Friday, September 10, 2010

I can’t believe it was the 4th August that I last broadcast some brief news items from the dizzy world of Casa Grotta.

After my second to last son visited with his girlfriend Meg, we had a bit of a break before the out-laws arrived. It was great to see Pip again and to meet Meg properly. We had a lovely relaxed time and a couple of good evenings out. Their time with us was over far too quickly, but never mind. We look forward to seeing them over here again when they can manage it.

So, what about the chickens you ask. Well. The last lot we got, the Three Weird Sisters really did turn out to quite odd. One of them started to loose her feathers at the bottom of her back. As a consequence the other two started to peck her. It was quite unsettling to watch. Anyway, she pegged out quite soon after we got them. So that was a good start. That left two. After about a week, one them suddenly went off her feet. It was though she had had a stroke or something. She’d no balance and had real difficulty moving around. The other one, sensing a weakness, started to peck at her. It’s obviously something hard-wired into them. After about a week, ten days, she was on her back with her legs in the air, and not in the rumpy-pumpy sense either.  We were reduced to one. If the bloody fox doesn’t get them disease and pestilence seems to have a go. Are we cut out to have chickens?
La D and I had a good chinwag about it and decided to leave her on her own for a few days before we re-stocked, for the last time (?)
We bought another little brown hen and a little black one. This lot has now been called Tir-Na-Nog – the Celtic version of the Greek Elysium – so we are hoping they will stay young for quite a bit and be very happy and lay lots of eggs. We have two layers at the moment, the oldest one Tir and Na the young brown one. Nog seems a little unsure of the egg laying business but I’m confident that three a day will happen soon.

More Kittens

Yes, two of last year’s kittens gave birth. One had three and the other had one. As before they seemed quite happy to share mothers when it came to feeding time, so they have got off to a good start. What is even better is that through friends and Facebook, we have managed to home all four of them. What is really strange about it is that the people that have gone to both have dogs like Bertie! That is quite serendipitous. As the kits are so used to sharing their space and growing up with a big white dog, it’s not a shock to them. However, one the dogs is the same age as they are. We went to see her – Lola – and her proud owners yesterday to drop off their kittens. Lola is just adorable. Eight weeks of fluff. Her coat looks exactly like a lambs. All curly. We all think she must be pure breed, as she came from the sheep farmer next door who has about four adult Maremmas.
There were other litters of \kittens in the neighbourhood, but we don’t know what happened to them. We still haven’t heard from the comune about sterilising the cats. I am not that surprised though.


I really wanted to enthuse about our wedding anniversary treat but I can’t really. In the afternoon it p***ed it down but we were assured of a dry night. Ahem. We did our, by now, usual “passeggiata” round Macerata and bought a CD of the opera – I Lombardi della Prima Crociata (The Lombardys of the First Crusade) by Verdi. Found the fab pizza restaurant we had gone to two years ago and had a superb pizza and bottle of wine. Then we made our way to the arena, umbrella in hand, extra clothes in rucksack. What we noticed first was that how many of the audience were wearing Winter clothes. I was in shorts – well it was August and I’m English as someone remarked to me today in the shops as it happens. He said I couldn’t be mistaken for an Italian as I was wearing what only foreigners would wear in weather we are having today. That’s bye-the-bye.
So we huddled down, raided the rucksack and clambered into the few extra layers we had brought with us. The show started. To say it was a minimalist set would be like saying the Pope is a Catholic, a real no-brainer. It was just like a choral piece, but of course with more passion in the songs and a bit of moving about. The only set was a cross that they out up and put down. Wow! The set designer was definitely overpaid on this one.  
The music was fabulous, it really was. But as a spectacle, well, it left us feeling even colder than we were. At half time, I hate to admit to you, we called it a night and went back home, with the heater in the car at full blast  and Verdi blasting out of the CD player. Excellent.

Hordes of family descend

LA D’s sister, the Contessa and her family came over at the same time as the out-laws. La C and her entourage were staying a very lovely Agriturismo not far from us whilst ma and da were staying with us. We had a great time. La C and her brood were only staying a week but the out-laws stayed for what seemed like years but was really only 16 days. The weather was v hot. Sometimes too much and we had to retreat indoors to find somewhere that was less that 35° in the shade. Phew.
We have my sister and her husband arriving very soon. They have been given a list as long as your arm, as they are driving over so they have plenty of room. Ha, ha.

General outlook on growing matters

Very good. The toms seem never ending. We are making tomato sauce, which I have to say, is something quite special, tomato jam, which is extremely moreish, frozen tomatoes, tomato soup. We are even looking into trying to make tomato aeroplanes, musical instruments, children’s shoes from the skins and even little people as this photograph of an early prototype clearly shows.

Oh, yes, we are very inventive here at Casa Grotta.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

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