Sunday, January 25, 2015

Summer Storms

We had a lovely storm last night. It rolled in just as the sun was setting, giving a magnificent lightening display. I stood on the verandah and watched it coming in. The thunder and lightening were almost constant throughout it. I just love watching storms; storms that aren't dangerous that is. I relish every moment of them. We've been losing power a far bit lately to thunder storms, but we didn't last night. I had the candles lit just in case.

I didn't think we had gotten much rain out of it though, until I rose this morning and saw the small dam full, and the rain gauge informed me that we had in fact received 33mls.
We had a little rain a week ago too, so I am hoping the wet season has finally started at last. Wouldn't that be lovely?

How's your Sunday rolling where you are?
Hot, cold, wet, or dry I do hope you are having a nice one!

Sarah x


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Swarm of Bees

Whilst busy watering and feeding the animals and doing the other odd jobs that need doing in the morning, I noticed a large swarm of bugs in front of the old shed. I couldn't see what they were from a distance, so hurried down to the house to fetch my macro lens.
When I looked through I could tell they weren't honey bees, so there was no danger of being stung, so I went closer and found that it was a large swarm of native bees.
Ten varieties of our native bees are stingless, and I know these are one of those, so I was quite relaxed standing among them taking pictures. Then I spied where they were clearly busy building their new home, a hole in an old timber post. They weren't bothered by me at all, and despite the fact that they are harmless I still felt very privileged to get so close to their home.
They were such busy busy little creatures, and so speedy! There were hundreds of them flying in and out of their new home, which was decorated on the outside with some dropped pollen. I was so glad that I happened to be grazing the sheep in an old yard nearby that morning, as I'm not usually in that area at that time of day. If I hadn't been I wouldn't have been able to enjoy watching these fascinating little bees go about their work.

I hope they find plenty of flowers and pollen to eat and stay in their new home, I'm quite excited at the prospect of having such a large hive of native bees living so close to our veggie patch, and they're a good distance from our little fruit trees too.

I wonder what you think of bees, stingless or otherwise? Have you seen any interesting busy bugs lately?
Hope your world is good right now xx

PS I have finished my Pompom Hat! I am very, very happy with it and can't wait to share it here with you. It doesn't photograph well flat, so I'm waiting for a cool rainy day to get a picture of it, it's simply been too warm lately to wear a beanie even for ten minutes to take a photograph :-)


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Summer Gardening + Harvest

Tomatoes still ripening on the bush, a basket of freshly picked produce, and a wheel of cheddar sliced into quarters ready for the cheese fridge. Simple things to feel so proud of, but feel proud of them I do. I think perhaps the term 'living the simple life' isn't so much referring to your way of life sometimes, but that living like this teaches you to appreciate such simple things.


My pledge to continue to grow food through summer is proving to be a hard one to stick to. All but one tomato bush has withered, although to be fair I think that is because of a soil problem in that garden, not the weather. As a result, the tomatoes that had set and were getting ready to ripen have that look about them - that look that I know means that they'll rot before they ripen if I leave them on the bush. So I picked all the fruit from the dead bushes, hoping to have enough to make a small batch of Green Tomato Chutney. I was quite pleased when I weighed them later that night to find I had a large bowl weighing two kilos. I did want fresh tomatoes, rather than more chutney, but chutney is delicious and it's better to have something than to loose the crop entirely. Anyway, I enjoy preserving days and don't get to do it nearly often enough, so I'm looking forward to chopping and stirring and bottling tomorrow.
I'm hoping the other bush stays alive, at least long enough for the tomatoes on it to ripen.

Also in my basket from the veggie patch the other evening was three small zucchinis, two with their flowers still attached. These are an heirloom variety, 'cocozelle'; I'm very impressed with their performance as our other variety of zucchini died off when the heat arrived back in Novemeber. I'll definitely be putting in lots of these Cocozelles throughout the year.

Lettuces are still going strong, I've got to put in some more this coming week. The only trick is keeping the water up to them  and picking them before they rocket to seed.

My lone cucumber bush is producing well, I've been picking a cucumber from it every couple of days. It's fruit is very tasty and lovely and crunchy! I mean to plant some more of these soon too. 
Other odds and ends from the garden include a handful of capsicums, our last for some time I suspect, and also some chillies. The chilli bush is covered in flowers, I see chilli sauce in the future! 

Perhaps the item I found the most exciting when foraging in the veggie patch the other evening was a little egg. Our Silkies have started laying again, well at least one hen has, hopefully the rest follow suit.

We're certainly not feeding ourselves from our veggie patch at the moment, but the garden is still producing which is what I set out to achieve. I know full well summer is not our most productive time of year in this part of the country, but I'm really pleased with what we are still managing to grow, and felt so grateful when I managed to fill the basket. And besides, we're keeping ourselves in milk, beef and chicken, with the odd egg thrown in there too.

And there's our two hard cheeses maturing away in the cheese fridge. We tasted the cheddar before frigding it, and oh my! It had the most beautiful, delicate flavour. I think in a months time it'll be just right, as I don't like sharp cheese. The taste has made me forget the intensive cheddar making process, I think I'm quite willing to make another.


Whilst so much of the veggie patch is not able to grow at this time of year, I am still feeding and looking after it. Nurturing the soil. I'm embracing the heat as it makes wonderful composting weather, and I've been busy working my way through the garden, giving the soil a sprinkling of lime and sawdust, a drink of seaweed and covering it with thick layers of mulch and compost. These are the gardens that have had the chickens living in them, so the soil has already had a good working over and plenty of chicken manure. With the heat and some water, and a few green manure crops, the soil should be beautiful in no time.


What are you growing or making in your part?
I hope you're having a good weekend!

Sarah x

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