Adventures in Cider Making

pears and apples for cider

Greetings People!
Things have been a bit chain rattling around Citadel Kalahari lately, getting ready for something I’ve wanted to achieve for some time; and that’s brewing our own grog. Foolishly, my thought train went like this: Toss in a few grapevines, squash the buggers up and “Hey presto!”, enjoy the fruits of my labour…well that’s what I thought ;-(.

Unfortunately, Wifey had other plans…firstly there were the twenty odd plum and citrus trees that appeared on the shopping trolley. Perhaps it was the shock to my wallet at the check-out that blind-sided me to the fact that I was going to have to dig the bloody holes to plant the buggers! Sadly, that simplicity was not what Wifey had in mind. During the drive home Wifey outlined her grand plan that the “Orchard” would be a grand affair, rising several metres from the ground, the structure would a roofed concern of nets and wire. I was speechless from the shock of this revelation, but the seal was set, when, Wifey announced to round off her sales pitch, was, “I’ll help out.” Similar promises should have alerted me to the fact that “I’ll help out.”, meant Wifey would provide cool drinks while she watched me provide the labour. I’ll not mention her cracking a nasty bull whip and hurtful comments hurled as she shaded herself on the porch.

And that, was just the beginning! Other orchards of table apples, cider apples and nut trees followed. But true to her word, Wifey helped out by providing cool drinks while she watched me tunnel to China for each new tree.

But bugger the initial endeavours, on with the brewing! I purchased a HUGE wine press that I’ve earmarked for restoration – a really beautiful piece of history. My second purchase was an 18 litre winepress, more realistic to my needs. However, my engineer’s eye perceived that it needed to be mounted on wheels to allow easy transport and provide a solid base when in use. This resolved and $20.99 in my pocket (from which I was soon parted) I purchased a trolley. After some banging and profound swearing emanating from the shed, the press and trolley emerged as one.

apple press
My next planned purchase was a fruit mulcher/shredder. My enthusiasm was deflatingly gutted as I pursued what was on offer. Hand operated models seemed more like items of mediaeval torture and powered ones were priced unrealistically – no doubt driven up by desperate people who’d foolishly bought the hand operated ones first. But seriously, I felt that this little boy’s Mother had raised someone who could build a better one. For once I was right. A quick scan of eBay and I was in the car and off to the door of a hopeful seller offering “a dream garden shredder for only $180”. Poor chap was taken back as I expertly stripped the shredder naked while muttering disappointedly, “Ahh, Fawk.”, under my breath. Wifey played her part too, by offering, “Can you fix it Dear? Or is it broken?” My reply was to fix this sharp salesman with an accusatory glare and spat, “Does it work?”. “Yyyyes,” he muttered, holding up the trailing extension cord he’d answered the door with. And he was right, so moments later we left with the shredder in the car and a limp $60 in his bewildered hand.

More banging and profound swearing emanating from the shed and the modified and refurbished mulcher strained at its chain ready to devour any innocent and ignorant enough to stray into its path.

fruit mulcher


A trial run of apples and pears demonstrated its expert proficiency and this convinced us to do a trial batch of cider. At this very moment 3 demijohns are bubbling away, hinting at the yeast busy at work. If all goes well I’ll be sucking on a cider or three. If not, Wifey will have some grand vinegar.

pears and apples for cider

Cleanliness may be is next to Godliness, but where brewing is concerned, if your preparation is not meticulously clean, then you’ll have vinegar instead of wine. So apply the 10 P rule… PAINFULLY PITIFUL PREPARATION PRODUCES PROFANELY PUGNACIOUS PISS POOR PARTY PRODUCTS.

Cheers, Robbie.

How to Make Your Garden Critter-proof

garden cage

After replanting my garden FIVE times in the past year due to my garden being eaten by an array of critters – goats, possums, rats, mice, birds, etc – I was bound and determined to do something to make gardening feasible.

A fortified fence kept the goats out but even basic cages wouldn’t keep the rats, possums, and mice at bay.

So Bear and I went off to the hardware store and found a big roll of snake and mouse-proof wire with tiny squares that would keep everything out. Yay!!!

garden cagesWe went to the thrift store and found old table frames and other metal frames that would be excellent frames for our critter-proof cages.

garden cageBear built solid wood bases for each cage, then we got out our drills and rolls of wire and folded, twisted, and bolted the cages into shape.

a garden cageAs they were completed I shifted them into my garden, using them to house tender seedlings and keep them safe.

