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Showing posts from August, 2011

Knitting - some people make it look so easy!

My grannie used to knit all the time.  She used to make us grandchildren embarrassing home-knitted jerseys, which I did not appreciate at the time, but when I was a little older I actually asked her to knit one for me because the house I was living in while attending uni in Palmerston North was absolutely freezing!  My mum also used to knit occasionally, I do remember that she spent hours knitting mittens for me and a smaller pair for my little brother in preparation for a trip to the snow.  On the first day up the mountain both pairs got saturated and were hung to dry in the drying room at the lodge.  The next day my pair fitted my brother and his pair would have fitted a baby, oops!  At some stage my grannie taught me to knit too.  I can't remember actually finishing a knitting project at the time.

Recently I have been inspired by all the lovely knitting on a few different blogs (here and here and here).  The clothes (and other products!) they are producing don't look "…

Liebster award for blogs I love to read....

I've only been blogging since last Nov, I thought it would be fun to record things that we do, but in the process I've discovered some really interesting and inspirational blogs as well, and that's really turned out to be the best part.  So I'm especially honoured that someone else has discovered MY blog and given me the Liebster blog award.  This award seems to have been circulating the blogging world for a while, I supposed its a bit of a chain letter, but I think its a fun opportunity to tell you about some of the blogs that I enjoy.


This award is given to bloggers with under 200 followers. Here are the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to them.


Thank youBruise Mouse!  I love your blog too, I especially love your passion for reducing waste through recycling, composting, reducing consumption etc, because that's one of my interests too.  Bruise Mouse is also half-responsible for the Sow Grow Give initiative, which is such a great idea for spreading seeds and se…

Soap self-sufficiency

I was excited by the idea of making soap using our cows milk.  I thought that was another great self-sufficient product that we could add to the list.  I bought a book about making milk soap and I read it.  I was so very DISAPPOINTED to find out that milk would be a minor ingredient in the soap.  I would still need to use a fat or oil and lye.  Well, I don't regularly produce any fats or oils here, so it wouldn't be very self-sufficient to buy fats or oils (not to mention the lye) in order to make soap.  Having found out the realities of soap making, I decided that I'd rather just buy nice soap from someone and support a local business, than fuss about making my own, so we get our soap from the farmers market at the moment.

However, now that I have learnt so much more about soap, I am wondering about a self-sufficient source of fat/oil.  We did have a wheel-barrow of fat from the steer that we had killed recently and we did try to render it.  It didn't work, but I can …

Early morning milking

I keep forgetting to take photos at milking time because its usually still dark, but we slept in a little the other day, so I was able to take a few photos so that I can explain the process.



As you can see we bought a mini milking machine.  I would have loved to hand milk, it seems so romantic and in touch with nature, but we have tried to hand milk Bella a couple of times, just to see if we could and that made me very glad to have a milking machine instead!  Bella has VERY small teats, you can only wrap a couple of fingers around them, instead of your whole hand, so it makes hand milking very slow (apparently cows are being bred to have smaller teats to suit milking machines, rather than hand milking which is better with longer teats, just another frustrating consequence of industrial farming).  Its also interesting how much dirt and hair ends up in your hand milking bucket.  When we'd finished, I wasn't too confident that the milk was clean, whereas if it get sucked straight…

Raw milk update

Following on from my post from the other day about raw milk, a friend who works in the food regulation area sent me some great links from NZ.


Firstly, NZ takes a risk management approach and allows farmers to sell up to 5L of milk directly to customers for their personal consumption.  This is a very sensible approach that allows farmers and consumers to get what they want, raw milk direct to customers, without unnecessary regulation.

There was also a link to a study of the pathogens (disease causing microbes) that can be found in raw milk and how to minimise the risk of food poisoning.  From reading this report, my understanding is that the risk can be controlled by the following actions:
Keep your cow healthy and free of mastitis - mastitis is most often caused by non-pathogenic bacteria, however there is a possibility of infection by human pathogens, which will cause tummy-bug/food poisoning symptoms.  I'll write more later about natural methods to keep your cow healthy. Keep you…

Whole Earth Catalogues - good advice from the 70s

I suppose its true that there is nothing new under the sun, but now I have proof. Its in the form of a series of large books, A2 size actually, called Whole Earth Catalogues. My parents gave them to me recently to show me that they were once “hippies” too, back in the 70s. I am now the proud owner of “The last Whole Earth Catalog” (from the US) and the first and third editions of the New Zealand version “The New Zealand Whole Earth Catalogue”. The US catalogues were designed to list all sorts of products for sale (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds – things useful for a creative or self-sustainable lifestyle). They were not sold by the catalogue and the information wasn’t advertising, more just a list of things that might be useful to other people, with the suppliers listed. It was a source of information for people wanted to live differently, pre-internet connections. The NZ catalogues are a little different again, with more articles and cartoons, containing information …

