainly purslane (two wheelbarrows full). We're starting to ache ......

9th June
And now I can't move, my back is giving me gyp!
Claire and spent the afternoon in the studio, making bunting. Brett was haymaking.

10th June
Not much better .......
We spent most of the morning at Diane & Thomas's; we're borrowing their electric sheep shears (ours are broken), so that we can shear our sheep this week (not looking forward to it!).
The bunting was good (slightly underfired if anything).
Brett used our new toy, the wheel rake, to turn the hay .....


11th June
Today we had a day off; I got up at 8.00 and we had finished all our chores by 12.00!!!!
We took a picnic to the baragem at Idanha - it was lovely.
But then we came back home to the dreaded sheep shearing!!!!
Well, as anticipated, it didn't go brilliantly; after about 45 mins we had a half shorn sheep and gave up.
Their wool is so thick the shears can't cope, we're going to buy some hand shears tomorrow and then try again (slow & steady, the electric shears are scary).

12th June
Bloody hot night, hardly slept.
Oh no it's got to 40C (in the shade) ........
CB was nice, as lots of the shops have air con. We got the hand shears and have made the decision to shear early morning, while it's still cool.
Lots of the photos are courtesy Claire this post (the 'arty' ones).
One of our boys
Ducklings .....

13th June
6.00 start!
One sheep sheared with hand shears (1 hour 30 mins); then we had breakfast and milked the goats, second sheep sheared with a combination of hand and electric shears (about an hour).
Hand sheared on right (obviously)
Electric clippered to left (best yet!)
We thought about having another go this evening, but it was too hot (38).
Claire made 'Cheddar' cheese with 10L milk to take home.
Stuffed (Chevre) courgette flowers in beer batter


14th June
6.00 start (again)
Two sheep shorn (electric shears mainly) and first sheep tidied up!
Getting the hang of this now ......
Andrew bartered some potatoes and garlic for eggs, which we exchanged this morning on a water collection (drinking water from the fonte) trip on our way back through the village we scrumped some lemons (they were lying in the road), so we came home with a load of FREE food & drink: a box of new potatoes, garlic, big bag of lemons and 30L of drinking water
Claire made orange juice (our oranges) and lemon juice (scrumped).
I helped Claire make (well I directed whilst she made) two aprons (one baby, one adult) to take back to Denmark.
This evening we went to O Jardim for dinner (the owner was very jolly for a change, the food was ok).
Tomorrow we shear BIG ram - not looking forward to that!

15th June
Nos (internet) is down.
We all overslept and didn't get going until nearly 7.00. The ram is HUGE and very STRONG, we had a game plan; we'd bring the sheep out of the field, via the tarpaulin, then Brett would wrestle him to the ground, I would lead the sheep off to the field whilst Brett and Claire would tie his feet and restrain him ........ it worked at treat!!!!! He struggled, but no more than any of the others and he sheared like a dream (probably because he's so solid) and he was the quickest yet. I got up real close and personal dagging his backend and trimming his scrotum (this is the ram that butted me head on in both my knees!).
Ram in foreground 
We're feeling very relieved! Only one sheep (last year's ram lamb) to go .......
As it was Claire's last day we spent the day at Meimao baragem with a picnic.
There were a couple of exhibitionist English females waxing their armpits - why???? The water was fabulously cold, I just bobbed around on a noodle!
Sunset!

16th June
Claire went first thing (bus from Fundao to Porto). We're going to really miss her, she's been a great help; helping me in the garden so Brett was free to make hay, getting stuck in with the sheep shearing, milking goats, picking oranges and making orange juice, scrumping lemons, getting up early to weed vegetables, let out and feed the poultry etc. It's been a good two weeks .........
Starting to get regular harvests from the vegetable garden
The temperature soared to 42C, in the shade; horribly hot - we need our pool!
Tomorrow our hay gets baled.

17th June
We have our own bales of hay - another of our many 'firsts' since we've been in Portugal.


A short list of 'firsts':
~Generate our own electricity
~Breed pigs (poorly!)
~Produce our own olive oil
~Make wine solely from grapes
~Milk goats
~Make cheese
~Spin wool
~Bale our own hay

Monday, 5 June 2017

SUMMER HAS COME EARLY .......

