Just look at that dog!

Here is the new black west facing wall of the wooden house. In case the transition from iPad photograph to online image diminishes the true depth of smooth darkness the wood now presents I have included some grey hair in the photo so you can see difference. Now theres a crafty excuse for a selfie eh?

Grey hair black wall

Talk about crafty and black! Ena our dog often behaves more like a fox and looks like one – in black! However her eating habits are more similar to a pig! Here she is chewing her way through one of her regular “between meals” snacks. We had a field of maize (corn) until a few weeks ago. The combine harvester took most of it away but left a significant number on the ground. Believe me when I say they are hard and look very unappetising,,,, unless you are Ena the pig!

Ena the foxy black pig!l

Bird Brain Box

Sorting out the wood

The roofers who redid the main house roof for us left two large piles of old and off cut wood. It took quite a long time to take all the nails out of it and sort out what was worth keeping. Both my Dad and Nils helped with that when they were staying. I built one of our compost bins from the old 2 by 1 ‘s. Some of the plank off cuts became a bird box. I’d been watching the little birds swooping in and out of the wooden house rafters and was feeling rather guilty about the occupied birds nest that was destroyed by the roofing work.

The roofers waste wood pile

So I installed a little bird box on the side of the wooden house knowing that it was a bit late in the season but also that I’d soon be working on the attic of the wooden house and so might make it less welcoming to our little feathered friends. I kept my eye on the box but saw no visitors. That was back in July today whilst I was up the ladders again preparing the last of the outer walls for painting I noticed some blades of grass through the entrance to the  box.

Not the birds eye view

I opened the top to see if a nest had been built only to find my “missing multi – screwdriver”  with bird shit on standing up inside!

My fave screwdriver with added bird shit.

I spent almost three hours preparing the last outer wall for painting today. Then after making our late lunch/dinner I ran out of enough daylight to finish. Tomorrow this weather beaten ancient oak wood will be covered in a smooth black matt sheen.

Prepared to paint!

Today included a quick ride down to our nearest post office (3.6Km away in Krnjak) I say quick but it was painfully obvious to me that my cycling legs are seriously out of practice. It is one serious downside so far of being out here that I’m not using my bikes very often. Still it was nice to be out on my Cannondale again and the road is a good smooth one if a little narrow for trucks, coaches and bicycles at the same time. Having lugged the 10kg parcel of books destined for Olympia USA I was told I need to go to the Post office in Karlovac as our local office only handles parcels up to 2kg. Marvellous!

Breaking new ground

We have about six and a half hectares of land to play with here at Barabrith. A significant amount of that is woodland we hope in the future to do something interesting with tree houses, forest gardens, that kind of “thing”. Our large sloping field is currently lying fallow with our neighbours Nada and Stonky’s sheep and two cows occasionally grazing on it. One day we’ll start to reclaim it and plant trees and build submerged dwellings there. In the meantime it promises to be a mean sledging  slope come the winter snow!

Ena surveys -and guards! – our sledging slope.

Level with the house is the main field that Stonky has been farming for the last  ten years. This year he planted corn which gave us plenty of opportunity to make horror story jokes. This year he will plant wheat but on a smaller plot as we have reclaimed a considerable portion for ourselves. At present it is covered in the remains of sweetcorn and six trees I transplanted from the line of fruit trees that surrounds (?) two sides of the house. And a couple of very small oak trees I removed from the sloping field. The question we now face is what else do we plant on this land. Fruit and nut trees and bushes are our first choice but what will work in this space and what else should we do with it? Whatever we choose I see a lot of digging coming up!

Our tabula rasa veg patch

Late Nights and Misty Mornings

Life in “the village” is rather more attuned to the cycle of the sun than I am used to. It kinda makes sense of course in a rural agricultural situation and also when the local population has aged well past the “lets go out tonight, cinema or a club?” stage.  (The nearest cinema is in Zagreb about an hour’s drive from here.) So when I find myself sitting in my computer corner in the early hours I know I’m not gonna be in sync with the neighbours as they welcome the dawn chorus each day at 6am!

My computer corner in the main room of the house.

My excuse is of course that it’ll take time to “acclimatise” to these rural ways. Also October has brought some very atmospheric morning mists that don’t clear till almost 8am so hey whats the point of getting up  and getting lost in that grey “pea soup”?

Home is where my HIFI is!

Having just got back from London after spending about six months here in Croatia the concept of “home” has been on my mind. Riding around London was an all too familiar feeling, but I felt like a tourist ! Thing is I’m still without my own room here at Barabrith let alone having a place to set up my HIFI. Sure my room is being worked on by “the builders” and when its done it will my “den” extraordinaire! But as yet I struggle to feel I’ve settled here ….yet!

My room in the making

Still one good thing about my brief visit to Hackney was collecting my first ever bit of HIFI , my  ITT transistor radio! It was  birthday present for me from my parents back in 1979 (or maybe 78!) and it soon became my secret late night listening to John Peel device.  Oh the days! The thing still works a treat even though the ariel came off a couple off a couple of decades ago. Trouble is John Peel is no more and over here I can’t get Radio 4!

My transistor radio from 1979

Chestnut Hunting

Today was chestnut collecting day! We headed off to Petrova Gora which is better known for its crazy Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija than its chestnut trees.  The  monument was erected by a sculpture to remember those that fought the fascists in WW2. Unfortunately since the Yugoslav war the monument has been left to rack and ruin. But its a great building to climb inside, the inner architecture is as wild as its outer and the view from the top magnificent.

Monument to the uprising of the people of Kordun and Banija

We took our neighbour Nada along with us as she has all kinds of essential local hidden knowledge, she was keen to pick chestnuts and has not been to Petrova Gora since 1993 despite it being a top spot for chestnuts. We foraged around the forest floor for about an hour or more and came away with finger tips tingling from the spikey outer shells of the chestnuts that many nuts were still hiding within.

A “spikey bastard” forest chestnut.

My haul was given general approval and later that evening Marko and Sunni roasted a load on their wood stove. I was a bit disappointed that so many were bad or had worms inside but the good ones were wonderful. I freezer bagged a load for Vanja which now we have  a new freezer unit is easy to do.

My Chestnut Haul