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Showing posts from November, 2011

Small motors - for occasional operators

I am in no way suggesting that I am an expert on small motors, as far as I'm concerned, this is what husbands (and as a last resort, small motor mechanics) are for, however I occasionally find myself home alone and in need of using one of our many small motors.  This is intended as a short guide for occasional operators of small motors, such as myself. Husband shows off some of our collection of small motors (note Cheryl, bottom left, would prefer he just threw the ball) Small motors come in two types, two-stroke and four-stroke.  It is ESSENTIAL that you know which you are dealing with if you need to re-fuel as the most important difference from an operating point of view is that a two-stroke engine needs to have oil mixed with the fuel at a specific ratio, whereas a four-stroke engine takes neat fuel (petrol or diesel) with a separate oil reservoir.  If you're interested in the more technical reasons for this (and sometimes that helps me to remember the important detai

Flowers in my garden

I've never been a flower gardener, my garden is all about eating, however I do recognise the importance of flowers in the vege garden for attracting bees and beneficial insects.  I think there's three kinds of flowers in my garden at the moment: The perennials: things like comfrey, arrowroot, sage, and lavender are flowering at the moment and they are the good flowers, because they let you know that the plant is happy enough in its surroundings to flower for you. The annuals: these are the bad flowers, these make you think "oh crap, you're bolting to seed and I haven't planted any seeds yet to replace you".  At the moment that would be the parsley and the broccoli, and over the past few months have also included lettuce and rocket.  The only consolation is at least you get to keep the seeds!  And they do look rather pretty. The plants that you actually want to flower: plants like peas, beans zucchini and tomato that you NEED to flower so you can grow your

Raucous Roosters

If you have a civilized city flock of hens, you might not have had the pleasure of watching a rooster looking after his girls.  Both our roosters pay the hens close attention, they can usually be seen wandering around the yard with at least one or two hens following.  Whenever the rooster finds something to eat he has a special cluck to call his ladies over to share the treat.  He has another call to warn of danger, and he goes running to any hen that calls out in trouble.  One of our roosters used to wait each evening until all his hens were up on the roost before he would jump up to sleep there too.  Roosters can be over protective to the point that it can be difficult to collect the eggs without being attacked on entry to the pens.  None of ours are that bad at the moment, but we have been attacked a couple of times when we got too close, so it pays to stay a healthy distance in case they get the wrong idea.  However, one rooster we had used to play "chicken" with the dog,

How (and why) to drink herbal tea

I've always thought that tea bags were wasteful, so I was pretty happy a few years ago to find out I could use a "tea ball". You can get them from speciality tea places, or any kitchen-ware place would stock them these days. It just means that you can scoop up some tea leaves and brew a single cup of tea in your mug instead of using a teabag or a teapot. Its quicker, it reduces mess and waste AND loose leaf tea is cheaper than tea bags. I have a cup of tea using my tea ball every morning at work. I was thinking about posting about this a while ago and then Rhonda from Down to Earth wrote about something similar , so that saves me explaining all the details of tea balls vs tea bags! Rhonda wrote about black tea, but I don't drink black tea, because the caffeine doesn't agree with me at all (get the shakes, can't sleep, etc).  I stick to herbal teas.   Nourishing Traditions recommends drinking herbal teas, both as an alternative to obvious bad choices (s

Tanning a hide

The hide from the steer that we had butchered in June (Bruce) had been lying on the floor of our shed for several months, covered in salt and waiting for us to start working on tanning it. We had been putting off the job because we remembered how much work it was last time, but we finally got around to it a few weeks ago. Bruce, and his massive steer hide. Tanning a hide is hard work, so if you're going to do it, you need to be organised and prepared to put some time into it, but if you do a good job you can produce a lovely rug (or useful leather if that's more your thing). We like to think that we are using as much of the animal as possible, and even though our first tanning attempt didn't turn out perfectly, we still use the hide cut in half, one half on each side of our bed, which is lovely on a cold winter morning! And as one of my tanning books says "every time you tan you will get a better result as you will have more experience", so we hoped that

Farm update - November 2011

Spring is such a lovely time of year here, the cold weather is gone, with some nice warm days, but its not too hot to move yet.  The evenings are still cool and comfortable.  But the weather is warm enough to see some real growth in the garden.  Unfortunately this applies to both desirable veges and weeds!  This week I have spent each afternoon after work moving wheel-barrow loads of mulch hay that was not good enough for our fussy cow.  The garden is now covered in a layer of weed-suppressing, water-retaining, ground-cooling, fertility-enhancing mulch.  Everything is looking very tidy, but that won't last, I'm sure the spring/summer growth will take over again soon and it will be the same tangled mess I had last year, which is quite alright as long as I get some good veges to eat! I have a mix of old faithfuls and a few new things that I'm trying this year.  In terms of planning, it is very minimal, I've seen some fabulous garden plans on various blogs ( here and