Kate Ulman: “In 2001 we spent months driving around Victoria looking for properties to buy and move into, when we found ourselves walking through an organic apple orchard just out of Daylesford. I picked an apple and passed a bit of it to six-month-old Indi who was on my back, and when we saw her delighted reaction, we knew we had found our home and our farm.
Daylesford Organics is a small certified organic and very biodiverse family farm in the hils outside Melbourne. We grow veggies, keep chooks for eggs, manage the forest that makes up half of our land and have thousands of fruit and nut trees, including almost one thousand apple trees”.
Photographed by Kate Ulman for Foxeslane, at Daylesford Organics, Muskvale, Victoria.
Brendon Eisner and Kate Ulman have been farming organically in Muskvale (just outside Daylesford) in Victoria since moving there in the winter of 2001. “MuskValley Farm” included an existing organic orchard and they now have established a market garden along with running a free range egg enterprise. This is in line with their focus on the importance of sustainability and biodiversity.
In any given year they produce up to 40 varieties of apples, hazelnuts, berries, free range eggs and up to 30 different vegetables often with several varieties of each including growing heirloom varieties with lots of different flavours and colours. They sell produce to local cafés and restaurants and at farmer’s markets. The entire property has achieved the highest level of organic certification from NASAA, which affords the consumer confidence in a production method based on strict international guidelines.
I have been an avid follower of Kate’s super inspiring Foxeslane blog which invites the readers inside their unique and incredibly diverse farming lifestyle. Both Melbourne born and bred Mt.Scopus students, this couple created a conscious pathway to establish a family and business under the same umbrella. Bold, brave and inspiring; Foxeslane has captured the past decade of their journey from newbie to established famers on the land and as an integral part of the wider community in Daylesford.
In keeping with Rosh Hashanah, I have included: Spinning Honey: How To Make Liquid Gold with words and images by Kate Ulman.
There are some days where me and my farmer boy frantically rush through the farm jobs all day long hoping to have them done before school pick-up so we can slow down then and enjoy the afternoons with our girls. Then there are other times when we save jobs for when the girls get home. When we plan their after school activities carefully looking forward to sharing these special tasks with them.
Last week we had a few frames of honey to spin, it would have been quicker and easier to get the job done then and there, but there was no way we could resist the thought of the girls’ excitement at watching the sticky frames become jars of delicious gold.
The first step we took to extract the honey from the frames was to uncap the honeycomb. Using a heated uncapping knife we carefully scraped the surface of the comb to remove the wax lid of each cell of honey.
Then we placed the frames of uncapped honey in the extractor,
and we cranked the handle which using centrifugal force spins the honey right out of the comb and onto the sides of the extractor.
We took turns turning and spinning, and spinning and turning, until the frames were empty and the bottom of the extractor was full of honey which had dripped down the sides.
Then we opened the valve at the bottom of the extractor, let the honey pour out into a honey strainer and then into a big bowl at the the bottom.
After that all there was to do was wash all the sticky fingers and bits of equipment, pour all the honey into jars, eat spoonfuls straight from the jars and then some on toast.
I know I’m writing this blog as if we did all the cool stuff but really we all know that we just took the baton on the last little leg of the honey journey. It’s really the bees that live here at Daylesford Organics with us who do the real work pollinating our fruit and veggies, providing our spring soundtrack and not being too cranky when we take a tiny share of their honey now and then.
I feel so very fortunate to have cool activities like honey spinning to share with our girls, to watch their excited faces as they play their parts and to see how proud they are of themselves and how much more connected they are to their food source as they spoon big spoonfuls of golden honey into their porridge each morning.
What a fascinating, exciting, sticky, delicious, buzzy world.
Bee good my friends.
Big sweet love to you from me.”