Sunday, January 31, 2010

gotta love that life thing

Its been an interesting time with the humans lately. For example, one of them pinched the Mountain Man's honey truck from our front yard on Friday night. And then this morning at the farmers market everyone I bought anything off seemed to be just radiating joy. The olive oil man was happy, the bread girl was happy and the honey man wants my recipe for saba. We talked, or at least I listened while he told me about everywhere he takes his bees and which trees flower where at which time during the year. I think he enjoyed having a listener (and customer) who appreciated the incredibly hard work and heavy lifting in being a commercial beekeeper.

And I had a moment at the recycling depot while happily scrummaging around in the skips for empty champagne bottles to put my saba in. It would appear folks on this side of town drink 397 beers for every bottle of (cheap and nasty) champagne.

I realised I have crossed a line between relatively normal and completely loopy when a car pulled in and instead of thinking "oh, how embarrassing, these people are going to see me rummaging about in the bins" I immediately thought "oh, goodie, I wonder if these people have any champagne bottles"

I am the cat lady. and I am only 39.

In other news, I made another batch of honey plum saba. This one using big fat purple plums from the prune (splendour I think) in the front yard. These are beautiful meaty plums, probably the best I have tasted for eating fresh and I hesitated to put the last bucket full into the saba, but then, lets face it, its really value adding and thats a good thing right?

The saba continues to impress the neighbourhood. A bottle was consumed with the girls next door yesterday afternoon, and well, we all had to have naps afterwards. It packs a punch. Two glasses helped greatly to ease away the surprise that someone would take the gorgeous little old 4WD ute I was in the process of buying. I mean if Bruce doesnt want me to have the truck of my dreams, at a great price then who am I to argue? Luckily it was still insured.

And for those with an interest in the feathered goings on - Big Fella is definitely embracing the whole gender spectrum. She has gone clucky but gets off the nest in the morning to pretend to crow then gets back on the nest to try and make babies. *sign*

And finally, I got off my but and bottle some tomatoes today. They are coming in thick and fast now. Some of the tomatoes are so big (the black krims especially) that one tomato almost fills a No20 jar. Soon it will be time to start making relish. yum yum.

Carolyn and Hugh from across the road have invited us over for drinks this afternoon. They promised they had lots of empty champagne bottles for me - yippee. saves me going through their recycling bin when it goes out tonight.

I am lucky to have such beautiful alcoholic ( celebrative) neighbours.

that is all.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lacuna Sabbath

where we stayed in Freemantle

Dear Mr Weekend Farmer was wondering what this whole Lacuna Sabbath thing is and it is this. "Lacuna" is like a gap, a missing bit, an extended silence, and Sabbath is of course, a special day of rest and prayer generally celebrated once a week. So my Lacuna Sabbath is my gift to me - to try ever so hard to dedicate Fridays as a day of rest, contemplation, tending the garden and conversing with ducks. A special space in the life of a busy duck indulged in with wanton love and joy, and fiercely protected and defended. It kinda comes from a Leunig character - Mr Curly who lives on the shores of Lake Lacuna. Originally it was my way of saying NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! STOP! to crazy work hours and too much overtime but now it is part of my life and it is just delicious and wonderful.

So anyway, what did I do on this Lacuna Sabbath? Well Mr Duck Herder and I have been in Perth since last weekend so after lots of travel and a wedding and eating and drinking and general conviviality, today was pretty calm. We stayed in Freemantle which is a City I just love.

This morning was spent reconnecting with the garden after a crazy hot week. This afternoon I "racked" the honey and plum saba. And now I am completely sozzled in a delicious way. I think I am not the best at using the syphon yet, and have had to consume FAR too much wine in proportion to what ended up in the demijohns. It is delicious. *hick*

One batch has the most luminous ruby colour. The other is cloudier and more orange. But they are both delicious.

And they both turned very dark once I had racked them. I have kept the sediment to use in muffins etc. It is deliciously sweet and buzzy.

