Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Some photos

Since I have been pretty slack updating this blog, here are some more pictures of our baby goats, they are growing up so fast!

Peter and Heidi, about a week old

Peter and Heidi, plus the older babies Clover and Violet almost 2 months old
mums and their babies
Our chickens are also growing up, and with some luck there will be ducklings next month.

chickens growing up, note some of them are naked-necked.

chooks in their electronet enclosure - note the naked necked rooster - father of the chickens.

happy chooks and their chookshaw.  
We have been adding more beds, more irrigation etc to our garden, here is the progress, with tomatoe beds in the background - 58 plants all individually drip irrigated.  3 beds of 8 plants, in the process of being set up for capsicum and chilli.  To the right of these are 8 beds of potatoe, which are growing well, these are irrigated with impact sprinklers.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

New life

Hello there!  I think every blog update in the last few years has begun the same way, with an apology!  But here I go, I am sorry for not updating our blog for AGES!

So, now that we have that out of the way, what has been happening on the farm since I last updated.

We have had goat babies.  Two sets of twins,of which three are girls (our first girls, which is great as we will eventually be able to milk them).  They are very cute!  So now we are getting plenty of milk and I'm getting back into making cheese, and other dairy delights like cajeta (a mexican goat's milk caramel which is very good).  I like making fetta, soft ricotta type cheese for cheesecakes and haloumi.  But I want to experiment a bit more this year and try some other types.

girl and boy twins - Heidi and Peter

twin girls - Clover and Violet and their mum Rosie
First chickens have hatched, about 9-10 (its hard to count chickens!).  We have a naked-neck rooster, and these are all his chicks, a mix of fully feathered and naked necked chicks.  Our son who loves all the more 'ugly' creatures is very happy, our daughter who loves the classic 'cute and furries' thinks they are ugly! I actually just think some of them look ridiculous, but as long as they lay eggs, I don't overly care what they look like!

Our old trusty mother hen and her chickens
The garden has been taking up most of our weekends at the moment, and much of my weekdays too.  We are being all professional this year, and we are setting up irrigation and even using weed matting for our tomatoes, capsicum and chilli.  We are using both impact sprinklers and drippers and it is quite fun setting it up, although lots of work (and time - everything takes so much time!).  About half the summer garden is planted now.

Tomatoes planted in weed matting with stakes and drip irrigation
It looks somewhat professional!!!
At this point in time the rains are still falling (an improvement on last year, when at this time it was very hot and dry), so things are looking good for a great growing season ahead.  Our polytunnel is growing great, and we have tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinni, watermelon, capsicum and chilli all growing, as well as bananas, citrus, strawberries and passionfruit.  When the sun is out it easily gets up to 30-35C, so all the heat loving plants are pretty happy!

Our fish pond in the polytunnel with water lilies.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The last year

Hello There!
Its hard to believe nearly a whole year has passed since I last updated this blog, sincere apologies if you check in here every now and then.  This last year has simply flown by in a flurry of business, the likes of which I could not possibly imagine!  Fingers crossed that the next year will be slower and easier, but that's not likely, although I live in hope....

So one major reason for my absence is the arrival of our fourth child, another girl, who arrived here on the farm on christmas evening. She has settled in fine, but sure has taken up a chunk of time.

My vegetable garden was a mixture of success and failures, but as I tell my kids we learn a lot more from failure than success, so I am sure learning lots!  Our biggest issue here has been water, so this year we installed a 115,000L water tank, which is now 2/3 full.  That should make keeping the garden alive easier, especially since we have also gone high tech and bought a pump and sprinklers!  My days of watering by watering can are OVER!  My other major issue has been rabbits.... and while we have STARTED on a fence it wont be finished in time for this year's garden, so I'm not going to bother planting crops that they eat, like peas and bean, and grain crops.

