Talkin bout Vegan

Some people have all the fun. I keep hearing about self righteous and proselytizing vegans, but all the people I know who pursue a vegan diet, are by and large, lovely people. They quietly go about their lives, pursuing and enjoying a plant based diet. Perhaps there are grumpy ones out there, but I feel slightly cheated that I am yet to meet one. Phooey, to my poor luck!

The other evening, the train was cancelled. And so I found myself as the only passenger on the train replacement bus headed into the big smoke of Melbourne. I was bored, and the bus driver was bored, so we struck up a conversation. We spoke about lots of interesting topics, and he casually mentioned that he had a friend who was a vegan. But then he felt the need to explain to me that she wasn’t of the self righteous and proselytizing type. He did feel the need to warn me against such plant munching extremists, and so I guess he must have met such a person in the past. But, with all the other interesting topics that we spoke about, I forgot to ask as to the details of the encounter.

I have definitely been ripped off, because I just haven’t met an angry vegan. Such people are so thin on the ground, I’m starting to believe that they may be an invention of a marketing agency working for the meat industry? Stranger things have happened.

As a side story, when at home we consume a vegetarian diet which includes milk, eggs, yoghurt and cheese. The eggs come from our chickens, and we’ve made our own yoghurt for so long now that I forget when we began doing so. Home made yoghurt is quite tasty, but from time to time I dream of the sugary sweet commercial yoghurts I enjoyed in my earlier years. Away from home, we eat whatever is on offer and don’t make the slightest fuss, as long as the quality of the food is good, and it is well prepared (not always guaranteed). I’ve nicknamed our diet ‘mostly vegetarian’.

Whilst in the big smoke of Melbourne the other night, I did spot a Vegan restaurant. The vegan restaurant looked suitably cool, and it had people coming and going, and they all looked cool. And so the editor I thought that we might try the restaurant in the near future. But then watching the happy and cool people sitting at the outside tables being fed vegan food, we noticed something really strange. The food was being delivered to the tables using lots of what looked to me like food grade cardboard and plastic drink containers. That was a deal breaker for me, because there is a certain bizarre irony in having concerns for animal welfare, and yet creating a lot of unnecessary rubbish when being fed.

Despite the unnecessary rubbish, I still failed to see any angry vegans, so I suspect the food was quite good. But alas, my old fashioned concerns mean that dining out for me normally involves ceramic, glass and washable steel cutlery. And I’m happy to pay for that.

Rubbish is such a strange part of our society that I suspect people no longer even notice it, whether they are angry vegans or not. The other day I took this photo:

Note the yellow steel cage protecting the temporary traffic light

In the photo above, you can see a yellow steel cage surrounding a temporary traffic light outside the World Heritage Listed, 19th century Exhibition Buildings and gardens. It is a truly beautiful building and gardens. Yet, earlier in the day I noticed a guy on a push bike dropping a food grade cardboard and plastic lined disposable coffee cup into the steel cage which protects the temporary traffic light. I’m pretty certain that the steel cage isn’t a rubbish bin, and I feel for the poor council employees who will eventually have to clean it out.

We have no rubbish service here at the farm, and so we are extremely careful with creating and/or bringing back any rubbish onto the property. And we have to have a process for every type of material that is deemed to be rubbish and/or materials for recycling. I guess that is why I notice rubbish.

About a year ago, the nice Chinese declared that our materials for recycling that we had been sending them for many long years, were too dirty and full of mixed materials for them to accept any more. Fair enough too, as it takes a lot of conscious effort to sort out all of the different materials, and it is much easier to just bung your rubbish into a steel cage on the side of the road.

The problem is, other than metals for recycling, as a society we’re not really recycling a lot of materials at all these days. You could say that the War of Waste (TM pending) is going very well, because we are drowning in the stuff, and a lot of it now is heading straight to landfill. And landfills have the unfortunate habit of filling up, hence the snappy name. Here is a recent update on the situation down here: Victoria’s recycling crisis goes from bad to worse as another plant shuts down.

