Fire and a long week with the kids

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Oh so sweet pineapple chunks in juice and then pineapple juice beside it (the lighting makes it look white but it’s just the solids in the juice settling slowly slowly)

It’s been a long week. In fact it’s been a very long week and not one I would be keen to repeat any time soon. In fact pretty much the only highlights have been the delivery from a friend of some pineapples which I bottled and another blog post from 23thorns that had me chortling away like crazy as I tried to read it out loud to my husband. If you don’t already follow his blog I highly recommend it. Not only educational but extremely well written, witty and as funny as hell!

Last weeks white nectarines and apricots. Golden goodness that the kids have enjoyed on their porridge and with custard.

Last weeks white nectarines and apricots. Golden goodness that the kids have enjoyed on their porridge and with custard.

Anyway, my week has been full of misbehaving and children who obviously need their ears cleaned out or switched on( either way), mishaps, things not going to plan and mercurial weather.

Today has been a hot one. The temperatures this week have ranged from 6 degree lows through to high 30’s which makes it challenging to do simple things like put the kids to bed (summer pajamas or winter ones) and it plays with the mind when it’s freezing cold and you want to light the fire but it’s going to be mid 20’s the next day (we DID light it which just seems so very wrong in mid January). But today is also a day of total fire ban across the state where the fire risks are severe for most and extreme for the Wimmera and North Central which is pretty normal for January here. What is more concerning is the weather itself. Hot weather alone does not a high fire danger day make. But the wind today has been pretty awful, gusting back and forwards, blowing often from the north(ish), and it’s strong! The roof of the kids cubby which hadn’t yet been fastened down, has been blown off which is no mean feat given that it’s made from corrugated iron and heavy timber. I can’t lift the roofing pieces by myself. The trees were bending rather alarmingly back and forwards then side to side and anything not fastened down is probably half way to Geelong now. A pretty bad day for our local CFA’s I am guessing (my husband said they had sooty faces when he spoke to them about getting our fire hydrant refilled). I am just profoundly grateful we didn’t have extreme temperatures today. I have a feeling that had the temps been in the low to mid 40’s we would have had a catastrophic fire danger day. A Code Red day. They’re scary enough when one is living in inner suburbia… But now that we are country dwellers… 😦

It’s one of the bad things about not having the television connected. We’ve made the decision to not install it at this stage and so far, to be honest, we’ve not really missed it. We both feel that most of the news is doom and gloom, shared only to grab ratings but every now and then I realise there are things we are missing. I mean I really don’t care who plays Christian Grey in the 50 shades movies, nor what the Kardashians are up to or even particularly who wins the tennis, football, cricket etc. It just doesn’t interest me (unless it’s World Cup football in which case both Martin and I will be glued to every England and Australia game) BUT keeping up on things like severe weather warnings is becoming more and more necessary.

I read a couple of blogs today about climate change, increased average temperatures, hottest decades, hottest days on record and it frightens me. I don’t claim to be an expert on climate change, not by a long shot BUT the science is showing warming trends, temperatures on average increasing and the weather conditions are most definitely responding with greater severity. Keeping tabs on weather conditions, both locally and further abroad is starting to make even greater sense to me. I know the UK has had another very wet winter with flooding which we keep an eye on, or an ear actually as my mother-in-law always keeps us up to date with what the weather is doing over there (Martin’s brother and sister-in-law also live there as well as other relatives) and my mother’s family are spread out through New South Wales so we like to keep tabs on what’s happening there too.

This week I’ve most definitely been out of touch as our internet is once again gone so I’ve been reliant on the iPhone again – difficult. I’ve only just found out that NSW has had some of its hottest temperatures on record with catastrophic fire days although we’ve kept an ear to the ground regarding the fires near Wagga Wagga (my uncle and aunt live there) and I know there has been the hottest day recorded in Tasmania in the last week too, along with catastrophic fires there too. There have also been fires around Wallan where my sister-in-law works and her boss sent her home (all safe and well thankfully) as well as fires a little closer to our slice of paradise here, both at Ballarat and Daylesford which are both only about 30 minutes drive away. Not near enough to be personally threatening but close enough to want to keep an ear out.

