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15 Sep 2009 - 10:36 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

I’m angry. And frustrated. Just about everything I’ve planted in the vegetable garden has been nibbled, munched, stripped, crunched, destroyed. Bitter chicory, feathery carrot tops. All the lush green brussels sprout leaves. All my cabbage and kale and mangelwurzel. The rocket, the parsley. Every single skerrick of silverbeet and ruby chard bar the stalks. Even the beetroot leaves have been picked off.

There’s a possum getting into the vegie garden. Despite the wire base, the netting that soars overhead. Despite the fact that I’ve patrolled the perimeter and tried to pin or staple every last possum sized hole, each morning I emerge from the house to find more damage. It’s heartbreaking. Devastating. Maddening.

I don’t know what to do. The garden looks secure, more like a military compound than a vegie patch. I can’t work out where the possums get in. I can’t bare to watch my hard work vanish into the mouths of the local wildlife. There’s little left that I can eat and the whole point is that I reap what I sow.

Luckily the possum doesn’t eat the quinces until they’re very soft and ripe. I beat them to it and bake several while they’re still slightly green, just cut them in half or quarters, trim out the core, sprinkle them generously with sugar and cover them with water. I use foil on top, put them in the oven for several hours and the once golden fruit emerges a deep, satisfying pink with a fragrance that makes me go weak at the knees. I use some in a savoury dish, with hogget, two tooth sheep that is too old to be called lamb, and too young to be mutton. The dish is like a mild tagine.

This week I made cider. Well, perry, actually, which is pear cider. A potentially wonderful drop where you use some apples to bring out the pears’ flavour. Clive and Lynn, who live over the hill at Middleton, taught me how to make it, crushing the apples in an electric machine that seemed to land chunks of apple in my hair. They gave me a taste of theirs that had finished fermenting. Bright and finely beaded and remarkably elegant, I’m feeling inspired. So inspired that I’ve ordered some fruit trees through the legendary apple man, Bob Magnus, who has over 200 varieties on his farm at Woodbridge. Bob and Ross and I make some juice from his windfalls, a lively drop of nectar with so much flavour it makes commercial juice taste like water.

I bring the perry home, a massive plastic keg that I set near the fire in the sitting room. For the last few nights I’ve sat and listened to its gentle, rhythmic flumph as it ferments away its natural sugars using a champagne yeast, miraculously turning fresh juice into a homely, delicious form of alcohol.