"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

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Growing gold

Just had to share this. I have finally cracked the trick to growing ginger.
Very happy indeed. For five years now I have been trying to grow sweet ginger without success. According to all of the books and everyone I have spoken to it is very easy. Yet year after year my ginger made a brief appearance before withering and dying. To rub salt in the wound, all of the wild (non culinary) gingers in the area grew like weeds! A fact not lost on me as I sweated and laboured in the summer sun cutting back tonnes of the wild growth that was attempting to overtake the garden beds. I was able to grow all of the ginger relatives with no problems- such as Turmeric and Galingale yet still the simplest of them all continued to elude me. Yet I would not give up, apparently I can be pretty pig headed in that way according to the child bride.
Just harvested. The roots come out in a tangled clump.
So last season I threw away the gardening books and guides along with almost everything I have ever been told about growing ginger and made up my own mind. I had obtained some more rootstock from a kind friend who could not understand my inability to grow this weed, "Man I'm almost throwing the stuff away it keeps getting out of control..." (to which my response is unprintable). I planted this out in a rich mix of local earth and my own compost in a large tub and placed it in a spot that would get some morning sunlight and a fair amount of water. All in contradiction to just about everything I have ever read.
And it grew!
Hose out the dirt.
Today I noticed the tops had died back with the cooler weather. So I pulled the ginger and discovered lovely plump roots, sweet and fragrant when broken. It was like winning the lottery, I was so happy. After a quick wash under the hose I broke the roots into sections so the air could circulate all around and set them in the sun to dry for a day or so. I will actually be replanting most of the root to increase our stock for the eventual semi permanent ginger beds I plan to keep.
Drying in the sun. Hardens up the skin and helps it keep longer.
The child bride tells me that ginger is about $32 a kilo in the shop at the moment. We eat a lot of ginger with our cooking so you can see why I am growing our own.
Well I'm off to get some of our pork out of the freezer. Stir fry pork belly with ginger sauce for dinner!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

To see what we can Sea

We took the littlest cloud farmer to the beach the other day. He is two years old now and had never seen the sea before. Well he loved it. I was a little worried he might be frightened of the noise and movement. Far from it - he made a beeline to the waves and tried to dive in! He thought the waves washing him off his feet were absolutely hilarious. Fish and chips, sandcastles, shells, wind, water, and sand in the undies followed by a skinny dip (him, not me) to wash off. Very tired afterwards, slept well all night.
Trying to go in before Nana can stop him.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A busy month.

Been a busy month. A few weeks back I went over to Tolga and picked up our new hot house. It was still standing and I helped the owner and his crew of hapless backpackers carefully pull the structure down. There were about ten sections, each fifty metres long to be disassembled and it was hot, hard work. Nevertheless I am glad I did help as I have a much better idea of how to reassemble it. I plan to cover the veggie garden under two side by side sections each sixteen metres long. In order to do this I will have to level the veggie garden and terrace the lower end. A big job but I know a good man with a big digger that should make short work of the job.
God willing I will have it done before the wet season.
The hot house components stacked in the stockyard.

The drawback to the whole plan is that I have not planted out the winter crops and the veggie garden is currently a grass patch. Not only are we missing our own veg but I am going into severe gardening withdrawal. Damn but I need my veggie garden.
A well deserved rest after a hard mornings eating and sleeping.

What else? Well the remaining two pigs are HUGE now. They still have a month to go before slaughter and we are stuffing them with all the food they can eat until the last week. Then they will only get a diet of soaked corn as this ensures the fat hardens up. Important for bacon and ham. I have grown tired of boiling potatoes in the kitchen twice a day so I made a boiler from an old gas bottle I found on the dump. This goes over a fire outside and can hold two big feeds worth of potatoes in one hit. I am thinking of eventually making a boiler shed on the site with a brick stove for the boiler pot and a covered wood store. This will allow the cooking of potatoes throughout the wet season without too much trouble.
The temporary boiler set up. Blocks form the firebox
and the tank in the background keeps the firewood dry
Two weeks ago the turkey hen went missing for most of the day only turning up for a quick feed in the afternoon. Sure enough we eventually found her hidden in the bluetop under the lime tree on a nest of seven eggs. Not bad for a first clutch and she is sitting firmly. The duck also began disappearing for most of the day and we found her on a nest of some eighteen or so eggs. I am not sure she is sitting though. It is also her first time and she might need some practise before she brings off a clutch yet. I am thinking of stealing half of the eggs and putting them in the incubator.
The duck nesting in a pile of sticks.
 I have no idea how she gets in there.
The turkey hen on her nest. She is insisting that I actually cannot see her.

The weather has turned cold. It looks like we will get a good winter. I like a cold winter. It kills off most of the nasties in the garden and knocks the cane toads about. Today we all went out and took the tractor and trailer into the bottom paddock to load up with firewood that I cut down a year ago. We used to have lychee orchard on the place. It must have once looked like a good idea to whoever planted it but it was of no use to us. The trees only seem to fruit every second year and we would never have harvested more than a bucket of fruit from some eighty trees. However, they do make good firewood. So we loaded cut timber into the trailer and took it up to the house. There I hauled the band saw out into the turnaround and we sawed the timber into billets for the fire and a stock of timber for the potato boiler. It was hard work but fun and we had a good winters day outside.
There were a few weeks of late season rain last month. This was not so good as it meant the cold wet weather did not allow the grass in the fields to get the final flush before winter. As we have four cattle on the paddocks at the moment we will probably be running short of feed before spring. Not to worry though. I am scything excess grass in the house yard and orchard and this should see them through.

I came home last week to find Boris, our beef steer, in the front yard. The child bride had been doing the evening milking and got the fright of her life when she came back in. It looks like he managed to jump the fence into the orchard and then wandered into the house yard through the open orchard gate and couldn't find his way out. I had work the next day so we were forced to move him that night. I can tell you, chivvying a stroppy half tonne steer in the darkness is no picnic. Out the cocky gate, up the road, into the driveway and then through the gate into the top paddock. Of course he wanted to make changes to the route and took off up the road in the darkness and then into the bush across the road on the neighbours place. Much bad language echoing off the mountains in the moonlight.