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Showing posts from February, 2017

Pack your own lunch recipes - February 2017

As I wrote back in January, I decided this year to share photos and recipes from our lunches so that you might be inspired to pack your own lunch too.  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'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: Beef Curry This is loosely an Indian curry, a while ago I bought jars of garam masala and some "raja mix" mild curry powder, which do not have ingredients listed.  Its pretty dodgy, I just want to use them up, I hate not knowing the ingredients, but I hate wasting them.  I put a couple of t…

Take Control with Homemade Health and Beauty Products

Blog reader Jeriann Ireland offered to send me a post about homemade health and beauty products.  This is of course an interest of mine, as I make a lot of different products myself.  Some are just personal experiments and some I share on my Etsy shop.  My reasons are much the same as Jerriann discusses in this post - save money, know the ingredients and take control of your health. 

Jeriann is a writer and crafter who makes homemade body care products and fun craft items, mostly as gifts for her friends and family. She loves learning about beneficial and harmful ingredients in everyday products and finding alternatives that fit her health goals. See more of her writing at dairyairhead.com.

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I used to think that “health and beauty” as a category was a bit odd. Health and beauty aren’t necessarily related. You can be healthy and ugly, and you can be beautiful and sick. But when you look at what society considers beautiful, it’s often tied to perceptions of health. It used to be…

How to make a wooden chopping board polish

Since we got our own bee hives I've been able to enjoy the many benefits of bees.  Honey, improved pollination and lots of beeswax (and the occasional bee sting).  I was excited to receive a review copy of The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More, by of Chris Dalziel (Affiliate link).




 This book came at a good time, we have harvested honey several times and have rather a lot of beeswax to use up (see my post about how to refine beeswax).  As you know, I already use beeswax in salves, lip balm and honey and oatmeal soap.  The Beeswax Workshop takes that even further, instructions for making everything from candles, to foodwraps, lotions and wooden cutting board polish...  I've made a list of all the projects that I want to try, but it was the cutting board polish that stood out.



We have a collection of wood cutting boards, having retired a set of nasty plastic boards.  Wooden chopping boards are lovely to use…

Giant Gus turns one

Gus arrived here last April, only 6 weeks old and taken from his mother and litter and everything he knew in the world.  Poor wee fella.  He was much younger than Taz when she first arrived, and we noticed the difference, he cried at night and when we left for work.  The first week he was here, Pete had to go to a course in Brisbane, so I was home alone with the dogs and had my first week at my new job.  As I left for work on the first day, Gus was crying and Taz was barking at Gus.  Not a great start (if you get a young puppy, plan to be home with them for a few days until they get settled! we got Taz at 12 weeks old and she had been separated from her mother for a few weeks).

Gus grew and grew and grew.  He's a Great Dane cross Bull Arab (a "pig dog" bitza, I like to call him my boer hound, he is also known as Horse Dog and Gustopher).  We realised after a few days that he needed to be fed more than once a day.  He was walking around with his mouth open and eating anyt…

Our current garden and thinking about a new garden

As we get closer to moving to our new/old house, I am starting to dread starting again with the garden.  I feel like the current garden is just starting to do well, after a lot of work building the soil with loads of manure, compost and mulch.  When I dig I find deep rich soil full of worms.  It certainly wasn't like that we we started, so I know I will have some work to do to get the new garden to the same standard.  I hope that we have learnt a few things though and will find it easier to get this garden started quickly.  Here's some thoughts about our current garden and what we want to do for the next one.


1) Integrate hydroponics and/or aquaponics
At the moment I use a small hydroponics system to grow tomatoes as they just don't thrive in my garden.  We have an aquaponics system that we bought around the same time as the farm and have not had time to set up.  This will be an opportunity to try aquaponics/hydroponics on a larger scale and grow more than just tomatoes.  I…

Holistic management - part 7: Completing the feedback loop

The book Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making (affiliate link) sets out a guide to developing a holistic goal for your farm or business.  See my introduction to Holistic Management here, and part 2: four key insights for the reasons why holistic management is important and part 3: holistic goal for understanding what you are managing and what you want from it.  I reviewed the ecosystem processes in part 4 - the water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics.

In part 5 the book takes that understanding of ecosystem processes and discusses the tools that we can use to manage ecosystem processes in brittle and non-brittle environments, including: money and labour, human creativity, technology, rest, fire, grazing, animal impact and living organisms.  In part 6 we learnt about questions to ask to test our management decisions against the holistic goal defined in part 3.  This ensures that every action takes us closer to achieving our goal.


Part 7 is shor…

Honey, oatmeal and beeswax soap

Soapmaking seems to be quite an addictive hobby.  Luckily I can sell it, otherwise we would have soap to last a lifetime already.  My latest recipe uses honey and beeswax from our hives, and oatmeal.




Oatmeal has a soothing effect on skin, and also helps to retain essential oil scent in the soap.  The honey provides both colour and healing properties.  Beeswax is added to this soap to make it harder and provide a subtle honey scent.  This soap will get very hot due to the honey.  When adding beeswax, its best to cut it into small pieces or grate it, so that it will dissolve quickly, otherwise you will be stuck stirring your fats and oils after everything else is ready!

Like all my soaps, I like to use tallow in the recipe.  You can read more about why I use tallow and find all my other soap recipes in the posts linked further down.  I am currently working on an ebook with all my tallow soap recipes and a step-by-step guide to cold process soap with tallow, look out for it on this blog…

Farm update: February 2017

January has brought more heat waves, but some relief also with storms and rain at both properties, enough to keep the grass green at least (100mm at Kumbia has also filled dams, a massive relief).  The dogs have been helping with the house renovations and Gus has learnt to take himself for a swim and then nap in uncomfortable positions.





Food and cooking
Have you been following my weekly lunch updates on Instagram (summarised earlier in the week with recipes in a post)?  I'll keep posting these and I encourage you to join in if you work or are away from home at lunch, you can save so much money by taking your own, and eat better too.




Land and farming
We were very lucky to get 100mm of rain at Kumbia (and not as much at Nanango, storms are fickle like that).  All of our small dams are full and our big one is about half full.  While we were checking the big dam we sneaked up on a family of wild pigs - three mama pigs with piglets, they ran away when they saw us, however it is encouragi…