Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gearing up for a hot Summer - we think!

Just look at that sky! Some days the sunsets are so pretty, that we just have to stop and enjoy the moment. Our little cabin faces East. The orange coloured skies are a reflection of the sunset at the opposite end of the farm. It won't be too much longer now and we'll be able to start taking bookings for visitors to share our lovely views and all the experiences the Otways have to offer.
But before we get there, we have a little more work left to do. The digging for the pipes was done just before Christmas. It's a amazing how quickly a big and difficult job can be done with the right equipment. It only took a couple of days for Reece to dig the trenches and lay the pipes. 
The rain water that will collect on the cabin roof will be fed into a water tank and be used to top up the swimming pool in the hot weather. In a week or so a BIG hole will be dug to fit the septic tank and another trench will be dug across the driveway. Oh bliss... As an aside.... Granny Pat has a few lovely Irises that she's wanting to plant in the garden bed close to where the trenches will be laid. Her catch cry at the moment is "when is the plumber coming to fix the pipes?" 
I've mentioned before that I do not like shopping. Especially in busy, noisy shopping centres in the city. However, I do enjoy a browse at the local co-op. They have such interesting things there! Do you know what this is? 
The green thing with the orange teats is a very clever device used to feed baby calves. Next time you open the fridge door at your supermarket to pull out a $1 litre of milk, spare a thought for the cows that are milked twice a day to bring you your tea or coffee with milk, and all those yummy cheeses and yoghurts that you may enjoy.  Dairy cows need to have babies to keep them giving milk. When they calve, the female babies are removed from the mums and fed with these contraptions till they are old enough to be put on a special farm that will raise them to become dairy cows.  The mothers will be milked for some time till it's time to get them back in calf. What happens to the male calves you ask?? Well, that's the unpleasant fact of bringing you a glass of milk.... the male calves are taken to the slaughter house and turned into dog food, mostly. 
Our local co-op. Much more fun to explore than a regular shopping centre! 
This was our purchase for the day. A 1000 litre plastic tank to store water in for the fire season. I was rather chuffed to see that the original use for this tank was as wine storage! The co-op man was kind enough to hose the tank out, give it a good clean and load it onto our trailer. All for fifty bucks. Not bad.  
Spotted.... the security officer... staying cool in the shade.

And of course Christmas was fast approaching...
Our friend Katie came from the city to spend Christmas Eve with us. She had fun hanging bright silver baubles on the willow tree. 
What do girls do before Christmas Eve dinner? They paint their nails whilst drinking bubbles in the afternoon sun. Sara and Katie.  
Each Christmas Eve I prepare our family feast. It has become our tradition to stick with the favourites. So for our starter we always have this fabulous Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salsa. Frans does NOT like avo, but he'll eat this dish and I always need to make left overs for the next day!  Of course we have the usual ham (this year we tried a new glaze; rhubarb & ginger which was fabulous!), roast chicken stuffed with tarragon and of course the family favourite of potato bake. Extra dishes are also requested for those going home the next day. There's nothing like eating left over potato bake for the next 3 days along with the left over ham! 
Life can get rather busy on the farm. We don't have much time to sit down, put our feet up and just spend a few hours reading. So our present to ourselves this year was to have two days off. Totally. This is how I spent my down time... Under the willow tree with a good book! 
Two days off and it's back to work. The garlic is ready. All of it! Frans, our friend Richard and I, dug up the 3000 odd bulbs we'd planted all those months ago. 
It took us two days to pull the bulbs from the ground, dust them off, sort them and store them in the old shed. 
There's nothing automatic about planting or harvesting garlic. Every process is done by hand.  
This is not a bad way to spend a pleasant day in the sun. Only the flies are a constant challenge. Wearing a fly net is the only way to retain your sanity! 
It's all hands on deck when we're harvesting. Here's Granny Pat sorting the garlic into our categories. She created a new category. It's called 'piddly'! Yep, there are some small babies in the mix. But they'll be fine in stocks or our famous Worchestershire Sauce. Nothing will go to waste. Our aim is to keep developing our stock to all be fat and big!
We did put up our market marquee for shade later in the morning. What a difference that made! No point getting burnt.
And when we thought the day was done, well... there was berry picking to be done. Our blackberries are starting to ripen. The raspberries are still coming on beautifully.  
Finally... the boys relax with a well earned drink. A good day's work. Here are our good mate Richard (from the city) and Frans. Nala obviously found the work exhausting too... 
The farm next door has had it's hay cut and baled. Round bales are scattered around the paddocks. It is such a picture.  
This view is easy on the eye....
Till next time, have a wonderful week.

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