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Showing posts from December, 2014

Four years of blogging!

I’m going to say something really obvious here (just warning you), I can’t believe I’ve been posting on this blog for four whole years! I feel like its a massive milestone for me, and also a time to reflect. I do find that I tend to get a little obsessed about the stats on my blog. I love to watch the numbers increasing, the numbers of followers, pages views and likes on facebook, but that is not a REASON to blog, and I think it can distract me from my reasons I started and continue this blog. I started writing the blog because I wanted to share what Pete and I were learning about farming and self-reliance. I didn’t know about homesteading or prepping at the time, I just thought we had some experience that might be useful to other people. To be honest, I didn’t know ANYTHING about blogging when I started, I only began to read other blogs and comment so that they would visit my blog! But then I discovered how much I could learn from other blogs, and I’ve made a few blo

Reading books in 2014

I read a lot of books, and I like to share with you the ones that I think will be useful.  I know that there are many things that you need to learn by doing rather than reading, but I still learn an awful lot from reading!  You can find  all my book reviews here , also please see my  Amazon book shop  (links to a page on my blog) if you want to browse the books I recommend.  If you purchase through my site I get a small percentage as Amazon book vouchers (so it goes straight to buying more books for me to review!) and it doesn't cost you any extra. Here's what I read in 2014 Valley Bee open day - learning about bee keeping Silent Spring - book review Teaming with Microbes - book review Keeping a family cow - book review The Stockmen - The making of an Australian legend Can cows save the planet? - book review Which Joel Salatin book should I read? Reviews of homesteading and real food books A garden book and a cook book that I think you'll li

Simple living in 2014

As we all know, simple living is not simple!  Here's all the posts I've shared about the things going on in our life and what we try to do to increase our self-reliance and preparedness. The house Stairs for our removal house Renovation update - our new/old Queenslander Plastic free July and a plastic concious life Plastic Free - Personal care, toiletries and other... Plastic Free - Recycling and reducing rubbish Plastic Free - Food shopping and food storage Plastic Free - cleaning products Plastic free - wrap up Sewing, knitting, crocheting and creating Knitting - how to handle a hank of yarn Knitting is a survival skill Easy knitted arm warmers (double pointed needles) Hand sewing - replacing a button Hand sewing - hems of skirts and trousers I'm hooked! Learning to crochet... Making a dressmaker's dummy Lavender wheat heat packs Soap making and other body stuff A natural deodorant solution How to rebatch a soap disaster Healing herba

Growing food in 2014

Growing food in 2014 has been a challenge, but I think 2013 prepared me for the worst.  Our climate is both freezing in winter and dry and hot in summer, so planning for both extremes is not easy.  I am gradually learning what does grow well, when and how to get the most from our greywater.  I've written about climate and farming, as well as vege gardening.  And I've written about one herb every month, which has helped me to learn more about the herbs in my garden.  Here's what I wrote about growing food in 2014: Growing vegetables Setting up another worm farm Growing and eating chokos (chayotes) Seed saving and seed swap Does growing vegetables save you money?   Our frustrating climate Surviving the QLD Heat Wave(s) Can't buy me rain.... Frost - what is it and how to manage it Thoughts on farming Who is a farmer? Deadstock My Herb Garden How I use herbs How I use herbs - Mint, Peppermint and Spearmint How I use herbs - Al

Real food in 2014

I wrote surprisingly little about food in 2014, maybe I didn't get so much time to experiment.  We certainly ate a lot of real food, even though I've been travelling to Brisbane during the week, we still cook bulk meals over the weekend, so that we can both eat well during the week.  We try to cook with meat from our freezer (mostly our animals, but also locally raised meat), from our garden and from swaps and barters.  We spend very little at the supermarket and that makes me very happy.  We cook either in the woodstove (winter), the slow cooker or the Webber BBQ and rarely use our electric oven.  Here's what I wrote about food in 2014: Meat Cooking old chooks Should you eat animal products? Veges Dried garlic granules How to sprout - Fenugreek How to sprout - chickpeas (garbanzo beans) Fermenting Fermented mustard Using a sourdough cake starter for everything My soaked dough bread recipe Kombucha - fermented tea is not for me! Dairy Cheese-making tips an

Our animals in 2014

On our farm we have dogs, cattle (the house cows being a special category) and the chickens (also guinea fowl until recently).  They all offer entertainment and learning opportunities.  This is what I wrote about our animals in 2014. The dogs - Cheryl and Taz What I've learnt about puppies Training our Taz - puppy months and dog years Dog box update Happy Birthday Puppy Taz! The cattle Cattle fencing tips for small farms Solar electric fence energiser How to join electric fence polywire Branding our cattle - Part 1 - registering a brand Branding our cattle - Part 2 - how to brand Animal behaviour and staying safe around cattle Keeping a bull on a small farm Lantana poisoning killed our little bull How to give an injection to livestock The house cows (special cattle) How to tell if your house cow is on heat House cow milking schedule The story of our house cows The story of our cows - Part 2 And my ebook "Our experience wi

How I use herbs - lemon balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and even though I already wrote about mint, peppermint andspearmint in my garden , at the time I didn’t have lemon balm. I only recently got a cutting from Pete’s parents and its doing really well in my garden now. It hasn’t flowered for me yet, but apparently the genus name (Melissa) is Greek for 'honey bee', because the flowers attract bees. How to grow lemon balm Lemon balm is propagated very easily by root division. It has similar requirements to mint, preferring a cool damp area of the garden. If you grow it in a pot, make sure that the soil stays moist. It doesn’t spread with runners like mint, but just grows into a larger clump, so it is easier to control. Keep pruning the excess growth to keep it as a small bush and not too tall. I have read that lemon balm is frost sensitive, but mine grew through winter here, so maybe it can tolerate light frost, and it can grow back after a cooler wint

Slow Living farm update - December 2014

November is over and I'm joining in the  Slow Living Monthly Nine ,  started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials  and currently hosted by  Linda at Greenhaven .  Here's what we got up to November in our "slow life"! Nourish We had another fun morning at the Nanango markets and come home with lots of local food - a box of apples from Stanthorpe, a braid of chemical-free garlic from down the road, bananas from Wamuran, blueberries from Mullumbimby, chevon (goat meat) from Gympie, corn and potatoes from the Lockyer Valley, olives from Murgon, mangoes from Northern Territory (oops, that's not local, but they were a nice treat), and lots lots more Prepare I've been sewing on buttons , mending holes and adjusting hems .  I think these are all very useful skills and its good to practice them, I've been sharing a few tips along the way.  I'm looking forward to taking on some larger sewing projects once I have my mending out of the way.

Garden Share - December 2014

November was long and hot, with strong winds and very little rain.  Some areas around us had a decent storm, with 50-100 mm, but we missed out, so had to keep the garden going with grey water and a little tank water.  The extra shade cloth has made a huge difference, as has my sunken herb garden.  I also downsized early and only water the two middle garden beds, everything else is struggling, but its better to keep two good beds than four average ones.  For a few plants around the outside I used upturned beer bottles filled with water every few days.  Its not classy, but it keeps the soil moist. For that reason, the harvest has not changed much.  Mostly kale, silver beet and herbs.  I finally picked the three lemons on my potted lemon tree and they were delicious.  We had a few beans and cherry tomatoes, but not much yet.  I can see the first button squash forming and a promising watermelon, so we just have to keep up the water and we might have more to harvest next month. I'