Monday 7th January
Can you believe it is the height of summer yet last night we needed winter jammies and this morning I dressed in long sleeve shirt, jeans and a vest to keep warm from the cool southerly breeze. As mentioned in the last post we have started harvesting Apricots. Last night a small bucketload was cut in half and put in the dehydrator. This was the first time we had used such a device and we did not have an instruction manual. Nor could we find one on-line. We found lots of You Tube videos which told us how to prepare the apricots but no instructions on temperature or time. So, we took a guess and left the fruit in for 12 hours.
Hmmm! Not quite ready according to our taste test. We left them in for another three hours.
Hmmm! Too long!
We now have dried fruit which is chewy, tasty and has a slight toasted aftertaste but not unpleasant. There are lots of Apricots on the tree so we can experiment. What else is there for us to do? Heat wave conditions were felt throughout the state today and lots of bushfires have flared up. (Some, deliberately…what mental state are these people…often teenagers… in when they light these fires?) It was not overly hot in Guyra today so we are spared the excessive heat. The weather forecast is for temps in the forties tomorrow with strong winds. Bushfire season is upon us.
Tuesday 8th January
As predicted the rest of the state sweltered and suffered in the oppressive heat and strong hot winds. Here in Guyra it struggled to reach 30° and as we spent most of the day indoors, really felt no discomfort. Fires have sprung up throughout the state as well as in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Over 100 homes destroyed in Tassie alone. At least one death. The predictions are, worse to come.
We used the time to turn ourselves into Apricot produce experimenters. Last night we set a couple of batches of Apricots into slow cookers (crockpots). This morning we removed the seeds, extracted the water and saved it as it was now a delightful, no added sugar, Apricot juice. The rest of the pulp was blended into a puree. Some batches had lemon juice and a banana added. The puree was then thinly spread on racks
in the dehydrator for a few hours and we ended up with lots of fruit rollup or fruit leather as it is called in the USA.
We cut the rolled leather into bite sized pieces.
As with the Apricot halves we may have dried them for too long as the bite size pieces are very chewy but slightly moist and a very strong Apricot flavour. We also bagged up a few kilos of ripe fruit and put them into the freezer.
Late in the afternoon we harvested a few big buckets of Apricots and looking back at the tree it looks untouched.
More fruit was bagged and frozen and more was put in the slow cookers overnight.
Once again the temp here reached 30° but the expected hot and blustery westerly wind did not eventuate but is now expected tomorrow.
After a long day of “homesteading” tasks we finally dropped into bed at a little after midnight. It was a cool night and winter jammies are still the dress code as overnight the temps will fall as low as 12° .
Wednesday 9th January.
During the night one of the two blankets was kicked off the bed but we woke to a cool and overcast morning. Not for long. The hot wind picked up and so did the temp. The people in the rest of the state and particularly those in bushfire zones must really be feeling the extremes today.
Another day of harvesting washing, cutting cooking, blending, dehydrating and freezing Apricots.
It was a hot day by Guyra standards and I went to bed in summer jammies for a change.
Thursday 10th January.
In the morning a local visitor offered us some farm eggs. The eggs were in a box and each tray contained 24 eggs. We were given 2 trays. As a parting comment I was told the eggs had been left behind by the local pony club event on the previous weekend. Oh, by the way, the eggs sat in the sun for three days!!! When we cracked an egg we found the yolk already cooked.
Subsequent eggs were found to be cooked. Thanks for the gesture but I sure hope you did not use the eggs in your coffee shop! Our eggs will become landfill. They are not even fit to feed to the dog.
Hmmm! Perhaps if I left them out in the yard the snakes I saw last week might enjoy them! On second thought I do not want to deliberately encourage snakes so the eggs went straight in the bin.
The co-pilot had an on-line conference at midday so after a morning of Apricot tasks I headed along the New England Highway to Glen Innes.
