Stocking the larder/ self-sufficiency 3

On balance I think we have done better on the vegetable front, here, than we left, there. They must have beans coming out of their ears, as I had planted a lot and they all seemed to be doing enormously well when we left. But there really wasn’t a great variety of stuff, whereas we have come into a large fortune of carrots, onions, sweet corn, beetroot, and spinach beet. Then there is a vine with a singular and small bunch of grapes, and two or three pumpkins big enough for coaches, and a queer thing called an apple cucumber, which has the taste but not the indigestion, and the tomatoes which at present are producing about 5 pounds a day.

Beans coming out of their ears

In a mad moment I bought a 35 lb box of runner beans in the market. After a day and a half stringing them and putting them through the slicer I felt I had beans coming out of my ears and sold the last 8 lbs to my grocer – then I heard the family were coming over and I had to go and buy them back and he obviously has now put me down as a nutcase! The next day I bottled 20 lbs of plums – again forgetting to keep any for current use and had to dig out some deep freeze rasps. I was more cunning today and put an 18 lb box of apricots in the d.f. (at least 13 separate bags of stoned and sugared ones) and did remember some for dinner – v. good they were too – I still want to do 20 lbs peaches and 20 lbs nectarines but fear I’m almost too late. Oh, and soon the tomatoes will be here.

Our neighbours gave us a huge bowl of strawberries for dinner when X took over a surplus cabbage to them. Lovely exchange of goodies – our eccentric neighbour appeared at the back clutching a large grapefruit and could she have the handful of beans X offered the other day but she hadn’t finished the cabbage then, so she picked those and I gave her some of the huge pile of strawberries too. Seldom a day passes I don’t have a lemon, a posy or something sitting in my letterbox.

Another diversion was the arrival of Christmas Dinner. C.D. is a lamb which belonged to a family we knew. C.D. was their only venture so far into livestock apart from a few hens. However X couldn’t face the idea of their ewe lamb going into their deep freeze so she was presented to me – and one day I’ll have to make a return offering (which tactfully had better be a large ham rather than a side of lamb, I suppose!) So far she has cost me about $10 in wood and a hard morning’s work knocking up a cage to go in the trailer to bring her here, and $6 for a pair of shears to clean her up a bit as the poor animal couldn’t see out of its eyes and was equally untidy at the other end. The going price of a lamb is $15! – still no doubt the cage and the shears will have other uses.

[And by the end of the month…]

You have not heard that I now have a flock of sheep – having collected 6 wether lambs to join the one ewe. I drove by a third-hand appointment to a shearing shed hidden away in the hills and proceeded to wait for half an hour or more. Eventually I found an extension telephone and got on to the farm for the son of the house, who was the man I was expecting to meet. In about another quarter hour he, three men, 5 dogs, a farm bike and 2 utilities had assembled to serve me. The sheep were still half a mile away in a field. But one of the dogs was sent to fetch them, and nearly succeeded with the aid of various whistles – but he didn’t round up all of them, so one of the boys went on the bike for the rest with his dog while the rest ushered them into the yard as they arrived and soon had sorted out six wethers from the rest with the aid of a neat switching gate. They then picked them up bodily and flung or stuffed them into the 3×4 foot box I have built on my trailer. I had expected to make two trips but they got all six in with not more than 2 or 3 legs left hooked up over the backs of others, poor things.

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