Homesteading, News

Spring is in the air!

I’m excited! Although it’s been raining heavily and the house is leaking in multiple places there is something in the air. It is the promise of spring!

Before the rains started we had a gorgeous sunny and WARM day. I’m really not someone who enjoys the heat but it’s been brutally cold this winter and I can’t wait to start doing more in the garden and for the flowers to come into bloom. We can see the buds of the blossoms starting to show on the fruit trees and Dart our Silky X one of the first chicks we hatched has become a mother to 3 beautiful little chicks!

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One of the chicks was actually hatched by Orpie our Black Brahma but she only hatched two and as she is so large managed to squish one so we rescued the other little baby and gave her to Dart who happily adopted her. The first time Orpie hatched when we moved here two years ago she had 18 babies and didn’t lose a single one. Orpie was the best mother we had had but last year she manged to lose 4 to hungry magpies and then her daughter stole the other 3 from her and she was confused for weeks!. We are hoping to give her another chance later in the year if she goes broody again.

As well as the watching nature unfold we have set the incubator with Araucana and Gold laced Wyandottes 20 of which are developing and due in 2 weeks! We also have 6 duck eggs set but only 3 have developed so we are keeping our fingers crossed and will be setting another incubator soon. I am desperately hoping the quail will start laying soon they all seem very content running around and hardly ever fight which I was told to expect so I definitely think they are happy enough so hopefully once the weather warms up I will find a nice spotty egg to incubate and we will have some teeny tiny chicks!

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We have decided this spring/summer to do the Market thing properly and do at least two a month this should balance out well with my other work doing Dreadlocks. I’ve been busy making up batches of preserves to sell so far we have Zucchini pickle,  Yellow Plum & Vanilla bean Jam(Taste like apricots), Spicy Rhubarb BBQ sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Cherry Plum Jam, Apple Paste, Mandarin Marmalade and I am tossing up if I should do a Cherry Plum cordial or Plum sweet and sour chilli sauce and Sweet chilli Sauce. We will also have a few baked goods as well and possibly offer our cordials by the cup when the weather is warmer. All the main ingredients in the preserves are sourced locally and I can’t wait for late spring when we can go foraging and picking around the area and local Orchards.

So although the rains have hit hard ( I’m not complaining just in case we don’t get any more!) it already feels warmer 🙂

Foraging, Homesteading, News

Mushroom Season!

The Mushroom season is upon us and we have gone on another forage.

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The two mushrooms we forage for are slippery Jacks and Saffron Milkcaps these are local to our area and easy to identify.

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Slippery Jack

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Suillus Luteus
This edible species grows in conifer woods. It has a very sticky cap which is always covered in debris and, as it is also eaten by larvae, careful cleaning is necessary before cooking. When we pick we instantly peel off the sticky top layer as this can cause a tummy upset.

The white flesh yellows as it matures, but it doesn’t change colour when cut (e.g. doesn’t react to air.) Consequently, some wild mushrooms advise peeling them as they are picked so that they don’t stick together. When the underside starts to turn from yellow to brown, though, the mushroom is getting very old.

Cap: brown to brownish-yellow, sometimes purplish, radially streaked with darker lines or of mottled colour, fading with age. Lopsided, convex, sometimes nearly flat, 5 – 10cm diameter. Remnants of veil sometimes on margin. Cuticle slimy with brown gluten when moist, shiny when dry. Flesh pale yellow or white, unchanging. Tubes: adnate, soft, short, 5-8mm. Pores: a first covered by a white membranous veil, pale yellow, finally yellowish-olive, small, simple. Stipe: stout, rather short, 2.5 – 5cm long, with a large purplish-brown membranous ring. Yellow, granular above ring, white or brownish below. Flesh tough, elastic sometimes faintly greenish at apex.

We enjoy them in risotto but I think they would be lovely in soup and can be dried. They can be somewhat bland on there own but have a good consistancy of flavour. We also peel the spongey side off though I’ve read some reports this isn’t neccessary.

Saffron Milk Cap 

Lactarius Deliciousus

Some of the earliest know illustrations of fungi are the representations of Lactarius deliciousus in the frescoes of Herculaneum and Pompeii. In Germany it is regarded by some as the best of all edible fungi. In china it is gathered and eaten on a large scale, and it is one of the officially recognised edible species sold in French markets. Always found growing under conifers, it is often buried by pine needles. In favourable seasons a giant can form, 10 – 30cm broad, can be often found.

Tastes mild, with an aromatic smell, it is delicious when cooked slowly and well. Can be served in stews, casseroles, in a sauce on toast or sliced in soups. It is especially recommended when cooked with Fistulina hepatica in butter and a little stock for at least 45 mins, and then flavoured with Worcestershire sauce or sherry. It should be washed before cooking to remove as much of the milk as possible.

The Saffron Milk Cap should be cooked quickly at high temperature to avoid stewing. The stalks should be discarded.

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I love mushroom season we will be going for another forage soon so we can dry some for year long soups.

Remember if in doubt throw it out and NEVER eat these ones!

IMG_3775 We tell our daughter the faeries this here.

Foraging, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Foraging and harvesting

We had a lovely weekend the weather was unexpectedly warm so we pottered around to the garden harvesting some of our spaghetti squashes and boy did we get a monster I am so impressed by this guy that I’m seriously contemplating entering him in the local show next weekend. Check the normal sized egg for scale. N really enjoyed helping pick the squash and it has been a lovely process watching them grow from seed with her.  We have over 20 growing which is way more than we need so my plans so far for them are some pickles , freezing and giving some away to friends. We might put any extras out the front out our roadside stall on the weekends and if there are any left if march we will take them to the local swap meet.

(forgive the sideways image of N for some reason I can not edit it)

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We spent Sunday foraging and fruit picking at a friends property where we got a huge bounty of plums and blackberries.

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I had planned to process them fresh as soon as possible but when we got home I had very little sugar left so I made some more Plum sparkling (a natural fermented soft drink). The rest of the plums bar the yellow ones I weighed out bagged and froze but I will be making Plum Jam, Ice cream, Chinese Plum sauce, worcestershire sauce and maybe some plum liqueur and cakes. I’m pondering going back to my friends for more before they all drop off the tree but as I only have a window of a few days we will wait and see.