The town was gazetted in 1852 and was named after Major Archibald Clunnes Innes who was an early grazier (sheep station). The history of the first settlers is …In about 1838 Archibald Boyd registered the first run in the Glen Innes district. Two stockmen known as “the Beardies” because of their long beards took Boyd to this area to establish his run. ‘The Beardies’ later introduced other squatters to the best runs in the area to become known as the Land of the Beardies or Beardie Plains….On reflection we stopped at a location called Beardie Waters, an overnight rest area a little north of Glen Innes, on 26th November 2010. We camped overnight with friends Glennis and Eric who were travelling north and we were travelling south. At the time both Eric and I had long and dare I say, unkempt beards. The joke around the barbecue that night, was that we were the two “beardies” referred to in local history. It was therefore quite a coincidence that we were back in the same district two years later. In fact Glennis and Eric visited me on 7th November 2012 when they stopped in Guyra overnight, this time on their way south. The two beardies were re-united although both of us had had a hair and beard trim recently….
The town of Glen Innes became quite wealthy due to wool, sheep, dairy and beef cattle as well as tin mining, Sapphire mining and timber. Most of the industries have shrunk in size or no longer active. Large standing stones can be found around the district, many of them classified as monoliths and some areas have been given a name such as Stonehenge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge,_New_South_Wales
While researching on line I found a photo of a Stonehenge type clock. I could not find any signs in town indicating where the stone “clock” was located.
The town has taken on a Celtic persona and has a Celtic festival each year. I took the opportunity to view some of the old buildings, looking in vain for a Commercial Bank of Australia Building. Alas on returning to Guyra and checking records, the CBA never had a branch at Glen Innes. I found this bit of information about the Town Hall … Town Hall: One of the most distinctive in NSW, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Parkes. Completed during Australia’s centenary year 1887-1888, a high Victorian grand town hall complex built in hybrid boom period French renaissance Italianate style.
Over the Town Hall clock face is a large deer head. I can find no information about why an introduced species of animal features as pride of place over the Town Hall doors. Perhaps it has some link to the Scottish, Celtic origins of the town.
I also visited Stonehenge on the southern outskirts.
After seeing all the stone monoliths it is easy to see how the area is called Stonehenge.
An old church has been converted to a Digital 3D movie theatre called the Chapel Theatre. Where the old notice board would have given information such as church times, name of minister and so forth, the notice board now advertises upcoming movies.
On my return we picked a huge load of Apricots and started to harvest the first potatoes…a small basket in just a few minutes.
Perhaps tomorrow we will spend a bit more time digging potatoes if Apricot produce duties are not too onerous.
A cold breeze and a threat of rain moved in around 7pm and I needed winter jammies for bed tonight.
Friday 11th January
It was hot by 8am this morning and the westerly wind was hot. It was a bit different to the cool blustery wind last night. Today the grass has turned a brownish grey and crackles underfoot. Hmmm! It was only a few short weeks ago that I was commenting how we had storms, including rain, almost every night. It seems summer has arrived in Guyra, somewhat behind everywhere else.
Even by 8pm the temperature in the kitchen was around 30° and with no breeze it was the first time we experienced summer conditions. All windows and doors were left open all night.
Saturday 12th January
As predicted by the weather forecasters, it was another hot day with gusty westerly winds. In fact the temperature rose to 32° inside the house. By mid-afternoon we could see storm clouds building so we brought in WWWGO awning.
That was a wise choice as the storm hit about 4pm and was preceded by strong winds. The thunder and lightning arrived and the afternoon became dark. At least two strikes were close somewhere in the nearby paddocks and the house shook. The storm rolled away but circled back not once but four times. In the last storm we saw horizontal lightning. The grass which had turned brown and crackly will probably be fresh and green by morning and growing again.
Sunday 13th January
Another hot day in Guyra today. Another day spent indoors in the shade doing research and making photo books and finishing off our Apricot products.
Late in the afternoon another storm rolled in…much later than yesterday.
Tomorrow the forecast is for a cooler day by about 10°, almost perfect for our plans to drive to the coast but I will not pre-empt what we will be doing except to say I write up a report next week. Hopefully it will be worth the 6 hour drive each way.