Looks as though its over…..

Winter that is, I don’t think anyone has seen a winter like this one for a long time, we have been able to look out of our chalet and watch the area go from white to green and back to white again so many times in the last three months it really has tested us all and the best conditions in the mountains has been over the last two weeks. Now it has gone from the sublime to the daft with the temperature yesterday reaching 27c and we are in dire need of some rain as everything is waiting to grow but can’t because its so dry.

We did have some great days though, the annual childrens competition “Janosikova Valasticka” had really nice sunny weather and everyone had a good time, here is one of Maria’s pupils waiting at the start gate.
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Maria and I had several days freeriding on Krivan and Chleb, it was not just the riding but we really love the walks up to where we ride although it takes up to an hour to get there and only 5 mins to ride down the whole trip is such a good feeling and gets your mind nice and clear, its the quiet of the mountains that is the secret. Here are some pictures of us and the beautiful scenery that surrounds us.
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Now we are busy in the garden, our potatoes are in, we have three new lambs and they are out in the fields, the bees are looking good and everything is waiting to bloom, we have purchased a greenhouse which is going to be good fun erecting especially as it was made in Russia and the instructions were in Russian, we have now got some in English from the web so we are ready to go. All our ski and boarding gear has been cleaned and put away and the mountain bikes are itching to go out, so lets hope it is a good summer for us all………..Last picture is of our happy sheep20160403 016

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Up and down.

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all, up and down is exactly what has been happening with the weather, since I last wrote we have had snow, rain, sunshine and winds, the temperature has fluctuated between -21c and +10c, we have never had brilliant snow conditions but managed to get to free riding once in the mountains and now it is coming down like you would not believe, the bad news is today I am housebound due to the car blowing a coolant pipe, fingers crossed the part comes soon.

Yesterday I was in Kubinska Hola being a gate judge for the annual school slalom competition and last week I did the same for an international giant slalom two day competition, it is pretty easy but involves standing on the slopes for most of the day, I actually enjoy it and providing it is not too cold its a doddle.
On the home front we now have a new baby ram, one of ewes is still to give birth but it wont be for another month, Maria is very busy as usual this time of the year with the ski instructing and seems to be enjoying it, she actually managed to take the sheep out around Christmas time which is very unusual.


Walking in the mountains was quite good at the end of last year and gave us some beautiful views because it was so cold and the air was very clear, plus looking out of the chalet some mornings was amazing.


Thats about all for today, the snow is definitely doing its bit right now so maybe a trip to the mountains is on the cards fairly soon.


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We are walking and computing

Yep, we are now in the time of the year when we wait for the winter sports to begin and we have not had enough snow for that so we walk and we catch up on other stuff that seems to get shelved till we have time to do it.  We decided to go a little further afield on the mountain bikes in November and it was very interesting, firstly because the scenery was amazing in the hills and around the reservoir near Nove Bystrica and secondly when I took a corner a bit quickly and it was covered with ice, whoops!! my fleece took most of the impact but it was still painful, the good comes with the bad eh!  Here are a couple of pictures including one of some bee hives that were in the hills and up on stilts to keep them away from the bears…..



The last picture was taken in the woods near here, such wicked colours, we see this every autumn but never get used to or tired of it and talking of colour, Maria successfully grew peppers this year and although we had to bring them in to ripen due to early frosts they were very impressive.

What is even better is the fact that Maria managed to make my favourite cold dish Pork Ham and Egg Pie, you cannot buy anything remotely like it over here but now we make our own, we have also made sausages and for anyone thinking about doing it, buy a sausage filler, it is so easy with one of these, we bought a hand machine, it makes life very easy and the sausages are the business.   On the subject of food we are now down to two ewes again as the rams are in the freezer, the meat will feed us for quite a while and we know where it comes from and what it was fed on, purely organic. Here is a picture of the shepherdess one of her cats and her flock getting the last of the grass, the cats follow Maria everywhere these days.

For those interested in photgraphy and computers I have just moved from Adobe Lightroom which I have used since the first beta version to a new piece of software because since version 6 of LR I and many others have had loads of agro and Adobe seem bent on making us all go to a cloud system, no thanks you Adobe for me its time for change.   The new software I am using is Capture One Pro 9 by Phase One and although I am having to learn afresh it is pretty amazing especially if you work with RAW files which is its speciality, I will let you know how I am getting on in a few months time. Last but not least we had a beautiful walk in the snow on the mountains last week and although not sunny it was really something being above the lower clouds.

