Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Strawberry glut

My strawberry plants are certainly loving the dose of alpaca poo I gave them at the end of last winter.  They are all producing madly - almost too many to eat or process quickly enough.

Naturally, first on the list was dessert of fresh, ripe juicy strawberries - with cream or ice cream.  Yum :)
Fresh strawberries and ice cream
Then, naturally, I have made 12 jars of strawbery jam, and a few of bottles of strawberry cordial.

But, there are just so many jars of strawberry jam that we can consume in a year and, for the cordials, my fridge space is limited.  Why aren't there recipes for strawberry cordial which do not need refrigerating?  How did they do it in days of yore?

And, unfortunately, our weather is not ideal for solar dehydrating at the moment - so that is not one of the options open to me.

So, I have had to scour the net to find options of preserving them in different ways.
From left to right:
Strawberry infused vodka and the first batch of
strawberry jam
And I came across strawberry infused vodka ;)
The strawberries 
will be removed and the vodka strained of "hairs"
prior to being decanted into a more traditional
vodka bottle :)
So, that's exactly what I made this week - and will probably still make next week LOL

We don't drink a lot of hard tack - more beers for RMan, and white whine for me - but we do have neighbours who will appreciate being gifted with a bottle - for birthdays and Christmas.

One less "gift" to strike of the list :)

Bearing in mind that I do not have an electrical dehydrator, nor the "spare" power to run one overnight, does anyone have recipes for preserving strawberries which can remain at room temperature and which do not involve making jam, or refrigerating cordials / infused vodka or freezing?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Coo 2

Firstly, I've been meaning to tell DFW and Leigh for some time.  Whenever you both leave a comment, your comment goes to the spam folder of my gmail account.  I have tried adding your e-mail addresses to my contacts, but it makes no difference.  So, if I seem to take a while to reply to your comments, please understand that I don't always know they are there...  ( I do find them, but not always immediately).

Do you remember I posted about a tame Cape Turtle Dove that arrived at my daughters' house in Swellendam and how she asked us to take it back to the farm with us as her dogs, and cat, prevented her from keeping it with them.

I tried to find it's owners.  I really, really tried.  Even my daughter placed a notice on the Swellendam facebook page.  But nobody came forward.

So, it looks like we are now the caretakers of a Cape Turtle Dove.  I've named it a non-gender specific "Coo" (how does one tell the sex of a dove??)

I am not 100% happy about that - I saw Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Bird's", back when I was a wee slip of a girl, and the memory has never totally left me  (actually I am totally freaked by a bird flying anywhere near my head...)

Anyway, Coo has some habits.  I never thought that birds could have habits. Come to that, apart from domesticated animals, I've never thought that any "wild" animal would / could have habits.
Every evening, anytime after 5.00p.m. Coo
arrives on the front patio table
"What kind of habits?" I hear you think...

Every evening Coo arrives on our front porch.  He / she toddles around the patio table, mock flies into the lounge window (to get our attention), then, if we don't open up the door for it to enter, it patiently waits for Scallywag to open the fly screen when he goes outside to relieve himself so that it can use the opportunity to walk into the lounge.  And I mean walk literally.  It does not fly into the room.
If Coo can't see us through the lounge window
he sits on the back yard fence and waits for
someone to open the kitchen door
One inside, it talks a toddles round the room, lands on the couch and also on the dining room table.

I don't do eating my diner with a bird walking passed (with the occasional peck here and there) my glass of chilled white and plate of food.  So, I had to lay down some Coo rules.

No Coo inside until we're finished eating and are settled in front of the TV and my head is safely ensconced beneath the scatter cushion for the duration of it's "visit".
The closest head is where it prefers to
perch - it's not fussy - RMan's, Mikes -
and he's even tried mine...!!!!
Why would I be concerned about my head?

