Sunday, April 1, 2012

This weekend we...

Received a ute-load of pallets and timbers and fence-palings and windows and doors.
These had been left at our old house in Sydney, and were lovingly delivered by Pearl's parents, who came down for a visit. These will need to be stripped, and frames will need to be constructed, all in the next 2 weeks before our workshop. Oh lordy...

Continued with the apparently never-ending job of preserving side-of-the-road apples.
Even after apple chutney and apple pies and stewed apples and sending several kilos to the lovelies at Cornersmith, we still have a mountain of apples on our kitchen bench. Yesterday while Pearl was at work I set to making some apple jelly using a recipe given to us by our lovely new friends Sara and Cam, who I was lucky enough to meet after getting involved with Bega Valley Swapsies. Sara and Cam have been tending their little acres at Upper Brogo, hand-building their own home, making food forests and ridiculously glorious swimming-dams for the last 10 years. Theirs is, quite frankly, the most inspiring property we've seen in the area, and a delicious glimpse of what could be possible for our little block if we work hard and concentrate the way these guys do. And in an area of inspiring and beautiful properties, that surely is saying something! These guys have also been hard at work preserving apples in the last weeks, and were happy to share with us their amazing jelly recipe.

It was, shall we say, a very involved process, which first involved boiling the crap out of the apples to remove their juice, straining and pressing through muslin, measuring and mixing with sugar and lemon juice, boiling again, skimming off the frothy scum on the top (which was, by all accounts, delicious, but this jelly is going in the Bega Show next year, so needs to be pure), pouring into sterilised jars then processing in a boiling water bath. Yep: The oven was on for a really long time today, and the whole shebang led me to conclude that apple jelly is not the most energy-efficient method of preserving yer apples, and definitely a bit of a treat. Not to mention freaking delicious.
Next stop, apple cider.

Cleared some of the rubble, loose stones/clay/leftover concrete and lumpy dirt out from inside the footings.
This is in preparation for the workshop, in 2 weeks time (oh lordy...), to create a reasonably level work area within the cottage, and to make sure no-one trips over anything while trotting around carrying a 30kg strawbale. It is also in preparation for our earth floor, which we will be laying after the workshop. We figure it's about a billion times easier to shovel all that crap out while there are no walls, rather than trying to do it with only the door and a couple of windows for openings.

Seeded the batter above our house-site with lucerne seed in anticipation of the rain that came rumbling over the hills this afternoon.
There is a lot more of the site that needs seeding, but most of that area is going to be used for storing strawbales before and during our workshop, so we're seeding it after the studio is built in 2 weeks time. Oh lordy... There are several reasons we're taking this seeding business quite seriously. One is to try to make sure the newly-exposed earth is stabilised against erosion, so that it doesn't all end up washed down to the bottom of the gully the first time we get a big downpour. We also want to try to get some useful plants growing, in lieu of the weeds that had previously populated the hillside. We're basically sowing leguminous nitrogen-fixers and green manures to try to prep the soil for the food plants we will eventually be planting (once the strawbales have all been moved and made into walls (!) we'll be sowing the entire space with billions of broad beans, more lucerne, cow peas, mustard, parsnips and peas). We also want to rebuild as much topsoil as we can. The thing about excavating a level spot on the side of a kind-of-steep hill is that, even if the excavator removes and stockpiles most of the topsoil before he starts really moving stuff around, you're still going to end up with way less than what you need to re-cover the area you've exposed. This isn't great when you have expansive veggie gardens/food forests/orchards in mind, so soil-building via the use of green manures and other beneficial crops, is top of the list of "what to do first thing after you have major earthworks done" (doesn't everyone have one of those lists??).

And yes, even with all this going on, we still feel that it's worthwhile to co-ordinate Oscar's socks with the rest of his working outfit.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go, love watching your progress. The apple jelly sounds great.