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Showing posts from January, 2016

How I use herbs - Rosemary and Thyme

Two of the herbs that I have had in my garden for a long time are Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris).  I regularly use both of these herbs, in both fresh and dried form, in cooking, as I'm sure you do too.  I have been wondering how to use them medicinally as well.  I chose to write about them together because they grow in my garden in a similar way and I currently use them in cooking in a similar way.  They are both of the family Lamiaceae, so there is a family connection as well.


How to grow Rosemary and Thyme
Both of these herbs prefer a sunny position, however in the subtropics, no matter how much you think you like the sun, sometimes the hottest days are really too much.  For this reason I keep both rosemary and thyme in small pots, dug into the ground.  Digging the pots in keeps the soil cool and moist, keeping them in pots gives me the option to move them around if they need more or less sun.  I do find it stunts the plants a little, but I still h…

Crochet knee rug for beginners

I only learnt to crochet a couple of years ago, and last winter I really wanted to improve my crochet skills to the point where it was an unconscious movement rather than a very concious and laboured effort.  The best way to do that (possibly the only way) is repetition, so it made sense to make something large.  I decided to make a rug.

As I was intending this for practice, I didn't know how it would turn out and I didn't want to buy new yarn in case I wasted it, so I decided to use some of the yarn I had been hoarding wisely buying from the markets.  As I didn't really known how much yarn I had and how much rug I wanted to make, it was difficult to find a pattern to use.




I didn't want to make multiple granny squares that would have to be joined together later (I can picture a stash of squares waiting to be joined).  I also didn't want to make one of the pretty patterns that require you to decide the length of one end of the rug and work backwards and forwards.  …

Why do some cattle have horns?

A couple of times now I've heard people say that only bulls have horns.  The second time it was a radio announcer.  I thought I better write a post to explain that some cows have horns.... and some bulls don't!  Read more about why some cattle have horns over on 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)

Soil testing for dams, roads and erosion control

I started a series on soil testing back here, in which I explained a few simple tests to work out the clay/silt/sand content of soil and the pH.  I was always going to come back and explain dispersion, but the truth was, I didn't really know WHY dispersion was important at that time.  I have since done a course on erosion management and it all became clear.  However, dispersion is not really important for garden soil or for farming, so I never came back to finish the series.  Dispersion is very important when it comes to using soil to construct things like dams and roads, and when you start to get erosion problems.  We just had a dam built, so I came back to dispersion and soil testing, so its time to finish that series!


We asked our neighbour to come over with his buldozer and build us a farm dam near the house.  He thought that the soil wouldn't be any good where I wanted the dam.  So throughout the digging process we grabbed multiple samples and looked up websites and trie…

The Hands on Home - Book review

I wasn't sure if I would like The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping, by Erica Strauss, so I requested it from the library rather than buy it.  I really shouldn't have been surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it, as I have been following Erica's blog Northwest Edible Life and she always explains interesting and complex concepts with a dose of humour and common sense.  Her blog has covered canning, fermenting, eating in season, growing vegetables, backyard chickens and ducks among other things.  Also lots of cooking because Erica is a trained chef.

I (incorrectly) expected this book to be mostly recipes.  As in food recipes.  So I was very pleased to see recipes for cleaning products and body products.  Not only does it begin with a comprehensive explanation of kitchen basics, fermentation, canning and making chicken broth, she also goes into detail of how various cleaning products work (and therefore how to make your own) a…

Six reasons to consider chicken tractors

Are you still wondering if chicken tractors would work at your place?

I've written an article for FarmStyle with six reasons why you should consider chicken tractors.

Find out more on this link.  FarmStyle has a range of useful farm articles and a forum for small farm discussions.





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 safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, …

A sustainable shave?

Of all the blogs I follow, most are written by women.  Some are a joint effort by a couple, but only a few are written by men.  I'm not sure what the stats are for blogs in general, but if you take a sample of blogs that interest me, about farming and homesteading, they are mostly written by women.


As the topic of sustainable shaving relates to men, I feel I should dedicate this post to four male bloggers that I follow regularly:

Most of you will have heard for Gavin from The Greening of Gavin.  He gardens, keeps chooks, and makes cheese and soap (and so many other things) on a small suburban block.  Gavin also has a small business selling sustainable living supplies and workshops.  I signed up for his affiliate program last year to help out with advertising and I haven't got around to mentioning it yet!  I'll link to some relevant soap supplies at the end of this post.

A more recent addition is Phil from House of Simple, who regularly comments here and has some really in…

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.


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 …