In other news, the widdle ducklings are HUMONGOUS. One is very little. Some have naughty white bits on their throats which is cute but not really proper for a Kahki Campbell.

that is all!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

for the Rocketeer

for your Sherdie!

more of that hot stuff

As one hot windy day follows another. We are in the middle of another heat wave. I have been watching episodes of Gourmet Farmer on the web and I must say I am YEARNING for some of that gorgeous cool wet mountainous Tassie landscape. Right now it just looks like heaven.

In other news, before it got stinky hot this morning I started moving fermenting stuff and bee stuff into the new shed. There is still plenty of room for the preserving stuff and tools stuff. Bikes won't be translocated until we get a better lock. I wont KNOW MYSELF without all my little projects scattered and heaped all over the house. And I am anticipating Mr Duck Herder (who thinks I smell quite lovely thank you) loving me lots more without all my mess everywhere.

There are some beings who are enjoying the heat. The tomatos are starting to ripen. The Siberians are early quick lovely simple small to medium boring round and red. I will grow these again for sure.

But as always, the Black Russians are my favourites with their dark smooth roundness and complex flavour.

Didn't have quite enough marties or time or inclination to bottle today, and Mr Duck Herder was making "what are you doing with all these tomatos on the bench" noises so I cheated and just chopped them up and froze them in little half kilo bags. So simple. It will be like pulling little bags of concentrated summer out of the freezer in 6 months time. Imagine, 6 months time we will have forgotten all about this heat and be missing the sun.

And summer is all about making salads out of what ever is in the garden. Micro greens (poncey name for baby lettuce) , cucumbers, lettuce, zucs, corn cut strait from the cob, lemon juice, a boiled egg (bigg fella's if you ask) whole egg mayo, free range chook and some sesame seeds on top. (post picture). yum.

Stay cool all you southern hemisphere folks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

honey bike shed stinky duck

And exciting thing is happening folks.

The little men are here putting up our new shed.
Soon we will have a three bedroom house instead of a 1 bedroom, two bike room / bee stuff room house.

A weird thing happened today. Simon the guy at the produce store told me he hated my perfume. He thought it was a man repellent. (!) I am trying not to worry that I smell. I don't smell yukki folks. Do I?

Smell is a funny thing. I like to wear a lemongrass oil with a tiny bit of patchouli in it mostly because I always have a sore neck and shoulder and the lemongrass makes it feel nice and it centers me and reminds me to relax. I make little bottles of the same oil up for my girl friends because they love the smell so much. So it was a bit of a surprise to be told it was yucki. A good opportunity to not let my ego tell me that I always have to smell delicious for everyone and if I like it then that should be good enough. Although perhaps I'd better go a bit lighter on it.

I had just been thinking about ego and about how susceptible to praise I am and wondering how I would REALLY go if people ever didn't like me or think I was amazing or adorable. And how do you get to a place where you are steady and calm whatever people think about you or your work good or bad.

In other news I asked Bruce to find me just a couple of meters of garden hose so that an old hose I have can reach all the kiwi vines more easily and wouldn't you know, there in the bargain basement bin at a certain hardware store was just what I needed for $1.

Life is funny.

Haa haa thanks Bruce.

Oh and one of the little men called me "Sweet Pea" , not STINKY Sweet Pea or Little Miss Smelly. So there.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lacuna Sabbath

Hooray for the Lacuna Sabbath. Ducklings still equals seven. We have removed Esmond from the equation (I warned you!) I think it was only a matter of time until he started killing them off.

Still more trouble in paradise Winkie has returned from my sister's place after deciding she hated her adolescent children. She has gone from being top chook to bottom chook. So we are running two shifts in the old fluffy cage - Esmond in there at night for the ducklings protection and Winkie in there during the day for her protection from the other mean chooks. Hopefully she will be accepted back into the flock soon.

