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Showing posts from September, 2011

Farm Update - October 2011

I know its not quite October yet, but I have some special plans for October, so there will be no time for updates!
I suppose its natural that spring would be a busy month, but it seems like I've got so much to write this time!  Unfortunately we have had no rain in September (so far!), but there must be enough moisture in the soil as the grass is getting greener.  













Septic system maintenance

When we first moved into our house at Nanango we thought we should probably get the septic pumped out, this went on the list of things we should do and quickly ended up near the end as we found more and more urgent jobs that required our attention.  Finally, 18 months later, with the evaporation trench getting a bit soggy, we decided it REALLY was time to get it pumped out and booked in a contractor.

Septic systems come in a few different shapes and sizes, ours is a large underground plastic tank, which all our waste water flows into.  The solids are supposed to sink and the liquid drains out of an opening near the top (but underground) and into a large evaporation trench (attractively located in our house yard!).  The evaporation trench should be a gravel-lined shallow pit, with grass etc growing on top, in which the pipes branch out so that the water can spread out and evaporate (also called the leach field).  Its pretty hard to tell whether or not its working as designed, and acco…

Plastic free - Fregie sack

I bought these neat little Fregie sack reusable bags from a health-food store recently and found them really useful at the Nanango markets last week.  I probably should sew some of my own, but this was so easy and convenient!



Soil test - did we pass?

A few weeks ago I requested a soil test kit from a soil testing company.  They sent me several plastic zip-lock bags, instructions and a price list.  I chose two areas in our top paddock to sample.  The first was a bare patch and the second had relatively good pasture.  I was hoping that the comparison of the two samples would assist us to improve the many bare patches on our 8 acres.  I sent the two samples away for the 'premium test' and consultant report, at a total of $165/sample.






We received the results a couple of weeks later.  The results from both samples showed a low pH (5.3) and deficiencies in phosphorous, calcium, copper, boron, iron and manganese.  These are all important minerals for plant growth and animal health.  Fortunately the report lists the treatments that we should use.  The main difference between the two samples was the sand content, the report suggests that the bare patch has more water repelling sand and recommends the addition of calcium and compost…

Minerals, mastitis and miracle cures

Its funny that I have recently read two very different books that both focused on the importance of minerals for ongoing health.  The first book was Natural Cattle Care, by Pat Coleby, as recommended by Bel at Home Grown.  I was eager to read the book as Bella had mastitis at the time and I wanted to know the quick solution. The first few chapters are all about minerals in the soil.  I read them, thinking to myself "yeah, yeah, get on with the natural cattle care!", until I realised that was it.  Pat's theory is that if cattle have all their mineral, vitamin and protein needs met, they will be naturally healthy.  The interactions of the minerals is quite complex.  A deficiency in one mineral can cause a deficiency in another, so its hard to summarise, however the main points for me were:
Calcium and magnesium levels must be sufficient or cows will be susceptible to mastitis infectionCopper must be sufficient or cattle may suffer from wormsSufficient sulphur will prevent e…

Organic isn't everything.......

When I have to stay away from home for work, the one thing that miss the most (apart from my husband, the dogs and the other animals) is fresh eggs from our chickens.  We eat eggs for breakfast every morning whenever possible (sometimes we have to eat porridge or weetbix in winter when the chickens aren't laying regularly) and I do notice the difference if I don't have them, as I get hungry earlier in the morning.  I usually order eggs from the hotel for breakfast each morning, but they are not the same as my home eggs.  They have a darker orange yoke and a funny taste.  I assumed that was because they were almost certainly cage eggs, however on a recent holiday we bought eggs from the supermarket and they were just as bad.  I did my best to buy organic free range eggs, thinking that they were the closest to our home eggs as possible, but they still didn't taste or look right.


That's when I realised that organic isn't everything!  Our chickens don't eat organic…

Farm update - September 2011

Its amazing what a little rain can do!  40 mm actually, the first rain we've had since June, and with a little warmer weather as well, the garden is turning green again :)




The chickens are laying and soon it will be time to start hatching some chicks, we're hoping to get started before it starts raining again, so that we get some better quality eggs.  We will be hatching Rhode Is Reds and White Leghorns again.

Bella is still providing 2-3 L a day and giving the rest to Molly.  We can leave them for a weekend if we want to and still have milk when we need it.  I am using the milk to drink, cook with, make yoghurt and cream cheese.  Its good to not have the pressure to make a hard cheese every week just to use up the milk!

The steers are cleaning up the back paddock for us.  Now that the weather has finally improved the grass is turning green again, so they will have plenty to eat.

The kelpies are happy as always.