"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Turkeys, parrots and new roof.

I think I mentioned previously that the turkey hen, Henrietta, attempted to sit a nest of her own eggs with no success. She must have still been in a very broody mood because she promptly took over the ducks nest in a patch of galingale. The duck didn't seem to mind, she is a pretty rotten mother anyway and just waddled off to begin another nest behind the feed trough in the cattle yards. Anyway, two days ago Henrietta appeared leading a small gaggle of six ducklings and looking very happy with herself. Hopefully she will have more success with her own eggs in the future and I can have turkey as well as duck for dinner.
God only knows what the ducklings will grow up to be like. I hope they don't follow after their adopted father Gobbles. I already have all the mentally deficient poultry I can handle.
Each year our local King parrots bring in their latest batch of offspring. They enjoy a good feed at the chooks trough and I often watch them as I milk the cow each morning. This year they only have one youngster instead of the usual two.
Over the years they have become quite tolerant of our movements and will quietly ignore us moving about as long as we do not get too close.

 Today I am replacing the weather side of the roof with new sheeting. I have been waiting a week for this clear weather as, of course, it began raining heavily as soon as I purchased the roofing iron and brought it home. As luck would have it today has turned out clear but extremely hot. I have to do it now though as that part of the roof will not last another wet season and we already have several leaks coming through. Next winter I want to finish replacing the rest of the roof in somewhat less inclement weather.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

You don't see this every day.

This morning I found this fellow stuck in the fence of the pig paddock. Sometime last night he had a big feed and was now too large to get back out the way he came in. From the size and shape of the bulge I reckon he had swallowed a bandicoot. Good riddance, bandicoots appear to only exist to dig up my seedlings as near as I can work out, so I am happy when the local snakes wish to eat a few.
 Now poor old snakey was unable to get back to the rain forest and the day was quickly heating up so I rather cautiously took hold of the tail and pulled him backwards out of the fence. Easier said than done as he was fairly anxious by now and probably doubted my intentions therefore he put up a bit of a fight. I can tell you a four metre (13 foot) python is quite strong and it took some effort to get him to let go of the fence. I then carefully pinned his head* and lifted him bodily over the fence before letting him go. He then slowly took off for the rain forest where he can digest his meal in peace. To give an idea of scale, the body forward of the bulge in the photo is about as thick as my forearm.

*Pythons are not poisonous but a bite from one will almost certainly become infected due to the assortment of bacteria in their mouth. Definitely to be avoided! In any case, I am a sook and have no particular desire to receive a bite anyway, infection or not .

Big jobs

 Finally, after several months of waiting for various reasons, we have begun making progress on the new veggie garden. A couple of days ago the man with the big digger came to level off the area where the hot-house is to go. It was a very big job- he unearthed and then moved several boulders the size of a small car. These were used to make the terrace on the lower side which was then back filled with earth taken from the higher side. He did an excellent job! I then had him remove a particularly large boulder named "Mr Bastard" that I have been unable to shift from the new chook pen area. After that we dug deep holes for the mammoth logs I had put aside for the new carport and set each pole upright. All done by one in the afternoon.
Now I just need to mark out and set up the hot house before the wet season. Today I picked up two dozen cut sections of pipe I will use as the post extensions to raise the hot house frame high enough for the tractor to get under the sides. These extensions will be set in concrete and then the frame will be sleeved in and bolted in place at the correct height. Should keep me out of trouble for a bit.
Meanwhile I will be allowing the posts for the carport to settle into place for a month or two. This will give me time to obtain the extra poles I need from a friends place down in the dry lands. The design will allow dry parking for two largeish vehicles and should be fairly cyclone proof. At the front of the carport will be an H frame from which I can hand a chain hoist. This will be useful in lifting heavy things off my Ute as well as lifting carcasses during slaughter.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Burning sunset

This is the dry time of the year for us. Throughout most of Australia this can be a difficult time as water becomes even more scarce than usual. We are very fortunate to live in one of the very few very wet places in this country but even so it is still browning off somewhat around here.
Nevertheless, if life gives you lemons- make lemonade. We treat this time of year as our period in which we are able to do all of the outdoor jobs requiring reliable fine weather. As the wet season looms closer it soon becomes a race to get as much done as possible before the rain comes down for another three months or more.
This season I need to replace the iron sheeting on the weather side of the roof, replace two house stumps, paint the sills and windows around the house, finish the chook pen, cement the pig pen and erect the hot-house. If there is still time after that I need to build a boiler/smoker shed, build a two bay garage, build a shed for the tractor and put up a four bay compost bin system behind that.
I hope it is a late wet season this year.

Just like daddy

The absolute best toy a boy can get is whatever his Dad is working with at that moment. I for one reckon this is a good trait and should be nurtured. He already helps collect the eggs and feed the chooks. With any luck I can have him making the butter at four, weeding the veggie garden at five and milking the cow at six...

Note the toys abandoned for whatever Dad is doing.

 After the butter was done it was time for a farm haircut. He protested loudly that he would rather be doing something with Dad.

Good to see someone has the right idea

I was beginning to think the guinea fowl would never get the idea. This girl swanned in yesterday with fourteen keets in tow.

Bringing the bacon home

Well our first bacon is ready!
The first bacon side sliced in half.
 I am quite please at how well it has cured. It is quite firm and has a fresh bacony scent. Note the meat exposed to the air has greyed a little. This was to be expected in a modern recipe as we are supposed to use a lot less saltpetre now*. The flesh when cut revealed a pleasing pink colour which was to be expected. When I fried the first couple of rashers I was pleased with the aroma and the way it cooked. It was a pleasant surprise to find this was the bacon of my childhood. The rind crisped nicely and the fat turned almost completely translucent. The flavour was superb and very rich, however the curing process had made the bacon quite salty. This was easily remedied by soaking the slices in water for ten minutes before cooking (as they used to do in the old days). There is none of the nasty chemical aftertaste I notice in modern bacon and we have found that only a couple of rashers with eggs and toast are a fine breakfast.

I will experiment with smoking a side or so soon as well as having a look at the curing process to see if I cannot reduce the saltiness somewhat. Nevertheless we are overall very pleased with our first bacon.

*This is because the nanny state has decided that saltpetre is absolutely, horrifically dangerous in every way and will kill everything and everyone who even dares to think of using it in food**

**I can't help but note that people in the past failed to die in droves, or at all, when they ate this food over the past thousand years***.

***A bit remiss of them really. After all, I am sure Nanny couldn't possibly be wrong about anything ever and that we should all be jolly grateful to be forcibly wrapped in cotton wool at every turn.