In other news, 2 meters of gravel dust just arrived out the front so I can organise a nice flat surface for the new shed. My weekend just got booked solid.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

widdle babies

OK folks, here's what ya want. ready? One, Two Three......aaawwwww.

Stupid cute huh?

Yup. Stupid Cute has arrived at the princess castle. They haven't left the nest yet (that's mum just to the right) but why would you bother when you have a wading pool beside your bed?

Proud father hasn't shown infanticidal tendencies yet, just a little nibble/nudge.

Hot bees. Her Majesty Queen Malina's girls are very yellow huh?

that is all.

eeeyyyaaawww eeyyyaaaaw
I think the beer ambulance is here.

Keep cool everyone!

hot hot hot

Hi folks - HELLO NEW FOLKS! Thank you for visiting this little blog. This is just a quicky post before I scoot off to work. It is HOT in case you southerners hadn't noticed. It was hot yesterday and this morning it is STILL HOT. This is my 4 weeks of the year when I seriously consider air conditioning! Don't worry , I will get over it as soon as the weather changes.

Amelia has so far hatched 5 ducklings. She has been on the nest non stop for two whole days now. I put some water in there for her and the hatchlings. Sorry folks no photos. She is being very protective. It's going to be even hotter today which probably isn't ideal for the whole hatching thing.

Yesterday was my first day back at work after a two week break. I had a lot of meetings. Drove out to chat with the farmer we are working with to set up our last composting facility and our first on farm composting facility. Quotes for the sheds have come back FOUR TIMES what we there is a bit of work to do there!

Apart from a little wobbly in the morning when I couldn't find the work car keys, which ended up being the the glove box of Mr Duck herder's car which was parked in town where he is working, I am proud to say I stayed pretty centered and calm and present. I got to drive the honey truck out to Bungendore and up into the mountains instead so that was nice. It was a bit of a change to the blissfull langour of recent times.

I am OK with a bit of heat, but once the temperature gets above 40 degrees for too long my pitta gets all out of whack and I can easily blow a gasket (just add ice cream - I love ayur veda)

Its going to be a BIG YEAR. Just keep breathing girl, just keep breathing. This is the last year of my project.

Well, stay cool, unless you are covered in 6 inches of snow in the which case, stay shnuggly.

6.42 am - too early for the beer ambulance? perhaps. But are there any rules against ice cream for breakfast.......

Saturday, January 9, 2010

call the beer ambulance!

Well its a bit of a stinker today and its forecast to be a bit stinky hot for the rest of the week. It was all hoses are go down at the community garden this morning with everyone watering in anticipation of a very hot dry windy day. I thought I would post while I am waiting for the ice cream to melt enough to scoop some out of the tub - its too early for the beer ambulance, and really, the first line of defence once the temperature gets above 35 degrees should be ice cream don't you think? You don't want to go out too hard too early....

I have run out of string, so have started plaiting up onions ready to hang in the carport once I do manage to locate some. Sure, not as romantic as garlic plaits, but lovely non the less. I can't tell you how lovely they smell.

A close up of Camilla the secret chicken.

And in anticipation of widdle ducklings this week, I cleaned out the duck pond and filled it with fresh water. This is always cause for much celebration in duck world, and Amelia left her nest to jump in and have a bath.

This was an opportunity to check how the eggs were going - there was one rotten one that was broken and sticky which I removed. The rest look lovely. Esmond has been keeping her company - hanging out beside her in the nest - its pretty cute. This is his first opportunity to be a father - it can go either way with drakes - they can be indifferent, great or murderous dads. Fingers crossed he is the indulgent kind. I don't really have another fox proof pen to keep him in if he does hassle the duckings, so he will have to take his chances with the wolves if he tries to kill the littlies. Just tellin' ya Esmond, just tellin' ya.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Onions, Pots of Tea & St Teresa

"Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; Bruce never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. The chick who has Bruce finds she lacks nothing: Bruce alone suffices.”

St Teresa of Avila - doctored by the duck.

