You know the saying... A picture paints a thousand words. So I'll gloss over the crazy month of December! I think my New Year's resolution will be to update my blog more often! Time gets away and before I know it, another month has slipped by!
So here it is... December 2014.
We welcomed six new ducklings! They are so cute when they're little. Ask Frans how he feels about them in another few weeks and he'll tell you that he's ready to despatch them for the pot. They poop everywhere and make a glorious mess! I still think they're cute.
The Birregurra branch of the CWA (Country Womens Association) of which I'm a member, held a stall at the annual Christmas Fair in Toorak, Melbourne. Sara came along to help set up our fabulous stall. We sold a bunch of stuff to raise money for worthy country causes.
While I was in Melbourne, we went to a little French restaurant and for the first time Sara and tried BRAINS! The presentation was a little off putting, but they actually tasted quite good once you got past the whole offal thing! Sara took a while contemplating the first mouthful.
We welcomed our first Wwoofers to the farm in early December. (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). We met Sanjukta in India, and she was happy to learn all sorts of homesteading skills. Brian is from Indonesia, studying agriculture in Melbourne. He got to put his theory lessons to the test. Frans was there to guide him along. Poor bugger!
Lesson no. 1. Double Digging! Starting early before the heat of the day is a good idea. Here Sanjukta is putting in a superb effort.
Brian was learning how to use farm tools. "No Brian, you hold the fork this way".
And before long the beds were being turned over and composted.
It was then off to the dairy nearby. Our lovely neighbour Georgie gave the Wwoofers a 'hands on' experience of milking the girls. It's not as easy as you think. There are body fluids involved. And I'm not talking about the milk!
Brian got the hang of it and was buzzing around attaching cups to any udder that was still waiting for a connection!
Frans got his lesson too. Georgie was amused at his technique!
He got the hang of it as well after a few false starts. He decided that it's back breaking work and he wouldn't be putting his hand up to be a relief milker. I'd say it's all about technique...
And here the girls are, happily allowing the milk to be sucked out of them whilst they feed contentedly on the roundabout!
Splashed on and a tad smelly, but oh so satisfied with himself. Well done young man!
Sanjukta learned to make marmalade and jams.
She got to make the daily bread.
And then there was cutting the curds of the home made cheese!
In my last post I showed some pics of the garlic harvest. We're still going! The garlic is now all hanging to dry in the old shed. Some of it was cleaned and braided for the December market in Birregurra. We'll have more garlic at the January market. The braids are super popular. They look great hanging in a kitchen. A decorative piece that is edible too. Bonus!
Sorting and cleaning. No vampires around here!
I usually get a bit picky when plaiting. I like to select different bunches based on size and colour. The downside is that crawling under the hanging garlic often results in sandy hair and bits of dust in your eyes!
Plaiting takes a little practise. It's hard on the hands. A firm grip is required. And patience! Here Sanjukta is working on a braid.
My lovely neighbour Lorraine and I have been baking cakes, making jams and chutneys over the past few weeks. A couple of days before the market we decorated the cakes. They looked so lovely!
Ready for the stall!
Market day was lovely. Not too hot. Not too cold. A slight drizzle gave us a little heart flip, but it soon passed and it was back to being sunny again.
The garlic braids went like hot cakes. They make super gifts for food lovers.
The raspberry vinegar cordial and Worcestershire sauce all sold out. Back to the kitchen again next week!A new item on the stall was Smoked Garlic in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Delicious!
You will find a good selection of our products at Dinny Goonan Winery in Bambra now. Local preserves at a local winery. That's what I love. Dinny Goonan Family Estate is also part of the Otway Harvest Trail. Dinny makes a wicked shiraz! In fact, it was one of the wine selections at Stephen and Sara's wedding. The cellar door at the winery is open over January.
And just like that it's Christmas again! Time to put the wreath on the farm gate. I went minimal this year.
We had a few beautiful evenings where we just had to stop and enjoy the balmy weather.
We left early Christmas Eve to drive to Melbourne. But before we left, I watered the garden beds. The sun was just popping up.
The hay bales on the paddock next door looked fabulous in the misty morning light. We stopped to take pics. As you do.
We celebrated Christmas Eve with Stephen and Sara. Nineteen guests at the table. We did not go hungry!
Christmas morning was spent opening presents from Santa. Even Tilly got a present! It WAS a chicken with a squeak thingie inside. Well, it lasted about 3 hours.
We got home and my kefir was way past ready! So I strained the curds and waited to see what the result would be. I got plenty of complaints about the smell. Toughen up people! It's fermented milk. It's good for you!
I left the curds to strain for a few hours until I was left with a manageable cheese to work with. I rolled it into little balls and dropped them into a couple of jars of olive oil. A few garlic cloves and some thyme went into the jars too.
And there you have it. Kefir Labne. Delicious spread on a piece of sourdough toast and a drizzle of honey.
Speaking of honey... Remember the swarms that Frans caught early in November? Well he has harvested the first honey from the two new hives. To say he's a happy man is an understatement!
One of these days we'll get a honey extractor. Or Frans will build one. Pinterest Dear. There are lots of ideas there!
As I write this, the honey is still slowly straining through a couple of fine mesh sieves. Once it is mostly passed through, we're going to make our first batch of mead. Watch this space!
Here was our first taste of the new season honey and a wheel of camembert cheese I'd made in November. Topped with pistachio nuts and served with home baked bread, this was a fabulous pre dinner starter.
It's December. This means we're still picking berries. Lots of them. Frans is getting really good at finding the luscious raspberries hiding between the leaves.
We're picking every day at the moment.
There are plenty of blueberries next door at Graham and Lorraine's place. We've been lucky to be able to gather some from their bushes too.
And what do you do when you have a wonderful assortment of berries to experiment with? You turn them into what will be delicious berry liqueur. I've got four varieties going here. Blackberry, Raspberry, Blueberry and a Mixed berry which includes strawberries. Add some sugar. Then break out the duty free grog!
Pop the lids on. Give the jars a gentle turn every now and then to dissolve the sugar. Put the jars in a cool dark place for a couple of months. Practise patience. Winter is coming!
Remember the double digging? The beds are now planted and mulched.
It took me longer than necessary to mulch these beds. I had a companion that insisted on having her ball kicked to her ALL THE TIME! Tilly never stops. She does not have an off button.
Tilly and her ball. Never apart. The ball was Nala's. Good to see it live on. Till Tilly eats it!
Frans and Stephen broke out the orange toy yesterday. They filled the pit in the old shed. Finally. It's taken almost three years of filling the big hole with 'stuff' so we could cover it over. It was finally full enough with debris to just top of the last bit with concrete.
Tomorrow we celebrate again. New Year's Eve, 2015. Whatever you may be doing, or however you're celebrating, we wish you a fabulous 2015.
Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout 2014.
Frans & Ami