Summer Loving

It feels as though summer may have peaked and is about to start slowly drifting away. Time to make the most of the warm, sunny days, to take stock and enjoy some snippets of happiness.

combining wheat in field

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The wheat harvest has finished leaving fields of stubble, an interlude in the cycle of sowing, growing and harvesting. Today, the first wheat of the 2019 harvest was milled into flour and made into bread. There was a slight confusion between flour and flower when my two year-old grandson was invited to help. I feel he may have been slightly disappointed.

hen with green feathers

The countryside and garden are entering that slightly unkempt and beautiful stage of late summer. Vegetables are harvested from the garden every day with a fork to table distance of twenty paces. Naturally, there are courgettes that have grown far too big but happily, the hens enjoy the odd one lobbed into the run. One hen has also been eating the eggs, so she’s daubed with pig tattoo paste to make it easy to separate her at night.

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geraniums growing with tomatoes in trough

Geraniums have added a bright splash of colour to the garden this summer making me wonder why I’ve spurned them for so long. The herbs have proliferated, very much at home in the new garden, providing a flash of green in the bleached summer light. A batch of freezer raspberry jam has been made in the hope that its brilliant colour and fresh taste will bring back a ray of summer sunshine in the depths of winter. This year’s meagre crop of greengages has mainly been eaten by wasps, but I’ve delighted in the few we managed to pick. The rosehips, blackberries and sloes in the field hedgerows bear the first blush of colour and the ground is littered with the husks of hazelnuts discarded by the squirrels.  

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Chocolate biscuits and oat biscuits cooling on wire rack

Trays of biscuits have been baked for printmaking classes because everyone knows that a biscuit helps you to concentrate but otherwise, the oven has barely been turned on through the summer apart from bread baking and the Sunday roast. A splash of Manly Gin before Sunday lunch has kept alive memories of our Australian holiday. We flirted with fame or to be more precise, some of our family appeared on Australian TV for thirty seconds, which was quite long enough.  Our television has barely been switched on all summer apart from watching the netball and cricket. Piles of books have been borrowed from the library to read outside in the evenings while it’s still light. Reading fiction has been so much better than watching the news.

Happy days.


Summer Rituals

What a scorcher this summer is turning out to be. (Ha! It will probably start raining tomorrow and not stop for weeks.)

We’ve become almost continental, eating nearly every meal outside, leaving cushions out on chairs overnight instead of the usual routine of packing everything away in case it rains and closing the shutters each afternoon to keep the rooms cool.

The countryside around here is looking bleached as we haven’t had any rain since May and the dry spell combined with the hot sunny weather has dried up much of the vegetation.  Even the trees are beginning to look stressed.  There’s barely a blade of grass in the paddock above and around the farm it’s tinder dry so we’re vigilant for fires in the standing crops of wheat and barley as we wait for the crops to be ready to cut.

As summer progresses, so do the summer rituals of sweeping out the grain stores before harvest to make sure that no grain destroying weevil or beetle still lurks in the deepest recess, berries are picked for Slamseys Gin and there’s enough growing in the shared vegetable garden that we can sit down to an almost homegrown supper. Unfortunately, the summer ritual of marauding foxes in broad daylight has wiped out my hens and guineafowl and left only two ducks. I regularly holler and shout at foxes that I meet when I’m walking across the farm, but obviously not enough to frighten them away from the lure of a sitting duck.

Getting meals on the table at the moment is a bit of a pain as I have little enthusiasm for spending time in the kitchen at this time of year, though I can be persuaded to make a batch of Lemon Squash, which disappears at alarming speed.

Home-made lemonade (or lemon squash) is deliciously refreshing and so simple to make that at the start of summer, I rush off to buy some citric acid (hopeful that the pharmacy has restocked after the elderflower cordial rush) and set to work. A little bit of peeling, squeezing and stirring isn’t too taxing.

Should you want to make your own Lemon Squash, here’s the recipe.

Making lemon squash drawing

HOME-MADE LEMON SQUASH

A refreshing cordial or squash, to dilute with still or sparkling water.

  • 4 lemons – peel and juice
  • 600 g granulated sugar
  • 25 g citric acid
  • 1 litre boiling water
  1. Remove the rind of the lemons with a vegetable peeler and put into a large bowl or jug with the sugar and citric acid. Add the boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar and then add the lemon juice.
  2. Cover and leave somewhere cool overnight. Next day, strain out the peel and pour the lemon squash into sterilised bottles.
  3. Keep in the fridge for up to a month and dilute with water, soda water.

If you’d like pink lemonade, add a handful of deep red rose petals with the lemon peel.

Now I just have to pour myself a long drink of lemon squash and relax in the evening sunshine.