Saturday, 30 April 2016

Quince Jelly

There are quinces everywhere I look. Their fragrance is wonderful so I place large bowls of them all around the house. OK, a bowl of quinces in the bedroom might look a bit odd, but oh, that fresh scent is heavenly.
When I was little and Mum made Quince Jelly, I wanted to eat nothing other than fresh bread spread with butter and the delicious jelly for days.
I feel pretty much the same now about quince jelly, but we eat it in lots of other ways too.
It's the easiest jelly to make; time consuming but is ridiculous how easy it is, for the sensational flavour at the end.
The preparation is quick and easy, with no cutting up of anything which makes it even more desirable for lazy folks like me.

Select quinces that are a mixture of some ripe and a few green ones.  The pectin in the greener fruit is necessary to make the jelly set.
Wipe the fluff from the quinces while washing them.
Weigh up a good 3 kilograms of whole quinces and put into a large jam pot.
Cover with 3 kgs of sugar
and pour over 3 litres of water.
I usually cut the sugar back when making jams but I DON'T when making jelly. The pectin from the skins and the "truck load" of sugar is what makes it jelly.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for hours.  It could be 4 to 5 hours, or even more.
The aim is to allow the quinces to keep their shape and remain whole, so don't stir the pot. I grab the handles on my big pot and give it a swirl and a wiggle every hour or so, to move them around in the liquid.
The colour begins to change from yellow green to this rich ruby red. It will get much darker before it's ready to test for setting.

After approx 4 hours, and the colour is deep rich red, spoon out a little of the liquid and put into a shallow bowl. Place the bowl into the freezer for approx 3-5 minutes.
Take out of the freezer and run your finger through the jelly.

If the jelly liquid runs back together like this it is NOT SET. Put it back into the jam pot and simmer further.
Test again after 30 minutes.
When it has eventually reached setting stage, take the jam pot off the heat source and place onto a heat proof surface. (large wooden chopping board)
Using a slotted spoon and tongs, carefully lift the quinces out and place into a large colander which is sitting in a large bowl. Some liquid will drain from the quinces into the bowl so this can be tipped back into the jelly liquid in the jam pot.

Ladle the jelly liquid into jars and seal while hot. There may be a few lumps in the liquid, so if you want lump free jelly you can pour through a strainer before pouring into jars.

Now.... here are the leftover stewed quinces. We feel they are really too sweet to use as a dessert fruit, but they can be saved to be eaten with pork, roast duck or goose and even cheese.
When they have cooled a little, pull the flesh away from the cores and place the flesh into jars. Discard the cores. Cover with a drizzle of the liquid that has formed on the bottom of the bowl and screw the lid on.
It's probably best to keep the jars in the fridge because they are not sealed air tight when done this way, although the high sugar content may preserve them.
I think the flesh can also be turned into quince paste, but it didn't work for me when I tried it last year.
Next morning I always enter the kitchen with trepidation because I've been known to make jelly that didn't set. Tip a jar and observe if the jelly is moving around in there or has set firm, or near enough to firm.
Last week I made a batch that didn't set. I was rushing and didn't test it properly before I poured it into the jars, so it all had to be emptied out of the jars and simmered for another 30 minutes. That will teach me to hurry and try to cut corners!
When I reboiled it, a soup pot was large enough to contain all of the jelly.
The end result is really not a lot of jelly because all of the fruit has been removed, but if you love the unique taste and fragrance of quinces, you will agree that the effort is well worth it.

 So if you have a quince tree, or see them on sale at a roadside stall, you might like to think about having a go at making some jelly.
Have you got a foolproof method of making quince paste that you could share?
Tomorrow is going to be cool enough to light up the wood stove so I'll be slow poaching some sliced quinces in a big cast iron enamel pot in the oven. Just perfect with some home made icecream.
Cheers and thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Each to their own

Each to their own;
I'll respect your lifestyle choices, and please respect mine.
I think perhaps I'm a bit grumpy today.
Sure, I'm really grateful to be living in Australia where we have everything we can possibly want, running water, a reliable electricity supply, and all the other things our country provides for us, but today I'm a bit OVER watering my garden again!!  I can never remember it being this dry... for so long. It seems to have been hot and dry here in the Barossa for too many months.
It's nearing the end of April and it's a dry 29C degrees.

