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Monday, May 14, 2018

A Boy In Autumn Waiting


It's been all about the leaves and colours these past couple of weeks and seeing autumn anew through a child's eyes.


The excitement of new gumboots for muddy puddles on misty cool days and hand knitted yard jumpers in pure merino yarns. Beanies with pom poms on top to keep little ears warm.


Winding some new skeins into balls and choosing patterns.


Collecting leaves and taping them to paper and tracing around some.
Shapes, colours, berries, textures....


Talking about trees and their roots. Leaves and their veins. The pathway of nutrients in sap and the shutting down for winter. 
He calls winter, "The Snowy Time", the time not too far away now when his sister will arrive.
She is eagerly awaited as we revel in our autumn waiting for Aubrey.



Monday, April 30, 2018

Building A Wall - Building A Community


A dozen strangers came together over the weekend to learn an old skill and created a thing of beauty, something to last through decades, long after we are all gone. We hosted a dry stone walling workshop taught by a master stonemason from Derbyshire UK.


They learnt about the nature of the stone and that there is a lot more to building a stone wall than just balancing rock upon rock. Each piece was searched and chosen from the pile and hammered and shaped to lock in with the others.


 There is a lot of physics involved in creating a stable wall, pinned by it's own weight and tightly tied with key stones running lengthwise and as importantly, transversely.


They learnt about creating features in a wall to weather storms and erosion and livestock interactions. Neil will find it very hard to rub against at this angle! 


There is much to learn about the stonemasons craft but in just two days a group of people who had never done this before created 8m of very handsome and more importantly, safe and sound walling. I am so very proud of them and can't stop looking at it.


Our participants were all so positive and willing and from diverse backgrounds. We had teachers, builders, landscapers, passionate gardeners and old property owners. Their stories were fascinating and their journeys purposeful. Our lives touched briefly but the skills they learnt this weekend will ripple wider throughout the community like pebbles in pond water. As we watched the magnificent pink and orange sunset we couldn't help but pinch ourselves and think how fortunate we are to have these wonderful opportunities. It's hard work, and we have to "make things happen" but the payoff is rich and rewarding to make so many new friends.

********
Huge thanks to Ian and Val Carline of 
Wally's Walling 
0487 750 051 e: iddybiddymini@yahoo.com.au.
We will be holding more workshops in May, please email your interest to the above for more details.
*********

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Garden Construct and Structure


This has to be the hardest we have worked in the garden! 
Spring and summer are pretty full on with the growing but in this pre-winter period we have been attending to the structural parts of the garden - Remember...this garden just two years ago was a paddock. We have put in some vertical structures like the arches and old gates (like sbove). These give the landscape some substance in winter when most of the garden is dormant.


Over the summer we have been getting ute loads of sandstone "crazy" pavers. These are a random mix of shapes and sizes that we have loosely sorted ready for laying down the central path of the garden.


Some painting jobs are prepped; like the folding seats and a couple of arches but there is lots of linseed oil maintenance waiting to be done too on timber fences and the fowl yard.


Lots of trimming back, dahlia shifting, seed saving, seedling exchanges and vine tying. 


The bulbs!
I've planted about 100 bulbs this autumn, mostly white tulips and white daffodils. I've mixed the varieties in the same colour so that I get a lasting display over the spring between the early and late bloomers.


I've planted out violas and pansies for winter colour into spring and we have our cold crops under way and battling the rabbits. Our pasture has been improved and Neil-Not-Veal (calf) is also thriving on cut lucerne and an oat, corn, barley mix. He has grown his winter coat and is getting jolly boisterous.


Our major project over the coming months though will be a dry stone wall down one boundary side. We will be hosting classes taught by a master Stonemason/Waller from Derbyshire UK. We have sourced some lovely sandstone that splits safely like butter and should produce a beautiful traditional boundary to last centuries to come.


(photo by Valerie Carline)
This is similar to what we are working towards and daily we indulge in gate fantasies....


like this beautiful one in Ross.
Timber or metal???
To tie it in with the shed....but that's a yonder still project again!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

We Grew Chickpeas


It was our first time growing chickpeas so the Shearer put in a modest little patch, maybe .75m x 1.5m. He had acquired a packet of seed from a cool climate seed stockist. At worst we thought it would be a green manure crop.


