A Great Big Adventure

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Hello Bloggy friends!

You’ll never guess where I’ve been, never!!

Not Scotland. 😀  (Or those poor chaps in the photo wouldn’t be nearly so sunburned… )

Do you give up?

I’ve been farm sitting.

Yes!  A  Very Brave Person left their farm in the hands of the (completely uninitiated and citified) Bluestocking household.

Here’s what we’ve been doing…

Loving Angus.  Isn’t he beautiful?  He’s a mere youngster yet, and we are all smitten.

Feeding the goats and sheep.  Why was Blossy feeding the goat in her pj’s?  Because it was FIVE am.  (Yawn!)

She just couldn’t wait.

Feeding Cows. Cows, friends, are Very Scary Characters.  I may have mentioned here before that I have uncomfortable feelings about cows.

Geese! I want one. Or maybe two.  Aren’t they pretty?  Heidi, though, (yes!  It was Heidi’s farm, but more on that later) said that perhaps something less noisy would suit our very close neighbours.  But… but… geese are so pretty!  And goslings are very, very special indeed.

And because she is such a thoughtful dear…… Seedlings!

No, we didn’t have to feed them, we planted them in Heidi’s vegetable garden.  😀

Doesn’t that sound delicious, Bloggy friends?  It was.  And there’s more.

We went to a Scottish music festival during our time at Heidi’s farm.  And a great bookstore (joy!).  But even more delightful than either of those was the opportunity of meeting up with a lady from the Aussie homeschool board that I have known on line for years.

I didn’t actually get to meet Heidi, but certainly kept in close communication with her over our stay, as farming is trickier than I thought.

Friends, I may have said it before once or twice, but.. I really, really do have the best bloggy friends in the whole world. 😉

Farming, for the Faint Hearted

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Have I mentioned we live in the city?  Our house is surrounded by established gardens, and by midday is completely shaded.  It’s delightful, but not helpful for budding gardeners who aspire to vegetable patch ownership.

For some time now, we have enjoyed fresh produce from our farming friends.  There’s something exciting about selecting your dinner from the garden, and checking for lady beetles before eating!  What’s even more fun, is when the farmers can be induced to let us play in their dirt. 😀

We’ve long been fascinated with the variety, the sheer weirdness, of seed selection from heritage seed companies.  It’s worth browsing even if  you have no room for a vegetable patch.  We bought several varieties of obscure-sounding goodies, and showed our un-farmer-ish-ness by purchasing something that it is already too hot to plant.  (Ah! We are novices. 🙂 )

Right along with our new experiences of creating a row, and spacing and planting seeds, and watering, we were able to share a new experience with the farmer. Every parent will know what I’m speaking of: that phenomenon of having a lot of little helpers, which somehow makes a job longer and more complex than when you work alone!

We’ve also been watching the progress of several of the farmer’s vegetables.  We didn’t recognise the lettuce when it went to seed, and none of us could guess the identity of a sweet potato plant when we were first introduced to one.

Each week we check on the corn…

This week, we thrilled to see the first little radishes peep through!  Hooray!

Why are we extra excited about the radishes, you ask?  Well!  😀

Have you tried radish chips?  Even the little souls at our house who endure radishes gobbled these up.  They are that good.  So extra delishy scrumptious!

Radish Chips

 

Slice those little balls of fire into thin chips.

Toss around in olive oil.

 

Spread on a baking paper covered tray, and grind a little salt over. Or not.  (But I like to live dangerously 😛 )

 

I used the fan grill function of my oven, and left them for 15 mins.  In a normal hot oven they may take a little longer.

 

And that’s it.  They actually taste nothing like radishes, and it’s hard to say exactly what they do taste like, but friends, if you have radishes available to you, this is a must try.  Seriously.

Stay tuned…  I’m sure I won’t be able to resist showing you the chocolate capsicums, or the rainbow silverbeet, or the purple carrots, or …. (you really should browse the seed site.  It’s fun 😛 )

Thanks for visiting, bloggy friends!

 

 

The Mysteries of Kefir, and Other Cute Things

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Hello Bloggy friends!

Breakfast in the Bluestocking household  is not what it was.  I’ve made kefir 😀  And the Chicklette  has made  Hootenanny pancakes.

One very dear, obliging, and live-dangerously type bloggy friend sent me the starter culture through the mail.  I researched, I rinsed, I cultured.  A beautiful batch of sludgy, milky, good for you stuff came to life.

