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Showing posts from June, 2012

Eating with the seasons

I know I'm not the first to say that we only appreciate what we have when its gone, but it certainly applies to us with produce.  When we first got Bella our house cow we had so much milk we didn't know what to do with it all, the dogs even had some with their breakfast and we got to experiment with cheese-making.  We had Bella artificially inseminated (remember Kaptain Nightcrawler?) in early December and she hasn't come back on heat, so we expect that she will have a calf in mid September (279 days gestation for a Jersey cow).  Its best to dry her up (stop her from producing milk) about 3 months before she calves, so that is mid June.  We were a bit worried about how Molly would feel about being weaned, but I should have worried more about how WE felt about being weaned!  After having fresh raw Jersey cow milk for a year, to suddenly go without is pretty distressing!  
In order to dry Bella, we have to separate Molly and continue milking Bella every morning, taking not …

Another chicken tractor

After a few posts on chicken tractors, its time for some more details.  Well we did have to make life difficult for ourselves and hatch 16 chicks just at the end of summer, with several other poorer hatches over spring, we have ended up with too many groups of chickens that can't be in the same cage due to size difference, so here we go again building another tractor!
At least we are getting better at it.  Our first large tractors took 3-4 weekends to build, with the doors and wheels being particularly fiddly, this one took only half a day for Farmer Pete to cut and weld the frame and then another day with me "helping" to finish it off.

The only things we had to buy were 30x30mm box section for the frame, cut to 4m lengths, about $150 worth, the hinges and catch for the door ($20), and the wheels ($9/each).  We already had the corrugated iron and wire at home.

To start with, Farmer Pete measured up the wire and the car trailer to determine the size of the frame.  Very…

Determining the gender of young chickens: are those chicks hens or roosters?

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As I write this, the chicks are now 10 weeks old and fully feathered  (see post about incubating eggs).  For a while now its been possible to tell the difference between the pullets (females) and roosters (males), but the crazy little things won't stay still long enough for me to count them!  Finally I had a chance to catch each one and put them in two different cages, one for boys and one for girls, so I could count up.  Of the 16 that hatched, one died early on, and now I think we have 8 roosters and 7 pullets.  Two of the three white leghorns are roosters, it will be hard to decide which one to keep, they are so beautiful.  Anyway, I've noticed that chicken sexing can be difficult for people who buy un-sexed chicks and need to decide to get rid of roosters before they start crowing, so …

Discovering Permaculture

For a while now I have been hearing about permaculture (and going to our local permaculture gatherings), and I had an idea that it was something to do with organic gardening and designing systems to recycle and minimise waste, and working out where to put your chicken pen in the relation to the compost heap, or something...... It wasn't until someone asked me what it was that I realised I didn't actually know enough to explain it myself, so, in a quest to inform myself, I bought a book. I didn't really know where to start so I just looked for a recent book by the founders of permaculture (Bill Mollison and David Holmgren) and I ended up with Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren.


I soon discovered that this book was far from a beginners guide! Its taken me a long time to start reading it properly, but I was lucky to have a few helpful comments on my blog by some people who know more about permaculture than I do (particularly Linda fr…

Frost preparations

Last year I was totally unprepared for the severe frosts that we experienced here in Nanango.  Actually we have our own frosty micro-climate down at Eight Acres, as our neighbours on top of the hill had no frost around their house!  This year I was determined to be ready for frost, and I have taken several preventative actions: I planted frost tolerant veges so I have something growing in the garden - this includes brassicas, peas, broadbeans, silverbeet, leeks and spring onions, and I won't get so upset when the beans and tomatoes die :)
I bought a small greenhouse for the sensitive plants that I want to keep - chillies, eggplant and avocado that took SO long to mature, I don't want to start from scratch next spring, so I hope to keep them all alive over winter, I also put away the greek basil and the ginger.  We were planning to have the aquaponics greenhouse finished, but got carried away with other projects, so a $40 plastic greenhouse is sufficient to keep a few things saf…

Nourishing Traditions - Snacks, desserts and "superfoods"

I have been writing about Nourishing Traditions for a few months now, explaining how I have interpreted the chapters and the recipes that I've found useful.  Reading it again has been really good, I've noticed more recipes that I'd like to try and reminded myself of things I want to make as soon as various produce is in season.  The previous posts are:
IntroductionThe BasicsGreat beginnings, the main course, vegetables, luncheon and supper foodsGrains and legumes This post is about the final chapters on snacks, desserts and super foods.

Snacks
This chapter includes an interesting list of snacks for between meals eating.  The first snack is nuts, and I was very interested in the suggestion to soak and dry nuts before eating them.  I have never been a fan of nuts as they leave me feeling over full.  This is because of the enzyme inhibitors found in all nuts, seeds and grains.  I had half a packet of hazelnuts in the cupboard that I had never felt like eating, so I tried soakin…

Sewing dog coats

I have had some fabric for dog coats sitting in the cupboard for a year now and I never got around to sewing them because we always have the fire to keep the house warm so the dogs don't often need coats, but this year if we are camping at the new property over winter the dogs might appreciate a little extra warmth.





I learnt to make dog coats when I volunteered to sew them for the RSPCA.  Another volunteer dropped off at my house a roll of fabric, a giant spool of thread and a newspaper pattern.  I think I made about 50 dog coats that autumn!  Then I bought some fabric and made one for Chime and Cheryl about 5 years ago, Cheryl still has hers, but its had to be extended and has been handed down to Chime, who has lost her original one (Cheryl has another one that Farmer Pete had already bought her before I starting making them, it was too big and I adjusted it).


Anyway, time for some nice new coats as the old ones get so dirty and don't fit too well.  I made a new pattern …