Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Yesterday we put 27 eggs into the incubator in the hope of breeding more hens. We're again down to only three after losing two last month, and if we lose any more it will be difficult to collect enough eggs to set in the incubator. Or to eat. And our girls are not the broody type (Barnevelders tend not to be), so the artificial method it is. A dozen of the eggs now being warmed to 37.5 degrees were kindly donated by Pauline and John, who took one of last year's roosters, most awesomely named Doodle. We had planned to swap some eggs to mix up the gene pool a bit. So now we have to turn the eggs twice a day for 18 days, then wait anxiously for three more days to see if/how many chicks will hatch. Fingers crossed, or 'pressing thumbs' as the Germans say.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oktoberfest 2013

A week after the actual Oktoberfest in Munich ended, David and I hosted our own annual festival of German beer and food. A few days out, the weather forecast was looking pretty dire. Rain, wind, snow down to 300 metres. We briefly entertained the idea of moving the event from the garage a.k.a beer hall into the house, but quickly realised there was no way we could get 50 people in there. So, in true Tasmanian fashion we pushed on with the original plan regardless.

On Saturday we cleared out the garage and picked up supplies, including the best German sausages and mustard from Silver Hill Bratwurst (made near Cygnet, sold at Salamanca Market) and 50 'Brezeln' from the Brezel Bäckerei in Sandy Bay. I made two enormous Apricot Streusel Cakes using quark (low fat curd cheese) from Elgaar Farm right here in Tasmania. We put up suitably cheesy decorations and got out some of our vast collection of German beer glasses.

On Sunday morning we moved the cars out, tables in, during the sunny breaks between waves of rain. Bought bread rolls and packed ice around the Paulaner, Schöfferhofer, Löwenbräu, Bitburger and even alcohol free Clausthaler beer. I made my favourite cucumber salad and a tomato salad. Friends brought additional German fare including proper potato salad (not that stuff with sour cream we seem to get here), apple strudel and even Rote Grütze, a summer pudding made of red berries and served with custard. David fired up the BBQ and put the sausages on... then the snow came down, to the oohs and aahs of our guests. It was freezing but no-one seemed to mind. We had beanies and jackets and stubby holders (in Sydney they were used to keep your beer cold, here we use them to keep our hands warm) and plenty of good food and cheer to keep us warm. Oh and a beautiful fire barrel with gum trees and stars cut out of the metal, kindly lent to us for the day, proved popular with those happy to brave the late afternoon snow drifts. The photos below show what happened after the fest... a lovely mid-spring day!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pretty St Helens

Last Sunday I drove to St Helens on Tasmania's east coast to go to the Landcare Tasmania conference at the suggestion of a fellow Tasmanian Leaders Program participant. What a great bunch of people doing great things... inspirational, but more on that another time.

The coastal landscape and vegetation around St Helens is very different from the part of Tasmania I know. The beaches, sand dunes, heath and dry forests are home to a huge variety of bird life. Tiny native orchids were starting to appear among the many tiny wildflowers. On a field trip to St Helens Point conservation area we saw southern right whales thrashing around offshore. I enjoyed the drive there too, through the sheep-dotted fields of the Fingal Valley and down the narrow, winding St Marys Pass. I still haven't made it up to the famous Bay of Fires and Binalong Bay - hopefully next time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Huon Expo

Saturday's Huon Expo was a triumph by any measure. More than 100 Huon Valley businesses participated and well over 2,000 people came through the doors of the Huonville PCYC on the day. $2,500 was raised for the PCYC's Youth at Risk program. Many people commented on the enthusiasm of the local business owners, the sheer variety of what is on offer in the valley and the hard work of the organisers in making it happen. I didn't get to see all of the exhibitors or make it over to the shiny new Trade Training Centre for the food demonstrations by Michelle Crawford, Jacinta from PanTree Produce and more, but from all accounts it was terrific. Did you go? I would love to hear what you thought.

I spent the day talking with visitors on the I Hate My PC stand, located between the Makers on Church St stand (which won best exhibit) and the delicious cakes from Crumbeleena. Opposite us was Franks Cider (very popular) and two local dairy producers, the Mount Cygnet Dairy crew (producers of 2Cow Milk) and Mountain River Yogurt. I made a few purchases myself on the day... some wine from Kilbowie Wines and Elsewhere Vineyard, hand made cards, some cider and a cute shopping bag from ethical dog treat makers Nose-2-Tail. And my husband got a spray tan from the lovely ladies at Star Anise Beauty Therapy. I'll spare you the photos.