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Thursday, 22 October 2009

of St. Happy and rainy days

The weather all over Italy had been getting quite unpleasant in the last couple of weeks except for with us. The North, the Alps and subalpine regions have been having their first snow already, as did higher regions of the Abruzzo, well south from us. Sicily, Calabria and Puglia in the very south have had severe flooding. The weather maps kept showing a large curved area of bad weather, just leaving us out.

We are protected to the North by 2 mountain ranges, the Alps and the Appenines from bad weather coming from there. To the East the massive Apuanan Alps shield us from anything coming that way. Only when the dreaded Scirocco wind blows from the South-West do we ever get rain. So whilst the rest of the country was sheltering indoors we spent a sunny afternoon on Sunday at the Fiera di San Felice, the 'St. Happy Fair'.

It's an annual event here in Santo Stefano and is basically just a huge sprawling market selling anything from the latest imported plastic toys from China, to all manner of kitchen ware, clothes, tractors and other agricultural eqipument, garlic, olive oil, cheese, useful and useless craft articles, umbrellas, hats, live and dead chickens, goldfish, pet and eating rabbits, donkeys (alive and stuffed), you name it.

We go there every year, partially as a social event, you meet everyone you know, partially to buy a couple of things we've been meaning to buy for a while, and partially to simply stuff our faces. I don't know what San Felice was famous for, but looking at the number of stands dedicated to this one particular thing, he's clearly the patron saint of porchetta, Tuscan roast pork.

Other food stuffs were available too, such as these delicious foccacette, small bread rolls baked for just a matter of seconds in this wood stove and stuffed with cold meat or cheese of your choice.

At the beginning of the week all weather forecasters seemed to be in agreement that we wouldn't be spared the bad weather for much longer. So Monday we went out to the land to plant the second terrace of broad beans, my absolute favourite vegetable. The first lot we planted 3 weeks ago together with some peas is already doing well. Now that we will have 2 terraces of this wonderful spring veg, the first cropper of the season, I think I shall hold a broad bean sagra next year. Note down the first weekend in June and you are all welcome!
The rain did arrive then yesterday and big time last night. We barely managed to sleep last night with a big electric and wind storm. As usual our house was struck by lightning about 3am, but I had luckily already unplugged the computer after having had a close shave with only my monitor and an old modem melting through earlier in the year. Also the new phone line didn't get cut off, like the old one did every time we had a storm. The electricity was only off for a few minutes.
So being confined inddors today we decided to give our store room a bit of a tidy up, firstly because we could hardly get in any more and secondly in case some stray bra would turn up(see last post). Here is a before picture:

Unfortunately we are severely restricted for space. I found this really interesting blog of a couple of smallholders in North Idaho, http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/, thank you Silke for the tip. They talk about their root cellar and pepper room. For a start I wish I could grow enough root crops to justify a root cellar. Everything goes in here, not only conserved and dried food, but also tools, our wardrobe, jackets, shoes and everything else that clutters up your day-to-day life.
I know I'm a messy pup, but we try and recycle as much as possible, and with recycling I don't mean carrying rubbish to the appropriate recycling container, but actually re-using things. I wear clothes until they fall off me and even then I am reluctant to throw them out, using them as cleaning cloths, cutting off the buttons for future use or cut out bits of textile as patches for the bits that still hold together.
However, with Susan having been given so many clothes recently and our space restrictions, we just had to throw a load out now. I must make it clearer to well meaning friends and family that, if they insist on buying us something, they should buy us something useful like a grain mill or gardening tools, rather than more clothes. They don't have charity shops here either to unload our superflous rags, not that they would take most of what we've been through.
Here is an after the tidy up photo. I know it's in the other direction, but it shows you that I at least managed get in far enough to take the reverse photo. Does anyone have use for an old but perfectly functioning Yamaha keyboard?

Here is part of our collection of jarred things from this year.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no lost bras were uncovered...and as I look out of the window, the sun is just peeping out again :-D


cath said...

I think a St Happy Fair is a wonderful idea, far better then Halloween or Bonfire night - yawn!

Mr. H. said...

Your broad beans are looking great. They are also our favorite type of bean. We dry most of ours and use them in winter soups...so very good.

Do you get much/any snow over there during the cold months? Perhaps your root cellar could be the garden itself.

We also recycle and then recycle again almost everything...even our holy socks.:)

Heiko said...

Mr. H., Snow happens every 30 years or so and last time was about 4 years ago, so we should be safe for another 24 years. The soil is too hard to grow root crops really successfully. I keep adding manure and on beds that have been worked continously since we've had the land after clearing the jungle, it is now possible to grow carrots. Although they are not that big and have had no luck with parsnips or beetroot so far. We successfully grow what's known as bietole in Italy, Swiss chard in English and I believe silver beet in American, but for the leaves and not the roots.