Saturday, April 27, 2013

Autumn is here at last!

I love our old shed. It sits facing the little valley in front of our farm, pointing towards the rising sun. If I had my way, I'd renovate it to within an inch of its rustic shed life and create a wonderful gathering space, complete with big open fire, reading gallery or library and a spare room for guests. But sadly, it is old. Very old. It has too many holes in the roof and walls, and it would take too many dollars to fix. That's what Frans tells me anyway! So now we use it for storing stuff. Oh, and for parties! Not too many rolls of hay fit in it, but Frans likes to keep it dry. The only problem with keeping the hay in the old shed, is that it has to be moved to where the cows feast. And that takes a little effort!
Usually it is my job to help Frans roll the bales, but when there are visitors about, well, they get into the action too! Here is Frans and his Brother-in-law Chris getting a serious arm workout! The bale gets rolled down the driveway, pushed and pulled to turn right past the house and Frans' workshop/shed, through the back gate, past the chook house and washing line and finally to the shelter of the Cypress Pines. There is usually a fair amount of stopping to point the bale in the right direction! Pushing it along the driveway is fine. It's when we get the bale into the chook and duck area that it becomes exciting. The bale squishes over duck and chook poo, and by the time we finally launch the bale with a fair amount of heaving into its spot, our hands are usually covered in muck. Gloves are wonderful inventions. We just have to remember to use them!
Depending on how energetic Farmer Frans feels on any given day, he either feeds his girls and one boy across the fence (my preferred method as I like to keep a barrier of sorts between me and any enthusiastic hungry cows!) or wheels a few burrow loads of hay into the paddock. The advantage of feeding them in the paddock is that the seeds from the hay get spread about and hopefully grow into new grass. That's assuming we get any rain! 
Feeding the cows is not a chore at all. They come when they are called. It's fascinating to observe them as they munch away on the feed. They have a particular standing order. Big old Eileen on the far right is the queen cow. She's a bit stroppy. Young Thursday on the far left usually likes to stay right out of the old girl's way. The two babies usually act as separators between the two black mothers. This morning when I was feeding the girls, I was amused to see the neighbour's white cow standing on the other side of the fence looking longingly at the hay I was lobbing over the electric fence. And the chickens love feeding time too. They peck at the seeds and scratch around. The cows aren't bothered by them at all. 
This past summer I've left the poly tunnel to its own devices. Consequently there were self seeded tomato plants that reached right up to the top of the domed roof. It was jungle like! I decided I would clean it out and get it prepped to grow some winter veggies in it. But before I start, I've opened the door and let the ducks and chickens in to clean it up for me. It's been a couple of weeks now and we've gone from an overgrown jungle to this! There's no mistaking that chooks and ducks will eat anything if you let them. They have saved me a huge amount of work and at the same time have left their droppings on the beds. I will turn the beds over, dig in all that wonderful nitrogen and leave the beds for a couple of weeks before I start planting.
Speaking of things fowl... below is a photo I took this morning of our baby ducks that hatched 7 weeks ago. They have grown so quickly! They are eating Frans out of house and home so they will be going to the market in the next couple of weeks. We will despatch two or three for our own freezer and sell the rest. They are lovely to observe. They eat snails and slugs. BUT... they stink! They poop everywhere and are make an awful mess. Anyone want a duck?!
In between cooking up a storm in the kitchen, preserving our summer harvest, I've managed to sow some seeds for winter and next spring. Here are some radishes and mixed salad leaves. It's great to be able to duck down to the veggie patch in the afternoon to pick dinner supplies. Food miles at their shortest! 
Some of the winter veg I've planted. I've never grown Warrigal Greens. They're apparently a lot like spinach. I love turnips, so have planted quite a few rows! Nadine Abensur in her book The Crank's Bible has a fabulous recipe for 'stoved roots'. It is one of our favourite winter mid week meals.  
We know it is Autumn as the quinces are ready! They are a strange fruit. Knobbly and furry. Very tart! However, cooked up and made into a smooth jam or a darker paste, they make any cheese platter come to life! 
I made a huge batch of Quince Jam this week. I picked the last of the zucchinis and made more bread and butter pickles. 
Last week I mentioned that we are now selling our products on Farmhouse Direct. We have had a great response. Below are some of the orders I packed during the week!  
 I'll leave you this week with a photograph of the magnificent ornamental grape vine that grows on the North East corner of our house. It does a wonderful job of giving the house shade during the hot summer, and soon the leaves will fall. We'll then have the winter sun streaming through the lounge room windows, warming the room. We'll prune the vine around July and I'll use the pruned canes to make baskets and wreaths. What a useful plant!
Have a wonderful weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Ami, farm life sure is keeping you extremely busy!! I'm loving all these photos!! Thanks