Terry has the finishing touches, construction wise, on the downstairs bathroom. The tiles we chose have turned out better than we had hoped. In our usual thrifty way we chose very well priced tiles for the majority of the tiling work on the walls then bought some end of line and super expensive but muchly reduced granite tiles for decorative effect. The floor tiles were also more expensive but there was only a tiny area to cover. The partitioned area that I am now calling the janitorial cupboard is perfect. Terry has tiled the door to match the bathroom so it is hidden until you push the opening mechanism.
Terrys handmade, tongue in cheek solution to the, not once but twice, that the cistern top has been broken
Behind this tiled panel is the secret janitorial cupboard
I’m not strictly supposed to be showing the inside of the janitorial cupboard because it hasn’t been finished
Shelving will be fitted here for cleaning stuff and dog towels
Someone has quizzed us on why, if we intend to go off grid, are we designing such a beautiful home. Every single thing we plan is forward thinking. We don’t want to have to change anything major but the house needs to be able to take the kind of punishment we give it! The downstairs bathroom was transformed from what could be considered an already workable room into a slick, easy to clean, hardwearing wet room. It has to be able to shower the dogs, us, after our messy ministrations and somewhere to put the cleaning gear and the washing machine. The floor tiles are rough hewn and slip proof and the wall tiles easy to clean. We have to be able to fill water bottles easily too – lots of people have had water outages and whilst we haven’t we have had to fill 10 litre bottles of water 3 times a day for the pigs water. We reused the existing shower and tap fittings but fitted a new ventilation system. The bathroom wall is north facing and a north facing window in winter would just leak heat.
Previously the washing machine had sat at the end of the bath and within the reach of the shower spray. It was dicing with death if the washing machine had been left plugged in. That moment when you freeze and think “I’m standing in a cast iron bath with water cascading everywhere and the washing machine is plugged in”. I can report that it is possible to sweat whilst taking a shower. Of course nothing ever happened but now it never will. The old tiles had been smashed over the wash hand basin and a hole where the old chimney access was situated also left a gaping hole. The tiles were coming away from the bath but worst of all the additional height of standing in the bath whilst showering meant that the ceiling was uncomfortably close if you were a smidgen over 5’8″! This rooms requires no heating. It has a step down so is somewhat subterranean and with no windows it heats on residual household heat. So once we have finalised the well water pump system this room will have almost no carbon waterprint.
I am looking at alternatives to an electric washing machine and we’re both wondering about solar energy for some of the electrical requirements. Terry has so many tools and doesn’t intend to stop using them in the near future. With a solid fuel range for next year and our trusty little petchka that should meet all our heating and cooking requirements. We haven’t had the opportunity to make our mark yet but we are evolving and thoroughly enjoying the challenge.
Bodie eventually and over a gruelling 12 hour period was delivered of 10, yes 10 healthy, fat, hirsute sloths. They are adorably divine. She had them on Friday morning, (embarrassingly it is the following Wednesday the 17th – it’s been a busy time!). Bodie aged 7 at the end of the year surprised us all by getting pregnant. She has surprised us with her absolute degree of duty in which she cares for her pups. I wouldn’t say maternal more efficient. She is a shadow of her former self and no amount of meat and quality kibble is making a difference to her weight. She’s on a high protein diet so despite looking so thin and tired she is producing enough milk for the pups. I know it’s good quality milk too because they now feed and fall asleep in a tumultuous pile.
Literally about to give birth!
So here is a conundrum. Vinnie had the keyhole vasectomy before we left and his sad testicles are there but smaller and empty. When Bodie came into season (also a rather sporadic affair) Vinnie covered her and locked with enthusiasm and Bodie wore him ragged. So much so that for 2 days poor Vinnie could barely walk. This is the after effects of being hit by a car on one of his UK “prison” breaks! But one day we walked out of the house to see the village Lothario, locked with Bodie. So what do the pups like like? They match Vinnies last litter with James’s brindle Staffy/Rottweiller bitch Lexie. 3 black/brindle with some white markings, 1 brindle with white markings, 5 x with with black/brindle splurges in varying degrees of darkness. 5 males and 5 females. However the Lothario, a Karakachan is also black and white but with the enormous shaggy coat of the breed. So I suppose it will all come down to coat length. But just so nobody thinks I’ve lost the plot here I shall post shots of Vinnies first litter with Lexie and this litter but not in that order `:)
Bodies litter above
Lexie’s litter with Vinnie from birth to about 6 weeks and their first outside excursion
I have never invited comments but if anyone has heard of a neutered dog going forward to father a litter I’d be very interested to hear about it. And for balance I found the image below on the internet showing the same colour Karakachan as the Lothario and her litter. As I say it’ll come down to a miracle and coat length!