Well, it loves sitting on top of heads - RMan's, grandson Mikes (when he's visiting) and has even tried to land on mine.  You had to hear the screech that resulted in - I completely lost it LOL
Perfectly happy, isn't it
So, the scatter cushion remains on top of my head until Coo settles down on his "blanket" - a scrap of fabric RMan lays on the back of the couch to catch the bird poo it deposits whilst it watches TV with us.
Happily settled on it's blanket, with RMan
close by.  It spends the evening "talking"
to him - a sort of deep throated gurgling
coo noise - probably trying to tell RMan to
change the channel...
But, it doesn't only toddle on the floor, along the back of the couch or round the dining table.  Even now and then it takes flight - flying madly round the room - crashing into the ceiling, walls, etc.  That completely freaks me out!!!

RMan is besotted with it.  He can't wait for it to arrive on the patio each evening, and, when he first goes outside in the morning to feed the alpaca's, he checks that it is still around and has survived the local barn owl visit furing the night.  And gets totally concerned if he doesn't spot it during the day - fearing that a bird of prey might have snatched it whilst he wasn't watching.

Before we go to bed, RMan slowly moves his hand towards it's feet, it hops on, and is then taken outside to bed by RMan...
Straw filled box or old towel for a bed,
with the b
ird feeder out of the wind in the
corner of the quaddie carport.
 ... to where I have tried to make it a comfy spot - complete with smorgasbord.
The lid beneath the bird feeder prevents
99.9% of the seed from landing on the floor
and thereby feeding the local fieldmice.
As you can see, the quaddies are taking
some strain - but I guess it will wash off
But - both failed.

The bird feeder is frequented more by other wild birds (how on earth do they find it beneath the quaddie roof?), who scatter the seed everywhere - especially on the ground, much to the delight of a field mouse or two, until I got clever and placed a "scatter tray" beneath the feeder.
It doesn't like the straw filled box,
nor the old towel.  Rather it perches
on the very rim of the box for the
Even the bed of straw I placed in a box, or an old torn beach towel.  Nope, it uses neither, preferring to spend the evening perched on the thin rim of the box. Weird, because in the lounge it snuggles down off its claws.

Ah well, at least it's outside for the night LOL

There have been a couple of other wild turtle doves which have been hovering in it's vicinity, and I firmly hope that it will find a mate, and loose some (if not most) of it's human habits.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Granny's home remedies

I received this by e-mail today.  Can't help but share the giggle :)

"For better digestion I drink beer, in the case of appetite loss I drink white wine, in the case of low blood pressure I drink red wine, in the case of high blood preesure I drink scotch, and when I have a cold I drink schnapps."

"When do you drink water?"

"I've never been that sick!"

No wonder I'm always hungry - it's all the fault of the glass or two of white wine I have each evening with RMan... (giggle)

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Shearing time

It that time of year to shear the alpaca's again and this year there are three of them :)

This will be Minky's first experience of being secured by the legs whilst lying prone on the floor, and I have a feeling that he is temporarily going to forget that RMan is his best buddy.

The other day I caught him pruning one of the two black wattles which provide shade in their paddock.

It started out quite innocently with a casual nibble here, and a nibble there... 
Minky and Miranda have pruned this black wattle
over the past few months
 ... and then he got more involved...
Now the leaves are starting to just
be out of Minky's reach
Until he got to the point that he just can't help himself.  He had to get whatever leaves he could reach...
Ha!!  Clever boy.  I didn't know that
alpaca's could balance on two feet :)
I guess it's a case of whatever works
to enable an alpaca to eat leaves
that are growing above head height...
There's no problem with him eating the leaves / stripping the lower branches. At least the upper branches will ensure that they still have some shade in the paddock.

Minky is now 7½ months old, and his days with his mum are slowly becoming limited.  Much to RMan's dismay, it is getting close to the time that he moves into the male paddock.  Once he's there RMan won't be able to see him from the front porch - or from our bedroom window.

He is a typical scruffy, sand playing, mud rolling mischievous little boy.

The owners at Helderstroom Alpaca's have very kindly offered to travel to us in order to shear our alpacas.  That means that thankfully, we will not have to try and source a horsebox this year - three inside would definitely be a crowd!! (Am I the only one who finds it strange that it's "a horsebox", not "an horsebox" LOL - I mean it's not a hotel, but an hotel).
A good brush and a summer haircut will do him
the world of good :)
Getting this coat sorted out before Wednesday when the shearer from Helderstroom Alpaca's arrives is going to be one heck of a chore for Minky's best buddy... ;)