Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hints of Spring

There are hints of spring around, the crocus are blooming, the daffodil bulbs are showing their buds, a few primroses are out in bloom, the birds are singing,
            and the catkins on the hazel trees are blooming.
Nature as art.
Spring is trying very hard to put in an appearance despite the storms which are still wrecking havoc in both Ireland the UK and some parts of Spain. More storms are forecast for the coming week. Although we are in view of the river Suck we are about forty feet above it, it has burst it's banks but poses no danger to us.
Not being able to do anything in the garden is getting very frustrating, we have broad beans waiting to be planted out but with the wind and at times pelting rain I fear they would suffer. Somewhere we have crop cover, the envionet fleece, but where it got put  is anyone's guess. A search of the barns and the shed failed to uncover it. I hate buying new when we know that somewhere we have an item but I fear that if we wait for discovery it will be too late to put it to good use, so new it will have to be. Those beans have to go out and it is also time to get cabbage and other things started.
 Our seeds have now been sorted,  new seeds ordered, we will not let the weather defeat us. We have the tunnel, a cold frame and the sunroom in which to raise seeds, most of the veg beds are raised beds, so with the help of fleece we will make progress.
Yet more compost.
We have stocked up with more mushroom compost, another thirty odd bags, that with our own compost, donkey manure and the seaweed should see us through this year. It always amazes me just how much compost we use in a year, we can never have enough.
The first wall unit completed.
While the bad weather continues it has given us a chance to re-do the kitchen, I should say, for Simon to re-do it, all the units are being painted, although we liked the dark blue we want to put our own stamp on the cottage, it is taking time, there is a lot of paintwork, and it has to be done when there are no helping paws.
Simon hard at work.
 It's hard to believe that we have been here two and a half years. Time flies when your having fun.
We are also having our first attempt at curing bacon. We had ordered a slab of pork belly from Deidre, our Organic butcher which was waiting for us on Saturday. Surprisingly it was cheaper from her than the price of pork belly from a conventional butcher. I had ordered the curing salt and salt petre on line, I had failed to find what I wanted here.
First remove the ribs.
The meat first had to have the ribs removed, they will get cooked as barbecue spare ribs,
Curing mix has to be rubbed into all the crevices, all the meat must be covered.
the curing salt was mixed with the salt petre, and then thoroughly rubbed  into the meat, the meat was then placed on a wooden rack in an airtight storage box, to allow for drainage. Our instructions are, as given by an experienced ham and bacon curer, to drain off any fluid daily, re-rubbing  curing salt into the meat for six days, we then have to soak the bacon for a couple of hours, then dry it completely, it should then be ready to hang in a cool dry place until we need to take slices off for eating.
 This is the traditional way of curing in Spain and other European countries so we hope it works for us. We should know in a week or so if we have made an edible product, we do hope so as we both miss bacon, it's just about impossible to get good bacon now, from pig to bacon in thirty six hours just does not seem right, neither does injecting chemicals and water into meat, and then calling it bacon. Maybe we can do better, it remains to be seen.     


  1. It's taking time but we will get there in the end.

  2. Hi Anne. everything looks good. sorry havent been in touch, pups keeping me busy
    sue x

    1. I expect they are out and about now, growing and eating everything in sight and keeping you on your toes. How are your preparations going for Crufts?

  3. I can't believe you've been there two and a half years, you've done so much and are so settled! Was a little worried about you two on hearing about the storms and flooding, glad to hear you're both safe and dry. Waiting in anticipation to hear how the bacon turns out! xx

  4. I'm glad we are not still in Galicia, they have had non stop rain since the middle of Dec, the Mino has burst her banks and there's flooding in Lugo! So much for sunny Spain.

  5. Im all set now. looking forward to seeing my family x

  6. Two and a half years, wow, time just speeds up. You have achieved such a lot in that time and more importantly enjoyed most of it.

    1. Time goes fast when you're having fun Ian ! Still things we want to do to the house, the garden is just about there, just wish spring would come and we could get out there.