A harvest meal, real food, Freecycle and bartering.

We dispatched our first chicken last Sunday. One of our roosters has been limping for a few weeks and he hasn’t improved so the decision was made to end his misery, despite not having reached maturity or harvesting age. His end was as quick as we could make it with no prolonged suffering and he has been waiting in the fridge, resting until we were ready to cook him up. I decided to roast him, despite the lack of meat on his scrawny carcass and so he was roasted with some Chinese 5 spice rubbed into him, with plums inside the cavity and around, roast spuds and peas and corn.Β I wouldn’t say it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten, not by a long shot but it was tasty. The plums which I had bottled the other week were sour but the rest of the meal was good. The bones are now simmering on the stove to make stock (waste not want not) and I am feeling comfortable with our decision to raise our own meat.

 

Roast chook stuffed with plums, surrounded by crunchy spuds and more plums. Best looking meal I’ve ever made that’s for sure. πŸ™‚

 

I had a friend come visit today and we were talking about food. She jokingly asked what “real” food we had in the house, referring to conventional supermarket foods and we went to have a look in my fridge, freezer and pantry. What we found makes me beam with pride. There are a few condiments, vinegar and the like, frozen peas and corn and a few leftover berries, milk, a beer (home-brew is on the cards one day) and a few other bits and pieces. I am proud to say we make the gross majority of our food from raw ingredients. πŸ˜€ I don’t have an issue with buying things and I am sure I will in future but I love the fact that I can “damn the man” and make it myself. I just wish I could find a recipe for homemade Vegemite. Supporting Kraft, even as infrequently as one buys Vegemite sticks in my craw. 😦

Who says you can't sleep the baby in the drawers? Yet another use for repurposing some old drawers into underbed storage - the kids can play in them :D

Who says you can’t sleep the baby in the drawers? Yet another use for repurposing some old drawers into underbed storage – the kids can play in them πŸ˜€

I love a good bargain but even more than that I love a free bargain! I mean who doesn’t? πŸ˜€ I love Freecycle for that reason. Freecycle is a place to list your unwanted goods or to put up a wanted ad if there is something you are after. You will not be offered things like a good car or the latest LED TV but people list unwanted books, furniture, unused garden items (gravel, plants, seeds), kitchen items and occasionally some pretty wonderful items too – I missed out on a knitting machine once which I sought for a friend (I already have one) – as well as the more commonplace. I’ve seen requests for glass jars, school uniforms, newspapers, yarn, and offers for kitchens (we listed our old one), topsoil, kindling, hot water units and more. Almost anything goes although different groups have different policies and those policies differ often around the placement of wanted or offering animals/pets.

The other day an offer came up for a 6 seater extendable dining table, something we have been after for quite some time. We have 5 of us crammed around a 4 seater table and Martin or I end up sitting on a folding chair as Orik’s high chair clips to a normal chair. I fired off a reply as soon as I saw the ad and was lucky enough to be offered the setting. The description wasn’t encouraging – laminate and timber – so I was expecting an old, possibly late 70’s early 80’s brown wood look laminate table and the matching vinyl chairs but needs must. I was jaw-droppingly surprised to discover we had just become the new owners of 6 lovely high backed chairs and a deep reddy-brown timber veneer extendable table with only a little damage. I am stoked! πŸ˜€ Freecycle, you RULE! We have some more stuff to list now, including our old table as well as some other unwanted items that are too good to throw out. If they don’t find homes on Freecycle then it’s off to the op shop.Β I love the idea of eBay, Freecycle, Gumtree and any other similar webpages, just like op shops, as they do one HUGE thing. They keep usable items from ending up in landfill. There is nothing wrong with our old table except its size but without a second hand market out there it’s a perfectly good and undamaged item that will sit there for all eternity (glass doesn’t decompose).

The excitement of lift off and pressure building int he pressure canner - first time I've used it and I "canned" chicken stock.

The excitement of lift off and pressure building int he pressure canner – first time I’ve used it and I “canned” chicken stock.

