Monday, December 24, 2007

A sad loss

Unfortunately, due to a sudden change in weather just after our alpacas were shorn - actually exactly on the summer solstice, we had over 60mm of rain in 24 hours, and our little grey alpaca died (there is a photo of him on the last post). I found him still alive curled up and soaking wet, I carried him all the way down the hill (in absolutely foul weather) to the little shelter shed, dried him up and covered him with hay to keep him warm.

But by morning he was dead. He was unable to move when I found him, and being quite a shy animal, for me to be able to carry him should have been enough of a sign that he was in a bad shape, but I was optimistic... Alas, I was not able to help this little one. I feel so terrible, as he died because he was shorn, for a fleece, for my pleasure... Now I will feel terribly guilty spinning it, but it would be such a waste not to....

Keeping animals is such a joy, and yet it seems lately I'm burying alot of my animals - this year its been 2 guinea pigs, a chicken and an alpaca, plus a rabbit that has disappeared... Fingers crossed the new year will not be so full of loss.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'.... 3 bags full'. Alpaca shearing day.

We got our 3 alpacas shorn on the weekend. I was starting to get worried, as its been warming up and I was feeling sorry for these boys in their heavy coats. But its all done, one more thing off the list!!! The day went well, my mum came down to help (as we had to take the animals to a neighbour's place as we don't have power or a yard set up at the farm yet).

Alpacas are shorn differently to sheep. The legs are tied up to prevent them from getting hurt and hurting the people around them. You can't help but feel sorry for the little buggers when they are stretched out 'on the rack'. But its all over in a few minutes, and then there is literally nothing left of them!

My 3 animals are all particularly small, they may grow or maybe they are just runts, but that is ok. After a few days I managed to get the time to actually sort out the fleeces. The shearer basically just took off all the fleece in one hit, so I wasn't able to remove the leg and neck fleece, which is shorter and not really good for spinning (we are going to use it for insulation for our shed). He also made MANY second cuts, so that was extra sorting that I have had to do. I hate spinning fleeces with second cuts in it..... Our little girl 'helped' with the sorting, and hence I'm only about 1/2 done.
The grey fleece is sorted, ready for carding, the white is almost done, and I have yet to tackle the dark brown one. I will weigh them all and then decide what I will make from each one. A jumper each, and hopefully a few extra bits and pieces. Now, if only I HAD as much time as I THINK I have......

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is the way we bottle the fruit....

A friend tipped me off about some cheap cases of apricots at our local fruit and veg shop. So, temptation took hold and I bought a case, 10kg of apricots. So I set to preserving....

washing, cutting and packing the fruit into jars. Pouring in the syrup, and then into the preserving unit.

and the result is 8 lovely jars of home bottled apricots, which we will enjoy for the remainder of the year, along with other fruits such as the peaches off our own very productive tree.

I also got 7 jars of jam out of the 10kgs of fruit, plus I still had enough to give away and for eating. Not bad for a days work.

Now I just picked 1kg of raspberries off our plants, so I will probably have to set about making some raspberry jam soon..... Ahhh the joys of summer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meeting the locals!

Today I got to see my first wild Koala crossing the road almost right out the front of our farm! Now, as a 'former' wildlife ecologist, I have seen many wonderful native creatures, but the koala has always eluded me, so to see one so close (and also so close to home) is very exciting indeed! I will now have to keep a look out for them, and maybe we will go for a walk down one of the tracks nearby where I know there are many old eucalypts. Its also exciting because one day, when the eucalypts we have planted on our farm grow up, we could have the koalas at our place too (that is if they can survive the logging, cars and other threats in the mean time....)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The start of something good

Here we have the first few raspberries off our plants. Its only early days and last year we easily picked a kilogram of berries in one sitting. They are so easy to grow and so productive I find it incredible that they can be so expensive in the supermarket. We will probably eat many fresh, but also make our jam. Last year we made about 3 kg of jam, which has lasted us the year as well as having a few jars to give away as gifts.

The title of this post is also in reference to our very recent election! YAY! We are pleased to see our old governement out, and hopefully we can have SOME hope of better things to come.

