About Denis Buchanan

Once upon a time I was a Chemical Engineer now I am a born again Farmer. The transition was really quite easy with the major change that the life of feasibility studies has ended and any experiment that I wish to undertake is at my peril.

House for Rent

Outside view of the House

We have a lovely 3 bedroom home looking for new tenants. It is located in Scamander on acreage. Close to all amenities.
The house comes with a very large garage so plenty of storage or place for handyman to play around.

The very large garage

References are required. Rent is $325/week payable 2 weeks in advance. Would suit long term tenant. A lease will be drawn up before hand.

Contact Denis or Ann 63725500 or post a comment.

(P.S. if you go to our web site you will see this article and others in our Farmer’s Blog posts as well as Recent Articles.)

 

comfortable kitchen with large dining room

Plum recipes

Eureka Farm grows a lot of plums. We must have up to 500 trees. Most of our plums are blood plums meaning the flesh is red. The first plums we used to grow were Santa Rosa followed by a variety called Frontier. We later removed our Santa Rosa trees as production was fickle possibly due to the often inclement spring weather conditions and the trees tendency  to vegetative growth making them difficult to pick as they reached for the sky every year after pruning. Frontier is a black skinned fruit which generally requires successive picks, Frontier is followed by Red Heart , Mariposa and lastly Satsuma. There are endless varieties of plums and I believe most of what we grow are the Japanese descent.
Most Tasmanian’s who have a garden are able to grow plums. They are very tolerant to cold snaps and reasonable tolerant to brown rot the scourge of stonefruit. This means than local sales can be limited due to a plentiful supply elsewhere.
Over the years we developed a number of plum recipes. My original intention was to develop a blood plum fruit wine. The difficulty I had was with the acid levels of the fruit compared with grape wines. The sugar levels were also low as plums won’t stay on the tree at the same levels as grapes. I gave up on the fruit wine after a number of years. Whilst I still believed it is possible with modern technology to make a good fruit wine I sort of gave up drinking much wine myself. But that is another story.
We have however had some successes in value adding. No doubt the most successful recipe we have developed is our Worcestershire Sauce which is based on a Tasmanian recipe which we modified. It uses lots of plums and is completely different to the original Worcestershire Sauce which is based on anchovies. Our sauce is very thick with peppercorns and cloves being the main spice ingredients.
This year we didn’t have as much plums as previous years due to the drought. But still plenty to satisfy the market and our vaulue adding exercises. 
Lately though I have been looking at cakes which use plums. One cake that I have loved making is an Upside Down Plum Cake. The recipe is attached.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 plums, number depends on size
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cupself raising flour flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

InstructionsUpside Down Buttermilk Plum Cake / MOMS KITCHEN HANDBOOK

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use a paring knife to cut the plums in half through the center, twist and separate. Remove the pits. If the pits don’t come out with ease, use your paring knife to cut them out. Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the brown sugar to cover the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Dot 2 tablespoons of the butter over the brown sugar. Set the pan directly on a burner of your stove over low heat. Allow the butter and sugar to melt together, swirling occasionally so nothing burns. You want the butter/sugar mixture distributed evenly over the bottom of the pan. Use a spatula to help spread the mixture, if needed.
  4. Place the plums cut-side-down into the cake pan so the fruits are touching. Start with the outside perimeter of that pan and work your way to the center. Set aside.
  5. Put the flour, almond flour, in a medium bowl. Stir with a fork and set aside.
  6. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and mix until thoroughly blended. Add the milk and vanilla and mix again. If the batter is a little curdled looking, don’t worry.
  7. Add the flour mixture and to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix together into a creamy, smooth batter.
  8. Pour the batter over the plums. Set in the oven with a baking sheet beneath to catch any plum juices that may spill over.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan, at least an hour.
  11. To remove cake, set a plate large enough to cover the pan on top. Flip the plate over so the cake inverts onto it. Lift off the cake pan.

Jobs at Eureka Farm

Update – 23rd January 2019 No pickers required . do not ring

The rules for employing backbackers who want a second year visa have changed considerably. We are not big enough to employ anyone full time and now only use local persons.
In any case the picking season has just about finished. So we would still be interested in getting to know future applicants who live locally.( next year )  We have closed our accommodation for pickers.so this necessitates that that locals only apply. We appreciate those who have contacted us but please do not contact us if you are expecting work this year.

The following is an explanation as to what would be expected from potential local workers:  Looking for something to do. Part-time maybe. Picking fruit in the morning. This is a good way of earning pocket money for those extra expenses we all have. You don’t have to have had experience as we will teach you.

lots of blackcurrants were picked

lots of blackcurrants were pickedWe are quite keen in knowing persons interested in some casual work who live in the Break O’Day Municipality. 