Another concept I love that I am just delving into which is fast becoming the new black, at least in my circles, is bartering. Swapping this for that. Offering your goods or services in exchange for other goods or services. Effectively buying things but without exchanging money. It’s fun and it’s challenging, just like op shopping. πŸ™‚ The challenge of locating what you need is far harder than just walking into a normal store and grabbing the item off the shelf. Now where is the challenge in that? I LOVE the thrill of the op shop hunt and the open mind that you must have too. You may not get exactly what you dreamed of but that’s the joy, the flexibility. πŸ˜€ Well, bartering is the next level up from that! Not only are you searching for what you want BUT you must have something to offer in exchange that the items owner wants. It all of a sudden becomes a dual challenge. You find yourself assessing your goods and services, what you can offer, afford to spare or are willing to give up. Recently I had made a wonderful barter swap with a fellow blogger and hippy Narf7 from Serendipity Farm in Northern Tasmania. Steve carves the most amazing and wonderful spoons from locally sourced timber, some even from their own farm and I have been gagging to get my hands on one of these amazing works of art. But what did I have that I could swap. Turns out I was rich in 2 things that Narf7 was after, sourdough starter and knowledge and kefir grains. We faced the potential problem of customs as Tasmania is pretty rigid regarding the importation of anything that could harm their beautiful island so seeds and plants are out (sorry Narf7, otherwise I’d split my mangel wurzel seeds 50/50 with you) but after discussing the issue with my local postmistress I was pretty sure it would be ok. I bundled up Audrey the sourdough starter into a couple of leak-proof layers and did the same with the offspring of Kiefer our kefir grains, threw in a handknitted dishcloth and some rye flour which I pulled out again. I figured it wouldn’t clear customs and rather than tempt fate it was better to leave it out. It arrived yesterday and both the kefir and starter as settling into their new homes. πŸ™‚ MY parcel arrived today. πŸ˜€ In exchange for my items I have received not 1 but 2 hand-carved spoons and some parsnip seeds (the ban on posting seeds only works one way πŸ™‚ ) To say that I am happy is a major understatement! I AM STOKED! My salt spoon is the sweetest cutest and most practical little spoon perfectly suited to its job. It now lives in the vintage ceramic salt cellar I purchased off eBay a while back, helping to spoon Himalayan salt into my cooking and baking. As or my second spoon, I am not sure what its purpose will be quite yet but rest assured it will be an honoured position. I feel very very proud to be the owner and recipient of not 1 but 2 of these gorgeous spoons.

My new celery top pine salt spoon. :D

My new celery top pine salt spoon. πŸ˜€

It's so little and cute and perfectly sized for its job.

It’s so little and cute and perfectly sized for its job.

My second piece of art.

My second piece of art.

 

LOVE how the spoon "bowl" sits proud f the handle. Your attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing Steve.

LOVE how the spoon “bowl” sits proud f the handle. Your attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing Steve.

Well, here’s hoping for an early night. I AM trying to get to bed before 10 and be up before 7. Truly!

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10 thoughts on “A harvest meal, real food, Freecycle and bartering.

  1. narf77 says:

    WOW! Now THAT was a really jam packed useful post Rabid :). Steve is chuffed that you put his spoons on your blog :). It looks like you might have beaten me to bed tonight! It is 11.15pm and I am still up! I wanted to clear out my rss feed reader and your post was the very last post that I read. I fed Audrey twice a day since I got her and she smells a whole lot different to Herman. Herman smelled of vinegar and I now know that I was underfeeding him and I had a starter that was rife with lactobacillis and lacking severely in the yeasty department hence my vinegar bricks :). The little kefir grains all joined up together and set their milk firm this morning! I have given them new milk and they are going crazy. I might even give them one more milk bath and try them in some coconut milk for my morning green smoothie :). I have divided Audrey up and fed her again and with the excess sourdough I have a chocolate cake, a batch of English muffins AND some cinnamon muffins overnighting till I can bake them tomorrow… wish me luck! I, too, LOVE bartering! I loved being able to swap with you, and we both got something that we really wanted :). Who knows where this could go? It is perfect for penniless student hippies because you can swap your abilities rather than folding readies and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities :). I might have to check out if we have a freecycle here in Tassie. I have noticed that Tasmanian’s like “new things” and garage sales are a fantastic and incredibly cheap way to get good quality items. I think I might head off to bed now, I am officially knackered! So glad you got your spoons today and that you like them πŸ™‚ The little celery top pine spoon looks like it was born to dive in and out of that Himalayan salt :). Nighty night πŸ™‚

