Over winter, we use about six trailer loads of timber, and each year about this time we start to get serious about hunting some up. Yesterday was spent working along the sides of a nearby road, where the council and road maintenance contractors clear-felled a large group of blackwoods and wattles.
A while back, while traveling on this particular road down to town, there was a pile of car glass spread across a corner, with the left overs of a large tree at the edge. Obviously a car had come to grief with a falling tree. Weeks later, we heard that indeed a tree had fallen across the rear end of a car innocently passing by. The car was a write-off, but fortunately, the woman driver was unhurt.
This caused a major kerfuffle, with a write-up in the local paper about the council not clearing dangerous trees from road edges, and the risks to drivers. We get some mighty winds around here, and this group of trees regularly tip one over the road. Government now holds the opinion that all trees, dead and living, have value as habitat for wildlife, so they're very reluctant to chop anything down.
Probably frightened by possible litigation if nothing was done, our council solved the problem by 'nuking' the whole area. Stopping to chat with a neighbouring farmer, we learned that it was all going to be carted into his paddock and burned in the near future.
So, we got dressed up in our heavy duty working clobber, the man sharpened his chainsaw, connected the trailer up and off we went to the site of all this destruction.
As we pulled up at the nearest and most appealing tree, the farmer came on his tractor talking about how he had wanted that one, and "Boy, you have to be quick!". Not wanting to upset him, we offered to go to another, but he was just being a bit of a smarty pants. There were close to one hundred trees down so there was plenty for all.
Others came and went, loading up their utes and trailers; some we knew and some not. That same farmer got quite grumpy when a tree he had started on and left to deliver timber home attracted somebody else. There were some fiery swear words ringing among the tree tops for a time.
My man has been in the area for almost forty years, so we had regular stoppers from passing people wanting to chew the fat for a while. We even got a bag of cucumbers and peppers from a local's garden.
By the time we had four trailer loads chopped, split roughly and delivered home, we decided we had worked for long enough, and collapsed at home with a champagne for me and a beer for him.
Today has been pretty low key, while we wait for tired muscles to calm down, but we will be warm now!
I did make some gorgeous mango chutney today in the microwave, which is just delicious.......
Makes 4 cups
4 large (about 550g each) ripe mangoes, peeled, flesh chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
6 green shallots, chopped
400g (2 cups, firmly packed) soft brown sugar
100mls (5 tbs) malt vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 small fresh red chillies, or to taste, de-seeded, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
Combine mangoes and apples in a 3 litre (12 cup) capacity microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a lid or a double layer of plastic wrap and microwave for 6 minutes on High/850watts/100% or until apples are slightly softened.
Remove the cover and stir in the green shallots, soft brown sugar, malt vinegar, ginger, red chillies and salt. Microwave, uncovered for 20-30 minutes on High/850watts/100%, stirring every 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and only a small amount of liquid is left.
Spoon into hot sterilized jars, seal while hot. Invert jars for 2 minutes then stand upright until cold. Store in a cool dry cupboard for up to 2 months. Keep in the fridge after opening.Uses: Serve the chutney with ham and roast turkey, spread on sandwiches and to accompany Indian curries.