P1030258(1)

We are a multi faceted operation. We grow all sorts of berries; we  have over 2000 fruit trees including apples, pears and stonefruit. We value add by running a shop, producing icecream,

 

Fruit Fly back in Tasmania

Every year Victoria dumps late season fruit into Tasmania just when our fruit is ripening. Tasmania has the potential to produce good quality fruit but there is no incentive to keep trying when this happens. 

A female Medfly ready to sting and deposit eggs onto a peach.

Now that the danger of fruit fly getting into the state is real maybe this is the time we should stop some fruits coming into the State. The latest two incidents were on nectarines. This is a big fruit and fruit fly larvae no doubt bury themselves inside. It could well be that their position protects them from fumigation.

As I see it there is no need for this fruit to come to Tasmania and our industry needs to be protected..

Seasons Greetings

We have been very busy picking berries. Heaps of raspberries this year. Maybe the attention I gave them in spring paid off. Our hill paddock suffered from last years dry weather and the subsequent incursion of weeds such as clover, twitch and buttercup. I never expect clover to be a problem but yes once it gets in it is difficult to get rid of.

We had a dry winter with hot and cold weather. Blossom time was severely affected in the stonefruits such as apricots. You may remember we were skiting about the amazing crop of apricots we had last year. Well it was the total opposite this year. Much of early apricots was affected by brownrot inspite of my spraying copper fungicides during the dormant period. 

One thing I didn’t do this ear was winter oil and as a result we had a massive out break of aphids. I have never seem them cause so much problems. Some branches in the cherries had die back as a result.

You really need to live a long time to know all the tricks.

I have had a great team of pickers this year which has really made my life a lot easier. More on that later.

We are looking for a exit plan. There are many ways to go about it. Your comments and advice would be appreciated. I think for the remainder of my life I would like to help other farmers in third world countries too.

Blackcurrants

In 2014 we started selling black currants on line. Our entre into this market was  heavily supported by Farmhousedirect and Australia Post. The following is the article that was written at that time. we have learnt a lot since that time about packaging and handling and hope we will have the opportunity to supply you once again.

Black currants

Black currants

 

lots of blackcurrants

lots of blackcurrants

However the black currants were unaffected and we had very good black currants; so many in fact that we didn’t know what to do with them all. Unlike machine picked black currants our black currants are washed and clean of stalks and other foreign matter. This makes them ideal for desserts and of course jams.

 

We made lots of blackcurrant jam and mixed berry jam and froze a lot but still there were more black currants to pick.

we made lots of blackcurrant jam

we made lots of blackcurrant jam

Blackcurrants everywhere

Black currants everywhere

Looking at the internet I discovered that there is a big market for frozen and fresh black currants in the United States. Maybe we could do the same here!

I then contacted Farmhousedirect who handle our products for on-line sales as well as many other similar producers. They were very supportive and we arranged for a special sale to happen with dispatch to go out the following Monday by Express Post.

Well I was dumbfounded for within a couple of hours all our black currants were sold. In fact due to an error in my ad we really didn’t have enough.

Now we were entering new territory. How were we going to get these items to our customers? My experience is that they didn’t deteriorate quickly in our chilled coolroom. However they did tend to juice and the skins became softer. With this in mind I decided to pack them in heavy duty plastic bags and vacuum seal them.I then enclosed this bag in another lighter bag just in case the bag was not perfectly sealed. We do two sizes fir mail orders namely a 1.5kg and 4kg package which we dispatch in express mail bags.   All the bags once packaged were put back in the cool room until dispatch which was planned for the Monday. However for locals either near us or in Tasmania we can dispatch in any size and freight is generally cheaper.

On advice from FarmHouse Direct we send them via the Perth Post office just outside of Launceston , Tasmania so as to be at an Express Post outlet. We had now discovered that all Post Offices in Australia were not equal. In fact there was not only a National Network but a State Network too. And to further complicate matters if you moved into another State Network all bets were off as to how long it took to get there.

With these processes in place the system seems to work well. Deliveries as far as Queensland often get there the next day.

So to all our customers thank you for your support . And to all out there more suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

Save the Marwah Valley for all to see

 

By an occasional correspondent:

Denis Buchan BSc. MEngSc, past member Institional Engineers Australia

1) P1040432.JPG
2) Some of the guys forming a protest committee located in Marwah Valley

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Section 1. The fabulous Marwah Valley- entrance way to Kishtwar National Park

Many of you may be wondering why a foreigner would pick this place the Marwah Valley to write about. Well the fact of the matter is I have been to this valley many times over the last 8 or so years. Before the problems in Kashmir erupted this valley was considered one of the treasured walks linking Kishtwar in Jammu to as far north as Sonamarg or even into Zanskar.

