First thing in the morning I went to hang with the winter veg I planted the week prior. I often find myself in the garden with no set agenda other than to check in on the progress. Sometimes it’s a sad occasion especially when I see the evidence of murder from those FRU-ETS of the DEV-EEL. The E-VEEL snails, slugs and earwigs that have had a feast overnight at the expense of my veg. Poor lettuce never saw it comin’

On this fine day, all was good in the garden. My new seedlings are talking to the soil and my french heirloom pumpkin looks sexy and full of flavour, promising to make a nice soup, some gnocchi, warm scones and the ultimate incantation; simple roasted pumpkin in all their glory. I really do love my veg! But this day wasn’t to be about veg so much as chooks. JB and I had been talking over the last few rabbit hunts about utilising their 4 acre block by making it a little farm-let small holding. Repairing the old chook house for the hens was the first on the to do list. The simplest of joys is grabbing fresh eggs in the morning. An absolute joy. But the existing chook house was badly overgrown and in need of much attention. I packed up some basic tools in the Jeep and took the Creswick road north. I couldn’t help myself and made a quick detour into the old pine plantations in the hope of getting another handful of beautiful Saffron Milk Caps. Seasonal eating is the curse/blessing of being a ‘hunter gatherer’ and with the mushrooms being active now you just must take advantage as they won’t be around for much longer. So down into the wet valley I drove, I kept driving deeper and deeper into the forest, the darker, most remote and wet the better. Sure enough I found an excellent patch, with fresh mushrooms popping up under the layer of pine cones and needles. Out came my razor sharp Leatherman to cleanly slice the stems. What a haul! Tonight there would be Jamon, Passata, Parsely and mushroom sauce with penne. I laid the mushrooms on the floor of the Jeep and headed out through the forest to JB’s place. He had already been busy with a brush-cutter and chainsaw. But there was still plenty to do. We chopped out the over grown unwanted trees, sorry guys wrong place at the wrong time kinda thing. Fences were repaired, a new door was installed and lawns mowed. The cleaning process resulted in a huge pile of branches which will make for a fun winter bon-fire in the next month or so.

By mid afternoon we had completely transformed the place. A house fit for some healthy happy egg laying hens, with a fox proof enclosure and a generous run for them to frolic and be generally chook like.
We ended the day back at our Little Jindi, warmed by the flickering flames of our chiminea, a bowl of penne and a few yellow whips and vino. All round a pretty fine day in my books.

And more to look forward to on the next working bee as JB fixed the old rotary-hoe which we need for our big veg patch in one of his cleared paddocks. What a ripper…..literally.

Look at this beauty!

If it wasn’t for the past hundred and fifty years of pine plantations we wouldn’t have an abundance of these stunning mushrooms.