"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

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A month of works

 Alessa our Maremma (flock dog) is beginning her morning rounds. She likes to keep tabs on both the neighbours properties as well as her own. The neighbours are ok with this as they get protection for their livestock from wild dogs too.
 Meet Gobbles the second. Yes, I know he is a grey and not a bronze but he came at the right price- free. Sometime last month Gobbles came off second best with a large predator. I am quite disappointed with Alessa for not stopping this but it is the one and only attack we have had here since she joined us so I should not be too harsh. Before we had her we were losing stock monthly to the wild dogs.
 Installing new gates so the power company trucks have access to the pole out in the bottom paddock. If I don't have these gates here they will just cut the fences and drive on in. If they touch a single strand of our fences now there will be hell to pay!
In the background you will see the electric fence set up on the "long paddock" (roadside) as they say. It is a good way of mowing the verges as well as feeding hungry cows before the grass starts growing again. We have had good rain now so I will take it down today.
There is something very appealing about a pile of ripe pumpkins waiting outside the kitchen door. I love it. I also love roasted pumpkin and pumpkin soup- my speciality.

Ulf's prime pumpkin soup
1 good pumpkin. Queensland blue is best but any rich pumpkin will do.
2-3 tablespoons of good honey
2 lemons or limes
Cream, 1 cup or more
Cayenne pepper or hot Paprika to taste
Boil the cleaned pumpkin flesh until it is just soft then drain. Mash or blend until smooth and add cream to form a thick soup. Add honey until reasonably sweet then sharpen with lemon/lime juice to taste. Stir in Cayenne pepper a little at a time (be careful here as honey can amplify the effect of hot spices!) until the soup has a nice bite. Blend till smooth.
Serve hot with a small dollop of cream on top and toasted crusty bread to the side.

More porcine adventures

The three little pigs have become the three big porkers! Still cute in a big muddy piggy way. We will have a slaughter day with a few friends in a couple of weeks. In the traditional way I will help a neighbour slaughter his pigs and then he will help us with ours. These will be mostly for fresh pork and sausages. If I can cadge the secret recipe from a friend I am also going to do a few pickled pork joints. I tried one of his pork joints earlier in the year and it was unlike anything I have ever tasted! He pickles the pork in a brine made with pineapple juice (amongst other things) and generally keeps the recipe a close secret, so wish me luck. I really want a slow roasted pickled pork with crackling on Christmas day.
 Sausage, our sow, is heavily pregnant. She has become a real pet and has a sweet nature. She talks to us each morning with her honks and grunts as we prepare her breakfast and loves a nice scratch on the rump. It is a good thing she is so sweet natured as a 200kg sow could otherwise be quite dangerous . Apart from just enjoying the contact, this is one reason I take pains to tame all of our livestock.
Unfortunately we will probably be moving sausage on to a good home after her next litter. Our setup for pigs relies on having a fallow period after each batch and having a breeding sow in residence does not allow us to do this. This means the pig yards remain bare all year round and this is not good for the land or the pigs. We will be very sorry to see the old girl go. We will also make sure she goes to a good home.
So after her next litter we will be going back to the original plan and buying a batch of weaners once per year. Not as nice as having a tame sow but better for the land.

The summer flush

A little rain and everything will change overnight. We finally received about 20mm a few weeks ago and then another 25mm or so over the last few days. Suddenly everything begins growing at a furious rate. The dusty paddocks are quickly turning a lush green and the weeds in the veggie garden are fighting back with spirit.
The mint has come back from its winter raggedness beautifully. It loves hot damp weather and just looks so photogenic. We use it in yoghourt dipping sauces and raitas. We also make Senkenjabin from it. Senkenjabin is an ancient Persian cordial. It is superb to cool down with on a hot day after hard work. It is also excellent with Vodka, sort of like a Singapore sling, I call it a Topaz sling.
4 cups sugar
2.5 cups water
1 cup wine vinegar (good quality please)
1 large handful of fresh mint
Boil water and dissolve the sugar, add the vinegar and simmer for twenty minutes. Then remove from the heat and add the mint. Allow it to steep as it cools then strain and bottle. This is the cordial concentrate, to use dilute with cold water to taste and serve with ice. Also good with a large shot of vodka.  

 The bananas are loving the weather. Over winter the grey water pipe from the grease trap clogged solidly. Attempts to free it proved fruitless as it would promptly clog up again. On inspection I found the pipe had not been laid with enough fall and this was allowing sediment to settle in the pipe. So I was forced to dig a new trench with a greater fall. I laid it in a different direction that had more of a slope and delivered the water to the banana stand. Sort of like a reed bed system and the Bananas love it- lots of nutrient and wet feet. Banana heaven.
Consequently the bananas have responded by throwing bunches in all directions. I counted about eighteen bunches this morning. This variety is a type of "Lady finger" sugar banana. Intensely sweet and delicious, they are a fine eating fruit but will turn chalky if used for cooking. Down in the lower orchard area I have a small stand of Cavendish coming on to use in cooking. I like banana cake!
 This is a Banana flower. The centre is often used in Asian cooking and is very good. The little florets are the actual flowers and each will become one banana fruit when pollinated. The bees love banana flower.
 This alien looking fruit is a Buddha's Hand. It is a citrus closely related to lemons. It is almost completely rind with almost no actual flesh at all. It makes up for this by having the most intensely lemony scent of any citrus and is excellent as a citrus potpourri or else as a clove studded pomander.