Friday, October 4, 2013

Slow Living in September

photo by Paige

September was a full to bursting month filled with people and celebration. This helped to lift all our spirits as the drought dragged through the month, and flu came to visit. Warmer weather along with with a few spittle drops from the mocking clouds has turned our world a teensy greener, and even slightly greener grazing shows in our cows' butter which has turned from white to a more buttery colour. Rosie Cow is steadily gaining back her health too. Join me as I reflect on the month that was along with Slow Living Essentials


Asparagus spears peeping out their beds announced a shift towards all things spring-like in our diet. Just picked, steamed green asparagus is deliciously fresh and zingy served with a cream cheese dip made with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of lemon rind and  a generous grinding of black pepper. A huge batch of cream cheese was turned into pastry dough, pie fillings, cheesecake, pasta sauces and all sorts of party dips. We ate more salad than soup in September, and more muesli and yoghurt instead of oats porridge. Birthdays meant birthday ice-creams of choice: Malted Ice-Cream with crushed Whisper chocolate balls for Decadent Dad, and Mixed Berry Ice Cream for my Gorgeous Girl.


Yay! My aphid spray worked. Finally the purple sprouting broccoli is sprouting as it should. Now I just need a solution for brassica-eating black beetles. I currently knock them off the plant into a tub and feed them to the hens.

Every month I plan to make soap and every month I make cheese instead, so when my step-mum-in-law, Barbs, asked for beeswax for her soap making, I arranged a barter: her lovely luxurious handmade soap for our beeswax, and we both were happy.


I have four used animal feed sacks behind the kitchen door. One each for glass, tin, paper and plastic. When they are full I cart them to town and drop them at a recently established private recycling business. It's a bit of a schlep but not too bad. Our kitchen waste goes into the bunny bucket for the chickens (there were once bunnies to feed - long story) and this gets tossed onto the compost heap which is in the chicken yard. They peck up what they like, including any bugs that come and the rest decomposes. Any other rubbish has to be burned or buried here on the farm, or taken to town to be burned or buried at the dump.

Decadent Dad also delivers sawdust from the workshop to the stables where it is used as bedding. The manure rich bedding is later piled up in a heap to decompose.  This month he filled up the empty sawdust bags with beautiful manure compost for our veggie tunnel. The sawdust is a great weed suppresser on the pathways too.

I turned some bartered lemons into a deliciously tart lemon curd. We have eaten it on croissants and sandwiched with cream on a vanilla sponge cake, and just in spoonfuls snuck from the bottle.

After many sparse months, the hard cheeses are starting to line up as they mature in the cool cottage kitchen. We have made farmhouse cheddars and gouda. We also have a few batches of halloumi, and as always, the softer cheeses: feta, cream cheese, ricotta and chabrie.


My two men very kindly set up new irrigation drip lines in the side extension of the veggie tunnel.
They also dug many back-breaking bags of compost in so I could start setting out some of my carefully nurtured seedlings. I chose to plant them the day the frost chose to return for one last bite, so we lost a few, but thankfully not all. I kept some seedlings back to stagger their planting just in case.
The first broad beans and mange tout peas thrilled me with their arrival at the end of the month. It can only get better from here. The "hungry season" of early spring's few pickings is over. Hooray!

In spite of us, our lambs are growing fatter by the day. Fat Lamb is turning into the Gruffalo. Baby Lamb is an expert escape artist, and is regularly found grazing the verge outside our gate. All we have to do is shout, "Sheep!", and he scampers back through the barbed wire fence.


Does a hand stitched heart and my daughter's name on her birthday card count? Or an orange chocolate flavoured birthday cake decorated with colourful dots and a Rubick's Cube on top for her 80's themed party, or red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and red hearts for my man? Or how about shimmery 80's eye shadow for a giggle of girls getting ready for the party?

photo by Paige

Or Rambo and Rocky face paint for the young men?

photo by Paige


photo by Arran
A surprise book arrived in the mail, a gift from the UK, from a dear friend's sister. Her words were, "... when I read this book and then read your blog some more it seemed like a heaven-made match..."