Apart from the pups being born I’ve delayed this post somewhat so I could include the new bathroom shots. Terry’s also started the tiling of the downstairs hallway. We are coming very close to finishing the barn extension side of the house. Sadly the mechanism inside the handle to our new double glazed front door is non functional. This is not the manufacturers nor the fitters fault. It was ours. We have made a habit of running leads to the outdoors for building work and then shutting the door. Given that we’ve been using this entrance to the house for 8 months for building work it has taken a battering. We’re now trekking to the end of the old house and the double entrance doors that end. We’re both almost embarrassed to go to our glazier Stefan and ask him to fix it. Double glazing is a huge expense here and if installed is treated as a new bit of furniture and venerated! Pleased to announce that Stefan came around at an hours notice, removed the door, took the lock mechanism and returned within 15 minutes with a new locking mechanism. He also corrected all the balances on all the doors and gave them a spray of something. It cost us 25 leva! Anyone living in our area of Bulgaria and in about a 50km radius I can only recommend Stefan, his products and his workmanship very highly.
The weather has been glorious so we’ve been out in the garden and reduced the mountains of building rubbish outside the house to a couple of bags. The rubble went to the hardcore pile by the pig sty and we burned absolutely anything we could. The metal and glass remains. I have told Terry that if he ever puts broken glass in the fire pile again there will be consequences. I spend 3 hours delicately picking out half a wheelbarrow of glass shards from the remains of the fire. He was suitably sheepish. 50% of the garden has thawed and melted and we have begun walking the grounds to make the final zonings of the ground. The little coppice that runs from south to north near the west border will be almost left as is for 2 reasons.
1. The pigs can be rotated, in the electric wired pen around a central post they will help clear the ground and leave as much as possible for planting.
2. There are a number of trees in various ages, girths etc. We are conscious of keeping a sustainable wood source over a continuing number of years.
We have 6 mature trees, 3 pines of which 2 will be felled, a sliver birch, an enormous and very poorly Sliven and of course the ancient Walnut that’s going nowhere. We have any number of Walnut trees in various stages of growth – way too many for our ground to sustain. So those that are the healthiest will be kept based on their locations and degree of maturity. The smaller saplings will be managed – mostly by the pigs!
Terry after the glass incident and the divine intervention that saved his skin!
I think we’ve allocated enough with some canny planting to cover the most of our veg/salad/fruit and nut requirements fairly well this year but perhaps not the pigs fodder to any great extent. I have already begun my indoor sowing program. We’ve also zoned the outside barn Terry wants to build. It will come of the end of the old house and stretch down the north boundary. The woodstore, Landy parking, workshop and toolshed will be situated here. Ilia and Violetta our neighbours on both sides have advised us to drive and park our Land Rover inside the north boundary. This is because half of the grassed area behind the house that intersects the unpaved grid of roads actually belongs to us. They suggest that we park the car inside the grounds because as a rule of thumb only adjacent neighbours use the intersections and that most thoroughfare happens along the horizontal and vertical larger grid roads. It is far more difficult to see if someone is at home it there car is not visible from the public facing side of the tracks. Makes it more difficult for burglars to see if you are home or not too. Point taken, it is always good to listen to your Bulgarian neighbours. They’ve lived here all their lives and seem to we doing pretty well for themselves.
Today the week has spun to Friday as in a blink of an eye. The weather has been glorious; bright blue skies, temperatures into double figures and budding all over the show! We’ve moved and sorted the chaotic woodpile. We now have 5 piles of wood types;
1. large oak beams or parts of beams that can be used in reclamation projects
2. large stumps, smaller and poorer oak lengths and logs from tree, less than 1 metre length for the petchka and the range
3. smaller pieces of wood and sticks for the petchka and range as kindling or starter wood
4. stumps, roots, awkward pieces of wood which will be used in the outside meat/bread oven or for starting bonfires
5. Usable but shorter lengths of baton and T & G which will be used in the making of the portable chicken runs that will be placed between the towns of veg to keep the weeds at bay, fertilise the soil and give our soon to be purchased chickens a varied diet and change of scenery
We also decided, in a moment of madness to let the pigs out of their pen. Well no disaster happened, some of my onions might have suffered but outside of that they ran and gambolled around the garden with Vinnie close on their heels. After about an hour we got them into their pen again but they moaned and squealed. We let them out again and rather touchingly they migrated towards us and rooted and rolled and wallowed and ate around the woodpile. They eventually stayed and milled about us as we worked on the woodpile. Getting them in wasn’t a drama just a learning curve. Though I do believe Vinnie has the propensity to be a herder. We has stood his ground against Goyle the Balkan Black and Grubbe (or is it Doyle?) the Landrace cross, they have determined some kind of respectful distance. Vinnie has taken up his throne on the old landing to the external stairs and in panopticon style keeps a visual on these porcine interlopers at all times. What I will mention is that when the pigs move it is at incredible speed and unthinkable power. We are very conscious of that.