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GreenPro - implements for small farms

A tractor with implements is an essential tool for getting work done around the farm (as I recently wrote about here). At Cheslyn Rise, our 258-acre property, we have a 75 HP tractor with front bucket and forklift tynes. We have ploughs, a hay rake, cultivator drill (seeder), an 800 L spray tank and a slasher. At Eight Acres, we only had a tiny 15 HP tractor with a slasher. Often we wish we could use the big tractor there too, but it's just not practical to transport it. 



When I write about farm work we’ve done using our big tractor, I usually get questions from readers about how to do these things on a smaller scale, for a hobby farm or lifestyle block, especially our recent pasture seeding, which required two ploughs and the cultivator drill. Until recently, I haven’t had any answers. I think it's an issue that we’ve all experienced, it's hard to justify buying even a small tractor for a small hobby farm, and even if you do buy one (ours is second hand), it's hard to…

Growing mushrooms in my kitchen!

I’ve been wanting to try growing mushrooms for some time. I LOVE mushrooms and we buy them from the supermarket every week, so I was keen to find a way to produce them at home to reduce waste and potentially cost as well.





A few years ago I found out that you could grow mushrooms from the spent mushroom compost from mushroom farms. So we dropped in to a farm on the Sunshine Coast and picked up a couple of boxes for $2 each. I diligently kept them dark and sprayed them with water, but in our climate, I just couldn’t keep them damp enough (and I had to keep them outside because our shed was too hot). I never managed to produce any mushrooms from those boxes, but when I gave up and tipped the compost out onto the garden, mushrooms sprang up everywhere. I wasn’t confident that they were the right mushrooms though, so I didn’t harvest any of those. As the proverb says, All mushrooms are edible, but some only once! I am generally a bit nervous about unidentified fungi.

Since then, I had…

The story of our house cows - part 4

I just updated our house cows' story over on my house cow ebook blog.  You can check it out here.






Getting started with homestead dairy
Interview with myself
Interview with Mark and Kate from Purple Pear Permaculture
Interview with Kim from the Little Black Cow
Interview with Rose Petal
Interview with Marie from Go Milk the Cow
Interview with Ohio Farmgirl

If you want to know more about house cows, my eBook is now available, for details see my house cow eBook blog.

Farm update - August 2017

Its been cold this month, and very nice to have the fire going every night.  Here's a photo of my boy in his cape, great for late night woofing at things.  Most of July we were either preparing for the butcher to come or putting meat away.  Its always a big job, but its only once a year, and its all done now.  My lovely neighbour came over to help, so it was fun to have the company and work together.  Taz was a champion once again as she helped us to move cattle in the yards ready to load for the market.  Gus is not at that level yet and had to stay home (he cries when he gets left behind, but he just gets in the way and scatters the cattle).  We have had a few sprinkles of rain here and there, but also plenty of cold nights, so the grass is mostly dead and dry, waiting for the warmer weather to revive our summer-active pasture.



Food and cooking

It was all about beef in July and we are very happy to have the freezers loaded again with plenty of the nice cuts (we were still finishin…

RIP Molly Moo

I don't have a proper post to write today.   At the moment we are just a bit stunned.  Pete found Molly dead on Monday when he heard her calf bawling.  We don't know what happened to her.  She had starting losing condition due to feeding her calf (we haven't been milking) and we had just put out hay to make sure that everyone was getting enough to eat.   We don't know if there was an underlying condition, or that something else affected her while she was already weak, but she didn't seem deathly ill to me when I chatted to her on Sunday afternoon.  I googled it and there are over 200 causes of sudden death in cattle, so we will probably never know for sure.
Her absence is still sinking in.  I've stopped looking for the cow with horns when I do the herd check.  Her calf is, fortunately for us, about 3 months old, so can be weaned as long as he gets enough hay.  He is wild and there is no way to catch him at the moment without making everyone walk through the ya…

Keeping our new house clean

I know I keep saying that I hate cleaning, but now that we are in our new house, I have more motivation.  Firstly this house is way nicer than our old house, from the colour of the walls (that we chose of course) to the high ceilings and better lighting, I just enjoy being in the house more than ever before.  And I know how much effort went into getting it this nice so I don't want to see it getting dusty and dirty.  Permaculture principle "produce no waste" suggests that timely maintenance prevents wasteful rework and big jobs to fix things that could have taken very little time if they were done earlier.  This helps me to prioritise small cleaning jobs before they turn into big ones.





