When I looked in the cupboard today there seemed very little that would make an appetising meal but a quick forage around the vegetable garden showed some garlic just about ready, a beautiful savoy cabbage and some celery. So I went back to the cupboard where I knew there were a few pine nuts and some ginger. Then to the refrigerator where I had some left over feta cheese and also some cream. I stir fried the vegetables with the ginger and pine nuts. There weren’t many nuts so I added a few sunflower seeds, then the cream and finally the crumbled feta cheese, checked the seasoning and added some pepper. It made a great light lunch. Quick, easy, very fresh and it used up the last of the cream and the pine nuts.
This young butcherbird is one of my friends. It drops by early in the morning checking the windows and eaves of the house for spiders or other edible delicacies, later dropping by the vegetsable garden to see how the snails are coming along. He is much more welcome in the vege garden than the bowerbirds that uproot my seedlings should I leave them unprotected and more welcome than the hens who sneak in if I carelessly leave the gate open. The hens also look for slugs and snails but they are just as interested in the cabbages, silver beet and french sorrel.
The young butcherbird has not found its voice yet and it is still making begging baby bird noises demanding food and while a parent is still usually close by keeping an eye on things the fledgling is obviously being told to get on with it and start finding its own food. I love seeing it from the kitchen window checking out the house and I contribute to its larder by not using insecticides or poisons. My windows are beginning to acquire a cobweb cover so I may have to do something about that before too long
The Well Thumbed Bookshop will auspice the first Cobargo 30km dinner 0n 15th March 2013. To make sure that it will happen about fifteen keen residents from the area gathered at the bookshop to start the planning and alert producers large and small to sow and grow and reserve everything needed for the dinner. Everything except the salt, pepper, flour, tea, coffee, sugar, salad vinegar and jelly will be grown or produced within a 30 kilometer radius of Cobargo and the chefs, cooks, dishwashers, waiters etc will all be local to the area as well.
The number attending will be limited to a maximum of 120 and the call is out to the residents and businesses to start growing produce for the event. The menu has been outlined but some things will undoubtedly change as the vagaries of the weather dictate the availability of the produce.
The locally grown and produced quality wines, locally made beer and homemade cordial will complement a range of dishes on a menu put together with consideration for local seasonal fruits and foods.
Breaking the journey from Melbourne to Woolongong Roberto Perez, director of an important Cuban NGO, called in at the little village of Cobargo. The locals arranged for Roberto to speak and then showed a segment of the film “The Power of Community”. This was followed by dinner and finally a general discussion of questions raised during the evening.
A larger than life figure with a load of charisma Roberto experienced the crash that occurred in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed and ceased its support of Cuba ending the supply of oil on which the country depended. During this time all international trade with Cuba ceased.
Cuban agriculture had been been geared to the export market and they grew things like tobacco, sugar and other commodities, there was no local food grown and hence no food security. When the food and oil imports stopped the population faced starvation and paralysis. The story of how they dealt with this crisis is documented in the film “The Power of Community”
What I find interesting is the contrast between what happened in Cuba and what happened in Russia.
Cuba developed an agrarian community, growing food in and around its towns and in spite of extreme poverty they also chose to make sure that every child was educated and that free health and dental care was available to everyone. During the emergency they decentralised health care and education, establishing schools and universities in rural areas. Meanwhile Russia undergoing similar problems allowed its assets and wealth to be appropriated by so-called entrepreneurs and left its vulnerable citizens to fall by the wayside hence creating yet another oligarchy.
Now Cuba, still out in the cold as far as most international trade is concerned, has better health outcomes in terms of longevity and neonatal survival than the USA. It does trade with some South American countries, swapping doctors for oil for example, and it sent doctors to East Timor to help them in their time of need. They recognise that poverty and hunger are related to lack of access to land and they are developing a Usufruct system of land tenure that gives free access and use of the land for four years and if it is farmed successfully then there is lifetime tenure.
I wonder which path our government would take if it was faced with a similar problem, would it drop education and public health and let the oligarchs win? I am rather afraid that they would.
Yesterday I walked up the steps onto the deck and turned towards the front door. At this point in a single electric moment the snake and I reacted in a time honoured manner. I froze and let out a shocked “Oh!” while the diamond python, assessing me as being too large to eat and probably unfriendly, left at once.Like a river of light it dropped from the deck into the garden below, the sunlight adding a golden sheen to its skin.
How sad would be the world without this beautiful predator, or for that matter without the lovely song of the butcherbird. A song so sweet that it is hard to reconcile it with a strong beak that has a hooked end the better to dismember its prey.
It seemed like a long way to the top but it was well worth the effort and the last part of the walk was just magic. Big old trees, massive timeless rocks and that change to the quality of the sound that happens when you are surrounded and enclosed by the natural world.
The Bega Valley, Eurobodalla Shire and the Sapphire Coast are blessed with native wildlife, mountains, beaches and an emerging local food and permaculture movement. We are slowly building a resilient community supported by volunteers and a plethora of not for profit associations. This blog will try to tell a little of its story and its on-going transition as we deal with changes brought about by fire, flood, drought, climate change and economic pressures both those already experienced and those yet to come.