So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


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Wine time!

A week later than usual, I’ve just got my wine started. A friend gave me her red Gooseberrys as a certain dog dug a hole by my bush and it had to be cut back.

The hot summer, with long dry spells then loads of rain doesn’t seem to have affected the fruit,although I only had just enough blackcurrants. Only downside was the scars from the hail…

Three days on, the wine is percolating like mad. Its 26c in my garage, which is really too warm. But nobody told my yeast, it’s having a party!

Now I need to wait for the elderberrys to ripen. I havent made that wine for two years due to bad weather. Looks like it could be a good year for wine!


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Perfect summer

This summer in Lungau has been text book. The farmers had just enough rain and sun for their first cut of silage. We had the heat of 30 degrees, but it was bridged with rain that had the best growing conditions for the flowers and the veges. I found it too hot when I had to go grass mowing with Dave, but I just don’t do hot. He’s spent a working life out in the heat, and to use his highest form of insult, I was born to work in an office………

We had odd bouts where there was snow on the tops, but you can have snow here any season of the year! Some farmers made three cuts of hay and silage, and there has been time for the grass to re-grow for when the cows come down. I’ve yet to get my picture of them looking out of the trailer tops.

We’ve had brilliant thunderstorms that went with the hot weather and yes, there had been a lot of damage, but where we’re protected by the Tauern mountains, we missed it this year. But all normal alpine weather, if bit more extreme due to the higher temperatures!

The final heat ended on the dot of September first, and since then its been appreciably colder, thank heavens. The hill behind us is white again this morning after a couple of days of rain, and I think of the cows stuck up there. In 2007 there was a really heavy snow and a lot died, but I think this will melt.

And the fruit and veges have been brilliant, and we celebrate our first ever Lungau melon!

Only down side was I seem to have the latest ripening Elderberry tree in the valley and I may only be able to make jam, but I have a few bottles of last years to keep us going!

How was your summer? Or those in other climes, your winter?


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A new venture

I had a go at wine making years ago when we had our small farm.  Trouble was that I let the fermenting bubbles get dry and it all went wrong.  We even tried marrow rum, and Dave’s Dad drank that and lived but we didn’t fancy it!  I’m quite surprised no one makes it here – I’m talking fruit as opposed to grape wine.  There are so many fruit bushes in people’s gardens, but they make loads of jams and syrups.

Schnapps distilling is the main occupation here. Usually from the berries of the mountain ash, which I used to think was poisonous or with zirben, a sort of pine cone that drips a thick resin.  This is added to a brandy or schnapps base and with sugar is fermented into a lovely syrupy liquor.  There are variations on this with all sorts of  fruit too.  So I’m going to try to make Elderberry. Two trees have self seeded in our garden so I hope that’ll be enough!

Finding the equipment was a non starter – nothing on the net anywhere in Austria. Then my sister in-law said her shop where she works in the UK did all the stuff, so she brought me over all the bungs and bubbles and yeast.  The only problem was then the fermenting bottle, and blow me down, Linda had two in her attic, her mother in law used to make it in Steiermark!  I went to the local Iron mongers  and they had the bung -for schnapps storing/brewing I suppose. I don’t have means to cork the bottles so I’m going to use the beer bottles with the flip over top with a metal spring that seals – a bit like on a Kilner jar.

The fruit is there and green on the bushes, they’ll be ready in a few weeks, just need to beat the birds to them!