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Today is the day before a very important holiday in Bulgaria.  Tomorrow is Cyrill & Methodius day…yes, they of the Cyrillic alphabet have not only created the most difficult alphabet in the world but given Bulgaria an official holiday…probably because they have to use it everyday.

Anyway, I’ve been slaving away in the garden pretty much everyday and thought I’d be spending the rest of this week there as well, until yesterday when Hristina reminded me that an official Praznik ( holiday) was coming Tuesday and there would be no garden day then.  The part of me that aches a lot was greatly relieved and very much looking forward to a day off.  This morning that achy bit of me…my back…isn’t very happy and I’m sitting here writing this with a TENS machine strapped to me hoping that later today I might feel up to a few hours toil…if not, it looks like I’ll be having a pre praznik praznik….though I’m sure I can find plenty to do inside.  If the weeds didn’t grow while I watched, I wouldn’t be so worried, but a couple of days here can be the difference between a lovely garden and a small jungle, high enough to hide the Goosey & Lucy.

…speaking of whom…

Like a lot of life’s simple things, they are bringing me small moments of amusement and joy.  Lucy is all very sweet and lovely and does little else besides eat and lay eggs…more about the eggs in a minute.

Goosey, on the other hand, is a bad tempered SOB, but that can be funny as well. He is highly protective of his ‘girl’ and you’re well advised not to get too close to her, especially with all these eggs she’s laying. He’s not so aggressive to me anymore. I guess he’s got used to me being around, but even then, if I get too close to their little house ( where said eggs are) he still hisses at me and takes attack position. I have learnt to take an offensive position with him and he tends to settle a little but watches me like a hawk and I know if I turned my back on him in their pen, he’d have me.

I also learnt a valuable lesson from Hristina and I nearly wet myself laughing when I saw what happened. I told her about the number of eggs, 17 to date, and she walked into the pen for a look..Goosey was not happy and came flying at her. She promptly gave him a back hander that sent him tumbling and left him standing there shaking his head and looking completely stunned while still trying to hiss and look like the boss.  Hristina didn’t miss a beat…that was when I learnt not to run away from him, but to stand my ground and he & I get on much better now that I do.

They don’t stay in the yard during the day anymore.  They are true free ranging geese and they head off out the gate every morning and spend hours grazing around the streets.  Of course cars and buses and trucks and people go by and Mr Agro often flaps his wings and hisses at all of the above.  The funniest is the buses…it’s real David and Goliath. The buses don’t take a blind bit of notice but it’s always funny to watch him asserting himself.

And it was in the street that Hristina made me laugh again. When Goosey hisses at people, they tend to cross the street looking very nervous. The other day Hristina was walking down the street and Goosey did his usual wing flapping and hissing.  This time she grabbed him by the head and sort of ‘threw’ him away and again, he sat there looking stunned, trying to figure out what had happened.  She’s got him completely baffled…

They have got so used to me now that often when I’m working in the garden they come and graze near me, which is nice.  I always have my Ipod on when I’m working so often don’t hear what’s going on around me and sometimes I’ll look up from what I’m doing and the two of them are very close to me, just helping me with the weeding.  Geese are great…they don’t touch the veges, they just graze around and under and it’s nice that they trust me enough to get close without any aggression, well, at least until I go into their pen.

And in there Lucy has laid 17 eggs.  Now I don’t know a lot about poultry and incubation times or anything like that so I’ve watched her adding an egg every few days, but not sitting all day.  There’s sex in the streets in between eating, honking and hissing. She and Goosey are at it all the time…but I’m thinking maybe the eggs are all duds and she just hasn’t figured that out yet.  Got online to find out how these birds operate and apparently they lay all the eggs they are going to and THEN she will sit longer every day, but they usually only lay about ten eggs, so are hers duds ?  I have no idea.  I always thought birds kicked dud eggs out of the nest but she’s caring for these, covering them when she’s not there and sitting, for periods that are becoming longer, every day.

Anyone out there geese experts ?  any advice gratefully received…

And then there’s the coriander and the spinach, both growing like weeds.  I’ve already frozen down batches of both, but they’re growing faster than I can eat or freeze.  I’ve made coriander pesto, which I wasn’t that sure about when I found the recipe, but let me tell you, it’s delicious.  I had some on pasta last night will certainly make more from my masses of coriander BUT I’m also looking for other ways of keeping coriander, besides eating, freezing & pesto. Again, any advice gratefully received.

The day is dribbling away and I’m feeling a little work coming on. I’m starting to make such big inroads into the back yard now that I really am reluctant not to get out there as much as I can and, hey, the TENS seems to have done it’s job so I shall bid you farewell for now…

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While the sun has been out, I’ve really been making hay…

Illiecho finished the frame for the new grapes and climbing roses and I spent almost two days painting it in preparation for the plantings at the base of most of the upright poles.

I shanghaied Mitko into helping me on Saturday because I just knew an entire day of heavy digging wouldn’t do me a lot of good. We borrowed a hole digger from Hristina and Vocho and spent the entire day digging huge holes for the new grapevines and my climbing roses and the last couple of fruit trees that were waiting for their spot in the garden.