Our polytunnel is now officially finished, with doors, sprinklers and lots of plants (including bananas, coffee plants, lemon grass and a few other warmer climate plants.  They like the more balmy conditions inside the tunnel, although the snow we had still made it a little chilly for them, hope they can hang in there a little longer, as spring is just around the corner (the wattles are starting to flower and so are the daffodils/jonquils).

the finished doors, the top swivels so hot air can vent out with the doors shut.

the inside of the polytunnel showing banana plants in the back  and vegie beds at the front.

We have caught the mushroom bug, after doing a short workshop at our local community garden.  We did one shitake mushroom log as part of the workshop, but have since bought dowels to do some other logs here.  Its a fun (but time consuming) process and the kids helped out too (despite them all LOATHING mushrooms - luckily I have mushroom eating in my genes and can cope with a glut!).

the kids hammering in the mushroom inoculated dowels into holes drilled in the logs

each silver wattle log had about 20 holes drilled into it evenly spaced.

Our eldest daughter has gotten into duck keeping, and now cares for our expanded flock of ducks (we hatched some ducklings late last year - born on christmas day too...).

Our goats are milking OK, but in the process of drying off in readiness for kidding (fingers crossed) in spring.  They aren't too impressed with the winter grass (or lack of grass), so its quite a chunk of my time devoted to trying the coax them to eat - and yes everyone thinks goats will eat anything, but they are such picky eaters....

So there you go, a snapshot of the last year.  Hopefully I will get around to updating this blog more regularly again, wish me luck!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lately

Its been a busy time on our little farm lately.  The days have been mostly filled with little bits here and there that after a week, month, year (or several years) start to add up to things finished and real progress that is just fabulous!

The polytunnel is 'almost' finished now.  We just have the 2 ends (doors) to complete, which I suppose are the most complicated part, as we want them to open right up for ventilation in summer, but also be robust enough to handle the wind.  Still finalizing the design, but we have some ideas how to do that.  The inside of the polytunnel is coming along too, 6 vegetable beds are formed up (5 are planted out - still have to tidy up one bed), plenty of seedlings growing, and in the next few weeks I'll start all those summer crops - tomatoes etc.  Just want to make sure I don't waste all my seed by sowing too early and killing the poor things.  We have the plumbing supplies to set up our little goldfish/lotus/waterlilly pond so hopefully we will fill that before the rain stops, as we can't afford to use that amount of water once summer comes along.  Around the pond I plan to grow a permaculture type garden, filled to the brim with sub-tropical goodies like ginger, tumeric, galangal, lemongrass, bananas, coffee, passionfruit and vegetables like melons and maybe sweet potatoes. I think perhaps we should have made the tunnel bigger....

almost done!
We had an incredibly dry and mild June (apparently the driest/warmest on record?), but July decided to bring a bit of chill, with lots of good frosty mornings.  The kids loved the icy puddles, but I don't know what the chooks thought of it all!




With spring around the corner I've been madly buying seeds (some girls buy shoes - I am happy in gumboots mostly - for me its seeds, plants and books...), I have a very wide selection of plants that even on our property I wonder if I'll run out of space!  I most certainly will run out of time and water once the heat comes....

Apart from that I'm trying to get my garden in order, as I got a bit slack with weeding and well, like every year at this time I live to regret that....  Oh well, I'm a slow learner but I'll get there - Note to self -keep the weeds under control!!!!

Anyway, its all good, and loving every minute of it (even the weeding)!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Winter Solstice

Wishing you a happy winter solstice!

In our part of the world winter has been a bit of an on again/off again affair.  May was cold with snow (not here though) but June has been quite dry (only about 50mL in the rain gauge so far), with beautiful clear days, and frosty mornings.  Its certainly cold overnight, but hardly wintery!

Not much is happening around our little place, just plodding along really, so I thought I would just post some photos, a tour of the farm if you like!










Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Slowly, slowly

That's how things have been getting done around here lately.  Little bit of work on this and then on that, but I'm hoping slowly somethings might get finished (or close enough!).  This lifestyle can be tough at times, SO much to do, you can't just focus entirely on building something or finishing something, or other areas get neglected.  Jobs like trimming animal hooves, cleaning gutters, cutting firewood don't really show up on the over all picture, yet some of these jobs can take up a whole day or more.  Each day that we are able to work here we just have to make a priority based on urgency and the weather (no point fencing in the rain, or doing indoors tasks on a nice day).

My method for getting work done is simply to do a little bit of lots of things each day, I find the slow and steady pace gets the work done and with children about I can't focus my attention on getting a job done start to finish without interruption anyway!  Autumn and winter is my time for the orchard (its about the only time I can really give it!).  I weed a nice circle around each one (about 1m circumference on the older trees), give them all a mineral fix (lime, blood and bone, seaweed meal and other trace elements) and a 10L bucket of compost.  So far I've done about 40 trees.  I can see that my fruit tree planting obsession will have to slow down as this autumn task will just be too much - I have about 60 trees so far, and about 12 in pots (from a grafting day we attended last year) and still so many interesting varieties to add!

We have made some progress on the polytunnel.  We have added the south side of the wall - just solid roofing iron as no sun will come in that way anyhow and we had it here.  We have moved the concrete trough into position - an interesting task when you don't own a tractor!  In this trough I plan to plant waterlilies and maybe lotus and I would like to put some fish in it - not for food, but for interest.  I would also like a seat in there (not that I have time to sit down!!!!)

moving a concrete stock trough the low-tech way - thanks Ivor!

getting the trough into position - note the south wall filled in

The autumn plantings are growing ok, although the peas have been nibbled by the rabbits and the wombat has been doing a bit of digging (I've put up an electric fence to stop it/them).  Little carrot seedling are up, and winter radishes also.  When the weather is ok we need to dig up our potatoe plot.

broad beans are up!  And my wombat fence!

This is the seedling bench, finally I have somewhere to raise seedlings properly!

We weren't getting many eggs for a while, but the last few days the girls have started to pick up their pace.  I always find that they start to lay once the shortest day (winter solstice) is past.  This year it seems to be happening earlier, and the last few days have had a distinctive spring feeling about them - I suspect spring will be early this year, so I must get my summer vegie seeds soon!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

autumn planting and other work

Over the last few weeks we have been busy planting the autumn garden.  We've put in  broad beans, peas, snow peas, and brassicas (cabbages, broccoli,cauliflower and kale - all autumn planting varieties), carrots and winter radishes, lettuce, raddichio and something new to me, Rampion or Rapunzel.  Yes, as in the plant that 'rapunzel's' father stole from the witch's garden in the fairy tale.  It apparently was grown in Italy, Germany and Switzerland and since my ancestry is from that part of the world, and I have kids, it would be worth giving it a go (no - it doesn't take much for me to give a plant a go)!  Have no idea what it will be like, but if it comes up we may get to find out!  The seed is TINY.

planting broad beans is so easy, even a 2 year old can do it!
best times - planting together!
I am also propagating seedlings in trays in the poly tunnel (no its not finished, but we have made one of the seed raising benches so I have somewhere to work!), more lettuces and other salad greens and starting on onions.  We have been digging a trench to get water into the tunnel so that we can start planting.  Fingers crossed we might finish that job off this weekend.  I hope to put in some early potatoes - just to pull up as needed, once the summer harvested ones are finished.

digging the trench with the mattock...

.... and cleaning it out with a shovel...
yes we know there are machines to do this....

We also have coming a concrete water trough to turn into a fish/water lily pond to help stabilize the poly tunnel climate (water is a great thermal mass).  It will be very interesting getting the trough down there, as we don't have a tractor, but hoping that some low tech solution will work out (we did manage to move a 300kg combustion stove on wooden posts as rollers quite some distance - an interesting experience I can say!)