I've taken some time out today to put this lovely boy's picture onto Gumtree, offering his services to cow owners who want  some of his calves. All to no avail today. Not once, but twice I went through the entire procedure, clicked "Download Ad", and was met with a screen that apologized for not being successful in placing my ad. Grrr!
To calm myself I went outside to try weeding some more Kikuyu from my vege patch, but the flies make that task too unbearable today, plus the dry wind is picking up, bringing dust with it.
Then I got to thinking about some other things that have been bugging me lately.

Warning... rant follows!! 
Why is it that some folks can't accept other folks differences?
I'm really happy that people go to the movies, and enjoy going shopping and eating out regularly. I'm just not happy for me to be doing those things on a regular basis, so please don't talk down to me when I tell you that no, I won't be driving eighty minutes to the City to see a movie and waste a whole day wandering about there for the sheer joy of it.  I don't enjoy being in Cities. Understood?
I'm very happy to hear that people go on cruise ships, in fact my aging parents loved cruising during their later years. So please don't come back and tell me how I really must go on a cruise ship, and feel so sorry for me because I haven't the good fortune to do so.
Please understand that my expectations when  traveling overseas are totally different from yours. I don't want to be surrounded by crowds of people from my own state or country. I don't want to know exactly where I'll be sleeping every night. I don't want to spend my time drinking Aussie beer and eating Aussie food. But if that's what you want, then I'm happy for you and I won't talk down to you because your preferences are different to mine.
My form of traveling requires me to use my wits, take risks and challenge myself constantly, meet new people and immerse myself in genuine cultural  experiences.
I don't try to force my preferences on you, so please don't think I'm going to want to do what you are doing.

 I value my time at home, in the place that I work at to make it a peaceful and regenerating place to be. I love creating things in my kitchen and working quietly in my garden, talking to my dogs, chooks, cows, the birds. They are my favorite company.
I don't want to go out to work every day to earn more money to buy more things for my home that I'm never going to get the chance to enjoy because I'm at work every day to earn the money to buy more things for my home........
But if that's what you want to do, then I'm pleased for you. Just don't complain to me about how tired and sick you are because you don't have time to grow or cook your own food.
I don't need to impress people by sprouting about the latest new restaurant I dined at, or the shiny new car I just bought with the bank's money.
Oh, and don't tell me that I need to make changes to my lifestyle because all of these animals in my care tie me down too much.
This is the lifestyle I chose. I actually enjoy it. I don't yearn for someone else's lifestyle.
Let's celebrate and accept our differences, because none of us are the same.

Thanks to the blogosphere and the discovery of other folks who share my thoughts and appreciation of the simple things.
Thanks for your wonderful posts that make me realise that I do have a tribe out there.
I used to feel alone, not lonely, but out of step with what's perceived as normal until I discovered the blog writers, many of whom are displayed on the side bar of this page.
Thanks for listening to my little vent. I feel better now. :)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Taking the downs with the ups (It's not all violins and sunsets)

Gordon is nearly three weeks old and Ambrose was born exactly a week later. Both of them are doing well and are now off all of their supplements except a half teaspoon of Dolomite in their feeders once a day. They are fed twice a day from their calf feeders at the same time as I'm milking the cows, Daisy and Lavender.  After milking, I tip fresh milk into their feeders, hang them on the edge of the dairy fence and they know to come up and drink. This is when I'm washing the milking machine and mixing up feeds for the next round of milking.
Gordon developed a slight runny gut last week so, ever on the lookout, I watered down his milk ration with half milk half water to make up the two litres that they drink twice a day. Into that I added garlic water, yogurt and dolomite powder. Within two days his poos were back to normal.

