The last week has been one of the most intense in a long time. It’s been a week of sadness, of joy, learning and sharing and most importantly, a week of family.
For those that didn’t see the post, my Nanna passed away aged 91 years. The funeral was Thursday morning in Temora, NSW. In the interests of not leaving a huge carbon footprint in the wake of my attending the service, of leaving my husband and 3 kids with a vehicle and also of making sure I had a safe means of travel, I decided to catch the train. Martin had work on Wednesday but was able to be home early where we swapped Myki and children over at the station in the middle of the first decent lot of rain we have seen in town in ages! Full on downpour, thunder and lightning. Lovely! 🙂 Martin was given the list of chores most urgent; turn off the tap that was dribbling water for my parched fruit trees, bring in and attempt to dry the bed sheets (I’d washed and dried them where the rain had once again soaked them) necessary to put kids to bed and a few other small but urgent jobs.
I managed to misread the train timetable (lack of sleep, a frazzled brain and being a worry wart all contributed) and my coach came and left without me, leaving me with a 12 minute window between the next train due to arrive and the XPT to Sydney leaving. With a pounding heart and much worry I made my train with 10 minutes to spare. The trip to Wagga was uneventful and my cousin kindly met me at the station and offered me a wonderfully comfy couch where I caught a couple of hours sleep before we drove to Temora for the service was a wonderful and fitting, laying Nanna to rest and then catching up with family (including my favourite uncle down from Coffs Harbour) and family friends including Nanna’s first friend after her marriage. They were friends for over 64 years! Nanna is at peace and once again with her husband. She will be missed by many.
After the service and the wonderful food put on by the church and friends we all did what families do when they haven’t seen each other in ages. We talked. Some slept, some shopped (that would be my mum’s cousin and I at the 2 local op shops 😉 ) and others chatted, visited the Temora Aviation Museum and more. It was a good afternoon which finished up with dinner at the pub and then the farewells as people drifted back to cars to drive home or to motels for the night. I know my mum and her brothers had a great time together. It’s a rare thing to have both sets of twins in one place so they made the most of it.
I crashed out on my cousins couch again, bidding him goodnight and heading off via taxi for my 2:47am train back to Melbourne. Aside from attracting the attention of the drunken passenger who decided I was in the mood for a good old chat (which I so very much wasn’t) it was an uneventful trip home and I was met by my family in Ballan. Truly, I felt I’d been away from home for far longer than 39 hours. Yes, a mere 39 hours although admittedly not easy ones. I still squeezed in some “me” time, reading a very thought-provoking book Entropia which I first heard of via Gav’s blog post. A fascinating book which kept me awake long after I should have been asleep, reading and researching and planing and dreaming permaculture plans for more with our block here.
Other things that went on this last week has been a round of pressure canning. My freezer was overflowing, mostly with home-made bone broths and stocks I’ve made from simmering the bones of meat we’ve eaten. I like to give honour to the animals whose lives have been sacrificed for us to partake of their meat by making as many meals as possible from them. Each chicken gives us often in excess of 15 meals, 3 each including kid sized meals, and often more. The last chook we ate, one of our own, fed a family of 5 with 40 clove chicken, the excess meat was picked off for use later and the bones simmered for 24 hours with a splash of apple cider vinegar to help extract all the goodness in the marrow. The broth of a factory farmed chicken will rarely gel but mine often set like commercial jelly (sans artificial colours, flavours and sugar of course 😉 ) but I tend to stretch them further by doubling the filtered water. I think I likely get 2-2.5L of broth or stock per bird. That’s 4-5 jars of stock when pressure canned in a #20 Fowlers Vacola jar. I use 1 jar per batch of brown rice risotto and each risotto probably makes 8-9 meals (3-5 adult and 3-6 kid meals). I use some of the meat leftover to add to the risotto too. I guess if I counted in 9 meals per jar of stock plus the initial meal there would be nearly 50 meals per bird! Not bad at all. 🙂
I also cracked open my jar of fermented onions I’d made using home-grown potato onions and following this recipe. I’d fermented them for around a week as the recipe suggests but when I cracked them open they were fizzing and bubbling like crazy. Given my onions were whole and hence larger than the sliced ones I popped the lid back on and put them back int he cupboard for a little longer. When I tried one a week later I have to tell you they are SPECTACULAR! I cannot recommend this recipe highly enough. Easier than pickling in my book as you take the same amount of time peeling all those onions but then just stick them in a jar with brine and bobs ya uncle after a little while in the pantry. 🙂 The jar of onions depleted somewhat over the 39 hours I was absent too. I guess I’m on to a winner. 😉 Thankfully I have 2 more jars including 1 massive one on the ferment as we speak. 😀 They’re still fizzing so another week to go I’d say. 🙂
I also had the opportunity last weekend to attend the Sustainable Living Festival. We went in on the Sunday and it was a welcome break from brooding about Nanna’s passing early on Saturday.
