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Showing posts from July, 2011

How to introduce new cattle to a property

When you bring new animals to your property its a good idea to have a small paddock ready where they can spend a few days before they join the rest of your animals.  This allows them to get over the stress of transport and get used to a new home without being hassled by other animals.  All herd or flock animals will fight at first to establish the "pecking order" (not sure what the cattle equivalent is! head-butting order?).  If they meet over the fence and from a distance before they are put in the same paddock or pen, the fighting won't be as bad, because they've already got used to each other.  The separation also gives you a chance to make sure that your new animal isn't sick with something that could be spread to the others.  If you put them all together immediately you might not notice in time.

This may be the plan, but as usual around here, it doesn't always work.  When we first brought Murray home to be in Trevor's herd (see more here) we unloaded…

Kefir - a surprising taste....

My husband and I tried kefir at the cheese-making course we did a few weeks ago.  We were able to purchase a few grains to take home and start growing our own.  My husband took a few sips of the kefir at the course and gave the rest of his cup to me to finish (this was after a long day of eating sour fermented foods and he'd had enough).  It is a strange taste!  He wasn't too keen about buying some, as he didn't think we'd use it, but I bought some anyway (only $2 for a teaspoon-full) and I was very surprised when he decided to help me grow it after I'd lost a bit of interest.  He said that he was feeling good from all the fresh milk and wanted to try kefir to see if he had any further health benefits.  This is coming from a man who won't eat yoghurt!  So if you can get some grains and can get used to the taste, it may be worth it if you start enjoying better digestion.


If you haven't heard of kefir, it is a mixture of bacteria and yeasts that grow in milk …

Easy Peasy Raw Milk Cheeses

Making cheese is not as hard as it sounds.  Let me explain a few of the concepts and you'll see what I mean.

To make cheese you need to separate the milk into curds and whey.  Curds are a coagulation of the long chain casein proteins in the milk, the whey is the liquid (also containing protein) that remains uncoagulated.  Coagulation is the same thing that happens to egg when its cooked, its just the solidification process.  The separation is achieved either by adding rennet (an enzyme that was originally extracted from kid or calf stomach, but is now usually produced by GM bacteria), or by increasing the acidity of the milk (either with a weak acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or by allowing lactic acid bacteria to produce lactic acid in the milk).

I probably just made that sound complicated, but now for the practical advice.  The easiest way to make cheese is to just add the cheese culture (i.e. lactic acid bacteria) to some milk and put it in a warm place (or my Easiyo ther…

Controlling Weeds

I often read that "a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place".  This is a sweet quote, and very true in the garden.  This link has some great tips and explanations about weeds in organic gardening.

However, in the wider world, weeds are not so sweet.  The QLD Dept of Primary Industries says:
Weeds cost Queensland an estimated $600 million annually and have significant impacts on primary industries, natural ecosystems, and human and animal health. The weeds that get declared in QLD are targeted for control because they have, or could have, serious economic, environmental or social impacts.  For the most part, this means that they are difficult to control (ie invasive) and/or potentially toxic to livestock.  


Unfortunately our Nanango property seems to have several examples of declared weeds and even some of national significance!  These include lantana, groundsel and prickly pear.  For all declared weeds, landowners must take reasonable steps to keep land free of pests,…

Digital television and product stewardship in Australia

I was going to write a whinge about digital TV and the number of old TVs that were no doubt being thrown out as a result of changing from analogue to digital TV, but as I was looking for more info, I found out that Australia has finally made some progress on product stewardship and recycling of TVs and monitors.......

A couple of years ago we owned three TVs, one tiny old 15" that my husband had owned since his  apprenticeship, a 32" cathode ray that was bought to replace the tiny one, and another very old (no remote) 32" that was given to us by a friend who upgraded.  We were perfectly happy with these TVs on analogue signals and had no intention of buying a flat screen.  But then the government decided to change to digital TV, and the analogue signal was to be turned off in the next few years (earlier in rural areas than the city for some reason).  I have NO idea how this was justified, I can only assume that its good for the TV channels, so they lobbied for it.  All …

Plastic free challenge - update

How is everyone going with Plastic Free July?

Personally, I'm finding it completely impossible, so I thought it was a good chance to all share some plastic/packaging MINIMISING tips!

The reason this is so difficult is there are many food items where you have NO choice on packaging.  For example, cheese only comes in plastic.  OK, I should be making my own cheese, but I can't make decent cheddar yet, so we're still buying it because we love cheese.  I could just not buy it in July, but that's not changing a habit, which is surely the point of the exercise.

There are some changes that we can make permanently, and there are the ones that I want to try to make into new habits in July.  So here's the start of a list for minimising plastic consumption, please add to it if you can think of anything else:
Take "green bags" (or fabric bags, as green bags are made of plastic!) with you everywhere, leave some in your car, feel EXTREMELY guilty if you go to the super…

Homekill meat - some tips for beginners

Our local mobile butcher came out to do Bruce last week.  This is our second time (first steer was Murray), as I have discussed previously, so I now feel qualified to write some tips for first-timers!  The process for dealing with all the meat is the same whether the animal was killed on your property or at the meatworks, and the same if you have just bought a large amount of meat like a side or quarter.
Firstly, we use a vacuum packing machine, because it takes us nearly a year to eat a whole steer.  Different cuts/types of meat last for different time periods (see this link, although they say its just for quality, I'm sure I've seen somewhere that its actually unsafe), so if you think you can eat it all in time, then you can just use freezer bags.  If not, I recommend buying a decent vacuum packer.  We only use ours a few times a year, mostly for meat, but you can also freeze sauces and meals in the bags and then seal, so that can be handy if you're travelling, and we n…

Raw milk and a cheese-making course

Now that we have Bella our house cow, we have the option of drinking raw whole milk instead of pasturised, homoginised supermarket milk.  In Australia it is illegal to sell raw milk, but its not illegal to drink raw milk from your own house cow.

As explained here, there are good reasons not to drink raw milk from commercial dairies.  These dairies are producing milk that is intended to be pasturised, there is usually lots of manure on the floor and lots of cows to milk, because the milk is going to be pasturised, so there's no need to take as much care as you would with your own house cow.  Some dairies are set up to produce raw milk, and these may take more care with the production of milk, so that its safe to drink in raw form, but in general I would be wary of commercial raw milk.
“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”– Thomas Jefferson
I be…

July 11 - farm update

So much has been going on recently, I feel like I haven't been keeping you up to date at all.  Here's a quick summary of the current status of everything we're working on:

The Garden
I can sum this up in two words "frost damage".  I knew it was getting cold, but I didn't think about frost damage mitigation until it was too late. Luckily our big shade cloth cover keeps most of the dew/frost off the actual garden beds, so most of the damage is to the plants outside the garden.  The monster winter squash has finally died off, the bean plant and passionfruit were slightly damaged and the paw paw trees do not look happy (aren't they pretty in their lace curtains, I'm hoping to prevent further damage).  Apart from that, I've been horribly neglectful, because its getting dark so early (5:30pm) and most of our afternoon is taken up with Bella and Molly. The broccoli that I planted did not do well (I think I was too late getting it established, and now its …