9th May
Rain was forecast, but didn't materialise - we need it for the field of corn we sowed a couple of days ago.
Heavy rain is forecast tomorrow; which means I can have a kiln firing, so today I packed the kiln to the gunnels!
This evening we went to M&M's new house for dinner (with Vince & Lola and Karina); of course it is lovely, lots of colored bottles embedded in walls, lime plaster (over straw bales) walls (not a straight line in sight), handbuilt cupboards which could happily grace a hobbit's home - I could go on and on, it's very quirky with lots of interesting details!

10th May
Where's the day of rain that was forecast????? Put the generator on regardless, as I needed to fire the kiln.
The rain appeared this afternoon; very cold and heavy. We put the ewe with the new twins in the dog shed and opened the field gate and sheep shed, for the rest of the flock - the goats immediately sought shelter.
A low milk yield today 1.5L this morning and ZERO this afternoon - the kids feed from their mums far more when it's raining (boredom eating) and the mums don't feed much, because they are sheltering, so less milk is being produced (that's our theory/observations).

11th May
Cold, wet and miserable ...........
I think it's going to be another low milk day (1.25L this morning).
Hooray, I finished Rebecca & Paul's wedding present!
I hung it up on the decking to photograph, I don't want to take it down (I'll have to make one for us).
I was right about the low milk day - another ZERO litres this afternoon; we've had thunderstorms on and off all day, so the goats have been sheltering in the pole barn - nothing for them to eat in there.

11th May
Ok I've had enough of the rain now!!! I'm back in winter clothes.
I'm rubbish at technology; I've been trying to edit my cover photo and header on my Quinta Glass page - I just can't find the buttons to press to upload new photos, it's very stress making ...... managed the header after several attempts, but can't find anyway to change the cover - I give up!!!!
Last week when we went into CB we saw some garden furniture that was really cheap; a table, four chairs and an umbrella for less than 100€ (99.99!). A bit modern for our taste, but too cheap to be choosy - of course it wasn't in stock! So this afternoon we took a trip into town to see if it was back in stock - it was! We came home so excited, unpacked the box ....... One chair was put together wrongly, two chairs had pop rivets badly put in and one had rivets missing!!!! Then we spent the next hour trying to assemble the table (turned out the instructions were wrong, really truly they were!*). But it's erected now and our lower deck looks very smart.
*In fact the whole thing is very poorly constructed (the price was too good to be true!).
Every year, around this time, Looby goes off her food; she just stops eating, doesn't even get up when I serve their meals. The only way I can get her to eat is to hand feed her, one piece at a time (attention seeking?). Today we're trying cat biscuits mixed in with the dog biscuits.

13th May
Happy Birthday Jane! Xxx
A bit dull, but dry ......
We're meeting T&D at the soup festa, in Proenca a Velha, this afternoon. Then going en masse, to the olive press, to demand our oil!!!!
Well that was a waste of time!!!!! Couldn't find anyone to take responsibility for our oil, it was suggested we come back on a weekday when the Junta is open. The soup bit of the festa happens tomorrow, with hundreds of different soups to taste and vote for.

14th May
So in the night I had a brilliant idea; Georgia and Hazel are in milk, but we don't need more, so we were going to let them dry up, then I thought of my idea - give the goats to Thomas & Diane on a long term loan (as they're not getting milk from their cow).
The first ever Spring Fair in Penamacor (a collaboration between the Camara, us (the immigrants) and a Spanish association) was a resounding success. Fantastic atmosphere, lots of attendees and lots of fun.
Then I came home to a fridge full of milk!!!! 5L is being clabbered overnight for Chevre and 7.5L I made into Halloumi (I was still making cheese at gone 10.00 p.m.).
And I have earache again!

15th May
Margo (our cat stealing neighbour) has sold up (she moved in last September) and guess who's back????? Jasmine, our unloyal cat; the new neighbour hasn't moved in yet, so she could well dessert us again!
Made Chevre.

