Preparing for Winter.

We haven’t had to use the stove since early December and it is unlikely we will see weather in the next few months that will require it but already I am getting ready for winter.

Last winter the pallet numbers dropped off dramatically late in the season as it got cold and people were looking for wood.

We chose to use up our wood for space with the granny flat project and had about 2 barrow loads come end of winter. I did a run up to wood for good and got a load and most of that is still left.

Since then I have managed to hit a few local fallen branches from people and locations, a good load from a friend up around Macedon along pruning from trees.

I am also getting in pallets making sure they are all heat treated timber and preferably hardwood.

So the hunt is ongoing. I have a hand saw and loppers in the car if I come across anything decent. Even a small branch can be a half to a full days heating in our very efficient stove.

Managed to harvest below and another barrow load locally after a large branch had come down in the wind over Christmas.

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And tonight I noted a tree dropped and nicely cut up into foot long blocks by an arborist two streets down on my way home. A quick knock on the door and a question and invited to take half. But the best was to meet and speak to a neighbour who I had never meet. An older guy very nice chatted for some time on his tomatoes and gave him some advice on his new lemon tree. Good to get to know the locals.

Three big barrow loads and the offer of the rest if his friends do not pickup there’s by tomorrow. I took the longer pieces as I have access to cut them up the other people may not have this. You need to be fair.

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Pity some of the branches where not a bit longer or I would have inoculated them with some shitake but beggars cannot be choosers.

As it is this wood is still a year of drying away from being used but it will get used.

And didn’t even need to use a car to bring it home that is local.

Cut up it will fuel us for a week or more 🙂

 

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Generation Turn It On.

It occurred to me as I light our fire this morning we are now a society of turn it on.

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Most days I am the first one up. It is not as cold as it used to be now we have updated the insulation in the house but it is usually chilly.

The nectre heater holds a lot of heat and I bank it down each night but in these days of cold it just cannot hold it all night. So I as soon as I am up I put on socks, a jumper and hat to keep warm and fire up the stove.

In times past this would have been the norm. I could just get up and flick on the central or the gas heater in the lounge room like most other people would do.

But I am aiming to decrease the usage of gas. Gas is now coming from non-traditional methods. i.e. fracking. This is not something I want to leave to my children. No fossil fuels and no land to grow food on. So up I get and make my little part for the world.

Each of us gets to do their little bit each day. It took a billion acts to make the world head in the direction it is going to take billion to head back in the right direction.

Turn of the light. Put on a jumper. Don’t heat up your house and then head out to work for the day. Close the door. Turn off your computer when you leave work.

It all adds up.

Looks like the bugs of winter…

So I had hoped to post a long post tonight as it has been a great day with my oldest turning five. She is a great kid and I am delighted and saddened at the same time at how fast she has grown and what a real little person she has become. My little girl is growing up to be a wonderful empathetic, happy little person who loves all around her but she is growing up so fast…

My parents came down and dropped of a big box of quinces to process next week and on top my usual bottled quinces for winter I have a few idea’s including bletting some of them in my freezer to try them and a cordial a good friend Libby at libby-cooks has been talking about (if I can con it out off her 🙂 )

But now I feel like the proverbial. We have already had a run of bugs in the house and as winter kicks in it appears one more has decided to come our way from the biohazards that are our crèche children.

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So instead of a long post I am brewing an early batch of elderberry syrup. This is a medicated brew rather than a eating syrup and is proactive measure to keep you healthy and fight virus’s.

Recipe is below. In addition I am drinking a couple of hot lemon and honey drinks as below.

Hopefully I can short circuit this one and do a post on the soups I have been making on my new stove this week.

Hot Lemon Honey and Spice Tea

  • Juice of a lemon (or half a lemon to taste)
  • Table spoon of raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon of dried ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Hot water to a cup

Nothing much mix it all together and drink hot. Very effective.

Elderberry Syrup

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen elderberry or 1/3 of cup of dried
  • 2 tablespoons of ground ginger or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves (about ½ if you are using ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 1 cup of honey

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Put all ingrediants except the honey in a pot and simmer till it reduces by about a third to a half. Once this has happened pass it through a fine sieve and use the back of spoon to make sure you get as much liquid as possible add a half a cup of boiling water to help push the last of it through and use the back of the spoon again.

When tepid add the cup of honey and stir in (don’t add the honey when to hot) bottle in a sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge I have around a ½ a shot glass a day in winter (starting now) as a proactive and if I am feeling fluey I have it every 4 hours or so.

Should last a month or so in the fridge so make up a batch at a time rather than to much at once.

A Minor Visit by Jack Frost

Well we had a minor visit by Jack Frost.

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All this after I told my father we don’t get frost anymore here. Mother Nature must laugh at me some times.But it has been to long since we had this part of the natural cycle so I am enjoying this.

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Looking like a beautiful day in the land of the urban hippie so of to get into it.

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For those of you who don’t already know I have a Facebook page and this gets updated by my wordpress account but I also do post a fair few more small updates and photos there. So if you have Facebook please like. The link is down the side of this page.

Taking Stock

So Today was our famers market day. We go to the farmers market at Bundoora stock up on good meat, small goods, cheeses and a week or two of any fresh vegies that we don’t grow or swap that are on offer.

Today before I headed off I did a fridge and freezer clean out and stock take to check what I needed and to ensure that I did not waste anything, or buy things I already have.

We have some changes coming to our house as we retro fit it for conserving energy and the power will be off for a few days to a week so one of the plans is to clean out the freezer. It will also not hurt to process what I have in there, either by cooking it or it processing it for alternate storage such as bottling/canning drying etc. I like most people can rely a bit too much on the freezer  and while a very useful tool for improving self-sufficiency we should remember that at the end of the day it costs us to run whereas bottled fruit or a pack of dried mushrooms can sit there for a couple of years and not cost me a penny.

It is also going to help our budget as well. The retro fit is not going to be cheap but by my calculations we are pretty much setup for the bulk of meals for the next couple of months.

So it might be a good chance for everyone to see what they have in their larder, fridge or freezer and ensure that all nothing is going to go to waste.

Once done I have cleaned out my freezer I will be putting in a good chunk of a whole pig I am buying in the freezer in May to see how I go with it as my primary source of animal protein for the winter. But I will also be processing some into smoked bacon, salami and prosciutto as I have said I want to reduce that reliance on the freezer and keep it as simple as I can  which will help my budget and hopefully the world at large.

To this end tomorrow I will start to plant my bed in the community garden with winter veg. After all if you can grow and harvest it as you go then you are even better off than storing it in the end.

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