  2. Bed by 10:15 asleep not long after… And awake by 6:30. Feeling good but no alone time as Mr Jasper has been going to sleep ultra late so I’ve woken him in an attempt to reclaim our evenings and Allegra beat even me out of bed at 6:30 on the dot I dod surprise Martin by being up before him though. πŸ˜€ I’m a long time slug-a-bed. πŸ™‚
    I’m stoked Audrey is doing well and providing excess too. Let me know how your baking goes. Have you made any no-knead bread yet?
    And Steve, it is I that am honoured to share your spoons on my blog.

  3. The vegemite issue – I got it together to find and try Dick Smith vegemite in our supermarket (bottom shelf, right out of eye range), and like it better than the Kraft stuff. On the same bottom shelf is a Ozemite, which is much cheaper, Australian made, and just as good.

    • Thanks Linda. My husband, being English loves the Marmite (nasty stuff in my opinion πŸ˜‰ ) and the way mt brother would demolish Promite as a kid put me off trying alternatives. I shall look into Dick Smith’s Vegemite and Ozemite. It just seems so wrong that such an Aussie icon is owned by Americans that hate the stuff! lol

  4. Emma says:

    I went to a produce swap in Bacchus Marsh the other week and did my first barter that way. Eggs for zucchini, and plums for tomatoes. Was great.

    Also my partner and I played ukulele at the Ballan Farmers last week and the money that people kindly gave us for playing we put back into the market by buying lotsa fruit and veg (kinda like bartering I spose)

    Also – freecycle is the best. Almost all of our lounge room has been furnished off there.

    • I didn’t see you! I only popped in briefly for peanut butter and honey and then grabbed a pumpkin on the way out too but I’m sorry I missed you. And how great to turn the profit back into the market too. Everyone wins that way and it supports the local economy wonderfully. There is a produce swap in Ballarat at the community gardens on the 1st Saturday of the month. I am hoping to swap some chickens with a friend I met at my first Ballarat produce swap so to increase her breeding stock. As we aren’t breeding them it’s no skin off my nose as I’m hoping for like to like swaps so our numbers aren’t reduced but with 6 out of 9 in our 2nd chicks batch being hens it seems a shame to cull perfectly good hens that a friend wants. We don’t mind either way as they all taste the same. πŸ™‚
      I love the things that can be swapped too. Seeds, worm wee, fruits and vegetables, egg cartons, eggs, sourdough starter and so very much more. EVERYTHING is swappable!
      Freecycle is wonderful and I’m about to list that table and some other unwanted bits and bobs. I grabbed casters the other day so I can now convert some old drawers into under bed storage for my hoards of books. πŸ˜€

  5. Emma says:

    We need more chickens – the dog got to three of ours last week and the one surviving one is starting to act a bit weird and lonely. We kinda want to get outs at point of lay though so she doesnt bully them too much. Doubt yours are that old?
    Pity I missed you at the market! Maybe next time πŸ™‚

  6. What about looking into ex battery hens? They’re most likely Isa Browns and probably have been laying for 12 months so they will be heading into their twilight years that bit sooner but it may be an option. πŸ™‚ Chickens are flocking birds so they need to be in flocks of at least 2, 3 being better in case 1 dies (or in case of dog). Ours are aged from 2 years for the pekins, nearly at point of lay down to 12 weeks for the Dorkings and from 16-10 weeks for the Silkies. Our ducks are 22 weeks and about 16 weeks although I have a funny feeling, based upon size that Milly and possibly Molly might be Millward and Mollard instead. They are 6 weeks younger but simply dwarf Mandy. Still, the idea of ducklings is appealing. LOTS of work to be done on the pen before then though.

  7. Emma says:

    Yeah ive put my name down for some ex battery hens but no word as yet. I cant remember who I put my name down with though, do you know of any in particular? Otherwise theres a poultry sale on in Bacchus this weekend so i’ll just head down there πŸ™‚

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