They’ve worked brilliantly!!! It is such a thrill to go out to my garden each day and see tiny green sprouts thriving knowing that within a couple of months – barring any other disasters – we will be eating cabbages, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, parsnips, radishes, broccoli, celeriac, and other deliciousness.

seedling cageIt was downright discouraging to have my garden eaten to the ground so many times, but it is so exciting now to know that we’ve fixed the problem. :-)

hollyhocks in the rainHave you ever faced gardening disasters? How did you deal with them? xo

Goats in Autumn Sunshine

kalahari red billy goat

We’ve had stunningly beautiful Autumn weather this week. Warm and sunny with soothing golden light that makes you happy to be alive.

To give our winter pastures time to restore before the cold weather hits, Bear and I have been taking our goats for daily treks into the bush to feast on brambles and weeds.

herding kalahari goats

They love it out there! They amble happily from one bramble patch the next, their coats covered in prickles and stickers as they nosh on their favorite bushes.

After their feast in the woods, we bring them back to the damn yard to wander over the hills and nibble at newly sprouted weeds and leafy trees.

goats in a valley

Most of the time we let them in and go up to the house, but sometimes I like to sit on the hillside and watch them, marveling at their personalities and quirks, admiring their glossy coats that positively gleam in the setting sunlight.

kalahari billy goat

I feel very lucky to get to raise these gorgeous animals and see them thrive. Sometimes they drive me batty when they bust through fences or make a banquet out of my garden, but mostly they are delightful.

kalahari red billy goat

What are some of your favorite moments on your homestead? xo

Homemade Pear Juice


This Autumn weather has been exquisite! Cool mornings and evenings with marvelously warm and sunny afternoons. We’ve been getting heaps of work done: fencing, gardening, and cooking.

My big project over the weekend was juicing this box of very, very ripe pears. The whole kitchen smelled of pears and it was delicious.

I often like to mix my pear juice with fresh ginger or fresh mint, but this time I did it plain.

The first step was washing and cutting the woody stems off. Then it was simply a matter of pressing the pears through our hard core juicer one after the other. As the juice filled the container I poured it through cloth-lined sieves to remove any pulp. I was left with gorgeously rich brown juice that tasted like a little bit of heaven.

box of pearsLiving on a farm, almost nothing goes to waste. I saved all the stem cuttings and pear pulp and threw it outside for the barnyard birds.

pear scraps for chickensThe Muscovy ducks were the first to arrive, fluttering in from around the farm and tucking in to the fruity piles.

ducks feedingThe chooks weren’t far behind, elbowing in to make sure they didn’t miss out.

ducks and chickens feedingBear and I kept the pear juice for ourselves, mixing it with soda water for a deliciously refreshing drink on our breaks from work.

DSCN7725-2My next project is homemade apple cider vinegar…IF we can manage not to devour the amazingly crisp, juicy, and flavorful apples I got from the market. :-)

What projects have you been working on this week? xo

A Cloudy Day with Goats, Dogs, and Kangaroos

red wellies in the grass

We’ve had some crazy weather around here lately. One moment it’s pouring rain, the next sunny and hot, and five minutes later so cold you hastily unpack every winter garment you own.

I find every change of weather interesting, but when I need a quiet sort of day, cloudy ones are my favorite.

Sometimes life on the farm gets so busy tackling fencing jobs, gardening, and caring for animals that you don’t get a chance to really enjoy what you’re working towards. So I’ve been trying to make time to enjoy our life here, time to sit in the grass and take it all in.

red wellies in the grassOne afternoon last week while out on my walk, I stopped to take a breather and enjoy the view. Much to my astonishment five kangaroos hopped by in front of me! I only managed to capture two of them with my camera (they’re fast little buggers!), but how I love that little Joey. :-)

kangaroos in a fieldOur goats are doing so well with full bellies and glossy fur, some of them already wearing their winter coats.

Boer Kalahari goats for saleThe little ones aren’t so little anymore, but they’re still cute and frisky climbing everything in sight (including our cars!). We check every day for new babies, but no kids yet.

Kalahari goats for saleOur four dogs – Apollo, Solar, Freja, and Luna – are outgrowing their puppy stages and turning into lovely, obedient, and affectionate dogs.

Apollo is our biggest Maremma, and he gets along so well with Luna, our little cattle-dog mix. I love watching them together.

Maremma dog playingThey have the best time racing around the paddock together each day when Luna and I return from our walk in the bush.

Maremma dog runningI like cloudy days not just for the peace and quiet they bring, but also for the spectacular skies they make as the sun begins to set.

windmill sunsetWhat things in your life do you like to take time to slow down and enjoy?