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23 Mar 2011 - 12:01 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

The kitchen benches are always full. Of mail that doesn’t have a home yet; bills; things from the garden; or tools found in working pant pockets or threads of baling twine snatched up from the barnyard because they’re plastic and won’t rot down.

Today there are also some hop flowers, because I’ve been learning to make beer. There are plums from the community garden, two very small ears of corn from ours. Tomatoes, generously spared by the grower, a beaked pair of fencing pliers, some of my sourdough bread, damson plum jam, and, most excitingly, Bramley apples.

Bramley’s Seedling, by its full and proper name, is the UK’s most popular apple. Not to eat raw, but to cook with. You can’t find them for love nor money in Australia, not even around here in an apple-growing region. So I planted my own tree a year and a half ago, and I’ve a few precious orbs on it now.

Bramleys are soft cookers. And they puff up when cooked. They’re apparently fantastic in jelly, so I may make hawthorn jelly with a couple. They’re great in pie, so that’s today’s task (using lard rendered from a huge piece of my own gammon!). And they’re sour and full flavoured, so make wonderful apple sauce for pork, or apple-and-mint jelly for lamb. They will go a majestic golden colour, too, I’ve been told, so I may have to save a couple to have simply baked, to admire the colour after dinner one night soon.

Moving a pig today; a pregnant sow to a paddock closer to home. It’s a long, slow process that starts with me trying to gain her trust to cross the line where an electric fence has been. Food, the only true pig motivator, is barely an influence on an inquisitive, nervous or just stubborn pig. It’s been about three hours, now, of tempting her with a fine trail of soaked barley, with just the tip of her nose crossing the now-safe line where once a hot wire hung. I want to move her by the end of the day, but that’s probably overly optimistic. Last time I moved a sow, it took a couple of days before she’d even leave her paddock let alone follow a bit of tucker down the road, across the flats, up the hill and into a new home. They say women are better at moving pigs, they have more patience. All I can say is that I don’t have the patience for this, some days. Today, however, isn’t one of those days.

A load of firewood has arrived. There’s more to cut around the place, and perhaps a few logs to buy in. The annual stacking of the wood is a reassuring time, a hoarding of such a simple thing, but one that makes all the difference come winter. You usually stack wood more than once, as you have to rotate the piles so the new wood is furthest from the house. I don’t mind moving the old wood, though it’s always a little scary knowing the sleeping habits of snakes.