16th May
Georgia and Hazel have gone! And I feel quite sad, they were our first goats here (along with Billy, Hazel's brother).
Whilst cleaning the loft bedroom, for Rebecca & Paul's visit, I banged my head on the low beam (the same one I spend all my time saying "mind the beam" when people go up there); I have a bump, a headache and feel slightly sick - I'm sure I have concussion (Brett thinks I'm being overly dramatic ....... dramatic moi???).
Brett is blocking up the new bathroom, he's nearly at window height.
The chickpeas, beans and corn are all starting to coming through in our field, no sign of the mangle wurzels.
Every evening we do an hour or so of weeding, its rather satisfying and the weeds are fed to the pigs. However this evening's session was horrendous, so many biting flies, I'm covered in itchy bites - they can even bite through clothing.

17th May
A very successful trip into CB; we got all the stuff for our field irrigation for 135€ (far better than 600€!) - we asked Reuben (in Regacentro) to advise us, we're very pleased with the outcome.
I spent most of the afternoon cleaning the dresser and everything on it (I don't do it very often!), it looks all 'sparkly'!
Oh no!!!!! We have Colorado potato beetle larvae on our potatoes ...........

18th May
I spent the day cleaning, tidying, making beds, even cleaning windows - the house is sparkling!

19th May
Rebecca & Paul arrived mid afternoon, they had been up since 4.00 so we had a relaxed evening. I think they liked their wedding present - they made all the right noises.

20th May
We chose the right weekend for a trip to Idanha a Velha, they were having a festa! In fact nothing much was happening ...... loud music, a tombola stall (every festa has one) and a BBQ - Rebecca & Paul treated us to lunch. On the way home we picked ELDERFLOWER (for champagne).
As we ate a big meal at lunchtime I prepared a very simple dinner (mainly from the picnic we'd originally taken for lunch) - cheese, ham (both our own of course!), salads, bread, hummus, fried pita and crisps.
We have these birds that sing all night, I thought they were just ordinary birds - turns out they're Nightingales (we 'googled' their song).

21st May
Milk overload (again)!
2L 
Rebecca brought citric acid, so I made my first ever Mozzarella - very impressed, and it only takes 2 - 3 hours.
So we had to have Mozzarella and tomato salad with dinner; therefore our roast pork meal became pork and salad in wraps with mayo and chili jam AND Mozzarella and tomato salad! Very nice .......

22nd May
And they've gone! A lovely, if short, visit. Feel a little bit flat.
Jelisa and Lucy gave 2L and 1L of milk respectively this morning; once again I had milk overload - I made more Mozzarella (with 7.5L of milk, that's the maximum size pot I have = 1.25lbs of cheese). And I started off my Elderflower champagne (2L).

23rd May
34C (the temperature's rising ........)
3.25L of milk this morning - I'll need to make cheese tomorrow, as today we popped into CB (to book car in for it's MOT, to get more connections and pipes for the irrigation system, buy some hand tools for weeding and BEER from Lidl!).
We've invited our vegetarian friends (Chris & Di and Andrew) and Stuart for dinner on Friday (as we have lots of cheese!); we'll have Halloumi, watermelon and mint for a starter, pizza (with Mozzarella) for main and trifle (because it's easy) for dessert. Andrew will have to have a tour of the garden so Brett is mowing all the verges and we're going to attack the weeds in the veg garden this evening ......

24th May
Both female goats were off their food this morning (the boys were fine) and Lucy had to be chased to get her onto the decking - we think they're on heat (so do we want more goat kids???? We have had a message from someone who wants female kids next year!).
I couldn't even get Lucy onto the decking this evening; fortunately she didn't need milking
This evening we went to dinner at Vince (Irish, but also speaks French) & Lola's (French, also speaks English and Portuguese) along with Marc & Meike (Belgian, speak French, Dutch, English and Portuguese) and Marieke (French, speaks only French) & Helder (Portuguese, also speaks French) - interesting evening, most of the conversation was in a kind of pigeon French/Portuguese! We ate outside, entertained by an electrical storm in the distance.

