Saturday, December 29, 2012
Cambridge is a mother again to 11 tiny bundles of golden brown fuzz. She hatched her babies in the strangest of places, right up in the back corner of our yard, against the right angle of the corrugated iron fence. We only had two eggs that didn't hatch, and all ducklings are fit and healthy. We plan to sell them* / give them away... if you're in Newcastle and want a duckling or two let me know ;-)
* Sorry they are unable to be posted Reana Louise :-)
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A few weeks ago I paid a visit to the home of a friend I have made through the Spinning and Weaving Guild I belong to. The purpose of my visit was to be taught how to spin alpaca fleece, however, honestly not a lot of spinning was done. I was too distracted by all her other amazing skills!
We got talking about our vegetable gardens, and I explained I had been researching how to preserve my produce during a glut. I asked her if she had ever tried preserving, to which she walked without a word to her cupboard and pulled out jar after jar of preserved goooooodness. Dill cucumbers, bread and butter pickles, relishes and chutney. All sealed up in Ball Mason jars. My jaw dropped. I demanded answers, explanation of how I would be able to achieve such a feet. I was pointed in the direction of The Redback Trading Company, as this is where she buys her canning supplies. I placed my order as soon as I got home.
Apparently you can't go past The Redback Tracing Company's own "Pickling Spice Blend"...
But my education was not to stop there. Next I was to be taught about cheese making. That's right, she even makes her own cheese! The taste of home made Camembert and feta I simply cannot describe...
~ Camembert ready to be wrapped in foil and refrigerated for at least 4 weeks ~
~ Feta ~
I am excitedly waiting for the Postie to deliver my order from The Redback Trading Company, because in my garden there is a glut of beans just waiting to be canned, and cucumbers begging to be made into dill cucumber pickle.
Oh, and just in case you were curious, I did spend 15 minutes with my friend spinning alpaca fleece. I found the fibres to be very different to sheep wool. I had read and been told a number of times that alpaca was different, but I guess I didn't expect it to be different in the way that it was (oh dear does that even make any sense?) The alpaca felt like it had almost zero elasticity to it, and the fibres appeared not to naturally fuse to each other. The yarn it created was so incredibly soft though which makes the effort worthwhile.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
So things have been a little quiet around hear on the 'duckies' front. You wouldn't believe how much Yorkshire and Chippenham have grown...
They are both beautiful. Especially Yorkshire with her gorgeous brown coat and white collar. Chippy is doing well. She is still undersized but does appear to eat well... perhaps she was the runt of the group? Her beak has grown back a little, but her tongue still protrudes and looks pretty cute.
Oxford is behaving nicely to them now and has take them under his wing.
"But where's Cambridge" I hear you ask? She is hiding in the corner of our backyard, under a wheel burrow, sitting on thirteen more eggs...
And so it begins again!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
So it turns out I was wrong. A watched pot really does boil. Just add duck pond water weekly and things really start to thrive...
~ A view north ~
~ Cucumber I am training along the wire fence ~
~ Oregano, curry, sage and rosemary ~
~ I sense a glut of beans coming on ~
~ Beyond the garden gate ~
~ Thai chilli plant ~
~ The MOST amazing beans ever ~
~ A bean plant at least 8 feet tall ~
~ Cucumber ~
Beans, cucumber, spinach and tomato ~
~ Roma tomatoes ~
~ Black Russian tomatoes ~
~ The entry way ~
~ Beans climbing a vine support ~
~ Spinach ~
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sometimes I feel like my garden isn't doing a whole lot. The daily work it requires often leaves me blind to the progress happening before my eyes. You know the old saying, "a watched pot never boils", well that's how I feel about my garden sometimes. It feels slow. Last Thursday morning I left home to attend some training for work in the city, and did not return home until Tuesday night. The first thing I did after dumping my bags in the hall was to race outside, with flash light in hand, and check on the veggies and ducks. My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe how much everything had grown. The morning daylight couldn't come soon enough. Once dawn broke I was able to inspect the garden properly and take in all the changes that had happened in just a matter of a few days...
~ The pretty border of rocket has now grown to cover the entire bed and then some ~
~ The beans are as tall as me now and producing flowers ~
~ The potatoes are flowering ~
~ Zucchini 'Costa Romanesque' grown from Green Harvest seeds ~
~ Tomato plants and nasturtiums growing at a rapid rate ~
~ Spinach, cucumber and bush beans ~
~ Carrot 'Colour Mix' grown from Green Harvest seeds ~
~ Yellow pear tomatoes coming on ~
~ Celery ~
~ Ok, now this has gotten a little out of hand to say the least! The coriander, parsley and basil have grown out of control... can you even make out those capsicum and tomato plants? I promise they are in there... somewhere. ~
~ The chickens can reach through the fence from their enclosure and have taken a sample of the spinach ~
~ Iceberg lettuce and spinach ~
~ Dried grape vine branches supporting the beans ~
~ All the green goodness just beyond the chicken run... must be tempting for them! ~
~ Spinach and carrots ~
~ Would you believe me if I told you I still had quite large bare patches ready for some plants? What should I plant next? ~
~ The cuttings are growing quite nicely ~
Having not taken any leave for six months (heart surgery didn't count!) I was feeling burnt out and loosing my sense of humour at a rapid rate (not good when you're a mental health worker!). Recognising this I took some leave from work and now have the rest of this week to potter around my garden, do some sewing, and spin some wool using my new spinning wheel. Gardening truly is a self care activity for me. It is a way for me to switch off from the stresses of work and spend an hour or two in silence with my hands in the dirt.
It grounds me.
To create something out of nothing is very special. To produce food that can feed my husband and I, with extra to share with others, feels like a real blessing.
P.S Just in case you are wondering how I encourage growth in my plants. The only spray I have used has been pyrethrum and that was only on the kale. The rest is all natural. I fertilise the soil by pumping the dirty water from the duck pond onto the garden once a week. I also add compost and chook poo as needed. I use bore water to water the garden three times per week via an irrigation system I recently installed myself.