Once that task was completed, I thought I might give myself a little rest and maybe call it a day, but No !!, Hristina appeared around the corner to let me know that Volcho was coming to rotary hoe the back area where my veges are going this year.  It’s been ploughed twice, but it needed it’s final breaking up in preparation for the veges…

A little part of me thought ” Nooooo”… I was very tired, but you know what they say ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ and I knew there was a few days of big Spring rain coming, so back I went with Hristina and Volcho and their fantastically huge and rather crazy/erratic rotary hoe. This thing is quite old and appeared to bounce around quite a lot.  Volcho is 70 and though still a strong man, I was feeling a little concerned as he and the hoe bounced around the garden.  But then to make me even more nervous, Hristina took over the driving !!!  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, these people just amaze me. They just work and work and work and nothing phases them.  I offered to drive the thing  myself but they would not hear of it and on we went until it was all done. Volcho and I followed the hoe picking out any rogue weeds and stones and rubbish and before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’ the garden was ready for that what would be going  in…

I waved them off and went around picking up tools and generally tidying up when ‘voila’ Hristina came back around that same corner, this time loaded up with cuttings of begonias, geraniums and other various flowering plants.  We potted them and then she said we should get my strawberries in.  Could I be any more tired….No, but I figured that once the rain started there would be no more gardening for a few days and I have my cousin Kerry arriving on Friday or Saturday…so back to the garden I went.

I know it doesn’t look like much now, but that darker patch in the middle of the picture is(hopefully) going to give me a bountiful harvest of strawberries

As Hristina was leaving she told me that she would be back on Sunday (yesterday) and we were planting potatoes, peas, beetroot, red onions, corn and spinach, and sure enough, we did.

I was actually back on the paint brushes doing last patching jobs before the guests start arriving.  I had a rather bad water leak which wasn’t detected until the water had soaked through 15cms of concrete and it flooded one of the downstairs rooms so I’m trying to dry that out and get rid of the rather strange smell…I never realised that sodden concrete could smell so bad.  Anyway, hopefully that will be sorted before the guests, who I intended to put in that room, arrive.

Anyway, Hristina turns up for another gardening session and gives me a bollocking because, apparently, I should be resting…according to her, I work too much !!  This from a woman who puts me to shame with her stamina.

We headed down the back with all the seeds and a few kilos of seed potatoes and our hoes and in a very short time, everything was in

And I know to you that just looks like a big patch of dirt, but underneath nestled in the warmth of the soil is hopefully a large part of my food for the year.

So on Saturday and Sunday I added  all of the above vegetables plus 1 blackberry, 1 blueberry. 1 apple tree, 1 more cherry tree, 6 grapevines, 10 raspberry canes, 20 strawberry cuttings, 2 rose bushes and 2 climbing roses to the garden.  And don’t forget that in the garage I have trays and trays of seedlings for three types of tomatoes, snow peas, red and green peppers, cucumbers and shallots which will be the next garden mission, transplanting them all when they are ready. I figure if even half of what I have planted actually grows, I should have an abundant harvest this year…and yes, I will be saving as much seed as I can for next year.

The garden is in, now I just need the promised Spring rains to give it a jump start.

And after five years of my back yard being a complete shit tip, it’s so nice to see something taking shape.

Now, to other things.  What do you think this might be ?


Yes, you’re right, it’s an egg and who do you reckon it belongs to ?

Yes, indeedy, it looks like Goosey and Lucy have settled into their new home and maybe, just maybe, there might be the the pitter patter of little webbed feet later in the year.  I went into the pen the other day because I couldn’t see Lucy.  Goosey was not impressed and hissed at me and even took a nip at my leg.  I told him to bugger off and he backed off a little, but he’s certainly ballsy…he continued to hiss and lunge in my general direction.  I peeked into the house and Lucy was there so I got out and left them. When I fed them later, Lucy was out of the house so I peeked in and there was their first eggy. Now, prior to all of this, he was really performing in the pen the other night…lots of honking and strutting and the next day we had the first egg.  He was doing it again last night and again, there was no sign of Lucy.  So I’m going for a little peek later to see if there are any additions. Baby geese are gorgeous and I’d love to see some in my yard.

Aren’t they lovely   🙂

And there’s more.  The first real sign of Spring flew over my head while I was in the garden on Saturday.

The storks are back. They’ve had their holiday in the sun and now it’s time to get some nests built, some eggs laid and some new babies for 2011. My fascination with them continues.  They are so huge and so graceful as they pass overhead.  When you see them in their nests they always look a little boofy and clumsy, but when they take to the skies they are truly beautiful to watch.

And, of course, my martenitsi are now in my cherry tree and I’m looking forward to a year of health, happiness and good luck. If my life continues in the same vein as the last year, I think all those things will be mine again this year.

And speaking of good luck, let’s not forget my old tyrant. What’s Gina up to ? well, not a lot really. There’s 24 hours in a day. She spends a little time waiting to see if I’ll share my morning toast with her

and sometimes she get’s a little.

Then it’s her daily walk which takes about 45 minutes and includes me stopping chatting to locals while she lays down for a rest.