Well, she couldn't have been more spot on. I have been drooling over this book, Salt Sugar Smoke, and can't wait for summer to come so I can try out some of the tantalising recipes. Diana Henry, the author, has now joined the likes of Nigel Slater, Skye Gyngell, David Leibowitz and Bernadette le Roux, in the list of my favourite food writers. I love experimenting with adventurous flavours and unusual taste combinations, and Diana Henry does just that in this beautifully presented book. Living here in this place of bounty, I have access to almost all of the wonderful ingredients in her recipes.

So my dreams are filled with white peach and raspberry jam, moroccan spiced apricot chutney, purple pickled eggs, eastern spiced rhubarb relish, rosehip syrup and such delights... I feel like Clara from the Nutcracker. Thank you Kerry


We hosted a lunch for the local garden club. Twenty ladies filled our sitting room and listened as I gave them a cheese demonstration followed by a talk on our adventurous journey from  quiet suburban city life to this crazy busy farm life and all the growth that has happened along the way. Living mostly from what we grow has become our way of life. I decided to use this as a theme for the lunch. Almost everything that we made was home grown. This was a challenge because the tunnel was rather empty in September, but the lunch was a success. Here's what we made:
Leek pie (lots of leeks in the tunnel)
Mini Quiches: purple sprouting broccoli and potato with sage, spinach and feta, Tuscan kale and bacon (eggs, spinach, cheeses and kale kept us going in September)
Curried peach, lentil and toasted macadamia nut salad (preserved peaches, and gifted macadamias begging to be used)
Warm yeasty breads baked by Decadent Dad
Rocket pesto (the rocket nearly took over the tunnel)
Salad of winter greens and herbs with sliced radish and cubed chabrie cheese (more rocket and leafy chicory formed the base for this salad)
Coriander dressing (yoghurt, mint and coriander all easy access food)
Drinks: Iced tea (flavoured with peach syrup), Iced coffee (use up that milk), Lemon mint and lavender water
Desserts: Milk tart (milk and eggs again), apricot cake (preserved apricots), mini croissants (lots of butter), preserves (clearing that pantry), lemon curd and cream
We also sold honey, jams, cheeses mini chocolate croissants and mini Lawrence Buns

Our kids joined in a community mural project, enhancing the town with a call to community spirit.

Our son helped to train a friend's horse who is new to jumping and, in exchange, received some training himself.


We had Barbs and  her friend, Carol, visiting us for a weekend at the beginning of the month and my children's two special friends from Cape Town staying for the two weeks of our school holiday, as well as my daughter's friend from KZN for two nights. It's always a blessing having visitors on the farm, and lots of fun was had by all.

Our daughter had an adventurous 4x4 weekend with farm friends. Rather her than me. Scary stuff.

photo by Roné

Decadent Dad's birthday started with breakfast rolls on the mountain and ended with sundowners on the verandah with our farm friends.
 There were also three more farm birthdays to celebrate, and we missed two important birthdays in Cape Town. September is definitely birthday month around here. We were also blessed to briefly see our friends from Ethiopia. 

Our daughter's 18th birthday 80's party was the highlight of the holiday. The kids decorated the room with streamers, balloons, mini disco balls and old cassette tapes hanging from the ceiling. Everyone dressed up and joined in the fun, dancing to the old hits from my teen years, eating hot dogs and lollipops and having an AWESOME time.

Life is life, nah nah   nah nah nah!

photo by Paige


  1. Makes me hungry, all that wonderful food! Sounds busy and wonderful on the farm xxx

    1. Yep, right about that, such a busy month. i hope October will be a bit quieter.

  2. I keep meaning to make cheese and soap but to date have made neither! Your daughters party sound like it was great fun, love the 'costumes'!
    What a delicious sounding lunch menu you served to the garden club!!
    Good luck for a quiet October, can't imagine there is much quiet time on a farm any time of year.

    1. Thanks Emma. I think the thought of making cheese and soap is much more daunting than actually making them. I tend to procrastinate the soap making and then wonder why I did when I finally get around to making it.