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Farm update - September 2016

August is over and we are coming into spring.  The days are getting longer, the nights are warmer and its just a nice time of year for getting some work done before the heat of summer.  We've had a few more rainy patches to keep the grass green.

Gus has started a chewing phase, just after I said how good he was!
That was an egg-carton (empty) and he didn't do it.

A break in an afternoon doggy game

Food and cooking
I had a cold, and the highlight was using the rosemary and thyme infused raw honey that I made in summer from our honey.  It was beautiful with lemon and ginger.

Land and farming
Our neighbours burned one of their paddocks, and I was not impressed (see my thoughts on burning pasture here, which I will expand on when I get further into holistic management).

We finally got a chance to butcher the four remaining roosters and cull six older hens, which has got us down to more management numbers (20-ish hens with three roosters in three chicken tractors).  And now one of the young hens has gone broody...

Cows and cattle
We have put the angus cows and calves onto the improved pasture, but as it borders our neighbour's property and they have a bull, our bull and the dairy cows are in another paddock.

Bees and Beekeeping
We prepared more 'nucs' and I painted the front so that the bees don't get mixed up (apparently that is a real problem for them).  More about filling the nucs in my permaculture discussion below.

This is a very productive time in the garden, although a few things are starting to flower and go to seeds (but that's ok, more veges for next season!).  I am still harvesting lots of asian greens, silverbeet, perennial leeks, celery, peas, capsicums that survived winter (!), parsley, dill, coriander, chervil, broccoli heads, turnips.  I should probably think about planting for spring soon!

I am very pleased to say that we finished painting the bedroom and lounge - that includes two coats on the ceilings and two on the walls.  All that remains in the kitchen and bathroom!  We also got some shelving for the shed mezzanine floor, so will be working on assembling that and then start moving things from Nanango into the shed.


The problem is the solution

For a long time I didn't get what that phrase meant. but then it suddenly made sense to me, so if you're still struggling with it, give it time!  Another way of looking at this is "the obstacle is the way" and I've included a youtube video below (link here).  One of the famous examples is when Bill Mollison said "You don't have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency".  In this case seeing the snails as potential duck food and turning the problem into a solution.  I think you can either see the problem as its OWN solution, or the solution to another problem (sometimes a problem that you didn't know you had).

This month we were considering raising our own queen bees so that we could make more nucleus hives (I will post more about raising queens soon), but first we decided to check our hives for queen cells.  At this time of year as the population of bees in the hives increases, they will instinctively prepare to swarm.  This means raising a second queen and around half of the bees leaving with that queen to form a new hive.  Many beekeepers destroy any queens cells as they don't want to lose bees to a swarm.  We decided that rather than seeing the queen cells as a problem, we would see them as a solution - a way to easily make more queens for a nucleus hives.  When we sorted through our hives we found seven frames with queen cells and put them into nucleus hives with lots of bees to finish raising the queens.

You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency. - Bill Mollison

As I wrote during the month, I learnt a new crochet stitch and used it to make a few things because I was procrastinating over the scarf I should be working on.

Support me (+ other blogs)
This month I changed the name of my chicken tractor ebook because a friend reviewed it and became the third person to mention to me that it was about more than just chicken tractors and perhaps I should change the title. I have changed it to A Beginner's Guide to Backyard Chickens and Chicken Tractors, its exactly the same book, just a new name to reflect its broader content.  See Say! Little Hen for a more detailed review.  You can still find the book over at

You will also find an article by me about making tallow soap over on Lovely Greens. Pop over and leave a comment on Tanya's beautiful blog.

Finally I wanted to share my favourite plastic free/zero waste/minimalist blogs with you.  We are currently decluttering the house as we prepare to move.  Two hoarders and makers can accumulate a LOT of "useful" stuff and keeping it all tidy is stressful.  Its feeling good to give away some things and not so good to chuck out some things, but its a good reminder not to be buy stuff that is going to break or that we don't really need.

You may also notice that I've been decluttering and recycling on my blog.  I have a so many old posts that don't get read, I've started updating and reposting them.  Many of them I can't remember writing, so I wonder if you will remember reading them before!  Its quite fun to see how things have changed as I update them.

How was your August?  What do you have planned for September?


  1. I think it's fantastic what you are doing with the bees. The thought that some farmers discourage more hives is mind boggling, I'm sure they have their reasons (swarming) but our bee population needs our help!

  2. Your house looks great! I love old queenslanders and the colour you have chosen for the walls suits it very well. Just wondering what kind of chooks you have (and hence eat?) I have two isa brown australorp crosses which are getting a bit older and I am considering giving them the chop. They are heavier than an isa brown so I assume there's a bit of meat on them. I'm not sure if they will be worth it though...we haven't killed and eaten our own chickens before so I am excited and nervous!

  3. Oh those dogs, so beautiful. Your painted rooms look wonderful Liz. Such hard work, and now you must be feeling like you're getting towards livable. You sure do have a stack of nuc boxes there. Great for starting off new boxes though. Brian has also made a few more nuc boxes for this season, and hope to breed Queens for sale locally. I love to see your boxes with colours on each one, as we have done exactly the same thing and can see that the bees are finding it easier to differentiate their own hive. Burning off..grrrr!!

  4. Lots of motivational stuff here. It's all happening at your place! Although given it's spring now, a lot more will be happening for others too. Are you getting all this rain lately?

    It took me a while for the concepts of permaculture to really sink in with me too. But then you have that "ah-ha" moment, and more and more, starts to make sense. I'm glad your bees are still being productive and healthy. No doubt, due to your understanding of their needs.:)


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