The Garage Project has been put on hold temporarily while other things get done. Everything is moving so fast. We’re down to Level 2 now. The Husband is back to normal working hours and I still have a small boy here all the time, for just a little while longer. I wasn’t quite ready to send The Little Fulla back to kindy yet, so he’s home with me for this week at least. Yes, sometimes he annoys me and tests my patience with his strong-willed nature, but I’ve learnt that dealing with him is as much about my attitude and behaviours as it is about his. At the end of the day, I like having him here with me, helping out on the homestead. And I accept that I can’t get things done as fast as I would like to. There is so much going on. I feel like I’m homesteading by the seat of my pants.
Of course, the hens are picking up laying again, now that we’re out of lockdown. Frodo is laying, her daughter Jenny Cheeply is laying and Morpheus has gone back to laying post-chick raising.
The harvesting tasks have toned down as the apples have finished and the feijoas are down to the final stragglers. The Little Fulla helped me to scoop out a whole bunch of feijoa flesh that we bagged and froze. I almost forgot about the young ‘Golden Goose’ feijoa tree in the small pen behind Featherburn Lodge. It has a few feijoas on it which are just starting to ripen as the other tree finishes up. Excellent. That’s why I chose to get it. The Fruit Plan is starting to show its value. There are just a few more walnuts to pick up at the end of a bumper crop this year.
We have plenty of pumpkins and squashes so I’m finding different ways to use them, including Thai pumpkin soup, roasted squash to put into salads with roasted peppers, squash chips (like wedges) done in the oven and squash circles, like what I do with potatoes and kumara sometimes – sliced thinly and fried in a pan with some seasonings. The whole family seems to be enjoying them.
I finally made some hot cross buns, better late than never. The problem was, I’m off gluten and yeast these days while I figure out what my body can’t handle and I try to look after it, and you can imagine that a gluten-free, yeast-free hot cross bun recipe is going to require some abnormal ingredients. I picked out a few recipes that sounded promising, but we didn’t have all the ingredients for any of them during lockdown, so I had to wait. Then things just got a bit busy and well, I got them done in the end before the orange went bad! I chose the hot cross bun recipe that looked the best. They were actually rather nice and very soft. The ‘abnormal’ ingredient in them was psyllium husk and we had to buy oranges. Making them was much faster than making normal hot cross buns. I will definitely be making them again.
I’ve been making a big push to get the autumn veggie garden moving along. There are plenty of things that can be grown here in autumn and I’m still learning what and how much I can grow as our growing space gets a bit bigger every year. The Little Fulla has been helping me tidy up and weed in the main Veggie Garden. Weeding the raised beds doesn’t take too long, thanks to using mulch, except for the far end of the Long Bed, which is plagued with oxalis. I need to keep slowly chipping away at it, carefully digging up the bulb clumps without causing too much disturbance. It was a little bit tricky dodging around leeks, parsnips, beets and young carrots and beetroot, but it looks much better now. Well, it did before Jenny Cheeply escaped over the fence and had a bit of a fossick around in there.
While we were working in the Veggie Garden we got visited by two special guests – kereru or New Zealand pigeons. They are large and beautiful and announce their presence by the swooshing noise they make as they fly. I’ve seen one here before but two was even more special.
I have to tell you that my potatoes did didley squat in the potato bin in the dark, far corner of The Processing Corner, because 1) I kept forgetting they were over there and 2) I put too much compost on top of them. I did mix soil in with it, but I think it was still too rich. Not to be downtrodden, I knew I could use the compost from the potato bin to top up the Veggie Garden, which needed some good compost after a hard season of drought. When I got to the potato bin there were potato shoots growing in it. That figures! I thought they had all died. We’ve obviously had a mild autumn. We’re only a couple of weeks out from winter and we haven’t even had a frost yet. Anyway, we ended up with a small potato harvest after all, combined with some stragglers from the previous year that popped up in the Veggie Garden over summer.
Some of the onions have been planted. The rest of them and the leeks will be planted soon. We’ve planted all the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, kale and tatsoi that I want to plant in the main Veggie Garden.
We cleared and planted The Little Fulla’s veggie garden with some cold season crops he wanted to grow: broccoli and lettuces. He’s also got a couple of self-sown beetroots and radishes in there.
With those things done it was time to crack into weeding and clearing the Front Plot so we could plant the rest of the brassicas in there. Well, it was almost time. First, I needed to fix the back paddock fence. The neighbours sheep had been pushing the wire netting forward to scoff feijoas from the ground, eroding the ground and leaving the fence escapable by chickens in the process. The chickens needed to move into the Orchard Pen so I had to fix the fence. It’s hard not be angry at neighbouring animals sometimes. The other neighbours’ young beef bull has been butchered and I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. I’ll have to go back and fix some of the new wire netting he bent while unashamedly munching on our plants. And now I can actually plant my Bushman’s Toilet Paper and other shrubs without fear of them being destroyed. The Little Fulla got to watch some of the butchering from the fence and came and told me that “they peeled the skin off the bull.” Yup, he’s a country boy.
While I was attaching the wire netting securely to the fence all around The Orchard Pen and small chicken pens, The Little Fulla scrambled around under the small cherry guava tree scooping yellow fruits off the ground and repeating, “Who’s bin diggin’ up my nuts? Who’s bin diggin’ up my nuts?” The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes, anyone?
The Granny Smith apple tree, which gave us a few fruit this year, had gotten on a bit of a lean due to a loose stake, so I thought I better fix that while I was out there. Its wire netting protection also needed updating. I started out putting a cylinder of wire netting around young fruit trees in the chicken pens to protect them from the chickens. That didn’t work very well because 1) the chickens could not reach the weeds inside, which would start to smother the tree trunk and 2) the chickens could scratch up the ground too close to the trunk, exposing tree roots. This was the last tree I had to switch to the updated system – spreading a wire netting circle, or more like a hexagon, over the base of the tree and securing it with bricks. This means the chickens can’t scratch too close to the main roots but they can reach weeds that grow under the tree.
Not to be ignored, Simba demanded some attention when he came in limping, with a very swollen leg. We found a small wound on his upper leg that was oozing pus so off to the vet it was. I was worried about my dear snuggle cat as he seemed to be in a lot of pain and it turned out he had a high fever. Thankfully he didn’t need an operation as we had cleaned up the wound and it was drying out and the swelling was due to fluid in his tissues. He’s doing much better after being on a painkiller and antibiotics and is back to racing around like a maniac.
Then, it was time to work on the Front Plot.