25th May
HOT 35/36C ............
Wow milk yield is low today 1/2L (Jelisa, morning milk) after several days of 3.5L. The goats were wormed; so their milk will be going to the pigs (it's not a waste, it's not a waste, it's not a waste ..........).
Tomorrow we have C&D, Andrew and Stuart coming for dinner (7.00); 6.30 is tour of the garden (Andrew), so today we've been doing lots of weeding!
The chickens (meat birds) are really suffering in the heat, unfortunately their time is up or they will just die (one already has). So today we moved the second chest freezer into the living room.
I thought my water kefir grains had had it but today my water kefir is fizzing all over the place (must be the heat and I've been trying to rescue it).
Hooray both goats came in for milking this evening; neither of them actually needed milking, but I gave them a bit of food and cleaned & Vaselined their teats (to stop them cracking) - they like routine.

26th May
We both had a horrible night. It was very hot, we couldn't use the fan because the inverter kept bleeping! As soon as it gets hot the solar stops being efficient (both the panels and the batteries don't function well in the heat!) - we had exactly this problem last summer, this year it's happening much earlier.
I can hardly move; my back is very painful - I think it's from helping Brett move the chest freezer from the workshop to the living room (it was heavy and awkward).
Of course the goats milked well this morning - I took off as little as necessary (which was still 1.5L - typical).
I spent the whole day preparing food .........
Starter: Fried Halloumi on a bed of watermelon triangles tossed with rocket, mint and lemon balm (looked very pretty).
Main: Vegetarian pizza (tomato sauce, lamb's quarters, mushroom, onions and mozzarella), meat version (similar with added bacon and chorizo), coleslaw and a peeled broad bean salad.
Pudding: Trifle made with aguadente cherries.
We spent the whole evening (until gone 1.00) out on the decking; it was lovely, apart from the biting insects.

27th May
Dull and grey ........
Plucking and gutting chickens with a hangover is not to be recommended!!!!!
My back is still giving me gyp .........
Bottled the Elderflower champagne.

28th May
The solar can't cope with both chest freezers being on, so we had to condense all our meat into the biggest freezer; this meant leaving out .... several joints of pork (to make into sausages), two bags of sundried tomatoes (to make into paste), chicken livers (to make into pate?).
Another full on day of homesteading; processing the last of the chickens, making tomato paste (sundried tomatoes soaked for a couple of minutes in boiling water, olive oil, seasoning; blitz it all up in the liquidiser - delicious), Mozzarella (6L of milk from before the goats were wormed), I didn't have time to make the pate or lemon curd (tomorrow afternoon? In the morning the car is booked in for its MOT).
The solar isn't happy, this evening it was on about 40%, which is close to shutting off (the freezer will be turned off overnight).

29th May
Some days I wish I hadn't bothered getting up - today was one of those days.
To start off with it was difficult to get up, as my back is still iffy.
When we bought the meat birds (as chicks) the guy threw in a free chick, she grew into a lovely young hen. She's been with the meat chicks since she got here, last night Brett transferred her into the laying hen's shed. This morning she was in the corner of the shed, with blood all over her bum - the hens had practically pecked her to death - Brett had to put her out of her misery. I feel so sad, she was absolutely pristine and healthy yesterday - I'm not liking my hens today!
The trip into CB was successful, if stressful; the car passed it's inspection and we got one of the documents that Customs wants (to release our milking machine) from Finances.
Then the day deteriorated again ......
We started mincing the pork for the sausages and "BANG" the grinder exploded spraying meat everywhere! It was the same nylon part that broke back in January - we think it's made to break, to protect the engine and gears, if there's a jam in the mince (Brett had only just cleaned it out). I've sent for two replacement parts this time!
And, last but not least, whilst trying to clean the blood and guts off the floor, the mop broke - so I had to do as good a job as my back would allow.
It really was a shitty day!!!!! Tomorrow will be better, Claire arrives .........

30th May
Brett is starting to prepare the fields ready for hay making - it's going to be a long few weeks!
Claire arrived at 4.00, so much to talk about.
For dinner (pork Thai curry) we picked broad beans, French beans, peas and beetroot tops, we also picked radish to pickle tomorrow.

31st May
34C in the shade ......
A completely homesteading day .......
Claire and I made:- mozzarella, pickled radish, sausages (coriander, chilli & garlic, cranberry, garlic & thyme and sundried tomato paste and mozzarella) and lemon curd.
Brett cut the hay in the big field with his new drum mower.
We gave away our 3 year old hens (to Kimberley & Lawrence (5) and Pinnah & Eric (1)), as our pullets are laying now.
Totally knackered.

