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Farm update - January 2016

Hello 2016!  Pete and I had two weeks holiday.  We spent most of it sanding the side room, but we also managed to extract some honey and our neighbour started working on a dam in our house yard.  It was fun spending so much time working together on the house.  We had a bit of rain after Christmas, and so far its been around average rainfall this summer.

We spent most of our holidays dressed like this!

Food and cooking
We opened the Christmas ham early and had so many eggs I made a bacon and egg pie for lunches.  I use the cracker recipe from Nourishing Traditions for the pastry.  We both enjoyed having more time at home for cooking, sometimes we fight over who's turn it is to cook...

Land and farming
We had our neighbour come up to our place with his bulldozer and on the list of jobs was a small dam in the house yard, as I have had this on my permaculture plan for a couple of years (see below).  Our neighbour was very skeptical about the soil where I wanted the dam, so there was much rolling of sausages and dropping lumps of dirt in water to test for clay content (more about soil testing here, I'll write more specifically about dams soon).  Our conclusion was that it seems to meet all the requirements for dams, so we gave it a shot.

the sausage test

We took 9 frames of honey from our 3-box hive and managed to figure out how to get the bees off the frames, the frames safely home and into the kitchen, the honey uncapped and spun out of the frames in our 2-frame manual extractor, and ended up with 16 kg of honey (we thought it was more, but can't read our scales properly).  We're just getting some jars organised now so we can sell it!  All the advice from Sally in her interview with me was very handy!

Pure raw honey!
As we had so many spare eggs with me not selling them at work for two weeks, we decided to put some in the incubator.  As our house can get so hot in summer, we now have a habit of putting the incubator in our bedroom in case we need to leave the air conditioning running at 30degC during the day (the eggs need to be at 37-38degC and it can overheat in the house).  This is particularly interesting when the chicks start hatching and we can hear them peeping all night!  One week to go....

incubator in our bedroom....

our big Rhode Island Red rooster and one of his girls

Cows and cattle
Our Angus-cross cows are staying pretty tame and come right over to see if we have hay.  The steers are a bit flighty and some are still looking shaggy still holding onto their winter coat, we have put out extra minerals, they must be missing something.
Angus cows visit
With a bit of rain the garden is a JUNGLE!  I am weeding out self-seeded broccoli and tomato.  There is pumpkin and cucumber appearing from the compost.  I'm harvesting button squash, butter beans, purple king beans, all kinds of asian greens, herbs and just waiting on the chillies to ripen and some eggplant to get bigger.  No chokos so far, but I have picked a pepino (I'll write more about that soon).  


We really had to put some time into the side room as the paint was peeling off.  Some days it was hot and we only sanded for a few hours, on cooler days we did more.  We chipped away at other little jobs like raising the ceiling in the kitchen alcove and I distracted Pete with building a solar oven for an afternoon too.  All I have to do is pick the drill and ask how it works....

We have spread out the paint colour samples again and painted more of the house with test pots and still thinking about it.  There's no rush so we are just taking our time to see which colours we like best.

Taz supervising the building work

Still trying to choose the exterior colour....

Permaculture - Design from Patterns to Details

Here's what I wrote when I originally reviewed this principle.  I shared my permaculture design for our property, through analysing the zones and sectors.  I'm so glad I did this exercise before we moved the house onto our property.  It made us thinking about where to put the house and how to orientate it.  The side room with all the windows faces south and gets very little sun, whereas the north-facing verandas protect the bedrooms in summer.  We get sun in the master bedroom in the morning and in the kitchen in the afternoon, but that's also sheltered by a veranda.  The missing elements were the dam I wanted to help protect from bush fire (just started) and the shed (coming soon!), which we are facing with doors opening south, as a hot shed is not a pleasant place to work!  We have also placed a tank on the highest point on our property to gravity feed water to stock troughs.  Our next challenge is designing the landscaping and garden to be functional and enjoyable.

Support me
I decided that the blog needed a bit of a renovation too, seeing as I've had the same header for a few years now, and with me branching out into selling soap and salves, and soon honey, we needed a logo to tie it all together.  If you pop over the blog you will see the new logo and layout.  Of course when I played with the template it moved everything around and its not looking right yet....

A couple of new blogs I discovered this month:

Making Haven

Simply Joolz

And did you know that Leigh has released her new book "Critter Tales"?

How was your December and early January?  I hope you got to have a break.  What are your plans for 2016?


  1. You have certainly been busy but very constructive by the sounds of it. I love hearing about you working away at your dream.

  2. With no written words from you in the past few weeks (seems like ages) I expected there to be lots of activity going on there. Goose bump exciting about the dam. Super good news that you got some honey. Haha.. we're incubating right now in our living room with chicks squeaking last night. Our young steers also holding onto their winter coats this year, looking very dull although they have plenty of feed and a mineral block. Comforting to hear yours are the same. Oh,oh, people at the door. Have a wonderful day and Happy 2016 to you both. :)

    1. hmmm good to know your steers are shaggy too.... I hope they get sleeker soon. I was recalling your instructions as we spun the honey, Pete spun the first one too fast, I said "no Sally said to go slow at first"! thanks heaps for your advice!

  3. Exterior colour suggestion....dove grey with very white windows, awnings etc.

    1. I love white on grey, I'm thinking maybe grey with the paperback as trim...

  4. There was an awesome Queenslander in our region, which unfortunately got demolished by flood waters in 2011. They built another home near the old one, but away from flood waters. What I loved about the old house and the new, was the delightful colour scheme. They used a pale blue for the house, with white trim on all the timber features, including the window awnings. Sometimes when the surrounding foliage was brown, there was always this lovely coloured house to look forward to driving past. But it wasn't an overstated blue.

    I would never have chosen those colour schemes for myself, hadn't I seen them on another house. We live in a brick house, so we're not going to paint it any time soon. But if I was ever in the position to do so, that would be my colour scheme. It's like seeing the light blue sky and white clouds, touching the ground. But blue is not for everyone. ;)

    Loved catching up with all your work and adventures. I like the logo and new look. I also hope your dam turns out well.

    1. Sounds lovely! I wish I could make a bold decision like that. I think I prefer our house to blend into the landscape a bit. We did get green water tanks, so there will always be something green in the yard even when its hot and dry....

  5. Hi Liz, I love reading your blog and seeing what you are up to. Over our holiday time, we got hives of a very different kind to yours and I made ham and egg pie too...just with what I had on hand. I didn't make my own pastry though. Can't wait to see what colours you eventually choose for your house!

  6. I love your new logo - catchy yet very clean looking! I hope you are taking lots of pictures of the dam. We are hoping to make a small pond on our property in a few years, partly because they are pretty, partly for raising fish, but mostly (like you) to help suppress wildfires. Thanks for the peek into your life!

  7. What a productive holiday you've had. We've been getting info for starting with bees, so it is really interesting to see your results.
    Your new logo looks great too! For someone who blogs, I am very computer illiterate, so I would be interested in knowing how you went about getting a logo done and loaded onto your blog sometime.

  8. Loving the new logo. As always lots going on at your place. We are looking forward to coming for a visit soon to check out all the progress.


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