I can’t deny any longer that the summer break has finished. Number Two Child starts his first day of prep tomorrow, Australia Day is now behind us, and today we officially entered February. This signifies the start of the birthday season around here. Three of the five of us have February birthdays, and the extended family adds another five or six, which makes for a busy month of cake and wrapping paper.
Today I received a request for a crazy “surprise me” lolly cake for an upcoming party. So far I’m thinking something along the lines of, I dunno, Hansel and Gretel meets Luna Park? I don’t know what I’m going to some up with yet, but I’m pretty sure it will involve a whole bunch of lollypops. I’m open to ideas, by the way.
So here are my last few wistful photos of summer. I managed to take an afternoon for myself and drove down to Dromana with a friend to visit the Diggers Club gardens. Their awe-inspiring kitchen garden made me recognise how big and steep this whole veggie gardening learning curve is. I mean, just the other day I had an epiphany that the teensy yellow tomatoes that I had been waiting to ripen into little cherry red globes were never actually going to turn red, They were already ripe after all – they were just yellow tomatoes!
I have had some great moments of garden satisfaction lately though. My kids are now experts at propagating strawberries, and last night I made hamburgers for dinner, with our own lettuce, tomato and cucumber. I also successfully battled a spider mite infestation on my Japanese Climbing Cucumber, armed with a spray can of olive oil, a hose and several kilos of coffee grounds. The spoils of war are the ten (yes, ten) cucumbers sitting on my kitchen bench. That’s a whole lot of tzatziki.
Next time we make burgers, we’ll even have the all-beef-patty reared on premises – I’ve ordered a deep freeze that arrives this week, which means it’s a final curtain call for one of the steers. Not sure how I’m going to feel about that at this stage, but I have the strong belief that no one should eat meat if they can’t stomach the reality of what they’re really eating.
The funny thing I have discovered since moving to the farm, is that while I take a fairly hard line about a lot of animal issues, I’m a total softie when it comes to mothers and baby animals. Our lovely black Australorp hen (aka Mamma Chook) hatched three little chickies in December. So the time has well and truly come to return her to the main chook yard and let her little ones get out from under her wings. But I just can’t do it. The thought of separating a mother from her babies sickens me! Sometimes I swear I look at those little chicken faces and see my own three little babies’ faces looking back at me! Tonight I tried to work up the nerve to put her back into gen pop while she was sleeping, but then I thought of the little pullets waking up in the morning and finding their mumma missing… and I chickened out (boom tish).
I don’t know what I am going to do when the time comes to take our little calves to market. I can handle the animals becoming meat, but thinking of the look that Blondie, my favourite cow, will give me when I take her little boy away from her is enough to bring on a panic attack.
The last few weeks of summer will no doubt fly past in a blur of birthdays, school uniforms and client meetings. At least we’ll have our fading suntans, three pullets and a big pile of cucumber to remember it all by.