Rainy Day Update from the Farmlet

We are looking out the windows at a sodden and misty world. It rained cats and dogs for all of yesterday afternoon and last night. When I woke up this morning, it was still raining. I sneaked out during a lull to tend to the goats. The forecast yesterday predicted that we would get 100-150mm of rain overnight, and it surely felt like we did! Kevin and I are already getting a lot of use from the heavy-duty waterproof coats and pants that we felt driven to purchase after the last heavy rain. The rain is much lighter today, but since it is still too wet for most outside jobs, I thought this might be a good time for an update on some of the things that are going on around here.

Autumn Planting
We have built two new pea frames, and I will probably soon put on my rain gear and plant out some more of the pea seedlings that we have started. I hope we haven’t left it too late to get a good crop of autumn peas. Time will tell! Of course, every year is different, but I’m keeping a record of planting dates, so that we can refine our timing as the years go by.

A while ago, I started seedlings for passionfruit (mostly purple ones, and a few golden), cherimoya (also known as custard apple), and red tamarillo. By now, the tamarillos and some of the passionfruit look ready to be transplanted into the garden. We are thinking of putting a couple of the tamarillos in the rather sheltered bed next to the house, since they are quite frost tender. For the passionfruit, we will have to extend the trellis system that we have started on the western side of the house paddock.

Young passionfruit plants

Joining a Co-op
We have arranged to join a co-op, so that we can buy our bulk organic goods at wholesale. We are looking forward to less packaging and better prices. We will place our first order this weekend if the catalogue arrives in time. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait two more months for the next order to go in.

Goat Fence
Work on fixing the fence around the uphill goat paddock is underway, though of course it has been suspended with the wet weather. Kevin was finding it hard going, since Daphne and Lulu were very keen to taste each fence fixture as he tried to nail it into place. They were also sure that the bag of fence fixtures must contain tasty treats for goats. And anyway, why would Kevin be in the goat paddock at all if not to cuddle and play with his dear little goats?

I have canned several more batches of tomato puree, by now. We have quite a little stock of it in the cupboard to enjoy during the winter months. Our bell peppers (mostly red and a few yellow) are also very prolific. I picked a whole bucket-full the other day, and I’m thinking we might try to make a lacto-fermented pickle out of some of them. Perhaps we’ll roast them and remove the skins before fermenting them as per the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. Does anyone out there have any advice or suggestions about lacto-fermenting sweet peppers?

Sweet yellow pepper

We have been in touch with Barry, the digger operator, who will level the site for our much-needed cow shed. He plans to do the work next week, although it’s possible that this wet weather may delay him somewhat. While he’s here, he’s also going to dig out a dam for us. A dam can cause major problems if not properly constructed, so we have taken extra care to choose an experienced digger operator with an excellent reputation. There are a lot of things to think about! The site for the cow shed needs to be big enough to fit the large water storage tank that will sit next to the shed. We need to figure out what to do about drainage and overflows. We also need to make arrangements to save the topsoil that the digger disrupts, so that we can spread it over the wounded subsoil and plant it as soon as possible after the job is finished.

We feel blessed to have lots of rain filling the streams and making our gardens and pastures grow. At the same time, we look forward to having some fine days to keep working on outside jobs — especially the big projects of earthworks and shed construction that have to be finished by July when the calves are due.

5 Responses to “Rainy Day Update from the Farmlet”

  1. limukala says:

    I’ve never tried lacto-fermenting peppers, but I imagine if anything you could always make a salsa, chutney or ketchup of some sort (in the Carribean you can get great banana ketchup, so not everywhere in the world has forgotten that ketchup used to come in dozens of flavors besides tomato).

    I forgot to send you my link for lacto-fermented ketchup anyways, but here is the recipe:

    TOMATO CATSUP (from The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell, 1861)

    1 gallon tomatoes
    3 tbs. salt
    3 tbs. ground black pepper
    3 tbs. (dry) mustard, or ground mustard seed
    1 tsp. ground allspice
    4 peppers, type unspecified but “sweet”, not hot
    1 onion (optional)
    1 quart horseradish “juice” (roots grated and liquid pressed out)

    Select tomatoes not overripe, skin and strain the tomatoes; to every gallon add three table-spoons of salt, three of ground black pepper, three of mustard, and one teaspoon of ground allspice; mix the spices in a part of the tomato, and strain them through a sieve; put in a small bag four large pods of sweet peppers and, if relished, one onion, and boil them with the catsup while it is being reduced; add the expressed juice of one quart of horseradish, and reduce it until it is of the proper consistency to pour from the bottles without difficulty; let the catsup remain in the bottles, with a piece of cotton cloth tied loosely on the neck, for three months to ripen, when cork and seal tightly.

    The rest of the article is quite interesting too and worth reading. (and they have recipes for all kinds of other ketchups, from walnut to lemon to oyster)


  2. Rebecca says:

    Hi Limukala,
    Thanks so much for the recipe and the link. We ended up cooking all the peppers up for meals, and I’m not sure if we’ll get any more, now. I might have to wait for next year to try that ketchup recipe. I’m looking forward to reading the article as soon as possible!

  3. tochigi says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Is the Co-op only in Northland or do they cover Auckland too? My mother may be interested in joining.


  4. Rebecca says:

    Hi there,
    The co-op (it’s a Ceres co-op) is very local, since all the members have to go to someone’s house to pick up the order. She lives not far from Kaitaia, so I don’t think this would suit your mother too well!
    We’ve only done one order, but so far we’re finding it really good — bulk prices, reduced packaging, and access to lots of products that we otherwise couldn’t buy up here. I suppose similar co-ops must exist in Auckland, but have no idea how one goes about finding them. I’ll ask around, and will get in touch with you if I come up with any info that might help your mother.

  5. tochigi says:

    Thanks. Yeah, I really think my mother should join a local co-op in Auckland, since she buys so much organic stuff at inflated prices. I will ask some friends involved in the Rudolph Steiner school if there is anything suitable.