Thursday, June 30, 2016

Something you'll find in every Huon Valley kitchen

Here's something you'll find in pretty much every Huon Valley household, but I don't recall ever seeing in Sydney: the apple peeler, corer and slicer, also known as the apple slinky machine, as that's what the apple looks like after processing with this contraption. Ah, the slinky. I loved sending mine down the stairs as a kid.

Last weekend I bought a couple of kilos of different types of apples from the ladies on the Stoney Banks Orchard stall at the Franklin Market. Sturmer, Pink Lady, Gala, Mutsu and more, $2.50 a kilo. They are so juicy that I ended up covered in apple spray while turning the handle on the peeling machine! Crunchy and delicious. If you are in Hobart, keep an eye out for them at Salamanca Market each Saturday.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The big wet

After the big dry came the big wet. With devastating effect. I don't need to tell anyone in Tasmania how wet it has been over the past week. The floods in the north and north west of the state this week have resulted in loss of life and livestock and an awful lot of damage to property. It's when we are grateful to live at 450 metres above sea level.

On Sunday I drove for four hours to get home from a conference at Four Mile Creek on the east coast, which was being lashed by rain, wind and huge waves at the time. The fields on both sides of the road were flooded with brown, churning water and the creeks and rivers had broken their banks. There was water and debris on the road in places, but not bad enough to close the highway. It was quite a drive, but we all got back without incident. As much as I wanted to, it wasn't easy to stop and take photos so I am including here a few taken by a friend* from another car.

* Photo credit: Joanna Siejka

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rooster-free zone

All is quiet in the hen house. Sebastian Vettel is gone.

Last week, I had two tiny flocks of Barnevelder poultry. Our rooster Sebastian and his two remaining ladies lived in the main chook shed. Out in the chook tractor in the orchard lived a young cockerel who had just started crowing, with his two nervous young ladies. I was hoping to supplement the young ones with a couple of orders of new pullets over summer and then integrate both flocks, giving Sebastian a good sized harem, but both orders fell through. So I decided to move the four hens we still have in together and not allow them to free range in case we incur further losses.

The roosters had to go. The young one from the batch we hatched at Christmas wasn't a great specimen to be honest, an ugly duckling and slow developer. Sebastian was becoming a pest. While the chooks were out free ranging, he generally did a pretty good job of looking after them, but in the shed, he was making it difficult to do simple tasks like cleaning, feeding and opening doors. We could only enter the shed with a bucket, to protect ourselves and confuse him. I was starting to wonder how I would be able collect eggs, once the girls start laying again, without being attacked.

On Friday, I caught the young rooster and 'dispatched' him, as poultry folk say. With horribly wet weather forecast for Sunday, I was keen to get the two young girls into the nice dry shed that the older ones live in. So poor old Sebastian had to go. He was a large boy so best captured at night. The only problem was, he always slept up well out of reach up in the highest rafters of the pickers hut. In the afternoon, David built a barrier from old computer cases to stop him flying up there. After dark, we marched back down to the chook shed. I quickly snatched poor Sebastian from his perch and did the deed. Then David and I caught the two young pullets from their perch in the chook tractor and transferred them to the dry straw in the main shed. Then we headed back to sit on the lounge in front of the fire, drink a glass of red and watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not your typical Saturday night.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why, hello winter

Winter, day one. The sun has retreated far to the north. We woke to a thick white frost, making for a slippery walk down the driveway to let the chooks out. Down in the valley there's a blanket of fog, while up here, the sun is trying hard to change the grass from white to green before disappearing behind the trees for the day. It was hot crumpets with butter and honey for us this morning. Thermals on. More wood for the fire. We're ready for winter.