Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How The Garden Is Growing


The garden is coming along but more work needs to be done, grass and weeds freely take over in five minutes.  If I didn't have to water the garden the weeds wouldn't grow there, catch 22 really.


We currently have growing rocket, coriander, spinach, lettuce, corn, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, capsicum, zucchini, beetroot and tonne of self seeded cherry tomatoes which are very triffid like.  There are also some self seeded marigolds too which is very good for the garden and add some colour when they flower. I need to clean up the first garden and put in beans, just need to get over my sore muscles from returning to my fitness class after a five week break.




The reason I am so late with a lot of this was firstly we had no water for the garden and then we had no manure to refresh the soil, both of these things have been rectified and everything is growing nicely now.

We have been eating our bananas which are lovely and sweet, we just can’t eat them fast enough, they ripen so quickly.  The plan to cut just one hand at a time went out the window when the plant broke, however I still think it is a good plan, will make it work next time.

We did have three oranges on the tree in the orchard, they weren’t quite ready, they still weren’t quite ready and then birds ate them, all three of them, we were so disappointed.  We will get nets to put over the next lot.

Something is also eating the strawberries, we have heaps on the plants and they are really healthy but something is munching into them, I don’t mind sharing as long as I get some.   They never make it inside, I just eat them in the garden, so, so sweet.

My partner in crime and life has great difficulty telling the difference between a plant and a weed (and some weeds are useful too), and so ripped out the chives I liberated from underneath the old winged beans.  This is why I prefer to be there when he is weeding.  Anyway, I have now bought some new garlic chives and need to put them in a safe place, I am thinking under the paw paw near the strawberries which is protected by wire, not sure yet, still thinking on it.

I am going to plant some winged beans down at the creek under the pigeon peas, and also going to put some old wire over the guinea grass and lantana and plant more beans there in the hope they will smother some of those weeds.

I planted two chokos there to do the same thing and they are going along very well but it will still be a while before they are big enough to smother anything.


The creek garden is the garden that has to look after itself, and everything is doing well, I think because the soil is pretty good, it is moist and it is protected.  So we have some great producing paw paws, healthy pigeon peas and a large pumpkin patch (though as far as I can see there is only one pumpkin on it, but a very healthy one).


I am thinking I will also put some sweet potato down there too, though the bandicoots always dig them up so I am still deciding on that one.  I am definitely going to put bananas there but unsure of the location, must be the right spot.

I want to start doing some macramé and have cord for it and some patterns , so today I am going to have a practice, just something else to fiddle around with.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Camping


We are now home from our camping trip.  Being away from everything is such great time out.  There was no mobile phone reception, no electricity, no computers, no running water apart from the river, but there was quiet, the wind, the river, large interesting trees and a crackling fire.  Really, what more could you want, I could hear myself and it was lovely to just be.

I actually did very little, and it took two days of watching before I started to see shapes and could start to do a bit of sketching.






The boys did try fishing but the fish either weren't there or were just poking their tongues out at us but it was just as well we took extra food.


There was also a lot of precarious perching on thin looking branches trying to retrieve lures.








Lots of sleeping was also done by our number one and only son.  Aren't swags just great.




Sunset on the river






Loads of big trees were along the river and all just begged to be climbed.



We had our solar shower set up behind the tent so we could shower every day, just had to get rid of the dust.  Our camp was in a great spot and we nearly remembered everything, must throw in a mixing bowl and chopping board next time.





The wildlife was a bit noisy but non threatening, this goanna was very unconcerned.


Of course the cows were gorgeous, we even saw one calf that had just been born.



We loved our time away, the homesteads are isolated and the cows are everywhere.  We had dirt through everything, we brought half the outback home in the back of the truck.



One thing about camping is that it makes you realise that you can do without technology if you have to and everything we use for camping can be used in case we have a cyclone so it is dual purpose.  Of course, I prefer the fun of doing without for a few days while camping. 

So back to school this week, more work on the garden needs to be done and my partner in crime and life is planning the next camping trip.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things Come In Threes


They say things come in threes and we have had our share in the last few weeks.  The two main things that have happened are the car blew up and one of the large water tanks sprung a leak at the bottom.

