Friday, May 23, 2014

Diggers, Garlic & CWA!

It's been 'Action Stations' here this week! The plumbing is finally being done for the cabin. A BIG hole had to be dug to fit the septic tank. It took Wayne a whole day to dig it. 
By late afternoon it was down to the final finishing touches in preparation for the cement tanks. 
An impressive effort!
The next day the truck arrived with the septic tank and the overflow pipe. 
Neatly placed in the hole. 
And then the overflow pipe went in. 
Done! All this so a toilet can be flushed! 
But the job wasn't quite done... A sewage pipe had to be laid from the cabin to the house to connect in with our pipes. See that blue dotted line on the driveway? Well, six burst pipes later.... 
There's a trench running across the drive and the garden bed is about to be attacked too! 
We've not quite finished yet.. there's still the pipe to be connected under the house. Straws are being drawn... nobody wants to go there... spiders, cramped space, darkness.... 

And whilst there was plenty of outside action, the inside of the cabin was seeing its fair share of attention too. Frans and Andre' finished the floor!  
The floor looks really good. The window furnishings have been ordered, made and collected.  
The boys... doing a happy dance! 
One more job complete. The carpet goes in on Monday. Besides all the work on and around the cabin, farm jobs still have to continue. 

We planted our garlic crop. Before we started we had to separate all the cloves. This chore took two days. The kitchen smell was pungent to say the least. No vampires around here! I'm over the moon with the quality of our garlic seed this year. I'm not counting my chickens just yet, but if I was, I'd say that our garlic crop is going to be sensational! The bulbs are going to be fat and big! Just think of all those fabulous plaits!
The beds were dug over, weeds picked out, smoothed and pampered! 
Then it's a case of 'head down, bum up' till all 5000 seeds are neatly planted!  Jayne, Andre' and I planted the little cloves.  
Every now and then we look up and admire the view... and the impending rain clouds, and hope they stay away till we're done. 
If you think living on a farm is quiet, then think again. Our neighbour moves his cows up the lane every now and then. We stop and watch with amusement as we plant our garlic cloves. Cows, steers and heifers, all mooing and protesting loudly. They get herded to the cattle yard where they get tagged, vaccinated and rubber banded, in the case of the baby bulls. Then it's the same trip in reverse. This time they run.... they know which paddock gate to aim for and there's no stopping them! 

A couple of weeks ago we pulled out all the summer vegetables. We cleaned the beds and prepared them to plant the next lot of veggies. Beetroot, carrots, Florence fennel, kale, cabbage, rocket, broad beans and loads more... My trusty shadow, Nala, is ever by my side. 
A little light housekeeping to remove all the autumn leaves from the beds, gives me a chance to inspect the small seedlings that have sprung up. This area looks quite sparse now that it is cleaned up. Before long it will be bursting with produce. We're still picking lettuce, rhubarb, spinach, carrots and swedes, plus a few herbs that haven't died off yet. And yes, those are orange crocs on my feet! A fashion statement indeed! Very handy in the garden. Not to be seen in public!
The broad bean seeds have sprouted and have popped out of the ground. I like to grow nasturtiums around the outside of a couple of beds. The leaves and flowers are lovely in salads, plus they are good companion plants in the veggie patch.
Carrot seeds are always tricky to get going. They take on average 3 weeks to sprout. They need to be kept moist! This lot have been perfect. We'll be picking lovely carrots, all colours, from Spring all through Summer.
When I plant cabbage, I'm always tempted to plant the seedlings closer together. It seems like such a huge area for so few plants. But believe me, they get big! So I limit my cabbage patch to around 6 plants. This is just enough to give us a few great meals and to maximise the soil rotation of the garden beds.
Isn't this just an amazing looking flower? It's an artichoke! 