P1040404.JPG The valley is lined with deodar, chinar and walnut trees, wild strawberries, mushrooms and much more. My first visit stunned me as the Marwah river was so beautiful then with no roads and self sufficient villages along the way which still welcomes the few trekkers who venture this way. The government also recognized that the beauty of this area had to be preserved and made the largest national park in J&K Kishtwar National Park.

Perhaps the Indian Government thinks that these people are backward, maybe what one would call an indigenous people. But this is far from the truth. The kids all attend schools and want to learn. They also know how to entertain themselves. We talked about these things many times in my early visits. Yes they definitely needed better facilities for communication. Yes they needed a proper hospital and yes facilities for their schools. To some extent the people overcome these disadvantages as the non farming population spent the colder months in Kishtwar or Jammu.

These disadvantages have existed for a long time and the Government (State as well) should be embarrassed about how little help they have given these people. Strangely enough more money was spent on the Army and Police Force than help with these basic needs. Right up to the present minimum consultation with the people has not occurred. Good communication is a principle of good governance. I talk about these things not because I wish to cast blame but to highlight the ongoing problem leading to protests and more owing to the continuing lack of dialogue over the proposed flooding of the valley under this new proposed hydro-electric scheme.

P1040320.JPG Perhaps now is the time to describe how the combination of the Pakel, Burser dams Hydroelectric scheme is meant to work. There will be two dams built; the one near Akali called the Pakel Dul Dams the one connected to the Power Plant via tunnels. This earth filled dam is quoted as 167 metres high and its headwaters go back as far as Lopara with some of the lower village and prosperous rice paddies thereabouts all being flooded. The other dam is the Burser Dam whose primary function is to maintain a water flow to the Pakel dam when the rivers stopped flowing with the onset of winter. The contact for the Pakel Dam has been awarded to the Chenab Valley Power Project. This is a consortium. The water from the Pakel Dul Dam is delivered through two 7.2 diameter tunnels about 10km long to an underground power station near the village Dul where there are 4 by 250mw turbines to produce the design requirement of 1000mw.

The position of the Burser dam has a mighty impact on the Marwah Valley. The planners have obviously chosen this position because of the large amount of water that will be available. I suspect they didn’t even visit the area with all assessments being done by something like Google maps. It would seem to be the position chosen based on convenience rather than any considerations of what areas are populated.

Peter Burns

There were many characters in St. Helen’s Tasmania when we arrived on our yacht Joker having sailed down from Sydney to find out how the other world lived.

‘Joker”the boat we sailed to Tasmania

 

You take life somewhat for granted in those halcyon days rooming the east coast of Australia looking for the perfect place to stay.
For us once past the treacherous barway and following the leads that led us to the Township of St. Helens I said to Ann this looked like the place we were seeking. 
One of those personalities was Peter Burns. Over the years I have been blessed with seeing Peter and his wife Sue from time to time. But alas I must now admit that the labour of my life getting Eureka Farm up and running and keeping it going has often taken precedence over other things. ( my family surely will vouch for this confession)
Never the less for me Peter was an impressive fellow. Some may be surprised when I say I liked his straight shooting nature . As I got to know him it also became apparent that Peter’s way of doing things could ruffle feathers. 

Peter came to help me put the fame back together after the 2006 bushfires came to “Scamander.