There’s her daily feed. That takes about 30 minutes.

Then there’s her daily love…she and I do have time where we just sit and I stroke her and she leans up against me and gives me a little love, which is nice.

So that accounts for about 2-3 hours a day. Where is she for the other 21 ?? Where do you think…

In fact, as I sit here typing this, she’s reclining behind me in her bed…snoring !! It’s god awful and I have to wake her to stop it.

I’ve tried to entice her out into the sunshine, but when she gets to the top of the stairs she just digs her heels in and will not come down, yet, if I say the word ‘разходка’ (razhodka) – walk, she’s down those stairs like a speeding bullet. If I use it as a ruse to get her out of the house though and don’t take her anywhere, she sits there and looks miserable and hard done by until I let her back inside.  I can’t bear the painful look on her face, so I usually capitulate and let her go back to bed.

So now I need to crack on.  As I said, my cousin Kerry arrives here this weekend, her third time in Bulgaria.  She came here with me in 2004 when I was house hunting, she was my very first visitor when I moved here in 2005 and she’s coming back again… Three times in six years is a pretty good record.  Makes her a bit of a Bulgarian veteran.

I’m very excited about seeing her again, but the house is in total chaos.  The big leak has thrown my ‘getting ready’ plans way off course so I need to get to working (again). I’m also hoping that my sister, Jillian, will be coming here just a couple of days after Kerry leaves and then I have six more guests coming, so I can’t be postponing anything.  It has to be done in the next three days…Eeeeek !!

Do I have it in me ??

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What the ????

So. I’m up on the third floor busy washing windows and getting the curtains rehung. I look out the windows periodically to admire my lovely geese as they wander around their pen, eating wheat and looking pleased with themselves. I must have noticed them two or three times when suddenly they disappeared !!

I headed down the stairs to find the gate to their pen swinging ominously in the breeze and the front gate to the property open as well.  I rang Mitko…it was his rather wacko step grandmother that I bought them from…and we figured they had got out somehow and assumed that they would have found their way back to the grandmothers house.

Geese have a very strong homing instinct.  I remember having them in Australia and when I decided to sell them, they came back four times before the new owner managed to pen them in long enough for them to accept their new home.  Anyway, Mitko said as soon as he finished work he would go to her house and see if they were there.

Later that day…Gina and I were taking our daily sprint around the village when the wacko granny bailed me up…

She’s yelling at me and telling me they are her geese. “moi patki, moi patki'”(my geese, my geese)

I’m responding that I had paid her 50 levs for them, therefore they were mine.  I asked her if she had them and sure enough, while I was up on the third floor working with my Ipod on, she had snuck into the yard and stolen them !!!  I was livid and told her they were to come back to me or else she had best produce my 50 levs.

She was just going nutso and she spits a lot when she speaks.  Gina was also getting agitated…she doesn’t like shouting…so I walked away, came home, rang Mitko and said ‘I believe I know where my geese are’

Anyway, long story short, Mitko and his father went around that evening and told her to produce the money or the geese. Apparently, she didn’t want to produce either, so Mitko’s stepdad just went in and took the geese back. He told her if she ever set foot on my property again, I would let Gina out.  Of course I wouldn’t, but I think that was just enough to put the frighteners on her.

So Goosey and Lucy are safely back in their home and still looking very pleased with themselves.

And I did ponder the fact that I have a dog that some whack job wanted back from me and then a similar thing happens with my geese…do I attract these sort of people ??  Maybe I do, but I still have Gina and I still have the geese.

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And then there were four…

Overnight the number of residents at St. Pirin 16, Miladinovtsi has doubled.

Over the years there’s been a few fluctuations with various dogs and people coming and going, some staying longer than others, with myself and Gina outlasting all.

Following the recent death of a man in the village and the animal fire sale being conducted by his widow, two new family members arrived at my house in the middle of the night…

Say hello to Goosey & Lucy

Goosey’s the darker one and that’s the boy and Lucy is the white female…

At the moment they’re ensconced in the garage, which I’m hoping will allow them to settle in and get used to me as their new owner.  Geese are notorious for their homing abilities and will return from whence they came if they get the chance, so while I’m waiting for someone to help me cut their wings they remain in the garage. Once that’s done, I’m turning the old dog house into the new goose house and installing the old bath I pulled out of my bathroom as their swimming pool.

Like I didn’t have enough to do  🙂

I really love geese.  I think they are the proudest of birds and I love watching them strutting around, heads held high, letting out the occasional honk.  I am very happy to welcome these two into my life.

Addendum:  Mitko called by so we just chased two very flighty geese around my garage and they now have their wings clipped. It was certainly a chaotic flurry of feathers and honking, but now I know they can’t fly away.

They have now been moved into the old dog compound and Mitko also helped me move the old bath in there as well.  It’s been filled with lovely clean water especially for them, because geese love lots of water to play in. ………Now I’m waiting for them to emerge from the house, which is where they retreated after the wing clipping and I haven’t seen them since. I’m sure once they recover from the shock of events of the last 20 hours, they will be fine.

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