Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bikes, cakes, bees and dogs

For our American friends, Happy Thanksgiving... that was last week! We decided to have our own Thanksgiving Dinner. We wrote 'thank you' notes for each person at the table. Our meal started off with Buffalo Chicken wings and blue cheese sauce. Our main meal consisted of home grown turkey (from next door), mash potato, caramelised sweet potato, beans with blue cheese and walnuts and a delicious fennel gratin. Our friend Norma made the vegetable dishes. They were wonderful. Then to top it all off, our American friend Jo made the desserts. Not one, but two fabulous pies. What else would we enjoy but pecan pie and pumpkin pie?! A lovely evening spent with lovely friends and family.
The Great Victorian Bike Ride came to town last week.... well, more specifically, it came to Gellibrand and then went on to Birregurra. I've been part of a small group of artists who have started up a small local art gallery in Gellibrand,  "The Gellibrand River Gallery". (you can find and 'like' us on Facebook!) We knew that the little village would be inundated with bike riders and their support staff. So we started preparing the gallery... adding more stock and making arrangements to greet 7000 odd cyclists and their travelling buddies. We set up our Otway Fields tables outside and offered our locally grown and bottled preserves and jams for sale. I made a fist full of bike related jewellery and we were set to go!
The fast riders started arriving early, around 9.30am, and the stragglers kept coming in all day. The carnival atmosphere started to kick off. It was such fun, chatting to riders from all over the state, and from further away. They were good natured and pumped to have made it over the very steep hills that lead into Gellibrand from Port Campbell. The weather could have been a little more amenable, as it was cold and drizzly for most of the day. The riders didn't care. They were happy with hot coffee, lollies, fudge and Anzac biscuits! 
Jayne made a batch of wonderful of Christmas cakes. As she was putting them out on the table, the locals were snapping them up as fast as they could! They were a hit! So guess what Jayne is doing this week.... Yup... making more cakes! And yes, she's taking orders... $12 per cake, and you get a delicious Christmas cake, sprinkled with brandy, decorated with nuts and fruit or straight white icing (my favourite!)
Coconut Ice, Fudge and Gellibrand fridge magnets by Jan Verouden were ever so popular. 
And then there was the cordial... Straight Lime, or Lime Lemongrass & Ginger. These are so good. Sip one of these and you'll think you're in an exotic place far away... We've road tested them and they pass muster. We enjoyed ours with a splash of vodka. Well, it was after 5pm.... 
Let me tell you about the Anzac Biscuits... They are delicious. Frans will vouch for that. A while back I made around 600 biscuits for a CWA event. I needed to put them in specific jars. Well, it took me 100 biscuits to get them right size. I kept making them too big to fit through the hole in the jar! What became of the 100 'wrong' ones you may ask?? Frans worked his way through them in about a week! Then he was perplexed as to why he had put on 3kgs! I wonder.....??? 
The fellow below was one of the first riders to come into Gellibrand. Andre' had a good chat with him. He was gregarious and friendly. AND.. he was from New Zealand! He had a funny accent and Jayne and I thought he was awesome as he called us 'Wee Lassies'.... Nothing 'wee' about us at all... :-) 
You have never seen a spectacle such as this.... the organisation was incredible. This was just a small snatch of 'tent city'. Thousands of tents, portable showers and toilets... Oh.. that reminds me of a story we heard. On the morning of the riders'  departure from Gellibrand, the truck moving the toilets from their moorings heard a scream for help.... there was a poor bugger still sitting on the Dunny as the cubicle was being towed away! Not a good way to start the day I would think. 
Tent City! One day a farm paddock, the next a sea of tents! I'm not sure if this is my idea of fun!

And then there's stuff happening on the farm...
Frans has been checking the hives once a week to see how the honey production is coming along. We had no honey at all last year. The summer was too hot and there was no rain. The bees spent all their time carrying water into the hive and keeping the hive cool. We are hopeful that we'll be able to rob the hives in a few weeks and collect enough honey to keep us sweet for till next year! 
We have two different sized hives. One has large frames, and two have small half sized frames. The theory is that the small frames will fill with combs and honey quicker. Makes sense.. but these still have a way to go. 
This is what we want to see on all the frames! Lots of bees working on the frame. 

Our garden is looking lovely. The poppies have bloomed, roses are our in all their splendour  and the weeds are doing exceptionally well! It is a constant task .... weeding....weeding.....and more weeding! 
The strawberry patch has started yielding fruit by the tub full. In between I've let a patch of self seeded sweet peas take up residence for a while. The bees love the flowers, and working among the vegetables is extra special when the waft of sweet peas drifts my way. 
The peas are climbing up their stakes... Stir fries and salads are extra tasty when these little babies are thrown into the mix.
The roses and foxgloves have given us a beautiful show. This is the view from our kitchen table. Not too shabby... For those who are wondering what's happening with the cabin... we've been getting the garden in order. We've cleaned up in dry branches etc in preparation for the fire season. Frans says next week he's getting back into it...  
See the large leafy plants in this pic? It's Comfrey. Every now and then I'll chop it down, fill a 10 litre bucket full of leaves. Press down so they're well packed in. Pour water over the leaves, pop a lid on the bucket and forget about it for about  3 weeks. The leaves break down and the smell is disgusting. It's a bit like a fresh cow pat! Once it's all gooey and broken down, the liquid is strained off and poured into old milk bottles or whatever containers I have handy. I then dilute this mixture 1/10 in a watering can and pour it around my veggies. They love it. A good natural fertiliser!
The grass is lovely and green in our paddocks at the moment. The cows are loving it. Our two new babies are doing very well. By January the fields will no longer be green. The rain will ease up and the heat will turn the grass a golden yellow.

I'll leave you with a pic of Tilly the wonder dog! She's Stephen and Sara's puppy. We've had her on the farm for about 5 weeks. She has kept us entertained with her boundless energy. She will chase her plastic bone all day long if she could! If you ignore her, she'll place the bone at your feet. She's even dropped the bone just inside the back door when we've been inside. We miss her terribly as she's gone home to Melbourne. I've given up trying to grow herbs in this garden bed outside the back door. The dogs love to lie here. 

Have a great week!

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