Spicing things up for Christmas

With Christmas approaching and summer in full swing, we’ve been taking things a bit easier on the farm over the last week or so.  Now’s the time for enjoying visits with friends and family, keeping things moving along with the farm but not really embarking on too many new enterprises.

Happily, during our own lull in productivity, we’ve been given quite a lot of excess fruit and vegetables from other people’s gardens to enjoy – tomatoes, cucumbers, passionfruit, chillies, and also an array of preserved goodies – chutneys, relishes and tomato sauce.

The grocery bag full of red chillies we were given presented something of a challenge – what to do with them all?  There’s only so many chillies you can use in one go!  I suppose I could’ve made chilli jam or a sweet chilli sauce but this time of year is frantic with Christmas preparations and visits and I didn’t really want to spend the time standing over another pot.  Hubby suggested laying the chillies on a tray in the sun to dry (we could’ve used our dehydrator but I wasn’t sure how easy the spiciness would be to remove from the racks afterwards).  An old baking tray did the trick and the sun has been taking care of the rest.

On the farm things have been ticking along nicely.  The beans are starting to ease off in production while the zucchini keeps thundering along.  I’ve discovered only planting one zucchini means you need to hand pollinate if you want to get the best quality fruit.  The flowers we don’t hand pollinate tend to develop into zucchinis that are a little small and dry.

We’ve had to install a fence around our potato crop to keep the chickens from digging up all the plants, and so far this seems to be working.  We lost half our best row of potato plants to the chickens’ initial scratching sessions but the rest have survived.  I think we got the crop in the ground too late, but the proof will be in the digging.  Hopefully we’ll be harvesting Dutch Creams, King Edwards and Kipflers soon.

The curlews have nested for the second time this season, taking up residence right beside the potato crop (they always seem to choose the most exposed and inconvenient place to nest!)

The cows are healthy and happy, spending much of the hot part of the day camped out under the trees.  The grass is still reasonably long, giving me hope that it won’t get eaten down too low before the wet season starts.

With less going on, we’ve had a bit more time to explore the wild parts of the farm and its surrounds.  We walked down to the river today for a paddle and managed to spot a platypus (which I’ve never seen in the wild).  Very cool.  As we were paddling, I didn’t have the camera, so no pics from my own stash.

I’ll end with a ‘Merry Christmas’ to you and a few pics from the rainforest section of the farm (quite a change from the rolling grassy hills of the paddocks!)  Have a wonderful week!

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