Breakfast time Mummy! Wake up!!!

Breakfast time Mummy! Wake up!!!

This morning I woke up to find that one of us (most likely me but I don’t want t admit to a moment of sheer stupidity) left the spigot on the water filter in the “on” position. I’d emptied it of filtered water making my ginger beer (I’ll post on that soon) and I’d refilled the water. It takes a while for the clean water to filter through so it would have started dripping slowly sometime around 12:30 or after when I was well and truly in bed (Martin got up to make a bottle though so ha! I can blame him! 😉 ). This morning I had a puddle of water all over the kitchen bench, soaking a few bit and bobs like instruction manuals I had sitting there, and a second puddle on the floor. Topped off with an imminent food delivery, 3 hungry kids and the frustration of discovering we had no butter (there goes the idea of sandwiches for lunch to keep the house nice and cool), well, let’s just say it wasn’t a great way to start the day. Mopped up, kids eating (late breakfast in the end) and my wonderful delivery arrives. It’s my first order and I am extremely impressed! Highland Heritage Farm (Facebook page and blog) delivered, in a lovely wooden crate, my order of organic oats, cashews, own grown red onions, spuds, beans and eggs (a wonderful selection of colours and sizes) as well as some free “glut” veggies of turnips, zucchinis and also some rhubarb (not sure if you can call that a fruit or a veggie). It’s locally grown, home delivered, supporting a family of like-minded people (they also use sourdough and grow organic) and it’s beautifully fresh produce so I couldn’t be happier. I’ve used up our 7 hard won eggs today (I think my hens are broken as that’s 9 days of eggs! 😛 ) Not sure yet how to use the dozen zucchinis I have in my fridge although the rhubarb will served for breakfast I think. The turnips will also be a first time cook for me too. Never had them before. 🙂 Any recipes to share?

I do NOT want to wear this dress Mummy!

I do NOT want to wear this dress Mummy!

The rest of the week has been lacklustre. I baked some bread in Ignisa’s oven when she was lit (may as well make use of the heat I guess), but otherwise, just a bit of online shopping (for organic foods and such, not shopping for fun), dishes, toilet training (*sigh* will it ever be over?), washing washing and more washing and taking out and bringing in the chicks. Just a quiet week on the homestead I guess, punctuated by “I don’t want to wear a dress” tantrums, please don’t climb out the windows moments and all the rest. I am very glad it’s over and very much looking forward to the weekend (BRING IT ON!!!). Jasper, who helped me amazingly with putting away washing will come with me to the Ballan Farmers Market as a treat and he will get some money to spend. He knows it’s not a toy market, but a food market and I told him that they have honey, peanut butter and cheese that he might like to buy. His eyes lit up more and more with each suggestion. Too funny kiddo! 😀 We’ve also dealt with his ongoing processing of grief from the death of John the chicken. 😦 This morning he was beside himself, sobbing that Ellie was dead. It took me 5 minutes to work out what he was saying. Once I had located the missing Ellie, his stuffed toy elephant we had a chat and the world was right again. A challenging conversation.

We've found Ellie

We’ve found Ellie

We’ve managed a little more unpacking, some serious furniture rearranging (I think I have things where they work now) and more processing of larger city house into smaller country house with different priorities (more gardens, less stuff) so it’s all slowly slowly coming together. The old house is nearly empty (although the shed is another thing) The skip is also gone now which involved a very close call with 2 cats whom were unbeknownst to us hiding under the skip. I’m not sure who got the bigger fright, them when their cool hiding place on a hot day suddenly made loud noise and lifted up in the air, or me when first Minnie then Maxxie came boiling out from underneath the rapidly shrinking hole at the end of the skip! Frightened the life out of all 3 of us (they have about 8 left each I think).  Anyway, another full week and I am very much looking forward to bed.

