Saturday, January 28, 2012


Last year our friend Sue was obsessed with potatoes. She planted 40 varieties, which she documented to discover which type gave the best yield and which were best for which purposes. After Farmdoc's surgery she gave us a gift of around a dozen varieties with instructions that we were to note how each type did. We planted them as instructed but we haven't dug any up yet, so we haven't had to formally present our report.

This year she had recovered from her obsession: she planted only 35 varieties!

Sue is an adventurous cook so when she and Craig invited us for lunch at their house on the side of a mountain we expected to eat potatoes.

And we were not disappointed.

There was chicken and salad, but they took a back seat to  a potato feast, which included Spanish omelette made with King Edwards, smashed Nicolas,

 Boiled Salad Rose and Pink Eye:

 Baked Toolangi Delight:

And wedges of Spunta and Up to Date :

The piece de resistance, however, had to be the dessert. Mashed Kestrel mixed with blueberries and dipped in dark chocolate together with mashed Saphire mixed with coconut and vanilla and dipped in white chocolate!

How about you? What type of spud do you like best? And what's your favourite method of cooking them?

Late last year Sue planted 40 types of tomatoes. It's a bit early to see the results of that experiment but right now there is lush growth in the sprawling vegetable garden beds that Craig dug and fenced. We're looking forward to a tomato feast now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Wool Cheque

Taking the wool clip in is one of my favourite farm chores. Last week it was time to do it again.

We always sell to Saunders in Launceston. We must be amongst their smallest wool producers, but they treat us as though we were the biggest. Although our small clip is lost in a sea of wool packs and fleeces they remember us from year to year and always give us a personal welcome. Our sheep are Border Leicester, so their wool is coarse carpet quality. No Italian suit maker will be calling on us.

Each time we go I think about my dad’s family who were wheat and sheep farmers in Western Australia. One of my uncles was a wool broker. These vast wool stores must have been very familiar buildings to them, with their smell – part dust, part wool – and their dim, cool expanse, bays tumbled full of wool.

The year Dad was fifteen he spent the whole of his summer holidays collecting wool from dead sheep. It was difficult, smelly work and there were long days battling the heat and the flies. At the end of it all he earned five shillings, which was not bad money for the period.

At that time his four older brothers were in the habit of dropping by the neighbour’s watermelon patch and helping themselves to fruit. Dad loved watermelon and he thought he’d go one better, so he backed the farm ute up to the neighbour’s gate and filled the tray.

When the neighbour followed the wheel tracks to the family farm Dad’s brothers dobbed him in immediately. It cost him his entire summer earnings. They all thought it was a great joke – even Dad.

In a few weeks we'll be shearing our lambs, and the cycle will begin again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Farewell 2011

On the last day of the year, while we were still in bed, I read aloud to Farmdoc from an article in The New Yorker by Calvin Trillin. The article is about Trillin’s repertoire of recipes. There is some discussion in the piece about how complex a dish needs to be (for example how many ingredients it must have, and whether it needs a stove) to be included in the repertoire. It’s a charming, funny, and even moving piece of writing.

Farmdoc’s own repertoire has changed recently. He no longer bakes his delicious chocolate cake, among other sweet treats, and the ice cream maker now sits unused in a dark corner of the pantry. His diet these days is as low in sugar, salt and fat, and as rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables as he can make it.

When we finally got up, we ate Farmdoc’s famous stoneground muesli hot cakes for breakfast. I had mine with stewed sour cherry compote. Those cherries are delish but in the morning light I discovered that I had splashed the wall with their juice while pitting them. Oops! I have to admit that the table was a little sticky too.

In the vegetable garden we picked raspberries, transplanted seedlings and dug up potatoes that had volunteered from the previous year’s leftovers and were threatening to take over every bed.

For morning tea we ate Farmdoc’s tahini cookies (recipe courtesy Daughter Number Two).


In the afternoon, while Farmdoc went for his walk (10,000 steps a day), I worked in the sycamore forest, showcasing the ferns as I like to do.

Late in the afternoon we lit the stove and Farmdoc baked a loaf of rye bread for dinner, and I made raspberry jam. Recipe here. I made more jars than I’d intended, but it’s easy jam to make and it’s lovely to have on hand for gifts during the long Tasmanian winter.

We had intended to slash some bracken in Home Paddock in the cool of the evening, but it grew dark before we had a chance to get out.

For dinner we ate our share-farmer Sharon’s eggs with the potatoes we’d dug in the morning and Farmdoc’s fresh bread. I was tired and didn’t quite make it to midnight.

So the year ended.

2011 was a big year for us at Onemilebridge. Farmdoc is glad it’s over. I don’t know if I am. It was such a rewarding year, how can I be glad it’s gone? Those days that Farmdoc was in hospital were terrifying, that’s true; the first weeks afterwards were worrying too, and I know he’s still anxious about his future.

But I’m grateful for the year’s bounty and I’m grateful beyond words, beyond measure, for the love and support of my family and friends – both in person and in the blogosphere. I am so much richer for it. 

I wonder what 2012 has in store for us. I for one am ready for whatever it brings - its joys and its challenges. Happy new year to us all.