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Showing posts from April, 2012

Making hay

I can't claim to be an expert on hay, but I've certainly learnt an awful lot about making it over the past few weeks! Since owning cattle we have spent a lot of money on hay, in round bales and square bales, to feed to our animals when we ran low on grass.  For ages I couldn't understand why the cattle didn't eat the dead dry grass in winter.  It seemed to me to be exactly the same as hay.  Well I only recently figured out that hay is not just dead dry grass!  Hay is grass cut in its prime and allowed to dry to just the right amount before baling.  Hay contains maximum nutrition for the cattle, that's why they like it so much. When we purchased our new property, a crop of forage sorghum on the top cultivation area had just been cut for hay, and was starting to grow back.  By the time we owned the property 6 weeks later, it was ready to be cut again.  We engaged a contractor (neighbour) to cut the sorghum using a "mower conditioner" which cuts the stem

Jerusalem artichoke

My friend at work with the garden full of crazy and unusual vegetables (eg spaghetti squash ) has given me some Jerusalem artichoke tubers to eat and to grow.  Apparently they go quite crazy in summer, so I decided to plant them outside the garden fence with the arrowroot (which we should also eat), so that they can provide shade in summer. This is what the tubers look like, they were difficult to peel.... We ate the artichokes sliced thinly and fried in butter..... the flesh is white and crispy, with a mild taste although it did end up mixed into the gravy with left over roast beef The passed the taste test, Farmer Pete said they were "quite nice", so now all that remains is to see if they will grow in my garden :) I forgot to take a photo before I piled the dirt back over, but this is where I planted to the arrowroot. Have you grown Jeruselum artichokes?  Or anything else unusual?

Starting chicks in a chicken tractor

The transition from the chicks living in the brooder box to moving into chicken tractors can be difficult.  Ideally we hatch the chicks early enough in spring that they can move out after only 6 weeks, before they have all their feathers, because it is usually plenty warm enough by then.  Otherwise they have to stay inside longer and once they reach that noisy messy stage I can't wait for them to move out! Even though it is warm enoug, we find that when we put chicks out in the tractor for the first few nights they need to 'tucked in' at dusk because they are so used to living in a box and not having open sides, its quite scary for them.  This means draping tarps, and old sheets, towels and blankets over the tractor so that they feel like they're still in a solid box.  Otherwise they spend the night trying to stick their little heads out of the mesh and sometimes they manage to squeeze out!  We only have to do this for about a week until they get used to it.  This a

Buying a bigger tractor

When we bought a bigger property we knew we would also need a larger tractor.  The tractor that we have been using at "eight acres" is a 17 HP Kubota, which is about the same power as our ride on mower.  It can run the slasher (very slowly) and lift things (not always very safely) but it is not suited to running cultivation implements or a large slasher or lifting hay bales.  While we were waiting for the property settlement date, we spent a whole lot of time researching tractor options and trying to work out the size we needed and whether to buy new or second-hand. The new tractor towing the big plough The size of the tractor depends on the work that needs to be done.  A bigger tractor can tow and lift heavier implements, and it can do most jobs faster than a smaller tractor would.  However, obviously the bigger the tractor the more expensive it is and the more fuel it will use, so the first step is to determine what the tractor really needs to do and what would be t

Nourishing Traditions - Grains and Legumes

Continuing my review of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats , this was such a huge chapter for me, I want to review it by itself. See the other parts of my review - introduction , mastering the basics , more chapters .... The main idea is that grains and legumes require careful preparation to ensure that the nutrients are completely available.  This means soaking and fermenting overnight, or at least several hours, and no quick boiling methods!  It also includes sprouting the grains first. I've always known that I had trouble digesting grains, but I didn't understand why.  I tried eating gluten free, but it didn't help, so I went back to eating bread and flour again.  I tried eating brown rice, but I never liked it.  I've never really enjoyed beans/legumes, they always make me feel overfull.  With all this in mind, I was very keen to try the suggestions in this chapter. Whole grains oats for


Today is my 29th birthday.  For me, birthdays seem to be less significant as I get older, just another day with the normal work and chores to be done.  The anticipation of presents that I had as a child is not as important now that I just buy things when I want them!  However, I do want to reflect on a few birthday presents that I consider to be the best presents I have ever received (so far).  In chronological order, as there's no way I could rank them :) The first was the gift of a new sewing machine from my parents for my 21st birthday.  It wasn't really a surprise, because I did ask for it, but I didn't know what kind of sewing machine I was going to get.  I actually told them to just get me a second-hand one.  Having grown up using mum's Bernina, I would have been perfectly comfortable with an old model.  However, knowing that I wanted to travel, my parents decided to buy me a new Brother.  Its only 7kg, compared to the Bernina's 20 kg (it feels that heavy an

Farmer Pete and the new property

When I started this blog, I didn't know what my husband would think of it, and I didn't know if he would particularly want to feature it in, so I kept his name anonymous at first.  As he's seen what the blog is about and how nice it is to share our thoughts, our plans, our successes and our mishaps, he's been keen to get more involved.  In particular after my 1-year-blogoversary post when everyone said how much I had done, he was quick to point out to me the role that he had played too! Now that we have our larger property, it seems time to introduce you to Farmer Pete, principle tractor driver, chicken wrangler, fire wood chopper, metal fabricator, cattle herder, paddock slasher and excellent husband that he is, there's no way I could do any of this without him, so I want you to know that its not just me doing all the work.  He even hangs out the washing, cleans the toilet and cooks dinner! See! Here's some photos of the work Farmer Pete has been doi