What’s in the garden?
Every morning we collect just enough fresh lettuce, rocket, tomato, carrot, and/or arrowroot to make make our meals for the day. With bumper crops such beans, cucumber and choko however, we have to pick a lot more of these three.
We pick about a kilo of beans everyday. I’m thinking that sixteen bush bean plants all fruiting at the same time is actually a bit too much. We’re harvesting a lot of choko everyday as well, some of which we eat and the excess is gobbled by the pigs.
Sadly, the open garden is under attack from every direction at the moment. It’s inundated with insects, particularly slugs and snails due to weeks of wet weather Fortunately, slugs love beer just as much as we do. Last night, about 30 small slimy slugs slithered into one of my beer traps and perished (one hopes to think) in ecstasy. Unfortunately, snails don’t fall for the same trick and need to be individually plucked from their hiding spots on the plants and crushed humanely between forefinger and thumb or if you’re feeling particularly delicate, you can collect them in a bucket and disperse of them later. I tried feeding them to the chickens but they weren’t keen.
I made a white oil concoction (below) to kill the aphids that the ants are farming on our snake beans. Also a bandicoot is wreaking havoc, knocking over my little parsley and celery plants and digging up the beetroot. I have poked sticks in the ground around the plants to dissuade him. THis has been semi-successful but sometimes he just pushes the sticks out of the road and digs everything up anyway.
The green house doesn’t have any of these problems so Etienne and I have decided that, after we have consumed everything in the open garden, we will abandon it and erect another green house.
What’s on the menu?
The lovely pair of ducks that were given to us a few weeks ago were veteran escape artists and unfortunately, no matter what we tried, we couldn’t prevent them from getting out of the orchard. So they have been transformed into confit, a classic French cuisine for duck. Making confit involves slowly cooking duck at a low temperature for many hours in a bath of fat. This is the perfect recipe for a pair of old ducks who would be too tough to roast. It’s a lot of effort but the result is delectable.
Arrowroot (below). The arrowroot has grown and spread considerably. We roast it or fry it – it’s a bit like potato.
Starfruit upside down cake (below) – Donnie, a neighbour gave us a heap of starfruit. I saw a recipe on the internet and I basically adapted it to my own ingredients. I made a syrup by boiling goat cheese, honey and lime then I poured it in the bottom of the cake tin. I sliced the star fruit and put it in the syrup. Next, I made a cake mix with honey, flour, sugar, lime juice and zest, egg, and goat yogurt which I poured into the cake tin on top of the starfruit. It was delicious.
A friend has a book that she is going to loan us: it’s called The Art of Frugal Hedonism. I think we’re going to identify!!!
I can’t stress highly enough how much I enjoy this lifestyle. Most days, our farm work starts at 7.30am and finishes around 10 or 11am. Then we start to prepare lunch. We make a salad with fresh vegetables from the garden (usually some sort of green salad but sometimes a bean salad or rice salad). The salad is accompanied by boiled eggs, or some kind of meat or some bread with goat cheese and pickles. Then it’s time for an afternoon siesta. That takes us through to about 3pm when we do some afternoon activities: usually these activities are pretty flexible- sometimes we finish activities from the morning like processing excess food, making bread, cheese, yogurt, pickles, chutney, marmalades, doing extra farm jobs. But, if things are quiet, we just relax with a book, watch a movie, socialise, or go for a walk. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? And yes, it is lovely. But I’ve let go of the romantic notion that self-sufficiency is about sinking a shovel into fertile soil, popping in some plants, fluffing some mulch around and then, after an enjoyable, albiet industrious morning, kicking off you shoes and relaxing on the veranda with a hard earned cuppa tea! Actually, there many difficult aspects of farming. It’s hard to describe of how physically straining and yet mind numbingly tedious it is to rake up a paddock of mulch which needs to be urgently piled up and moved out before the next rainfall makes the mulch too heavy to pick up with the garden fork. The bi-weekly shovelling of goat, horse and sheep manure is a sensory nightmare akin to the changing of pooey nappies. And, there is nothing quite as annoying as the paradoxical relationship that domesticated livestock have with gates. They might go through the same gate all day long, going in and out as they please. But as soon as you want them to go through the gate, they act like it’s some sort of trap that they have to evade at all costs. This situation, which recurs again and again, requires a level of patience that’s biblical. AND, if you don’t want them to go through a gate, they will spend every waking moment trying to find a way through it. That being said, I think Etienne has perfected the art of make fences over the fifteen years we’ve been here so we are really lucky that we don’t have too many dramas these days.
Big spending week this week. Etienne bought a second hand green house for $300 and spent $60 at Bunnings on some nails, light bulbs etc and some paper rope for one of the baskets I’d like to make. Food shopping consisted of four things this week: potatoes and onions from the market (I deeply regret buying the potatoes because we have sooooo much food at the moment), and mustard and cockroach baits which Izzy bought for me at woolies. Don’t judge me on the cockroach baits. I made home made cockroach traps using jars of wine this year and they have been a miserable failure. Every time I open the cupboard door and take out a cup, a herd of pre-school age cockroaches scatter everywhere. Yet my cockroach traps stand empty.
We didn’t realise how much we would spend on fuel for the car, mower, tractor etc- March $213, February-$135, Jan $187. At this rate we will probably spent $1800 on fuel this year. We budgeted $500 for fuel for the year!
Etienne made this bed for his parents when they came to visit in December 2016. It’s beautiful, rustic, unique. I think he should make ten of them and sell them for $1000 each so that we can continue our modern version of self-sufficiency/minimalism next year.
As you can imagine, we are spending some serious time together as a couple. Like… every second of every day… we are here, on the farm, together! Are you hearing me??? I’ll only say that being at home 24/7 with your
grumpy, bipolar lovely, sweet partner does take some negotiating. But as usual, there are two sides to that coin because it’s also been good for our relationship. We’re doing things together so we get to appreciate each other’s skills, talents, creativity and deep commitment to our principles.