Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy 2010

It is kind of weird being one of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Years Eve.  We are having a very quite New Year at home.  It is so hot here today, my thermometre is registering 38C it is under the front porch which is east facing(southern hemisphere sun rises) so coolest side of the house.  Very windy and we are all flaked out.  I have been spraying the chooks with water and ensuring they are okay.  Though at one point thought I may have to bring them into the but the temp has dropped ever so slightly and they are out chasing bugs.  Lots of water. 
Dog and cat are both hot poor Toby has a double coat, so very cold bones, and ice blocks.  for hiim. The cat was not too keen. 

Off the track there such a hot end to 2009, and with the wind, I do wonder if the New Years eve fireworks in Hobart will go ahead.  It is a busy culmination down here as we have the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race finish and a large food festival called The Taste (taste of Tasmania)  there is also a large concert on called the Falls Festival over the weekend.  camping and partying.  So I hope those attending have kept fluids and coolish. 

Our year here has been an interesting one.  I read Mona's blog Wsprsweetly of Cottages, and her words describe how I find blogging. She puts it into such great words I can not add to it.

I have been blogging for a bit over a year now, and have found so many people out there with similar interests, but whoose lives are so different.  I appreciate all who share parts of their stories.
Around the world we have had major fires, floods, and life has been harder for many around the world due to financial crisis, poverty, famine, war, increases in AIDs, abduction, and the increasing numbers of people forced to work as slaves, weather to make some money or because they have been forced too.

I am so thankful for the lifestyle I have and am creating, that I have the choice, and freedom.  That I am rich beyond measure.  Life is throwing some curly bits at us recently but we will take it one day at a time.

My resolution for the year is to stop worrying about the small stuff.  To do what I can to aid others. 
To continue working in my gardening creating a supply of vegetables, fruit and eggs, maybe some meat, and nuts.  To support local businesses and buy seasonally. 

Thankyou for following my journey and sharing yours. 

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A little bit of everything.

Mince pies as I mentioned in the previous post, this is just to show that I do not actually make them as pies, no more pasties style for much easier when making so many.  

Now onto the vegetable garden.  I have finally put all my seed chest seedlings into the vegetable garden.  There were some that did not make it.  The melons all seemed not to have survived my being away and I have not had the chance to resow them.  May just put some seeds in and see, has anyone ever succeeded with this? 
The tomatoes are my self seeded ones I think that theymay be Tommy Toes, which would be terrific.  I

This is the bed that I have been putting zucchini's and cucumbers.I am letting the beetroot and carrot that are in it go to seed.  There is a bean that has grown must have dropped a seed. You can see just see the terracotta pots that I have sunk into the ground for watering, like a water well.  Covered with mulch. 

This is my last attempt at basil.  I sowed seeds, I put in seedlings into the vegetable garden, and none.  So on the deck in a polystyrene box.  Fingers crossed.  I planted some sage, my sage from last year has died? Thyme and a lemon thyme have gone in.  Pumpkins Turkish Turban, and a butternut pumpkin, chili, cucumber.  One tomato unknown variety in the box with the basil. 

The beans are doing well flowering with lovely scarlet flowers.  This is my first bed I planted with tomatoes, and they have romped ahead.  I have flowers and the aubergine is flowering as well.  Things are going well.
The girls are out free ranging amongst the hazel nuts.  They are growing so well and seem to be happy.  Toby is not going in as much as we have resorted to putting him on a long lead so he can move around but not go into the chook run.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas from Down Under's Down under..

Season Greetings Everyone.
It is Boxing day here in Australia, after a delightful Christmas spent with family and friends in Hobart, not too hot, but beautiful azure blue skies, and a breeze blowing over the Derwent River.  Saddly it was not clear but very hazy.
I awoke having had family issue need for mince pies, 5 dozen made, and 2.5 dozen eaten!  OMG.  My DH loves them and told the kids that they were only for decoration.  That he knew how many were there and well of course no one took any notice.  My brandy butter was almost too intoxicating.  Mind you it went pretty fast onto plum  Little Grand daughter loved the Toblerone mousse. 
I also made a lovely mango, rockmelon, cucumber, salad with spring onion greens, garlic and balsamic vinegar Yummo  went brilliantly with ham and turkey. 

