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In other words - 2012 update

Apart from the kitchen, garden, chickens, cattle and farm that I already wrote about, there were a few other interesting things that didn't fit into any category.

Chicken update
Garden update
Kitchen update
Cattle update
Farm update

I reviewed a book about plastic, and even though I’m a chemical engineer, I learnt a fair bit about plastic from this book, so I recommend that you read this or something similar.  It really made me realise that these are new chemicals and they don’t belong in our bodies or our ecosystems.  I can’t say that I live completely plastic-free, but it did make me try so much harder to look for plastic-free options. Plastic - book review
Over winter I had another go at knitting and, thanks to youtube, I got a little better, mastered purling and ribbing and made a few cowls and things.  Knitting just feels wrong in summer, so I have a half-finished sock ready to start again in winter 2013!  Something that I really want to try is making a rag rug, I got a bag of rags…

On the Farm - 2012 update

In March this year we bought Cheslyn Rise, a 258 A property in Kumbia, South of Kingaroy and about half an hour drive from where we live at Nanango.  The property has no house, just a hay shed, stock yards, good fences and lots of trees!  We plan to develop the property and some of our influences will be Peter Andrews (hence the trees) and Joel Salatin, as well as some of the things we have already found useful at Eight Acres.  See the links below for more details.
8 acres becomes 258 acres Naming our property - Cheslyn Rise Rehabilitating our property (eight acres) Natural Sequence Farming - using Peter Andrews' methods Joel Salatin - adapting Polyface farming method


Our first big decision was the tractor, and once we had that sorted, we could get on with baling the sorghum hay that was already planted, and then plough and plant our own oats (after doing a soil test).  We learnt a whole lot about how to manage our pasture and how to integrate forage and hay into our system.  We’re st…

Cattle for beef and dairy - 2012 Update

We’ve now had Bella for about 18 months and have learnt so much about owning a house cow!  As I mentioned in my kitchen update, having access to raw milk has allowed me to experiment with lots of the recipes in Nourishing Traditions.  Bella has a very gentle nature, but she is her own cow, and will tell us very clearly (usually by kicking) if she is not happy with something we are doing.

I wrote a post about choosing a house cow, often you don’t have much choice, we were offered Bella and had to decide if we would take her, but this might help you to know what to look for and how to find yourself a house cow.  We also learnt early on how to milk Bella, how to manage mastitis, how to arrange for the vet to AI her so she could get back in calf and finally weaning Molly to prepare for the next calf.  We then went through the birth of Bella's calf, which died, and had to get a foster calf, which she eventually accepted.  Finally we are now going to have to make some decisions about ca…

Chickens for meat and eggs - 2012 update

My all time most popular post is the first one I wrote about chicken tractors, I had no idea that it would be so useful or interesting, so I wrote a few follow-up posts this year with as much detail as I could think of.  We also made a new tractor, so I was able to follow the process from start to finish and write a nice detailed post.  Our chickens spend the day in their tractors and the afternoon free-ranging (if they're well-behaved).
Mobile chicken tractors vs fixed pen How to build a chicken tractor How to use a chicken tractor Another chicken tractor

We haven’t used the incubator again since March this year, we want to get through the Christmas break without having chicks to look after, so will start in January.  Last year we managed to improve our hatch rate (from a very low base), and in the end we had a good number of replacement pullets and roosters for the freezer.  By next winter we should be able to cull some older hens and roosters again too.  We also bought some…

How my garden grew - 2012 Update

Last summer - successes
Cherry tomatoes - the random compost sprouting tomatoes provided enough for salads, but it would have been nice to have more of them to freezeBeans - this year I managed to protect my green beans from cattle (although Bella took an early interest) and even though the chickens launched a late attack on anything that came over their side of the fence, I managed to harvest a decent amount for eating and freezing - 3 climbing plants and 3 bush plants were sufficient. Potatoes - I planted most of them in a drum and the leftovers in the garden.  Ironically it was the leftovers that did really well, I think the drum ones got too hot and dried out.   Basil - last year it grew to one metre before I noticed, this year I pinched off all the growth tips every few days and produced a lovely little bush of basil :)Mini capsicums - one plant survived the frost and is thriving, although I can't take any credit, I just cut it back and left it alone!Spring onions - always a …

Real Food in my Kitchen - 2012 update

As I said the in previous post, I'm going to use December as an opportunity to reflect and summarise what we've done at Eight Acres (and more recently, Cheslyn Rise) over the previous couple of years.  I particularly want to review the things that are working well and have become habits in our daily lives.

The big exciting achievement this year was baking my own bread since April.  We have bought no bread (apart from the occasional bread stick), and I have come to method that works, doesn’t take up too much time, tastes great and can be cooked in the woodstove or the BBQ.
Posts about bread: Overcoming the breadmaking challenge The home-made bread compromise Homemade bread - so far so good after 4 months Still baking bread - using the BBQ over summer

Earlier in the year I wrote a series of reviews on Nourishing Traditions.  If you haven’t heard of this book, its about preparing and eating traditional foods, like stocks, fermented foods, organ meats, sprouts and soaked grains…