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Slow living farm update - October 2014

I'm joining in again with the Slow Living Monthly Ninestarted by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and currently hosted by Linda at Greenhaven.  Its been interesting to try to write under each of the nine categories, I think it will get easier each month


Mid-month we had our mobile butcher come for Romeo the steer. After a big morning of meat packing, we now have about 290 kg of meat and bones in the freezer. I have learnt to prepare our own seasonings, so that we don’t have to use the commercial stuffing and sausage mix that our butcher provides (I try to decline as nicely as possible!). For the rolled roasts I made a stuffing with breadcrumbs (from failed loaves of homemade bread!), hemp seeds, garlic, and dried herbs. We bought organic sausage mix again this year, and natural hog casings, and the sausages are the best ever. I’m so lucky that our butcher indulges me!


Penguin has sent me Heirloom Vegetables: A guide to their history and varieties, by Simon Rickard, to review. I was expecting more photos and less writing, its really been a treat to read all the history behind many of the heirloom vegetables that I grow, or would like to grow, but I’m still in the second chapter of many. I will write the full review as soon as I get a chance to read the rest of the book! Briefly, heirloom seeds have been saved for many many generations and they represent food-security if we continue to save seed from plants that do well in our particular climate. I like the idea of saving seeds better than stockpiling food, which will eventually run out.


Our butcher cuts all the bones into suitable chunks for our dogs and we usually use up old shopping bags to pack them in the freezer. This year, we literally ran out of suitable shopping bags because I have been making such an effort to take reusable bags to the supermarket, we just haven’t been bringing home bags! This was very gratifying. I absolutely recommend the fregie sack for your fruit and vegetables.

We also separated Molly from her calf Ruby to begin drying off and weaning respectively. So our house milk supply will reduce, actually cease completely. This is our fault for not managing our cows – Bella should have had another calf by now and we hadn't realised that she wasn't pregnant. Molly is supposed to be pregnant too, but our new little bull is taking a massive interest in her, so maybe not. She is getting too skinny though, so it was time to give her a break from her calf. We will get back into a more sensible schedule in a few years... meanwhile, we will be buying organic milk and no doubt reducing our consumption!  We will miss having so much milk from our own cows!


Still talking about the butcher (it was a BIG day!), this time we remembered to ask for the kidney fat, and I chopped it up and rendered it in the slow cooker right away, as well as putting some other chunks of fat in the freezer for later. We still have some left from the last animal, so I was very pleased to see that fat from one animal will make enough tallow soap to last us the entire year. I am looking forward to experimenting and making some nicer soaps to use for gifts.  Pete and I made one already, and I am feeling more confident after my last soap disaster!


Last month I planted seeds and I had a bit of trouble. I wanted to put the seed tray in the mini greenhouse to stay warm, but a mouse dug up my seeds, so I put them inside, but then they dried out. Some seeds sprouted but didn't really grow much, but in the end it just didn’t work out and I had to start again. I also panicked a little bit about not having veges started as early as I would like (I need to get them established before it gets blisteringly hot and dry in my garden), and I bought some bush bean and button squash seedlings, which I split up into small pots and put in the mini greenhouse to get a bit bigger. I also dug up some tomato seedlings that sprouted from the compost and put them in pots. I was getting desperate at that stage!  But then some of my seeds did sprout, so I will have lots of beans and squash and at least one rosella. The problem with buying seedlings is the limited choice, there are so many unusual veges that I would like to grow.


I keep getting distracted by learning to crochet and wanting to try knitting arm-warmers, but I am still working on the alpaca wool shawl in the lacey knit. Last month I thought I was doing well, as I’d started on the second ball, but then I noticed a hole, and the hole kept getting bigger, and I realised that it was a run that was about to destroy the entire shawl. I did try to save it, but then I found another hole, so I had to unravel the entire thing and start again! This time I am working more slowly and trying very carefully to stick to the pattern and not drop any stitches. At this rate I am adding about 5-10 cm per week. Its slow progress, but I am determined to finish it before I start anything else.


Last month I posted a seed swap and I’ve had four requests for swaps (and already received and planted some of those seeds), so there is plenty of seed left if anyone else would like to swap.  Just check out my list of seeds and send me an email at eight.acres.liz at


We took our puppy Taz to a cattle dog training day. I’ll write more about it soon. She was not a model student, but Pete and I found it very interesting. Neither of us have spent much time with working dogs, so we enjoyed seeing what a good dog could do and how they should be trained.


We were invited to go camping with some friends at a local campground, about halfway between our place and theirs. It was lovely to catch up and the dogs had a good time too.

A few new (to me) blogs October

Live cheaper day by day

Farm Brews

How was your September?  What are your plans for October?


  1. Hi Liz, I'll be back to read your post soon. I just wanted to let you know that I've posted the link up if you want to pop your name on there. You beat me to it today! I'm off to do farmy chores and will look forward to reading your month when I'm finished.

  2. Wow! 290kg! I can't imagine how busy you must have been!! It's great to read about how much you do and your persistence with learning new skills. I must swap some lard soap for some tallow soap one of these days.

    1. It is an awful lot of meat, but we have learnt to prepare these days! Yes, let's swap, I'll send you an email :)

  3. When we finally get our cow done I am not sure we will be able to be picky, to be honest I will just be glad to have it done. But that does remind me to get some bags from somewhere for bones. Bugger about the run in the shawl but slow and steady and it will be great.

  4. We too have a problem with mice eating our seeds it's a pain isn't it? It is really interesting to read about your life with cows, I wonder how much is thrown away when a cow is slaughtered rather than making use of all the parts as you do?

    1. Good question! Actually I think the abattoirs do try to use most of the animal for maximum profit. They certainly process the hides to leather, bones make "blood and bones", fat is rendered to tallow which is used in soap, offal is sold or goes into pet food. Home butchering is nearly MORE wasteful because there was an amount of fat leftover that we couldn't use and had to be buried, which I think would go into blood and bone or rendered by an abattoir.

  5. I really must try making soap on a bigger scale. I have dabbled a bit, but I am reluctant when it comes to using lye. I really don't know why as so many people are making soap with no dramas lol! I would also like to make some for gifts.

    Such a shame about your shawl, it is frustrating when something like that happens. You have more patience than me, I would have put it away in a cupboard for a while...


    1. I was reluctant to use lye too, because of all the WARNINGS! The main thing is to read the instructions very carefully and wear protective clothing and goggles when handling the lye. And after a few batches it gets easier.

  6. Great post as always. We haven't enough land for cows but hopefully pig and sheep next year. It's nice reading about you guys planting while our season is winding down, mice are driving me crazy as well at the moment.
    Sounds like you've got a good butcher there.

    1. Yes, that's what I like about reading your blog Kev, opposite seasons :)

  7. Your puppy is so cute. Your knitting is lovely, shame about the hole. Good luck finishing it before starting anything else - I never manage to be that disciplined.
    That book sounds really interesting.

    1. haha, its my aim to finish it..... we will see!


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