Well that is it, I probably will not write anymore this year so to all my readers have a glorious Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year.



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Life is good…

It is true, our life here is very good and I have to say I cannot believe how long it has been since my last blog, too long I guess.
We have had a very varied time since last I wrote, the garden recovered amazingly from the storm, it was almost as though it was saying “you need to do better than that to stop us plants”  and they came back with a vengeance, the shrubs and perrenials bloomed, the veg garden just kept producing, even though we have had frosts the rassberries have given us a good bowlfull every day for the past two weeks, as you can see our onion and garlic crop was very good indeed.20150815 001

The climate here has been ridiculous with temperatures going to the top end of the +30c range through most of August and September, in one week it went from 36c to 5c and then on the 12th of October we had our first snow, not great amounts but it is still on the mountains today, we had a light dusting on the rooftops which soon went when the the sun came out.20151012 004

We had a brilliant time with our fruit and veg picking which resulted in record numbers of preserves, we made 149 jars of bottled fruit, jams and chutney’s plus we have a ton of dried and frozen fruit and veg, so what started as a disaster with the hailstorm ended very well, the wild fruit was terrific and we picked over 5kg wild Strawberries and 7kg wild rasberries, towards the end we went into the mountains to pick Cranberries in what can only be described as gale force winds during which we had to stop the fruit from blowing away before we got it into the containers.   Just watch this short clip

We have a new ram who we hope is doing the business and next month we will be putting them inside for the winter, our rams will go in the freezer and the ewes will hopefully produce lambs in Feb/Mar next year, here is a picture of the covering ram who belongs to a friend of ours.20150906 006

So here we are busy packing all our stuff up, we have to clear away everything from our patio including the trellis, furniture and plants which all get stored till spring, the garlic will go in the ground tomorrow and we cover it with conifer branches for frost protection, it all happens so fast here, one minute we are sitting looking at the garden next we are waiting for the snow, it really is very nice to have seasons that start and finish when they should, last picture is of the forest up in Vratna, wicked clours eh!!!!!20151016 003


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Weather it will or weather it won’t

Hi everybody here I am at last, lots of things have happened since my last post so today we will commence with the weather.
We have had all sorts of conditions, since the start of June the temperature has bounced from 5c to 36c it even dropped to -2c in the mountains during the second week of July, we have had loads of storms some were amazing with incredible rainfall and stunning rainbows like this.

20150530  004Other times it was so hot and humid that it was only comfortable indoors, then on Friday 17th July we had a really bad storm with high winds and hail, the hailstones were, to coin a phrase, the size of golfballs, it lasted for about 15minutes and it devasted the garden, dented our metal roof and it was very demoralizing to see all our hard work smashed into the ground in such a short time, most of the veg garden we either had to cut down or take out, it is amazing how nature can bounce back though, quite a bit has already started to sprout again and we were lucky not to have been out in it so there is always next year….

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We have definitely got plenty of things done, our woodstore is full ready for the winter, we cut loads of hay and learned how to stack it the Slovak way on Ostrava’s which are sections of pine trees pushed into the ground then carefully wrapped with hay which can be left for long periods to dry or for storage, most of ours is now in our barn, the scything is very good exercise and makes you get up early while the dew is still on the grass.

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Other things we were involved in, Marias bees are doing very well and she managed to catch two swarms one of which you can see her with in the photos, she had to be quite quick as they were just about to move on, she now has five hives with very healthy colonies, you can read more on her blog.

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Animal wise, the sheep are looking very good and enjoying the lush grass from all the rain and sun, we were blessed with the presence of a feral cat who I named Herpes because no matter how often she went away she always came back, then she had four kittens and kept them in someones barn, one morning they all arrived on our patio and kept us amused for several weeks, we tried not to interact with them if possible so they will return to the wild, they were away all last week and then back on Sunday, they will go soon we reckon, but they were a joy to have around, just take a look.

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As for the garden and us, we are doing very well and have gathered loads of fruit for jams and bottling, soon be off to collect mushrooms, the garden has been a treat until the storm and it will always please us and our visitors whatever its condition, thats all for today, hope it finds you all in the best of health.

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