Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Preserving production overload.

It has been a very hectic few weeks here at the farm, our list of to do jobs seemed to be ever increasing.
I had intended to update  the blog a  little more often but alas  time has just eluded me.
This will be a catch up  of some of the things that have kept us busy of late.
Firstly our long awaited  new rain water tank arrived,
And as our luck usually runs the driver announced that he couldn't turn the truck around in the allocated space and decided that Brian and his brother  needed to pull down a fence to allow him better access.
Brian did warn him to avoid  an area  that he had ripped as it would be  soft , but unfortunately  he didn't heed the warning and went down.
So out came the trusty little red  tractor and Brian  had to give him a helping hand out.
After  pulling up near the  prepared tank site, Brian  balanced the tank  with the tractor bucket on the downhill side and the driver placed straps over the tank and  gently lowered it off the truck to the ground.
We then pushed the tank onto it's  permanent position,
Brian  has since  connected up all the pipes to the new roof  guttering and it all works  well, we even had some rain a few days ago  that tested it out.
We have had a huge surplus  of garden produce  from our little garden plot, the habaneros have started  to ripen,
and one of the things that we used them   for was to dehydrate them and  blitz into a powder to be used  throughout the year.

The zucchini have also  gone mad,
So we have made 4 huge batches of zucchini mustard pickles (about 120 jars).
The parrots started to invade our quince trees a few weeks ago,  so we picked the small crop and left the fruit inside for a couple of weeks  to hopefully ripen a little more, which it did slightly.
We adore quinces and I just love how they turn that glorious peachy colour when they are stewed or preserved.
I travelled to visit  our older daughter  and the grand kids for a few days while her husband was away for work.We have a new little grandson  who is just 3 months old and is doted upon by his big two sisters.
We had a lovely few days together, attending a few activities with the kids and just hanging out together which was lovely.
One of the things we did  was a truly  lovely thing and I am very proud of my daughter and her friends who do this.
I was invited to accompany them on their annual Easter visit to one of the local nursing homes with the children to hand out Easter eggs and spend a few minutes chatting to the elderly residents.

It was so incredibly beautiful to see the faces of all those sweet elderly residents as the children interacted with them. I think this was  such a lovely thing  to do and teaches the children  that it really is good to give a little and  not to expect anything but a smile or a  thank you in return.
Around that same time  I attended a basic cheese making class that my younger daughter had given to me for my birthday. A few years ago the kids had put together and purchased a cheese making kit for me, but I hadn't got round to taking a class. It was a small group of 8 which was a nice number to be with, they were a lovely group of girls and I hope to keep in touch  with some of them in the future.
It was a fun day and our instructor Lyn  passed on the basics to us in a friendly casual manner. Lyn supplied samples of all the different types of cheese she was preparing for us to try.
We learned to make feta, haloumi, ricotta, mascapone, labne, yoghurt and a few others.
Lyn  served a lovely morning tea/lunch  which was made up of  delicious items to eat all made from the cheeses that we were learning to make.There were cheese cakes, warm ricotta pudding, sweet mascapone,dips,cheeses and crackers  and other yummy treats.
It was a most enjoyable learning experience and once back  home I got in and began making some cheese.
The first thing I made was feta,
I was  very proud of my achievements  and have made a few batches since.  One of the batches I decided to marinate the feta into  sunflower oil with  herbs,garlic, olives, chilli,
Our jalapeno  chilli have also been producing well,
Brian has always loved those sliced jalapeno  rings that you get on Subway  rolls, so I decided to try and replicate them the best I could.
We ended up getting about 3 dozen jars of these and they have  been very popular with Brian.
I also decided to make some more jalapeno jelly,
This green jelly has been such a winner, it seems to be very popular everywhere I take it.
I have made 4 double batches of it now so am finally beginning to build up a supply.
The habaneros  have also now  been over producing,
and I decided to use the green chilli jelly recipe and make a red version.
I just used about a dozen habaneros and made up the balance of the weight with red capsicum( bell peppers),
This is a beautiful jelly, sweet but with a really nice chilli kick, much more than the milder green jelly.
I have made four double batches of the red jelly as well. Our local Anglican church is having a boot sale and market day next month and I hope to have a small stall  selling, pickles, sauces, and the jellies.
I also made  some Vietnamese pickle which is a mix of  julienned carrot and daikon radish flavoured with star anise ,sugar and vinegar, this is beautiful  on a salad plate.
Yesterday I had another cheese making  day, this time I tried halloumi( I thought it may be lovely cut into cubes,and placed on skewers along with  button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and grilled for a nice non meat option for Good Friday lunch)
We are attending a family gathering at Easter and I have been making the extra cheeses for everyone to enjoy, I hope they like them as much as we do. I am thoroughly enjoying  making the yoghurts and cheeses and as time progresses I hope to venture into more types of cheese making.
We finally have had a few showers of rain and Brian got out the mower last week for the first time in ages.  The lawn and paddocks are finally greening up a bit, but more rain is certainly needed or all will be lost as soon as winter hits..
It has been  a jam packed wonderful but thoroughly exhausting few weeks, I have had a lot of fun, enjoyed myself , produced a massive amount of jars for the pantry and for sale and  learned  a lot of new  lessons .
I am looking forward to Easter, it will be nice to  down tools for a while so to speak, and just relax and catch up with family and friends.
I will try and catch up again  before too long, but life really does get in the way, but  that is a good thing as life  is what is most important.
So Hooray  for now until we meet again down the track,
Take care
Jane and Brian.


  1. Wow - what a newsy post. I feel like I have caught up on months of activity!

    1. When i look back I am totally gobsmacked at what we have done over the last 4 weeks, and this is probably only half of it.I also had a trip to visit my mum for a few days and also our regular volunteer jobs.... no wonder I feel like a train wreck at the moment...but I am not complaining or whinging, I have loved every minute and will do it again and again in a hearbeat...we love our life and the busy comes in waves, we also have our down times as well which we thoroughly enjoy and make the most of..

  2. I'm gobsmacked at the size of that zucchini. What a whopper! Meg:)

    1. Meg I replied but it went as a seperate message below.

  3. It was huge Meg, and it had a friend in there too.I was shocked when Brian brought them all in.

  4. As usual you have been busy busy busy! I love seeing all the pictures of your canning. Good luck at your sale!

    1. Thanks Janice,
      We are having a few quiet days now.

  5. Hello Jane and Brian. It put a smile on my dial seeing your green grass and the addition of the tanks. We all suffer when there isn't enough water.
    Love your preserves and cheeses, Jane. I reckon you'll be a popular girl at your market stall.
    What a kind and thoughtful gesture for the kids to give easter eggs to the residents at the nursing home. That needs to happen in many other towns because not only does it delight the elderly, it builds character in the children.
    I hope you both have a wonderful Easter and have the chance to sit back, relax and enjoy. xx

    1. Thanks Rhonda,
      It is lovely to see the green again, It was so lovely to go with the kids to the nursing home,
      I have fun with all the preserves and cheeses so fingers crossed the preserves sell well.
      Take care Rhonda and I hope you and Hanno also enjoy Easter,
      Take care

  6. It's always lovely to read your posts, Jane. I'm amazed how busy you are living your life in the 'quiet' countryside. And how lovely to be so productive. Those chili jellies look wonderful - must try out that recipe one day.