1st June
The inverter was beeping in the night (the batteries were down to 40%), we had to turn off the fridge and the freezer - but I have a plan ..........
Claire and I spent a few hours in the studio preparing stuff for firing this evening (thus saving the batteries!).
Brett started mowing a second field.
We planted out more melons, cucumbers and courgettes and sowed about 100 winter squash.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

And still more babies ....... .

14th April
I spent the day cooking and cleaning, as T&D were coming to dinner (Halloumi, sundried tomatoes and Greek styled olive tossed pasta, garlic bread, mixed salad, deconstructed Eton mess/fudge sundae i.e. I put everything on the table and people assembled their own concoction). Brett spent the day mowing and strimmering, to make the quinta look tidy.
OMG we had a panic at this afternoon's milking; we'd brought the goats in, Jelisa was hooked up to the machine, about 30 seconds into her milking the pump stopped working!! It turned out that one of the wires had fallen of (and a second wire fell off as we were examining the pump), fortunately I was able to solder them back on (phew), otherwise we'd have had to resort to hand milking!!!!
We had a lovely evening with T&D, who still have the calf (hopefully his owner will be located soon).

15th April
Stupid bloody bank!!!! Brett has ordered a drum mower for the tractor (so we can cut the grass long and then get someone in to bale our hay, we want to make lots this year) which means we have to travel daily, to the cash machine, to take out money so that we can pay for it (cash on delivery as we don't have a Portuguese account).
OUR money is sitting there, in our account, but we're only allowed to withdraw 250€ per day! Makes me want to spit .....
The gardening (weeding, planting, sowing and watering) and milking are taking up a big chunk of our day.
Started watching a very strange film, Elle.

16th April
Xxx
Happy Easter ........
We didn't have time to do much this morning (after doing our chores, milking goats and going into Penamacor to get out money) as we were invited to a lunchtime picnic at Andrew's quinta (along with Chris & Di).
It was a lovely afternoon; sitting under the shade of a tree eating, drinking and talking. And, of course, having the Grand Tour of Andrew's fabulous Horta (vegetable garden).
Finished watching a very strange film, Elle!

17th April
Hot!
I spent most of the night awake with earache .....
So much milk ...........
So time to make cheese (going to make a hard one today). The worst bit of having all this milk and cheesmaking is sterilizing the equipment. Everything (milking machine, bottles, sieves, pots, strainer etc) has to be washed in hot soap water (cooled from boiling) then rinsed a couple of times in cooled boiled water and then left to dry naturally.
Mesophillic starter added to 5 litres of milk and left to clabber (fabulous word!) for 24 hours.
We had to do the 'money trip' to Penamacor. Then gardening, gardening, gardening (Brett is mowing our verges to make the place look tidy)........ He can work tirelessly in the heat - I can't!

18th April
Off to CB for Brett's dental appointment.
We tried to arrange to visit Mark's friend Amelia (sent her an email). Even though we didn't hear back from her we went to, what we think is, her house (being built) and had a good look round - it's HUGE with fabulous views, it will be stunning when it's completed.
Back home to the cheese making ...... added rennet to the clabbered milk, left it for 45 minutes to set (the curds should become the consistency of creme caramel and the whey separates out), it didn't work - the curds were tiny (no good for the next stage of the hard cheese recipe) so I just strained them through cheesecloth - Result: a very tasty cream cheese!!!! I've made a delicious Chevre!

19th April
Lightening and rain overnight. Today is cooler and rather windy.
Brett made a goat milking table.
I played in my studio, preparing exciting experimental stuff for a firing.
Our drum mower arrived today.
OMG I forgot to feed the dogs this morning (again!), I didn't realise until I took down their dishes this afternoon and there were left-overs, from our meal last night, (their breakfast!).
OMG (2) we used the new milking table; Jelisa jumped up quite happily (well front legs, back had to be maneuvered on), Lucy had to be totally lifted up (then she did her collapsing legs thing!). But both goats, once their heads were through the restraint, milked like a dream - it even seemed quicker than normal (well done Brett).

