Mixed fortunes on the farm

Yes, mixed fortunes here on the farm today. The little green beetles are multiplying fast, eating everything that takes their fancy. Today it was the rhubarb’s turn, and just when it was recovering from the ravages of possums. There will be no green leaves left for the little green frogs to shelter under if this keeps up.

IMG_1274Still and all, there was a decent crop of jostaberries, that are now made into cordial syrup. I made jelly the other day – the flavour is so intense that only a very little is needed on toast or scones. It’s good served with turkey or ham though, instead of cranberry sauce. The cordial syrup is milder, so I’m quite pleased with that.

The raspberries, despite the green beetles’ merciless assaults, soldier on and have provided enough fruit for a large batch of jam.

IMG_1290IMG_1278The blackcurrants have just started to come under their attack as well, but not before a large jam pan full was boiled up for jelly. Well, actually I lost concentration and it boiled over rather enthusiastically. That stovetop wasn’t fun to clean. (Robert to the rescue there).

IMG_1283The green walnuts that have been soaking in brine for a week are now rinsed and set out on trays, ready to catch the morning sun. This will blacken them, after which they can go on to the final stage of pickling in vinegar.

IMG_1280IMG_1282I’ll be making one batch of the sweet variety. They have to be soaked and rinsed each day in plain water, before cooking and preserving in a sweet, spiced vinegar.

I did make the small mistake of scooping out the last few walnuts from the blackened brine with my hand. I now have fingernails stained black and skin up to my elbows stained grey. Not a pretty sight, no photo of that to be sure.

Robert bottled off the blackberry beer and started a dark lager, ready for the hot weather and for family and friends to enjoy with us.

With all this activity going on, Tom the ex-feral decided to make mischief of his own. In the house is the much-prized day bed of Poppy the Puppy. Although Tom has the run of the house, special cat beds and is allowed to sleep wherever he should choose, Poppy’s bed was the choice du jour. Poppy was most upset and suggested he might move, but received the hook claw in her nose.

IMG_1273Poppy’s next trick was to bring over the ping-pong ball, to try to tempt Tom out for a game. Hook claw again, so there he remained for as long as he pleased. (It looks to me like he is smiling!)

There’s not much doubt about who is head honcho of the menagerie here. Even Ramekin the ram has felt the pain of that claw in his nose when he stomped at Tom one morning at chook feeding time. Ramekin wisely gives him a wide berth now.

Huge day of gardening tomorrow. Is it worth planting anything out, or will the green beetles merely eat the seedlings I wonder? Another day in (the not-so-productive-at the-moment) paradise.

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