This week, we received our first real hint that winter was approaching – the result of a final flick-of-the-tail of that hell-raiser Cyclone Pam. For us it meant a week of predominantly inside jobs; our hearts go out to the people of Vanuatu who stood directly in her path.
Along with rain, wind and the need to keep an extra blanket handy, we also experienced first hand some rather spectacular wave action. As part of our saving regime, we dangle a great many carrots and one of these was reached and munched on with relish on Tuesday evening: coffee and dessert night at Salt on the Pier. Afterwards, a quick dessert-laden waddle up the pier had us oohing and aahing at the majesty of our portion of agitated Pacific. Awe inspiring and invigorating, and just a little scary.
So, for the first time this year, the woodburner was used in earnest and, because we’re not folks to waste an opportunity, you can rest assured we double parked a great many bubbling cauldrons on it’s cast iron top. Apart from the usual stock (this lot made from the Christmas ham bone and trimmings), we’ve also created a bit of freezer space by turning the strawberry harvest into barter fodder. Homestead strawberry cultivation is a bit of a head-scratcher for those who know that 50 percent of the Homestead population is allergic to them, but as they love our soil we go with the flow. A jar of Homestead strawberry jam can fetch up to a bagful of lemons on a good day – who can argue with that?!
Also jostling for hotplate space was the first experiment of the preserving season – Quince Paste or Dulce de Membrillo. As luck would have it, whilst daubing a few “watch out, Farm Girl” markings around the Kingdom of Nova last Saturday in an effort to minimise the crashes, smashes and stubbings of toes (with the blessing of all concerned, of course – we’re not a lawless bunch), the school’s overladen quince tree called out to us.
The four resulting quince were combined with sugar and lemon peel and subjected to a rigorous boiling down and then dried in silicon muffin tins in a cool oven in the hope of turning it into a wonderful fruit puree to grace the Homestead cheeseboard. Alas, it went the way of a great many Homestead experiments and refused to look gorgeous; why we continue to strive towards aesthetics is anyone’s guess. Rammed into sterilised jam jars, however, it has now set solid and tastes sublime so our cheeseboard will have to make do with pried out membrillo dollops instead.
Of course, we couldn’t hide inside all week and the morning feed out/goat milking/chicken and duck tending round was made just that little more challenging by the Coronation Sussex rooster. He who is not crowing (unlike his other two cohorts), finally signed his death warrant this week after discovering how easy it was to corner humans wearing raincoat hoods. Then, once cornered, who could resist a little farmyard bullying in the form of flapping, flying and pecking: not he. After a week of long drawn-out chore times in rain as one of us has to be on sentry duty, broom at the ready, we are more than ready to overlook his beautiful plumage and consign this bloke to the freezer.
Next week’s forecast is a a typical autumn ragbag. Hopefully some of that sun will ripen the pears and Granny Smith apples so we can utilise the promised rainy days turning them into upcoming fruit crumbles, pies and spongy puds – the perfect compliment to a roast chicken dinner.