20th April
I remembered to feed the dogs!
Lucy still had to be lifted onto the milking table; but the milking itself was a 'one man' job.
We had an impromptu morning at Vince & Lola's (returning their plough), which was nice.
I carried on with painting gates; we have to have the place looking nice when visitors come! We had a message from Claire today and she's going to visit in June (she's going to be our workaway!) - 'happy dancing' ......
Bloody goats! All of them, two mothers and their three kids, were all inside the old water tank, underneath the solar panels. Brett had to put in a ramp to get them out; which the kids thought was great fun - up and down they went hopping and skipping, whilst the mothers just stood. They had to be coaxed out with food!
This evening both goats hopped onto the table under their own steam, admittedly it was a slow process, with continual encouragement from us, but they're intelligent animals and they learn new tricks quickly (five weeks ago Lucy was the Satan goat from hell!).

21st April
Brett has thwarted the goat kids; he's put an electric fence around the solar panels/old water tank.
Both nanny goats now get onto the milking table - clever animals.
Jelisa

Lucy
I'm busily accumulating milk so I can have another try at cheddar; I need a minimum of 10 litres,  which I should have by tomorrow - I'm getting about 2 litres a day.
Tim, Zoe and their kids (Matt and Amy) came to lunch. I kept it simple (I didn't want to get into a competition with Tim, he cooked a huge banquet) frittata, boiled eggs, salads (pasta, coleslaw and tomato), bread, goat cheese and some of our ham, kefir or iced tea to drink - actually quite a nice spread.
T&Z came with the intention of looking at kids and lambs to buy, but I think they wanted exactly what we haven't got for sale - female lambs (we're swapping the ones we have for piglets from Diane & Thomas).

22nd April
It's five days since I last made cheese and the fridge is heaving with milk (10 litres); so it's a smallholding day for me making cheese (hopefully cheddar-like), ricotta (waste not, want not!) and sausages (we mended the meat grinder AND IT WORKS!).
Today we learnt that ricotta means re-cooked (like panna cotta means cooked cream), therefore cotta means cooked in Italian.
Brett made a counterweight for the tractor (so it doesn't do wheelies when we have the various farm machinery attached to the back of it) and planted several more rows of cabbage (7 cents per plug) so that we can feed greenery to the animals.
Praise indeed ...... before stuffing the sausage skins we cooked a couple of small sausagemeat patties, just to check seasoning, texture etc. Brett's verdict: "there's nothing we can do to improve this/I would be proud to serve these to people/Mark Tipping would have loved these", so he's a happy bunny!
What a left down; we watched the finale of Broadchurch.

23rd April
St George's Day - I remember some Saint's days from my, brief, time as a Girl Guide, when I was ten or eleven, (I can also tie a reef knot, behind my back - why on earth was that a criteria for getting a knot's badge???).
The cheese was unwrapped and salted, it now needs to mature for a couple of weeks.
You would think that having a sausage stuffing attachment, on my food mixer, would make the task quick and easy - wrong!!! Firstly the instructions were wrong 'replace round disc with sausage funnel', when they meant cutting blade (ground down the end of the funnel). And the sausage meat just didn't feed through .... I managed in the end!

Kiln firing ........
Painted another gate - three to go .....

24th April
I spent the morning in my studio, designing and leading up a panel with one of the pieces that came out of the Kiln this morning.
Arsenic & Old Lace featuring Ghost Hare Triskelion
Sardines waiting to go into a panel
This afternoon I painted two gates - one to go!

25th April
Freedom Day = Public Holiday .......
Poo, now I have earache in my other ear (Brett thinks the infection traveled from ear to ear via my brain!).
The garden is starting to look good except .... we had rain the other night so the weeds have taken off with a vengeance!
So Brett has had this brilliant idea; the solar shed, that he's building onto the front of the house, can be increased slightly, a small part will become the solar and boiler room and the rest will become a bathroom and the best bit ....... the current bathroom will become our dressing room (I'll have somewhere to put my clothes!). Once again we're pondering ...... should we have a bath????

