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Showing posts from June, 2015

Popular chicken posts on Eight Acres

Over the years I've been writing this blog, chickens have been a regular topic and there are a few themes that have been particularly popular.  See the post on my chicken tractor ebook blog for a summary of popular posts about: Chicken tractors Gender of chicks Guinea fowl Feeding chickens Butchering and cooking chickens 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 saf

How I use herbs - Brahmi

Brahmi ( Bacopa monniera ) is important in ayurvedic medicine and generally regarded as a nerve and brain tonic. How to grow Brahmi I purchased my brahmi plant as a small plant and it currently lives in a pot.  I have read that it prefers to live in damp conditions, so I keep it in a pot that I can move to suitable locations in the garden depending on the season.  When I have a pond, I think it would be a good one to plant around the edges.  Although it comes from a tropical climate, it seems to survive (but not thrive) in mildly frosty conditions. How I use Brahmi Brahmi has been used for a huge range of conditions (coughs, arthritis, backache, hair loss, insomnia etc), its main application is for brain and nervous system function.   Research has identified two active compounds , bacoside A and B which have been shown to improve circulation and nourish nerve cells respectively. One theory is that these compounds enhance of the effects of the neurotransmitters

What do you feed your dogs?

As I've lately been thinking about what I eat and about real food for humans , naturally the next question was how to feed real food to Taz, and what is real food for dogs? Taz pondering the question of real food for dogs I have gradually been paying more attention to the ingredients in dog food over the last few years.  We used to buy the big cans of dog food when they were on special at the supermarket and that's all Cheryl ate until I read Pat Coleby's "Natural Pet Care ", which recommended a plain kibble, with minimum additives.  I couldn't find the particular one that she mentioned, but I did switch Cheryl and Chime to a plain kibble.  I got the "old fat dog" version because they were both a little overweight.  Strangely they never lost any weight on this high carb, low fat diet (I can't believe I didn't work that one out earlier). When we got puppy Taz, she ate puppy nuts (as Pete calls dog kibble) for her first 12 months and t

I'm still not using shampoo

I stopped using shampoo in January 2012, I wrote about not washing my hair a few months later .  I hadn't done any research at the time, it was kind of my version of " do nothing farming " but for hair care.  I really did wonder what would happen if I did nothing.  For over a year, I washed my hair in water only.  It was quite a simple transition because at the time I was only using a very mild organic shampoo once a week anyway.  I didn't notice much difference between how my hair was without washing, and how it used to be by the end of the week (just before I washed it again).  It looked permanently like it kind of might need a wash soon, but it also just seemed to reach a certain level of oil and just stay like that, it doesn't get worse and worse, it seemed to me that it was a natural equilibrium and I was happy to leave it alone. I then started occasionally using our homemade soap , especially if we did any farm work that involved me getting actual dirt or

Managing house cow body condition

Dairy cows are naturally skinnier than beef cows. They are bred to produce milk, not meat! But it can be tricky to know whether your cow is too skinny, or too fat, as both can cause serious problems. If you are new to cows, you might not know if your cow is too skinny or too fat, or what her coat should look like if she's healthy.  Read more on my house cow ebook blog . 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 Bl

What you need to know about soil

The more you spend time gardening or farming, the more you start to think about soil, and improving your soil and growing more plants. Here’s a few things that I think you should know about your soil to get you started. What is soil? Soil is the mixture of ground-up rock and decaying plants and insects that support a myriad of life from earthworms and plants that you can see down to the teeny tiny microbes that you can’t see, but are just as important. Soil texture The texture of your soil is really just the size of the ground-up rock . The largest size is sand (0.2-0.02 mm), followed by silt (0.02-0.002 mm) and finally the smallest is clay (less than 0.002 mm). I often hear people say that they have “clay soil” when its hard to dig, but that really comes down to the next topic, soil structure. The best way to test your soil texture is what I call the sausage test (officially the “ ball and ribbon test ”). Try to roll some moist soil into a little ball between your hand

Guest post: Is there a place for power tools in the garden?

One of my regular readers and commenters offered to write a guest post about a horticulture course, its quite a funny read, with some serious insights into our technology obsession.  If you'd like to submit a guest post, email me at eight.acres.liz {at}  While I am always happy to share links back to your blog or website, this contributor preferred to remain anonymous.  I hope you enjoy their story.... -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**-  -**- Just a few days ago our daily horticulture classes were interrupted by an invitation to review some new gardening gadgets. The idea was to open half a dozen of electric hand trimmers , test them and fill in some review about their goods and bads. As nothing is more dear to a student – even a “hort “ one - to escape routine and mess around till lunchtime, we opened the boxes and got down to business. What did we have there? Eight toys ranging qualities from the very cheap to the smart

Slow living farm update - June 2015

Its June, nearly winter here and time for another slow living update. 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 May? Nourish You won’t believe this, but I have read Michael Pollan’s books “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defence of Food”. I actually read and reviewed "Cooked" back in 2013 , so when I saw these two at the library, I thought I should really catch up! I’m enjoying the discussion about farming and how it relates to our collective food supply. I will write more when I finish reading. I also reviewed David Gillespie’s “Eat Real Food” last week and I really hope that you eat real food, because it does make a huge difference to your well-being.. Prepare Lately we have had the woodstove burning most nights, and if we aren’t cooking something in the oven, we use it to dry things. Lately I have dried chilli flakes , semi-dried

Garden Share - June 2015

We had a lot of rain at the end of April/start of May, around 100 mm, which means dams are full on both properties and the garden is GREEN.  This is a great start to winter, which is typically a dry period.  We haven't had a frost yet, but its getting cooler and we have had the woodstove going most nights. I'm harvesting the greens from the seeds I tossed around the garden a couple of months ago.  Various asian greens (I don't know which is which!), silver beet, lettuce and kale (and a few radishes).  The celery I planted this time last year is still growing.  Chokos, chillies, rosellas and tromboncinos are still producing, but I don't expect that to last much longer.  The tomatoes in the hydroponics are producing bucket loads of tomatoes, and I have been drying what we can't eat immediately.  The peas are flowering, not long now I hope (they survive mild frost) and the broad beans are growing.  The chickweed is also taking over, I weed a small area at a time and