From memory we sowed them in summer, just as we would the beans and they were quite fast growing, becoming little bushes with soft ferny leaves and developing masses of small white flowers. I thought I had taken a photo of the flower stage but couldn't find it. From the small flowers developed soft velvety pods, each containing one or two peas.


We allowed them to ripen and towards the dying off stage we then pulled them and hung them upside down in a shed to dry further. The podding was a little laborious but....


our reward is 1.5kg of our very own dried chickpeas. We could store them like this but I'm a bit of a spontaneous cook so when the preserving season winds down a little I will soak, cook and process in the pressure canner so they are shelf stable and ready for use in a moments notice. We will of course keep some for seed for next years' crop.
We rate this experiment a success and a good yield for crop space and a pantry staple at that.





Monday, March 19, 2018

Another Before and After- Sort Of


This small front strip of garden has had a few stages in it's transformation. Above is how it looked when we first moved in and...



you can read the story of the exciting path find here.


It has since been given a tidy and some planting while other projects took priority. I have planned all along a white garden for this front area and our budget somewhat hi-jacked has priority constraints too. 
Last year I planted 50 white tulips and white daffodils and two Teddy Bear magnolias flanked the front door.


This month I started removing the temporary plants not part of the scheme and laid some weed matting and defined the two beds with some convict bricks. 


Finally I have my long awaited gravel and the front is coming to plan. It's a sandstone colour and goes well with the dressed stone of the cottage. The Erigeron "Seaside Daisy" forms some permanent clumping in the bed and mostly annuals will provide the changing views of this garden. The battering westerly winds would be too much for standard roses etc. 
The plants in this area have to survive quite extreme conditions; westerly sun and winds, frosts down to -7C and low water. We are very mindful of not interfering with the house foundations and the natural breathing of the building.
So for next spring I have planned that white larkspur, wall flowers, and sweet rocket will accompany the white bulbs and be followed in summer by white cosmos and dahlias.

The next part of this project is to paint the windows and front door fresh glossy white and perhaps the front iron fencing too...or perhaps black for that.... 




Thursday, March 1, 2018

Help or House Guest


The kitchen is in full swing at our house, late February and March being the busiest time, and any house guests are welcome to pull up a chair, don an apron and select their knife of choice.


We prepped jalapenos and pickled.


Made a simple spinach and cheese filling seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg - oh divine! Rolled pasta sheets and made fettuccine too. 


We have had a pasta maker for years but last weekend at the market we spotted a deluxe pack version of our Atlas machine which included the ravioli roller.
$10 for the lot and used probably once!


With fresh ripe Roma tomatoes avalanching  on the benches, aromatic green basil in abundance and Craig's homemade Parmesan cheese...
Mama Mia!
Be our guest....


Monday, February 19, 2018

Around The Block...


It all started with a couple of buckets of Greengage plums that were given to me as the strong winds gripped Campbell Town yet again. 
"I'm just returning these buckets" I called out to the shearer 
"I'll see you in a minute"
Well Greengage gardener wasn't home so I left the buckets and spied another neighbour on his front veranda, so I stopped for a bit of a netter and next minute...


I had a bag of delicious juicy pears!

Around the next street I saw another keen fellow gardener mowing his lawn and he waved me in...

Next minute....


Ripe perfect plums all golden inside with a halo of red.

Well if I've got this many plums I'm going to need some apples to make sauce and chutney,

So around the corner....


To my next dear and generous neighbour.
We had a delightful time wandering the garden from apple tree to apple tree, sampling and selecting and 

Next minute....
"Don't go without some of these golden cherry plums, they're perfect for chutney!"


My car smelt like the most divine fruit shop and it was certainly more than a couple of minutes later. I had the best time dwelling with my neighbours over small talk and basking in their gardens. I find that the most amusing thing about living in the country, everything is small scale and so close I could walk everywhere but even a trip to the shop,the library and the petrol station takes at least a couple of hours!

The stove has been going full pelt all day and I've bottled pears and tomatoes, made a double batch of plum chutney and a double batch of Worcestershire style plum sauce, all with the help of a 3 year old and thankfully a "Poppy" as well!

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