What’s in the greenhouse?
I love peas so I have about twenty plants in the garden. I planted a lot more but the rat in the green house keeps digging them up and eating them before they get a chance to grow.
Broccoli – we’ve got four varieties on the go this winter. Regular broccoli and three Italian varieties of broccoli (pictured above right) that we raised from seeds given to us by our neighbours Kenrick and Maree.
We’ve still got lots of lettuce at various stages of growth. Lots of carrots, shallots, chinese cabbage and black raddish. The onions and cauliflour are still very small.
Great news – more chickens are on the lay. We’re collecting about 3 eggs a day now. We love eggs because they’re integral to a lot of meals that we like to eat – buckwheat pancakes, fried eggs, quiche, gratin dauphinois (French version of potato bake), fried rice, cake, creme brulee etc. When we don’t have meat, we like boiled eggs with our lunch.
Believe it or not, chickens are more than just walking stomachs that eat all day and repay the favour by laying eggs. They have personalities and relationships with each other. One of my favourite sounds is the racket they make every afternoon on dusk, as they gather, one-by-one, inside the chicken coop to hop up onto the perches to go to sleep. They are like a little family, some happy, some cranky, chatting and squabbling, kicking others out of the way as they find their perfect spot. They’re so funny and predictable.
What’s on the menu?
Veggies and curry made from veggies.
Toast for breakfast.
We emptied the freezer, cleaned it out, and filled it with mutton from little Rammy, who sadly is no more. His little friend, Other Lambie, cried all morning after Etienne permanently removed her friend from the paddock. Now, Other Lambie is ‘besties’ with the horse again.
In winter, we often light the wood fired combustion heater and cook our dinner on the top using it like a stove top. This is the first time I’ve used it as an oven. I decided to have a go at baking bread in the coals once the fire has died down. I let the coals die down then put a paver in on top of the coals and cooked the bread in a cake tin. It was really good bread.
Mutton casserole – mutton, arrowroot, radish, pumpkin, carrot, green beans, squash, apple, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, white wine and stock. (The ingredients that were from our property are green.)
The following day, we had leftover mutton casserole accompanied by boiled Chinese cabbage from the garden. The cabbage was fresh and young. I chopped it, boiled it for a few minutes, then drizzled a bit of Etienne’s apple cider vinegar over it, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. It was soooo sweet and delicious (would have been even better with butter).
A friend came for morning tea and brought blue-vein cheese from Nimbin diary. I had some wrapped in a buckwheat pancake for lunch, accompanied by a salad that was made entirely from our own produce. Thanks Deb, the cheese was delicious.
Above is a picture of an afternoon harvest and the subsequent curry that was cooked with the vegetables. We still have lots of fresh coriander so I love making curries.
Activities of the week
Animal husbandry – I have to admit that the animals are hard work at the moment. The goats keep jumping over the fences. They have to be tethered so they need to be watched all day incase they get tangled up around a tree. The chickens are all jumping the fences even though they have a big green fenced area full of grass and weeds. They dig up gardens and the mulch that we put around the trees. They decimate the seedlings, eating their leaves, pulling or digging them up. So, at the moment, I spend half my day supervising animals. In the long run, we need better fences. Sigh!
Shopping this week consisted of a trip to bulk food to buy flour and peanut butter (pictured above) That jar of peanut butter holds about a kilo. At bulk food you can take your own containers and fill them. We also bought desiccated coconut and chocolate coated honeycomb from Farmer Charlies. Shopping cost $14.
Thursday we went to a farewell dinner for our friend going to Mongolia.
On Saturday night, we met up with friends at a local restaurant, 20000 Cows, where we ate an extravagant feast of vegan cuisine. I highly recommend it for anyone, you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate their cooking. It’s called 20000 cows because that is how many cows have not been killed and served in that restaurant.
Sunday morning, I went to the local maker’s circle and we did basket weaving with Jillian. It’s on once a month and there’s a different workshop each time.
We have a lovely friend, Peter, who is an apiarist with a lot of bee hives. Etienne traded a day’s work for 20 kilos of local organic honey (as you know, our bees didn’t produce much in the last couple of months so it wasn’t worth trying to harvest it.)
In our house, we rarely reach for the sugar tin unless we’re preserving fresh food by making pickles, marmalade, jam or chutney. If we want to sweeten our food or drinks, we generally use honey so we’ve been missing the honey since we ran out.
Reusing as much as possible is good for the environment and also the wallet. It’s tempting to throw some things away in the name of hygiene. Sometimes I find it hard to judge whether an item has become unhygienic. As an example, I’d like to nominate our humble kitchen spongy thing. We’ve had it since last year and it’s still going. It gets rinsed out every time the dishes are done and placed in it’s little bucket. It’s over six months old. It doesn’t have any odour and it’s very effective.
We also have a couple of chux cloths left over from last year. We use them for wiping bench tops and chopping boards. We started the year with about five of them and we still have three. We wash them and store them on a rack inside the door of the sink cupboard. They also have no odour and still do a good job although they don’t look bright and new anymore.
How am I going? Firstly, I feel like this year has given me an opportunity to explore, express and even embrace my true self, the person I am underneath layers of conditioning and layers of past experience. In a way, it means that what I’m doing and feeling is more in my control and less a reaction to circumstances and events that are going on around me.
Secondly, I want to say that I’m enjoying appreciating all the free time we have. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I feel relaxed and peaceful. There is no external pressure of work deadlines or trying to decide what we need or want or if we ‘should’ be doing something etc. I spend time with the goats, walk the dogs, have a cuppa tea, read my book or I type away on the computer. But, my mood sometimes fluctuates due to a hormonal imbalance (ladies over forty years old, you know what I’m talking about! – becoming the crone is both positive and negative!) I might be having a perfectly lovely day and then I walk in the kitchen and think “I am the only one who sweeps the f#$king floor.” Sometimes, I think my mind just likes to invent problems to create drama. At these times, I try to remember to be grateful and to appreciate the richness of the life I have and the people who are in it.
$2300 left in the bank. Where has all the money gone??? I’ve spent a lot this week. I’ve just spent $300 on a plane ticket to go and see Bee in Melbourne. That’s put a real hole in the budget, but she’s my baby – I have to go! My mum offered to pay for my plane ticket to Melbourne. She’s always trying to pay for things. I’m not good at receiving so, of course, I said ‘no thanks’. She then kindly insisted on paying for me and Bee to go out for dinner while I’m in Melbourne so I’ve happily accepted that offer. Thanks Ma-dogg, very generous!
We spent $110 on dinner Saturday night and we’ve spent heaps on fuel over the last months. Fuel is very expensive here at the moment, $1.50 per litre. The YOSS (Year of Self-Sufficiency) budget is dwindling rapidly. It’s always me who does the spending – well I pay all the bills ie phone, rates etc. Etienne never spends a cent. Oh, except for a PLANE TICKET TO MONGOLIA!!! I’ve been going in town every Monday and working in Izzy’s school canteen. The main reason that I decided to do canteen on Mondays was so that I could do the shopping and Izzy could drive home. She needs to do 120 driving hours to get a provisional licence. Oh, well, c’est la vie…..
Finished a little basket that I started making months ago –it’s made out of recycled men’s ties.