Bottle feeding a calf

Getting a calf started on the bottle is not easy.  At first they are scared and miss their mum, so they don't cooperate at all.  When little Trevor first came home with us he was only a few weeks old.  We struggled with him for days, my husband standing over him to hold his head still and me trying to get the teat in Trevor's mouth. Eventually he worked it out and we were greeted each morning at sunrise with hungry mooing as he paced up and down his pen waiting impatiently for his bottle.  Those days when he wouldn't feed were very stressful though, we didn't know if he would die of hunger and we were seriously considering loading him back in the ute and taking him back to his mum!  Molly was exactly the same, but after a few days, just like Trevor, she got hungry enough to work out what we were trying to do and then she was waiting for her bottle after milking morning and evening and finishes it with no trouble.

We use a Speedy-feeder that we bought when Trevor was be…

Joel Salatin - adapting Polyface farming method for Australian conditions

On Friday the 5th of August my husband and I left Nanango at 6:15am headed for Beerwah (Sunshine Coast) to attend a workshop with Joel Salatin of Polyface farm, he's a written a few books too. I didin't know much about Joel before we booked the workshop. I had heard of him because Emma has mentioned Polyface a few times in comments and he also wrote the forward to "The Raw Milk Revolution", which I read recently. When I heard about the workshop (from the South Burnett Permaculture Group) my husband and I checked out a few of his videos on Youtube and thought he seemed like a pretty good presenter, so it would be worth the effort to get there.

The workshop started at 9am, there were almost 200 people in the Beerwah community hall and Costa Georgiadis (of Costa's Garden Odyssey fame) was the MC. We hadn't realised that it would be such a big deal, Channel 7 news even turned up after lunch. The event was organised by a company called RegenAg, which organi…

The answers to all your questions....

Haha, maybe an ambitious title!  But the point is that I never know how to answer questions in comments.  Do I answer the question in another comment, or update the post?  but what if you don't return to the post to read the answer? or should I write a new post to answer the questions?  but then what about other people who read the comment later and still don't know the answer?  Well I've had a few questions lately, so I thought I'd just answer them all in this post and see how that works....


A question from Emma about "Easy Peasy Cheesy...": Ooh, I can't wait to see how your hard cheeses turn out. How long do you have to wait? A year? Ten?  Well we're not sure yet, but it should only be 6-8 weeks for the cheddar, but for the parmesan we should wait a year.  Emma also asked about the post "Weeds":  what's a mattock? I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know!  My husband loves his mattock, it must be an Aussie thing, it is …

Feeding time - what's in that bucket?

Each morning and afternoon we walk around our property with white buckets of animal feed.  Some animals are happy to eat their own feed, but others wonder what is in the other buckets, this can make life difficult when walking past Bella with a bucket of chicken food!

The Chickens
We have been very lazy and feeding the chickens the cheapest layer pellets.  I suspect that is part of the reason why we are getting so few eggs.  I read the back of the feed sack the other day and noticed "animal protein" in the ingredients, followed by the big bold instructions that I shouldn't feed the pellets to any other livestock.  It occurred to me that this warning is most likely due to whole "mad cow disease" scare and the regulations that were introduced to prevent offal (particularly brains) being fed to livestock of the same breed, so I assume that the chicken pellets contain scraps from the meat works and that's why I shouldn't feed it to any other animals.  I have…

August 2011 - farm update

The garden now has even more frost damage than July!  I think we must have had a very mild winter here last year (our first winter in Nanango), so I didn't realise how cold it could get.  Everything that's not frost tolerant has shriveled up and died. This includes the bean plant, tomatoes, arrowroot, passionfruit and capsicums.  I have cut them all back and left some in the ground to see if they reshoot when it finally warms up again.  Fortunately, the silverbeet is still doing well.  The peas and broccoli now have more sunlight because the bean plant died back, so they are also doing better (still not a massive amount of peas though, so disappointing because I love eating fresh peas).  The broadcast seeding seems to have worked, I have lots of bok choy and mustard greens sprouted anyway, I was hoping for some lettuce and rocket, but maybe they will pop up later.  No photos, its too depressing to see all that brown.  But spring is coming so I'd better start thinking about…