I don’t travel much these days, but this week the editor and I hit the road in our trusty Suzuki and travelled to Canberra which is the nation’s capital city. The location of Canberra is a funny place to construct a city, least of all any nation’s capital city, because it is in the middle of nowhere.
The road trip took about 9 hours each way (including stops) so it was a big drive. Believe it or not there is no rail access between Melbourne and Canberra either as I would have enjoyed a rail journey. The freeway has only recently bypassed every single town on that long journey making the drive even more boring, so suckers for punishment can simply drive all day long without stopping. I don’t revel in long distance car journeys so we stopped at many of the now bypassed and sleepy towns along the way.
So we took our time on the journey and visited many out of the way towns and the trip was thus made more enjoyable.
For the past seven years I’ve baked bread from scratch most days of the week. However, because of the road trip, I was unable to bake any bread at all, so we stopped off at a random town along the way that had a functioning bakery and picked up a couple of bread rolls to eat for lunch the following day.
At lunch the next day, I tucked into the purchased bread roll and recoiled with absolute horror. The roll certainly looked like bread, but I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t like any bread that I make. The bread roll was full of air, dry and tasted like… well, nothing at all! What was this bread-like product that I’d just half consumed? Who knows what it was, but it certainly wasn’t bread from my perspective.
I then later recalled a strange incident from about half a year ago when I was gifted a huge bag of commercially baked bread for the chickens to eat. However, both the chickens and the dogs refused to eat that bread and after a few days I had to throw all of the – still soft – but uneaten loaves into the worm farm for composting. Fortunately, the worms are not too fussy and they quickly consumed the bread that nothing else on the farm dared eat!
In order to improve the quality of bread consumed around the world, I have decided to produce a short video showing just how easy it is to bake not just one, but two loaves of bread:
Spare a thought for people in the southern corner of Western Australia (which is on the other side of the continent from here) as they have had record soaring temperatures and a huge bush fire in Esperance over the past week. The smoke from that fire on the other side of the continent has turned the sun a baleful smoky red colour as it sets each day over the farm this week:
|The smoke from the Esperance, Western Australia, bushfires produces a baleful red sunset over the farm|
As a confession, I admit that I am notoriously tight with money and am always on the hunt for a bargain. Fortunately for my predilections, there are bargains to be found! However, the editor totally out did me this week as she stumbled across a total bargain of a second hand hardwood table. The table was locally made from reclaimed rubber plantation timber which would otherwise have been burnt. The hardwood table cost less than $33, but was perhaps unappealing for other people because it had been seriously scratched and had been stained in an unusual walnut colour in an acrylic (i.e. plastic) coating.
|The acrylic coating was sanded off the new-to-me second hand hardwood table|
|The new second hand table was completely stripped back to bare hardwood timber|
I find it strange that people coat any timber at all with acrylic (i.e. plastic and water based) coatings as they rarely protect the raw timber. On the other hand oil based coatings usually penetrate the surface and protect the timber. Oil based coatings often have the advantage of highlighting the natural markings in timber and they can produce beautiful rich and complex finishes. I am writing this entry this evening on that new-to-me second hand table!
|The oil finish displays all of the complexity of the beautiful hardwood timber in the new second hand table|
Regular readers may be surprised to know that there are even more flowers this week as the poppies have suddenly produced large red and pink flowers adding to the riot of colour:
|There are even more flowers this week as the poppies have produced a stunning display|
The UV rating however has hit extreme this week for the first time this season which is quite frightening because it means that if you do not wear sunscreen when outside between about 12pm and 4pm, your skin will be burnt by the sun. However, despite it all the farm is still looking very green for this time of year:
|Scritchy the boss dog instructs Poopy to investigate some goings on downhill of the farm whilst the herbage still looks quite green|
The strong sunlight has killed many of the tomato seedlings, but even still, a whole lot of them have survived and thrived. As various the tomato seedlings die, I have been replacing them with new seedlings which I still have an abundance of.
|The tomatoes and berries are growing strongly in the early heat|
The first raspberry was picked today and the editor tells me that it was quite tasty for an early raspberry! We haven’t had much success with raspberries in previous years because the wallabies ate the entire canes (despite the thorns) and the photo below was the first of any of that fruit here!
|The first of any raspberry fruit on the farm was harvested today|
It is an exciting time for berry production, and the blueberries are just starting to swell and ripen:
|The first of the blueberries are starting to swell and ripen this week|
However, the winner is… Strawberries – the first of which ripened this week and for those readers in the now cold Northern Hemisphere, please don’t be too jealous at the photo below which was the first of many strawberry harvests over the next few months!
|The first harvest of strawberries was picked today along with some rhubarb stalks|
Generally, I’m pretty cool with the wildlife enjoying the benefits of the gardens and orchard at the farm. I’m not cool about deer though, as they have previously stripped the bark off some of my apple trees for no apparent reason at all and so on Saturday evening, I spotted the varmints skulking through the nearby forest about 2km (1.25 miles) from the farm. Unfortunately, I only had my phone on me at the time which has a very low resolution camera, but there are at least two deer in the photo below.
|Two deer with designs on my apple trees skulk through the nearby forest|
Most of the other wildlife is beneficial to the farm and the frogs perform many useful services for me by consuming all manner of insects that would otherwise be eating my produce and I spotted this little fella a couple of nights back.
|A small frog wonders whether she should jump onto the nearby borage leaf|
And there are other insect predators which are just downright weird looking and I spotted this bright green stick insect enjoying the protection of a well-oiled Jarrah (a timber from southern Western Australia) round table top. As a fun fact, the steel base for that table was recovered from the local tip shop, whilst the Jarrah top was purchased from an old dude whom sells beautiful hand-made reclaimed timber table tops at the local hippy market. It is a pleasure to see that the stick insect enjoys such excellent craftsmanship!
|A bright green stick insect enjoys the craftsmanship in a Jarrah timber table top|
The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is 10.5’C degrees Celsius (50.9’F). So far this year there has been 688.8mm (27.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 686.0mm (27.0 inches).