Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How much does one have to do?

I'm truly at my wits' ends with our goat Cookie. He is a real sweetie, very friendly and incredibly beautiful. But why can't he just not escape from his paddock? Even wearing the Y shaped branch that we have put around his neck to stop him going through the fence, he still manages to get out. He has a nasty habit of eating trees that we care about, either fruit trees or plants with sentimental value. But I also fear for him, as he is likely to follow someone home (he is a people goat), and who knows what could happen to him. I wish there was some simple solution, but then again, that is why everyone has goats that they give away, they are a real pain in the butt sometimes....

But on to more happy things. We have been getting a bit of rain now, and it really feels like autumn is on its way. Although we are still getting warm/hot days, the nights are cool, and I can feel the plants (those that survived anyway) breathing a sigh or relief. At the farm, my only vegies that survived were my potatoes (although there is nothing on the surface now as the grasshoppers ate the plants), I harvested some today, and we had roast potatoes for dinner.

I love the taste of real fresh home grown potatoes, they actually taste of the earth. 'Our' roast potatoe recipe is just to cut them up and toss in a baking dish with olive oil, and add a mix of garlic, peppercorns and rock salt that has been 'ground' in the mortar and pestle. Lovely with a big dollop of sour cream.... yum!

I've managed to finish the chocolate brown alpaca fleece. It ended up being 720g once it was washed and spun, so that is ok although, I would have expected a little more. Unfortunately the shearer made a little bit of a mess of it, and made lots of second cuts. Stupidly, I spun this fairly thick, so that I could cheat when it came to knitting my raglan, so that I could use bigger needles and get it done faster, so now I'm not sure if there will be enough, and none of my other handspun is spun so thick, so I can't even do stripes..... damn stupid me! I am thinking I will probably make Brad a vest out of this, and keep the white fleece ( the last one of my own fleeces! YAY!) for myself.

I've also been knitting away on my jaywalker sock, which is going ok, and a version of the baby yoda jacket (I'm making a 'vest') for the bub to be. I figured I should make it something....

Apart from that its all pretty much as usual around here, nothing much happening and yet constantly busy!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

sustainable living festival

Just got home from a lovely day in the city - we rarely go to the city, too far away and too busy, and we can do and get most things locally anyway. We took the train, the first time as a family, wasn't too bad, but the little one was pretty tired by the end of it all! We were in at federation square at the sustainable living festival. We had a good day, and actually caught up with a friend, and were interviewed for a TV show!! Brad got to talk to a company who convert electric cars (he is in the process of building an electric motorcycle), and we saw the solar taxi from Switzerland.

Much of the information was stuff we already knew though, so it was more a positive experience to see so many other people also interested in sustainable living. There were many stalls on solar power/solar hot water, and how to save electricity and water.

Going on the train meant that I got a little bit of knitting done. I'm currently working on the jaywalker sock, using my february Tofutsies yarn. I had to restart the pattern, as for some unknown reason I could actually do as the pattern said, and made my own assumptions up! Anyway, got it figured now, and I am pretty happy with it.

Also have been spinning the chocolate brown alpaca fleece. I'm probably about halfway through now, and have 3 skeins done weighing about 400g. Its a fairly chunky yarn, as it will be raglan sweater for me and I don't like knitting big things on small needles!

Looking forward to getting this fleece out of the way, as then I only have one more alpaca fleece, and a few odds and ends of mohair and sheeps fleece. I'm in a real stash busting mood at the moment, and want to clear up all the old fleece and yarn, to make way for new and different things. I am also looking forward to trying a few new things with my spinning, such as loopy yarn and adding beads etc. We shall see!

Monday, February 11, 2008

About goats

Even with about a week of rain on and off, and fairly mild to cool days, its still very dry around the farm. Can't say the same at home, the lawn has been growing quickly - funny how I spent the morning cutting feed for the animals, and then the afternoon mowing the lawn.... if only I could put my animals onto it, alas its not possible...

Speaking of dry grass... Most of our animals are quite content with the 'standing hay', the horses and alpacas, although would love nice lush green grass, will quite happily graze on dry grass, the goats are another matter all together! They mope and whine, and just seem downright miserable! So its off to cut willow, hawthorn, comfrey, jerusalem artichokes, and other assorted goodies for them. As well as ample acess to seaweed meal, which they eat like if it was lollies (and yes, goats probably would eat lollies!).

Currently we have 2 goats, Cookie a young Toggenberg, and Archie a not so young goat of unknown decent (he belonged to a 70 year old lady, and if you see how big - and strong - he is its quite an amazing thing!). Both are wethers. We got them to help us with the massive task of getting the blackberries under control. They have done a good job, but not without alot of work on our part, mostly because they need to be tethered to 'do' the blackberries, and that means I have to drive over and make sure they are ok everyday. Anyway, we have had these 2 goats for about a year now, and its been an interesting experience to say the least!

This is what I have learnt over this last year about our caprine friends.
  • Goats are smart, too smart.
  • Goats are charming, charismatic, and very smart!
  • Goats with horns are not such a good idea.
  • Goats love people far more than any other 'farm' animal I have ever had the experience of owning.
  • Because of this, they are great when it comes to doing routine things like toe nail trimming.
  • Goats like all animals, and seem to be able to integrate with other species, in our case alpacas, dogs and horses (unfortunately the horses are not so inclined...)
  • Goats are playful.
  • Goats are determined when food is involved - never go near goats with food you don't intend them to have, as it will be theirs... eventually.
  • Don't pick blackberries with a goat.... note above point...
  • Never leave your lunch bag anywhere that a goat can get to it, they will eventually open zips etc, and will eat whole bananas, tea bags, plastic bags and things you just wouldn't think to worry about.
  • Goats can be very patient, while other animals will panic when entangled, goats will wait for you to come along and untangle them.
  • They eat Ragwort, blackberries, dock, thisle flowers, and many other weeds, so keeping them in your paddock means no more weeding! YAY!
  • Goats will break your heart if you care in the slightest about trees.... Not only do the they eat trees, they also remove the bark (much worse...). They will find the trees that matter most to you and ruin them.
  • Some goats need very creative ways of keeping them in the paddock. Currently Cookie wears a substantial 'branch' around his neck to stop him going between the wires, although, I doubt it will be long before he learns the trick to get through... Damn, if only they were not smart...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Peaches, glorious peaches!

Well, its that time of year when my beautiful peach tree rewards me for the forsight to plant it 5-6 years ago. Money well spent I reckon! This tree is a yellow fleshed clingstone, called Golden Queen. Fantastic variety, although I am biased. I have never bought a peach from the shop since I tasted my first one off the tree (shop bought peaches are NOT what peaches taste like).

The last few years we have had really good crops, and even though the birds have gotten to much of the fruit (plus peaches seem to just want to fall off the tree green...), we have still picked well over 10kg.

I've bottled 11 bottles so far, plus eaten many, and given some away, plus the chickens have had some etc etc.

I really enjoy the bottling of the fruit, not sure why more people don't do it. Sure it takes some time, but so does working to pay for the food we buy, and I know what I'd rather do! And the end product is so much better than anything you buy in the shop. The other advantage is that I can reuse and reuse the jars (most of them are already second hand) so I know that I am doing something good for our planet too. Funny thing, I had just run out of jars and a friend of ours came round to help with some work at the farm, and brought me 2 big boxes full (all with stainless steel lids too!).

Speaking of the farm, here is said friend and Brad putting up the guttering on the shed!

We still have a few bits and pieces to finish off the outside of the shed, some flashing, and the other side guttering. Its so nice to see the shed with walls now, a great feeling of accomplishment. Anyway, soon we can start on some new project!