Allegra and I were dropped at the station as the boys were off to the Vintage Tractor Pull up the other end of town (yes the irony of half of us at a fossil fuel guzzling event and the rest at an eco event didn’t get missed :P) and we had a wonderful girls day out.
We wandered up and down the stalls, stopping to chat sometimes, wandering by at others, signing petitions, and sampling of the wonderful kombucha from the brew cart making the rounds.
The orange, passion-flower and turmeric one tasted just like the orange and passionfruit fizzy drink on the market but with a gazillion more health benefits and better depth of flavour too.
I bought a bottle (turned out to be apple and mint flavour) which had a tiny scoby in the bottle and I have just decanted my first batch of kombucha and started my second brew. It’s spectacularly healthy stuff. 🙂
I’ve also managed to
squeeze in some time in the garden attend my favourite form of therapy in the garden. I think I’ve managed to successfully transplant some dwarf beans from 1 bed to another and I’ve planted out a heap of beetroot seeds as I have 3 that are growing in the bed. Here’s hoping for a greater success rate and no more frying 40°C’s to cook my garden. Allegra and I harvested the front hugel of most of its spuds. I’ve left a few with flowers as I hope to collect some true potato seeds from the pods that will follow the flowers. Some of the spuds were tiny, others massive and almost all of them squished into bizarre shapes due to the logs in the hugel bed. All in all I’m happy with the harvest. 🙂
Allegra also planted out her own garden bed and opted for bulbs, pansies and turnips (they were purple 😉 ) Jasper also has a bed but wasn’t all that interested but I know he loves carrots so I’ve planted it with potato onions (early I know) and carrots in between. They make good companions. 🙂 I’m sure he will show more interest when the carrot seeds start to show. 🙂
We’re picking a small handful of strawberries every couple of days, small and with a reminiscent pineapple flavour too. My buttercup pumpkins are doing well and I’m seeing a few more cobs setting on the corn too. Most of my garden this year is rather lacklustre though. I am chalking it up to poor quality imported soil, a late start to summer and then a very hot dry one to boot. Still, it’s been another wonderful learning experience and I’ve learned a lot which s the whole reason for it I guess. 🙂
Last but not least, Friday afternoon once I got home from NSW and then playgroup in the morning I hit up the sewing machine. I’ve had 2 dresses in the works to wear to my cousin’s wedding but sadly the floral one didn’t get finished in time. In fact, neither were finished on Friday morning and I had to make a decision which I was likely to complete within the limited time frame. The floral dress needed buttonholes, a lining, hemming and buttons. The green one needed a zip and a hem. Give you 2 guesses which I finished. 😉 We all arrived dressed beautifully to the wedding which went well. I can’t remember the time I saw all of both sides of my family within a 48 hour window. 🙂
Sunday was spent relaxing, swimming for the older kids with Daddy (last day of the swimming pool being open this summer) and catching up on a few other things. We’ve been working on de-fossil fueling our house, practicing using our new Kelly Kettle and just the rest of daily life. It’s been good and a lovely day to wind down from an intense week.
I am glad to be home and glad to be back into the swing of things. 🙂 And thank you to all who rang, emailed or commented with condolences. I’m deeply touched. Thanks all.