It was a true test of Mr BB’s commitment to me.  His reaction, when presented with a glass overflowing with gut healing goodness, made with the health and well-being of my family in mind,  was.. (to say the least) not.quite.enthusiastic.  In truth, his response was (and I quote), “I do love you, but I have never felt the least inclination to be a cup-bearer.  You go first.”

Why he was reluctant to try something that had grown out of lumpy ingredients forwarded through the mail in a specimen jar, floating in raw milk, is beyond me.  I’m not calling Mr BB chicken livered, yellow, or cowardly (exactly), but it does call into question his knight-errantry.  I tried explaining to him that I was creating an opportunity for chivalry, but.. he was immoveable.

So, I went first.  And I lived. 🙂

Since then, we have been merrily culturing milk and turning it into smoothies with fruit, and the occasional raw egg.  Boldness and daring have reached new heights at the Bluestocking breakfast table.  If you’re interested in horrifying your spouse with a weird and alternative breakfast, you might want to visit Dom the Kefir man’s site. He is the recognised Kefir guru of the internet (maybe the world?).

I’d love to hear  your thoughts and ideas if you are an old hand at trekking the Kefir path 🙂

On to other, cutsie happenings…  it’s gosling season!

Aren’t they desperately adorable?!?

The farmer hatched them in the incubator, as there are foxes wreaking havoc on the farm.  We were able to watch several hatch.

They are a little bedraggled looking when they are first out.

But I forgive them being born ungainly, as they soon are irresistibly thick and fluffy and soft.

That’s what we’ve been up to.  Hope you’re all enjoying school holidays! 🙂

A Farmyard Surprise

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Yesterday was a momentous day for the Bluestockings.  Quite by accident, we stumbled upon something lovely.

We had been visiting the farmer, who is unwell,  and as we were leaving there was a lone cow in the yard where the cows wait to be milked.  On the ground beside her was this little bovine dainty!

Judging by the surrounding ground and the look of the cow, I wasn’t so sorry to miss it actually being born (I only just survived seeing kittens born – waaaay too much gore for this  city girl!)

But even with a tiny bit too much reality for me, I had to stand and marvel, just marvel, at the wonder of creation; that animals reproduce after their kind; that this perfectly designed, so useful to man, so beautiful in it’s own right, little calf had just arrived in the world.

God is a creator of remarkable designs, and uniquely, of life!

(Just as an aside, did you know cows ears are NOT soft? I thought they would be flexible, like a dog’s.  Not so!)

Roast Goose Dinner

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We have two dear farming friends, a father and son, who have allowed us a very special glimpse into rural life.  Over the last six months we have visited almost weekly, and seen lambs, goslings, poults, calves, chicks, native birds nesting, and all manner of surprising and wonderful things.  The children have milked a cow, fed chickens,  bottle fed calves….   and “borrowed” baby turkeys to look after.

How do you thank someone for sharing their lives so unstintingly?

As I have followed the farmers and my children around the farm with my camera, a photobook record of our time there was one thing that came to mind.

iPhoto book

Of course, we then needed a dinner to present it. 😀

I love entertaining, though some of those skills were a little rusty.  The addition of four children to the mix of planning and preparing something special is…… certainly different!

dinner!

It was great that the Chicklette is now old enough to enjoy helping with details.  She illustrated the bottom of each handwritten invitation with a scene of geese and goslings, and the back of the envelopes were illustrated to match.

On the day,  Miss 11 gathered the jasmine to decorate the table, and Miss 7 helped to keep Blossy from exploring the table once it was set.

Our Menu?

Elegant Wild Rice Soup

Roast Goose

with Prune and Apple stuffing

Creme Brulee

Selection of Cheeses

Coffee and Chocolates

A big thank you to Dandelionmom for sharing her Elegant Wild Rice Soup recipe.  ((Hugs 😉 😛 ))

Having never cooked roast goose, or goose of any other description, I went to the font of all wisdom: the Aussie homeschool forum 😀  Kind ladies raided international recipe books, spoke to European relatives, and provided me with some valuable insights into the complicated world of …stuffing.

That’s right – stuffing.

apple, bacon, onion, pine nuts

I don’t eat it.

Stuffing so inevitably contains wet bread.  It’s not my cup of tea, folks!  But one of the ladies suggested that stuffing the goose with apples and sultanas is very nice. (no bread – yay!)  So, I decided to experiment a little, and fried some apples, bacon, onion and pine nuts, the day before.