So like, the duck has had a long interest in perennial philosophy - you know, those core ideas, principles and knowledges that are common to and underpin all religions and ways of understanding the universe. Buddhism for instance - is extremely accessible from a perennial philosophers perspective mainly because that smiley old Buddha developed a rational framework focused on experience and knowing rather than faith and tradition. But despite my good Christian upbringing Christianity has always been a bit beyond me - a bit too close to be able to see underneath all the narrow minded patriarchal faff.

But this changed a bit after reading good old Eckhart Tolle who explained to my simpleton brain that the Christian idea of "sin" and "original sin" when correctly translated actually means "to miss the mark". Now this suddenly makes a whole lot more sense to me - the idea that we are born in "original sin", might actually mean we are born ignorant, born forgetting that I am that, we are that and all this is that eternal being (ie Bruce). And that we spend the rest of our life(s) trying to remember hook back in with the good stuff, and that the Christian idea that "we are born in God's image" is generally understood in an arse about way - it doesn't mean that Bruce looks like/is a person (for goodness sake) it means that the eternal parts of us (lets say soul for want of a better word or concept) is made of the same stuff that Bruce is.

We are in essence, LIKE BRUCE , not the other way around.

Now I still struggle with the personification of Bruce that saturates Christian writings, but in a good perennial philosophers way I suspect that somehow, Christianity MUST be able to offer people a similar path to enlightenment / transcendence / heaven / grace / Bruce's place.....

So I am checking out what the chicks have to say on the matter - starting with St Teresa of Avila because St Teresa seemed to be on a first name basis with Bruce. Goodness my dear Nana would be SO PROUD.
Surely if I scrape off all the cultural scum, the perennial truths will still be there kicking around at the bottom of the bucket?

Anyhoo, what does this have to do with onions? Not a lot, except to mention that the 2010 onion harvest is coming in. (Thanks Bruce!) Yeehah! Bring on Jamie Oliver's English Onion Soup recipe RIGHT NOW. It is going to take me days to pick all of them. One ute load at a time methinks.

And what does this have to do with Pots of Tea - nuthin except that except when it is hotter than 35 degrees c, this is where a lot of the communion and cuppas with St Teresa is happening. I love our deck.

That is all.

PS, This post was not / is not intended to cause offense to any sensitive Christians who might unexpectedly read this blog. I know you can be a titchy bunch on occasion.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hooch City

Fact: One of the nice things about blogging is that the 'puter is very close to Queen Malina's hive (as the bee flies - there is a wall between us) and when the window is open the sweet scent of ripening honey wafts past me into the house.

Fact: I am not sure there is a lovelier smell.

Unless of course we include the yummi smell of wildly fermenting honey and plum wine......

Technically this recipe is a T'ej which is Ethiopian for ....honey wine. There are lots of kinds of T'ej and apparently one kind is called "Saba T'ej" in reference to the Queen of Sheeba (Saba) who apparently shared a cuppla bottles with that old fox King Solomon once a long time ago.

Anyhoo, I really like the word "Saba" and have decided that my honey and plum wine will be called "Saba".

Fact: Even at 4 days old, Saba is DELICIOUS! The sweetness is being replaced by a nice tangy fizz which I like very much.

This whole Saba adventure is so much fun that I invested in a larger fermenting bucket and made another batch. Meet Honey and Plum Saba - Batch #2

Fact: you meet some nice people picking overhanging laneway plums just post dawn.

For more information about wild fermentation see here" Wild Fermentation

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pickles & Chooks n' Stuff

First up - greetings from Annie Claire and The Big Fella.

My favorite sandwich in the whole wide world is Pate, Dill Cucumber and Mayonnaise. This is because my BFF at primary school (Sutton Primary if you ask) was Amelia Salmon and this is the extravagant concoction her Mum put on my school sandwiches on morning after a sleep over.