I got tired of waiting for the boys to get brave enough to try drinking from Daisy so I'm taking matters into my own hands. Afraid that Ambrose would forget what it's like to drink directly from an udder, I've been supervising him to drink from Daisy while she's in the dairy and before I put the milking cups on her.
I've been watching the little boys closely, hoping I'll see one or both of them suckling from Daisy when they are all out in the paddock together. I can see that Gordon has become tired of being shoved away whilst trying to suckle from either of the two cows. His confidence has been eroded completely and he still associates me as the safest form of mother. He has a quiet and placid nature, not willing to continue trying to sneak his way in to Daisy's udder for fear of being pushed away again.
However, Ambrose has a more forceful and determined nature, so I'm quietly confident that he will eventually learn to suckle from Daisy unaided.

Paisley is a picture of health, much loved and cossetted by her mother.

Last week was a stressful one as Daisy developed mastitis.  After every calving she has such a massive udder which requires much attention on our part. We need to milk her 18 - 24 hours after calving, to take some pressure off, and then continue to milk her twice a day until the calf (or calves) are taking enough milk to keep her comfortable.
One quarter was feeling hot and was engorged. I milked her three times a day, and then one evening I noticed lumps in the straining cloth while bottling off her milk.
So that night I milked her every three hours through the night, massaging her udder at the same time to loosen up the lumps and get the flow going.
We gave her a needle of 15mls of Vitamin C into her rump, for two evenings.  This is our natural anti-biotic that we use instead of anti-biotics. and it has worked for us both times we have had the misfortune to have mastitis in the twelve years of owning cows.
All of this information has come to us via Pat Coleby's wonderful book, "Natural Cattle Care" that I mentioned in a recent post.
There has been lack of sleep here and plenty of worrying hours, so now that the danger has passed I'm even more grateful for healthy animals.
The need to move onto the next tasks at hand is ever present, lots has been happening, but where to find the few minutes to write about it? It will be my constant conundrum for a little while to come, so apologies for the brevity.
Thanks for dropping by to the blog and I hope you are finding some time to breathe. Take a breath for me will you?

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Days like this should be bottled

I'm completely obsessed with cows at present. I can't help it, and I know it will pass in time, when my 'lil babies grow up a bit and are not quite so reliant on me. Life is busy.. busier, and because my hands are full most of the time there are no photos of me with my babies.
Yesterday our dairy farmer friend phoned to ask if we wanted the Angas calf that was born during the night. We're hand feeding one already (Gordon) and have so much excess milk, we can just as easily hand feed another one. So, armed with my Arnica pillules, we drove over to collect little Ambrose.
What a feisty little chap he was, but in twenty four hours he has calmed and is completely lovable.
He's suckling well on the feeder now which contains all of the ingredients mentioned in my last blog post.
I promise to take some pics of all of the little ones soon. They are hilarious to watch, cavorting around the paddocks with their tails held high and teasing the mums/aunties, Daisy and Lavender. Tonight, Gordon had fallen asleep up in the paddock when the others came down for milking and feeding. (It's hard work being a calf and there's so much to do, soo tiring) Brian kindly volunteered walked up there, to the top of the hill, to wake him and bring him down.
Today started early, as usual, because it was market day and we had two steers to be sold.  After we loaded  them onto the trailer, Brian drove over to the sale yards early in the morning, while I stayed back to do all the milking, calf feeding, chook feeds etc. After lunch we both went back to watch them go through the sale ring.

If you are an average person you would not have been to a livestock sale or market, and I would urge you to do so, just once, to get a feel for what it's like for the people on the land. It's a social day, catching up with other farmers and sharing stories, knowledge, and gossip, with usually plenty of dry humor flying about. This is the real Australia, and I love it. I don't have the merest urge or desire to swap my life for anything else. This is what it's all about, it's not always pleasant here at the market, but it's a true indication of how our communities are traveling.
Pictured above is a yearling Angas steer going through the sale ring. No, it's not one of ours. When ours went through, my hands were clenched and I think I might have been holding my breath. Each sale goes so fast, and of course we're hoping for that dollar figure to keep going up, higher and higher.
Ours fetched good prices today although the market this month is down slightly on last month.

