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Showing posts from March, 2017

Pack your own lunch recipes - March 2017

This is my third post sharing our lunch recipes (you don't have to use them for lunch, they are just recipes that are easy to cook in bulk).  You can find more recipes in my January post and my February post. I also share them on Instagram each Sunday night (you will also see them on the Facebook page).  And I'll post the recipes at the end of the month.  I hope these posts are inspiring you to cook from scratch and take your own lunch to work - both to save money and eat better.  I haven't had any comments so far, so please let me know if you find these posts useful!

I'm not great at following recipes, and I'm also not good at writing them, because I tend to just use up what we have in the fridge/pantry/garden, things that are on special or we've been given at our local produce share.  I'll tell you what I made, but I'm not saying you should follow exactly, just use it as a rough guide and use up whatever you have handy too.

Week 1:  Roast Pork
I've…

Property fire management plan

Last week we spent a day at a fire management plan workshop organised by our local council in conjunction with the rural fire service.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the workshop.  I knew what I wanted to get out of it - a plan for managing/preventing bushfire on our property.  Considering that about half our 250 acres is covered with very flammable gum tree bushland and we have an old wooden house, this seems like something that we should prepare for.





Interestingly the workshop also covered ways to use fire to manage vegetation on roadsides and properties.  I'm not a huge fan of this, due to not actually wanting to accidentally start a destructive fire, however, by the end of the workshop I was convinced that the occasional, very carefully managed fire in our bushland area could be a good thing for regenerating the vegetation.  Burning of pasture, however, was confirmed to be a pointless exercise.

Fortunately, in preparing for an uncontrolled bushfire, we will also have t…

Rehabilitating our property OR how to choose a small farm

This is a post from February 2011, back when we only had Eight Acres and were working on fixing the soil fertility and clearing the paddocks.  A few thoughts on what you can do with a small property.

This is the second small farm/acreage property that we've lived on.  The first one, in the Lockyer Valley, was fairly flat and cleared of all but a few tall trees, with two good dams and few rocks or weeds.  We were hoping to find something even nicer when we moved to Nanango, but we couldn't find anything in our price range, so settled for one of the cheapest options we could find.

We didn't know how lucky we were with the first property!  It was selected by Pete for its dirt bike riding potential more than any small farming ideas, but it worked out just perfectly when our focus changed to self-sufficiency.  The place we found at Nanango is steep, rocky, weedy and the dam was quite saline when we first arrived, but it was cheap and had a perimeter fence.


This lead us to inves…

Getting started with beekeeping: how to harvest honey

While honey is not the only product from a beehive, its the one that most beekeepers are interested in and it usually takes a year or so to let the bees build up numbers and store enough honey before there is enough to harvest.  There are a few different ways to extract honey from frames.  We have a manual turn 2-frame certifugal extractor.  A lot of people with only a few hives will just crush and strain the comb.  This post is about how we've been extracting honey so far (four times now), and there are links at the end to other bloggers who use different methods so you can compare.


Choose your frames
Effectively the honey is emergency food stores for the bees, so you have to be very careful not to take too much from the hive.  You need to be aware of what is flowering and going to flower next and the climate.  Particularly in areas with cold winters, where the bees cannot forage for some time.  We are lucky to have something flowering most of the year and can take honey in Sprin…

How to make soap with beer (and tallow)

I may have mentioned this before.... soap making is addictive!  Once you start, you just want to keep making more soap.  And not the same soap, you want to try all sorts of different soaps.  I made the mistake of joining a facebook group called Saponification Nation and now my facebook newsfeed is full of glorious soaps, in all colours and shapes, which makes it even harder to resist the urge to experiment.  One soap that kept popping up a few weeks ago was soap made with beer.




I generally prefer not to use ingredients just for the sake of it, I like to know that they are adding something to the properties of the finished soap.  As you know, I don't like to use artificial ingredients either (colours or fragrances).  When I read about beer in soap I found out that beer adds sugar to the mixture, which increases lather.  I use tallow in my soap, which has limited lather, so anything that adds lather could improve the soap.  It also contributes a tan or brown colour to the soap depen…

Growing your own - Feast or famine?

Here's an old post from July 2011 that I thought you might enjoy reading again :)

Since we have started producing our own veges, eggs, beef and chicken meat I have noticed that we get used to making our own and have been reluctant to buy these items when our own production levels are low.  This means we usually have either too much or not enough of some things, but its just become a way of life for us.  Sometimes if we don't have any of a particular food, we just go without, but we don't even think about it now.




When we are milking our cows, we usually have too much milk at first, which is lovely, because I get to try making cheese without worrying too much if the end result is a disaster!  The other week I made feta, too much feta, which neither of us particularly like (it was just an easy cheese to try) so I started looking for recipes to use it up.  I found this lovely recipe for chicken meatballs with feta in the middle.  This would use up feta, chicken mince from our …

How I use herbs: Chilli

I have three large chilli bushes in my garden.  I don't know exactly what kind they are, they sprouted in a pot of raspberry canes that I was given.  I thought they were capsicums, but they grew into the chilli bushes.  The raspberries didn't make it through our hot summers, but the chillies did great, they are taller than me and I always get a massive harvest.




How to grow chillies
According to Isabell Shipard's "How can I use herbs in my daily life?", there are two species of chilli bush - Capsicum annum (bushes 50-150cm tall, single fruit from each node) and Capsicum frutescens (tiny bushes to 2m tall, 2-4 fruit per node). I think I certainly have one of the second type, although I'm still not sure exactly which variety.  These are not hot at all, I can put several in a meal and I don't particularly like hot food.


Both species are perennial in our sub-tropical climate, but will be annual if winters get too cold.  I find that these bushes die back when …

Designing a homesteader's house

A friend of mine is considering moving to a new block of land and building a house.  She has similar goals and lifestyle to me, so she asked what we considered when designing our house.  I guess she assumed that we had it all figured out.  The funny part is, the main reason that it took us over a year to get a house organised, and in the end we just bought a secondhand house and moved it, BECAUSE we couldn't decide what we wanted in a house.  (read more about our secondhand house here)



More correctly, we couldn't decide if we should build what we wanted or build it to suit mainstream tastes, for resale value.  The main sticking point was the ensuite.  We have always lived in a house with one bathroom.  We are happy with that and would build a house with one bathroom, but new houses typically come with an ensuite and a walk in wardrobe.  Both things that we don't particularly need.  Finding the secondhand house, we overcome that problem as it only has one bathroom and no sp…

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Farm update - March 2017

February was another hot month, with not much rain.  The grass at Nanango is now brown and crunchy.  Kumbia is still green due to the rain we had at the end of January.  The evenings have just started to cool down as we welcome autumn (about time!).





Food and cooking
The garden has not been very productive in the hot weather, however the giant chilli bushes are very healthy and I harvested two baskets of chillies.  One for our local produce swap and the other I used to make chilli honey, chilli oil and dried chilli flakes.  More on all of that in a later post.




Land and farming
Its still green at Kumbia and with the hot days we put in some early mornings to get work down before it was hot.  Early mornings are not my favourite thing, but the farm does look beautiful.



Chickens The chickens were feeling the heat too, and egg laying dropped to 1-2 eggs per day from 16 hens.  They literally can't form eggs when the temperatures are high, so we just did our best to keep them cool, with lots …