I was so busy having such a lovely time eating trout,  home cooked ham, turkey, salads with mango, rockmelon, mushrooms and rice, new potatoes (pinkeyes) and enjoying the company of those we love.  Saddly not with my side of the family but knowing they were having a very pleasant time in their homes.

For my northern friends, Austraila kind of closes for the rest of December to early -mid January now. Hope you do not need a solicitor, a specialist doctor, accountant, many other businesses take the time from Now through to at least 4 th january off.
No photos today.  Just wishes for you all to have a safe, happy, and contented holiday season.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat...

Summer Garden the fox gloves are finishing, Calfornian Poppies are looking great with the white daisies.  The holly hock is flowering again, but everything will need a drink tonight when it cools off.  I have mulched most beds and that has been a huge help with moisture retaining, I succombed and used sugar cane mulch.

 There is something wonderful about getting my camera back.  I feel a greater sense of being able to truly share what is happening in my world.
Garlic is harvested and some is plaited, others still require drying. Some was at risk of going mouldy so has been separated into cloves and will be put into olive oil and also I think I will try my hand at pickled garlic.  It would be such a waste to loose any.

I have harvested 173 bulbs of garlic whole, and 10 or more that I have had to separate into cloves to be used now and to go into oil and or pickled garlic. This is 100% return on the single cloves I planted way back in March. Perhaps a bit too early.  The mounding of them helped immensely, especially with all the winter rain and more recent rain we have had.  I am thrilled with the success of my garlic!

I made strawberry jam yesterday.  Sadly not from my own strawberries.  I was fortunate to buy 2kg for $5 so purchased 4kg.  So strawberry jam that can be made into chili and strawberry, strawberry sauce. I love it!

When you look at the amazing colour of the strawberry jam,(which I had to take a photo in the sunlight to show its beautiful colour). I am a strange kind of a woman, as I prefer these to Rubies..I told you it was

The following are photos of my vegie patch where I have put my terracotta pots with lids as watering devices.  They seem to be working really well.  The lettuces have thrived near one.  Tomatoes are doing well.  It is quite strange I grew some of them from seeds and succumbed to buying a couple of seedlings from Diggers heritage Seed company at the local hardware shop nursery.  They were more established than my seedlings.  Interestingly enough one of my seeds has caught up.  The others are doing okay.  The pot in the foreground is meant to have some dill in it but looks like the birds or slugs have devoured them.  Oh and can anyone tell me how you can have a potato grow in a space where you have not had potatoes for three/four years, and suddenly you have some?  That is the large plant in the background.
My beans in the garden are hanging on so far with the really bizzare temperature extremes we have been experiencing.  Last Wednesday it was 36C than Thursday was 11C, with a forecast of snow on the highlands for Friday..  Ahhh Tasmania. 

The chooks are growing and looking so beautiful, three of them are developing their combs, one is obviously younger she still is just getting her  comb.

Two of the girls have wattles starting and going red.  In these photos you can see how beautiful their markings are becoming.

Toby is a bit too much for the girls, he works them, trying to round them up.  Some of them ignore him eventually but one and I think it is the younger one is harassed and flies and flurries about.  So Toby chases her.

  My DH believes we will not get any eggs.   sigh.  He is being kept out of the hens run as much as we can.  He does worry about the girls if he does not see them. 
The others do not seem to be perturbed most of the time, just scratch and lie in the sunshine.  How I love seeing them with their wings up getting sun under them.  I am falling for my chooky girls.  They are delightful to watch and listen too.

I have been perusing many of my northern blogs friends blogs.  My breath has been taken away with the lovely snow scapes that they have. (not so keen on the driving conditions) and who knows we in the south of Tasmania may still have some snow for Christmas.  Not normal though, so I always feel kind of strange singing Christmas Carols about snow and cold etc.  I am including here the words of a wonderful Australian Christmas Carol that I love to hear and sing.