We had a timing belt service on the car, big service and big money and something went wrong and two weeks later (actually less than that) it went bang.  Luckily I was in town and just pulling into the shopping centre car park and not in the middle of no-where towing a trailer with a 5000litre water tank on it (like we were the day before) or on the range or driving to our fitness class down country roads at night, all of which were possibilities.

So I have been without a car for over a week and half and hopefully getting it back tomorrow.  I was not able to go to Tai Chi last week, though everyone continued without me and I hope I can get there this week as I will not be there next week due to going camping.


The water tank sprung a leak, right at the bottom of all places.  So we managed to organise to get it fixed but we had to empty the tank.  So we rushed out and bought a 5,000litre tank to put next to our number one and only son’s room, something we had been meaning to do but of course if you can put off spending $1000 you do.


So we used the water transfer pump to fill that tank up, we filled up the other two large tanks to overflowing, we had long showers and I washed everything that wasn’t nailed down and could fit in the machine.  We watered the garden including the bananas and paw paws and only about 2,000litres (we think) went into the dam.


The tank is now fixed, my partner in crime and life is sorting out the weird mess of hoses and connections, and hooking all the tanks back up again and now we just have to get the old bore water tested and a pump etc for it all and we can fill the tanks.  However, as this will cost us about $2,000 we will put it off until absolutely necessary when water is getting low.

You wouldn’t believe it though, we are in the dry season and it is sprinkling this morning, but the tank that was just fixed is the one the water goes into and was still blocked off with timber.  So of course I rushed out got the ladder, in my pink elephant PJ’s and gum boots and climbed up and took the timber off the opening so that little bit of rain could be caught.

So they we were the worst things that have happened and at least we haven’t had to pay for the fixing, well no-one has sent us a bill yet and they both should be fixed under warranty.

The chooks have been living the life of Riley (though I don’t know who Riley was, he must have had a great life) not laying any eggs and just lazing around having fun.  So just to make their life even better I have been making them porridge each morning to try and get them to lay again, I have had a couple of eggs.  Luckily the good small flock are still laying so we have still been getting a couple of eggs every day or so, just enough to keep us going if we are conservative with our egg consumption.




Our orchard is looking pretty good.  The lime tree is starting to be a bit consistent (sort of), we have three oranges we are waiting to pick and everything is looking very healthy.

                                                             Black Sapote


                                                                 White Sapote

The black sapote (chocolate pudding fruit) is amazing and looking fantastic and the white sapote (the tree of which is quite different to the black sapote) is also very healthy, which is great as these are expensive trees.  It is always a risk when you put in expensive trees that they won’t survive, luckily we have only lost a couple, unfortunately one was the custard apple and we are reluctant to replace it with another.


The peanut butter tree is looking great and we can’t wait for it to be mature enough to produce whatever it is it is going to produce.

We can still put in either eight or twelve more trees, which is two or three more rows, still deciding if there is enough room.  We would like a couple of avocados and we will probably double up on some of the trees we already have.

So despite the things that has gone wrong, there are still a lot of things going right and I just focus on what has to be done tomorrow, there is always a plan and we just stick with the plan and concentrate on the next step and not worry about the one after that until we get to it.  I can still play loud music, enjoy the garden and the weirdness of the chooks, and the rest I won’t worry about (or try not to anyway).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sailing

Our number one and only son came back this week from a five day sailing trip.  He loved it.  It is called Adventure Under Sail and they teach teenagers how to sail. 

There was a fifteen or so kids from his grade at school and they all lived on board together, sleeping in one room and learning all about sailing.  They came home tired, sunburnt and very smelly, though our number one and only son assured me he cleaned his teeth every day. 

They all had a great time and a fabulous experience they will never forget, sailing up the coast from Townsville to Cairns, sailing into Cairns in the late afternoon on our number one and only son's fifteenth birthday, a birthday he will remember.









These great photos make me want to go sailing :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Camping


We had a good weekend away camping despite the hiccup on the day we left.  We got a phone call from the station to say with the rain we had been getting the river would probably come up and so best not come out.  We ended up deciding on a different place which while not as good was still better than staying home.



 There was still fishing and damper making and despite not doing very much we were all tired, guess life catches up eventually and it is good to stop.

I did some reading and the medical books were used for reading only and weren’t needed for anything else.  I figure if I have them (and read them) and have a good first aid kit which covers all the basics, chances are not much will go wrong, and nothing did, because I was prepared, if I wasn’t prepared, without a doubt, something would have happened.



