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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flaming Pig

Things are starting to dry out and get back to normal at last after more then 200mm of rain over the past couple of weeks. Not that I really know what normal is, maybe I’d be better just saying less messy. Floppsy has been breaking out the last few mornings, I’ve figured out where she’s getting out and now I just need to fix the hole she has made in the fence before she entices more pigs to escape. She’s a real pest when she gets out and if she gets into the Cooks garden then we are both toast.

The river peaked again on Thursday, only slightly lower then it has on previous occasions. It’s still running well and if it stayed like it is for the rest of the year we’d be happy. We love the sound the running river makes, at night you can here the water, the banjo frogs bonking away, the water various birds and rustling of the leaves in the poplar trees. It’s so peaceful I lay awake listening for hours – probably why I’m tired some mornings.

I was lucky enough to be up just before dawn this morning and watched the sun rise over the mountains, there was a slight summer mist and heavy dew on the grass. The pigs were up early as well, snuffling around in the paddocks it was so peaceful and tranquil. It’s such a shame it only lasts for a short while before the traffic, planes and flies drown out the serenity.

Over the weekend began to make the Cook her wheat garden, the pigs (hog tractors) had done a great job in clearing and digging up the area and all I needed to do was fence it and turn the ground over. So hopefully by autumn we’ll have a nice patch of wheat ready for making into winter bread. The Cook was looking at the patch last night and we were talking about the wheat, she asked how were we going to husk the wheat when it was ready, we’ll work that out when we get to it I said – I’m pretty sure she’s gone to work and the first thing she’ll do is Google it.

The latest batches of piglets are getting bigger, and there mums are looking great – summer piglets are so much easier on the mums. We’ve got pigs going in all directions at the moment as well. It seems every body wants there own, which is good for the industry and good for small farmers.

Yesterday we had our first venture into spit roasting a pig. I had picked out a nice little pig (36kg without head) to try out my brand spanking new 40kg rated pig spit! If it went well I was taking it to the world. So I arrived at 5am at an undisclosed location, in Canberra, with all my equipment on a trailer. Unfortunately the ranger couldn’t get there before 8am to unlock the gate so I had to push the trailer last 200m. This took me back to those PT sessions in the army when we pushed trailers full of water jerry’s around Lavarrack Barracks – SGT Lawson always said we’d be grateful to the army for training us to do this one day.

Anyway, I got everything set up and working by 6:30am, lots of joggers in Canberra around that time. We stuck the pig on the spit and realised it was six inches too long, that was no problems – we had a saw. So, at 6:30am me and another guy are holding this pig down, covered in a sheet, on a park bench – somewhere in Canberra. Sawing the head off was pretty easy in the end and onlookers seemed to disperse quickly. We got the fire going and had the pig nicely rotating over the coals. Everything seemed to be going well and my off sider decided to clear out and pick up some more heat beads.

So off he trundled, I sat down and started to get the baste ready for the pig. I suppose the spit had been going for about an hour when the counter weight must off broken off and threw the pig out of balance, this inturn broke the shear pin on the motor and the pig stopped turning. I walked over to the pig to take a look at what had happened. The pig was too heavy for me to take off on my own and the coals were going well at this stage, so I decided I should hand turn it. I walked over the trailer to grab the handle when I heard the fire roar into life, the pig had been dripping fat onto the fire and things started to get exciting. We had placed the spit under a very large elm tree, the branches were well above the spit and in the beginning we thought it would be fine. But as the fire took hold of the spit and the pig it started to catch the tree as well. So, there I was watching the brand new spit, a 35kg pig and a rather large elm tree burst into flames only 200 metres from Parliament House – crap. I tried to rescue the pig but it was just to heavy, then I remembered I had put a bucket in the trailer, so I grabbed that and ran down to the lake to fetch some water. By the time I got back everything was well alight, so with a fairly large feeling of helplessness I started tossing water on the coals – with much relief the water worked and after the second bucket the fire had died out.

So now I just had a very black pig, a scorched tree and a burnt out spit to fix before 1:30 pm. Luckily some people form the office arrived and set to scrapping the black off the pig and somebody else fixed the motor, by 10:30am we had the pig turning over a nice bed of coals with a bucket of water at arms distance just in case.

By 1:30pm the pig was done to perfection, the Cook turned up to inspect our achievement ( I had rung her earlier for advice, but had to hang up because she was incapacitated by side splitting laughter) and was very impressed. I haven’t had the courage to check the spit out yet, I think I’ll leave that for the weekend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's a jungle out there

I managed to get stung by bees twice on the one ear on Saturday. I spent the weekend with one giant ear and one normal ear – very uncomfortable. Worse thing is now I’m down two bees.

We’ve hatched a nice brood of chicks this week. I don’t recall how many there are now, but they are all looking good and healthy. The Wellsummer and the Arcona chicks I picked up the other day are looking good as well. They are getting a good covering of feathers and should be ready for the out side soon. Unfortunately we lost a duck last night to the foxes, just one is unusual, I’ll have to have a look around with the spotlight tonight.

We’ve had a lot of rain, over two hundred millimetres to date in the past couple of weeks. The poor old pigs houses are flooded out and they are sleeping under the stars at the moment – I need to get in and scrape out the mud. We’ve sold a few as well, which is good and usual for this time of year.

The bees have been keeping my busy. I had to make up some frames for the hives and then discovered a new swarm had occupied one of the boxes in the shed – that’s how I got stung. The Cook never told me about them, she knew, and I walk across their flight path twice, she did ask if I was allergic.

My lawn mower is dead and the lawn is shoulder high at the moment – it’s got way past being scythed. I do the paths and around the taps still with the scythe – but I think I heard a Hoop Snake last night so we’d better be careful. There’s a big bunch of piglets keeping the dog occupied as well, she just loves following them around and making sure they don’t get too far away from mum.

We’ve also invested in a Solar Farm for the property. It’ll be erected in February and be producing electricity for both us and the grid. It’ll combat future price rises in electricity for the time being, but nobody knows what’s happening there.

The Cook has been making some great bread rolls lately and Sunday lunch was a true testament to her talents. We had beautiful bread rolls made from freshly milled organic wheat, fresh ham from the farm and garden salads. All this followed by her now famous rhubarb cake – just delicious, wouldn’t swap her for a tractor!

Last week also saw the last of this year’s pigs go off to the abattoir, I thought we would have trouble hitting 60kg dressed on them but the biggest came in at 73kg which was excellent and of the five they averaged 58kg which was perfect. One is destined for the spit roast which is why the average is a little below 60kg, my spit roaster can only handle a 40kg pig.

I had a chance to visit Mrs D during the week and was lucky enough to try a selection of her Mulberries – very yummy!! I’ve never had a white mulberry before, they were very nice. The Cooks berries are going well to, we went down the garden last night and tried some red currents and ‘a’ logan berry I think. She was so proud of it, it was very big and very juicy – it fell of the bush whilst she was showing me and Ben nearly snapped it out of her fingers, she managed to get half!