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Farm update - April 2014

In Australia March is the beginning of Autumn, although the Autumnal equinox is not unitl the 21st.  Lets just say I didn't notice much of a change from summer.  We even had another heat wave day over 35degC!  The weather was consistently hot and dry, I think we got a few mm of rain the day before the super-hot day, so that would have evaporated pretty quickly.  The yard dried out until it was almost just dust with some dried grass.  Then we got a little bit of rain in the last week, around 100 mm over several days, which has topped up our rainwater tanks, soaked into the ground and recharged the dams (although they were VERY low prior to the rain, so they are not yet full).  The wet season 2014 didn't start until March - better late than never!

Our driveway at Cheslyn Rise looking from the house towards the road
Taz isn't worried about the weather!
Neither is Cheryl when there's "ball" to play
Except when its hot and then any shade will do
And Cheryl doesn't mind a cold bath on a hot day

We rounded up our weaner calves and sold them privately.  It was a huge relief to have them gone.  We gave the braford cows a couple of weeks to recover some condition on our last good paddock, and they were next to the saleyards, apart for a few really skinny ones.  Our main focus now is looking after our house cows and the steers for our own eating.  Molly's milk production has decreased and Ruby is taking enough milk now that Pete doesn't have to milk every day, just once a week when we need some milk.

Weaner calves ready to sell
Ruby and the cows in the background

The big chickens are moulting, but we are still getting enough eggs to eat and a few to sell.  The chicks that we hatched are getting bigger and will be ready to free-range soon.  We still have three adult guinea fowl and seven keets.... we are rethinking their housing arrangements.

Big rooster has lost his tail

crazy guineas!
little chicks getting bigger

I will write about the garden next Monday, although there's not much to tell...

not much in the garden!

I have started some herb-infused olive oil so I can make some beeswax ointment, I've haven't tried it before, so it will be interesting!  And the other week I tried a gluten-free bread mix (because I had eaten way to much wheat and was not feeling great), I was surprised how good it turned out using my normal bread method (mix in a bread maker, leave dough for 6 hours with a little kefir added, bake in the BBQ).

herb-infused olive oil

gluten free bread mix (ingredients: maize starch, potato starch,
flaxseed flour, psyllium, pea proteinn)

Blogs I enjoyed last month

Homestead in Africa

Making our Sustainable Life

And a new organic shop at Brisbane's West End: Marcia's on Montague

I feel like this year has been huge already, the weight of the dry weather and extra animal management work has really taken its toll.  I am looking forward to cooler days and a few days off over Easter and ANZAC day.  I know the US has had a horrible cold winter, which holds its own stress too, and you will no doubt be looking forward to spring.

How was your  March?  What are you looking forward to in April?


  1. Things are looking good, it must be nice not to have to feed so many cattle! It is just warming up here, I am going to get the garden ready in April and cut firewood for next winter. So glad it has warmed up some.

    1. thanks Gil you must be looking forward to getting your garden started again!

  2. I am so glad you got some rain! That must have been a huge relief after this dreadful summer. It does take some time for the grass to grow again though. Let's hope there's more wet to come. Is that another pregnant Jersey I spot behind your calf?

    1. haha, yes that's Bella due in June-ish... there's always a pregnant jersey around!

  3. Glad you got some rain though guessing still below average.
    Your blog seems to highlight the farmer dilemma - even with best intentions the weather can spoil your plans for happy healthy stock.

    Guinea fowl seem to have very mixed reviews - I'm guessing where I am too many predators and the noise may annoy me.

    My garden is only just coming back from near death (carrying buckets gets old very fast).

    I have to ask - where did Taz steal her ears from? Clearly they don't fit - was it a bat?

    I wish that you get a few good seasons - the law of averages hopefully but nature never does play individually fair.


    1. Thanks Clare :) we are assuming that she will grow into her ears, in the meantime her nickname is "radar"...

  4. I've gone gluten free since realising I'm gluten sensitive. I've also had to cut back the dairy, which is okay, because I can still eat some. I recently discovered GF bread mix packets too, and for the first time in ages, I'm loving making home-made bread again.

    If you really want an amazing loaf, filled with extra vitamins and minerals, take 1/4 cup each of flax and chia seeds in a bowl. Pour 1 and 1/4 cups boiling water on top, stir and then place a saucer over the bowl. Let it stand for an hour or until cooled. Once you've followed the mixing instructions on your GF bread mix, add the seed goop and stir until combined. I did mine in the food processor, so not sure how that's done in a bread machine.

    You'll need a slightly bigger loaf tin to accommodate the seeds. I also turned my oven down to 160 degrees C, when it suggested 190 degrees C and cooked for an hour, as opposed to 35 minutes per instructions. We got a lovely, chewy loaf that is better than any purchased GF loaf at the store. We have butter on ours because the seeds have so much texture and flavour, it really doesn't need anything else.

    In April, we're preparing for both our kids birthdays, which falls within 2 weeks of each other in May. Apart from that, I'm looking forward to renovating one of our permanent chicken coops to make it into our main compost area. We're incorporating the chickens with the compost, because they'll turn it over more times than we ever could! They should also keep the vermin away, which will also keep the snakes away. Gotta love chickens. :)

    1. Forgot to mention, I have a fan forced oven, so for regular ovens, they may need 10 degrees more temp.

    2. thanks Chris! I just made a plain one for my first try, but I want to add seeds in future, yum!

  5. I've been thinking of you when it started raining, at last, at our place. We've greened up so much, I hoped you had gotten the same amount about 180mm so far. Enough to restore my faith in the rain water tank to start planting the veggie patch again. Hang in there! Cheers Marijke

    1. Thanks Marijke, that's great that you can garden again, its so sad when water is the limiting factor...

  6. Wonderful photos Liz, I especially love the dog pics... they are happy dogs, big smiles on their faces. Glad you have had some rain, hopefully more will keep coming for all of us. Love those Guineas too. Love reading your posts.

    1. Thanks Jane, I love Cheryl's smile, its had to be sad when your dog looks as happy as that!

  7. Hmmm....... did you say you baked your bread in the BBQ? Interesting! How?
    I am happy to report that our rainy season finally started here in California - about three months too late! Our reservoirs are only about 1/3 full and our snow pack (where most of the water comes from to fill the reservoirs) is dismal. But, on the bright side, at least we are getting some rain now!
    I love the dog pictures! Cheryl looks like she should be saying "Aaahhhhhhh" in that bathtub pic!

  8. We have a weber BBQ with a lid, so its like an oven, I can bake and roast thing in it :) Glad to hear you're getting rain too.


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