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Monday, October 31, 2016

Upon Reflection...

October, be gone with you!
It's been a month of extreme highs and lows.

We started the month of with a party and catered for a beloved aunt's 90th birthday. A wonderful celebration shared with seventy family and friends. Craig closely guards his salt & pepper squid recipe but I swear NEVER again for that size crowd. I think I said that last time we did it. It's a real crowd pleaser and often asked for but if anyone asks ever again, I'm handing them the recipe and they can do that one themselves!
A measure of our love for you dear Mae/Miss Mamie/Nin xxx

We did get a couple strides forward in the garden...

And in the house...

I got to work with some amazing ladies to bring together a High Tea for 100 people with Fashion Parade as a fund raiser for Kidney Health Australia. Not only did we raise funds but the guest speaker from "Donate Life" educated our guests about organ donation and we boosted the profiles of four local small businesses. I would like to thank Wysteria Lane of Longford, Miss Nicola, Blue Illusion and Gazman of Launceston for providing a top notch parade and givig so much of their time and prize donations too. I would also like to thank the models from Sue Rees Modelling who also gave up so much of their time for a good cause.

My heart swells thinking of so much generosity and support.
I don't wish to dwell on the down side but their is a lesson here to be learnt though.
Many of us pooled our resources and loaned fine china and silverware to enhance the high tea experience. Unfortunately some of the precious china went "missing". A set of 6 to be exact. I don'y want to talk about karma because that feels so hollow. Let's just say lesson learnt while we try to swallow down the disappointment.

As I left for the Kidney fundraiser that morning, the waters were once again rising after a significant rainfall over night. I phoned the shearer when the event was over bar the shouting to learn things were not good at home. I abandoned the washing up and made haste towards home....
until the engine light came on.
I pulled over and checked the oil of my tired old engine and debated whether to spend precious minutes turning the car out of the wind in order to fill it. Another lesson learned. I gambled and tried to shield the oil stream from gusting winds with my body.
Snort! I'm wide but not that effective as a wind shield. The oil spilled onto the engine and you can guess...
it caught alight.
I carry a pair of pyjama bottoms for a rag so I must have looked a right sight flailing these trying to smother the flames between the radiator and engine. Anyway, long story short, the shearer came to rescue me but it was a sorry sight back at home. 

While it didn't make it all the way into the house, the out buildings were all flooded as the water rose very quickly. Luckily our daughter and SIL were up for the weekend and able to take quick action.

Our losses could have been much greater than our three oldest ladies. Poor girls, the cold water rose so swiftly that by the time they realised the danger and it was up to their belly feathers they weren't able to jump into the trees for shelter. 

Huge thanks also to our neighbours who came swiftly to our aid and got a lot of things to dry land and housed our ride on mower in their garage. Big love.
So October, you've been great, tumultuous and trying, exciting and busy but I'm glad to be moving into November. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Not Too Fowl

Welcome to the new chook yard, come on in and let me show you our latest project.
It's very rustic and recycled but the girls seem happy.

Our dear old ladies still have the run of the paddock but we will be getting some day olds soon and we wanted a smaller enclosure for them to grow up in and occasionally it might be handy to have the flock contained anyway.

Do you remember the falling down shed that we renovated? We have the fowl house located at the right hand side and the nesting box protruding into the main shed with an easy access lift up lid and vermin proof feed store. There is also a door for the human cleaners to enter and easily shovel and clean the nice new cement floor.

Adjacent to the fowl house is this quince thicket that provides the ladies with cool shade and shelter and they can dive for cover here when they feel threatened by overhead larger birds of prey.

At the moment it is in blousy pale pink bloom and a beautiful quiet retreat this human too.

We have literally made it from scrap, utilising the rolls of recycled wire we already had (which dictated the height!) and the reclaimed timber from many sources including an old picnic table set. In a couple of the photos you will have spied a plastic covered structure that we now call the "poly-tunnel". In it's previous life it was the "cat cage".

The previous owners had it attached to the side of the house for their dozen plus cats to have outdoor time. Above left is one of the first photos of the yard when we moved in. The tunnel is reinforced and covered and large enough to stand upright in and will be invaluable for bringing frost tender plants on to advancement for our short growing season.

It serves a dual purpose being incorporated into the fowl yard fence line. It is firmly screwed into/between the cemented fence posts making it very secure in high winds and it becomes part of the fence itself saving us more building materials. On the back of the poly-tunnel we are building compost piles.

I've been looking for the right building project for years to be able to use these reclaimed mouldings. A bit of whimsy and definition for the yard making it a little more decorative and less utilitarian.

I'm loving the views from my kitchen window and everything is finally taking shape, getting tidied up and finding it's place.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hungry Gap - Fennel

The hungry gap is that period between late winter and early spring when you've harvested most everything you've been over-wintering and the new season abundance hasn't kicked in yet.

Fennel planted in mid to late summer can be that fresh burst of flavour that enlivens your plate with exciting flavour and you don't need a lot, just a few sowings will do.

We've been harvesting the fennel over the last four weeks, eating it baked with simple olive oil basting or my favourite way - in salads. I've even been harvesting some of the ferny, feathery tops for a subtle aniseed flavour in omelettes and steamy hot buttery, potatoes.

Sorry, no foodie shots. more of an after thought really.
I love the fennel finely shredded with some finely sliced cabbage and a fruit like; chopped mandarin, sliced orange or finely sliced yellow delicious apple. All these ingredients are seasonally available and at their peak now and they go together so sublimely.
What about some lovely winter Tasmanian walnuts from their shell and lightly roasted with pickings of parsley and mint. Finely shredded "spring" onion (onions plantings not quite ripe and ready in big bulb form) added for a bit of zing.
Simply dressed with Tasmanian olive oil drizzled over with a splash of white wine vinegar or a squeeze of winter abundant lemon juice.

There is nothing nicer at the end of winter than some alive and fresh flavours from the garden. Plan for the hungry gap and feel blessed with abundance all year round.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fairies in Flood

I love a bit of fairy gardening but I haven't quite re-established it at the new house. I located a box of all the bits and pieces and they are higgledy piggledy under a tree so far. 
One of my jobs whet my appetite though....

I felt like one of the luckiest girls in the world yesterday when I was asked to display the new fairy range at a gift shop in town.

The little weather resistant painted houses have solar panels located in them and glow at night. What fun! Little meadow mats also bring little plots to life.
This is not how our "meadow" is looking however....

We've had lots of rain and the minor flooding turned a bit major as creeks backed up at culverts with log jams, paddock debris and general human rubbish. We have wild ducks flying in to swim and gorge on floating dead worms and snails.

Every morning I have to wade out to the rain gauge in my gumboots as we collect data for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The chooks spent the first night out rough as they became stranded from their quarters with the rapidly rising water. The sheep have found a high patch and have plenty of feed.

Now to find those fairies.....
Hope they stayed high and dry!

If you want to see more of the fairy items I unpacked yesterday click here

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