Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spring has sprung!

The last time I posted something on this page, it was to announce how excited we were to receive a SILVER award from the Royal Melbourne Fine Foods Awards. Sara and I headed to the gala dinner which happened to be in the Masterchef building. We were like star struck teenagers! We were not alone. Everyone there was taking the odd 'selfie'. It was such a vibrant atmosphere, with so many amazing producers all in one room!
Sara outside the entrance. We entered via a red carpet! 
We're in the book of 2015!

Around the farm, the fruit trees are blossoming at last. This is our plum. It is looking beautiful.  
In the polytunnel, the broad beans flowered and we picked the first pods a week ago. They made their way down to Forrest to Bespoke Harvest and appeared on their dinner menu last weakend.  
Everywhere we look, there is colour! I love this gnarled Rhododendron that somehow survives along the old shed wall. I never water it. Its saving grace is that the tree sits on the south facing wall.  
During the month Frans got some jobs finished that have been on his list for a long time. A big tick went beside the 'underfloor insulation' of the cabin. As you well know, Frans is not fond of small crawl spaces. I was tasked with handing tools to him, cutting insulation sheets and generally keep him from panicking! 
Finally we have some lovely signs up. This one is down on the corner of the Crabb farm. 
And this big sign is now at the front gate. We think they look pretty good. I planted some flowers that need watering in the flower bed. Silly mistake. It's a mission to drag a water bucket down to the gate. I will forget that idea and think of something else. In the mean time the bulbs have been lovely, and we wait for the Aggies to grow. No, they're not self seeding. They're infertile. So not a weed!
Another big chore was to check the bee hives. Frans was fortunate to have a local bee keeper and berry grower come and give him a hand and some pointers. 
We have tasted our first honey for a year! It is delicious. More to come we hope! 
Frans did a pretty good job of getting the mower bogged in some soggy ground. It required a four wheel drive and a snatch strap. No damage done. 
They I had a minor altercation with a tree. This incident also required a four wheel drive and a snatch strap. Damage...?? Hopefully not.  
It is a delight to dig up a garden bed and find a load of hidden gems! Aprons are essential for gathering produce when a basket is not at hand! 
Not a straight, perfect carrot among these fine specimens! 
We're picking fennel too! I cooked this delicious Yotam Ottolenghi dish. It was fabulous! If you love vegetables, then this book is excellent. I recommend it highly. It is called Plenty More. 
I continue to experiment in the kitchen. There is always something 'brewing'. In this pic is a jar of honey fermenting into mead. There's a pot of kefir. And under the wax cloth is a big ball of sourdough rising. Nothing in the round clay pot. It's just there because I love it, and it reminds me of our amazing journey to India. 
Still experimenting.... We're using our black garlic papery skins to smoke foods. Delicious with chicken or fish. 
And still on the subject of fermentation, we took our large Kombucha jar to two markets. We wanted folks to try it and see what all the fuss is about. We have come home both times with an empty vessel. It's exciting to see how positive the reactions are to this delicious probiotic drink! 
We've had a few visitors enjoying the Spring weather. The cabin is a little haven away from the crazy world of the city! Sit on the verandah and you can see all the way to the Otways. 
The little garden around the cabin is beginning to look more settled. We have a few more ideas yet. 
We had a delightful couple stay with us a few weeks ago. This is what they left us. What a delightful 'thank you'. 
Sunrise is always a lovely time of the day. Now that daylight savings has arrived, we get to enjoy the mornings that little bit earlier! 
There's been much digging, preparing garden beds for Spring planting. 
The soil is healthy and full of good worm action. Just look at this monster! 
I'm thrilled to see we have our first almonds ripening on the trees.  
These orange poppies are like weeds. I can't get rid of them. But at the same time I do love their cheeriness.  
The strawberry flowers have started. And that means one thing..... Strawberries. Soon! 
It was the Birregurra Festival last weekend. Sara and Stephen entered Tilly the wonder dog into the jumping competition. Here they are waiting their turn. 
And here Stephen is encouraging Tilly to jump 6 feet, up and over the boards. Sara is standing on the back of a ute, encouraging her up. 
And she did it! She didn't come first. But she certainly gave city dogs some kudos! 
If you're still with me... this is pretty exciting....
We have been nominated for the Agribusiness category of the Colac Otway Business Awards. The announcement is on the 17th of October. Being finalists is already a great buzz. 
And for the bird lovers, this baby magpie has just left the next. He allowed me to stroke his feathers, and watched me as I worked in the garden bed beside him. 
My favourite tree on the farm is the willow tree. The empty fronds have started growing leaves again. Soon it will be time to place a comfortable chair in the shade and read a book for a while. This is what spring and summer is about! 
And last but not least, the view from our farm is just glorious. At sundown we're treated to a few minutes where the light turns gold. This is known as the golden hour. 

One of our neighbour's sheep had twins. Aren't they too cute for words! 
Till next time,
Stay safe.