Since November 2016, when our youngest daughter Sarah told us she was getting married in February 2018, we have fenced, gardened, tidied, cleaned, painted and planned. Summer 2016/17 was one of the wetter ones we have had here, this summer has been most certainly the driest. By early December, the paddocks were as dry and bare of grass as they normally are in February. Our lambs were still too small to sell and we had no grass left to fatten them. We’ve bought in 54,000 litres of water over the last 2 months, but not for the paddocks. We had to bite the bullet so to speak and feed out hay and baleage 3 months earlier than normal in order to fatten the stock. The roses and the gardens, including the vegetable gardens were the lucky recipients of the water. The paddocks just had to survive with the “no grass” look below.
As well as planning the wedding and the “pretty” gardens we also set up and planted our much larger vegetable gardens with a view to selling vegetable boxes in the 2018/19 season. Irrigation had to be set up, and while it is primitive at present, we’re working on that too. With no rain to fill the tanks, we had to get a little creative and do things like water the tree lucernes (for stock feed) with washing machine water, use trickle gravity feeds from 1000l tanks strategically placed and in a very limited way, use the already installed dripper and small sprinkler hoses. The garden is very late, and we have pests we’ve never seen before, though the hens in the food forest are being very helpful chomping up caterpillars and other nasties. Even our zucchinis are late. “Everybody” is talking about 100 ways to sneak zucchini into normal food whereas we’re still at the stage of eating them raw as a salad or enjoying them as fritters, I’ll give you the recipe below.
However, I digress a little. Many of the roses flowered about three weeks too early for the wedding, under the ferociously hot sunny days we had. We’d planted lots of pink, cream, apricot and white roses, asters, white hydrangeas, pink and white daisies, white zinnias, white stock, lilac butterfly plants and lavender so there could be photos in the gardens before the wedding and enough flowers to pick for the tables at the reception. With quite a lot of Queen Anne’s Lace we did it! I’m not good at flower arranging but these looked great on the day, even if I say so myself.
The day of the wedding dawned warm but cloudy but since it doesn’t rain in Martinborough we weren’t worried. Sarah was a beautiful bride and we all had a lovely day getting ready with family, bridesmaids, various little people. During the ceremony it started to spit a little, enough to prompt my son to offer up an umbrella over the couple and the celebrant. The rain sprinkles went away and we laughed, cried happy tears, ate, drank and danced until the wee small hours, by which time the heavens had opened. I don’t often get flustered but now I had a problem. We were hosting 40 people for brunch at the farm the next morning, and when we arrived home from the wedding, with 2 new step grand-daughters and my mother in tow the courtyard was already under water. Paddling at midnight anyone? I spent much of what was left of the night trying to figure out where I could put the food and the guests. I had room inside for the people (humans according to grandson Eli) or, I had room inside for the food. Not both. Sunday morning dawned with dampness under foot (since it was so dry the flooding had gone) so we proceeded with plan A, food under the gazebo, guests outside on the lawn under the trees. Perfect, until the time came for the guests to arrive, when of course it rained again!. By then happily everyone was quite chilled and happy to dash out to get food, then stand or sit on our various verandahs. It worked. Everybody ate (again) laughed, talked and then mostly left, until we were left with a few family members and the bridal couple to talk away the afternoon. Then, it rained. Hard.
10mm in 10 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The rain was so heavy it didn’t even go into the guttering but straight over the top. Yay. Timing – perfect. Amount – perfect. Over the weekend we had a total of 37mm filling the tanks, and certainly watering the gardens AND the paddocks. After 3 days now there is green where there was brown. The hens will be able to eat grass again, and their eggs will improve in colour as a result. We’re still having to feed the animals as there isn’t enough grass yet but it’s a start.
Having family to stay has been magic. Our grandchildren love staying on the farm, and we love having them. Memories have been created for all of us.
I willed the tomatoes not to ripen until after the wedding (I planted 140 plants this year so we can preserve some/a lot) – they didn’t but now they have permission to do so, and the garden may now go crazy! I hope we get more zucchini because this is our favourite way to serve them and we’ve only managed it once so far.
Make a batter:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup soda water (or milk if you don’t have soda water).
Sift the flour and salt, mix the eggs yolks and your choice of liquid and pour sufficient of this into the flour to make a thick batter, beating until smooth. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold these into the batter.
Add some unpeeled sliced (1cm thick) zucchini. I find it is easier to manage using a pair of tongs to dip the slices in the batter a few at a time and fry them immediately.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, and cook the slices on each side until golden brown. Drain on a plate with a paper towel on it and keep them warm until you have finished frying them all.
We serve these with Martinborough Manner “Grandma Beaumont’s Tomato relish” or our “Tomato chilli jam” or sometimes tartare sauce and slices of lemon.