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Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

I have a great story about Pete’s cousin, MJ (who is going to shoot me when she reads this).

When their grandmother passed away a few years ago, city girl MJ generously offered to help sort through Grandma’s old country house before it was sold.  While rummaging through a pile of clothes stacked on top of a closet, she pulled out what she thought was an old fur coat, only to find her hand grasping a large dead rat.

After screaming and running out of the house, she stood on the grass, trying to catch her breath, when a toy rubber snake caught her eye.  Then it moved.  More screaming ensued, which ended with her curled up in the foetal position on a bed, demanding to be taken home to the city.

Now, I have to confess, I’m about as comfortable in a rural setting as MJ is.  So whilst I was very excited at the prospect of spending the day with our old friends Diana and Ian on their small property near the Blue Mountains, I was a little perturbed by Di’s remark that they might be shearing sheep that day, and that we’d all be put to work.

The perturbation subsided as soon as we arrived.  Di and Ian’s property is so relaxing, and so incredibly welcoming, that our few hours there felt like a week’s holiday.

And we were indeed put to work, as were our friends Christina and Steve who joined us for lunch, although it didn’t involve shearing, much to Small Man’s disappointment.  However, we did move the sheep…

Aren’t they beautiful?

The lambs needed to be sorted from the ewes and weighed, and it was Big Boy’s job to push them off the weighing platform.  I asked him what it felt like, and he said it was “like trying to move a furry sofa that pushes back”.

As I’ve mentioned before, Di and Ian are small scale garlic growers – and whilst their garlic isn’t certified organic (a very expensive process here), it is grown organically and all tended and weeded by hand, a laborious process that necessitates the unpaid slave labour of their three handsome sons.

The garlic was harvested in late November, and has been drying and curing ever since. I thought you might like to see some photos of the process.

It’s hard to get an idea of scale, but these large Russian bulbs are the size of  my fist…

The purple striped garlic are a new crop for Di and Ian…

Different varieties were hanging from the rafters..

..and drying on airing shelves, before being cleaned up for sale…

We bought two kilos of garlic to add to our homegrown crop.  Compared to our baby bulbs, Di and Ian’s are large and perfectly formed.  Their Australian white garlic will sell for $30/kg this year, and the purple stripe variety for $35/kg.   If you’re in NSW and are interested in purchasing some, please email Diana – djditchfield(at)hotmail.com.

(Edit: My apologies for the earlier misinformation, but Di’s just let me know that they can only post to NSW, not the whole of Australia.  I believe there are quite convoluted quarantine rules about shipping garlic interstate).

Most of the garlic we bought were Australian whites, with their lightly blushing bulbs and pungent, creamy pink cloves (there’s a kilo of garlic in the photo above)…

The beautiful purple stripe garlic is quite different, but equally as delicious.  To my palate, these are a bit sweeter, both in aroma and flavour…

Christina and I have bought our annual supplies, which we’ll be breaking into unpeeled cloves and freezing. Doing so will ensure that we can cook with locally grown garlic all year, without having to buy imported bulbs sprayed with toxic methyl bromide (a mandatory Australian government requirement).

After lunch, we spent time wandering around Di and Ian’s fabulous vegetable garden.  I was particularly impressed with their sage – we’ve only ever grown the ordinary gray-green type, but Diana has both variegated and reddish purple varieties growing as well.

In preparation for next year’s garlic, they’ve planted a legume crop to improve the soil.  The bonus are these deliciously sweet peas – we harvested around the edges and picked nearly two kilos to bring home!

A perfectly wonderful day, spent with great friends.  Maybe country life isn’t that scary after all!

. . . . .

Ian and Diana Ditchfield
contact: djditchfield(at)hotmail.com

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