Well. It was a taste sensation and I get all drooly just thinking about it. You can imagine the reaction from my cheese and tomato, devon and tomato sauce, left over sausages and tomato sauce or Vegemite and lettuce (this was my suggestion, not my Mums) sandwich filling parents when next asked what I wanted on my sandwiches.

Anyway, this early experience led to an off again on again life long search for the perfect dill cucumber. Like most things, the mass produced version is inevitably disappointing, and really, you have to make your own. It wasn't until yesterday I realised that the perfect dill cucumber is actually a weird zucchini and it is pickled in a brine not a vinegar. It is also embarrassingly easy to make. Just sliced veggies and salt and dill seeds and a weight to hold it all down. This one is cabbage, turnip (or is it a swede - I really should put more tags on my seedlings) zucchini and the unidentified zucchini thing that is growing on a vine. And it is YUM. And it is apparently also very good for your digestion being full of lactic acid bacteria thingies. (Well according to the Wild Fermentation book it is)

Amelia Salmon's mum - I salute you!

In other news, here we have some lovely summer/Autumn lettuce seedlings coming up. From memory they are red ice, little gem and crisp mint. See, LABELS.

And greetings from Chu Chu the coolest, hottest, fattest cat in town.

And "hssssssssss - get away from my nest" from Amelia who if all goes well, and one shouldn't count one's ducklings before they hatch and all, should hatch next week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poem for 2010

We simplify our lives
We live gladly with less.
We let go the illusion that we can possess.
We CREATE instead.
We let go of the illusion of mobility.
We travel in stillness. We travel at home.
By candlelight and in stillness,
In the presence of flowers,
We make our pilgrimage.
We simplify our lives.

Michael Leunig, from "When I talk to you - a cartoonist talks to God"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hoochi Mama x2

Today is a beautiful day. I have rediscovered all the nice things about getting up at dawn. Geeze you can really pack a lot into ya day. Anyhoo, we have been missed by TWO thunderstorms today and I think that just about exhausts our chances.....

First up (after a big mug of tea of course) I snuck up the road to gather some wild plums to make some more wine.
I went for a run today while it was still cool - this was more of a walk/trot as I am still nursing that torn hamstring a little.

I then went down to the community garden to water the veggies. It is so beautiful everywhere at the moment. Everything is green and fresh and jumping from the Christmas rain. We are so lucky.

There was even time for a nap.

I have eaten WAY too much Christmas cake - but what is a girl to do? Sue from next door made me a WHOLE chocolate and Drambuie Christmas fruit cake and I am the only one in the house who eats it.......

And then my sister popped in with a bucket of honey she didn't need so now I have everything I need to make a batch of Honey Plum Wine. This is a recipe from the "wild fermentation" book I talked about earlier. It uses WILD yeasts like a sourdough. The mix is just rain water, raw honey and whole plums. It just bubbles along for a week or so, then I syphon it into a DEMIJOHN and we all know how much I like those!

Total cost: ZERO. (apart from the demijohn of course)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Garden Update

Things are going well considering the amount of neglect the garden is getting.
Its pretty wild and woolly in there. We are harvesting onions, Italian zucs, some weird squashy pumpkin thingy, cabbages, swedes (or are they turnips) and lettuces. Cucs are on their way, as are some sweet pepper thingies. Watermelon and corn is flowering. I have let the parsnips, English spinach and winter lettuces go to seed.

The marties in the martie house are going splendiferously. These are black russians and black krims. They are not far behind the early marties - the siberians and swifts and such. It wont be long folks - which is good because we are down to our last bottle of tomato relish.

Things we are missing this year are parsley and basil. I think I might crack and get some seedlings rather than starting again from seed........

Buy my how those tomatos look lovely.

Well, that is all. Welcome to 2010 folks! May it be full of rain

One of my resolutions is to take the pressure of being self sufficient in the veggie department and to just have fun and enjoy and not stress if a particular crop or batch fails. I reckon its back to just enjoying the growing of delicious food, not stressing about it or seeing it as a failure if we need to buy veggies. Well. that's it!