Down on the Farm

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In my last post I promised that the next post would be about what we could and should be doing to reduce other single use plastics.  However, we headed off for a rare weekend getaway.  So, here are some fun photos from our weekend away while I work on the other blog post which will hopefully be ready tomorrow.

Yesterday morning we packed up the car and headed a couple of hours west of where we live to catch up with some friends from interstate who are currently farm-sitting.

We had perfect Queensland winter weather with clear skies, pleasant days and chilly nights.

Machinery shed, windmill and old vehicles………………

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Local scenery.

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Bottle trees up on the ridge.

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Heading for home………….

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Just for show – don’t expect a bucketful of milk……………………

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My friend actually milked No. 16 and the chickens enjoyed the some of the spoils.

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We enjoyed our getaway to the country.

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.

 

Completed Quilt

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A month ago I wrote a post about making another quilt.  You can read about it here.  Once again, I had a deadline because it needed to be completed by early this week as it was a retirement gift for a work colleague.

I met the deadline and here is the finished quilt.

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This one included some new fabric bought specifically for the project as I simply did not have enough of the chosen colour palette.

I have been busy for the past week or so with finishing the quilt as well as working and being away from home for a couple of nights.  However, it is now the end of the working week and no specific engagements for the weekend.  The weather forecast does not include rain nor super-hot weather so GMan and I are looking forward to spending some time outdoors, particularly getting vegetable gardens back in order and prepared for planting now that the extreme heat is behind us.

I hope to bring you some updates from the home front before too long.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you have planned.

In the Garden

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After a break of almost 3 months, I finally made it back to the garden today.  I have really done nothing since before we went to the UK at the beginning of November and since we arrived home in early December my intentions have been thwarted by hot weather, Christmas preparations, another holiday and numerous social events as well as being busy at work.

However, I woke up at 5am today and decided to bite the bullet before the sun became  too intense.  2.5 hours later I came in after having made a start on some weeding in the vegetable garden enclosure.  In all honesty, you could barely see where I had been but I felt better knowing that at least I had made a start.

We went shopping this morning and as well as food we managed to buy more than a dozen plants.  Later this afternoon GMan and I weeded the area in front of the house.  This runs the full length of the house and is planted with numerous hibiscus shrubs and covered with mulch.  Where the hibiscus are well established and close together there was very little weed, however, there are still some substantial gaps and some unwelcome plants had become quite well established.  Of course, the area is almost overrun with cherry tomato plants but I am prepared to accept them as they are food.

The next job was to tackle the raised garden bed containing the sweet potatoes.  When we planted them some months ago we placed a panel of old pool fencing over the bed to keep the scrub turkeys away from it as they just dig up the potatoes and eat them and completely destroy the plants.  We had intended to remove it once the plants became established but that did not happen.  The plants had grown right through the fencing and far, far away…………  It was not easy to remove and in the process we discovered that there was a good crop waiting to be harvested.

Here is our haul.

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I can see sweet potato fries, sweet potato mash, vegetable curry and baked sweet potato in our future.

In a recent post I published a list of some of the projects we intend to tackle this year.  One of them was to create a garden outside the vegie garden.  My intention is to create a mostly native garden with a seat in the midst of it. At the moment it is just grass but that is about to change.  Today we took the first step and bought a selection of plants which will form the basis of this garden.

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This is the result of our garden shopping so I am quite keen to see my planned garden come to fruition.  Not of all the plants we bought will be for that area but we have plans for all of them.

Hopefully, I will have some more photos to share before too long.

We are planning to make an early start again tomorrow as it is really the best option during the summer months here.

Camera, Internet and Rain

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I am sure you are scratching your head at the title of this post so I will explain what these three things have in common.  There has been precious little of any of them and all are impacting on my ability to post.

The camera is currently being repaired and will be ready next week, I hope.  It had been playing up for a while with the automatic flash getting stuck intermittently.  This was becoming more of a problem so I decided to take it to be repaired because I want it in good working order when we head off overseas in November.  So, I will use existing photos for any blog posts at the moment.

Our internet access (not NBN) is average at best but lately it has been virtually non-existent for hours at a time which culminated in minimal, very slow access for the past couple of days.  It seems to be better at the moment so I am grabbing the opportunity to post.  At least I haven’t had to resort to carrier pigeon!  It is not as though we live in the outback – we are barely 80km (50 miles) from the CBD of the third-largest city in Australia!

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Speaking of things being non-existent – that is the state of our rainfall here at the moment, too.  We live in what is generally regarded as a high rainfall area with reliable rainfall throughout the year, however, thanks to climate change it is becoming much less reliable.  The type of vegetation which grows in area is dependent on regular rainfall so everything is a bit stressed.  I have not planted too much in the vegetable gardens except beans which I am hand-watering.  I am also watering the blueberry bushes as they are loaded with fruit at the moment and I want to make sure that I don’t lose that precious fruit.  The kale just keeps on growing regardless of heat, cold, water or not.  It is very resilient.  I know that it will rain again but in the meantime the lack of rain is impacting on my enthusiasm for the garden.  We depend entirely on tank water but we are in a better position than most as there are only 2 of us, we are generally fairly frugal with our water usage as we know what it is like to have very little and we have twice as much storage as most people in the district.

Thank goodness for a hose!

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Spring has Sprung

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Even though it is barely the middle of August there is definitely spring (some would say summer) in the air.  Our winter was very mild here and we could be in for a long hot summer so it makes sense to get a head start on the summer growing season before it gets too hot.

I harvested the last 4 purple cabbages and dug over the bed in readiness to plant some beans.

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We have never had quite enough soil to fill these beds to the level I would like so I took the opportunity to add some more material to the bed before I planted the beans.

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This is one of the various mulch/compost piles that are dotted around our property.  GMan uses this one exclusively for grass clippings.  I know that the purists say that you cannot compost just one type of material such as lawn clippings but I can assure you that the underneath of this heap had broken down beautifully into rich compost and was teeming with worms.

We removed the decomposed material from the bottom of the heap and returned the rest to the heap for another day.

Here is the bed topped up and ready to plant.

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Meanwhile, I weeded the carrots which are continuing to grow nicely.  I have harvested some baby ones as I thinned them out.

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The newer blueberry bushes which are now a couple of years old, are finally getting established and showing some real signs of progress.  Some, like this one are covered with flowers and fruit.

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A closer view.

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Finally, a reminder that the garden is not only about growing food.  It is about enjoying our surroundings.  This photo is of the natural sculptural form of the the deciduous white cedar which dominates the back garden.

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What season is it in your garden?  Is it changing?  Have you modified your planting habits or even what you can grow to accommodate changes?

 

Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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