Story telling from Australia
‘Who wants the last one?’
‘Half a lamb.’
The farmer pointed at a massive slab of meat, piled into a tray and covered with cling film. The top layer was neatly cut into portion size pieces and I thought about the tiny joints I bought for Clyde each week, at twenty dollars a time.
‘How much?’ I asked.
‘Ninety-nine dollars the lot, and that’s a bargain. Must be seven kilos of meat there.’
‘I’ll take it.’
I may be a vegetarian but let’s face it, a bargain’s a bargain.
Attempts to grow vegetables in the back garden in Sydney aren’t proving too successful – so far this summer I’ve harvested several tomatoes (two were almost ripe) a handful of rocket leaves and three lettuce that went to seed. That’s it. Powdery mildew struck the lone tomato plant before I’d thought to spray with a 60/40 solution of milk and water and the spores quickly spread, first wilting then crisping the leaves. Wettable sulphur may help the mildew on the melons I trumpeted in last week’s post but since I’ve yet to spot a single pollinated flower on any of the six trailing vines I’m probably wasting my time. It’s a disheartening picture.
It’s not much better in Broken Hill. Last year I grew more food than we could eat, harvesting bumper crops of fruit and veg that had me rubbing my hands with glee, stoking the fires of my avaricious nature. Several times a day I would open the fridge door and stare at the bounty I’d managed to accumulate. I gave some of the harvest away but not nearly as much as I should have. I simply enjoyed the sight and feel of it, rubbing the fur on soft peaches, sniffing ripe melons and pressing the flesh of blood red plums.
I was greedily hoping we’d be in Broken Hill around harvest time this year too. You can decide for yourself if we made it.
Compare the picture last year…
With what I managed to collect this year…
The only bright spot is Orange Grove market, a farmers’ market within cycling distance of home in Sydney. Until I can work out what (if anything) will grow in the humid and frequently shady spots in our back yard I’ll be shopping at Orange Grove. Buying from a grower has to be the next best thing to growing it yourself.
‘You won’t go wrong love, pasture fed that was,’ the farmer said, handing me a thumping great parcel of meat.
Call me crazy if you like for buying half a sheep when I’d only gone for a punnet of blueberries and a loaf of German rye, but I had a plan. While Clyde was away I was going to separate all the cuts of meat and bag them. Some I would store in the fridge and most would go in the freezer. When he got home – surprise! There would be enough meat to keep a carnivore happy for weeks.
Identifying the leg was easy but it’s been so long since I handled meat everything else just looked like…well, like meat. I filled the freezer bags with whatever would fit, occasionally writing Maggie’s name on a bag with a totally unidentifiable chunk of something that looked like it belonged in a dog’s bowl and not on a dinner plate. After an hour of gruesome work I had two shelves of neatly stacked bags.
Compare what the fridge looked like last year…
…with what it contained yesterday (look away Jessica).
I think I can safely say I bagged a bargain.
Of course, there’s every chance I’ll be serving up prime cuts of pasture fed lamb to the dog and Clyde will be forced to tuck into some scrag-end lump of fat and gristle. Who knows?
Not me, that’s for sure!