Six White Boomers   (a boomer is a Kangaroo)

By Rolf Harris & John D. Brown 

Early on one Christmas Day, a Joey Kanga-roo,
Was far from home and lost in a great big zoo.
Mummy, where's my mummy, they've taken her a-way,
We'll help you find your mummy son, hop on the sleigh.

Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.
Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
.. On his Aus-tra-lian run.

Verse: Up beside the bag of toys, little Joey hopped ,
But they had'nt gone far when Santa stopped.
Un-harnessed all the reindeer and Joey wondered why,
Then he heard a far off booming in the sky.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Pretty soon old Santa began to feel the heat,
Took his fur-lined boots off to cool his feet.
Into one popped Joey, feeling quite OK,
While those old man kangaroos kept pulling on the sleigh.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Joey said to Santa, Santa, what about the toys,
Aren't you giving some to these girls and boys.
They've all got their presents son, we were here last night,
This trip is an extra trip, Joey's special flight.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Soon the sleigh was flashing past, right over Marble Bar,
Slow down there, cried Santa, it can't be far.
Come up on my lap son, and have a look around,
There she is, that's mummy, bounding up and down.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Well that's the bestest Christmas treat that Joey ever had,
Curled up in mother's pouch all snug and glad.
The last they saw was Santa headed northward from the sun,
The only year the boomers worked a double run.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

A Joey is a baby Kangaroo
Marble Bar is one of the hottest and most isolated towns in Australia

Our neighbours had a road Christmas BBQ yesterday, and what a wonderful afternoon evening it was.  We ate chatted, drank, the weather was warm and skies blue, a cardigan or sloppy jo was necessary as the sun set, but we adjourned inside and watched the native animals come and eat the grass, bettongs, wallabies, bandicoots, and paddymelons.  Just outside where we were sitting with the doors open.  Our neighbour hood which is about 8homes all up over 1.5km distance is a lovely caring and sharing community.  It is one of the great joys of living in a rural setting for me.  So warm and helpful.  I ask someone do they know someone who is electrician or plumber, and usually someone comes up trumps for me.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Summer harvesting has begun..

It is cool and very windy down in the Huon Valley, with a possibility of showers.  It has been like this most of the last week. 
I harvested all my garlic ( I know I was going to leave it till the summer solistice, it was just to wet and warm at times, I was afraid it would begin to go mouldy) and I am very happy with the results.  I hope to be picking up my camera on Monday so will be able to return to photos as well as my words.  I have over 200 head of garlic, some are small, but will still taste lovely.  Majority of it is a good size.  So I will have cloves to plant next season, and a lot to use for us.  This was a sucessful year for garlic. 

We have had a harvest of just over 10kgs of broad beans, and we ate nearly all of them. I have some pods drying for seed next year, and I will buy the red flowering seed varitey to plant as well for next season.  So this was a sucess story aswell. 

I am very happy with my flowerpot garden so far.  I have flowers on some of the tomatoes already and all are growing well.  Mind you the same is true of the self seeded one, though they are smaller but very healthy.

I picked some strawberries both my red ones, and my white variety, in fact I had a lovely handful of red currants, jostaberries and a few raspberries, along with the strawberries.  It was so good since I grew them all!  For me that is being a success. 

The beans in the vegie garden are growing and some in a pot on the deck are flowering, they are scarlet runners.  They have lots of flowers on them.  I must have got very carried away with planting seeds.  As in this pot is a star jasmine, and I added sweet peas, which we have been getting quite a lot of flowers off.  I also have some violets growing, not planted by me?  Then I noted I have  My DH wonders if anyother things are going to turn up!

My snow pea and sugar snap also in a pot on the deck is flowering and giving pods, just a few every day.  Added to salads it is enough. 

