Monday, 17 November 2014

A big birthday,preserving, and bee hives and more !!!.

Back in October, my wonderful Mum turned 90 years of age. Most of the family got together  in Dubbo to celebrate the occasion.
We  had a lovely lunch ,a few speeches and the kiddies enjoyed a fun lolly buffet table.
Mum at 90 is doing so well and I am so very proud of her attitude and independence, she has in the past and  still today  sets  a fantastic example for us to follow.
It was lovely to see so many of our family  all get together  and we had a wonderful catch up.
Returning home after the party, we were talking to some neighbours  who told us they had a loquat tree that we were welcome to come and pick fruit from,  so we did  go and got to pick  two buckets and an esky full.
I had never preserved loquats before  and did some research and found that they are mainly used for jam,we are not big jam eaters, so I decided to just halve  and de-seed them( I had to soak  them  in water and lemon juice to stop them browning.)
I then stewed the loquat halves in a light syrup,

I then  filled my jars and water bathed them in my Fowlers Vacola electric water bath preserver.

They  turned out really well,  we ended up with 28 pint jars, and hope that we get the opportunity to pick them again next year( They were a lot of work, but well worth it.) We are also going to plant a few trees of them as well)
Hubby decided to attach the sheets of  bees wax to the frames while we were at the farm last time also, he first tried using battery alligator clips attached to his jump start pack to melt the wires into the wax, but there just wasn't enough power in it to work.
Next he used his small  soldering torch  to melt along the wires to attach them, this worked much better so he continued to use this method to complete all the frames.

The hive is now complete and all we have to do now is obtain a bee colony to move into it's new home, I can hardly wait.
Back home on the coast we decided to dismantle a  metal structure we had with shade cloth  over it that  originally protected the fish pond and more delicate potted plants that we had.

Hubby  will re-assemble it over a new vegetable garden when we  get it established up at the farm.
We also removed  another metal structure  that we used to grow our choko vine over.
We  loaded all of this metal onto our trailer along with a lot of boxes and crates that I have packed  and took it all to the farm ahead of our move which hopefully will be in the next few months.
I decided to empty one of the  spare rooms, and stack all the boxes and crates in there until  we finally move all the furniture in and have some of the renovations  completed.
The time for our move is drawing closer, and we have had a really busy time sorting out a lot of  things and life has been a little crazy. I will try to keep up with the posts, and they may seem a little random at time, but that's how our crazy  life is at the moment,we seem to spend half our life on the roads between the coast, the farm and our children's homes.
So until we meet again,
Take care everyone,

Monday, 10 November 2014

An Abundance Of Lamb

At the moment we have a plentiful supply of lamb. We seem to have a few too many of them running around and as the conditions are fairly dry at the moment we made the decision  recently to  butcher two of the whethers to replenish our freezer supply.
A couple of days before we were due to  butcher a young ewe caught her leg somewhere and unfortunately smashed her leg badly and we had to butcher  her as well.
We did all three sheep early one morning to beat  the heat and flies, and then hung them in the cool  room for about 4 days to  tenderize and add flavour.
We  processed all three sheep, mainly cutting into chops(as that's what we seem to use  the most of). a few roasts and cuts for  casseroles and soups, as well as meals of offal(hearts,livers and kidneys)
we also  often cut chops off the legs as we just adore those lovely big round chops( a bit of Tuscan lamb seasoning and I am in heaven.)
The next day, we decided to bone out two of the larger legs of lamb as  I needed to top up my supply of meat sauce in the pantry.(sometimes, we  can soup, sometimes meat sauce or meatballs and other times we make sausages)

We then ground the meat on the coarse blade of our meat grinder.
The  ground meat was then browned, along with garlic, onions and capsicum and all placed into a big pot  .
I added about 5 quarts of  pre-canned tomatoes, , dried rosemary, salt and papper, tomato paste, red wine and cooked this  for about  an hour until it thickened, deepened in colour and developed  that rich tomato flavour.
This amount roughly fills about 19 pint jars.
I then wipe the rims of these jars with a paper towel dipped in vinegar, place my warmed slightly flats on and seal finger tight  with the rings.
These are then placed in two layers into my pressure canner with a rack between the layers.
I then  greased both edges(lid and canner) with vaseline, locked the lid down and  processed the jars for  75 minutes at 15 Lbs pressure(for my altitude).
After processing and  depressurizing back to  zero, I removed the lid,removed the jars and allowed to cool  overnight on a towel on the table out of draughts.
The next day, I removed the rings, checked the seals, washed the jars , labelled the lids and stored away in the pantry. I also washed  and dried the rings and stored them away in their storage box with all the thousands of other rings.
A few days later  we went to my Mum's 90 th birthday celebrations,  so I decided to make a couple of quick lasagna's using my canned meat sauce to have for lunch the day after the party to help feed the overflow of quests that were staying at My Brother's house..
It is just so handy to be able to grab a few of these  for a dish like this or a quick heat and pour over cooked pasta.
I have made  lasagna a couple of times now with the canned meat sauce and it works really well. I will use this  often as lasagna is always a quick and easy  meal for a crowd.
We also make this using turkey  instead of the lamb and it works equally as well.
The freezer is now lovely and full, but it does empty surprisingly fast  as we pass  some on to family  and friends.
It good to know that at least we have a really good meat supply that  we can depend on.
So until we meet again,
take care,

