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Farm update - June 2013

Its definitely winter now!  We've had a cold snap at the end of May and been running the woodstove most nights, its even got cold enough that we could let the stove heat up to cook in it (mmm roast potatoes).  We are still getting occasional rain and were very pleased to fluke the timing of our forage oats planting to coincide with a nice 20 mm of rain.  This should set us up for winter, where we usually don't get much rain at all.

The oats paddock after planting
At Cheslyn Rise we have a power pole!  And the house is very soon to follow as soon as our neighbour has finished some bulldozer work in the house yard for us.  The power company had two large trees cut down, so we had our first attempt at cutting and debarking fence posts, it was quite fun, and I even had a go with the crow bar.
power pole

fence posts
Monty is getting huge and taking lots more milk.  We cut back to milking once a day in May because we were only getting 1-2 L in the morning.  Soon we will only milk when we separate Monty from Molly.  This means I can have a break from making cheese until Bella calves.  And we might even be able to go away for a weekend.
Here's Monty, starting to change colour from his eyes outwards
I've also started writing an ebook about house cows.  I decided that it would be a good chance to pull together all the cow and dairy posts from this blog, put them in a sensible order and fill in the gaps.  I hope that it will help prospective house-cow owners with a few details that I think are missing from other books on the subject.  If you have any house cow questions that you think I should cover, please let me know.  I'm also looking for someone to write the section on hand-milking (as we always machine milk), if this is your area of expertise, please email me: eight dot acres dot liz at gmail dot com.  I can't say exactly when the ebook will be ready, but I've written 47 pages so far, I'd say the technical part of publishing it is going to hold me up more than the writing!

house cow ebook coming soon
The garden is still in transition from summer to winter.  I have tomato plants everywhere and lots of green tomatoes.  The beans and tromboncino are nearly finished, but I am waiting for some seeds to set before I rip out the plants.  I've started some peas and broad beans and I have brassicas everywhere (where there isn't tomatoes), mostly self-seeded and some new ones that I planted.  The carrots, swedes, turnips, onions and radishes are also doing well.  I harvested lots of herbs to top up my dried herb collection before they all die back.  I've set up my greenhouse, but I'm not sure what I want to put in there this year, and so far its empty!  The jacaranda seedlings from last year are far to big, as is the avocado.  I've put them up on my seed-raising bench instead, which I hope will be out of the worst of the frost.  I will probably use the greenhouse more in late winter/early spring to start seedlings as early as possible.  I tried to take some photos but the weather has been either bright and crisp with dark shadows or gloomy with rain, so I apologise if you can't figure out what I'm trying to show you!

looking down the length of the garden, the first bed is carrots/radish etc,
then brassicas, followed by more brassicas and
finally broad beans behind a massive cherry tomato bush

a giant tromboncino that I am hoping with yield lots of seeds to share....

inside the garden, so very BRIGHT!

the hugelkulture/wild garden, and you can't see it very well, but a few brassicas are
sprouting here too and the geranium that survived all the dry periods is flowering
In the kitchen we are trying hard to empty the freezer before the butcher comes for Frank in mid-July, so we are eating the last of Bratwurst beef, roast, steak and mince, every day!  I've also started a homemade vanilla extract using vanilla beans and vodka, it needs a few months to age, so I'll tell you all about it when its ready.

homemade vanilla extract

And finally the dogs, 'staying away' when I was trying to milk the cow, they come as close as they dare, but Molly uses her horns to remind them that she doesn't like dogs if they do come too close.

dogs trying to look innocent
Here's an interesting blog to check out:

How was your May?  Any plans for June that you'd like to share?


  1. Sensational! Very envious of your farm lifestyle! We are dreaming that in the next few years we can have some acres of our own!

  2. It sounds like winter is well on it's way for you. It has been remarkably mild here in NZ except for a couple of really cold days last week. The grey skies are about to resume I am sure, and we will be shivering soon.

    Time to get some leek and potato soup on the stove.

    Julie Q

  3. I can share some of our experiences of hand milking if you let me now what you need

    1. thanks for the offer Marie, I contacted you through your blog...

  4. Do you still need someone to write about hand-milking a cow? My 18 yr old or hubby could possibly help with that. Hubby used to work on a dairy with machines, so he has experience with both. Both are good writers, although my daughter would have more time. Let me know...

    1. Should have mentioned...we also hand-milk goats so would have that comparison if that would be helpful.

    2. thanks for the offer! I'm going to try Marie first, as she offered first :)


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