I certainly feel that the situation is unsustainable, but at the moment it also seems very unstoppable. So, call me a naysayer, but I am seriously uncertain why people feel so positive about recycling when most of the ‘recycled’ items are going to landfill.

The weather here has been rather variable this season, and the past week was pleasantly cool and sunny. The cooler weather allowed us to work during the late afternoons, which is something that we had been unable to do recently due to the heat. Fear not though readers, this week will be hot again.

We completed constructing the final stair step in the staircase leading down to one side of the blackberry enclosure:

The third and final concrete stair (right hand side of the photo) on the staircase leading down to the blackberry enclosure was constructed

I also began the slow process of fertilising the fruit trees with a mixed load of composted woody mulch and mushroom compost. There are a lot of trees for me to get to, so I hope I get the job completed before winter sets in.

I began fertilising the fruit trees in the orchard with a mix of composted woody mulch and mushroom compost

Observant readers will note that I removed all of the grass from around the trunks of the fruit trees, and have also removed the lower branches. Despite the hot and dry summer, the ground cover still has a slight bit of green to its colour.

Speaking of pruning, there are two giant olive trees in the courtyard next to the house. The trees are like triffids, and they grow very fast and produce a lot of olives without any watering at all. However, they have become too big, and we began pruning the trees back. Clearly this job is not yet complete!

The two olive trees in the courtyard have begun to be pruned

That is one bad haircut that can actually be blamed on the hairdresser. All of the prunings were added to a garden bed, where they’ll break down and feed the plants in the garden bed.

The firewood bay that sits next to the house (and is well out of the rain) has begun to be filled. Another afternoons work should complete that job. Surprisingly, this bay can hold three bright yellow trailer loads of firewood.

The firewood bay next to the house has begun to be filled

It has been so hot and dry recently that we leave water out for the birds and the bees (plus all of the marsupials and other animals that live here). During the day, the bees line up at the water troughs for a drink of water:

Thirsty bees line up for a drink of water

We’re harvesting plenty of produce at the moment.

The almonds have not been watered all season and they are producing plenty of nuts:

When the outer fuzzy green shell on almonds split open, the inner shell and nut is ready to harvest
The inner almond shells are then left out in the sun to dry (note the green fuzzy outer shell in the bottom left hand corner of the photo)

Some of the corn plants are still growing, but we’re harvesting any cobs that look ready. With seed saving for corn, we cut off a small section of corn cob and leave them to dry, and the kernels will be planted next spring.

Some of the corn is still growing, but a lot of the cobs are ready to be harvested
How good do the cobs look? And the white kernels are normal for open pollinated heritage varieties

The tomato enclosure is producing heaps of food. The chilli’s and capsicums are really tasty (albeit some are a little bit on the fiery side):

The chilli’s point towards the sun as befits such a fiery fruit
Capsicums on the other hand point to the cooler soil (as they are not fiery at all)
The slim variety of eggplants are proven performers in this location. Larger eggplants can be a bit hit or miss
This is the first year that we have grown beans, and the vines happily climb up the sapling fence around the tomato enclosure
The birds have consumed a lot of apples this year

We had a good season for apples, but I have let the native birds eat most of the crop. The trees are still a bit young, and in these sorts of hot and dry summers, the birds are doing the trees a favour by thinning the fruit. I prefer that the trees grow and survive to produce more fruit in a future year.

The almost ready to eat crops (and also the far from ripe) are:

A canteloupe and a watermelon happily co-exist side by side
The pumpkins are getting biggerer!
This fig is the oldest fig tree and growing and fruiting despite the heat and dry weather. I do hope we get to consume these tasty fruits

Onto the flowers:

The slightly less hot weather has seen this nursery bed of geranium cuttings explode with growth
How lovely are these geraniums that surround the fencing in the dog enclosure. They have had no watering at all
Some geraniums are stunners like this one next to a lavender
And geraniums can be real show offs
The salvia family of plants grow very well with geraniums
A belladonna Lilly recently popped out these colourful flowers in a bed of catmint and Californian poppies

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 18’C (64’F). So far this year there has been 33.8mm (1.3 inches) which is slightly higher than last weeks total of 33.6mm (1.3 inches).