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Showing posts from January, 2014

Permaculture - Produce no Waste - with Linda from Greenhaven

Linda from Greenhaven shares her take on the permaculture principle "Produce no Waste".  Linda has a wonderful blog about her garden, chickens, fermenting, and more recently, homeschooling her kids, but my favourite post is her permie poem ...   If you would like to write a quest post about Permaculture , please send me an email at eight.acres.liz at gmail dot com. The last guest post was Chris from Living at Gully Grove . Here's what Linda has to say about Produce no Waste: If you are new to permaculture, let me tell you that it is a design system which makes sense. A way to live which works in a fair, connected and thoughtful way. (Thoughtful of people and the world in which we live. It has twelve principles which inter-relate to create a true synergy and can be applied to many different areas of life. While I have chosen to talk about principle six, throughout this post I will incidentally speak about many of the principles. To save me repeating

Cattle fencing tips for small farms

While I like to use electric fencing for quick temporary fences, I do think its important to have a strong permanent fence for the boundary, around the house yard and, on a larger property, other fences to divide the property into paddocks. This ensures that your cattle stay on your property even if your internal electric fence fails (for example, it the battery runs flat). For cattle, barbed wire is essential, at least four strands, if not five. Animal mesh can also be used, especially if you also keep goats or sheep, but be aware that cattle can climb over mesh by stepping on each section and gradually pulling it down (it sounds ridiculous, but I have seen this happen a couple of times), so a barbed wire top strand is needed to prevent fence climbing. To read the rest, see my article on Farm Style . Anything to add?

Branding our cattle - Part 1 - registering a brand in QLD

Let me just say at the start that I do not see the need for branding our cattle. Now that digital ear tags are compulsory as part of the NLIS (National Livestock Identification System), branding seems completely obsolete. However, in QLD, if we want to sell any cattle over 100kg (and we surely will want to sell them all eventually), they must be branded, and so we brand them.  I have contacted the RSPCA over this issue and they say that they support dry-ice branding  as a better option, however these systems are expensive and difficult to set up, requiring access to dry ice, which is not practical for farmers in remote locations.  And they are still painful for the cattle.  I hope that they are really working behind the scenes to outlaw this barbaric practice altogether, as it seems to be optional in some other states already. It is really just a waste of farmers’ time, as we have to tag the animals anyway (which is quicker than setting up a branding furnace!), cruel to the animal

Silent Spring - book review

Silent Spring  was written in 1962 at a time when herbicides and pesticides had just started to enter mainstream production. They were being used indiscriminately and the devastating effects were starting to be obvious. It is shocking now to read that chemicals which are no longer available for general use were once sprayed out of aeroplanes, over forests, lakes, cities, and farms. These chemicals killed insects, birds, fish, domestic pets, farm animals, and no doubt, caused many people to get sick, if not die, as a result. And even with this clear evidence of the danger of such chemicals, Silent Spring was accused (and still is) of being hysterical and exaggerating the risk. In my view, Rachel Carson was far ahead of her time, in using the limited understanding of genomics and human metabolism at the time to predict that many of these chemicals were primary causes of cancer, as well as various environmental and health problems. This is a case of profit being put before human and

Surviving the QLD Heat Wave(s)

I’ve always said that I’d rather be cold than hot. I have had plenty of opportunity to test this theory during the recent heat wave in QLD (over Christmas and New Years, its been a little overshadowed now that southern states are experiencing their own heatwave, but to be honest, it hasn't really cooled down here either). Yep, definitely still don’t like being hot, although my tolerance is improving, 35degC now feels mild after the temperatures we experienced over Christmas and New Year (while bloggers in the US were writting about suffering through a polar blast). Fortunately we did not reach the highs achieved further west or down south (over 45degC in places), but we did get above 40degC on several days, which is plenty hot enough. Each day of summer, no matter how hot it is, we force ourselves to put on our jeans, boots and long sleeves and venture outside to tend to animals, although we do try to spend the hottest part of the afternoon inside, waiting for the sun t

