Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil


Busy Weekend

I started writing this a while ago, but then got sidetracked and never quite got around to getting it posted. But it was a fun weekend, although a bit hectic, and I wanted to share some of the things I’d got up to! I felt as if I hadn’t achieved much that weekend, but looking back, I’d got through quite a lot!

pruning freshfield grove olive

Pruning has been continuing, but it’s felt like slow progress at times. The area of the grove I’m working on has some of the bigger trees, with quite complex branch structures. I’m trying to simplify the main branches to 3 or 4 coming off the trunk at just over a metre height, but it’s difficult to do this without removing too much of the canopy. Added to this, it sometimes feels as if the trees aren’t happy about what I’m up to, and are fighting back. The leaves are just the right size and shape to poke me in the eyes, ears, and nose! The branches I want to prune are often just slightly too high, so I’m stretching up on my toes to try and reach. While still being VERY careful not to get my fingers anywhere near the powered secateurs!

When I cut one successfully, it seems that the branches try to hit me on the head on the way down. Pointy end first… I feel as if I’m under attack! And then I look around, and it feels as if the grove goes on forever! But I am almost done. Out of our 1000 or so trees, there are only about 125 left to go. And then it’ll be pretty much time to start again! I think it’s going to be like the Sydney harbour bridge…

Sydney Harbour Bridge at night

Sydney Harbour Bridge at night

When I’ve been getting overwhelmed by the pruning it’s hard to know whether to just keep going, or take a break! But I’ve been doing a few other things in between. I’m still experimenting with the olive leaf tea, and I have a couple of new batches to taste and compare with the original. One is dried at a lower temperature for longer, and another two have been steamed before drying, which halts the oxidation process. These different methods slightly alter the concentration of various compounds, and therefore alter the taste. The colour of the tea is also altered, as you can see from the photos (although I ran out of white mugs, so it’s a little hard to see).

olive leaf tea tasting freshfield grove

Also on the development board are olive oil granola bars. I’m in the amazing position of being able to get tons of fantastic local ingredients, so local rolled oats (rolled at Callington Mill, a Georgian windmill in Oatlands), local honey, local walnuts, butter, and olive oil. I’m looking for local dried fruit to add to the mix too. These bars vanish as fast as I bake them – I had been worried that if I was baking several times a week that I’d struggle to find homes for all the goodies, but this hasn’t been the case so far!

olive oil granola bars freshfield grove

And in between all this, I managed to fit in an evening visit to Whisky Live in Hobart, and a lunchtime trip to my friends at Wobbly Boot Vineyard for their quarterly fundraiser!

Whisky Live was an amazing event. It felt quite pricy when I bought the ticket at $99, but with well over 100 whiskies to taste from global distilleries, and a pretty constant flow of food and nibbles, it was worth every cent! I went through the event booklet afterwards, and although I felt I’d tasted most of what was there, it seems I managed less than 30. There were spittoons, but really, I wasn’t going to use them! I’m proud to say though that I ended the night vertical! There were about 30 stands, some for just one distillery, and others representing several. Some had just one or two to taste, and a few had more than five! The atmosphere was really relaxed and friendly, and although the event was busy, there was little time spend waiting for a drink! One of my more competitive companions was keen to make sure he tasted EVERYTHING on offer, but I can’t vouch for his state of health the next day! My overall favourite was probably the Sullivans Cove Double Cask, which seemed to me to be a very easy drinking tipple…

whisky live hobart tasmania

Anyway, after this, Sunday got off to a bit of a slow start! We had bacon and eggs cooked on the BBQ, with the compulsory Aussie side of avocado (I’m trying to identify a suitable avocado growing zone on the farm!) After breakfast I headed out to do some pruning, before setting off to Wobbly Boot. I hadn’t been sure what to expect, as I hadn’t been able to make their previous Anzac Day event, but as I approached, idly wondering what they’d do about parking, it became apparent that this was a well-organised operation! A fluorescent jacket-wearing gentleman greeted my car on approach to take the $10pp entry fee (incl delicious homemade soup and bread), and direct me to parking. Cars were parked on the side of the road, with 4WDs at the edge of the paddock. There’s been a huge amount of rain in Tas, after months of drought conditions, and there were concerns that cars would get bogged in the muddy ground. I parked the Hilux, and got Blizzard out. I’d left Gunner at home because he’s much too excitable around other dogs! And there were LOTS!

The fundraising was in aid of Small Paws Animal Rescue, and the event has a tagline of “Wine and Woofs”. Wobbly Boot has a very proactive “dogs welcome” attitude, and have even got two secure dog areas, one for big dogs, and one for small. They are in an amazing setting, fairly high up in the Coal River Valley, and it was fabulous to see so many dogs and their humans having fun together there. I love the Wobbly Boot Pinot Noir, but after such a whisky-laden night I stuck to the soft drinks!

wobbly boot pinot noir

Blizzard had a ball (she’s been to Wobbly Boot before, to help with the pruning!) and loved having a good sniff around. Lots of people had brought picnics and BBQs as it was BYO food, with Wobbly Boot wine, and a selection of Tassie beers available to buy. So plenty of good smells and new friends!

