Things are moving ahead in the garden slowly. I now have a lot of seeds in pots, but still have to solve the problem of making the garden totally chook proof. I will transplant the seedlings when they are quite mature, that way any chook which manages to get in will be less likely to dig up the plants.
The real success of the last week was perfecting my sourdough bread. It is a hit with the children too. Ivy said: 'Mum I love your hard stale bread.'
After much indecision about making a starter, I decided to go with a yogurt based one. Here it is:
1 cup of yogurt (with all the good stuff in it)
1 cup of stone ground organic wholemeal flour
1 cup of rainwater
I use homemade yogurt which was originally started with a culture from the Paris Bio dynamic brand of natural yogurt- any yogurt with a live culture will work. Mix ingredients and leave in a bowl covered for three to five days, stirring every day to stop the flour sinking to the bottom. Once it appears frothy and bubbly on top, it is ready to use - mine took three days, but it takes longer in winter.
To bake the bread, remove half the mixture and put it in a mixing bowl. Replenish your starter with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water- mix in and put in the fridge in a container with a lid. It will keep for six weeks, if you are using it every day you do not need to refrigerate.
Add to the mixture 1 cup of flour, three tea spoons of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Kneed for about five minutes. Add more water to a dry mixture or more flour to a wet mixture, but keep the dough slightly on the wet side. Form into the shape of a loaf and put into a bread tin greased with olive oil. Cut two lines across the top to stop loaf from splitting when it rises. Leave it to rise for half a day, the longer it sits the more sour it will taste. Leaving it overnight is fine too, but will have a stronger taste, which you may prefer. It should double in size. You will know it is done if you press the loaf and it resumes its shape.
Bake slowly in a moderate oven. I have a large fan forced oven. I cook it for about 55 minutes on 160 degrees. If your loaf is soggy in the middle it has been cooked too quickly or in an oven which is too hot, or the size of the loaf was too big. Sourdough is a dense bread and there are limits to what can be achieved without resorting to all those bits and pieces you find in commercially made breads. Once the loaf is baked, wrap it in a tea towel so it does not loose too much moisture from steam.
And on the cow front, we are still awaiting the birth of our new calf. If it is a girl the children want to call it Buttercup, if it is a bull I have suggested Beef.
Brandy, the mother, is being very affectionate and calm. The mucus has increased a lot over the past few days, so I think it must be close. Her udder is full and I have been able to easily milk colostrum from her. Her teats are on the small side, but they work fine. The children are still excited, but are getting a little impatient.
Almost forgot to mention, it rained this week after months of dry. The heavens opened at precisely the same moment the water carter was filling our bone dry tank.