As we are prone to do, we bought a couple of pens of weedy lambs for a cheap price, so we came home with our trailer full.
While waiting in line to get to the loading ramp to load up our lambs, I was entertained by this truck driver and his two Kelpie dogs. It was a joy to watch. The dogs were incredibly smart and brave, willing to go the extra mile to please their handler. I had a welling up in my throat to witness the loving care this bloke bestowed on his working dogs.
Our day ended quite late, the lambs needed to be drenched for worms before driving them off to one of our leased paddocks where they will eat and grow before taking them back to the market in a few months.
There were cows to be milked, chooks to feed, calves to be fed, some electric fences to be fixed. Just as well Brian has a head lamp, and thankfully there were lots of left overs in the fridge to eat for our evening meal.
It was a beautiful day, good enough for bottling.

Last Saturday morning I received a message from Emma - A simple living journey to say that she was nearby at our local Farmers market and was coming by to shop at my Farm-gate stall. Of course I told her that she had to call in and have a cuppa. We have been blog buddies for some time, and can you imagine my delight to finally meet her? We chatted over cups of tea, walked the gardens and some of the paddocks, and talked for nearly two hours. Such a joy to meet someone who has a zest for life such as Emma. Her blog posts are full of simplicity and family core values, written eloquently. Thanks dear Emma for the beautiful gift of the Happy Soul Infusion Tea. I felt totally spoiled.
Thanks for visiting dear reader. I hope your days are worth bottling.

Friday, 8 April 2016

New Calf Paisley (and other matters pertaining to calves)

This is Daisy's third calf and it seemed like "one, two, three" and out slid the perfect little heifer calf.  The wonderment and the sheer miracle of birth doesn't diminish even one little bit for me, no matter how many births I witness.

 We immediately brought Gordon to the scene and smeared some of the watery membranes onto his fur.  Daisy was extremely busy with her precious baby for the first hour or so, but she did lick Gordon and quietly moo-ed baby talk to him. However, Gordon was taken from his mother three days ago and is now associating his feeding with a grey haired lady human, not a bovine mum, so I have been working at imprinting cow mums into his little brain by feeding him as close as possible next to either of the cows.
We thought it might be easier to convince Daisy to adopt Gordon as she will usually take another one or two calves while she has her own calf.
It's much more difficult to expect a cow who has already weaned her calf, to take a foster calf, as is the case with Lavender, but we wanted to give it a try. Some cows will do it, but they are the minority, and if we don't try it we will never know if Lavender is one of "those" cows.
So at this point in the proceedings, it could swing either way as to which cow will allow Gordon to suckle.
Tomorrow Daisy and her calf Paisley, and Gordon, will be released into the cow paddock with the other cows. There they will sort it out for themselves and we will wait eagerly for a few days to see which cow allows Gordon to take a sneaky drink. He's still such a shy little boy, and he needs to grow a bit more before he develops enough attitude to attempt taking a sneaky little drink from one of those udders. Of course I will continue with his feeds from the calf feeder until we are certain he's getting enough milk from elsewhere.
Tonight we brought Daisy into the dairy and milked ten litres of rich colostrum from her huge udder that looked close to bursting. There looked like being at least another ten litres in there but she held it back and stopped the flow. This will keep her feeling a little more comfortable and will allow the calf easier access to her teats if they are not so engorged.
Gordon got to drink some of the colostrum mixed with his normal mixture of cod liver oil, garlic water, and dolomite. I left out the yogurt and will remove the cod liver oil from his feeds from tomorrow, but will closely monitor all of his poos every day. If he starts to get runny smelly poos, I'll bring back the yogurt and garlic water into his milk mix.

Apart from lots of research over the years, and what I've learned about cows from our experiences, this is my go to book for all things farming and animal care.
I have a great regard for Pat Coleby and have gained lots of knowledge from her many books on organics and animal care using natural methods. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know how to treat common ailments naturally and how to care for the soil and pastures.

Another valuable book in our library which has simple remedies and case studies.

