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Showing posts from April, 2015

Beekeeping books and resources

Pete and I have been seriously bee-curious ever since we visited the Valley Bees open day at Kandanga last year .  It was an excellent day and we learnt heaps.  They are planning to run it again later this year and I recommend it because these little insects are seriously fascinating(unless you don't want to come home with a bee obsession, then maybe you should avoid bee open days, and the rest of this post!). At the bee open day we bought two bee books, and since then I have borrowed every bee book in the Brisbane City library, read every bee related blog post I can find, we have listened to bee podcasts as we paint our house and we've bought more books, bee equipment and joined our local beekeeping group.  Yep, that's a serious case of bee-curiousness.  We don't actually have bees just yet (we might have to wait until spring, or we might be able to organise to buy an established hive a bit earlier) but I wanted to take the opportunity now to tell you a few thi

Treating chicken mites and lice

Recently I picked up one of our hens to check her for parasites and found her to be crawling with them.  So many that when I put her down, they were crawling on me too! Read what we did to treat our chickens naturally over on my chicken tractor ebook site . clue: we dunked the chickens in a natural oil, and they didn't like it! By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the  chicken tractor ebook blog .  Or you can get it directly from my shop on  Etsy  (.pdf format), or  Amazon Kindle  or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} What's the eBook about? Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.  A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe

How I use herbs - Rue, tansy and wormwood

I first got rue, tansy and wormwood for the chickens.  I read about them in  Backyard Poultry Naturally: A Complete Guide to Raising Chickens & Ducks Naturally  by Alanna Moore.   The only problem is that we use chicken tractors, so its not really practical to plant herbs near the chickens.  I tried cutting branches and throwing them into the chicken tractors, but the chickens ignored the herbs.  Then I noticed that the chickens were eating the herbs from my garden, but I had to fence them off so they didn't eat everything!  Eventually the herbs have grown through the fence, and the chickens can pick at what they need.  The herbs are natural worming agents for the chickens.  If you have a fixed chicken coop you can grow the herbs around the coop to deter insects.   Rue ( Ruta graveolens ) I bought rue as a seedling.  Rue is another wormer and insecticidal herb.  It is smaller than the other plants, and has dark green leaves and yellow flowers.  Rue has many reported med

Three day sickness in cattle

Recently our poor little steer Monty suffered from "three-day sickness", which is like a severe cattle man-flu.  He was depressed and didn't want to get up, but he was better after three days, which was a huge relief for us!   Read more about it on my house cow ebook blog here . You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy Interview with myself Interview with Mark and Kate from Purple Pear Permaculture Interview with Kim from the Little Black Cow Interview with Rose Petal Interview with Marie from Go Milk the Cow Interview with Ohio Farmgirl Buy my ebook "Our Experience with House Cows" on  Etsy ,  Lulu  and  Amazon , or email on eight.acres.liz at to arrange delivery.  More information on my  house cow ebook blog . Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows" Kim from the Little Black Cow Blog Fiona from Live at Arbordale Farm Marie from Go Milk the Cow

Weird vegetables in my sub-tropical garden

I've had some questions about the weird vegetables in my sub-tropical food garden , so here are some details for you.  I tend to try to find vegetables that grow well in the sub-tropics.   Perennial plants are ideal , but there are also a few unusual annuals that I grow.  I have received most of these as cuttings or seeds from friends and neighbours.  I find the best way to find out what will grow here is to talk to the locals, particularly our permaculture group, and take all opportunities to try unusual varieties because you might find something useful. Rosella Rosella (Roselle ( Hibiscus sabdariffa )) Rosella (as it is known in Australia) is a hibiscus.  It grows as a bush, about 1-2 m tall and 1 m wide.  The flowers are very pretty, and when they are finished the calyx grows and can be harvested before it starts to dry out.  I peel the calyx and dry it to make  rosella tea , or rosella ale .  Some people make jam or jelly as well.  Other parts of the plant are edible,

Knots for the homestead

As a former girl guide, from a scouting family, I know a few knots, and I’m always surprised by people who can’t tie knots. Knots are so important around the farm and homestead, we use them all the time and its worth knowing which knot to use and how to tie it properly. I wanted to share with you the knots that I use regularly, and in looking up references I was amazed by the number of knots listed  and the fact that there’s not even an official word for the study of knots . I guess they have just been around for a long time and used by practical people, there’s been no need to name it, just get on with tying them and doing what needs to be done. Here are the top four knots that I use a regular basis, and one more that I need to relearn. Taz on the back of the ute Reef knot (link) Let’s start with an easy one. Everyone knows a reef knot right? Right over left, left over right and you have a knot that is tidy and tight. Are you using it correctly though? A reef knot shou

Three simple ideas: Use less resources

A simple life, not to be confused with an easy life, is defined on Wikipedia as follows : Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions, generally referred to as Minimalism, or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they have rather than want. Last year I shared a series of posts about simple ideas for living a simple life, and I have one left to finish it off.  Here's what I posted already: Three simple ideas - Saving money on groceries Three simple ideas - Learning basic skills Three simple ideas - Eating local and seasonal Three simple ideas - Cooking from scratch Three simple ideas - Growing your own food Simple: consciously reduce plastic consumption The first step is to be aware of just how much plastic you consume.   Plastic Free July is an excellent way to do this, buy collectin

Garden Share - April 2015

March was our last chance to get some decent rain and we did get around 100 mm altogether at Kumbia, but only about 30 mm at Nanango (where the garden is!).  So we have full dams at Cheslyn Rise, but Eight Acres is looking a little dry as we move into winter.  We had some very hot days in March as well, but it seems to be cooling down now. The chokos have really got started properly now, and I have had to bring bags of them into work just to get rid of them.  Cheryl the dog likes them, and the chickens and cattle will eat them if you cut them in half.  I also seem to have done something right with the rosellas this year, as I'm harvesting plenty to dry for tea.  I'm still harvesting the celery I planted over a year ago (I don't worry about blanching it, I just pick the larger stems), a few tromboncinos , lettuce and warrigal greens.  I pulled out all the bean plants but one.  And there are plenty of herbs growing too.  We are waiting impatiently for the hydroponic

Slow living farm update - April 2015

March is over and its time for another slow living update already.  Once again I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine,  started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials  and currently hosted by  Linda at Greenhaven . How was your March? Nourish I wanted to try to make some "Paleo" crackers, something tasty using nuts and seeds in the dehydrator.  I used this recipe  and I was surprised how well they held together. I added macadamia nuts, garlic, seaweed powder, chia seeds and hemp seeds and they were delicious.  Relatively easy to make too, just blend everything and spread it out in the dehydrator. Prepare As you know, I grow lots of herbs , I cut them regularly and dry the excess.  I keep some to use as dried herbs, but I also make herbal teas.   Rosella and ginger is a favourite .  I actually started growing rosella just because I wanted to make tea from it!  Previous years I haven't had a decent harvest, but this year I've done something r