5-4-3-2-1

Every morning, I’m up early, not through choice but because my spaniel Twix seems to have a built in alarm clock ! 6am and he’s awake, which in turn, as far as he’s concerned, means I have to be too ! So the morning ritual begins, let dogs out, put kettle on, feed the chickens and pick up the dog mess in the garden ! Glamorous I know !
Anyway on with the point of this blog, chickens ! We acquired 10 chickens by mistake in April, (misunderstanding in communication with our neighbour ) and as they were only around 6/8 weeks old, we hadn’t a clue as to how many were cockerels. Turns out we had 5 ! Beautiful as they were and as much as I enjoyed hearing them practice their cocker-doodle-dooing every 5 minutes, they were fighting and attacking my hens. Didn’t know, never having chickens before, just how aggressive they can be. Well this particular morning they we being extremely aggressive, so much so, one of my hens was getting a right bashing. Nothing for it but to get rid of 4 of my cockerels. Not a decision I made lightly but one that had to be done I’m afraid.
As Andy or I had never killed a chicken before, we had to ask our neighbours for help. To be honest I didn’t want to be a part of it but my neighbour left me no choice as she insisted I help her catch them, not Andy, me !
Our 5 hens and the remaining cockerel were put inside and the remaining, doomed cockerels were put in the run were my neighbour ( 80 years old ) and myself preceded to catch them. Easier said than done ! They were certainly not going to go quietly ! It took about 10 minutes and a few scratches to finally round them up, then we all set off to our neighbours where the dreaded deed was done.
It was very quick and humanely done but, for me, still not a pleasant encounter. I tried hard not to look but as I was holding 2 of them it was difficult not to get the odd glimps. I felt pretty bad as I was the one that took care of them every day but it had to be done.
Once the worse was over, we all sat on little stools whilst we plucked the feathers. Andy didn’t quite get it right and ended up pulling half the skin off !
Our neighbour did all the gutting etc, not the easiest job, but she did it with expertise and I was quite impressed ( also glad I didn’t have to do it as it was pretty rank !). Every part of the birds were saved and bagged up in their own individual bags ready for the freezer. My face must have been a picture as my neighbour included the head and feet in the bags, I’m afraid there was no way I wanted a chicken head to end up on my plate ! They also gave us all the intestines etc for us to feed to dogs but I’m afraid that was definitely not going to happen either. Those parts were eventually disposed off discreetly so as not to offend our neighbours.
When we eventually finished we tried to give our lovely neighbours one of the chickens as a thank you but they refused and thought we were crazy ! The following day I made them some jam, a cake and gave a bucket of plums as a way of thanking them which seemed to make them happy.
As much as I didn’t feel good about killing our cockerels, we did enjoy our day with our neighbours, not just because we enjoy their company but because we always leave with a little more knowledge and understanding of everyday life in Bulgaria .
As for my frozen chickens, well it took a lot for me to eat one but I did and it was tasty but I think, in future , I’ll just stick to eating their eggs ! 🙂

One Year On !

So it’s been one year ( actually one year and three weeks ),since we arrived in Bulgaria and what a year it’s been. After a lot of discussions and plenty of soul searching, we have come to the conclusion that it’s time to go back to the UK !!! ……………Just joking 🙂
A year ago we arrived in a country we had never visited, to a house we had only seen pictures of, unable to speak or understand the language and to a new lifestyle that was going to be completely opposite to how we lived in the UK. One word that could sum it all up….. crazy !
People say, that when you relocate to another country, you should at least give it a full year before deciding if you have made the right choice. I couldn’t agree more. This past year has been a mixture of roller coaster emotions, a few tears, good times and bad and plenty of soul searching. There have been moments where I have struggled, mostly because I could no longer see my kids on a regular basis. I struggled with the winter, not because of the cold, more due to cabin fever, I loathe being stuck inside for days on end.
Despite the odd struggles, we have fallen in love with Bulgaria. Not only is the country beautiful but we have found the people warm, generous and extremely helpful. We have lovely neighbours that have welcomed us with open arms and we have met a lovely English couple who have helped us so much and have become close friends. We love the village life, so peaceful and stress free and we’ve learnt a lot . Not only about how to grow our own veg but how to recycle everything. It’s amazing what you can do or make ( with a little imagination ) with things you find in the garden or house.
Everything we are doing to the house or garden, we are doing ourselves. It’s been difficult and stressful at times and a huge learning curve but there’s an enormous satisfaction and a sense of achievement whenever we complete a job.
Since being here, our lifestyle has completely changed,for the better I might add. If we’re not working on the house, we are outdoors working in the garden enjoying the weather which has improved our health tremendously. Andy has been asthmatic all his life, every month in the UK, he would go through four salbutamol inhalers and two seretide inhalers. Since being here he only uses one salbutamol every 6-8 weeks and no longer takes the seretide, plus he’s lost over 4 stone in weight ( which has obviously helped his asthma ). I have also lost a little weight and I feel a lot fitter, mainly due to all the work we’ve been doing and eating healthier due to us growing a lot of our own veg.
The language barrier can be difficult at times and have caused us problems at times, like the other week when we were having a conversation with our neighbour ( more of a game of charades really ), trying to explain our plans for the garden. We were telling them we planned to have chickens next year, they asked how many, we said 10. Our neighbour proceeded to have a half hour conversation about chickens, which we struggled to understand exactly what she was saying other than the few words ‘chicken, 10, shop and telephone ‘. Well the following week she came round to tell us we had to go and collect our chickens from a shop! Yes it turns out she ordered 10 chickens for us ! So the day was spent running around like ‘ headless chickens’ trying to sort out a place for the chickens and a secure run! Now, I hasten to say, we try to be careful in what we say 🙂 . We are slowly learning the language but it is a struggle, mostly for me, Andy seems to pick it up easier but I’m sure we’ll get to grips with it in time.
So here we are, one year on and all that’s left to really say is what an amazing year we’ve had. Would we change it for the world…no. Do we have any regrets…..no. Would we consider going back to live in the UK….never!
Bulgaria is now our home 🙂