A couple of comments from my last post regarding colostrum which I'd like to respond to here for your information.
From Liz at Eight Acres blog
My understand of colostrum was that calves need it in the first few hours of life while their stomach lining is open and can pass the antibodies into their blood. The closes quickly and after that colostrum is less effective. So I thought that as long as they get colostrum early that's all they need..... however that is just from reading conventional info, so I'm interested in your opinion on this one! Great tip with the arnica, can you share where you get the pillules? 
 Liz, this is also what I knew in the early days from the conventional farming aspect, but with a high percentage of my brought in calves developing serious scours I started to look for more information and remedies that didn't involve antibiotics and pharmaceutical treatments.  I gleaned lots of interesting information from organic farmers and our Bio-dynamics workshop days, which started to all make sense to me. It was about building the gut immunity in the young animals to set them up for life. In nature, the calf gets all of the colostrum from the cow which is generally three days before the real milk comes in.
In conventional dairy farms, the cows are milked four times, morning and night, before the milk is allowed into the vat with the other milk from the dairy. So this ties in with the three days of colostrum theory. The colostrum is natures way of providing all of the antibodies for the calf.
Giving a calf the colostrum from a cow other than its mother is also not effective at providing what the calf needs. When the new mother cow is licking the urine and faeces from her newborn, her body is reading the requirements of that particular and unique calf,  adjusting her colostrum to provide everything that the calf is lacking.

And thanks Mereth for your comment; 
In a conventional dairy, when the calves are removed soon after birth and fed colostrum from the various other cows that have recently calved, the calf is still not getting the correct colostrum that was designed for him as a unique being.

I feel so very privileged to have access to milk from cows that are treated organically as whole beings, who don't suffer the stresses of separation  from their calves, and are shown the respect they deserve.

Thanks for your comments, I really love reading each of them and appreciate you taking the time to write one.

Have a wonderful weekend dear reader.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Gordon spends most of his time dozing. The other few minutes of the day is for drinking his milky calf mixture.

And exploring... "Can I walk under this thing?"

Lavender is checking him out with interest. "Where did this new baby come from?"

Brian collected the new calf yesterday on his way home from work. So as soon as we unloaded him from the ute, I slipped an Arnica pillule under his tongue. It's a big shock for a wee calf to be loaded onto a vehicle and taken somewhere new. This can have a negative impact on the health of a young animal so last year I started using Arnica, for calming,  and I really believe we are having better results with the health of the calf in those first few days.  If I had been there to collect the calf, I would have given him a pillule before loading him onto the ute and then another one after we unloaded him at the other end of the short five minute journey.
He was put into the small calf shed that is enclosed on three sides, the open side faces away from the weather and has a gate to keep him inside and under shelter. On the first night here in his new home, he will be disoriented and I don't want him getting cold or wet.
He was left on his own for an hour to settle in, before I gave him his first feed. He was born on Sunday morning so he was three days old when he came here and I could see that he had already learned how to drink from a calf feeder, so he must have been removed from his mother when he was less than two days old. This is not enough time for a calf to get the colostrum from his mother, to build the antibodies for his immune system, but it seems to be the common practice in large dairies, so we just have to work around it.
His first few feeds are the most crucial for building up his undeveloped gut, thus preventing scours in these first few weeks. Scours can be fatal if not treated promptly, and is even better if we can prevent the calf from getting scours in the first place, but it's not easy. Raising new born calves can be tricky.
I have developed a newborn calf colostrum for feeding in the first three days.
1 dessertspoon Cod Liver Oil
2 dessertspoons plain yogurt (my home made stuff)
1/3 cup of garlic water *
1 teaspoon Dolomite (calcium and magnesium)
[* To make the garlic water.. put 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic into a 350ml jar, top it up with water and shake well. Let sit for at least three hours (the garlic solids will settle to the bottom) before pouring off half a cup without stirring it up. Remember that we are feeding the calf through a teat and don't want lumps. This amount will be enough for approximately four feeds. Then top up the jar again and use it the same as before. After the second time it will lose most of its value so tip it out to the chooks and mix up another jar.]
Put the above contents into a large jar (600mls) with a cup of milk and shake it well to mix.
Add the jar mixture to 1 litre of milk and 1 litre of water in the calf feeder. The drink should be at body temperature for the calf.
After three days I'll start to increase the milk ratio of the mix. eg, more milk, less water to total 2 litres for each feed.
In the beginning I made the mistake of over feeding the new calves. This is the worst thing to do as the little gut just can't handle too much at once, however they will keep drinking even though they have had enough. This is the suckle response that makes them want to keep suckling after getting their fill. Don't be fooled by them, let them suckle on your finger if you want to, but give no more milk when they are very young. This mistake will result in very runny yellow poo which can quickly become white runny poo and then (horror!!) grey scours poo with blood in it. Then we're in trouble!
The calf is fed this amount twice a day, preferably twelve hours apart. I feed my calves at 6pm and I am then sure to be woken for a feed at 6am. This suits my timetable and the rhythm of my day, but you may prefer a different schedule. After the first week or so, I am a bit more flexible with the gap between feeding, an hour either way, because by then they are able to drink water from the bucket provided in the yard if they feel thirsty. During these first few days they are relying on us for their feelings of hunger as well as thirst. If the weather is very hot, it is wise to offer a drink of plain water in the calf feeder during the middle of the day. It won't take long before you can teach the new baby how to drink water from a bucket or trough as described in a previous post here
We are hoping for Gordon to be adopted by Lavender, so they are spending time together in a separate paddock from the other cows.

