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Showing posts from May, 2016

Why do chickens stop laying eggs in winter?

Chickens naturally stop laying eggs in winter.  Actually when you think about the whole fact that they lay an egg a day for so much of the year is completely unnatural.  Birds in the wild will only lay a few eggs until they have a clutch to hatch, but we have bred chickens to just keep laying every day, no wonder they need a break!

Read the rest over at my chicken tractor ebook blog.






By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.



What's the eBook about? Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.
 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are…

Supplement feeding cattle in the dry

I wish we had luscious green grass for our cow year round, but like most places, we only have green grass for short periods.  In winter, we don't get much rain at all, and our sub-tropical grass species die off with the cooler weather.  This is when we need to feed our house cow extra hay and grain to supplement the meager offerings in our pasture.  Read the rest over at my house cow ebook blog.




Buy my ebook "Our Experience with House Cows" on EtsyLulu and Amazon, or email on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com to arrange delivery.  More information on my house cow ebook blog.





Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows"
Kim from the Little Black Cow Blog
Fiona from Live at Arbordale Farm
Marie from Go Milk the Cow
Renata from Sunnyside Farm Fun
Gavin from Little Green Cheese (and The Greening of Gavin)

More about our big Gus the Great Dane pup

Little Gussy puppy is nearly four months old and he's already 15 kg and growing quickly.  I had some great responses to my last post about training Gus, so I wanted to update and explain some of the things we do with our dogs to encourage obedience.



Mealtimes
Dogs must sit and wait for a command "tucker" before eating their morning meal.  We also teach them "don't touch" before eating.  This command then applies to food and animals (chickens, cows etc) and anything else they shouldn't eat.  We will also be teaching him that we can take food dishes and bones away.

Dog Food
As I wrote back here, the dogs are fed minced offal with grated carrot, green vege (currently choko), seaweed and eggs.  If we run out of the homemade food, they get a grain-free dog kibble (dog nuts!).  Gus eats TWICE as much as Taz and sometimes steals her food (although she's started eating way quicker than she used to).  We have a few sources of beef offal (apart from our own beef…

How I use herbs - Gotu Kola

Here's another herb that is growing in my garden, quite wild now, but I don't know really how to use it.  Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica).  Its also known as Spadeleaf and Indian Pennywort.  Here's how I grow it and here's what my herb books say I should do with it!



How to grow Gotu Kola
This herb seems to like damp soil and shade.  It sends out shoots,so it spreads easily, but is not deep rooted and invasive.  This makes it easy to propagate by transplanting some shoots. I haven't seen it flower yet, apparently they are small so maybe I missed them.  Its been in my garden for a few years, since I took a clump from Pete's parent's garden.  It does die back in winter when we get a frost, but then reappears in spring.  I keep it in a pot with the mint and other herbs, as that's the easiest way for me to keep the soil damp enough.





How to use Goto Kola
You know this is a special herb when you see that Isabel Shippard devoted nearly six pages to it in her book &…

Activated charcoal soap and salve

Since I started making my own soap, I've been enjoying trying new recipes, especially adapting them to use beef tallow.  See my post Sustainable soap - 100% tallow! for most about why I want to use up the tallow rendered from our own beef.

I already sell 100% tallow soap (pure and simple), pink clay soap (pretty pink), lemon balm soap (green herb), neem oil soap (stinky neem) and coffee grounds soap (true grit) in my Etsy shop, and just recently I added my new black magic charcoal soap.  See the links at the end of this post for the other recipes.




When I read about how this lady found that activated charcoal soap helped with adult acne, I really wanted to make some and give it a try.  I have had acne on and off since high school, and it really bugs me.  I found a a recipe for ctivated charcoal soap here, and then adapted it to suit tallow, with 25% coconut oil for suds.  It makes a really nice face wash, although I can't say its cured my acne completely.

I ordered activated cha…

Leibster award - 10 questions

I was recently nominated for a Leibster award Kev at An English Homestead.  This is just a bit of fun between bloggers, and the Leibster awards have changed a little compared to when I last saw them, now they include 10 unique questions to answer.  Kev has asked some good ones, so I'm happy to join in.  The hard part is thinking of my own 10 questions for my nominated bloggers, but more about that at the end of this post.  First I better answer Kev's questions:





1. If you had a big lottery win what would you do with it all? I would like to say something unselfish here and spend it on something or someone else, but it depends how big the win was!  I would love to buy a property closer to the coast to catch more rainfall and for easier access to the beach.  If I had money leftover I would love to help city children to experience farmlife.

2. How do you think you'd fair in a zombie apocalypse? I reckon we'd do well.  The self-sufficiency stuff that we're interested in is…

Wet aging our beef (and BBQ show and tell)

Our home butcher doesn't like to age our beef for more than 3-4 days as he has quite a complicated system to rotate his mobile cool-rooms to each customer.  If he let us hang our meat for longer he would need more cool-rooms and would have to put his prices up, so we don't mind fitting in with his schedule.  This does mean that our beef is not as tender as if it was hung for longer.  Some people will hang a beef carcass for up to two weeks!


 We have found a couple of different strategies to still get tender meat.  Both involve what is known as "wet aging" the meat.  Wet aging means aging the meat in vacuum packs after it is butchered, as opposed to dry aging which is hanging the meat in a cool-room before its butchered (read more about it here).  This is a technique that has only been possible since plastic bags and vacuum sealers have been available.  The first few times we had beasts killed we wet aged all the good steaks (rib fillet, eye fillet, sirloin, rump) in …

Knitting and crocheting update

I put my knitting away over summer because its just too hot to think about wool, and usually with the longer days there's not much time so spend sitting around.  Now as we come into winter (although our forecast is for 28degC today!  But I will pretend it is getting cooler!), I have sorted out all my half-finished knitting and crochet projects and I'm ready to start working on something again.



I find knitting and crochet relaxing.  I like to be doing something with my hands while I watch TV or talking in the evenings and I like to be producing something useful (I love sewing, but its a bit anti-social and loud).  I am currently working on a pair of crocheted socks from this pattern.  Fiona from Arbordale Farm gave me some lovely bright NZ wool when she came back from holiday last year and I thought it would make a nice pair of socks, but I also didn't feel like knitting (see my knitted sock effort here), so I found this crochet sock pattern.  I think I actually prefer croc…

Farm update - May 2016

April was dry, so Eight Acres is starting to look brown and dusty, but Cheslyn Rise is still green from the 75 mm we got in March.  The temperatures have been relatively warm and we haven't lit the woodstove yet.  We had two long weekends, one with a visit from Fiona and hubby from Arbordale Farm and a morning out at the Nanango Show.  The second spent sanding the LAST TWO ROOMS and then no more sanding, that thought it definitely helping to keep us moving.  Gus is already 10 kg and getting better at playing with Taz, I think she likes having a mate.




Food and cooking
The past three weeks Pete and I followed a "detox" diet, with the first week vegetables only, no meat!  Second week we were allowed fish and chicken and the final week we could include lamb and beef.  This was support with supplements and liver tonic from my naturopath.  We both noticed more energy after the first week and have increased the amount of vegetables on our plates in the long term.  It surprised …