May Days

Monday, June 9, 2014

As hard as summer tried to push us away, May turned on all it's charm & cajoled us into falling in love with Sunnyside all over again! It is hard to imagine that a more beautiful month could possibly exist.  The temperatures were unseasonably warm.  Not the scorching warmth of our true summers, but rather, warmth that reminded me of March days, warm enough to see us in t shirts & bare feet as we danced through a rare 'Indian summer' enjoying every moment of it! 

We  greeted each day early in the milking shed.  Every single morning the sunrises were just glorious (although this is not unique to May). It may have been because of the green beauty all around that we seemed to appreciate them so much more! 

The unseasonable warmth seemed to throw all the trees out of routine &  we are still seeing unexpected flowers around the farm.  Our orange tree is covered in blossoms as well as half grown fruit ( which should come to maturity in late winter, although they look a little small to me).  One of my favourite scents is orange blossom & I can't help but slow down each time I walk past the tree, enjoying the sweet aroma wafting in the breeze!

Albeit a little later than normal, I finally planted our winter garden  for this year.  We have been abundantly blessed with our garlic harvest the past few years & I was able to use some of the leftover garlic from our  2013 harvest as seed for this year.  We still have enough leftover in the pantry to tide us through until October which will mean 12 months of using just from our own harvest!

I also planted peas, silverbeet, kale, roquette, spinach & a selection of broccoli, cauliflower & cabbages.  I may have been slightly ambitious, but after summer's garden disaster of epic proportions (the only way I can describe gardening when the water runs out), I couldn't help but plant a few beds of green, growing things!  It is wonderful to see them all emerging. Even the weeding is less of a chore & more of a joy this year (although the above picture was taken before I did the weeding, thus the haphazard look of the garden beds that I like to generally be in neat rows.)!

Late in the month I transplanted some of our mint & planted some herb seeds in one of our new garden beds. Only time will tell at how successful this is as the soil really needs to be worked on.

We are still working out how to use the 10L of milk we are blessed with each day.  We are certainly enjoying the rich, jersey cream that generously tops the milk.  It is being made into all sorts of delicacies.  I am finding our butter is amazing to cook with as well as eat!  Tuesday is my kitchen day & each week I make a batch of slow cooker yoghurt, a batch of farmers cheese & some beautiful, yellow butter.  Whenever I have excessive cream I try to make extra butter to put into the freezer for leaner times.  This endeavour was very successful until I broke my food processor ( it seems they are not made to make numerous lots of butter one after the other).  We are still making butter, but I am after sometime a little more structurally enduring than the last machine.  
A typical sight come Tuesday afternoon ~ yoghurt in the slow cooker & cheese in the press!

We have also been using our borrowed cream separator since we currently have more than enough milk to justify using it ( & if you saw all the many parts that need washing up after you use one of these you would understand this statement).  
This produces the most amazing cream ~ ever!
What a blessing to have all of this milk to use for our family!  

Oh & in case you're wondering, our pigs are loving all the excess milk!

Another first for us happened this month.  We hatched our first lot of chicks from eggs collected from our flock of chickens.  It was so exciting seeing them hatch out after the anticipation & uncertainty with this being our first time.  I was worried I had cooked them as I was unaware of the correct location for the turning mechanism, but thankfully we successfully hatched 5 cute, healthy chicks.  We are fairly sure that three came from our Wyandotte hen & two from one of our Isa Browns (the other 6 hens were still producing their tiny 'first' eggs when we collected these).  So far we are crossing our fingers hoping for more layers than chicken dinners, but you never know!

We also looked after some poddy lambs for a friend.  It's a gentle reminder of the rush of  lambing season that will be upon us soon!  These guys were easy though ~ down to just two feeds a day before they even arrived here!

Homeschooling continued in all it's busyness.  It seems that the older the children get, the more fun it is though!  On the very last Friday of May our Board of Studies inspector called to let me know she would like to come out the following Monday for our registration inspection.  Since I wasn't expecting it until August (which is when my registration runs out) the last day of May was spent compiling proposed learning programs for the next two years.  (This included high school for Zai & Ellie (gulp).) I went through a whole ream of paper printing out learning programs & outcomes & so many other sheets to gain permission to educate my children at home.  It is a huge job, but in the end she was very happy with everything I proposed & gave us two years registration (which is the longest we can get).    

Science ~ studying convection.

Did I mention that a nasty vomiting/flu bug was making it's way through the family that week as well?  In fact I was up with a vomiting child the night before the registration.  In the end the children & I all came down with it, but thankfully Dave has managed to dodge it so far! (Zai is even into his second round as of last night ~ yuck).

May was a delightful month (well, except for the illness), filled with all manner of days that begged us to be 'outside' even when duty required us to be 'in'!  Many evenings lullabied us to sleep with light rainfall  ~ just enough to water the plants, although not fill the dams.  The local farmers are happy with such a wonderful start to the cropping season and we have entered winter with a new appreciation for this beautiful place we call home!

Have a lovely day

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