Thanks for all of these great suggestions for a name for this little bloke...
Angus - we have already had an Angas. I thought of Gus, but my friend's new grandson is Gus, and probably not appropriate to name a calf the same name.Thanks Joolz.
Jem- we have already had a Jemima, shortened to Jem. Thanks Merryl.
Boris- great name and it was a toss up, and I think our next boy could be a Boris. Thanks Sue.
Nana Chel, I think Gordon is perfect for this calf. Thanks :)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sally goes shopping - (an oxymoron)

Now that the windows in those two rooms are clean, it's time to renew the window coverings. Thirteen years ago when we first bought this old place we worked hard to renovate it room by room. By the time we got to window coverings money was tight, so we did the best we could with some inexpensive calico Roman blinds from Ikea. I also bought second hand curtains from op-shops when ever I found suitable ones, and converted them into roman blinds to go over the top of the cheap calico blinds. This double layer gave us a very effective thermal barrier during the extreme cold and the scorching heat. They have served us well, but some are beginning to look a little dull and worn.
In one of my past homes I had timber Venetian blinds installed and always loved them, I still do now, especially the white ones.
So today, after putting it off for as many months as I was putting off cleaning the windows, I drove the forty minutes to our nearest Spotlight store. This is a big deal for me. I sometimes feel overwhelmed in large artificially lit places, so I was well armed with an overload of notes and information about what I was planning to purchase.
To calm myself before attempting the serious task of selecting what I was there to buy, I checked out the fabrics, then wandered into the home wares area.
I can't tell you just how satisfied I was to have negotiated that huge store and I made two trips back to the car with my purchases.

These bowls were on sale so I bought six in three different colours.
Upon returning to live in Australia in late 1999, and buying myself a tiny house, I bought all of the contents of that little home at Garage Sales and op-shops, intending to replace them with new things as my finances permitted, but I mostly never did, apart from some daggy chairs and a smelly sofa.  I loved and cherished each and every piece of my kitchen paraphernalia and eclectic collection of furniture.
Then I met Brian and we bought this old place, my old stuff came with us, it matched the old home.  However, dessert and soup bowls have a limit to how chipped and cracked they can be, so the time had come to replace them.
The assistant carefully wrapped them all in this sewing pattern tissue paper.
Well done Spotlight!! for re-using the paper patterns instead of just throwing them in the bin.

