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May 2012 farm update

April was a strange month, we had hardly any rain, it was cool, but not cold yet (it has rained at the last minute though, 20mL this last weekend, just in time to grow some grass before winter!).  We lit the fire once and after that we decided it wasn't really cold enough, even though we usually have a fire in April.  We have spent nearly every weekend and spare moment at the new property getting a few things established, but soon we will be able to spent some time at Eight Acres finishing off some projects (eg aquaponics!) and generally tidying the house, its always housework that suffers when we are busy!

At the new property we have harvested the sorghum hay that was on the cultivation when we arrived and planted oats (and hoped for rain!).  We have also bought 17 steers to get us started.  More about all this later.....
new steers at the new property
 The little chicks are doing well outside and eating lots of grass.  One died in the first few days we put them outside, of unknown causes, so we are down to 15, and they don't stay still long enough to try to work out how many roosters, so we will have to sort them out at some stage.  The first two roosters that hatched are nearly ready to eat, but the Rhode Is Red is so beautiful, we might try to sell him instead (any one looking for a Rhode Is Red rooster?).  We have moved all the chickens out of the house yard so the big hens can free range during the day, safe from killer kelpies, but we always find one or two get through the fence somewhere and end up back in the house yard, they are creatures of habit!  Even when their food and water is elsewhere, they want to come back into the yard they know.  Eggs are down to two or three a day, which is pretty slack from nine hens, I think I'm going to eat a lot of oatmeal this winter!

the chicks are getting bigger


some of the big chickens

With the dry weather our grass is drying off already unfortunately, but we have plenty of hay at the new property, so will be happily feeding out round bales this year (instead of being so stingy).  Bella is due to calve in September, so we need to wean poor "little" Molly soon (nearly as big as mum now) and we have nearly finished all the meat in the freezer, and can't decide which steer is next as both Rocket and Brat are the same size, its a tough one!  


The rest of the herd just chilling out

In the garden, I've had a bit of a clean out, removing all the tomatoes and replacing them with broad beans.  I cut back the poor mans bean, to let in more sun, and feed it to the cattle (who loved it, after ignoring it in previous years).  I thinned the carrots (so fiddly!) and planted out the cabbage, broccoli, pak choi, mizuna and kale that I started previously in pots.  The bok choi continues to pop up everywhere from last year's seeds, I LOVE it!  And I'm still getting lots of cherry tomatoes from one last plant that is living in harmony with the bean plant.  I need to plant peas and another round of everything, but at least I have more started than previous years.  I have set up the sprinkler in preparation for frost so I can start watering in the morning instead of at night (wet leaves at night will suffer more from frosty mornings).

lots of lettuce and root veges

brassicas etc! and yes I finally got a worm farm!

capsicum is massive!  also leeks and pak choy


I cut back the beans, honestly!

cherry tomatoes
I grated some of our homemade cheese to keep in the freezer,
it is VERY tasty, great for a little flavour, too strong for crackers!

I finally did a sourdough course and I'm now trying to perfect a method and routine that works for us.  We haven't have supermarket bread for four weeks now, so I'm on a roll!  Now I just have to find a good cracker recipe.  

Frank eating the bean plant - its so tangled, its like endless spaghetti!

Rocket stealing some from Frank

I dug up some sweet potatoes (I managed to grow four this year!)

Time for the sprinkler

worm out from a big walk

and this one too

And to finish off, one of my favourite photos of my late Nana Nora, I wish she was still around to tell me her gardening secrets!
Nana Nora relaxing with her chooks and her brassicas!
In suburban Ashburton, New Zealand in the early 80s.


  1. I love reading your blog! Have nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award:

    Good luck with your chickens and your garden and your steers this year! :)

  2. Congratulations on your month of homemade bread! What an acheivement.

    I love the Nana Nora photo! What a permie! She's living in town, growing vegies, reusing stuff for fences and pens, and raising chooks! Everyone should have aspired to be like her and we wouldn't be in such a muddle. My Nana was pretty grass-roots too.

    You've been very busy but I love watching everything you guys are doing with such energy!

  3. Everything looks amazing. Where do you find the time?

    Wow, love that photo of your Nana. And her brassicas! Wish mine looked like that. Sigh.

  4. Gwen thanks so much, will have to think about a reply post!

    Linda and Emma thanks, I'm not sure how we find the time, I known I don't spend much time cleaning the house, if that helps! Doesn't matter if you're outside all the time! Unfortunately my nana died when I was 5, so I will never know her brassica secrets, I think she was a permie before anyone knew what that was :)


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