No knitting or spinning news. Still working away on Brad's sock, and I've abandoned the jumper for our little one, since I'm not happy with the armhole shaping, and have had to rip it out once already. So I will probably just improvise on that. Photos once I have the back finished.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Well, suddenly the weather has changed from mild nice days to constant rain, with an icy wind. We had about 50ml of rain! It'll be a nice good drink for all my trees hopefully it will see them through what is likely to be long hard summer. Hopefully not too long and hot, but I guess we will just have to wait and see. My poor goats were quite taken back by the sudden change, and were shivering today, poor little things. I wish it would be so simple as to just bring them inside...

The little one is walking and running now too, with quite a lot of confidence. Rarely crawls at all. Her latest thing is to carry bags and other things with straps she can get over her neck. Here is a picture of her with my handbag, and her precious wombat toy. She LOVES wombats, I'm a little worried about once she gets more mobile, that she will try and visit them in their burrows, but we will figure that out once we get to it....

Not much knitting happening, but I've been doing lots of spinning as well as lots of fibre preperations. I've had bits of different fleeces lying around the house for many months, so its nice to put them through the drum carder, ready for spinning. Here is some mohair fleece I have spun,

and the final result the first 200g or so of mohair, plyed and ready for washing. I'm planning on dyeing this as mohair takes dye really well. It will probably become a christmas gift for someone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Playing in the garden

I have been busily preparing the garden for some spring planting - bought some tomatoe, basil and lettuce seedlings. I have also done some propagating and have quite a few tomatoes in my greenhouse, but they wont be ready to plant out for a month or so yet. You may be wondering what will we do with all these tomatoes! Well, after a terrible year last year, I'm hoping to have enough to make some sauces etc with my fowlers vacola unit. The preparation is ALOT of work, but the rewards are worth it. The little one has been helping with the 'weeding'....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brought to you by the sun

We are still in love with our solar power system. It produces about 7kW per day, which is great. We will see how much it will make over summer. But if we average this we wont be paying much for electricity anymore. YAY!

The apple tree in the garden is now covered in lovely pink flowers, hopefully these will all grow into apples and we will have a lovely harvest. Otherwise we will pick from the loads of road side apple trees, and do some drying and other preserving. The free road side fruit is considerable around here. But that wont be till autumn....

We have been working on another shelter for the alpacas, since our farm hasn't got enough trees (yet) for shelter. We get some pretty strong winds up there, so it really is important for the animals to have somewhere to get out of it. Not much else happening on the farm though. Grass is finally starting to grow, thank goodness.

Well our little girl is walking. Although she still prefers crawling, she can walk without holding on to anything for quite a distance. Not much else has changed though.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


YAY, we finally have our grid connected solar power system!!! YAY! Here is our beautiful panels, so simple and yet able to generate pretty much all the power we need - the meter was spinning backwards quickly!!! We are very happy - one day all houses will have a solar array, but for now we will have to be content with knowing that at least we are making a contribution.

I highly recommend people to look into getting a solar power system for their homes, really with the current rebates available (in Australia - although other countries have much better...) its no greater cost than a new car or holiday and its MORE important.

Monday, October 1, 2007


It has been blowing a gale the last few days. Hopefully it wont knock my little baby peaches off the tree.

Nothing much exciting happening up at the farm. Have pulled out another of the old fences that are the legacy of the old farmer, including more barbed wire in the paddocks (the stuff just seems to work its way to the surface - we have walked past these spots so many times and never found this stuff, and now its there....) and more half buried hayband (which can be a danger to livestock if they eat it).

Today I put up a new bit of electric fence to extend where the horses can get to, as the grass is running short at the moment. I put in a 'bungy' gate, because the next door neighbour needs access to his property from that side of our place.

Have started another shelter shed for the alpacas, but at this stage we only have part of the frame up, unfortunately the weather has not been suited to doing building work, Ironically as the weather would be ideal for having a nice shelter shed....

The goats are doing well cleaning up the blackberry that has really started to grow back. In an attempt to make our smaller goat Cookie a little safer (he has sharp pointy upright horns) we tried putting tennis balls on the ends of his horns. Would work a treat, except that our dog Freya just wants to pull them off!!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The times are a changing

We got our hay shed concreted!!! YAY! We ended up getting a contractor to do the job, so it cost a bit of money, but realistically we would have struggled to do it on our own, with a baby and a dog to keep off the wet concrete. So we are very happy about this.

