03/10/2012

Goodness gracious, October already! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?

We’ve been exceedingly busy at La Darnoire Towers recently. Yesterday I bottled our home brewed 7.5% beer, and today was the turn of this year’s batch of 15.3% elderberry wine. This pleasant task was unfortunately interrupted by having to cut some more wood for the wood stove; we’re still going through all the scrap wood we put to one side when we first moved in, and I suspect there’s still enough there to see us through the winter. Still, the advantage is we can heat our bathwater on the kitchen stove without it costing us anything!

On the home renovation front, the new double-glazed windows have now been installed in the bedroom and lounge, and the walls around the windows have been re-plastered using lime render.

Today was also a major milestone. Last Saturday LSS and I lowered the new borehole pump into the borehole, having first of all carefully attached it to a long piece of nylon rope. As you do. To supply power to the pump, we re-used some rigid cables which the aged FIL had lying around. Rigid cables are not the easiest electrical wiring with which to work, but they fitted in the end.

The pump is situated at a depth of 40 metres, and feeding the 32mm water pipe down the borehole tube was not the easiest task in the world either!

Today we fed the remaining 25m of 32mm water pipe through the corrugated tubing which had been buried to a depth of 80cm (for frost protection). It links the borehole itself to the house. I then jury-rigged a piece of 3-core cable to the borehole electric switch to test. I also connected up a length of garden hose to the borehole pipe to lead the water away. We are highly pleased to report that the pump is working very well, and the sight of our own borehole water gushing out of the hosepipe led me to dance a jig. Which is, for those of you that know me well, a very unusual occurrence indeed.

Our neighbours in the next county (just down the road from us, but the county border lies at one edge of the property!) had kindly donated an old 500 litre pressure vessel (ballon) which they no longer required. Well, I suppose we did invite them around for a wild boar barbecue, together with a springbok biltong apéritif! We’ve decided to use this ballon as our thermal store for the hot water. This will involve cutting the top off, cleaning it out thoroughly, and then drilling lots of holes for the various water pipe connections.

But obviously, a cold water supply is the first priority, hence the excitement at getting the borehole pump working!

On the kitchen front, LSS has made several pots of tomato sauce, several pots of tomato ketchup, lots of tomato soup, stuffed tomatoes… (spot a trend here?)
The garden has also produced lots of courgettes, carrots, beans, peas, beetroot, turnips, and – my personal favourite – gala melons and watermelons! Not to mention the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, of course.
Unfortunately we had to throw away our new batch of blackberry wine. Because I only have one brewing belt, I had to wait for the beer to finish fermenting before I could add the yeast to the blackberry wort. And even though I had sterilized it with some campden tablets, it had started fermenting on its own and smelled rather rank. Maybe next year!

Wildlife diary: Wasps. In early summer, I noticed a few wasps flying in and out of a small opening next to the chimney, and decided to leave them alone. They appear to have built their nest between the kitchen ceiling and the floor of the roof space. They haven’t really bothered us, but one or two have started dropping in for a visit through the aperture between the kitchen ceiling and the wall. I’ll be glad when they die out this winter and I can fill up their entrance hole. It has however been fascinating to watch them from the safety of the kitchen window. They are the first insects stirring in the morning, even with temperatures as low as 2 degrees Centigrade; and they are the last insects flying about when it gets dark. They appear to work even harder than bees.

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