Sunday, October 24, 2010

"A Foggy Day"

but not "in Londontown" as per the song (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong)!

This was the sight that greeted me on my return home from work this morning. One of the best parts about working the night shift is driving home in the early hours and enjoying the morning light and country views.

I suspect it is going to be another sunny hot day similar to how it was yesterday. Pity I have to sleep!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Boy is it windy again today! I took D down to the local beach for an explore and the water was really choppy. Was nice to get out but also good to get back indoors again after the cobwebs had blown away! This photo doesn't really do it justice.

Time for a progress update. G has planted some of our seed potatoes, Rua is the variety we are going for this year. They did well for us last year and are a very tasty versatile spud.

He's made a start replanting the strawberries into newly formed beds (photo to come). Meanwhile we are getting a reasonable picking of strawbs off the other plants around the property (we have them along various banks).

I've bought yet more seeds. I think I'm addicted!

Pepper - Dulce espana. An Heirloom Spanish sweet pepper. Hopefully I can grow it.
Watermelon - Golden Midget. Looked cute, mini watermelons with yellow skinned fruit.
 2 more corn varieties - Xtra Tender Kernel F1, Golden Extra Sweet and some more Florida Supersweet F1. Yes we hope to have lots of corn this summer. If we don't eat it, freeze it whatever, the chooks and pigs will be in for a treat.
Also some herbs, German Chamomile and Thai Basil.

We had a broody hen (the Indian Game hen 'Clucky') so decided to buy some fertile eggs for her to incubate (since we no longer have a rooster). She has always been a great mother in the past and has been sitting full time on these eggs since last Wednesday 13th. The 21 day incubation period takes us up to 3rd November, so hopefully we should see some chicks hatching out around then. These are crossbreed eggs, a mix of Plymouth Barred rock, White Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Light Sussex and Aracauna. They should suit well as table birds.

And lastly, a mention about Cabbage Trees..! If you look about, you'll notice that they are flowering at the moment. They have a beautiful perfume.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tonight's sunset

Speaks for itself really! We had a beautiful Spring day today, after a rather showery night and a bit of cloud in the morning.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More gardening notes

Now that we're really into the Spring season, the veg garden is coming along. We're getting daily pickings of the snow pea 'mange tout' (Carouby pea), and we're pulling the odd reasonable sized carrot (plus snacking on them while we're in the garden working!).

Tonight we had our first broccoli.

It has been some time since we've had broccoli fresh out of the garden and it was a nice treat, especially the Romanesco broccoli which looks so pretty with its amazing fractal pattern! It even retained the light green colour after cooking (sorry no photo!). It was very tasty!

Up in the garden things are happening!

This photo of is the lower part of the garden and G is putting in macrocarpa boxing. We hummed and hawed quite a bit about whether to do this or not, but decided to make this half of the garden into permanent potager beds. I think it's going to look great once the paths are done and we've composted and mulched the beds more - until today the soil was getting pretty dry!

This is the other half of the garden at the higher end of the slope. It has been rotary hoed again and will be made into a large bed for potatoes in the foreground and the rest will be rows of strawberries. There'll be paths running through and also to the gate at the far end. At the end against the wall is a passionfruit (waiting to be tied up to wire). On the right is the globe artichoke plant which is producing well already. The fence on the left has yet to be painted.

I had a look back through the archives for some before and after pics!

The garden when it was new in 2007:
The garden in 2008! (note wind-blown wind cloth!):
The garden in 2009, poles in for the fence:

And 2010:

I'm quite excited about the next photo. This small plant is a hops vine! Probably keep it in a pot for now, until it is bigger and we have decided where it is going to go!

Cymbidium orchid flowers

Daffodils in the new planter

 And lastly......the strawberries are really coming along. Look at the size of this one! and that's G's finger there!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flowers around the farm

Succulent Echeveria Elegans
Gladiolus nanus "Mini Kiss Nymph" (I think! - see comments)
Mange tout pea flower

Mange tout pea pod
We had our first mange tout pods the other night, they were delicious, lightly steamed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy pigs

The pigs are now housed in their new enclosure. They have a lot more space, less mud and a big grass paddock to run around in (and they do!). The green thing in the photos is a cover we thought they might like for a bit of shade, but in hindsight have taken it out, they have their shelter which gives them shade and also the fences are all now double height corrugated iron (wasn't quite finished in these pics) so at various points depending on where the sun is they can get some shade there also.
I think they are very happy. Well done and thanks to G for all his hard work.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin, bacon and blue cheese quiche

We've got loads of eggs at the moment, as the hens are "all systems go" at producing them at the moment. Probably a few too many truth be told!
But I'm not complaining really, as it's always handy to have a few eggs in the fridge. And of course there is no shortage of homemade ice cream!

Anyway, back to the quiche. Last night we had this:

I made the pastry using 220g plain flour, 120g cold butter, 1/2 tsp salt and about 3 Tbsp ice cold water. Whizz dry ingredients in food processor, then add just enough water until a dough comes together. Roll out to fit greased quiche dish, prick with a fork and blind bake for about 10 mins, remove paper and weights, then bake for a further 5 mins until pastry base cooked. Cool.

Slice about 500g of pumpkin into wedges and bake on tray with olive oil drizzled over, 180 deg C for about 20-25 mins until just tender. Remove and cool. Then remove skin and slice into small strips.

I chopped a few slices of bacon (rind removed) and fried these. You could also use ham or another cured meat if you prefer (e.g. proscuitto if you can get it) or of course omit it if you want.

Into the base I put some grated mature cheddar cheese ('Tasty' brand in NZ), added the pumpkin strips, the bacon, then I cut up a small wedge of blue cheese (x6 small slices*) to arrange in a circle around the quiche.

For the egg custard, mix 4 large eggs with 150ml cream (or half and half cream and milk to 150mls), sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour carefully onto the quiche to almost cover the filling.

Bake for about 30mins at 180 deg C, until golden brown and set.

We ate this with a fresh green salad made from lettuce out of the garden and a chopped up avocado, drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil (thanks W&P for the lovely oil!).

*Put more blue cheese in if you desire, although we found that just the small slices were enough to give a bit of a flavour punch without being overpowering.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Homemade goodies for a space-mad boy!

I got my sewing machine out tonight and made this cushion cover for D.

He won't see it until the morning, but I'm sure it will be a nice surprise.

He is crazy about rockets, aliens, flying saucers, planets etc! I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, especially as I haven't done any sewing for years!

And on the topic of aliens, here is a chocolate lollipop alien I made as a special treat for him: