Sunday, March 15, 2009

February Update

Certain parts of my veggie garden and this blog page elicit the same emotional response from me at the moment.... I'm a bit overwhelmed as a result of neglecting to put the time and effort needed to keep them weeded, planted and, in the case of the blog page, up-to-date.

At least the rains are here so I don't need to think about watering for a while...

So here's an update on the high's, low's and adventures of February - a big month for us during our summer challenge!

The garden has served us very well - we've enjoyed an adundance of all sorts of greens, peas, strawberries, and potatoes. The fruit from the orchard included my favourite, greengages, as well as many other varieties of plum and cherry. The only problem with the greengages is that the time between them achieving that extraordinary sweetness and the time when the birds make away with them seems to get shorter each year!

On the livestock front, four more pigs left for the abbatoir in February, including the one we cooked on the spitroast for our party. I also rehomed 5 of Tinkerbells piglets - leaving 4 here to grow out. They're all fine, strong, and independent little characters. Today they're in the orchard scrounging windfall apples.

Our chook breeding has resulted in lots of birds in the yard - I started counting today but lost count at around 50... many of these are young birds who will be rehomed in the next few weeks. I'm particularly fond of the Brahmas I hatched from eggs sent from Victoria at the moment.

Johan and I made a decision prior to the big party on the 21st Feb that we would no longer continue on a 100% Tasmanian locavore diet after that date - it was to be a celebration all foods Taswegian, and a last hurrah.

There were two key reasons we made that decision. The first was that I was struggling with the bread making,and cooking in general, due to nausea. I had morning sickness (amazing what happens when you watch less TV!) and couldn't stand the smell or sight of the yeast, any meat, and anything that had a strong smell (which seemed to be most things according to my nose!). The second reason was that I was going to have to go up North to work for a contract - meaning that the practical day-to-day work arounf the farm was likely to get a bit out of balance and potentially make the challenge more of a chore than a joy for us.

Ironically - after announcing our intention to finish that night, the following week both these reasons ceased to be an issue. The pregnancy ended, and the job ceased to exist as well... So - we're still scratching our heads about that and trying to make sense of it all!

In the meantime we're still sticking to our other goals - no supermarket shopping, and focussing on developing sustainability in our daily lives.

Some highlights in February - Jake and Lachlan starting school, beautiful and kind people who came into our lives and helped us when things were tough, being involved in filming a documentary about self sufficency in relation to the pigs,and learning about that creative process, Collette's apricot jam, lemon cake - all crumbly and moist, the boys egging each other on to swing higher on their tarzan swing, my gorgeous fella being so loving and supportive.

I am a lucky girl!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Party time at Parami

Produce from our garden artfully displayed on the feasting table by our friend Chris

On the 21st we were joined by about 50 family and friends for a massive party to celebrate our Summer Challenge.

All our guests were invited to bring something Tasmanian to add to the table - we were lucky enough to get home-made preserves, cheese from the Bruny Island Chesse Factory (brought by the cheesemaker himself), cordials, oodles of wine, salads, and a local salmon.

Our major contribution was a spit-roasted pig. The pig weighed in at 60 kilos - too large for the spit-roaster really.... somehow Johan and his mate David managed to keep the machine working, and the pig on the spit (it fell off a few times!) long enough to produce a dinner everyone was happy to rave about.... I'm not a big fan of pork, but even I was impressed...

My father, Bob and David ,carving the spitroast, while Jake tries to get some of the crackling before it gets to the table

The crackling was amazing - I'd never had it before but I was told it was impressive by those in the know. At the beginning of the day (we started at about 9am!) I scored the skin of the pig with a knife, rubbed it with a Tasmanian Olive Oil, and then rubbed some salt over it... it worked a treat - though I got very nervous during the day as everytime I saw Johan or David they were chomping on a piece of crackling - I was concerned we may not have any left for those coming in the evening! Thankfully we did...

It was a wonderful evening - I felt very grateful to be surrounded by so many of the people in our lives that have been great supporters of what we're doing on our little farm.

I so appreciated the efforts they made to bring something local, and in many cases home-made - including Chris' homemade cider which he served with frozen raspberries (lush!), Silja's beautiful beetroot and walnut salad, Elaines strawberries with balsamic vinegar (a revelation!), Matthew's silverbeet with garlic and butter, home dug potato salads, and many more which have slipped my memory right now. It really was a feast!