26th April
Brett dug and filled the footings for the bathroom (lots of smiley faces!).
I had made Halloumi and Ricotta (it takes a good four hours).
And then we both made sausagemeat (we've got 10+lbs of meat minced) then tomorrow we have the fun job (not) of stuffing the skins.

27th April
A group (10-12) of us got together (well Jo and Karina organised us) to buy a load of Paulonia Tomentosa (Princess/Empress tree); by buying in bulk (400+) we got about 16% discount. They were delivered today. Ann & Martin (and a couple of friends who are staying with them) came back to our quinta afterwards so Ann could look at my glass - I sold the Greenman panel, two seahorse mobiles and have a commission for three more mobiles (the money is all going into a pot so I can buy more supplies).
Stuffed a whole load more sausages - I even learnt how to tie them like a butcher (from youtube!).

Sharon was dripping this evening and being very vocal - I think she's in labor, Brett thinks she's on heat .......

28th April
Another full on Smallholding day ......
Checking the goats Sharon definitely appears (to me) to be giving birth (she's got a water sack protruding), Brett's not convinced (he says she's not big enough).
This morning we went to help Thomas & Diane dispatch their boar (we're going to share their meat, then they'll help us do our boar and have half our meat).
When we came home we checked on Sharon, she was lying down with the rest of her flock looking relaxed and well, no sign of a kid.
The afternoon was butchering and freezing the meat.
Then back to feed the flock and check on Sharon. She came straight in for food with obvious signs that she had indeed given birth - but no sign of a kid! A search of their field revealed a tiny, alien looking, kid fetus; she'd obviously miscarried - we're just pleased she's ok, she's too old to be a mother again.
This evening I managed to milk the goats on my own, thanks to Brett's wonderful milking table and the way the goats have adapted to it - both of them voluntarily come onto the decking, jump onto the table and put their head through the restraining bars to eat - once their head is through the bar is locked into place, which stops them from escaping (they don't mind, they're too busy eating!). Tomorrow I will need to make cheese again as the fridge is full of milk (thank goodness we haven't got a cow - though I would like fresh cream!).

29th April
A well deserved day off, unfortunately it's raining!
Oh dear I can't be bothered to make cheese today; however, it's been a week since I made the 'Cheddar' so we thought we'd try it (I have little patience/need instant gratification!), it was good, not Cheddar as we know it, Brett reckons more like a Wensleydale. Anyway I will wait until I have 10 litres of milk and make another Cheddar (we can easily use a 2lb wheel in a week, or two).
The weather had improved by this afternoon; but by then we'd started watching a film, '28 days later...' - not very good, full of cliches!
I can milk the goats on my own; Jelisa eagerly comes in first while Lucy paces about outside bleating (I'm sure she's saying "get a move on" in goat language). Jelisa is being very affectionate at the moment rubbing her head on me and enjoying a scratch (Brett thinks she's on heat!).

30th April
Wet, cold and windy ........
Didn't do much.

1st May
Cheese making is coming around too often! It takes a good part of a day. I made another wheel of 'Cheddar'.
Our milking machine hasn't arrived, it's been a month, delivery was quoted as (up to) 30th April; I've sent a message to the seller and if I have no joy I'll ask for a refund - Ebay guarantees money back. Annoying though, as we would rather have the machine!
Great, we had a reply from Vlad (in the Ukraine) our milking machine has been in Customs since the 11th April - but no one thought to tell us (the tracking number they supplied didn't work). He's given us a telephone number, so we can ring them ..... great, our favorite task, trying to talk/understand Portuguese over the phone!!!!
I advertised our goat kids for sale on Facebook this afternoon ...... MY ADVERT (I tried to make it catchy):

FOR SALE: Goat Kids
Do you have large, unmanageable, areas of scrubby grassland?
Do you spend hours strimmering?
Would you like, FRESH, milk?
Would you like to make your own cheese?
~
If you answer "yes" to one or more of the questions above YOU NEED GOATS!!!
~
2 x female kids, born January 2017
Very friendly
Both their mothers are good milkers
50€ each
~
3 x male (castrated) kids, born March 2017 (ready to go beginning of June)
Very friendly and playful - will make good pets
40€ each
...
I had sold the two females by this evening!