The chooks are growing and getting used to Toby.  There is one whose comb and wattles are begining to go red and grow, my understanding means that this chook is heading towards egg laying.  The next one is a bit behind this one, and the other two girls well their combs are not very noticeable at present.  I estimate I may begin to get at least one egg in the next 2-3 weeks.  Fingers crossed.   The Chooky TajMahal has had to be rearranged as I realised that the girls jump of their roosts into the laying boxes the way I had it set up!  Not a good idea at all. Unless scrambled egg is my intention. 

It must be almost Christmas, as my DH has been requesting mince pies, (fruit mince) which I make for him as a special thing at Christmas.  I used to make them as a pie, but now just roll out the pastry and use a glass or biscuit cutter in a circle shape, I fill teaspoon of mince on one half, fold the other side over and Wallah Christmas Fruit Mince pasties.  Much easier to do, less pastry, less fat, not less taste!  Quick and easy compared to making pies with lids.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

I do miss not having a camera, my neighbour has been great in lending me hers, however not keen to borrow it too often, I value our friendship!.lol

Okay I have begun my vegie garden with the sunken terracotta pots (no holes) that I purchased some time ago.  They have been dug into the bed and the saucers have become there lids.  I mulch over the lids when I fill the up.  The first two weeks they have been working well, as in I filled them and the tomato seedlings, beans and aubergine are surviving.  This week we have had 37mls of rain so I have not needed to refill them.  So far I only have organised one of my beds this way.  I had to cover this bed with hessian as the temperatures during the day and at night have been somewhat cold.  We have been having a fire in the house for a few nights a couple without and again needed on last night.  It is summer down here
It does mean that I have still to finish putting my other seedlings out.  They look healthy and happy so hopefully this week.

The chooks are settling in well, and one hopes that at sometime Toby will stop rounding them up.  He does not do it all the time, and they ignore him often, but everyso often I look out the kitchen window and he has them all going round and round the silver birch.  They pop into the chook taj mahal and out the other side or just to escape him at times.  The two that are bigger have tried to let him know that they want to be left alone, by pecking at him.  The smaller two just flap and run often, so of course he chases them and rounds them up.
They are just begining to get the redness in their wattles and combs, they are about 13-15 weeks now and how delightful they are.   They are getting their full plumage now and the Barnevelders pattern is really lovely.  I love sitting in the sun stroking one they feel so soft, and the soft noise they make as they sit is beautiful.  I also love it when they lay in the sun with a wing up!

I noted raspberries on my vines today, not quite ripe so I have netted them a bit.
My cherries are hopeless this year!  I went out to net them but the birds had basically taken most and theyare still green, there were a lot that had not developed correctly either. I am putting it down to our weather and perhaps shock from when the tree was removed that was quite close to them. 

I have been getting some strawberries every day, just a good handful, as I am the only one that eats them apart from the lizards and snails, it is good.  I also had some lovely sugar snap peas the other day.  Morning tea consisted of strawberries and sugar snaps on the deck with a cup of chai.

The broad beans are nearly finished and have been a terrific crop over 10kgs.  yum!

I pulled some of the garlic on Monday as the leaves were almost dead as Toby had jumped on them, and as we were expecting more rain was concerned that they would get water inside and begin to rot.  Wonderful and I will have photos hopefully next posting.  (camera I hope will be back end of next week)

I went to the local herb and alternative therapy market last weekend. The weather was lousy but I was able to buy some horse raddish and other herbs, mostly for the chook run.  So they all have to have beds made and be put in, or I may put the wormwood in a large pot and place it near the Taj Mahal, to keep flies away. 
The others will go into a bed or two, and be fenced off until they are big enough to cope with the girls in and about them.

My kiwi fruit is flowering well one is, the other has buds, as they both have to flower to cross pollinate for fruit I am really hoping that very soon the other one's buds will open so fruit is on its way. 

My passionfruit has gone downhill, and I am going to buy another. If I can get one that is not grafted I may try that, or I just may get two.  One grafted and one not, and compare them.  I have decided these will go along the out side of the chook run fence. 
Well cool, wet and windy here in tassie.  I am not complaining as water tanks are full, things are green and growing.