Disappointments, drownings, damage, and darned good recipes!

Oh dear…

Well, I have prooved my point about not being able to grow a thing and having no green thumbs to speak of…. Of our 5 little herb seedlings we planted last weekend: Not one survived.

Partially – in our defense! – this was because 2 days after we planted the little babies, we had a freak hailstorm (hail the size of marbles!) and there was a bit of damage to their delicate little fronds.

The rest has been eaten by… Something.

Damn.

So far, our food growing/homesteading/’feed our whole family from the garden’ dream is looking pretty grim. 0/5. Not only was I feeling particularly glum about this failure, but then found that one of our poor hens had fallen into a horse water trough while we’d been out, and drowned. And another is looking like she’s not long for this world (although I suspect that’s more to do with her age, than bad luck).

It’s hard not to feel disheartened. How do we combat a pest in our veggie patch when we’re not even sure what it is?! Rabbits? Slugs? Birds? Will this be our fate?: Working hard and spending a fortune to feed the wildlife?!

Something that is still feeding us, however is the citrus – THANK GOODNESS FOR THE CITRUS! It has served to keep my faith that we can grow food here! Oh sure, the cockatoos take a share of the oranges, but we can afford to share! There’s plenty to go round!

Katie’s latest favourite activity is to pick a bucket of oranges off the tree, juice them all like crazy, and make orange icypoles! It’s wonderful knowing she’s learning about where food comes from, but also making a preservative/refined sugar free snack, and she can do it all by herself!
And I found a wonderful EASY MICROWAVE LEMON CURD recipe which I have been making use of to use up all those lemons!
Now Im including this without permission from the author – but only because I dont know how to contact her to ask her! But it’s just too good not to include, and full credit goes to Nancy Johnson of Speers Court – Nancy, I hope you dont mind! x
Easy Microwave Lemon Curd 
(Makes about 600mls-ish.)
180ml lemon juice
zest of all the juiced lemons (I only actually used zest of 2 lemons)
4 egg yolks
3 eggs extra
3/4 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
Place all ingredients into a microwave proof bowl and microwave on medium for 6-8 min stopping to whisk every minute. (You know it’s done when it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon)
I strained the zest out of mine before I chilled it, but you certainly dont have to!

SO SO SO YUMMY!

How do you keep pests out of your garden?
What do your kids/grandkids love to cook?

Just heading out to put some wire over that water trough: Chooks cant swim well. Apparently.
RIP little chookie x

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Father’s Day, Farmers Markets, and Baking Fails.

I’ve grabbed a quick 10 min with a cup of coffee to post this! Tara’s napping, and I’ve still gotta wash up and get firewood, and bring in the bins and put the washing out, and empty the compost and go for a run, and… and…
 
…hmm.
 
A farm girl’s work is never done!
 
 
So there’ll be no curling up in my favourite sunny reading spot for me today. Well, yet.
 
But Lenin and the girls love our sunny front door step. So much so, that they are reluctant to move, and I often have to swipe them aside/kick them outta the way/trip over them coming out the front door! Originally, he was named ‘Lenin’ after ‘The Good Life’ tv series’ rooster. But that rooster was named after a tyrannical dictator. And there’s just nothing tyrannical about our Lenin. He is the most laid-back, peaceful, lovely bird I’ve ever met! So, I think maybe ‘Lennon’ is a more appropriate name for him, no? And he does like beetles… 😉
 
 
Hay.
 
It’s been all about hay, here. We agist several horses – including Will my older ex-galloper gentleman – but in bushy, scrubby paddocks. So feed has to be brought in most of the time for our four-legged clients. Unfortunately it does this to my arms unless I cover them up while lugging it round.
 
 
 
And I sneeze, and I itch and I wheeze…. Luckily Katie doesn’t because I quite often find her like this in our hayshed.
 



 

The weekend hay delivery, aka Kate’s Stage Coach.
 


AND I made my first Hill Shadow Lemon Meringue Pie on Sunday, for father’s day afternoon tea (We love you Ben/Daddy!)

The curd was TO DIE FOR! (that’ll be those Hill Shadow Farm lemons and fresh Hill Shadow free range eggs! 😉 Of course!)

 
But unfortunately even though it came together beautifully and tasted heavenly, something funny happened to the egg whites and I ended up with quite a bit of liquid white after I baked it and put it in the fridge. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put it in the fridge?!
 
And finally here’s a pic of Tara at the Lilydale Farmers Market – she loved those ducklings! We came home with some yummy local pink lady apples, and some seedlings: Spearmint, Chamomile, Parsley, Coriander and Basil. We’ve planted those into a space in our new garden beds – next are the veggies! Katie bought a lemon soap and an orange ice block with her pocket money. Who knows? Next time we may be there as stallholders?
 
How did you enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend?
Ever had a baking disaster?
What do you love at your farmers market?
 
Ooh?! Is that the baby…?
Go and get outside!
xx


A day of firsts!

The keys are ours! Yaaaaayyyy!

While removalist trucks and commotion were at Hill Shadow House moving the former residents today, Katie and I took our gumboots and bucket and headed off up the paddock to the citrus grove to pick our first Hill Shadow produce! 
The trees are laiden with fruit. There’s smooth Meyer lemons, and bumpy strange common lemons. We’ve been told there’s limes and grapefruit, though I didn’t see any. Katie and I picked and picked and soon the sweet tangy smell of lemon was in the air. 

Lemon tree hideout! Perfect cubby! 
Good boots are essential Hill Shadow Farm wear! 
There is mud EVERYWHERE at the moment, as the animals have churned up the well-worn tracks and the cold rain has turned it to slop. 
Ah well – it’s only good clean farm dirt!

Now, I’m off to make lemon curd with my first Hill Shadow harvest! 
What’s growing at your place? 

When life gives you lemons. And grapefruit. And oranges.

On Thursday I will have the keys to Hill Shadow House in my hand for the first time! Although the current tennants will not be officially out & our lease will not start til August 11, there’s so many little projects I’m keen to get started on, like measuring up for curtains, cleaning out the chook pen, measuring for our back fence, planning a stile over to the orchard, putting up the kids’ swings, organising the out buildings….

!!! *deep breath* 
So much to do! 
One project I’m a bit excited about is the veritable GLUT of citrus fruit we’ll be inheriting! There are at least 4 fruit-laden citrus trees (orange, lemon, grapefruit) on the farm that the current residents have said they don’t intend to collect the fruit off before they go, so my heads full of yummy winter citrus recipes I can make!

How about lemon curd? Lemon tarts? Lemon meringue pies? Orange Poppy-seed cake? Lemon chicken? Marmalade? 
Have you got any favourite citrus recipes? 
I mean seriously, if you do – please share!: I’m looking at having about a trailer load (not an exaggeration!) on my hands in about 4 days! 
Xx