"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

Friday, 21 December 2012

December on the Cloud Farm.

It has been a hot summer this year. No rain so far and it is beginning to show. The grass is not growing, normally it is in full swing by now and you have to watch where you stand or it will grow right over you. I suspect it will be a late wet season. The rain tanks were almost empty so we have pumped from the creek. Nice sweet spring water, the creek runs all year and has a head only five hundred metres or so up from our property. We can see the entire catchment from our house. Good when you know exactly where it comes from. The ground soaks over the wet and then bleeds the rainwater from springs through the rest of the year. The water is sweet, clear, clean and has the aroma of the rain forest. I like that.

The dry is not all bad. The lack of rain has allowed the guinea fowl to hatch out multiple nests. Several mothers have swanned in with large broods at heel. I counted one with seventeen keets yesterday.
A lone hen wandered in with a couple of chicks too. Normally they build up large hidden nests and leave them to rot when they get bored of sitting. I found one hidden nest yesterday of twenty-one eggs, tucked away in the shade under the trailer. It had not been sat on yet and they were still fresh so I brought them in and placed them in the incubator along with another nineteen eggs to make a full load. They will incubate for twenty-one to twenty-three days before hatching. Here's hoping.
I notice a lot of the older hens are going broody now. I will tuck a couple of them away on a clutch and hope they get it right.

The dry has also encouraged the frangipanni to flower this year. Usually it is too wet for them to flower. I love the smell of frangipanni.

Work has progressed on the veggie garden. I have marked out the hot house footprint and will begin pegging the position for the posts which I will put in as soon as I have the needed materials. in the meanwhile I have been rock hunting and have turned the cultivation area over with the tractor. First using the grader blade to chip out the largest boulders before using the rotary hoe to till the soil and find all the boulders I missed. There were a lot. Lost a few tines off the rotary hoe. Nevertheless we got through the job without finding anything too large to move so I am very pleased. The rocks we unearthed will be used to make a retaining wall uphill of the hothouse. The next step will be to install each of the hothouse frame footings in a cement plug. After that I will install the uprights into the footings and set each one at the correct height with a bolt through the shaft. Next the arch bars and struts are bolted in and the sheeting pulled over and secured. Only then can I actually begin growing anything again.

We have been continuing work in the orchard. A few days ago we burned off the piles of cut rubbish that had been drying out. The burn went well and the orchard is almost done, ready to be fully planted out. We have been slowly purchasing fruit trees over time and carefully placing them in the orchard as we go. When done, there will be room for about sixty trees. They will be trained as standards (meaning like a tall tree with a single trunk) so we can graze cattle when the trees are tall enough.
I have also been around all of the trees composting with a mixture of well rotted pig and cow manure. I also added a generous handful of my "number one lucky special recipe good fortune mineral mix". I discussed it some time back, a mixture of white ash and chicken manure mixed with crushed egg shell and bones and a bit of urine from yours truly. Allow this to mellow for several months in a closed barrel. It undergoes a change that is hard to explain. The texture changes to resemble grey fine sand and the smell is quite neutral and inoffensive. It is an all natural high-mineral concentrate that I can make myself. Suck on that Monsanto!
The blue barrel holds the "lucky special recipe"
The bin beside it holds a supply of ash to be added
when a new load of chook poo is laid down.

We picked up a Brazilian custard apple at the markets last week and purchased a "Fuyu" persimmon from the local nursery. These were in lieu of Christmas presents between the child bride and myself.
We already have a selection of citrus, carambola, black sapote, apples, tropical peaches, macadamia, coffee, bamboo and bananas planted. I am looking for a few Brown Turkey or Black Genoa figs next. There is a nice rocky outcrop that should suit them perfectly. This is because figs actually wont fruit well if they have too much soil, they just produce a lot of leaf. Constrict the roots amongst rocks or within a box and they fruit well. If life gives you lemons make lemonade, if the ground gives you rock grow figs.

In the kitchen I have made more small goods. A while back I made Chorizo which has turned out well. Very tasty but needs to be fattier next time with perhaps a bit more paprika. An excellent cooking sausage and we have been eating a bit of Spanish as a result.
Since then I have thawed the two pork forequarters I stored in the freezer and have made a load of salami, some Lup Chong (or lup choy/ lap choy or whatever), some German pork sausage for fresh eating and a big load of plain pork eating sausages which are excellent.
I am also getting ready to take the two hams out of the fridge at long last. Quite nervous I must admit. I hope they turn out well.

1 comment:

  1. I bet the ham is delicious! The orchard project sounds fascinating too. You'll have to dog out all the old recipes for preserving fruit. Personally, it would be chutney all the way!