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About a month ago we had some spontaneous excitement when we got word that a semi-truck filled with barley had tipped over just  south of Daylesford the day before. They had to bulldoze it off the road so that the traffic could get by. By the time we got there the bulk tonnage had already been salvaged, by someone with a truck and loader we heard. There was still plenty left for our use, with a large area covered in a thick layer of barley; in some spots 1 or more feet deep. So we raked some up and and shovelled it into bags to fill the station wagon and boxes to fill a ute (pickup truck), and did a few runs. Though it looks a bit dirty in the picture it is actually pretty clean, just some eacalypt bark mixed in; easy to separate. We estimate that we collected 1.5-2 tonnes in total and had a lot of fun doing it.

The salvage job was a bit of a community event in a way; 2 different people were there filling bags for their chooks when we arrived and more came and went, some with children, while we were there. This was beyond “produce no waste”. We were “obtaining a yield” from what others couldn’t be bothered picking up.  Into the energy descent future I imagine we wouldn’t see a grain wasted when things like this happen, people would collect everything they could and then bring in animals to finish the job. I’m sure in many other parts of the world right now it would carry out like this already.

Our two last WWOOFers, Matt and Oscar, did a great job clearing out the greenhouse of old summer crops and cleaning up the glass so that we can get maximum solar gain over winter to keep the house warm and grow a little food as well

I than raked in some compost and planted a bunch of salad greens to complement all the stored and preserved food we’ll be eating this winter. The greens are a mixture of things planted in seed trays earlier as well as some more mature plants from the garden.

I’ve just harvested the Kiwi crop. It is a symbolic sign of the change of seasons to me. The kiwis are the last fruit to get harvested. The last keeping apples were done last week and the persimmons and figs before that.  The Kiwis are an important part of our perennial fruit system because of how late they are harvested and how well and long they store. We will be eating them right through the winter, hopefully until the first berries of spring.

And now some more info on Nopales ( Prickly pear cactus)  as promised.  Nopales make a great drought and winter food  as they grow when there is sun and moisture and they just sit there waiting the rest of the year.  They are extremely tough plants and very nutritious too. Start by picking some paddles. What’s best depends on the variety thats on hand. We have a good eating variety growing on the property that has very small thorns that are easily removed. The wild varieties in this  area are also very good.

Some varieties have larger thorns which end up with woody material going all the way through the paddle from where the thorn is. I think the younger paddles from these varieties may not have this problem but I do not have much experience with them. I will focus on the type we have here, which I know the best. You simply pick some paddles by breaking them off, small ones are nice but mid sized ones are good as well. They appear to not have thorns but instead little tufts of hairy stuff. You need to avoid touching these as they are prickly and nearly imposible to remove, if you just put your fingers where the prickles are not you will be alright. (If you do get a prickle, don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt much, especially if you don’t agitate it and will be gone within 24 hrs.)

Then just slice off the outer bit where the prickles are and cut them into strips. They can then be sauteed, by themselves or with onion and/or chilli, if you cooking them longer (10-15 minutes) you will cook off a lot of the sliminess but they are also good to eat sooner. Serve with beans and tortillas, or just about any meal for that matter. I apologise, I didn’t get any pictures of the finished product, I’ll have to  take and upload them next time we cook Mexican (hopefully very soon).