Thursday, 15 December 2011

Fruits, Fowls & Father Christmas

I thought I would talk about the activities keeping farmers busy at this time of the year, but it is quite prudent to talk about what is keeping farmers wives busy right now!  With the abundance of fruit starting to ripen, jam making is in full swing.  And the aroma of apricot jam bubbling away on the stove is such a vivid reminder of my youth growing up with an extremely industrious mother, grandmother and aunts who were the most excellent farmer’s wives I have had the privilege to know in my life.

Apart from apricot jam, stewed apricots are dead easy to make and are delicious with cream or custard.  We had guests overnight – in fact my dear cousin Liz who is the eldest of the brood of six who grew up in this house, her husband and two grandchildren – and I realized that we had no fruit juice in the house.  It was a hot and thirsty day and I thought for a few seconds  (actually panicked ever so mildly) and then a thought occurred to me that we had apricots but how to use them for juice?  So I took some of the stewed fruit with its juice, gave it a few seconds in the blender and added iced water and there it was, juice declared ‘delicious’ by our guests young and old.

The trees are groaning with fruit this year and so far luckily no hail to damaged fruit and trees yet.  Just birds and monkeys in their elements.  So we are picking plums and apricots every day as they ripen.  The figs are starting to ripen slowly and in the new year they will be needing attention.
As I sit here looking out at the garden, a beady eyed fowl is checking me out hoping to find a way to get in as she has a fascination with inside the ‘big’ house right, more than ever.  She has taken to sneaking into one of the bedrooms to lay her daily egg, much to my horror and our guests delight.  On Monday morning while our guests were having breakfast she snuck onto their unmade bed and sat there for at least an hour before depositing her beautiful egg in a conveniently cosy nest in a fluffy blanket.  The guests were amazed that she stood her ground and did not budge while they pointed and took photo’s.  They had to leave and when I went in to check on her, there was the egg still warm and snug.  Since then she has returned every day (without being detected while we all go about our daily work) and now lays on a bookshelf!

Last Saturday we had a surprise visit from Father Christmas after tennis at the tennis club.  He apparently had got lost,  so Michael volunteered to go out on his bike to see if he could be found.  He was found in a land not far from his intended destination, his reindeers absolutely delighted to find Uncle Sinclair’s wonderful, luscious lucerne.  They apparently refused to budge until they had indulged and as it was getting late and he still had make his way to America via Cape Town, he happily hopped up on the bike and arrived full of spirits ringing his bell.  The children were quite beyond themselves with delight and sat wide eyed while he told his story and hauled out their gifts – first making quite sure that they had been ”good and clean and nice” since he last saw them.  He even became reacquainted with some of the fathers and grandfathers who he remembered quite well from many years past.  He declared that he was now 140 years old and still good as new!

And so we head for Christmas next week which seems to have popped up out of the blue this year (time flies when hands and minds are kept busy).
Wishing you and your families good health and happiness for the coming year and enjoy a relaxed Christmas this year with loved ones.
Regards, Anne