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10 thoughts on “Fire and a long week with the kids

  1. narf77 says:

    Those juicy solids remind me of the soil sample that we had to classify that was stored in the toilet…bet your jar tastes better than ours! ;). I have been saving my 21 thorns read for a “special occasion”, I too, read it aloud whilst laughing like Billy Connolley at his own jokes to Steve, its a tradition here on Serendipity Farm and I savour this wonderful blog like the chocolate that I no longer eat :). Apparently they are testing a new emergency alarm where anyone with a mobile phone will be alerted should a bushfire get close…can’t be in our area as we had one out of control not 15km away from us. They had 12 fire trucks to contain it and ended up stopping it in its tracks but that was thanks more to the decreasing winds and cooler temperatures. Television only works when the power poles don’t burn down like many did in Tasmania. It might be up to a month before people on the Tasmanian Peninsula (down South) get electricity again. I love the idea of a CSA box and yours sounds wonderful. I have a great recipe that I found recently for zucchini cream which is a sort of lemon curd made with zucchini (not that you would know) I have a massive population of zucchini on the horizon and as they grow from teeny to mammoth in a matter of days it was most fortuitous that I found it…I got it here…
    http://www.food.com/recipe/zucchini-cream-130433
    You can apparently significantly reduce the sugar in this recipe if you want less but it sounds promising and something that could be extremely useful (unlike excess rotting zucchini 😉 )
    Turnips, when fresh and young are amazing…eat them raw! Sweet and peppery in salads, use them in soup, mash them with potatoes (my scottish grandad had them mashed with carrots and swedes and tonnes of butter and black pepper and salt delish!), they are wonderful flavour carriers and you can preserve them…treat them like a radish really :). My daughter adores them and eats them raw in their entirety. Sounds like you had a challenging week…ours was nice and slothful and thank GOODNESS the temperatures are back down into normal Tasmanian summer temps (25C – 27C) and the garden is starting to look less shell shocked. Hugs from Tassie and that “I don’t LIKE that dress mummy” will probably follow you all of your life…my youngest Beth and I have distinctly different tastes in dress 😉

    • Thanks for the recipes. I shall share with the glutted garden owners, a few other Highland Heritage Farm recipients whom I know and an update to you when made. I’m almost out of sugar though and totally out of rapadura so hope they last until I get to the supermarket. I HATE buying sugar! It’s so bad for us and so addictive which is why we use rapadura. I’ve fought long and hard to wean myself off the sweet white powder.
      23 thorns IS like chocolate! And I digest his blogs in much the same way as I would eat a block of chocolate too, rush at it, tear it open and gorge! But I never feel ill after too much 23 thorns, unlike the chocolate that I too (pretty much) no longer eat.
      Glad your temperatures are more normal. I don’t mind an occasional hot day and even a real stinker once in a while. It’s what makes and Australian summer what it is. In fact I reckon we need at least 1 day here in Victoria over 40 BUT without the gusting winds, without any idiots with matches (i just cant fathom what moron would light a fire deliberately on such a high fire danger day) and definitely without fires. The mobile phone siren sounds promising but it concerns me as technology is so fallible. What happens if a tower is burned and coverage is out? Or the internet and phone lines go down? I can’t think of a perfect solution but it does worry me.

      Hugs right back to you. Currently trying to wrangle a holiday in Feb and George Town is on the potential destination list (friends have a holiday rental there).

  2. Linne says:

    I’ve had all of the fire-threatened areas of Australia in my mind for a while now. Checked the map to see where you are located, which helps. We lived in an area called the Highlands about a half hours drive north of Victoria, BC (Canada) for nearly 6 years and twice had fires close enough to frighten us. The last one was so close to our place I was planning what to pack while my husband was out with a backpack of water fighting it; along with all the other volunteers, of course. Scary!

    I have an iPhone, too, and got a free app for the Weather Network; I set it up with an automatic warning for earthquakes (cause my sons and grandchildren live on the coast of BC) so now I am notified if there is a tsunami warning or such. Not that I can do anything from here (Edmonton, AB), but I like to know if family is possibly in danger. I was thinking that might be useful for you, too.

