What’s in the garden?
Our camellias are flowering.
This week we’ve started harvesting taro (pictured below wrapped in Etienne’s shirt). Taro is a starchy tuber similar to potato in appearance and taste, except that it is a bit sweeter and a bit softer once it’s cooked. On the internet people describe it as being similar to a sweet potato.
We’re still harvesting cucumbers but some of them have a mosaic pattern on their skins because the plants are old and weak and the aphids have invaded them and transferred the mosaic disease to them. Those cucumbers pictured below were harvested for pig food. We have lots of big, delicious passionfruit. The bean production has slowed and now we harvest a handful or two every day. Needless to say, there are millions of choko. Below is a picture of our harvest on April 12 (thank god my camera keeps a record of the date).
What’s on the menu?
Our little goat family of three has been reduced to a duo because we decided it was time to dispatch the buck. He was a big, sweet boy who loved to press his face flat onto my thigh so that I would give him a scratch between the horns. I think the little bugger actively conditioned me: he pressed his face on my thigh, I scratched him, and then he would reward me by twisting his face around so that I could watch the blissful expression spread across his face as his eyelids slowly dropped and he lapsed into some kind of semi-conscious relaxed state.
However cute he was with me, he was terrible with the two does. When he reached puberty he started harassing them, trying to mate with them (even his own mother and she really wasn’t into it). So, last Tuesday, while I was milking the does, Etienne led the buck out and quickly and calmly did the deed. Mumma Patty, his mother, cried all morning when she realised he was gone. She stalked up and down the fence lines calling for him. Suddenly, midmorning, she gave up and went out into the paddock to nibble on the grass. That was it. In the afternoon, I spent some time patting her. Instead of snuggling up to me, as she usually does, she stood in the open doorway of the stable staring out into the bush. It made me sad and immensely grateful that I’m not a goat (and therefore I get to keep my babies). One positive outcome from this (other than a full freezer), is that the relationship between the does has noticeably improved. Patty who is the alpha female, would normally butt Candy quite viciously if she was too close to her, but now she is being unusually tolerant and friendly.
Izzy is partly vegan. By that, I mean that she is opposed to some of the cruel and heartless aspects of factory farming so she’s chosen to avoid eating any animal products that don’t come from our farm. She eats our stuff because she’s happy with how our animals are treated. This week, I cooked a few different goat curries with spices and home grown herbs in tomato and goat yogurt based sauces. Apart from the onion and Indian spices, all the ingredients came from the garden (at the moment we are cooking in our own lard). The curries were delicious and I think that Izzy and I both need the iron in our diet. I enjoyed one meal in particular that was inspired by a Jamaican goat curry recipe that combines Indian spices with oregano and bay leaf. Bay leaves are great and the bay tree/bush is easy to grow here.
Our bank balance is $5433 as at 12 April. Damn, we were doing so well!
Etienne and I have settled into our new routine of working together in the mornings in the garden. This week, Etienne has been working long days and he’s done some amazing work to the goat stable. He attached a gutter and down pipe to the roof of the stable and connected it to the second hand water tank we bought a few months ago. The rain that we had last summer was a bit unusual because an incredible amount of water came down in a mere few minutes. Consequently, there was too much water for the drains around the goat stable and they overflowed. Etienne has re-dug and improved the drains as well as planting some plants that will help to hold the soil in place. He also cemented a step in the doorway of the stable. He did all that in a week. It looks good and I think the downpour problem is solved.
Etienne wakes up at the crack of dawn and tiptoes out of the bedroom into the lounge room to do his morning stretches. At 7am he brings me a cup of tea in bed. That’s been our routine for most of our marriage. I drink my tea and have a quick read of whichever book I’m reading before I get up. At the moment, the book is called Unlearning: The Basics. It’s a simple guide to Buddhist philosophy. I enjoy reading it in the morning because it seems to inspire in me a lovely peaceful feeling that I try to carry through the day.
We’ve got five new chickens (pictured below). For those of you who have never owned chickens, you may not understand the implications of the ‘pecking order.’ Chickens that are not raised together will fight each other to establish the pecking order. The first few days that we had the new chickens, we had to give them lots of opportunities to get away from each other because they can be quite vicious. I asked Etienne to open the hen house as soon as he got up in the morning in order to avoid fighting in the enclosed space. It’s been a couple of days but they seem to have settled in really well.
Activities of the week
Recently I discovered that on certain Sundays there is a free market in Lismore where generous individuals can gather together and roll out blankets of free items that they no longer want. Community members are welcome to bring along any unwanted items they wish to offload or just come along and pick through the ‘stalls’ in search of a hidden a treasure. So, I took all the remaining clothes from the recent Jiggi clothes swap, spread them out on a tarp and sat back whilst a bunch of people hovered over the clothes until half of it had disappeared. The sun was shining. People were smiling, It felt most satisfying to hear the comments people made when they found something like a good quality pair of skinny jeans that fitted them perfectly. There was a lady painting faces, another offering cups of coffee and a masseuse/card reader- all providing their services for free! My card reading was very positive – next year will bring ‘transformation.’ Unfortunately, she didn’t indicate what I would be transformed into!
Update on the tooth situation: On Tuesday, my loose tooth was removed at a cost of zero dollars, by the public dentist. The dentist was a same dentist who I saw on my initial visit, a nice professional lady. The tooth was so loose that it literally took less than five seconds to remove (took her longer to numb my gum than it did to extract the tooth). My false tooth, which is a porcelain tooth attached to an acrylic resin plate with stainless steel wire, cost $900 through a private dental clinic, is now in place. You wouldn’t be able to pick it out. I would have liked the stainless steel option but beggars can’t be choosers.