Its hard to believe that I am writing this post on a gloomy, foggy, rainy day, considering that in 2 days time is the one year anniversary of the worst bush fires we have seen in our area, and entire country. I think the figure is around about 200 people killed, but I think the exact figure will never be known, as the fires were so bad... I know I am not alone in my apprehension about summer, and what we might face, sales of 'fire gear' was through the roof, and many shops in early spring (when we had a mini-heat wave) had sold out of protective gear like smoke masks and goggles and fire pumps.... Summer is not over yet, but at least we can relax a bit, as we can be sure that we wont have the same conditions we had this time last year - we have had rain!! And over 20mm (not quite an inch) of it over night!!
The rain is also welcome for the garden, which has survived well, considering I can only handwater with a watering can (with a large garden and 2 kids there are only so many trips I can make). We have been enjoying beans, carrots, zuchinni and potatoes from the garden, as well as our own eggs (the hens are laying like mad) and milk. So entire meals from our land are possible! The tomatoes have only just started to set fruit, and this is a problem shared by many gardeners this year. Many have noticed a lack of bees, which is probably part of it, and most likely our 'odd' weather this past spring/summer. I wonder if its just an odd season, or is this part of a change in climate that seems to be happening. I guess we will have to wait and see.
We have a blackberry glut! I have made a few batches of blackberry and apple jam, which is beautiful, as well as apple and blackberry pies and other deserts. But at the moment I have a batch of blackberry wine on the go! This is my very first attempt at wine making (we have done beer making from the purchased kits).
It is definately fermeting, as its bubbling along fairly rapidly, and we have snuck a taste and it tastes nice. The recipe is quite simple and only required the purchase of sugar (I buy organic sugar by the 25kg bag), lemons and a small sachet of wine yeast. There are many recipes in books or online, so I wont go into the process as such, but you basically just mash the fruit, cover with water and leave it over night, then add sugar, yeast and lemon juice and put into demijohns. I believe it will ferment for a month or possibly more, and once its finished you rack (siphon) it off into bottles and cork it. Then the hard part - to leave it sit for a whole year!!! We will only know if its nice when we would need to start the next lot!
The next harvest for the area will be apples. We have one old apple tree here, which is loaded with fruit, plus a few young ones that we have planted and are yet to fruit. But we are lucky that along most of the roads up here are many wild apple trees, either grown from discarded apple cores, or spread by birds. Either way, they are a great resource, and in the next month or so we will make a few apple collecting expeditions! Can't wait. I think we will look at bottling some apple pulp for pies etc, and dry apple rings. Our horses and goats love apples, so will have a go at some more long term storage too. As they say 'a dollar saved is a dollar earned', which is pretty much our way of life here, we would rather spend our days picking apples or blackberries, than going to work to buy them!!! They don't call it the 'good life' for nothing!