    As to rhubarb, technically I guess it’s a veggie, as it’s a stem, but we always thought of it as a fruit, since Mum bottled it with sugar or made it into pies (or added small chunks to cakes); it was always dessert for us. We kids used to eat it raw, too (not so good for you, I know now); dipped it in sugar for each bite.

    I like rhubarb for extending jams or pie fillings; I especially like it with strawberries, but it’s good with lots of other flavours, too; apples, etc.

    Turnips; I’m not sure if you are referring to white turnips of the big yellow ones we called turnips, but which are technically rutabagas. Those are quite strong flavoured and small kids often don’t like the taste. Mum and I both used to mix them up to half and half with mashed potato (all mashed together, I mean) to smooth out the flavour and make it milder. I still do that today if I cook one that’s a bit strong. My Mum’s mother did the same, but I never knew her. Still, I like the sense of tradition and family connection it gives me. Mashed with carrots they are good, too, as Narf77 mentions above. I like her idea for zucchini curd and am going to try it. If the turnips are the white ones, I agree with her that they may be treated as radishes; slightly peppery. I like those julienned and thrown into salads raw or into stir-frys, also at the last minute so they don’t cook too much.

    When I make a stir-fry, I always begin with the hardest veggies first (like carrots), and throw in big chunks of zucchini at the last, letting them just barely cook through. If there is flavour in the stir-fry, they absorb it and are great! Zucchinis are also good for making jams, you can mix them with fruits or add stronger flavourings such as ginger. I like them, when smaller, cut into sticks and eaten raw with dip. Worst comes to worst, though, you can cycle them through chickens or some other stock, then into the compost.

    Hope I’m not writing too much; I tend to get going when people ask questions. Also, I love to teach/share what I know and have no one here who wants to learn. City people are fun, but very different most of the time. Thanks for listening. ~ Linne

    • I love to read and I’m ready to learn so write away. Yes the turnips are turnips, not rutabagas and with the best root and radishes I bought at the market I’m planning on a coleslaw style salad. Maybe with some of my bottled pineapple mixed in for sweetness. Not sure yet. Time to experiment. And I’ve got a rack of lamb defrosting so roast lamb with roasted beetroots, mashed spuds and turnips with purple king beans accompanying for dinner. Yummy! Oh an a little leftover butternut pumpkin which might still be good to go. Gonna be a rainbow roast!

  3. Linne says:

    I have to thank both of you for the references to the 23thorns blog. I laughed so hard! That lesson on noodle cooking was priceless! ~ Linne

    • The only one of his posts I’ve yet to read is the one on insects. I saw the millipede and closed it off. I just can’t read details about them yet but I now simply adore civet cats for eating them! He’s so informative and so very clever with his writing. And yes, the noodles are priceless. I’m convinced similar things happen when I go out. 🙂

  4. 23thorns says:

    Good to know you guys weren’t hit by those fires. We saw some of the footage on the news, and it looks as bad as any tornado or hurricane. Even without fire, temperatures reaching the fifties must be a hell of a thing.

    • We’ve been incredibly lucky where we are with top temps of 39 (hot enough) but I remember Black Saturday’s top of 46 and it was Hell. Swirling windy heat is fun for no one and probably the greatest fear of every firey. Today though is another more temperate day. Currently 11C with a top of 17. A good day for Ignisa.

  5. Emma says:

    Zucchini slice or veggie burgers is what I make with my glut of zucchinis

    Veggie burgers: Grate 2 big zucchinis and 2 big carrots and fry it off gently with some chopped onion. Open a can or two of chickpeas and mash them and then combine all the ingredients with some egg yolk, breadcrumbs and for FLAVOR (yay!) stir in two tablespoons each of mild curry paste and peanut butter. Form into patties and chill in the fridge and then fry and put in burger buns.

    I amde these for the first time this week and they have converted my fella into liking veggie burgers more than he likes beef burgers 🙂

    • I’ve had something similar made with brown lentils with the recipe of a Sanitarium brown lentils tin. I’m planning to pressure can some lentils and other legumes so I can easily make them. I often smuggle ‘kini’s into spag Bol too. Thank goodness their flavour isn’s strong and they can be used to pad out other meals. 🙂

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