What’s happening in the garden and on the farm?
Lots of eggplant and zucchini this week, some capsicum, tomato and a small quantity of beans (they’ve died off). We’re still harvesting kilos of cucumbers every day from the three older plants and 2 newer ones.
Etienne positioned the goat paddock really well. He fenced a huge area that includes grasses, trees, lantana, and weeds. Goats are browsers not grazers so they need the variety. So far they are love it in there, with zero escape attempts. We take the added precaution of visiting them through the day because they like to know we are around and we don’t want them to come and look for us.
What’s on the menu?
Etienne made buckwheat pancakes using a mix of our homegrown buckwheat (still in the hull) and buckwheat groats we bought at Bulk foods. The bacon and salad are home grown. The salad consists of cucumber, lettuce, beans, tomato, chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano) and some finely chopped edible wild herbs (euphemism for weeds – such as stringy dock, curly dock, farmer’s friends).
This leads to a funny story. One of our neighbours read about a superfood, bidens pilosa, in a health magazine. She ordered the seeds online at a significant cost. When the parcel arrived she found that she had actually purchased farmer’s friends. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a common weed, originally from America, that grows rampantly in this area, a gardener’s nightmare.
How did we come to be so lucky. Well, I’m sure luck was involved but we also made some really good choices. For example, choosing to become part of Wiccawood, therefore landing us in the amazing community of the Jiggi Valley. We bought onto a Multiple Occupancy for a fraction of the price of buying individually. Etienne designed an ergonomic house, submitted the plans to council, then started to build. We built a straw-bale house using new materials, recycled materials, and sometimes making the materials ourselves. For example, at one point we bought a community saw mill. A tree fell over on a neighbours property, they rang Etienne and he milled it and used the wood to make one of our walls.
All our kitchen cupboards came out of a house in Lismore and were sold to us for $200. See below.
The silky oak cabinet below belonged to our neighbour Marie. She needed some work done on her roof so she traded the cabinet and Etienne repaired it so that we could use it as a cupboard. The top was damaged and the whole thing was black. Etienne sanded it and made the silky oak top for it.
Marie said that originally, it was a motorised ice chest in a pub.
We have classical musicians in the valley and are lucky enough that they perform house concerts every year. Izzy and I attended Nicholas and Melanie’s house concert last week. It was a wonderful afternoon. First Melanie played the Shakuhachi accompanied by a lady playing the koto (Japanese harp – it actually sounded like a European harp with an oriental accent.) The classical Japanese songs they played were inspired by nature. One was about a bird and the music was almost onomatopoeic in that you could close your eyes and it sounded like a bird flapping its wings and sailing above the earth.
Nicholas then played the piano accompanied by an oboe in the classical western tradition. One song they played was Romanze by Motzart. I felt like it captured my mood; haunting and melancholy yet hopeful and energised. I’m not a music critic but it was beautiful.
Attended a free embroidery workshop at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery. Lovely ladies.
Every morning Braidy, Scruffy and Patch are at the door ready to escort me into the paddock to start the day’s labour. We didn’t choose to own three dogs. But (for a variety of reasons) here we are. They provide hours of entertainment, they’re great company and they are invaluable for the nightly walk to shut the animals into their various pens and stables.
Time for a change. Etienne shaved behind my ears. I figured that if it was a mistake, I’d just shave all the rest off. But I like it.
One of the first casualties of the year of self-sufficiency was the dishwasher. We had never owned a dishwasher but in 2012, when Etienne announced he was going to France for 4 months, leaving me with the children, animals, garden, house work and a full-time job, I insisted that we get one. Anyway, we haven’t used it for the last month, so on Friday, I filled it with jars that need sterilising and put it on. Still works!
The other main casualty has been the pool, which has turned green. I’ve reluctantly spent $30 on a product to kill the algae one last time but the pool budget has been exhausted, so that’s that. When it goes green again, it’ll be just be another water tank for emergencies. Sad face emoji.
This year we’ve got lots of time to visit our neighbours for a cuppa or a wine. It’s been nice to relax and catch-up with people a bit more. We’ve also had lots of lovely neighbours drop in to see how we’re surviving. Some have brought us excess veggies from their gardens or interesting edible plants that they’ve grown. Very thoughtful! We offer them cucumbers which they politely decline as every gardener is inundated with cucumber at the moment.
What do I do for my health:
We bought a juicer a couple of years ago and it’s great. However, I prefer to use the blender because then you don’t waste all the good fibre that is available in the fruit and vegetables. In the morning I blend 50% cucumber (oh my god, we have so many of them), with any combination of tamarillo, mango, banana, fig, and now, guava. I add water and macca powder and blend it up. Izzy and I have this drink along with our breakfast, one of the following: chopped up fruit, buckwheat porridge, toast and jam or fried eggs. I’ve got a bottle of multivitamins in the cupboard and I take one every now and again too.
Etienne made yogurt this week so sometimes I’ve been making my breakfast smoothie into a lassi.