The Good Life by Ami Hillege – Otway Fields


Congratulations Ami & Frans – Otway Fields does it again!

SILVER award @ Melbourne Fine Food Awards 2015 for their “Raspberry Vinegar Cordial”

Otway Fields has won a Silver award for our Raspberry Vinegar Cordial in this year’s Spring awards at the Royal Melbourne Fine Foods Awards! Next year it has to be gold! Thank you Anne Wood! Without your recipe, I wouldn’t have even contemplated the idea of a vinegar cordial! Ami





The challenge and the charm of living in the country are often categorized by the challenges to feed one self. Not every season rolls around according to plan.


Take the past autumn for instance. We waited patiently for the tomatoes to turn from pale green to ruby red, but that never happened. The tomatoes remained on the vines and refused to ripen. In a last ditch attempt to preserve some of our summer crop, we ripped out the tomato bushes and hung them on large hooks in the shed. When it comes to growing your own food, there has to be a certain belief that what you’ve planted will actually grow into a food that you can feed your family with. We are hoping that the tomatoes still hanging on the green vines will slowly ripen over the next few months and that we will continue to enjoy these beautiful fruits.


By the end of the harvest season, we’re starting to dream of cold days where the sun forces its rays through thick morning fogs and the days are short. On days like this we take the time to regroup and take stock of our farm plans. There is always a new project that needs attention.

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The wood stacks for winter are moved closer to the woodshed which sits near to back door. Proximity to the house is a key factor in positioning the wood pile. Daily trips to feed the kitchen stove are made, filling a big metal bucket with logs. The wood we gathered over the past two years will now get used for fuel. It has sat for a couple of seasons facing the blasting cold winds from the South. It is dry and the heat that radiates from the wood stove is intense and warming.


Winter is our ‘down’ time. Or that’s what we like to tell ourselves. The harvesting of summer crops has ended, the winter vegetables have been planted and it is once again time to retreat to the warmth of the open fire inside the farmhouse. The apples that hung in great bunches on the trees have all been picked. We juiced around 200 kgs of apples this season to create our first farm cider. We love experimenting with the produce we harvest. We’re crossing our fingers that this batch of apple juice will turn into a delicious sparkling apple drink. In a few weeks we will decant the fermented juice into glass bottles. A mid winter celebration of a successful autumn apple harvest will be enjoyed by family and friends alike.


As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, we are aware that we are on a very specific timeline. The garlic crop needs to get planted. The beds are tilled and have been rested with a good amount of natural nutrients having been dug into them. We will spend a number of days bent over, feeding individual cloves into the rich soil. The long wait till Christmas is only made easier with the knowledge that the garlic we harvest will be chemical free and very very tasty.


And so we retreat into the cold months and wait for the daffodils to poke their heads out of the ground. Winter brings with it a feeling of being cleansed. A new start is just around the corner. But for now, we huddle around a warm fire, open a bottle of red and dream of Spring.




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