Not much else at the farm currently. I'm getting a vegy patch ready for planting corn and pumkins and a few other things, but that isn't quite ready. The weather the last few days hasn't been ideal for working outside, with all the rain we have had. We had 20mm here over night!!! Trees are all pretty much in, and I guess we will have to start some other job soon! (Its not like us to not have millions of jobs started, and urgently needing to be finished!!!)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Spring is yellow!

This time of year is just so yellow in our part of the world. The silver wattles are flowering, and the hills are YELLOW. Plus there are heaps of daffodils in flower too. At the farm so many 'wild' daffodils are popping up all over the place. They are remnants of the old house/farm that once was there. Apparently these daffodils are quite a rare type, although they seem so common in the area.

Most of the tree planting is now done, just a few plants left to go in, but the mad rush is now over. Fingers crossed that we will still get some more rain, so that they might survive the summer. Its already dried up so much here, I'm a bit concerned that we will have a worse year than last year. Scary stuff really. Good thing our politicians are taking the whole climate change thing seriously and not really investing in CLEAN renewable electricity and low emmission transportation.... Frustrating - our lives and those of the future generations are at the mercy of people who think money is more important than the PLANET!!!! Who can reason with that!

Anyway, should stop raving!

Here is what was going to be a photo of some of my recent handspun yarn, but she took over the photo shoot, throwing the skein on the floor everytime I tried to take a photo! You can sort of see the yarn though, blue, pink, purple and black.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spring is in the air!

Wow, the weather has been so nice lately, really spring like. My beautiful peach tree is in full flower.

This tree is one of the best things I have ever planted. I put it in about 5 years ago, and the last 2 years it has produced MASSES of peaches. Last christmas I got a Fowlers Vacola unit, and I bottled about a dozen bottles of these golden peaches. So yummy. My mouth is watering with anticipation of this years crop. Fingers crossed we don't get hail now (we always get hail when I have tiny baby peaches). There is nothing more rewarding than picking fruit and vegies from the plants that you planted and tended. So simple and yet so special. I love spring!

Not much news regarding our little girl. She is enjoying life and the nice weather, spending alot of time in the great outdoors. Not walking yet, but she gets around and is happy.

Tree planting is finally comming to an end. As much as I LOVE tree planting, I am always glad to see it over and done with for a few months. We have recently planted 8 blueberry bushes, and about 20 raspberry canes, as well as the last of the indigenous trees, here is a picture of the empty pots and trays - 400 in all, and yes its not a huge amount but it is when you have a young child, and a million other things to do as well. 400 means we don't spend several days planting for 8 hours straight, which I used to do as a job!

We are also working out (well debating more like it!) how to plant the paddock trees. We are going to fence off some enclosures (I have found out through tears that no animal is compatible with small trees) for fruit and stock forage trees. These will also be shelter for animals, and also attract birds and insects to pollinate trees etc. We have been reading Masanobu Fukuoka's book about natural farming, so we have been inspired by this as well as permaculture principels. What we are working on though is exactly how we will fence the trees off, individual enclosures for trees, long narrow enclosures, large etc etc. We are also about to start concreting the hay shed, a big job for the 2 of us, but we should manage to get some help. Once that is done we will be able to get the shed walls cladded, and things will be moving along nicely.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Out with the old

Here we are with a scrap metal bin (6 x 12 x 4 foot) filled with metal left lying around our farm by the previous owners. The farm was a dairy farm once apon a time, and also had a house which is no longer there. Therefore 100 odd years of old rusty corrugated iron is around the place, but at least this lot is off to start a new life as cans or something else! We will probably fill onther one, as there is still more metal, old ploughs etc, and plenty of old barbed wire fencing. We really don't like barbed wire! We had the bin for about a week, and spent nearly every day of that week throwing stuff in. So its nice to be rid of it.

Here we are with the Mountain Ash Eucalyptus regnans tree we planted for our little girl when she was born (and yes we did plant the placenta with it). Its thriving, and has lots of new growth. We look forward to taking this yearly photo, and watching the tree grow along with our daughter. Her middle name comes from this tree.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

Traditionally the winter solstice is the time of a great feast, to celebrate the return of the sun. So cook yourself up a feast, and rejoice, as now the days will start getting longer again (and warmer soon too).