I’d arranged to meet Desma from ourstoryhouse ceramics at Wobbly Boot, as I’m on a mission at the moment to find some locally made ceramic tea strainers! They have a beautiful range of cups (amongst other things), and they’ve kindly said they’ll look into some strainer designs for me! I’m very excited, as I love beautiful, handmade items like these. I really feel that they add to the whole experience and ceremony of drinking tea and coffee with friends. By a happy coincidence, it turned out that they had recently adopted a dog from Small Paws, so it seemed very fitting that we could meet at a fundraiser for them!

After that it was back to the ranch for the final pruning session of the weekend, and I managed to finish the row I was working on before the sun went down! FFx

sunset gum tree campania freshfield grove

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Share Your World – 2015 Week #7

I haven’t done this before, but I saw Cee’s “Share Your World” post this morning and thought it sounded like fun. You can go to her post by clicking  here.

The idea is:

“I will post four different questions each week for you to answer.  There are two ways which you can participate.

  1. Create a  Share Your World  post.  Then post the link to your blog in my comment box or leave your answers in the comments box of my blog.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Share Your World” tag.
  3. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.

I usually will respond to your entry on your blog, rather than on my page.”

Here goes…

Is the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way?

No. Not sure there’s much cash in there. Whatever there is is hidden between receipts.

What is your favorite type of dog?  (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie)

We’ve got two Lakeland terriers that I love and am frustrated by in almost equal measure. Angelic when asleep (eg. all day). Less so at 5am when they wake up and want someone to play with. Or give them breakfast.

If money was not an issue, would you go on a cruise?  If so where would you go?

Life’s kind of busy at the moment, so although there are tons of places that sound fun to cruise to I wouldn’t want to be away for ages. There’s a three or four day cruise that goes from Sydney called “Cruise to Nowhere” and I like the idea of almost forced relaxation, and no phone reception or internet!

Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?

Several years ago while we were still in the UK, we rented a house for a long weekend with some friends. It was in the Scottish borders and many years previously had been used as a TB sanatorium. The two of us, and Blizzard, stayed an extra night alone. We made the mistake of reading the visitors book after everyone else had gone, which had lots of ghostly stories. We had an awful night’s sleep, and although we didn’t see anything, were glad when the morning came!

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I managed two bushwalks and a yoga class last week! We just got our olive leaf test back from the lab this week (thanks to The Olive Centre), and I’m looking forward to making some plans for the grove based on that and the soil test from the end of last year. FFx


It’s a Dog’s Life

We found it a bit difficult to get back into our office based jobs, and I’m not sure the dogs knew what was going on either! Although, to be honest, I think they’re mostly just happy to be with us. They were a bit bewildered by the farm the first few days we were there, they’re used to a more suburban environment than rural Tasmania, and everything was very different from our usual routine. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them doing just dog stuff, but they enjoyed our regular walks around the olive grove, relaxing while we worked, and all the cool smells. Blizzard even ran around a bit, not usual for her at all! Although she did spend a lot of time sitting in the sun, or in her favourite armchair. Gunner, as usual, was more proactive about checking things out, but we did find him hiding out in the comfort of the van when he got the chance, rather than lying on the ground. He proved to be very good at collecting buzzies in his beard while he was looking for fieldmice.  And at the end of the day, they loved sitting out by the fire, hoping that the BBQ gods would drop a few sausages on the floor… FFx

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A Cheap Delicious Meal for a Cool Day

Looking for a really tasty, economical meal for a cool day? Here you go!

Oven-baked beef brisket

Oven-baked beef brisket

I made this beef brisket dish at the weekend. It’s from a Wine Selectors calendar we got last year, and the recipe is on their website here (Oven-baked beef brisket). Brisket is a brilliant cheap cut of meat, but needs a long cooking process. It basically takes a day from start to finish, but is pretty low input for most of the time, so great on a day when you’re pottering around the house, or are in and out.  Or you could get it marinating the night before to speed things up. Continue reading

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How many olives does it take…

Infographic - How much extra virgin olive oil do you get from a Tasmanian picual olive tree?

I wouldn’t say that the initial excitement of our farm purchase has worn off, but the realisation that our harvest time is approaching is starting to hit us with some force. Many groves on mainland Australia are harvesting already, but the cooler climate in Tasmania means harvest starts later so the olives have longer to ripen. Friends and family are asking what our plans are, and explaining what we’ll be doing makes it all seem rather real! Continue reading

Working dogs?


We introduced the dogs to the farm this weekend. It’s been so cool to watch them starting to explore these new surroundings. Since their obedience to recall is virtually zero unless we happen to be waving a bit of bacon at them, we’re keeping them on long leads. The perimeter fences would probably keep them in, but since the time we watched Blizzard pop through a cat flap and disappear down the street, we’ve been pretty cautious. We don’t want them going to visit the sheep next door either. They might not notice Blizzard, who does kind of resemble a small lamb, but I don’t think Gunner would blend in so well!

Blizzard's nest

Blizzard’s nest

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