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Farm Update - Dec 2012

In November it finally rained again properly.  First 30mL and then another 70mL the next week.  We now have a full dam and tanks at Eight Acres and dams topped up at Cheslyn Rise.  More importantly, everything is GREEN and growing.

full dam, didn't think to take "before photo", marked before line in red
At Cheslyn Rise we have 6 little baby calves.  We knew some of the cows were pregnant, but were not sure when they were due, so that was a lovely surprise.  We are going to get them a bull in December or January.  By total coincidence it turned out that an acquaintance also kept Brafords and has just got himself a new bull, so is happy to sell us the old one.  According to Joel Salatin, buying an old bull is perfectly good (he's only 6 yrs old, but not 18 months like a new one from a stud sale) as he'll be more mature and settled and still do the same job.  He only has 26 girls to "service" so its not like we have hundreds of cows and need to make sure we have keen young bulls to do the job.  Anyway, the new mums are doing a great job, and we've only been able to catch one baby to put an insecticidal ear tag in.  It would be nice to catch the others, but I'm just happy to see that the cows are doing a good job of looking after their babies, I was a bit worried after we had those two orphans.

The chickens are still laying well.  I've had to spray a few with neem oil for lice.  I occasionally pick up a chicken or two and if they have lice I spray them, and try to catch the rest from that cage, best done when I re-fill their feeder.  Below is "deck chicken", she keep "forgetting how to get home" and wants to live on the deck.  Cute at first, but getting a bit silly now!

Roosting on the outdoor furniture

Hanging out with the dogs
In other chicken news, I failed to completely chicken-proof the area outside the main garden where I planted the second round of curcubits and the chickens destroyed them again!  So I planted more seeds (I think I still have enough time) and re-built the fence.  

Pete tidied up my hoard of toilet rolls, so I tried planting in newspaper instead

My seed-raising greenhouse has been useful when we have
10 degC temperature swings from one day to the next!

corn, various bush beans and soy beans (want to make soy sauce)

My herb garden, from the top - yarrow, tarragon, sage, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, mint, an eggplant (I know, not a herb) and two pots of strawberries which fruit infrequently but deliciously!
more herbs - back up comfrey (in case the rest gets eaten, which
has happened several times, Bella, and the now the chickens, love it),
two lemon grass options and soapwort.

found these under the pot of chillies, some kind of giant slug, not good....

the radishes and carrot, with onion in between the rows, taking FOREVER to grow, have been harvesting a few radishes though, the seem to grow long and spindly roots first, think our soil gets too dry and hot when they are young

cucumber and trombocino, waiting for the
latter to start climbing the fence

Beans planted in the shelter of the calendula to protect from
marauding chickens who will peck ANYTHING through the fence

Capsicum that I nursed through winter in the greenhouse and turns
out to not be a mini capsicum, don't know where you came from, but thanks for volunteering!
Tomatoes, trying really really hard this year to get a decent harvest,
also planted with basil and coriander, and a giant beet in the background
that seems to be all leaves and no root, but the chickens like the leaves, so I
let it stay there.... also bucket on the stake because the shade cloth drips there
and it hurts the tomato leaves, see I'm trying!

arrowroot in bloom, I should really try making flour aye....
one half of the garden....

the other half
the potato bag - sprayed the leaves with neem oil to deter the potato leave eating beetle,
think the cure was worse than the problem, they are bouncing back though, lucky it rained!

One of our beautiful old gums, partially burnt from an old fire,
which saved it from being used as fence posts

the view from our verandah (no wonder deck chicken wants to sit up here)
This is getting too long - all the other cattle are doing well.  We chased and tackled poor Benny and Romeo as it was time to put bands on their balls before they got too big, also eartags (compulsory national livestock identification system tags).  Turned out that Benny had already been cut, so he didn't need a band (must have been tiny at the time, poor thing), but Romeo got one.  He is huge and strong, so its lucky we could still catch him and didn't leave it any longer.

The dogs are hot but happy.  Pete has been working 6 days/wk 12 hr shifts for the last 7 wks, so it will be very nice to have him back to normal hours very soon and the reason I keep saying "I" instead of "we".  And I bought a new slow cooker because I can't live without one now.  And I've been making one cheese a week after weekly milking.


  1. gosh you do keep busy! We had some rain but it just seems to have soaked right in. I am glad your tanks and dam are full again - that must be worrying when that is the only water you rely on. I am glad that your new calves are all happy and settled.

  2. Lovely to hear you had good rain and the dam is full. Our's is nearly dry - the sludge in the bottom is all that's left and we need the rain desperately. Just a few spots every now and then - not even enough to wet the concrete. At least the chooks and veg and cattle are growing.

  3. It is almost winter here but has felt like it for a month, we just got our seed catalog for next year, time to dream of warm weather. Glad to see photos of your spring, sounds like you are doing good so far!

  4. We had that same rain I think. Wasn't it sorely needed. I'm glad your tanks and dam are full. I love deck chicken. She's a real character. Maybe she would rather be a dog.

  5. Arrowroot must be a member of the day lily family is it? Time to get my hort-hat on! We have canna lilies here on the property and ornamental ginger and I wonder if we could grow arrowroot? Might be time for me to take a trip to the mainland and see how I could smuggle a root back...What a resiliant girl you are! Here on Serendipity Farm we have just taken posession of 40 metres of 10 metre wide ex-fish farm netting (with the promise of more rolls to come) that has completely changed the logistics of gardening on our little 4 acre patch. I have lots of propagated babies (walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts) but as a penniless student hippy we don't have the readies to race out and buy what we need to protect them so they languish on a makeshift table elevated from the ravening hoards until we can protect them. The soil is just about to turn into pure ceramic so planting will have to be ceased for the summer but come autumn we will have minimised our chook population, contained them and I will get my garden back :). After that we just have to protect what we are planting out and I have plans to enclose the small existing orchard that we inherited that up until now has been predominately a possum playground. They completely stripped an entire nectarine tree of what promised to be a bumper crop this year and next year they will return to a fully enclosed orchard! You only learn the true satisfaction of victory when your enemy is voracious and insatiable ;). Our dogs are sloths and spend their days anticipating their 5km morning walk and then lamenting the loss of their freedom. We could let them out but then we wouldn't have any chooks left aside from carcasses left to bleed and once the chook supply stopped, Earl would head further afield to satiate his desire to decapitate every small animal in the world...I dare say he would eventually make it to your 8 little acres up there if given the chance... best we keep him locked up with poor long suffering Bezial who can wander with impunity but is shackled in oppression with his reprobate brother. I would love to read more about your cheese making. It's something that really intregues me and having a large dairy around the corner from us and knowing the dairy owners brother may just give me an "in" to the good stuff ;). Have a great rest of your week and hopefully you get to pat your well worked dog soon...I would loan you Earl but I can't afford the vet bills for your cows and Bezial is a bit lame after trying to become the parkour king of Serendipity Farm and coming up short ;)

  6. oh sorry to hear that the rain wasn't wide-spread. We haven't had any more since then, if that makes anyone feel better! Good like finding the arrowroot narf7, it grows really well here in summer and dies back in winter when it frosts, you should be able to grow it in Tas. I couldn't find anywhere to buy it online that would send it to Tas, so you will have to start asking around, maybe on some forums, surely someone has it over there! Otherwise try to find out how to get it through quarantine. I haven't tried making flour yet, but it doesn't look too hard.


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