Monday, December 1, 2014

November madness!

This is a November catch up! Where did the month go? We've been a little busy.... So I'm going to show you some of our highlights. By the way, using a camera to keep track of your year is such a great tool. It's a good reminder of what you've achieved. So here goes...
Farmers are busy around the district. Hay is being cut and turned into silage (green plastic balls) and hay bales. 
We have two new babies on the farm! The first, Buzz, was born on the 3rd of November. His mum is Thursday, the young heifer we bought three years ago. Buzz is her third calf. She's become a good little mum. Why Buzz? Well, it was the same day Frans caught a swarm of bees. It was all systems go this day! Our menagerie was increasing by the thousands!
Only a few hours old and already an inquisitive little bloke. 
Thursday giving Buzz a face wipe while big sister Misty looks on.
The bee man suiting up! Frans got stung twice in one day. Not much fun.  
You can see the swarm of bees hanging from the branch of an apple tree. The bees are very slow and heavy with honey, so they're not too aggressive. 
Job done. The hive was moved later once all the bees settled into their new box. We are hoping to get honey this year. The past two years we've had very little. The hot summer of 2012 set the honey production back as the bees were more focussed on keeping their hives cool. 
And a week later we welcomed another calf. This time to Eileen, the boss cow. She's a cute little thing with a white face. Her name is Lucky. Named by Sara.  
Here she is minutes after being born. Big sister Georgina is keeping close watch!

November is a fabulous month in the garden. It is so colourful and the summer crops start making an appearance. Strawberries ripened early. Usually we begin picking towards the end of November, but we started the first week.  
My favourite garden treat... broad beans! They are so good raw served with fresh bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  
In fact, they're so good that Simon Stewart, the talented chef at Bespoke Harvest, has been raiding our veggie garden for his degustation menu. He made this lovely summer salad plate with 'Gerangamete Greens' (that's us!) goats cheese and prosciutto. 
A basket of fresh greens makes its way over to the restaurant every week. Simon's sugar cured trout with our garden fennel is sublime. Seasonal, local produce at its best!
November is also the month when all the Irises are blooming. Granny Pat planted these when she was here earlier this year. They are simply divine! 

The days have been balmy. Butterflies and bees everywhere! 
My favourite flowers in the garden are the Peonies. They bloom for such a short time. The roses just keep on going. 
We had our first booking for our cabin half way through the month. We still needed to create the path around the outside to comply with fire rating standards. So we bought a concrete mixer (orange is my favourite colour by the way!) and started shovelling stones, sand and cement. This is a SLOW process. 
By the time Frans got to the end of the first side, he'd worked out his process and we were speeding up! 
It was back breaking!  
This is my addition to the path. 
Frans left his hand prints on the Otway Fields walk of fame!
The inside of the cabin was ready to go. I think I might book myself into this place! It is so peaceful, quiet and relaxing. 
There are books to read, DVD's to watch if you choose or music to listen to.  
And the view isn't half bad either. 
Breakfast provisions include a loaf of home baked bread, freshly squeezed juice, farm preserves, fresh eggs from our chooks and local bacon.  
We're preparing veggie beds for new summer crops. Here Frans is applying what we learned in India with a technique called 'Double Digging'. The advantage is that less water is needed and the vegetables can be planted closer together as their roots go deeper. 
At a spade or fork depth a generous layer of compost is applied. This encourages good soil health. 
As usual, some jobs have to be taken care of that were not on the 'to do' list! Our dishwasher died. A first world problem indeed! Let's just say that Frans is a good bloke to have around. Multi talented when it comes to fixing stuff, even if it requires colourful language to complete the task! 
It's not all work and no play on the farm. We do stop to enjoy the view with friends! 
And just when we thought we'd be landscaping this week, the garlic decided it was ready for harvesting! So our schedule is shuffled again. We're quietly excited about this harvest. The quality of the bulbs are good so far. 
If you ever wonder why Australian, organically grown garlic is expensive, I'll tell you why. The soil is prepared before planting by adding lots of good organic matter in the form of composted cow and chook poo. Then the beds are smoothed and tidied for the planting to begin. Each clove is then planted by hand into the rich soil. During the growing season the beds are constantly weeded. When it comes time to harvesting, each bulb is carefully lifted by hand. They bulbs are bundled and labelled and hung to dry for two weeks. After they have dried, they get cleaned and plaited. At no stage will any chemicals be used on the garlic. Imported garlic is sprayed with a cocktail of chemicals to prevent sprouting and to bleach it white. The health benefits of eating garlic are negated completely! 
We're super pleased the harvest is ready earlier. Why? It's cooler! And there are less flies. Our lovely neighbour Lorraine helped us sort garlic the first day.  
Now that's what we call decent bulbs! These will be kept for seed for next year.  
I have to show you a spectacular sunrise we had one morning this month. This is the view from our kitchen. If you're in the cabin, you'll be looking straight at the pink sky! Frans took this photo.
And to finish off, we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary last night. It was a hot afternoon pulling up garlic. Frans decided to call it a day at 6pm. He dug around the back of the cupboard for our 'special' 25th anniversary champagne glasses we bought in Venice (gosh, that was 4 years ago!) and cracked a bottle of lovely St Leonards bubbles. 
Ah, this is indeed the 'Good Life'.
Till next time...
Stay safe.

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