Winter is meant to be a time of slowing down, of hibernation, but we have been extra-busy because the weather has been sunny. And we hadn't had 'sunny' for many, many months it seemed!
So we finished all the jobs on our gardening list - weeding, mulching, creating paths, paving, and lots and lots of planting! The gardens look amazing. We have been harvesting pumpkins, lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, silverbeet, rocket, herbs, eggplant, celery, macadamias, citron, chokos and lemons. And so much of the garden is still in the very early stages of growth.
We have had several frosts - night temperatures below zero with ice on the car and frost-burnt grass in the paddocks. A few plants in the gardens were affected, but not many. I think the shadecloth on the greenhouses, thick mulch and watering regularly have helped. There is often steam rising from the greenhouses on a very cold morning! The taro, sweet potato and basil are a little bit burned by cold, and the chickens have complained by reducing the number of eggs they're producing (and it had just picked up too)... Some of the youngest fruit trees and many of the banana trees have dead leaves on them, but we're hoping they will come back stronger in the spring.
We don't have much experience with very cold temperatures, but we really enjoy the contrast in seasons we enjoy here in the mountains. After living in the tropics for over 15 years, I love wearing jeans and boots with thick snuggly socks, the ambience of a wood fire, huge pots of soup with home made bread and air so cold it takes your breath away... I love growing cabbages, peas and broccoli too! Here we have the benefit of being able to grow a lot of tropical plants (not all fruits though, sadly), but with a temperate winter.
Last weekend we did some pruning of fruit trees, and put some cuttings into pots. Hopefully we will have some little trees to plant when Spring arrives.
We have reduced the number of chickens we keep and have been getting more eggs now. We have rounded up the 'wild' chickens and kept them in the pen for a couple of weeks now, feeding them grain and some garden waste and scraps. When everyone has settled in to calling the chook pen home, we will let them free range in the afternoons again. We added have six baby guinea fowl to the flock, and look forward to them growing and becoming part of the farm yard antics as they strut around in their amusing way.
It is almost time to dry Lucy off, she is in calf and due at the end of the year. Next, Poppy will be in calf and so next year we will have more babies to admire and lots of milk! Today I received a new cow, but she is just on loan so that we have milk for the next few months while Lucy is dry.
It is a real pleasure to work on the farm in the sunshine, without slipping and squelching in the red mud and having our seedlings drown and die because of seemingly-endless rain. It's nice to do work other than mowing and weeding, and enjoy a wider variety of harvest too.
I hope your garden is full of blessings this winter!