Thursday, 8 July 2010

Dribbles down the chin

With a grin a mile wide, Hubs proudly handed me a peach. Fresh off the tree only moments before. Still warm from the sun. I bit into it. The flesh was soft and squelchy. So squelchy that the juices overwhelmed my mouth and dribbled down my chin. Plop. Onto my t-shirt. And my hands became sticky with the juice as other tiny dribbles ran  over them. And my arms grew tiny rivulets of stickiness as well, as tiny juice rivers ran over my skin. It was a joyous moment. The first peaches of the year. The start of the harvest. 

And Hubs and I relished those peaches, for they were hard earned after all the hard work Hubs had put into planting, watering and tending those young trees. 

Then: a decision. To pick or not to pick. We dawdled with the decision. But the birds took the decision away from us by munching the rest of the peaches themselves.  Hubs got into quite a rage over this, and quite rightly too. So, next crop to come in: the apricots. Still rock hard, could be left for a few days. Ah, but those birds! And what about that great big black cloud signalling a thunder storm on the way. So no dawdling this time. 


Still rock hard, could be left for a few days. Ah, but those birds! And what about that great big black cloud signalling a thunder storm on the way. So no dawdling this time. 

With a determination not to enhance the food table of the feathered population, Hubs poughed on with the apricot harvest.

Et voila! Proudly he shows you his first crop of apricots. And then he went and dug up the onions and garlic:

And then he clambered about in the fig tree and gathered the first harvest of figs:

Not a lot, but enough to make several pots of fig jam. So that's what I am going to do now: jamming. Apricots jam, and fig jam. Oh we could eat the fruit, but then in the middle of winter we wouldn't have the jam to remind us of the summer days. On a cold wintry day there is nothing like opening a pot of homemade jam made in the heat of the summer. 

And then there are the runner beans I have started harvesting, and freezing. and we are still at the start of the harvest season! Loads of work. Which is very rewarding. It is as if one is storing up a the sunshine, jamming and freezing our produce.
Meanwhile: In the pig pen there is a power struggle for the wallow. Prime position is with the back against the wall of the wallow. Max seems to be able to grab this position first, leaving Tess standing up, and trying to get him to shift by prodding him with her snout. He ignores her. After a while she either gives up and sinks down in whatever bit of the wallow she can manage to get into, or she gets out and goes stand in the shade of the oak tree. Either way, she is not entirely happy but nor is she seething like she was the other day. But somehow both of them manage time in the wallow because both are caked with mud, which dries to form a thick crust over their skin, thus protecting them from the hungry blood sucking insects.

Her rumble voice seems to have quietened down though, but Max seems to have raised his voice up a  notch especially when she is standing directly behind him. Then he does the lion-rumble deep down in his throat. Not sure what that is all about, but I think that Tess aggravates him deliberately by standing just close enough for Max's tale to not be able to do its normal twitching movement. When he is fed up with not being to do his swaggering twitch of the tail, he turns round and buts her in the lower stomach, at which movement she lets out a squeal so loud that one momentarily thinks the poor little girl has been done unto in a dreadful manner. 

Things I have learnt: that smallholding is terrifically hard work, such that I tend to lurch towards my bed at night because I am so exhausted, but when working with one's harvest, there is nothing to beat the pleasure that comes from laying up that harvest for the dark days of winter.


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I have no apricot or peach trees, but that looks like a good harvest from young trees to me. My figs are not even close to being ready. The plums I thought would be ready for Nigel's arrival on Tuesday... no chance, I just hope they are ready before he leaves two weeks later. If not I will have the whole job of picking, eating, jamming, bottling etc on my own - all 3 trees which are laden!! The beans are in flower, but they have a long way to go. Plenty of courgettes, pumpkins, chard, very small cucumbers and plenty of potatoes. The tomatoes are only just starting to ripen, but they should be OK for Nigel's arrival. Glad Max and Tess are settling down. Diane

DUTA said...

Congratulations for your first fruit crops. The apricots look wonderfully delicious. Apricots are among my favorite fruit. I used to eat even the bitter kernel till I found out it contains some cianide.
Anyway, fruits are the best food. I should have been a fruitarian.

TheChicGeek said...

I love your stories, Vera. They are magical.
Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you do fall into bed at night --
I feel a bit tired just reading about all
the goings-on. Looking forward to your
adventures when the lambs and piglets

Vera said...

Diane: We are only in the second year of harvesting, so don't have huge amounts to bottle, etc. But, crikey, here's hoping that some of your harvest is ready before Nigel goes back to the UK, because it looks like you are going to very busy.

Duta:) I was going to include some apricot kernels in the jam, which was recommended by a recipe I was going to use. Then I found about the cyanide as well. So no. No kernels! I have to be careful about eating too much fruit at it can have an acidic effect on my tum. But bananas! I could eat them all day long because I am totally addicted to them. I most definitely could be a bananararian!

ChicGeek:) I love that you enjoy my tales of our life here. Makes the writing of them all worthwhile.

Sheila:) Hi, nice to have you visit. I do fall into bed tired out, but at least it is from honest endeavour rather than from being bog-eyed from watching too much TV, which was happening in back in the UK before we came here. And even I get tired when I read about what we get up to!