Archive for March, 2009

Onions and Garlic

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

We harvested our garlic crop a couple of months ago now. The garlic we grow is a local heirloom variety, known as “Takahue garlic.” It has a wonderfully strong flavour and tends to have a bit of pinkish streaking in it. Kevin chose a dry and well-ventilated spot under the eaves of our house and hung the garlic up there in bunches. We have had some trouble storing our garlic in the past, so I’m happy to say that it seems to be keeping well in this spot under the eaves. We had a big crop of garlic this year, thanks to some kind friends who gave us some of their seed garlic. On the negative side, this year’s garlic is a lot smaller than the heads we’ve grown in previous years. We planted it in poor soil and it got very water-logged over the winter months. We’ll have to find a better spot next time around.

Harvested garlic hanging under the eaves

We’ve also been enjoying some pungent onions from the garden — Stuttgart Long Keeper from King’s Seeds and Pukekohe Long Keepers from Koanga Gardens. For some reason, lots of the bulbs have divided this year. This didn’t happen last season, even though I used exactly the same seed. I imagine it must have something to do with the conditions. Does anyone know why this might have happened?

In the spring, I replanted some of the best onions from last year’s crop and let them run to seed. I have finally harvested the seed heads. From 10 onions, I got 5 good seed heads, which I’m planning to use for the next season’s onion crop. I’ve never tried saving our own onion seed before, so this will be an interesting experiment.

Rosehip Honey Kefir Soda

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Here’s one of my favourite water kefir recipes. It makes a beautiful fizzy red soda! I love that it can be made with local honey. I also look forward to the day when I’m more sorted our with my herb and flower gardens and can use home-grown rosehips and hibiscus flowers in the recipe.

Rosehip Honey Kefir Soda

1/2 cup raw honey
5 rosehip hibiscus teabags
1/2 cup water kefir grains
1/2 a lemon

*Mix the honey with warm water to dissolve. (Avoid using really hot water, which will kill the enzymes in your honey!)
*Put the honey water in a large jar with more cold water to make a total of about 2 litres. (NB: use filtered water if you are unsure of your water supply. Treated or polluted water can contain chemicals that inhibit healthy growth of the kefir culture.)
*Add lemon half, teabags and kefir grains to the jar and stir gently.
*Cover the jar to keep out bugs and dust, and put it in a warm place for 2 days. The hot water cupboard works well.
*After 2 days, squeeze the lemon half into the liquid, then strain and bottle the beverage. Use sturdy bottles with lids that seal tightly.
*Put the bottles back in a warm place for 2 or 3 days longer before transferring them to the fridge to chill for drinking.
*Open carefully in case a lot of carbonation has built up in the bottle! This drink looks extra lovely served with a wedge of lemon and a few borage or pineapple sage flowers floating on top.

I use our spare water kefir grains to make this drink, and throw them out after I strain it. I do this because the grains do not thrive best in honey and might be damaged. We want to keep our propagating water kefir colony as robust and healthy as possible, so I don’t risk using them for experimental brews!

Leg Injury Due to Stupidity

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Two days ago, our newest heifer got tangled up with a broken fence. I keep a rope tied loosely on the creature’s neck so that she can be separated from Coco for milking. The calf managed to get this rope tangled around some #8 wire fencing and a metal standard.

We were on our way out to the coast, so I wasn’t wearing my work pants (with the knife in the back pocket) or boots. I saw that she was stuck and just strolled up there thinking that I’d be able untie the knot to free her quickly.

Well, the knot was a serious mess. I looked at this situation and thought, “Just don’t get between that rope and the standard. Be careful.”

What do you think happened…

As I was undoing the knot, she took off like a shot and the rope snapped tight against my legs, I flew into the air and landed in some position that had both of my legs lashed to the standard, along with a ball of fencing. It was a tangle of legs, #8 wire, rope and blood (my blood). I was yelling uncontrollably because of the pain. This was upsetting the animal even more. She went around me a couple more times, pulling the tangle of fence, legs and rope tighter.

In case you’re wondering, this was a very serious, “OH SHIT!” moment. I couldn’t move, and the crazed animal would eventually wind herself up to the point where she’d be on top of me. She has tried to kick me with both front (yes, front) and hind sets of hooves. No, she REALLY doesn’t like being tethered.

My next thought was:

If she kicks you in the head, you could buy the farm right here, partially tangled in the fence, partially lying in the mud, blood and shit.

Trying to focus through the excruciating pain, I decided to cut her loose. I reached for the knife in my back pocket… That wasn’t in my back pocket because I wasn’t wearing my work pants!

I don’t really know why, but she got tired of pulling on the rope. Maybe she realized that she was actually getting closer to me, by going around and around, which she obviously didn’t like. I managed to get some slack on the rope, which allowed me to crawl away.

I’ve done some stupid things on this property, but this one takes the cake. What makes it even worse is that I saw the potential for trouble and reminded myself to be extra careful. Anyway, the good news is that this incident didn’t involve a trip to the emergency room or worse. The bad news is that, in addition to minor cuts, scrapes and bruises on both hands and my right leg, this is what the back of my left leg looks like right now:

This hurts a lot

To say that I’m walking funny is a bit of understatement. I don’t know if any serious damage has been done to my knee. The whole area is turning black and blue, and I’m having a hard time straightening it out. There’s some swelling, but it’s much less than I thought would be present. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign.

I went to the chemist and he suggested a product called NurofenPlus, which is Ibuprofen and codeine. This has cut the throbbing pain way down. He said that if the pain continues to get worse, or if swelling increases, I’d need to go to the hospital.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: Please be careful.

I could have just kept this one quiet. I mean, who really wants to admit doing something stupid? The reason I wrote this post is because you don’t want to be the guy (or girl) who’s tangled up in a fence, screaming at the top of your lungs where nobody can hear you, with life and limb subject the whims of a very strong and stroppy animal. Maybe before doing something silly, you’ll think, “I don’t want to wind up like that jackass on Farmlet.” Maybe you’ll take greater care around your own property as a result of this. I know that I will.