Shepherding

June 10, 2015

ShepherdingOur friend and great helper, Alper, from Turkey spent a day with our village shepherd.  The old tradition of taking animals to pasture is still alive and well here in Bulgaria.

Wild Thyme Eco RetreatAlper took our goats, Dennie and Monnie, down to meet the herd as usual in the morning and then spent the day wandering the fields with Razim.  It helped that Razim is Turkish Bulgarian so he and Alper could chat in Turkish.

Village flockThey hung about under trees in the shade; met with other shepherds; made a fire to cook lunch; rallied the flock; and kept an eye on the sheep dogs who protect the animals from wild dogs and wolves.

 

Madara Horseman

March 20, 2014

A day trip from Wild Thyme Eco Retreat

Just over an hour’s drive from Wild Thyme is the archaeological site of Madara.  It is the unique carving of the horse and rider that has earned world heritage status for this site, but there are many other archaeological treasures here.

The Madara horseman is a stone carving high up on the cliff face and is surrounded by Greek inscriptions commemorating the victories of three Bulgarian Tsars from the 8th and 9th centuries AD.  The ruins of their capitals at Pliska and Veliki Preslav are just down the road but here at Madara was their cult centre.

There are temples and other ritual sites which date from the old Bulgarian period just before the conversion to Christianity. It was already a special place before this time and the eerie rock face and caves were used by the Thracians for temples.  The museum exhibits some of the Thracian finds which includes a marble slab carved with the signs of the zodiac.

Later on, the cliff face was peppered with caves used by Christian hermits and the plateau above the cliff was the site of a medieval fortress.  Occupied over so many centuries, it is easy to see why Madara has earned the title ‘the Bulgarian Troy’.

You can drive yourself to the site or join a Wild Thyme guided archaeological tour.

Tall Ships Varna

January 22, 2014

Tall Ships Varna

The Tall Ships are coming to Varna between 30 April and 3 May 2014.  We missed the event in Derry, my home town, a few years ago so we’re excited about it coming to Varna, only 2 hours from Wild Thyme.  The Black Sea is a beautiful stretch of water with an amazing coastline, wonderful nature and historic cities with interesting archaeology.

There will be 50 Tall Ships taking part which will be an amazing spectacle.  From Bulgaria, there will be Kaliakra and Royal Helena and Mir, Kruzenshtern, Sedov and Nadezhda from Russia.

Curing hams

March 8, 2013

P1060040

We’re making our first attempt at curing hams.  There are 3 stages to the process.  The first stage to submerge the whole of the back leg in brine for a week to 10 days.  The brine is a sweet one which includes salt, sugar and saltpeter.  The room should be about 8 degrees centigrade.

After the 10 days, we washed the hams thoroughly to get rid of all the salt and hung them up to dry.  It is very important that they are totally dry.  The saltpeter has been absorbed by the meat and now they are now in a fridge to ‘equlaise’.  This means that in the next 12 days the saltpeter will continue to cure the meat.

Watch this space for stage 3….

Sowing tomato seeds

February 27, 2013

Growing tomato plants from seeds

Our first seeds of the season are tomatoes.  Growing tomato plants from seeds takes a little bit of care but once established tomato plants are fairly hardy.  We have them all wrapped up in a blanket and plastic covering by the wood burning stove.  Tomato seed germination occurs at a fairly constant temperature of 21 degrees.

They don’t want to be too wet so we watered the soil and left it for a few days by the stove to warm up.  Then sprinkled various varieties on top, including cherry tomato seeds, and covered with a sprinkling of dry seeding composting.  Finally a sprinkling of water.

Saving tomato seeds from last year’s crop is the cheapest and best way to get your seed.  Most of these are ones we saved from organic varieties we bought previously and others are from tried and tested varieties our neighbours gave us.  There are lots of different tomato types.  We are growing a couple of cherry tomato types – one small red and one oval orange – which give nice variety to summer salads; roma which are good baked and for tomato sauces; eder and rila varieties which are big and juicy and good for making traditional tomato sauce; and a large pleasted yellow variety.

Our organic gardening workshop covers how to save seeds and grow tomatoes organically.  We offer eco friendly holidays staying in our solar powered eco guesthouse and self catering eco cottage.

Wild Thyme Organic Farm & Eco-holiday, Kliment Ohridski 9, Palamartsa 7850, Popovo, Bulgaria; hello@wildthymefarm.org; Ph: (00359) 0876562746 or (00359) 0877383790