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Showing posts from August, 2013

Ripening green tomatoes

It is mid winter and I have more tomatoes now than I did in summer!  I have a giant cherry tomato bush growing out of the compost and more growing in odd corners of the garden.  My main problem over winter is the occasional frost.  It only takes one bad frost to kill a tomato plant and ruin all the tomatoes.  I have been picking any large green tomatoes that I can find, and putting them in a bowl to ripen, rather than risk them being ruined on the plant. This has been very effective, as I am adding to the bowl a handful of green cherry tomatoes each day, and taking the ripe red tomatoes to use in cooking or putting them directly in the freezer to add to cooking later, I always have a few ripe tomatoes to use. this is the giant tomato bush, the compost is under there somewhere! These tomatoes are growing so well over winter, I'm wondering why I bother trying to grow them in summer.  Every year I battle humidity, hot weather, blossom end rot, and various bugs and beetles

Knitting socks on four double-pointed needles

Around this time last year, Linda from the  Greenhaven Goodlife  kindly sent me some wool and needles to make socks as part of her  one year anniversary giveaway  following on from Linda's own  sock knitting successes .  I made several attempts to start the first sock and I got this far before I put away the knitting in summer.  When I pulled out the sock to start again, I tried it on and realised that it was going to be one very long sock.  I think I added a lot of stitches as I went around and got all mixed up with ribbing the fine yarn.  So I unravelled the whole thing and thought about starting again. The first sock was going to be very long But this time I thought I'd better find the right pattern.  I was trying to use the pattern that was on the yarn label, but that was for five needles and Linda only sent me four needles.  In hindsight it probably would have been easier to just buy myself five needles, but I was determined to just use the four, so I went looking f

Enjoying winter slaw

Over winter we often find ourselves with a surplus of cabbage.  One thing that I like to make is coleslaw (or just slaw for short).  The coleslaw I remember as a child was just shredded cabbage, grated carrot and grated cheese (sometimes also raisins, apple and/or walnuts), saturated in mayonnaise.  Lately I have been experimenting with other ingredients..... It has to contain shredded cabbage to be a proper coleslaw, but I also like to included grated root vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, turnip, swede and radish.  I will also include other green leafy veges, like any asian greens, mustard greens and nasturtium leaves.  Mint and parsley finely chopped are also delicious.  I prefer to use an olive oil and vinegar dressing, with a few herbs or mustard seeds, it just tastes fresher and not as heavy as mayonnaise. What do you put in coleslaw?  What's your favourite salad combination?      

The truth about farming

Recently my blog-friend Ohio Farmgirl reposted an excellent post entitled " the truth about farming ", dedicated to her friend who had once said " evenings on your farm must be so relaxing ". That post really made me smile because I could relate to everything OFG was saying and its just nice to know that I'm not the only one who has chook poo on my jeans and dirt under my fingernails! evenings on your farm must be so relaxing Pete and I both work full time, so our farm doesn't have to make us a living.  But at the same time, we are trying to take care of our animals and prepare our food AND go to work.  I'm not sure which one is harder!  But I do know I'd rather be doing what I do than living in the city and relying on someone else to grow everything for me.  I like to know where my food comes from, and its particularly gratifying when we have a situation like the floods of the past few years, when we were cut off from town, with not a worry

Meal worms for chickens

One of our goals is to set up our farm to be self-sufficient, mainly because that the cheapest way to do things, and also because it means that we don't have to rely on external sources to provide what we need.  A weak point is the chickens.  Even though they provide us with plenty of tasty eggs and meat, we still have to buy grain to feed them, so that's not exactly a self-sufficient system.  I've been on the lookout for ideas for food that we can grow for the chickens to at least replace part of the grain we but for them. a couple of hens tasting the mealworms One thing that does make a difference is allowing the chickens to free-range, they eat far less grain.  I wrote a while ago about feeding the chickens only corn and sunflower seeds .  Since then I've read more about chicken nutrition, as it seems that they do need meat, or at least the amino acid methionine , as it is not found in significant proportions in grains or legumes.  The theory is that chickens a

Nutritionism - a book review

Does it seem to you that nutritional advice is constantly changing?  One moment eggs are bad, and then they're good again?  Low carbs or high carbs diet?  Do you wonder what you should actually be eating to maintain good health?  You're perfectly right, the advice really does keep changing, just like every other aspect of science, when new discoveries or information displace the old theories. One of the common misconceptions about the scientific method is that scientific theories are absolute truths. Unfortunately this is only encouraged by the popular media, and even government organisations, in their attempts to educate the public about the latest scientific findings. This is a particular problem for nutrition science, as unlike some more abstract areas of science, most people do take an interest in the latest nutrition advice and can find the regular changes quite confusing.  In Gyorgy Scinis’ book Nutrisionism - the science and politics of dietary advice , nutris

Homekill beef - is it worth it?