Just before roasting the geese, I added  prunes which had overnighted in fresh orange juice to the stuffing. The result was sweet and fruity, with a little sharpness.  I would absolutely eat that again!

The goose was delicious, tasting rather more like a smoked beef  with a fine grain texture to it.  I read maybe (at a conservative guess..oh, say…) a million different articles on how to cook goose, but in the end went to the farmers who raised them, and the recommendation was to put them on a rack in an oven dish, with water below,  cover the whole business with alfoil, and leave in a low oven for a few hours.

I trembled at the thought.  Wouldn’t the skin be soggy and …bland looking?  It was sounding more like poached goose than roasted.  But the birds were young, the meat fell off the bone in all it’s smokey deliciousness, and the skin was lovely and brown.  Mmmmm!

How to serve roast vegetables for twelve people while my oven was full of goose was the next challenge.  We had three of these little ovens going;

bench top ovens

And dessert?

Our family has a tradition of multiple dessert courses.  It is really Mr BB’s fault.  In this case I was happy to indulge him, as the creme brulee leaves a LOT of egg white to deal with.  So…

pavlova

Pavlova!

Ah, it was a thing of beauty. It should have made me famous.

in the oven

Glorious, yes?

So full of promise!

I left it to cool in the oven; came back delighted, only to find that the part you can’t see at the back, was burned.  At that point I thrust aside my serene, in control, Martha persona; cursed that electric oven for the vile fiend it is, and mourned and lamented the loss of both my pavlova, and my old gas oven.

I decided that some days, one dessert course and a cheese board is an adequate sufficiency.

creme brulee

Mangoes, blueberries, strawberries… and a dusty goose!

creme brulee

I always like to have something chocolately to finish, and yet, if your guests (particularly on the days when both dessert courses are sucessful! ) are sated, it seems wrong to have those chocolate yumminesses go to waste.

lindor balls to have with coffee, or take home

By presenting them wrapped,  to each guest, it gives the option of enjoying them with the coffee, or taking them home: and even with just the one dessert, several opted to carry them home.

I had a lot of fun (despite my ruinous pavlova, sob!) and it reminded me why we used to entertain often: it is so pleasant to gather family and friends, and to share a meal and conversation together. 🙂

Farm Day!

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Willy Wagtail nest

I am blessedly, deliciously, experientially … rich!

Our day started with a visit to the farm to see a Willy Wagtail’s nest, and we were treated to a beautiful song while watching them.  (Have I ever mentioned I’m a birder?  I could waste hours and hours watching birds..)

The farmer then caught one of the lambs we saw as newborns back when the wool was still crunchy, and let us explore the texture.  Have you ever felt the wool around a sheep’s face?  It is a tactile experience you won’t forget in a hurry!

Sheepy sheepy delight!

Back at my parents house for art, we were part way through the lesson when the farmer called to say there was a barn owl in the hay shed, did we want to see it?

We did! 😀

Barn Owl

It was injured, and is now in the hands of wildlife carers.  More owl photos posted here.

Could a day hold any more delightful surprises?  Actually, yes!

I am now the proud babysitter of 5, yes, five, adorable, baby turkeys. 😀

Bloss and a baby turkey

We have been entrusted with the little bundles of peeping dearness until such time as they are no longer cute and fluffy: an eventuality that will see them firmly back on the farm where big, gangly turkeys belong.

Of course, there are still these beginning to be playful, beginning to explore, kittens at Grandma’s house for the girls to adore…

Bengal Burmese cross kittens

My day has been one glorious, serendipitous, adventure in life!

A Tiny Wonder

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I love homeschooling.  I love my family. I love my life!  (lol! not necessarily in that order 😉 )

arranging the eggs

We were packing to leave my mother’s house when the farmer rang.  There were some goslings hatching, did we want to come over the farm and see?  (Of course we did!)

asking questions

The little one above was about two hours old.  Adorable, yes?

hatching gosling

The farmer, at some personal risk, procured an egg for us to watch and to hold.  While he nursed his fast swelling arm (who knew geese bit so hard?) we were able to hold the peeping, moving, coming into the world, baby gosling.  It was pretty special.

As a child I spent many of my holidays on a farm.  I am so grateful to our farming friends for sharing their time with us and providing opportunities for my children to see such wonders.

goose and new baby gosling

Isn’t the miracle of life beautiful?!

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