The chronological sequence may be slightly askew as I recount now some of my experiences. Peter and his first wife had decided that the history of this area should be recorded. In what was later to become the St. Helen’s History room was established in the section of the same building that is now the Online Centre. Denny and Joy Walters, Jack and Dorothy Sutten, Ted Clayton and lots more were early enthusiasts. It was by no means an old mans club , all seem to be doing research on family histories using donated Apple computers or whatever. Material in the way of documents, momentos, artifacts and tools of bygone eras appeared. 
And it wasn’t confined to just backroom research. Peter felt the need to know all about the earlier tin mining history which was really the main industry and employer in this part of the world. Tin mining to some extent was just like gold mining. You could become wealthy or as often happened you just survived. There were great mines established such as the Anchor mine and trails leading to all the diggings. One trail that I know about was the Three Knots Trail which starts at the top of the Blue Tiers and goes north I believe to Boobyalla. 
Peter decided that we must find and mark the trail for future generations. I guess it wasn’t his first trip and so tramping the first part of the trail wasn’t very demanding for us. On the trip Denny Walters, Allan Woods from the Bush Mill , George Keri a photographer from Scamander , myself and a couple of others accompanied Peter. The trail goes skirts Mt. Michael and then descend into a beautiful rainforest. Myrtles, sassafras , celery top and more. The trail in place is stabilised with poles laid across the trail where it could be muddy. Slot cuts where the miners were working, concrete emplacements for pump housings, washed out dams that fed the sluices can all be seen if you are willing to look. And yes the track is so named Three Knots as this is what you see on the trees so that you don’t get lost. And that is just what happened to us. The knots disappeared and we  went on in what we thought would be the right direction. I consider myself a reasonable bushman but my experience finding your way in  rainforest isn’t strong. We got lost and night was descending. George was everyone’s favorite as he came prepared but just before night descended we found a knot.
Yes I was getting to know Peter. He spurred us all into looking into our history. One day Peter came to me with a plan. He wanted to promote tourism in St. Helens. He maintained that no one was going to do anything about it so he would. Yes Peter could be determined. (possibly an understatement). Would I help by using my yacht to promote the beautiful bay of St. Helens. No problem. We arrived on the appropriate day and Peter had arranged I think for Channel Ten to make the film and show it for a series of weeks on their station. (maybe the video is in someone’s archives but there seems to be little record of it on the internet). Well we get everything ready and there isn’t a drop of wind. A yacht drifting across the bay with limp sails is hardly going to impress tourists into visiting. Peter yells out form the wharf a big strong voice ‘ do something- I haven’t organised this for nothing’. Ok start the motor , complete a long circle to allow me to go full speed past the wharf. The sails fill, we lean on the opposite side and the video turns out great.
Somehow in our community people have trouble honoring the doers especially the ones that step on toes. Peter Burns is one such person. His efforts to do good things for St. Helen’s should have been recognised by those in control. We will miss you Peter. They don’t make them like that any more.

Hot- Hot-Hot

The weather is starting to cool off. Still night last night and quite cool. I had permission for a control burn off and was blessed with the expert help of the Scamander Fire Brigade. It is still very dry here and burn offs in thickly forested areas with a lot of undergrowth and fallen dead trees from the 2006 bushfire can lead to some very interesting times if things get out of control.

 

the area we are burning off is next to the main house

the burn off commences about 7:30pm

All went well until the next day. I started to clean up unburnt logs and fallen branches , also some stumps were alight and I keep these going.

Later I went to pick some fruit and was soon visited by a very worried wife. The fire had started up again on the fence line as a result of strong winds and was moving fast. Lots of smoke making it look worse than it was. Never the less it is a warning that although we should be dong burn offs at this time of year we shouldn’t relax our vigilance until the fire is completely out.

 

 

Horticultural Challenges

 

In my last post I talked about the particular summer we have been having. So hot and practically no rain for the entire summer. Amongst other things this led to a bumper crop of apricots.
We didn’t have hardly any last year and over the years transport difficulties have escalated making the sale of apricots and other stonefruit (with the possible exception of cherries ) difficult. As you can see a lot of the fruit dropped not just because we didn’t pick it but as a result of the drought and windy days.
My good friend Alan Savins identified fruit fly as a major threat to Tasmania many years ago. His prophecy at the time was ignored but now it has happened. Fortunately fruit fly checks have been going on for some time and the growers are aware it has entered the State. 
Which one is it: global warming or a one off hotter than normal summer. Does it matter? What does matter is the potential for wiping out the horticultural industry as we see it today. What happened to me this summer means fruit fly would have a great source of food and possibly spread like wire fire. (another threat to farming on the east coast).
My management practices will have to change. Many of my trees will have to be cut down so that fruit droppings are minimised. Throwing out unused fruit to the animals will have to be assessed too.
What do we do with waste fruit and general management practices need to be reassessed. Tasmania has been the lucky state horticulturally but those days look like coming to an end. Large scale producers relying on an export market must feel severely threatened. the spread of fruit fly has been stopped in the past probably by the cold winters we normally enjoy. But a hot summer followed by warmer winters creates a completely new scenario.
Backyard gardeners could be the avenue by which the spread of this terrible menace will be unconstrained. Likewise greenhouses create a warmer environment by which fruit fly can overwinter and survive to do more damage in the summer months.
Fruit fly control measures haven’t really stooped the southerly movement through Australia. Sterilisation of the mail fruit fly has helped and of course Bass strait has been a very useful Quarantine barrier but we can see now that it may not be good enough. 

Yes I am worried. Fruit fly getting into Tasmania is a major threat to all gardeners and measures to control it should be made transparent and immediate implemented.