Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jam in the Morning

The kids leave for school in a flurry of lunch bags and ten-ton rucksacks, piling into my sister-in-law’s little red car at seven in the morning. There’s a momentary lull. I finish my cup of tea, sometimes I haven’t had my own breakfast yet, but then there is another tug of demand. George is patiently waiting for his walk, lying out on the brick path. His eyes are focused on my movements through the doorway. If I don’t seem to be coming soon enough, he’ll be at my side with a plaintive whine, then bound to the door again if I move half an inch in that direction.

At this time of year I take my basket with me every day. Our walk around the circular dirt road takes us past the veggie garden and the orchard, and there is always something  in urgent need of picking.We had so many carrots last month that I picked 20 kilos and took them down to sell at Camphill market. We were giving them away to friends, juicing them like crazy and eating them at every meal. Now we're down to just a few baby carrots, but have gallons of green beans, sacks of spinach, loads of leeks, and the courgettes have just started producing, so I have to  pick them every morning otherwise they seem to turn into marrows overnight.

The veggie garden is currently full of spinach, leeks, carrots, green beans and a ton of onions - such a blessing!

We had tearing winds just when the plums came ripe, so I was picking up wind-falls every morning and evening.

George keeps busy while I pick, chasing off the guinea fowl and peacocks.

The plums ripen within a day to dark purple and dripping with juice

This last two weeks we’ve had an entire tree of plums all coming ripe in one week. At the same time as the apricots, which all had to be stripped from the tree and jammed with great urgency, as they’d been ‘stung’ by fruit flies. So every morning I’ve been making jam, great pots of it, sometimes two, and every evening I’ve been preparing the next lot of fruit for the next lot of jam.

Part of today's strawberry harvest

We’ve got enough plum and apricot jam now for the year, but our strawberry crop has been woefully late and sparse. Only three pots of strawberry jam sit on the shelf, swamped by an ocean of plum and apricot. But finally the berries are getting going and I picked four ice cream containers of berries first thing this morning. Enough for several pots of jam, for my sister-in-law to make strawberry ice-cream, and to have some left over to eat. Phew – our jam self-sufficiency is safe for another year!

Apricots on the way to jammy deliciousness

The jam isn’t the only reason I’ve been neglecting my blog. I had a long succession of writing deadlines through September and October. Great for my work, not so great for me wanting to sit at the computer and write some more in my free time. So there were a whole load of things I was going to write about here, now just a distant memory and a handful of photos on Facebook: our spring festival, a visit to the Oranjezicht City farm market, the Make It New exhibition of Western Cape design and craft, project managed by my sister-in-law that I helped behind the scenes with, and then there was the Camphill Music festival with Freshly Ground playing live just down the road from us. All these things deserved a post all to themselves.

Maybe they’ll get one, after I’ve finished making jam, baking Christmas cakes and have survived the end of term whirlwind of end of exam parties, prize-givings, concerts and all that malarkey. Real life is taking over here and not leaving me enough time for my virtual reality! Anyway,  Marcheline, I’m still alive and well, if slightly sticky and enveloped in a veil of jam fumes!