Sunday, 24 May 2015

Citrus Uncaged

I shall start off with my moans, as I'm still not 100% well and am, quite frankly, easily irritated.  I know, you are surprised.  :-)

Do you remember me telling you about the sneaky mice that had burrowed their way into the chook house, between the edge of the concrete floor and the wooden walls.  The first job on my post illness agenda was to seal up the gap.  Steve very kindly mixed me up some cement, which I stuffed along the back wall where it meets the floor.  I was liberal in all the corners too, anywhere I thought there might be a weak point.  The chook house had a big clean out and here it is looking spiffy clean and rodent free.
It took the little buggers two days.  Look what they've done, chewed a hole right through the side wall!!  It is hard to keep one step ahead of the little fiends.  Next plan is for Steve to screw a thicker strip of wood along the bottom of the wall.  I will not be defeated.....
The title of this photo is "Fly Rage".  I have been getting a little ferocious with my swatting.  Neo is looking at the swatter lovingly as he knows when I get one, I knock it to the floor and he gobbles it up.  You wouldn't think they were so appetizing.
Okay, ommmm, let's get whimsical and happy.  A little wander around the outdoors.  This is a favourite part of my garden, the birdbath peeping out from within a Chorilaena quercifolia, or Karri Oak shrub.  The little birds love using this bath as they can dart inside the shrub and feel safe.
 This is one of the frequent visitors to the birdbath.  She's a blue wren, the females have just a hint of blue in their tails unlike their vivid menfolk.  I love their red beaks and beady eyes.
The back garden continues to grow well, I am really happy with it.  There are vegies and herbs and other useful plants in amongst the slowly growing larger shrubs.  I need to weed out there, whilst I've been sick weeds have sprung up like triffids, ready to take over the world!  Mind you, I was happy to see that a large number of what I thought were weeds were in fact a zillion coriander seedlings.  I love letting herbs self seed, it leads to exciting little discoveries amongst the shrubbery.  :-)
 Next to the very productive passionfruit vines is a banana passionfruit vine that is also growing really well.  Both varieties are producing loads of flowers and fruit which surprises me in this cold weather, I really can't believe anything will come of the fruit, I thought it needed heat to ripen.  Anyway, I am happy the plants are happy.  I love the flowers on the banana passionfruit, long tubular flowers with a pretty pink fan of petals at the base.
And this is the start of a banana passionfruit fruit.  They appear at the base of the tube, where the petals were, and as the petals and tube dry up and fall off, a long green fruit on a thin but strong tendril remain.  They ripen up to a bright yellow, looking somewhat like a small fat banana, but have innards more like a passionfruit.  I haven't had one since I was a kid, looking forward to the first ripe one!
 Steve decided to be brave and finally took all the cages off the citrus trees.  He did it with one of the lemons first, to see what roos did.  They ignored it.  So off came all the cages, although Steve has put a small collar of wire around the base of each trunk, to stop any rabbits from stripping off the bark.  Speaking of rabbits, where are they?  No rabbits!  Haven't seen any for about a year.  Of course you know what will happen now I've said that out loud....
 There are loads of field mushrooms (or things that look like field mushrooms) popping up all over the place, along with some more interesting looking varieties.  There are loads of these around the base of one of the old Marri trees.  Upon researching, they are called Australian Honey Fungus, which apparently likes to try and kill off old, sick trees by infecting them.  Hopefully that Marri is strong and tough and will tolerate pretty orange fungi around its feet.
 And this crop along the back firebreak.  Not sure what they are, perhaps Yellow Headed Amanita.  Nice and toxic.
 My lovely neighbour turned up with a huge bag of apples, so out came the dehydrator.  I've finally learned the yummiest way to dehydrate apples is to keep it on for about 7 hours so they become completely dry and crisp.  You pop one in your mouth, and for a moment it seems like you have eaten a piece of dry nothing, but then the flavour just explodes in your mouth, plus you have the pleasure of the crunchy, crispy texture.  Yum!
We got an email from Plantagenet winery this week, telling us of their specials, and with the email was a flyer from a couple in the Porongurups who grow olives, and couldn't pick all their olives, their trees being especially productive, so they were inviting anyone who wanted olives to come and pick their own, for free.  Woohoo, we are still in mourning over our tree that was stripped completely bare of olives by parrots, so I hurriedly emailed Joan and arranged a time.  What a wonderful day we had there, we were staggered by the generosity of this lovely couple.  Not only did we pick 25 kilos of luscious Kalamatas to bring home to pickle, Joan and Jim showed us around their magnificent property, made us tea, gave us biscuits and olives for afternoon tea, showed us all their production area, and Joan gave me her recipes for how she brines her olives.  We were so touched by the sharing of knowledge from these people.  And I have found someone else who plays Words With Friends :-).  We ended up buying some of Joan's pickled olives as well, we didn't really need any but we wanted to give something back to them.  They also have a beautiful farmstay cottage, this is their website...
When we got home it was action time.  We sat in front of the tv for a couple of hours, each armed with a small knife.  Each olive needs a slit in it, then they all went into a big esky in a water bath.  That water needs to be changed every day or two (the drain at the bottom of the esky coming in handy for that) for three weeks, then the olives have to sit in a strong brine solution for a month or so, then they are bottled into a half brine, half vinegar solution for a month, then they are ready to eat.  That's the method we are going to use anyway, there are many different variations to this.
 On a final note, every May seems to be sunset month, and this May has not disappointed.


  1. We use those bags for our stonefruit picking.
    I'm thinking that when you hit a fly it must be absolutely pancaked - intense force!!!!

  2. I always enjoy reading your blog Dy. Hope you are feeling betterer