How I use Permaculture - with Chris from Gully Grove

Chris from Living at Gully Grove shares some excellent examples of using permaculture design principles to improve her property, as a response to my invitation to guest post about permaculture. If you have something to contribute that could help others learn how to use permaculture at their place, please send me an email eight.acres.liz at, and I'll send you some more details. A family of three (now four) left suburbia in 2007, to start life on five acres. We could only afford degraded bushland on slopes, which has proven to be a lesson in how natural systems work. The only way we could live harmoniously with the challenging terrain, was by implementing some clever permaculture designs. It's a constantly evolving process too. We dubbed our little patch “Gully Grove”, simply because gullies are the natural terrain here, and planting groves in them, are our solution to avoiding degradation. Personally, I never wanted to be a Permaculture convert, but curiosity le

Ginger syrup

Eating real food is always a compromise.  Soft drink is obviously a bad choice, its full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, and various artificial colours, flavours and additives.  If I feel like something fizzy, I usually drink one of my fermented fizzy drinks , however these are not to everyone's taste.  Specifically, Pete doesn't like them, but he doesn't want to drink soft drink either, so he's been buying cordials to mix with the fizzy water he makes with his beer keg carbon dioxide (see what happens when I leave him alone in the house during the week!).  Personally I don't think that cordials are much better than soft drinks, the only advantage is that you can make a more dilluted drink and not have quite as much rubbish if your drink.  I've tried to get him into apple cide vinegar, but he's not a fan of than either! I decided to try to make a better version of cordial, which might at least have some goodness in it.  If you put enough sugar in

How I use herbs

My herb garden has grown from a few herbs in pots to over 30 different herbs (depending on your definition of herbs), some in pots, some in permanent spots in the garden, and some self-seeding where-ever they please. I have come to use herbs in cooking, preserving and fermenting, in herbal teas, and in various other applications around the house and garden, both for their taste and their healing properties, and as natural alternatives to stronger chemicals. As my interest in herbs has grown, I have also collected a number of herb books. I started with Isobel Shippard’s comprehensive How Can I Use Herbs in my Daily Life? , and added to this several more from markets and op-shops. I’m no herb expert, but I would like to start to share what I have learnt so far and maybe interest you in some of the more unusual herbs in my garden and some less obvious applications for them. I’ve decided to feature a herb (or a group of herbs) each month and write in detail how and where it grows a

Permaculture - an invitation

Each month in 2013 I reviewed a principle from David Holmgren's  Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability .  If you missed them, here they all are: Observe and Interact Catch and Store Energy Obtain a Yield Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback Use and Value Renewable Resources Produce no Waste Design from Patterns to Details Integrate, Rather than Segregate Use Small and Slow Solutions Use and Value Diversity Use edges and value the marginal Creatively Use and Respond to Change Reading the book, one chapter at a time, over a whole year, really made me think about each principle.  Not just the practical aspects, but the wider social implications.  I had some great discussions with readers along the way, and I think that really deepened my understanding of permaculture. Now I want to turn it over to you readers.  I think everyone has their own version of permaculture and their own thoughts to add, so I'm hoping to get some volunteers t

Fermented mustard

I have been wanting to try making mustard, but my plans involved growing my own mustard seed.... and that just hasn't happened yet, so I realised I was just going to have to try it with some bought mustard seeds, not organic or anything, oh well. The recipe is pretty simple, just combine 1/2 cup of mustard seeds, 1/3 cup of water, 2 T organic unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, 1 T raw local honey, 2 T whey from raw milk cream cheese (or kefir or yoghurt), 1 t sea salt, a little garlic and lemon juice, in the blender and whiz until it reaches the desired consistency. The only difference between this fermented mustard and other mustard, is the addition of the whey.  You need to leave the jar of mustard at room temperature for a few days to allow it to ferment slightly.  You can't taste the fermentation, but it will help the mustard to last longer. Fermented mustard is the accompaniment to homegrown beef steak!  Especially if you are trying to avoid the high-sugar sauce opti

Farm update January 2014

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had a good break.  We haven't had the best start to the year with the weather so far, two weeks of heat wave and very little rain is not ideal, but I keep thinking the rain will come eventually. Irrespective of the heat wave, Pete wanted to get some work done on our house at Eight Acres and that involved me having to climb on the roof, so I thought I'd take a few photos from up there, as its a perspective that you don't get very often! looking out to the round yard and the chicken tractors looking up the driveway and the hugelkulture on the right looking across to our water tanks and the garden is a little shady oasis in the brown grass Apart from the horrible heat, there are some good things about summer: mango season Going to the beach kangaroos at the beach gum tree blossom Back at the farm, did I mention it as hot?  We are feeding the Brafords molasses, copra meal, minerals and countless bales of ha