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Slow living farm update - June 2015

Its June, nearly winter here and time for another slow living update. Once again I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine, started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and currently hosted by Linda at Greenhaven. How was your May?

You won’t believe this, but I have read Michael Pollan’s books “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defence of Food”. I actually read and reviewed "Cooked" back in 2013, so when I saw these two at the library, I thought I should really catch up! I’m enjoying the discussion about farming and how it relates to our collective food supply. I will write more when I finish reading. I also reviewed David Gillespie’s “Eat Real Food” last week and I really hope that you eat real food, because it does make a huge difference to your well-being..

Lately we have had the woodstove burning most nights, and if we aren’t cooking something in the oven, we use it to dry things. Lately I have dried chilli flakes, semi-dried tomatoes, used coffee grounds for soap making and turmeric from the garden. If you don’t have a woodstove with an oven, you can also dry things of trays above a woodstove, just make sure they don’t burn.

I took this photo of the coffee grounds that I dried to show you how I reuse glass jars. My pantry and fridge is full of jars, and any jar that comes into this house is likely to be reused at some point to store something. I find they are useful for storing both solids and liquids.

Last week I wrote about neem oil, and I just wanted to mention it here again because it really is a wonderful herb that can be used to repel insects (just use with caution if you’re pregnant).

The garden is GREEN this time of year, things are growing now that grow in temperate gardens in summer. And there are lots of tomatoes from the hydroponics.  See more about the garden here.

I have been knitting madly again. I made another pair of armwarmers, a matching head band (I get cold ears) and I’m working on a button-up snood. Then I think I’ll be ready to finish that alpaca shawl and then on to some crochet, winter is too short!  Read more about my knitting here.

I bought a secondhand overlocker and when I posted about my trouble with threading it there were so many kind and helpful comments, thank you all so much. I took it home to Peter and he pulled it apart and fiddled with it and we are closer, but its still not right. I have been reading about overlockers and thinking about buying a new one, with some proper instructions and lessons, I am still glad that I bought this one and learnt more about it before making the decision to buy an expensive new machine.  This link was helpful for overlocker instructions.

When our old dog Cheryl died a few weeks ago, even though I said I didn’t want comments on the post, I was touched that people found other ways to reach out to us, via the Eight Acres facebook page and email (eight.acres.liz {at}, so thank you all for your kind thoughts, they really did help us. And Cheryl, being a party animal who loved all people, would have been thrilled by all the attention, so thank you for your support.

We are actually doing ok. I think because we had a lot of warning, we knew that Cheryl was slowly fading away from us and it was only a matter of time, so in some ways it was easier to let her go, much easier than losing a younger dog in the prime of its life. Also we have Taz and who can be sad with a crazy happy young dog running around the place and wanting to play and snuggle up on the couch? I really wanted to reassure other dog owners that losing your dog is really tough, but if you focus on the good memories, you can get through it.  We are now actively "trying not to buy another puppy" because we have a few things we want to do before the end of the year that would be difficult with a puppy.  Taz will be an only dog for a while and she doesn't seem to mind having the front seat of the ute to herself.

Bella is getting bigger as her calf grows inside her and we are both looking forward to having fresh raw milk again soon (although the thought of milking “Mrs Kicky” and wondering whether this lactation will bring more mastitis does cause some trepidation). Having tame cows is a joy. Most beef cattle, even if they are used to humans, will draw the line at letting you touch them. Bella and Molly, having been handled by humans from a young age, will let me scratch them all over, hug them and they will even lick my boots (don’t know why they like boots, but I take it as affection). Sometimes I just like to spend some time in their paddock with them, it makes all the hard work worth it when you see two pregnant jersey cows running towards you at pace when you call their names (I know they are coming for hay, but its still sweet).  Read more about our cows here and my house cow ebook here.

How was your May?  What are your plans for June?


  1. I'm looking at your woodheater and a little envious, given that I'm now typing in a cold room with an electric heater. We try not to max it out, or it would cost us a fortune. Great link for the overlocker. I think I'll bookmark that. I had a tool (not sure if you received one when collecting your overlocker) something called a "looper threader" and it actually threads that lower needle you were having problems with. If you didn't receive one, I'm sure they'd be easily purchased from Spotlight.

    Perhaps you can take the whole machine to Spotlight and have them help you thread it? Tell them you plan to buy some spools of thread and material, once its working. I'm sure you'll buy a whole lot more once its working too! ;)

    Loved seeing a photo of Cheryl again. :)

    1. The wood heater is my favourite thing about winter :) Yes I am thinking of trying the sewing machine shop in Chermside, just haven't had time to tackle it yet...

  2. I've read In Defence Of Food, it's a very good read. I've read Sweet Poison by Davis Gillespie, but I haven't read his new one, I'm sure it will be as good.

    1. I think I like anything by Michael Pollan! And Eat Real Food covers more into about seed oils than Sweet Poison, and similar writing style, I find it easy to read.

  3. been madly knitting mittens here too, i only learned circular knitting this year using double pointed needles (DPNs)& i love that i've also learned to make mittens with thumbs! they are not that hard to do at all,, i have old mitts without thumbs & they get so cold, so when i've finished making all these other mitts i'm going to attempt to put thumbs in my old mitts
    great post
    thanx for sharing

    1. oh well done on the thumbs, I love using dpns, once you get the hang of it, you just keep knitting round and round :)

  4. I haven't read those books either. Is there a sewing machine repairer nearby that could take a look for you to save you buying a new one?
    I have been crocheting but no knitting as I am pretty hopeless and give up before I get anything finished.

    1. hehe, I'm the opposite, more of a knitter, but forcing myself to try crochet. Yes, going to try the sewing machine shop at Chermside one day when I get time!

  5. Wow you have a lot going on, I am curious about the coffee grounds and the soap, is there a recipe for that? Have fun with a big new machine - if you sew a lot they do pay for themselves eventually! We have used the Neem oil here as well and it seem to work, we got rid of most of the moths that were laying in our apples. Have a lovely June!!

    1. I'll post the recipe soon, just have to test it. Oh great to hear that neem oil worked for you too :)

  6. I know just how you feel about having your cow lactating once again. Is always nice to have a little break from the milking routine, but oh boy, after a couple of months of buying, dairy products it's a total joy to have milk again. Our "Daisy" is in full production after calving in April & fostering two calves plus her own, so plenty of cheeses, yoghurt, butter, icecream etc here now. I can completely avoid that aisle at the supermarket once again. I've been making all of our soap (from our beef & pig tallow, plus olive & coconut oils) & laundry detergent for a couple of years & wouldn't go back to the bought stuff again. We use the soap for our hair as well & it feels lovely. Now I'm curious to know how you incorporate the coffee grounds into your soap. Please do tell. Thanks for your lovely & very informative blog. From Barossa Valley, SA

    1. We had some trouble with our bull and have ended up a whole year without raw milk :( I'll post about the coffee soap soon...

  7. Wait! Wait! Used coffee grounds for soap making????

    1. post coming soon.... I just have to test the soap to make sure its worth posting about!

  8. I love the Michael Pollan book 'Food Rules'. So simple. My favourite of his rules is 'Don't fuel your body where you fuel your car'.
    Your knitting looks fabulous too.

    1. haha, I haven't got to the rules yet, I like that one. I am just enjoying learning more about farming.

  9. Great veggies you have growing! Our winter veggies are all green! I love the photo of your cows. How beautiful that they are so friendly. That's why we enjoy our goats so much. They are friends as well as our milk supply. :-)

    1. yes, milking animals are like another pet, I can't get attached to most of the other animals because they will probably end up in the freezer one day, but not our lovely cows!


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