Friday, 8 July 2016

Winter is coming… well it's here!



Winter is coming… well it's here! Sort of; this is Queensland after all.

What a week!

We decided to pen off Sage (our oldest sow) on Sunday, as her milk had ‘come in’. As although we were unsure of her due date (have to admit I have not been quite so on the ball, in noting dates since the arrival of our own ‘cub’); Which turned out to be good timing, given Monday morning we awoke to the pitter-patter of little trotters. Well more the squeaks and grunts, as they were all nicely nestled in the hay, when a very hungry Mum greeted me for her breakfast; following what was obviously a very busy night for her.

This week is also our local ‘show’- an agricultural show accompanied by a traveling fair. This meant we enjoy a public holiday for ‘people day’ to attend. Generally we enter some produce and/or livestock/poultry in the competitions. This year however, I left it too to enter; although I had been cooking up a storm with the preserves over the last week- this just slipped my mind.
The day off however, did allow for a few extra jobs to be done around the farm. 
Matt constructed, secured and cladded a new shelter upon the original permanent pig housing site; taking full advantage of the concrete base. And built the frames for two temporary sheds, that we intend to use in the second paddock (when we get around to fencing it) and any temporary areas for keeping and moving growers.

Winter though traditionally a quiet time garden wise in our native Wales, is actually prime garden and harvest time in Queensland, as the temperatures and humidity are a little less fierce. Oddly due to the opposite seasons some produce we would have associated as ‘summer’ items are ready around the same time- like strawberries.
So the extra day also meant we finally did some gardening. And by gardening I mean I was weeding whilst the ‘cub’ supervised from a camp chair whilst drinking her milk and occasionally descending from her perch to ‘assist’… Though she did find the carrots we harvested quite intriguing.
This job was definitely overdue, as the garden was getting a little ‘wild’; my grandfather would have been most disappointed with me. But we were pleased to see how much was actually thriving; without our assistance… my type of gardening. The majority of the ‘weeds’ were actually lemonbalm, which in itself is not a weed and is an edible and useful plant; that the bees love. But in the veg patch it is rampant and we have a small crop in the herb patch already. The advantage of this ‘weed’ being it is easy to pull out and seems to allow the veg to continue to thrive underneath.  Another non- weed that needed our attention was the squash vine; this very healthy and productive vine was increasingly sprawling along the fence and into the garden itself. An attempt to tame this has minimal success. But we did get the just before it took over the fennel and strawberry planting areas. As these would not have likely survived, as the melon vine hadn’t.
The greens are doing surprisingly well. I don’t want to speak too soon, but the cauliflower and broccoli plants are doing better than any other year I have attempted to grow them. So either these are a more appropriate variety for our conditions. Or our lack of intervention has been beneficial.

Preserves and Making your own.

It is that time of year again… not only does the cooler weather allow for us to undertake a few things we wouldn’t during the heat or humidity. As well as the produce available at this time of year. So this past week we have attempted a few new home processes, along with a few established/practiced ones.
Greek yoghurt-
Ricotta cheese-
Passionfruit butter-
Passionfruit jam-
Bacon-
Chutney-
In coming weeks we will be undertaking a few more, probably another batch of bacon… as this one is already being devoured at a rate of knots, some ginger beer and lemon curd are on the cards (as a work colleague kindly shared some lemons), possibly some cordials and marmalade; given the large amount of limes and mandarins we have at the moment. And another attempt at sour dough; given its cool enough to attempt it- most people struggle to keep them warm, we struggle to keep our from going mouldy or sweating.