What’s going on with the animals?
The chicks play around my feet, digging in the dust, scratching and exploring the debris under the deck. Every new sound or movement sends them into a flurry of flapping wings as they rocket this way and that trying to work out what they’re running from.
Etienne bought two black piglets from a friend for $60. I fed them some guava this morning. They press on the guava with their snout so that it splits open. They then eat the inside, flattening the skin out in the process. Once they have eaten all the insides, they go back and eat the skins. Funny creatures! They’re very cute. I’ll post some video of them next week.
The goats are now a family of three: Mumma Pattie, Mumma Candice and the baby buck. This morning Etienne slaughtered the little kid (offspring of Mumma Candy, the hornless doe). Etienne led the little buck out and away. As we suspected, Mumma Candy looked more relieved than anything else. She didn’t called for her missing kid one single time. She just walked out of the stable and started nibbling grass with the others. We had noted right from the start that she doesn’t have the same keen mothering instincts as Mumma Pattie because, although she tolerated her kid, she didn’t demonstrate the usual protective instincts. Mumma Pattie screams if she can’t see her boy and he obediently replies and shows himself. Solid goat parenting.
What’s on the table?
This recipe book is quite amusing– on the opposite page of the recipe I was preparing, there is a picture of a sweet, innocent goat being detained in a shed-like structure, peering out from behind steel bars. I can’t think of a less appetising photo to place beside a goat meat recipe! Anyway, I cooked goat vindaloo with choko for 30 mins despite the recipe instructing to cook it for 2 hours. I wanted to conserve energy. The result was tasty but not tender so next time I would cook it a bit longer – maybe in the slow cooker. We’ve got solar panels so through the day we use our own power and the excess energy goes back to the grid. I would cook goat vindaloo in the slow cooker through the day so we use our own power.
Solar panels have been a great investment. On a 1.5 kw system, we power our house and the granny flat. Our last quarterly bill was $70. (Usually our bill is around $120 though.)
Monday evening we had ratatouille – a French meal consisting of tomato, capsicum, eggplant, onion, garlic, basil, thyme and oregano. All the ingredients came from the garden except the onion, which I bought in town, and the garlic which came from the Channon market.
Tuesday evening we had a fabulous eggplant curry. It was just eggplant cooked in cumin, ginger, turmeric and garlic. We grew the eggplant, turmeric and ginger in the garden.
Wednesday evening we had goat vindaloo.
The rest is a blur because I forgot to write it down, and sadly my concentration and memory, like bakers yeast, deteriorates in the hot weather.
Pics below are what we ate today (Monday, 19.02) with our visitors, zena and Jiah:
Oh, this was a bad week for spending. I’ve got weird cravings. At home I have cravings for food that we don’t have. Once I get to town, I’m not sure if the craving is for food or just for the pleasure of spending money. I bought sweet potato, tomato seedlings, butter, greek yogurt and chocolate almonds. I bought butter! I don’t need butter, but I bought butter. I really wanted to eat toast and butter with my tamarillo jam… so I bought butter… and it was AMAZING! (Seriously, a little guilt but no regrets!) I also bought yogurt so that I could use it as a started culture to make my own goats milk yogurt but I didn’t get time.
Because I had spent so much money on Tuesday, I decided not to go in town for the library book sale on Wednesday. I knew that if I went in town, I would only spend money. Plus our fuel bill is five times what we estimated it would be.
I don’t want this blog to be drawn into politics because we all live in a reality where we are constantly being fed the stories that substantiate our individual beliefs. If we are leftie, we experience everything through that lens and thus everything we read, see or hear, reinforces our beliefs. A diverse society can only work if we can disagree without judging each other. I don’t mean condoning through silence. I mean that if you don’t agree with someone, you should be able to say so and really talk about how you both feel rather than getting angry and judgmental.
I’m bringing this up because I’m reading The Lacuna, and it has roused my deepest sense of injustice. Emotionally, I was feeling quite content and balanced, then, last week, I got to a point in the book where I felt like I was knocked over by the tidal wave of villainy that marks the history of Stalinist socialism and, simultaneously America’s journey to suppress communism. I was knocked off my feet and I’ve struggled to get up again. Now, I just feel a bit wet whenever I think about it. Barbara Kingsolver, the author of The Lacuna, is a literary magician who takes you on emotional journeys that inspire you to take more interest in the political and historical workings of the world. (Tip: if you want to read Kingsolver, start with the Poisonwood Bible).
And, in the words of Forrest Gump “that’s all I have to say about that.”
So I get up in the middle night on Wednesday and there is no moon at all. I feel my way to the toilet and, as usual, proceed to flash the light on then off again just to make sure there are no snakes in there. But… there was a snake in there and it was huge. I left the light on and raced back to get my laptop and take the following picture of the snake trying to hide behind the toilet. As you can see, it’s really big. (Then I went and peed on the grass.)
We live in a social valley and on Saturday afternoon we attended a gathering to say farewell to a friend who is going to travel around Australia. The first question I was asked by people was “So how is your year off going?” Each time, I responded from the heart: “It’s like a holiday that just keeps going” I said with a relieved sigh and a smile. Or “it’s AWESOME” I declared, my eyes bright with excitement. Then I would regale them with stories about the goats and chickens. A friend, Meg, arrived a few hours later. She relaxed into a couch, looked across the room at me and asked “So, are you loving your year of self-sufficiency? All eyes turned to me. I looked around the room and stuttered unconvincingly “It’s like a…. never-ending holiday?!?” I attempted to paint a smile on my face (I’m sure it looked like the smile you produce when someone decides to take a spontaneous photo of you on a particularly bad hair day). Of course, I shouldn’t feel guilty and embarrassed when I’m telling people how great it is. But after answering the question so many times, it felt a bit like I was talking about a party I was having that no-one else was invited too.
At 8pm, I said goodbye to everyone and went home to close the chickens in the coop. I shone the torch in and found the big snake (pictured above) in the chook pen with feathers and straw in its mouth. That means that it had already tried to grab onto the hen so that it could curl around her and start to squeeze. Its face was inches from the hen and although she had tucked herself into the corner of the pen, she was about to be eaten. I had already told Etienne that I was too scared to touch this snake because of its size but I didn’t have any choice. I booted it away from the chicken (not hard but just enough to get it’s head away from her). Then I held the torch low to the ground and shone it in the snakes eyes and I hoped that it couldn’t see me. I grabbed it by the tail and dragged it out then spun around and jumped over it to shut the door and stop it going back in. It made a quick get away through a hole in the wall and it was all over. I would love to say that it was my friendship with the chicken that made me so brave, but actually most of my incentive came from the fact that she still lays an egg everyday – and eggs are so frickin’ useful!