The howling winds that shrieked around the eaves and sent tree branches flying this week are gone at last. We happily bid them farewell and welcomed lovely gentle rain that cleaned the air and softened the earth and made our little world smell fresh and loamy.
It’s been a big few days on the farm tackling all sorts of projects.
Gardens were my focus this week, getting them back into shape after massive rains followed by ferocious winds. I’ve carted away numerous wheelbarrows mounded high with weeds, so pleased to see empty stretches of earth like blank canvases for my creativity to go to work on.
I dug new garden beds, added rock borders, and tamped down earth into wide pathways for me to navigate with ease. I planted all sorts of good things – more leeks, red cabbages, nasturtiums, peas, beetroot, and cosmos – added layers of compost and mulch to established plants, and wrote lists of plants I want to add in the weeks and months to come.
I harvested lemon balm, tarragon, and wormwood, and they’re dangling in great bunches all over the back veranda, drying thoroughly before I use them in various teas, spice mixes, and helpful remedies for our animals. Tomorrow I’ll add mint, yarrow, mugwort, rose geranium, and other herbs.
When the gardens were in good shape, I moved to the orchards where I’ll be for many days to come.
I cleaned and tidied chicken, duck, geese, and turkey pens, and pulled weeds in big circles around the pomegranate, olive, and fig trees in preparation for composting and mulching. Next up are the apricot, citrus, and quince trees, before I start digging holes to plant the apple, pear, and plum trees that are waiting in my nursery. Then I’ll move on to the Big Orchard and start doing the same thing for the grapes, blood oranges, bush lemons, Tahitian limes, China peaches, and myriad plum varieties that we planted in there. And then, finally, the Apple Orchard, where I’ll start pruning and transplanting and extending the orchard to make room for the cider apples and cider pears also waiting in the nursery.
I started the mammoth project of weeding about half an acre of empty pens to turn into herb gardens that will be protected from our many animals who would be delighted to eat every last leaf and stalk. I’ll have a fruit tree in the middle and surround each one with beds of spearmint, pineapple sage, lemon balm, and other good herbs that I will later turn into herbal teas, tinctures, and remedies. I’m so excited to see them take shape.
I’ve also started prepping the empty pens in the Chook Palace where we’ll be planting all sorts of grasses for the birds to eat when fresh greens are sparse on the ground during winter.
Lots to do, but I sure love doing it. I may be covered with bruises and scrapes, cuts and more mud and dirt than I ever thought possible, but it still feels good. We love walking around the farm throughout the week, pointing out what we’ve done and what we’re planning on doing, taking stock of our small world and doing what we can to make it better.
When I’m not outside working on projects, I take downtime to bake and cook and complete wood-burning orders. This week we’ve focused on comfort food and happy food to fortify us for working outside in the gale.
Hot, buttered Buttermilk Raisin Scones were lovely weekend fare, either by themselves or served with a big mug of soup. To make them, use your favorite basic scone recipe, but substitute buttermilk for the milk, and add 2-3 tsp vanilla and a mounded cup of raisins. Serve hot with softened butter.
Our favourite soup this week, hands down, was oh-so-creamy Curried Carrot Ginger Soup. Such an easy soup to make, it warmed us through and through.
Simply dice an onion and finely chop a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger then fry in a bit of olive oil in a large soup pot until onion is translucent. Add 8 carrots, cut in chunks, 2 potatoes, cut in chunks, 1-2 Tbsp good curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste, then cover with chicken stock and simmer until vegetables can be squished with a fork. Remove from heat, puree with immersion blender, add 1/4 cup cream, stir well, and serve.
Now it’s time to read a bit then head to sleep. Our friend Joe is coming over bright and early tomorrow morning to help us drench our goats, so we need to be well-rested to handle the inevitable goat-wrestling that such an endeavor demands.