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Showing posts from March, 2013

Toxic Oil - book review

Reading David Gillespie's "Sweet Poison" was a turning point for me.  He explained in plain language how fructose is metabolised by the body and persuaded me to seriously cut back on our sugar consumption.  I was so convinced, I also bought the sequel "Sweet Poison Quit Plan".  So naturally, when I heard that David was about to publish a book called "Toxic Oil" on the dangers of vegetable oils, of which I was already vaguely aware, I was keen to get a copy.  Penguin sent me a copy to review, and once again, I found it very easy to follow and was convinced of David's arguments against vegetable oils.


There's no way I can explain this as well as David does, so I will try to summarise, and if you're interested, you really need to get the book yourself.

The first thing you need to know is that eating fat doesn't make you fat.  This hypothesis was never really proven before it became a public health message.  If you've read "Sweet…

Incubating chicken eggs

In the past we have had varying success with incubating chicken eggs. This time last year I really wanted to improve our hatch rate and I did some research, which I summarised here. What I found out was that there are lots of things that can affect the hatch rate. Here's how we changed the way we did things and increased our hatch from 5 out of 48 to 34 out of 48, based on the points I raised in the last post.

I should also say, that it would be more in keeping with permaculture principle "obtain a yield" for us to let a broody hen do the work of hatching and raising chicks, but incubating gives us more control over the process, even if it is more work.



Temperature control is the most important aspect of incubation, it must be 38degC to half a degree.
Humidity should be 55-65% for the first 18 days, then 80% for the last 3 days (stop turning at day 18 as well, so the chick can get ready to hatch).

The eggs should be turned 2-3 times per day, more often if possible, eithe…

Our holiday in New Zealand's South Island

I bet you've been waiting to see some holiday snaps from our holiday to New Zealand.... which now seems like a very long time ago!
We started off in Christchurch, arriving around 2am, and spent two days with my brother having a look around.  I haven't been to Christchurch since I was 14, but I did remember that is was a beautiful city, with a tram in the CBD and a gondola in the hills.  Well I under-estimated the impact of the earthquakes.  The main one was over two years ago, so I thought it would be just about back to normal.  Its not, and the tram and gondola are not running, but seeing the city for myself helped me to realise what my brother is going through as his city recovers.  And there are still plenty of things to do and see there.


Then we picked up a campervan and spent eight days travelling around the south of the South Island.  First stop was Mt Cook.




Then we headed to Dunedin to see my cousin, and stopped to pick up some cheese and some more cheese, and some sto…

Food Inc - movie review

I finally watched Food Inc. when it was screened on SBS1 a few weeks ago.  I know I’m really behind, the film was first released in 2008!  I haven’t read Michael Pollen’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma yet either, but I have read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, which was also featured in the film.  I was already aware of most of the information covered by the film, which aims to expose our industrialised food system.  It covers a broad range of food topics and is a good, and suitably shocking, introduction for anyone who previously had no idea how bad the food system really is.  For those who are already knowledgeable in this area, it may leave you with more questions than answers and a feeling that there is so much more to this discussion that could not be covered in a single film, but that's not such a bad thing either.

The film starts with chicken farmers in one of the southern states of the USA.  The first farmer isn’t allowed to film inside his chicken house, but the next farmer …

Getting started with growing your own - summing up

In February I started a series on interviews with various bloggers who grow their own food.  I wanted to help readers who weren't sure where to start with growing their own.  Over the course of several weeks we heard from:

Linda of Witch's Kitchen
Gavin of the Greening of Gavin
Ohio Farmgirl from Adventures in the Goodland
Emma from Craving Fresh
Tanya of Lovely Greens
and myself

It was really interesting to see the common themes in the interviews and also the differences due to size of the gardens and different climates and locations.  Nearly everyone stressed the importance of planning the garden carefully, planting easy yielding crops and not giving up!  I hope you enjoyed reading each of the interviews as much as I did, and I hope you all got some ideas about your own gardens, whether you're just starting or an experienced gardener.



Since I wrote my interview, I have read a couple of books by Lolo Houbein, One Magic Square and Outside the Magic Square, which were sent to me…

Trimming a rooster's spurs

Poor Wilbur doesn't particularly appreciate being picked up, but we noticed that he had injured a couple of the hens with his spurs, so we decided it was time for a pedicure.  This is required every year or so, depending on how fast the rooster's spurs grow, this was the first time we had done Wilbur, but we've done plenty of other roosters.

There are various methods involving pliers and even a hot potato, but our preferred method is to use the angle grinder.  Although the noise is a bit scary, the process is very quick and the heat seals the spur so there is very little blood loss.  Its easier with two people, one to hold the rooster (me) and the other to operate the power tool (Peter).  I usually hold the rooster so that his head is under my arm, and his wings are secure, then Peter grabs the rooster's leg and holds that tight before quickly taking off the sharp point of the spur.


 Peter then quickly files the spur so there are no sharp edges and after a quick cuddle…

Chicken and beef liver pate

Nourishing Traditions talks about eating liver because it is a source of vitamins.  I also like the idea of using all the animal, so I've been saving and freezing liver from the chickens as we kill them, and I also froze the liver from the steer we had killed.  Only problem was that I don't like the taste.... at all.  I've tried putting the minced liver into spaghetti bolognaise and putting chunks of liver into beef casserole.  Pete doesn't mind it, but I hate it!

As a last resort I decided to try making pate after reading about it in Frugavore.  I used the recipes in this link.  I love eating bought pate, but I stopped buying because it often contains colours, msg and vegetable oils.  My pate contains liver, garlic, shallots, fresh herbs and wine or sherry, oh and lots of butter.  And I suppose you can make anything taste nice if you mix it with butter, wine and herbs!  The pate that I made tastes just like the bought stuff, YUM!!!

I made heaps, and strangely, Pete …

Getting started with growing your own - Lovely Greens

Today, as part of my series of interviews with bloggers who grow their own, I have an interview with Tanya of Lovely Greens. Tanya grows veggies, herbs, and flowers in her garden and allotment in the Isle of Man – that’s a lovely little island located in the middle of the Irish Sea. In addition to gardening, she keeps hens and honeybees for home-grown eggs, honey, and beeswax and has plans to one day add goats to the menagerie. Tanya uses her produce both on the table and as ingredients for her handmade bath and beauty products which she sells online, at local shops, and at her Farmers Market stall. For her growing is a passion and one that she’s keen to get more people involved in – especially beginners.


Farmer Liz: Tell me about your garden and climate 

Tanya: The Isle of Man has a rather odd climate, being that it doesn’t ever get really hot or really cold. Summer temperatures are generally at or under 20C and winter between 5-10C which means that it can be challenging to grow all …

Permaculture principles - Obtain a yield

In January I wrote about "Observe and Interact", in February it was "Catch and Store Energy" and March is dedicated to "Obtain a Yield".


The distinction between "Catch and Store Energy" and "Obtain a Yield" can be a little confusing at first, and they do overlap, but the first is more about long-term planning, such as water storage and growing trees, whereas the latter is about planning for immediate returns from the property.  Both principles need to be considered in planning our garden, pasture and animal husbandry. 

This principle is also about maximising the returns from our effort.  David Holmgren writes about the "maximum power law", which states that there is a point where you obtain optimise return from effort and/or money, if you put in more effort your returns on an energy basis decline, with less effort you do not obtain the maximum efficiency.  For example, if you plant potatoes there is an optimal amount of effo…