One new thing that we have tried since moving is the ENJO range of cleaning products (affiliate link).  You won't find ENJO in your supermarket, its sold by independent consultants, and also available online (I get a small commission if you use my links). ENJO's chemical-free, al…

How I use herbs: Feverfew

Sometimes I write about the herbs I've been growing for a long time and use frequently, other time I use these posts as an opportunity to find out more about a new herb.  Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is the latter!  I've had it in my garden for a couple of years after a friend gave me a seedling and it has self-seeded, but I haven't known how to use it., so its time to look up the herb books!


How to grow feverfew
Apparently it is a perennial, it must die back when its too cold or too hot and dry because it disappeared for a while.  It grows from seed or root division or cuttings.  If you let it flower and seed it will self-seed (that's my favourite type of plant!).



How to use feverfew The flowers are pretty, however they repel insects including bees, so not one for the bee garden (although can be used as a companion plant around brasiccas to repel cabbage moth etc and the dried leaves can be used to keep moths out of your wardrobe)Can sooth pain and swelling from inse…

The buzz about bees - book review

The more I learn about the bees, the more I'm fascinated by them and amazed at the things that researchers have figured out!  To be successful beekeepers we need to try to learn as much as we can about the bees in our care.  Some of the books on beekeeping use a kind of rote learning approach and tell you exactly what to do with your bees, but they can't possibly cover every situation, so you need to also learn to think for yourself using bee-knowledge to make the best management decisions for your bee hives.




The book The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism (affiliate link) was recommended by the awesome Rusty on Honey Bee Suite so when I decided that I needed to know more about bee biology, I purchased a copy (using Amazon credit from you guys clicking on my affiliate links, thank you!!).  This is a good-sized book, packed with information and wonderful close-up photos of bees (they look all fuzzy and cuddly at that size!).




I learnt so much from this book, I'm ju…

Making our own sausage mix

Our butcher is coming next week and he will do two beasts this time, so we are getting organised.  I've written a lot about butchering over the years and this will be our eighth and ninth animals killed on our own property.  On that last day, they will know no fear, maybe some curiosity (who is that strange man pointing that stick at me?) and it will be a quick end to a fairly peaceful and comfortable life.  Its not such an easy day for us, it can be quite emotional seeing the death of an animal that you've raised from a young age, not to mention physically draining putting all the meat away, but its all worth it to get the best quality meat possible.




One of the things we are doing this year is make our own sausage mix.  If you want to know more about home butchering in general, here are all the posts I've written in the past:

Homekill meat - some tips for beginners

Home butcher vs meatworks

Homekill butchering

Homekill butcher day - tips and tricks

Homekill beef - two small be…

Goat milk and honey soap - and a natural soap book review

I've been wanting to try making soap with milk for ages.  We haven't been milking our cows, so I was waiting for a friend to have enough goat's milk to spare.  I know I could just buy milk, but that seemed like a strange thing to do (you start to forget that milk comes from the shop when you've been milking a cow for a few years!).  Anyway, I was happy to wait as I had plenty of other soap to make.




While I was waiting, I also received a review copy of a new soapmaking book called The Natural Soap Making Book for Beginners: Do-It-Yourself Soaps Using All-Natural Herbs, Spices, and Essential Oils (Affiliate link), by Kelly Cable of the blog Simple Life Mom.  Kelly has an amazing Etsy shop full of soaps and natural lotions, so I am very excited that she has decided to share her experience and recipes in this book.  And seeing as it contains several goat milk soap recipes and my friend finally had some goat milk to spare, I recently got my chance to try goat milk soap.  …