Thursday, 29 May 2008

Up on the Roooooffff!

Can't remember who sang that old song, but it's the one I'm singing. (Trev informs me it's the Drifters)

Trev has been able to get back to the house recently after stints on his back and on pain drugs, and then out in the apple orchard. He's all fired up finished with posts and beams and has his first 6.5 metre long rafter up. We managed to do it together, I must admit I wait for some catastrophic gravitational event at every moment, assuming of course, that I will fail to notice, or not have the strength to obviscate some disaster that will kill one or both of us, probably simultaneously, just to make insurance policies extra difficult. Of course it all went according to Trev's plan, with a bit of, 'why don't we?' input from me. I'm hoping by the time the house is finished I've got one heck of a lot better at climbing tall ladders without shakey knees, running over joists without 'envisioning' an inevitable bone snapping sound and moment. I'm really looking forward to the mud and straw part they are so much more my kind of element than chainsaw carpentry and trignometry of a truly awe inspiring kind (I am mathematically impaired).

So it's with great respect I watch Trev cut out notches at particular angles in exacting exactness so that birds mouth joins and other complex 'bits' fit glove like. I've included one at the end of this 6.5metre behemoth as an example, plus one of Trevor taking a moment out to survey the new view from the top.

Friday, 16 May 2008

I yam what I yam, and what I yam is Oxalis Tuberosa!

Hmmm, hmmm - I've been out bandicooting my favourite vegetable, and, as of last years harvest, Trev's too. Yams, are not yams at all, but a form of oxalis, while they don't spread like the dreaded weed, they do colonise areas much like potatoes, as you can never quite remove all of the little bulbs. But who'd want to when you can eat them. Roasted is best, traditionally eaten in NZ with roast lamb, but I'm happy to eat them straight out of the pan. They taste like a very light textured potato, but they're sweeter and have an unusual after taste which has been described as slightly acid, but not sure I'd agree. They almost caramelise in the pan, sorry, have to wipe the drool from the keyboard. I describe them as looking a bit like an old mans big toe, that's a tad less flavoursome thought!

I'm seriously thinking about growing a commercial crop of them, I know I already have a market with every yam starved kiwi in Australia, have to convince all those Aussies out there too.

I found them difficult, no, impossible to grow in QLD, they cooked in the ground. Here they flourish, despite being frost sensitive and taking six months till ready to harvest they seem to have handled the light singe around the edge of late, and are still powering away.

Monday, 12 May 2008

The Great Chooky Drama

Hard to hatch egg

As you will see on Caleb's blog we had a birthing drama playing out in the chook pen yesterday. Two out of the three chicks had hatched, and while the third had pecked a hole in the shell wasn't making any head way over a number of hours. Home school became a google search for information on whether to intervene or not. As the day wore on and the chick was clearly weakening we took the advice of one site and used tweezers to crush the shell in small sections till it was 'unzipped' and allow the chick to struggle out of there. But once returned to the nest the mother no longer recognised it and attacked it. We retrieved it and bought it inside and Caleb watched it struggle out of the shell and has nursed it for the last 24 hours, including sleeping in the shed so he could be near it. Propagation heating pads are useful things, not only do they get seedlings going, and keep beer brewing but also baby animals alive.

It seems to be doing OK and is now walking around peeping, cheeping and pooping and of course Caleb is doing a lot of bonding - I hope it's not a rooster!

A name has yet to be settled on - Caleb was keen on Little Tree after a movie he saw recently, but considering the amount of salivation going on in a certain dog - I suggested Little Treat might be closer to the truth. You can vote on Caleb's name choices at his blog - the link is just to the right.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Organic Tea Range

Hi All,

I've been working away on a range of organic teas. I hope one day to be growing certified organic dandelion root, but for now I'll have to content myself with buying it off others. All these

Raspberry Leaf and Stevia
Chamomile and stevia
Chai Tea
Dandelion Chai

are made from BFA certified organic herbs, spices and teas and represent some of my favourites. The pungency of the herbs is amazing, every time I open the sealed containers it's a sensory blast.

I worked out last night that it costs between 15 - 20 cents a cup, depending on the type of tea purchased. Which is good value.

I've had heaps of fun creating the website and taking photos, but as my laptop is very limited in what screen resolution I can view it in I'd appreciate a heads up if it views oddly on yours.

I'd also be interested in hearing what your favourite tea is, and any interesting blends you enjoy. I'm a tea freak, have been for years, but there is no doubt that chai tea is considered food around here, it is such an intrinsic part of our diet served milky with dollops of honey. Hmmm!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Musing about Museli

I love toasted museli, and making it isn't difficult. This is the second batch made recently, I use it as topping on the stewed apples whose jars haven't sealed properly and it makes a yummy breakfast with homemade yoghurt sweetened with honey.

4 cups of organic rolled oats
1/2 cup of seasame seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
3/4 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of sultanas or mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup of honey (warmed till it's runny)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

throw the lot in a big pan and mix till the honey and oil is thoroughly blended in, then pop it in a moderate oven, turning the mix over every five minutes or so till it is evenly golden brown. Allow to cool before putting in a airtight jar or container.

Perservering with Preserves

The tomatoes this year have been outrageously prolific, it's got to the point I throw perfectly good ones over the fence to share with the goats. We scored a bin of Jonagold apples (500kg) and while a lot of them have become bowling practice for the boys, and a bruised little treat for the animals, they've also found themselves squeezed tight into jars and sealed. With varying degrees of success.

A request to freecycle Hobart for old jam and preserving jars netted 38 and a combustion stove top preserving unit. A couple of trips to the second hand store netted 40 more jars, of varying sizes, some of them huge. We finally figured out how to use the jars and seal them with the Fowlers system, but found the jars of apples would cook down so far that they'd only be half full. So I've ended up stewing the apples filling the oven heated jars and then topping it up with water before putting seals on and boiling them, or using the clear cellophane sheets, that if you do exactly right work fine, but it took some time not to get nice fluffy kinds of mould on the top.

We've been drying apples too, using the apple peeler and dipping the apples in a solution of citric acid to stop them going too brown, and drying them in the warmer drawer. Tomatoes too, halved and dried, Trev downs them by the dozen, or puts them in jars of olive oil and herbs.