Thursday, 30 October 2014

Be Prepared.



No point hiding our heads in the sand, it's gonna get COLD; and soon.

Jean-Claude delivered our Oak yesterday (above). I reckon we've got enough.


I don't normally prepare too many logs in advance; it makes me lazy. But I've sawn and split about 3 cubic metres 'just in case'.


And this is my pile of Chestnut 'tree trunks'. I've bought a new chain for the Husqvarna; some of these babies are HUGE. 

We have roughly another 8 cubic metres of Chestnut about to arrive; it's all one metre length, dry, and ready split. All it'll need is sawing in half.

Overkill maybe, but at least we shouldn't go cold this winter.  


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Early morning walk, late October 2014.



Now that the clocks have gone back by an hour, my early morning walks are lighter and more comfortable. Above is Chateau Cro in 7.30am sunlight, with the barn in the distance.


For the past week or so, the Chestnut woods have been deserted and silent; leaves are already beginning to fall.


All that now remains of the harvest are these piles of empty husks.


The horses are less flyblown, some decent grass is growing, and one can tell by their demeanor that they love the early mornings (Chateau Cro again in distance).

                            

With literally 100's of productive Chestnut trees all around us, one would think it unnecessary to plant one of our own; but yesterday I did just that. Self-sufficiency is the name of the game these days. The variety I've chosen is called 'Marsol' (not Arsol); it's quite early fruiting, and produces very large nuts that fall easily out of their husks (very important).

As you can see, I've also wire-netted it against the bloody Deer. 


I've given it plenty of space; they grow into BIG trees. First Chestnuts are due in 2021.



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Summer Quarters.



I suppose we'll have to accept it; Summer is pretty much over. We'll soon have to move back indoors to our Winter quarters; my shorts are already packed away in the drawer marked 'Summer clothes'.

There is no electricity in the 'tower', so, unless we installed a very small wood burner, it could get quite cold in there before too long.

The interior of the 'tower' is 3.60 metres square. It's reasonably sparse with just a large bed with 6 copious drawers underneath (not Queen Victoria's), a cupboard, and 2 bedside tables. In the height of Summer it also often contains children's toys, damp swimming gear, and various dogs.

When we built the 'tower' back in 2011, I envisaged it exactly like the photo above. A peaceful Summer haven, covered in creepers.... We're getting there.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Thank you Amy!




I don't normally have anything to do with blogging prompts, but seeing as this one was from the lovely Amy Saia (here) I shall make an exception.

She asks me to list 7 'lovely' facts about myself. Believe me; I've had difficulty (I've had to ignore the 'lovely' bit).


1. I am a card-holding insomniac. I sleep for about 3 hours each night, then lie awake listening to one of about 3 all-night radio stations (through an ear-piece) until exactly 5.30am, when I get up and write my daily blog.

2. My first dog was called Hamlet (not named by me). Hamlet was a scruffy black-n-tan mutt. For a while we lived next door to a family who owned a huge Great Dane called Sam. Somehow their names seemed to have been confused at birth.

3. I'm a bit of a skinflint when it comes to clothing. Even the shoes I'm now wearing are falling to bits and have holes in their soles. I don't throw anything out until it disintegrates (see above).

4. I've rowed 8's at Henley, The Serpentine, and The Cambridge Bumps; always unsuccessfully.

5. The one human quality I dislike above all others is 'prim' (self-consciously finicky, namby pamby, puritanical, pretentious, etc).

6. The older I become, the more I can confirm my dire lack of general knowledge.

7. Every morning, without fail, I wake-up HAPPY.


You will be pleased to hear that I shall not be nominating anyone to continue this malarky, but if it would amuse you, please do follow my example.




Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sam-well



One of my nearby neighbours is trying to raise some cash for an upcoming holiday to Spain.

He's made these bird nesting boxes (with some help I imagine) which he brought round to the house yesterday to sell. At €10 each they were a teeny bit expensive, but the cause was the important bit; we are always happy to buy stuff from the local kids, and bought two.

Samuel (pronounced Sam-well, as in the Spanish name Mig-well) is about 12, and is a really nice boy. He and his little 6 year old sister Zara lugged a huge bag-full of bird-boxes around our tiny hamlet; I do hope he sold them all.

Merçi Sam-well; I'll let you know when they're occupied.


Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Cranes heading south


Yesterday the first of the Cranes passed overhead on their way south for the Winter.

My cheap €70 Fuji camera obviously doesn't capture the real beauty of the occasion, but here it is anyway. I hope you can see and hear them; it might be clearer on YouTube.



What a wonderful sight, and sound.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Last Chestnuts for the Freezer.



There are numerous ways of preserving Chestnuts; this is mine. 

With a very sharp knife, I cut a cross into the pointy end of each Chestnut.


Boil for between 15 and 20 mins, until semi-open.


Peel away the outer shell (don't worry too much about the inner skin, just remove as much as possible), and remove the nut.


Then when cool place in freezer bags, and freeze. Couldn't be simpler.

These are semi-cooked Chestnuts which can later be roasted, or used in blitzed soups, or even puréed for sickly sweet desserts (not my thing).

As with all freezing, only PERFECT produce should be used. 

It's now the end of the Chestnut season, so this may be your last chance to preserve. Don't buy them later-on towards Christmas as 'fresh'; they won't be, and will probably contain worms. 

I put away 3 bags from the above, and now have a total of about 12 bags awaiting Winter; that's plenty for me!

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