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Bit's of this and that.

We never seem to catch up at the farm, as  the first few days we are there we just seem to play catch up on all the chores that we get behind in when we aren't there like lawns and gardens  and refilling all our small 1000 litre tanks up again that we drip feed the trees and shrubs from. It all takes time, and sometimes we feel that we just are not getting ahead at all, even though we know we are.
it's that old problem also too, when you have the time you have no money and when  you finally have money you are too busy working to find the time. !!!
This time we took up the new citrus Trees we bought and got them planted them out straight away  and by the time we headed home they were full of beautiful  sweet scented blossoms.

The next jobs  that we  tackled was to lift one of those 1000 litre water tanks up onto posts a couple of feet high to make it less likely to be a snake hiding place, as we can now mow and whipper snip underneath and keep the area cleaner.
we also spent some time walking around  deciding where we thought would be the best location for our new bee box and we finally decided on an area under the trees, with some protection from the southerly winds by the  rock face behind, not far from the chicken yard where there will be permanent water in in close vicinity of flowering trees and gardens, hopefully  we have chosen wisely, time will tell.
One morning while sitting on our usual perches on the front verandah having our early morning coffees we were watching the pine trees down in the front paddock "puffing" in the gentle breeze to release all the pollen or spores to the wind, it is really an amazing thing to watch.
The next major job that Hubby got onto was installing our  new larger power inverter up into our system up in the power room, This new larger inverter now has taken over running the  house and the smaller existing inverter will now be used to run our cool room on a separate smaller grid, independent from the will usually be shutdown when we are away and will be  there as a backup in case of lightening strikes or such.
We also took a little road trip to Parkes while we were up at the farm to visit our daughter and her family, we took a drive out to visit the Parkes Radio Telescope, which was highlighted in the movie "The Dish", the radio telescope was an integral part of the transmission of live  images along with others  from the  Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
We had a lovely visit and spent some special  time with our beautiful little 17 month old granddaughter, she and her Poppy had a wonderful time playing together.
We  decided to bring our daughter's Kelpie dog back to the farm with us for a short holiday, he and our old blue girl get along real well, even to the point of sharing a bed together in the car on the way home(even though there are two beds on the seat.
He had a lovely time with us, helping the man of the house with some sheep work(even though he is a town dog, instinct kicks in and he has a rough idea of what is expected of him), and after all that hard work all dogs need to have a cool off in the stock  trough, many, many times a day !!!!
Our sheep have been doing well this year, we have  had a few lambs(we only selected a small number of ewes this season to breed) and we got them in to tag and tail the other day, we had 7 lambs this year( One  didn't make it as the mother rejected it) and all 7 were females. there is an old tale that if you have majority  ewes born the following season will be a bad one), time will tell. !!
On the morning we were leaving the farm we had  half a dozen early morning visitors, they have just realized that the apricot tree has perfect little green apricots on it,just how they like it.
We are really torn between the beauty of the king parrots and the decimation of the apricots each year, that is why we have planted a new apricot tree in the new orchard which we intend to net as soon as possible. This tree is in a position that netting just isn't  an option.
Some of the other fruit trees  were  starting to  bloom, so wonderful to see as we only planted them this season.The quince,apricot,plumcot,nectarine and apples are all in bloom.
Hopefully if we get rain and with the added dip watering we do we may start to produce our own lovely stone fruit  for eating and canning, I can hardly wait.
Before we know it we will be loading up the car and trailer again and heading west for another  stay at the farm to get a few more things sorted.
We may actually be living there  within a few months, I just can't believe that the time is finally approaching, SO EXCITED !!!!
So until we catch up again,
Take care everyone,
Jane. :-)  :-)  :-)