We got another steer killed a few weeks ago now, and I weighed all the cuts of meat so that I could work out the approximate value of the meat and compare the cost of raising a steer to the cost of buying all the meat from the butcher.   My article has been published on the Farm Style website , which is a FREE online community for small and hobby farmers to learn everything about farming and country living . If you want to know more, head over the Farm Style to  read the the article  and then come back here for comments and questions.  Do you raise steers?  Is it worth it?  Do you have any questions? More about our home butchering here .      

Permaculture - Integrate rather than segregate

Its time to consider the next principle from David Holmgren's  Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability .  This month we're up to "Integrate, rather than segregate".  As I said last month in  " Design from patterns to details ", these last few principles are about how to achieve a successful design and an optimised system. an established food forest that we visited, complete with several beautiful Australorp roosters The other principles that I've reviewed have been: Observe and Interact Catch and Store Energy Obtain a Yield Apply self-regulation and accept feedback Use and value renewable resources Produce no Waste This principle is so important to the permaculture concept, it reinforces the idea that we are designing a system and a system consists of parts that interact.  The two key ideas in this principle, which were first articulated by David Holmgren and Bill Molison in " Permaculture One ", are: Each el

Canning controversy!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my first attempts at canning/bottling tomato sauce .  That post attracted so many helpful comments, thank you everyone who took the time to tell me about their canning experiences and leave me lots of links to read.  The two controversial issues that came out of that post was the  use of secondhand jars and lids vs. new jars and lids , and the use of  open-kettle or overflow method .  My first thought was that my grandmother and mother have bottled food using old jars and the overflow method for nearly 100 years, so how could it be the wrong way?  But I thought I'd better do the research before I jumped to conclusions, so here's what I found out. First the open-kettle or overflow method, in which hot food is poured into hot jars and sealed with sterilised lids, is now not a recommended method, even though it appears to still be used quite regularly.  The issue with this method is that the air in the headspace has not been sterilised and may

Plastic free July - summing up

As I wrote back in June, I decided to participate in Plastic Free July properly this year and keep a "dilemma bag" with all the plastic that we still used, even though we were trying not to use any at all.  It is now time to look through the bag and analyse its contents..... Things that we managed to do without: muesli bar wrappers - by making homemade muesli bars rubbish bags ( lined bins with paper ) plastic cups (we don't buy anything in a cup and I always use a real cup when I make myself a drink) straws (again we never buy anything with a straw) shopping bags (used fabric bags, I put a stash in each car, so no excuses!) plastic bottles (we are in a very lucky position of producing our own milk, and I make fermented fizzy drinks and Pete makes beer, so we didn't have to buy any plastic bottles) plastic wrap (I used some of the tricks in this link ) Things that ended up in the dilemma bag and what I might do to reduce this waste: Various wrappi

Farm update - August 2013

Everything on the farm has been great, we've had odd patches of rain, we had Frank butchered and the freezers are full, the chickens are laying 6-7 eggs/day, so I have extra to sell, the garden is full of greens and root veges, I've been baking bread and making yoghurt.... our removal house has even moved onto our property and we can start work on it. the chickens enjoying mealworms that I'm growing for them a sample harvest basket the crazy guineas have been free-ranging the cattle enjoying their grain ration (and chickens ready to clean up spills) Molly destroying a hay bale and look how dark Monty is getting Here's Frank ready to go in the mobile cool-room Last week I concluded my series of interviews on "getting started with chickens" with a giveaway of my favourite chicken book.  I drew a winner from the comments on that post, and the winner is: Deb K :) Please contact me on eight.acres.liz at gmail dot com to arrange d

What's growing in my garden? August 2013

Last month I joined " The garden share collective " and gave you quite a detailed tour of the garden .  This month I hope to just update you on the highlights and changes since last month. In the first garden bed, we have harvested all the radishes (used up in salads and cooked - steamed or fried in butter - with other veges) and started harvesting the thinning carrots, swedes and turnips.  I've also planted shallots ( also known as spring onions ). leeks, carrots and turnips shallots In garden bed 2, I still just have a mass of self-seeded brassicas and lettuce, nasturtium, and the chilli plants are still going (and I discovered that the chickens will eat the chillies, because we have run out of ideas for using them!).  I'm harvesting multiple small broccoli heads, rather than waiting for big ones. In garden bed 3 I pulled out all the wheat that had grown out of the chicken litter, and planted celery, then the chickens got into the garden and dug