Of course they will be re-cycled again for wrapping gifts, so I carefully flattened and folded them up, and have put them with my re-cycled paper, string, ribbon and gift wrapping stash.
There is something about these beautiful patterns on tissue paper that gives me the same joy as sheet music. No, I can't read music, but I adore the look of those music pages and can be known to buy old music books in op-shops.
So I purchased enough blinds to cover the windows in three rooms. This will keep Brian busy for a couple of evenings after work. Next week I just may return to buy more blinds for the remaining rooms.
I also purchased some fabrics for the making of a patchwork quilt for little Clover's first birthday. Can't show you a photo of said fabrics; don't want to spoil the surprise for Clover's Mama.
It seemed like a big day out, but you know, I actually enjoyed it.
Oh, how wonderful it was to wake this morning in the early daylight instead of in the pitch darkness. So pleasant to milk the cow and feed the animals in daylight.
If it were up to me, I'd stop daylight saving a month earlier. What do you think?

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Getting things done

It wasn't so bad once I got started, but oh boy, I've been putting this off for weeks. Now I'd love it if everyone I know pays us a visit so I can show off the clean windows at that end of the house.
These windows are very high off the ground and requires balancing on our tallest ladder, so this old girl was pretty pleased with herself after completing the job, with no more difficulty that when I did it last time. (Approx a year ago... sshhh don't tell anyone). You will gather by now that cleaning windows is not high on my list of priorities, but Oh how lovely it is now that it's done.

Morning coffee on the side verandah has become an institution here on weekends. A break from our busy day to sit and watch the cows eating from their hay rack in the paddock before they wander off to one of the grassy paddocks for the day. A time for us to refresh, discuss our plans for the remainder of the day and to appreciate all that surrounds us on our patch of paradise.

The summer time shade cloth has been rolled back to allow the sun to shine on the new winter vegetable plantings. Lots of composted manure and straw was layered onto the soil weeks ago, then topped with mushroom compost.
This is the part of the garden that Brian manages. My part of the garden at the other end is not quite so orderly. I tied up some of the raspberry canes today, but have another two rows to complete tomorrow.
Today he planted onions, garlic, peas, lettuce and bok-choi.  During the past couple of weeks he has planted cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, parsnips and beetroot.
Celery, kale and sweet potatoes are still there from the summer garden, and in the glass house are basil, parsley, capsicums and lettuce.
The pineapple plants are still there pineapples yet!

The last of the tomatoes are ripening on the vines in my kitchen garden closer to the house.  These were the plants that I grew from the cuttings of the first tomato plants that Brian planted in early October. Last year I posted about how to grow new tomato plants from the prunings of tomato plants here.
It was so worthwhile planting that second crop to extend our season of fresh tomatoes, as Brian removed all of his plants weeks ago. One of my favorite simple lunch foods is home made sour dough bread slathered with home made butter and slices of fresh tomato with pepper.  There is nothing like the taste of fresh tomatoes grown in our own garden, and I will extend the season for as long as possible if I can. I flatly refuse to buy a tomato from the shops, and would never ever buy a tomato, or any fruit or veg, out of season.
Last year we tried growing a variety of late tomatoes in the glass house to have them almost year round, but were not happy with the results, so we appreciate the season while it's here.
The butternut pumpkins that I planted in October have ended up completely taking over this small garden, not that I mind at all. The rhubarb still managed to grow well, as did the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Now, you may well ask what those stripy looking pumpkins are, and so do I ask the same question!  This is one of the joys of pumpkin growing as the cross pollination of varieties produces some interesting vegetables and I can tell you that the flavor is butternut sweet and the texture is extra creamy smooth.  What a winner! Now my only hope is that they will be good keepers because I think I've harvested almost a year of pumpkins.
The birth of Daisy's new calf is imminent and we are checking the size of her udder frequently, (like every few hours!) so there will be more news on that in the next blog post.
News came today that the calf that we have ordered from our  friend's dairy farm was born early this morning, an Angas x Friesan  bull calf, which will spend the next couple of days with its mother, drinking the colostrum she provides for her newborn, before we can pick him up and bring him home.
The plan is for Daisy to accept him after her own calf is born, but meanwhile we will bottle feed him with some of Lavender's ample milk supply.
I need to come up with a name for this new arrival. Any suggestions?

Thanks for dropping into Jembella Farm dear reader. Like any letter writer, I love getting your comments, so please don't be shy.
Cheers for now, be well and be content.

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