The truck got very dirty on the road out and there was lots of screaming (from me) as we slid along the wet clay roads.  I am really not a risk taker.


The river was quite nice and it was peaceful and we managed to keep the fire going all weekend.  I didn’t burn the damper in the camp oven and it was very yum with raspberry jam and cream (had to say that to make everyone jealous).


Been a while since we have been camping and it was good to see what we are missing, decent chairs would be nice and a table, but apart from that we were all good.


The next trip away has already been planned and booked for the next school holidays at the place we were supposed to go this time.  Looking forward to that and despite being very organised this time I will be refining it next time.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Bananas, Cofffe and Camping


It has been a bit since I posted but I actually haven’t had anything to say and didn’t want to be like face book and saying things like “I’m bored”, “I am going out now”, “I am having a cuppa tea” or “What do you think about ‘insert the name of any TV show’”.  As you can see I am not a fan of face book and think it is mindless drivel, my partner in crime and life disagrees though he gets annoyed with the stupidity of some people who just make themselves look foolish and then can’t take it back.  That is my whinge for the day :)


We have cut our first bunch of bananas and it is hanging on the veranda waiting to ripen.  We won’t cut the second bunch until we have eaten the first as once they start to ripen they all ripen all at once.  Though I am sure that I read somewhere that we could cut just half a bunch at a time so we don’t’ have to eat 50 bananas today, need to see if I can find that information again.


Our trees in pots on the veranda are going very well, especially now there aren’t so many grasshoppers around eating them.  The coffee bushes are very shiny and my partner in crime and life is looking forward to have home grown coffee, he is also worried that the world as we know it may end and he won’t have coffee.  I am just looking for the right coffee grinder, as I don’t care about coffee it is a bit a dilemma, I want a manual one not electric and there is a few choices out there, I think I just need to shut my eyes and point and buy whichever one I am pointing at.

We are going camping this weekend and we are all SO looking forward to it.  We are going out to a station about three hours drive and will be camping by a river so we can fish.  Actually, my partner in crime and life and our number one and only son will be fishing and I will be reading and keeping the fire going and generally not doing a whole lot.

Of course, even though it is only a three day trip, there has been lots of planning and we have had to purchase a few things as it has been a while.  Our camp chairs were broken so we needed new ones, and we needed a new wok for the kitchen so we got one and will use it camping before it takes up permanent residence in the kitchen.

My partner in crime and life had a laugh at my first aid kit which is a box.  Not sure what he was thinking we should take, maybe a couple of band aids and some paracetamol, however I like to be more prepared than that.  I won’t be stitching anyone up but I am prepared for sprained ankles, burns, cuts and gashes, headaches, diarrhea, strong pain, broken arms and insect bites, all those basic injuries that can happen when you are in the middle of no-where, and will happen if you aren’t prepared.

I have also thrown in to the top of the box “Where there is No Doctor” and a recent acquisition “The Doom and Bloom Survival Medical Handbook” which I have only flipped through so far, both these books are on my reading list for the weekend.

We have our billy and kettle, the wok and a camp oven.   We plan on making damper and stir frying fish and yabbies, drinking lots of tea and toasting marshmallows and apples.  We have a new lantern, actually two, one with a rechargeable battery in it, it can take batteries too and lasts about 60 hours and the other one is a wind up lantern which doesn’t last so long but is still a light.  We also have our solar shower and our number one and only son has a spear so he can go snorkelling in the river and get crays (they say there are only fresh water crocodiles in the river and they should stay away).

Good thing about camping gear is that while it is good for the fun stuff and for learning bushcraft (like lighting a fire with those stupid flint things that I can't seem to make work but we will be trying again this weekend though we of course have lighters for back up), it is also useful for when the lights go out.  If we have a cyclone or just a blackout, we can still cook and have light, our tools and appliances are manual not electric.

So we a have pile of stuff ready to be put in the back of the truck and I really hope that it will all fit, we used to camp rough but now we like to camp in comfort.  Could do it very basically if we had to, but if it will fit in why leave it behind.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Halloumi Recipe


You know how some weeks are longer than others, well this week have been one of those, I think it was a carry-over from last week.  So here I am and I just feel like I need to run away for a weekend, but I won’t, however I do have a camping weekend to look forward to in a couple of weeks.  My partner in crime and life is organising to go camping and fishing on a station about three hours away, so that can be my run away weekend, I just have to be patient :)

The weather cooled down, then warmed back up and this morning is cool again, so I think it is coming.  We did buy some wood in case we suddenly needed it, but this weekend we are hopefully going out to friend’s and helping them with wood collecting on their place and getting some for ourselves too.

