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Showing posts from June, 2011

Growing potatoes

My first two attempts at potatoes have been a total disaster so far.  Possibly because I just planted potatoes that had sprouted in the cupboard (not proper seed potatoes) and also because our soil had too much clay and went as hard as concrete.  I think we barely harvested more than we planted!  This put me off completely (I'm easily put off by my gardening failures), so I haven't tried again since. However, when I think about what we produce, we have everything except a decent starchy staple cro[ that could be used as a carbohydrate in a meal if required.  I think that potatoes will be the easiest option (although I'm intrigued by some of the unique cereal suggestions on this blog  AND we have some very vigorously growing arrowroot, which is supposed to be good for flour, I just haven't tried it yet). So I have decided to have a decent go at potatoes this season, following the method seen here  (or the results seen there anyway, now I see that the method was actua

When things don't go to plan - establishing a new house cow

I hope that others will sympathise with this post.  I'd love to write about how well we are doing with our new house cow Bella , our great milking routine, and how tame Molly is getting, but as usual, things haven't gone to plan! Cattle are difficult animals, they look dumb, but they are smarter than you realise.  You soon know about it when you want them to do something though.  We had our milking area organised, a nice new concreted slab, under cover and with a light and power, with a crush that we had started building, now converted to milking bales.  Bella used it once.  Then she decided it wasn't to her liking.  So early one morning (5 am) we ended up moving the crush closer to the paddock gate, with two extension cords to plug in the milking machine and headlamps to light our way!  This made things easier as we could now drive Bella through the gate and straight into the bales instead of coaxing her slowly through the house yard, but it was not what we planned origi

Butchering Poultry

Last weekend we got up early and prepared for a morning of killing poultry, not my ideal Saturday morning, but the time had come, we were going through too much food and not getting enough eggs.  We had bred new hens, so it was time for the eldest of the flock to go.  This is never easy, but its part of farming.  We don't keep the chickens for pets, so we always know that one day we will kill them.  If you're a chicken-lover, you might find this hard to read, but if you EAT chicken, even free-range or organic etc, you should read on, as I guarantee that home-killed chickens have a much nicer life and death than any commercially produced chicken, and you should take an interest in where you meat comes from.  This is put well on the site I linked to below: Most people these days have become so removed from the reality of food production. As a result, we are practically helpless at providing our own food. We depend on the Industrial Providers to supply us with chicken, and just

Sometimes its easier to breed a steer than to buy one

For weeks now I’ve been telling people that we’re getting cow, and now she’s finally with us and we’ve milked her for a few days. We can’t wait to start making cheese! The most common comments when I tell people about her is: “that will be expensive cheese”. Well, yes, it will be expensive cheese, but that’s not the main reason we wanted a cow. The real reason is far more complicated! At first little Trevor was a herd of one and kept escaping to find more cattle We learnt the hard way (as usual) with little Trevor, that cattle like to live in a herd. When Trevor was in a herd of one, he managed to escape through any weak spots in our fences. He would hear other cattle calling out and he wanted to go and find them to join their herd! I don’t know if it would have been different if we weren’t at work all day, maybe he would have considered us to be his herd, but in the end we realised that he was lonely, so we got another steer, a Murray Grey cross, that we named Murray.

Making Homebrew Beer

My husband and I have been making beer for a few years now and once we get into a routine its pretty easy to keep up a plentiful supply of nice tasting beer. We don't drink heaps, but its nice to have some there when you feel like it and I HATE throwing out cans and bottles all the time. "[I recommend]… bread, meat, vegetables and beer." -Sophocles' philosophy of a moderate diet For a good explanation of the general beer making process see this website , I'm just going to explain what we do, but there are lots of different options to suit different timetables and budgets.  We use a keg system, so that we don't have to clean lots of bottles.  We have two fermenters and usually put down two brews at a time.  We use the big cans of concentrated malt extract and 1 kg bags of dextrose (one day if we have the time and energy, we'd like to try starting from the raw grains, but in the meantime, the cans work really well).  We currently have an ale bubb

I made butter!

I was a bit scared of butter, after raw milk yoghurt was so much harder than I expected .  But we were lucky to have a demonstration at the Marburg Show recently.  A couple of elderly gentlemen who used to work at the Beaudesert butter factory had a bucket of fresh milk and were showing people how to separate the cream and make butter.  We spent about half an hour asking many many questions, they were very kind and helpful, so I felt confident that we knew what do to (so much better to see a demo than read a book!). This is the mess I made. First I tried the cream (at room temperature, a few days old, not fresh) in the food processor, but it was too fast and sharp and cut the butter to pieces.  So the cream went back into the jar and I shook it a few times and there was butter!  I poured off the butter milk, poured in fresh chilled water, rinsed a few times and then worked a little salt into the butter (to keep it longer) with a paddle.  It was so easy, what a relief, and it tast

The Simple Life - How did you get here?

You may be wondering what influenced my husband and I to live the way we do. I'm never sure what to call it, its kind of simple, but complicated, and its definitely frugal, but not stingy.  We certainly have everything we want, and not much that we don't need. Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying.  The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.  ~ Elise Boulding I can't remember exactly what got me started on thinking that I'd like to change my city-dwelling lifestyle.  About six years ago I was living in a rental property and very proud of myself because I had no car and used public transport to get around (easy to do in a large city).  I think it all started when I went to a conference in which there was a long discussion about 'sustainable developmen