2nd May
Andrew agreed to make 'the phone call' for us (his Portuguese is excellent); he dialed the number, laughed and put the phone down ...... he had been answered by a recorded voice giving options - option (1) "if you would like to speak in English please press 1"!!!!!
So I made the call; turns out it was to CTT (Portuguese Post Office) not Customs. Customs has our package, they might want documentation from us (fiscal number, proof of address, proof of purchase), they haven't asked for anything yet (we might get a letter), we have to phone back in a week to see if there's any news, they can hold on to our package for a maximum of 90 days (and there's nothing we can do to speed them up!) - bloody brilliant!

3rd May
A day of cooking and cleaning as we have Vince & Lola coming to dinner. Starter: mixed homemade goat cheeses (Cheddar style, soft Chevre, moulded Chevre and Ricotta) and homecured air dried ham. Main: roast pork leg (Thomas & Diane's), roast sweet potatoes (nearly the last of them) and I picked our first French beans and some peas. Pudding: tiramisu (courtesy of Lola!).
We had a fablous evening and drank loads of Jerapiga!

4th May
Chaos at the milking station.
We had to bring Hazel and Georgia, with their two kids (Tinkerbell and Bauble), down to the house this morning; as the kids were being collected this afternoon.
There was lots of head butting, rearing, pushing and shoving between the new group and Jelisa, Lucy and the male kids.
Then, of course, they all wanted to come onto the decking for the milking session, as food is involved! Poor old Lucy was so distressed she didn't eat whilst she was being milked.
It is her kid stealing her food!
The fridge is full of milk again!!! We now have to decide whether to milk Hazel and Georgia too (do I want to be making cheese daily?).
The female kids went this evening. Georgia and Hazel didn't seem that bothered! The kids were obviously rather distressed, but they will be completely spoil and made into pampered pets.

5th May
We had a long shopping list (mainly for the new bathroom and the garden), so had to go into CB today. It wasn't a fantastic success, we had to do lots of compromising.
For the bathroom we needed: a shower tray, glass bricks (to let light into the shower), a window and we wanted to look at tiles (for the floor, walls and shower). So we ended up with ........ a much bigger tray than we went for - 140cms long, a smaller window, glass bricks with bubbles rather than colored glass (2.99 v 5.49!) and nothing in the way of tiles (they were all big and not teribbly nice).
For the garden we wanted maize to plant up the vegetable field and irrigation to water said field. In Agriloja 2.5 kilos of corn was 20€ but in the shop we bought from 5 kilos was just 2€!!! 1/20 of the price. And the irrigation???? Well what we went in to buy would have cost us over 600€, so we're going to see if we can bodge it (600€ would buy an awful lot of corn!).
Our three nanny goats who are not being milked are very full (Georgia and Hazel because their kids have gone and Sharon because of her miscarriage), but we just can't cope with more milking with our little machine - it would end up breaking, fingers crossed Customs releases our new machine soon.

6th May
A day of cheese (Halloumi and Ricotta) and ice cream (experimented by including the Ricotta, so a bit like a cheesecake ice cream?) making ..... and there's still litres of milk in the fridge! We have a glut ........
New method of heating the milk slowly (1 degree per 5 minutes)
Brett planted our Princess trees.

7th May
I spent the day in the studio (I need to complete Rebecca & Paul's wedding present before they arrive in 10 days time!!!!).
We had a text from C&D inviting us to the bar at 4.00 (to celebrate the start of summer!); we decided to be sociable, but only go for an hour or two (as we had all our evening tasks to do).
On our way out of the quinta we noted one of the ewes had given birth to twins!!!!! We checked the lambs were feeding and looking healthy, then went to the bar ..... FOUR hours later (!!!!!) we arrived back home, the goats and ducks were queuing at the decking and the geese had put themselves to bed! But we did have a good time; Greg & Sarah, Stuart and Baptiste were there too.

8th May
It's gone hot again .......
We used our seeder to sow chickpeas, black eyed beans, mangle wurzels and maize in our vegetable garden field - fingers crossed they germinate well, and not too many weeds.
This evening we had to take the dogs to the vet, for their annual vaccinations - that was fun!!!!