In preparation for the cold I have bought more scarves, was going to make them but found some on sale for a couple of dollars and I can’t make them for that, so we are all scarved up.  I have my purple beanie I made last year plus a big one that has ties on it (daggy but warm), we are also carpeted this year which I think will make a big difference.  I would like to finish insulating the walls and putting up wall sheeting but we will see how we go, I am happy to sit on top of the wood fire, with its red kettle that whistles, to keep warm.  I do have two more hot water bottle covers to finish and we are good to go, I will not be cold.

Here is the Halloumi recipe (did I even spell that correctly last time) and we must be nearly due to make more.

HALLOUMI

4 Litres whole unhomogenized milk
1 tablet of rennet diluted in ¼ cup cooled, boiled water
Salt

Bring the milk to a temperature of 45 degrees C. 
While stirring add diluted rennet.
Stir thoroughly and allow to set for 45 minutes inside incubator or until a clean break is achieved (when cutting curd)
After 45 minutes the curd should be set firm, if not, leave for another 5 to 10 minutes
Cut the curd into 1cm cubes then gently stir for a further 10 minutes until curds are smaller
Scoop curds into a muslin lined strainer
Press the curd in the muslin with a heavy bowl on top till curd is firm
Cut the curd into desired blocks
Bring some eater to the boil in a large pot.
Place Halloumi into the hot water, after 5 to 10 minutes the curd will rise to the surface and then place on a drying rack.
Sprinkle salt all over the cheese and leave to cool
Wrap and store in the fridge, eat within two weeks.
To eat,  grill or fry till soft.

I really need to refresh my gardens and get moving on them.  The snake beans really need replacing, I have been given coriander seeds and I need to get bok choy, pak choy and rocket going plus I have chokos to plant down the creek garden where they will be protected.

I also need to clean out the fridge and mow the garden area (the grass seeds in my pants are driving me crazy).

I have some work in front of me but I think I will have a cup of tea first and work up to it, though even before that, I will hang out the washing.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cheese And A Kindle

I wrote this the other day and never got back to post it up so here it is.

I really didn’t want to get out of my PJ’s this morning. They were warm and comfy and soft, however I decided that if I stayed in them when drove our number one and only son the three minutes to the bus stop, without a doubt I would have to get out of the car for some reason and a forty three year old woman in pink elephant PJ’s would look a bit weird.

This week we have made more cheese, we made a big batch of feta cheese which I have been having in my salad at lunch, very yum and we have also made haloumi. We had never even eaten haloumi before but someone my partner in crime and life works with has it all the time and loves it so we thought we would make it, very easy to make too.

It is actually very yum but not sure about the health aspects, you fry it or grill it. We haven’t grilled it yet which would be the healthier option (if there is one) but frying it just seems to be the way to go, though we had best try the grilling.

So we fry it in a little oil and then put some more salt (as we didn’t put enough on in the making process) and some pepper and just eat it all hot and melted on the inside. You can put it through salad but we can’t see the point when we can just indulge and eat it straight out of the pan. I have decided not to look into the health aspects (or lack of) and just enjoy it in blissful ignorance.

We are also now the proud owners of a Kindle. Never thought we would have one but I used the money I got for driving to the court house for jury duty to pay for it. Now being an actual book girl I didn’t think I would take to it much but I love it, will still buy real books but I love the Kindle.

There are a lot of free books to download, which I have, also have bought a lot for $1 or $1.50, don’t’ you just love that. There are some books that only e-books so it is great, and when I go into town I take it with me to read when waiting about for appointments and I have a whole range to choose from.

Mind you I should not buy (or even download for free) any books, real or virtual, for a very long time as I am actually overloaded at the moment. I have, I don’t know how many on the Kindle, I have quite a lot of real books I have purchased when the freight has been free and so managed to get some off my wish list, and I have some that have been loaned to me by a friend (and I lend her mine as well). Thing is I didn’t buy any (really) for a long while I think I may have overdone it a little, well at least my wish list is getting smaller.