Sunday, February 17, 2013

A morning that began badly...

Now, because Wednesday the black Labrador has a happy habit of barking at wallaby, wombats, rats, night birds, shadows, her own imagination (and will sleep cheerfully through people arriving. That's not at night when humans are asleep, so there is not much point) I shut them into my study at night, where they have a bed and sofa to quibble over, as well as do cushions. So for 6 or 7 hours a night they are confined. I am a deep sleeper... for around 2 hours, after which a mouse fart at 200 paces will wake me, which means I have got up to let them out often enough. Unfortunately one of them decided - after having had access to the shed it is in for ?6 months, to pull out the bag of blood-and-bone (a form of fertilizer) and eat some. No one let me know they were not sleeping the sleep of the plump elderly Labrador... The gastric effects that greeted me this morning were not pretty and smelled worse. Both of the rat-bags seemed OK which is more than I can say for the bouquet in my study. Fortunately no harm done to the floor.

I've been drying yet more prune-plums today. The drier is wearing a look of desperate exhaustion, and I have more gifted apples and more tomatoes to try and do before Wednesday. Listen I paid $50 for that dryer and I'm nothing if not mean... I want my pound of flesh, dried so that about 5 pounds wet... Seriously, this is harvest time for most folk, and we're very much part of the informal 'barter' - which is more a constant exchange of gifts of produce, or the products thereof, or a hand when you need one. No one keeps score, and in some cases it definitely flows more one way than the other. If this gets chronic - and there is no reason (if you're old, or sick or poor or new they cut a lot of slack) - then, well, the person quietly gets left out. So, as we're on the getting side of the fruit, I assume either people feel sorry for us or appreciate what we put in. We are on the 'weird' side as much of what we consider very special, is odd locally - Biltong, our olives, and boerwors. And, generally, we don't have a lot of garden spare that isn't being saved for winter, that everyone else doesn't have by the bucket (yes, some does go out - this year with water restrictions in Whitemark, I've given away zucchini that I've been asked for. Normally people run away if they see you with one.) Still, it does seem produce always has some flops (last year I had not many tomatoes, and very few carrots, feeble beets but loads of cucumbers and loads of eggs. This year, very few cucumbers (which as I need the little ones for gerkins for green sauce is serious - we have been given a bottle to my relief), eggs are right down, and I have lots of tomatoes, and good carrots (need to plant more) and wonderful beets, tons of spring onions, reasonable potatoes, feeble sweetcorn and almost no real onions. However fish, abalone and butchered out wallaby are generally something we have a bit extra of, and occasionally there's a crayfish to make someone's day.

We're not fanatical about it, but we try to live on what we grow and catch - and this is why the seasonality of things makes such a difference. What I don't preserve now, we won't be eating in Winter and Autumn.

It puts a whole new slant on life, and on getting on with people.

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