Off the farm we've had plenty of fun too! This past week I took part in the Polwarth CWA Craft Exhibition. I entered a few of my preserves, just to 'test the water' so to speak. It's not easy beating experts in their own fields. I was pretty thrilled to have won 5 firsts and 2 seconds for my preserves and craft pieces.
So here are a few of them: 

Did you see the two pics above that both had gold stars? They're very special! They are the winners in the two major categories for the whole exhibition. Who would have thought that an old fashioned Raspberry Vinegar Cordial would have what it takes?! What do I get for that? 
I get my picture taken with a local councillor, the Polwarth President and a lovely CWA lady who informed me her name was on the shield I'd just won NINE TIMES! I have something to aspire to! Stephen Hart kindly held onto my second trophy!

Remember the chicks we hatched about 3 weeks ago? They've been promoted to the outside chicken kinder. They have a permanent heat light, food and water. They are getting used to the other chickens being inquisitive around their cage. And the older chickens are familiarising themselves with the new little ones. In another 3 weeks we'll open the door and let them into the big wild world; the back yard! 
A quick Autumn update: The ornamental grape vine in front of the lounge room window is spectacular at the moment. Another week or two and the leaves will be gone, allowing the winter sound to spill into the room, warming it beautifully. 
The paddocks are looking lovely this year. Our Autumn Break brought lots of lovely rain and the grass has been growing in the warm weather. The trees are spectacular. 
And if you haven't fallen asleep by now, I'll leave you with this beautiful photograph that Granny Pat took a few days ago. The fog was as thick as soup! The sun took till lunch time to shine through. 
Have a wonderful weekend!

Annual Fire Night

There's a date each year that signals the end of the fire season. Farmers all around us look forward this day each year with great enthusiasm! During the dry summer months where we are not allowed to burn, fallen bark, rubbish or tree cuttings, are gathered and piled high on wood stacks all around the district.  We have our own wood stack. It was a reasonably big one this year. As is usual now, we turn this burn into a social event. Glasses, wine and chairs are piled into the trailer and off to the paddock we all toddle. Usually we fill the air with Pavarotti or Puccini, but this year we changed the music selection and went with The Eagles. Wonderful!
Frans has the job of lighting the fire. A bit of diesel gets the flames going. See the green grass? This gives you an idea of the rain we've had, so the wood stack needs a little help to catch fire.
The dogs enjoy the action too!
Family gathering... and Gus the wonder dog. 
Fire sparkles! 
Rough and ready... No crystal glasses needed here...
Kicking back with a little drink 
 The fire needs feeding. Frans scoops dry stuff from the outside edges into the flames once he can get close enough. It's very hot! One casualty of the burn was a rake. Only the metal bit remained. The handle was incinerated. Oops...

It's wonderful to share a night like this with our family. 
No fire is worth it's salt if it can't be used to toast marshmallows! 

And so we look forward to the next night around a fire!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Glorious Autumn still.....

I hardly need to describe the current state of the land. Simply said, it's beautiful around here at the moment. Each day seems prettier than the one before. The trees are changing colour, leaves are starting to fall.
A walk along our road is rewards us with these lovely views.
Our neighbours' drive across the road. Spectacular. I could almost imagine I'm in Tuscany! Those poplar trees are lovely.
Inquisitive cows. Not ours. Love the white noses.
Apples.. apples... and more apples! Jayne and Pat are gathering fruit.
Yes, it's going to be a challenge getting these nets off! We'll need to cut the green stuff poking through the nets before we pull them off. Yes, putting the nets over the trees early has it's drawbacks. But the payoff is lots of undamaged fruit!
Baby Regina sniffing an apple. Almost getting a taste..
But Mother Eileen is greedy! She won't let the other cows enjoy the apples. They're all hers!
Don't mess with the boss cow!
We have had our first frost. The pumpkins are not happy! So it's time to pull all the summer veg out. 
Autumn harvest continus... apples, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant.
Tomatoes anyone? We've roasted them, sauced them and are enjoying them any way we can! The green ones are slowly turning red. 
Our second batch of eggs have hatched. We began with 25 eggs. Only 13 hatched this round. It is the strangest thing when you're watching telly and you hear peeps come from the eggs... A few hours later and little chicks are out and huddling together to keep warm.

Our Otway Fields Products have made it to the big smoke! They're now available in Hawthorn at the Cafe' Di Lusso on Glenferri Rd. 
Have a happy week!