Well; so much for the searing supper dish I prepared at Tony’s request, yesterday evening –
ultimately it would seem that I’m the one who suffers for my ‘art’ – but more of that sorry tale, later….! Despite the above title, it’s been reasonably, unseasonably warm today; so all the girls – Milkforce & Hooligans – have been out enjoying the sunshine (with the exception of Asperula of course, who is still languishing in her private pen with her broken leg: we would put her back in with the others, but they just munch the bandages & take sneaky swipes at her if they think we’re not looking!). But it was wonderful to see them all peacefully grazing the verdant green pasture of Parc Dyffryn (the Valley Field) against the backdrop blaze of autumnal colour running down the cleft in the plunging hills where the Afon Bowi meets the Afon Barddu in a tumbling splendour of foaming white water.
Morning milking took a little longer than usual as I opted to ‘strip out’ the goats’ udders by hand; however they didn’t object as this inevitably means extra ‘munchies’ to keep them happily occupied albeit those awaiting their breakfast queued with vocal impatience. Meanwhile Tony brought the sheep into the lambing shed for a couple of nights so that we can prepare the flock for tupping & ultimately lambing, as they’re about to be moved up to their rich winter grazing & require worming, a pedicure & an overall ‘health check’. The flock matriarchs are pretty docile & will follow us anywhere for a bucket of feed; however three of the more skittish lambs were determined not to participate & exhausted poor Tony – already fading fast with his stonking cold – as he scurried around the most precipitous field on the ffarm in a brave attempt to catch them. Ultimately however, the cheeky escapees didn’t really want to be separated from the rest of the flock, & were cajoled into the comfort of the barn along with the rest. Having moaned every damp day this summer to come in, the ‘woolly bullies’ swiftly settled to the serious job of greedily munching their hay – so again, we’re a little busier than usual with yet another group of housed livestock to care for.
The next job on the agenda, was to take Nanuk for her booster vaccinations to the vet: but today even the normally simple process of putting her lead on, proved a bit of a nightmare as she absolutely refused to sit still. I did a quick training session with her in our arrivals yard as I didn’t want a repeat performance when we got to the surgery – especially as the car park backs directly onto a busy road. Once there however, apart from completely disregarding the check chain & pulling like the runaway train the instant she got out of the car, she was reasonably quiet despite the presence of other dogs in the waiting room (& a basket of three adorable, bold little kittens, who absolutely terrified her). Once in the presence of the vet however, she was so scared she peed herself, poor thing; & whimpered piteously when her ears were checked. Surprisingly she was fine about her booster jab; & we were delighted to learn that her weight has increased by four kilos over the last month – so only three more kilos to go, & she’ll be up to the correct minimum weight for her breed & stature at last – we must be doing something right after all. En route home we popped in to visit Boo, who had asked us to bring Nanuk; & we paused for a chat over steaming mugs of hazlenut coffee & a slice of her delicious date & walnut cake before heading homewards to make the most of the sunshine & tackle some outdoor tasks. Unfortunately the delayed shock of Nanuk’s visit to the vet took its toll about midway from home: alas, the unfortunate hound peed herself (phew! we thought, at least it wasn’t the ‘dreaded other’) – then heralded by a massive fart she proceeded to let rip with an explosive stream of watery diarrhoea, liberally spraying the back of the car & adding an artistic flourish with frantic paws & tail (thank goodness she was safely behind the dog guard in the X-Trail, not lounging on the back seat of the Navara). Down went the windows – thanking our lucky stars for a day without rain – & heads out into the mercifully fresh air as Nanuk, filled with horror at the indignity of her situation, whirled ever-faster in an anxious attempt to escape the pooey mess, sending sprays of excrement fountaining across the back of the car as she did so. I think we made it back to the entrance of our driveway, in record time. Having rescued Nanuk from the scene of her indignity I walked her back down to the ffarm, whilst Tony attempted to get rid of the worst of the mess before reversing the dripping car all the way down our half-mile-long drive (to keep any stray streams from smearing the back seat); then he commenced the cleanup operation as I sorted out Nanuk, who had another couple of ‘incidents’ before thankfully settling her stomach, with miraculous powers of recovery now the vet was no longer in evidence, back to normal.
We opted to restore our fragile equilibrium with some gentle paperwork rather than pursuing the flock of excited sheep around the shed; then Tony undertook the evening chores whilst I cooked the supper – on the proviso that I prepared him an even hotter chilli than the already infernal inferno which I’d concocted the previous day. The thought of having to handle yet more of those fiery little devils had me quaking in my boots; so I decided to give the process a ‘head start’ by using for my chilli base, not just mince & onion (I’d run out kidney beans which didn’t help from an authentically ‘Mexicana’ point of view) but also rustling up a tasty dish of Thai Temple Curry – chopped tomatoes, cauliflower florets, diced potatoes, a generous handul of fresh spinach leaves, soaked chick peas, freshly-podded garden peas, a clove or three of garlic, the aromatic leaves of freshly-torn basil & coriander, & spices such as cumin, mustard seed, turmeric, ginger & (yes you guessed it) chilli powder pounded together with seasoning by pestle & mortar, & simmered slowly & gently in coconut milk until the infusion of spices with the vegetables fills the kitchen with a warm, relaxing aroma. Served on a plump, snowy pillow of basmati rice, this was a curry even I could savour – but for Tony, a bigger punch needed to be packed into the flavoursome foodstuff. Transferring a generous dollop of curry into another pan, I grasped a handful of the fearsome little dried chillies & with grim determination, armed myself with the kitchen scissors & began snip-snipping them into the already spicy concoction. What I hadn’t bargained for, was the wrinkled chilli skin firing the tiny seeds in all directions like a miniature machine gun – & a choice few, along with a few fiery flakes of the red wrinkles – hit the hot stove & proceeded to smoulder gently. Suddenly a searing heat hit the back of my throat, burning as I breathed in, scorching upon every exhalation. Tears sprang to my eyes & streamed down my face as I choked on chilli fumes, billows of boiling breath stinging my nasal passages & causing discomfort beyond belief. I had to keep running out of the kitchen to take great gulps of clear, clean air before returning to the offensive sting of chilli fumes, determined to serve Tony’s meal to his satisfaction – albeit I was genuinely concerned that even he wouldn’t be able to stomach such a fearsome repast. However, he did – & complained it still wasn’t nearly hot enough! I pity his poor taste buds (not to mention he’ll be competing with Nanuk’s post-veterinary performance by morning, I suspect); meanwhile, as the tears & drools are still streaming down my own face, I think I could do with an early night – if I can still remember to breathe, that is…..how appropriate that our Welsh cottage would appear to have been warmed this evening by gwynt y ddraig (the dragon’s breath), indeed!