Thursday, October 29, 2009

closing the gap

Wheat is also referred to as the 'staff of life'.

Its believed that man's ability to cultivate grains is the reason we evolved from a hunter gatherer society to an agricultural society. Grains are a highly nutritious living food (the are the seed after all and if you plant them will grow).

Modern processing of wheat into flour basically has turned a wholesome and living food into a unwholesome and dead food. The nutrition of wheat is lost within about 3 days of when the flour was milled. And many components of the wheat are actually removed from the flour as byproducts that can be sold for an extra profit (eg wheatgerm and bran).

We recently purchased a home grain mill (just a small bench top variety) to grind our own fresh flour as we need it. Partly for the health reasons - to actually get really nutritious bread and other baked 'stuff', and partly to bring us one step closer to closing the gap on the cycle - one step left to grow the grain, and thats what we will work on next.

As I only bake sourdough bread, good flour is really important. Bleached ordinary flour will kill the sensitive cultures of my sourdough leaven, as will chlorinated water. Freshly milled flour is like a whole food for the leaven, as it is for us.

What has been amazing, besides more flavour (the flour I used to buy was a very good one - so the difference is probably more subtle, than if we had been used to ordinary white flour), is the colour. I always bought unbleached flour, but the freshly milled flour is more honey coloured, so even unbleached must recieve some form of lightening process...

The mill was not cheap - I lashed out and bought a pretty good one and an electric model (no guilt here as we are totally solar powered!!). It mills about 1kg of flour in about 4-5 minutes, its only downside is its pretty noisy on the fine setting. There are cheaper models and hand operated models available too, but since we go through about 3-4kg of flour a week, it seemed sensible to get the best we could. And it runs perfectly on our solar power system, doesn't even make a dint on the battery charge!

So, another step towards self sufficiency has been achieved, minor as it is. I look forward to the day I can bake our bread using our own home grown wheat. First we need to buy the pigs, who will be our rotary hoes and prepare the soil for grain growing.... Before that I need Brad to build a pig shelter!!!! One day!

Oh, we still have the goats - Dorka and her baby - they didn't abandon us, and we are getting milk each day (although less than we first thought we would get - so no cheese as yet...)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In memory of Brandy xoxoxo

One year ago today, I had to say goodbye to my best friend. She was part of my life for nearly 18 years, from when I was only 12 years old. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I think about it all the time. I miss her so much.

When Brandy came into my life she had been an unwanted, passed around pony. She kicked, she wasn't particularly good to ride (stubborn and strong willed), most likely she had had a rough time too. In the early days I recieved my fair share of kicks, and she threw me off more times than I can even count. But I made a promise to her from the day I got her that she would always have a home with me, and I would never give her up. I knew that a small pony with her nature, would probably end up in a bad place - like so many horses do... So despite the odds I faught to keep her with me. It wasn't always easy, especially when I had to keep her on agistment, and the agistment wasn't good.

Brandy was an amazing animal. She was strong, determined, tough as anything, and an ispiration to me. In her last months of life, she showed me that despite what life throws at you, you can still be positive and enjoy each day as it comes. She may not have been a great riding horse as such (strong willed, intelligent animals usually aren't), but she was a great friend, and she will never be replaced.

I will never forget you my girl xoxoxo

Monday, October 5, 2009

New girls on the block

Meet the 2 newest members of our little farm, Dorka and her baby girl Gypsy. Dorka is our milking goat, and will supply us with all our milk requirements - between 1 and 3 Litres a day. Her baby is only about 3 weeks old, and just so cute!!! They are supposed to be British Alpine, but I suspect that Dorka isn't - British Alpine goats should be black - like her baby.

Their arrival to our farm was 'interesting'!!! Dorka, athough reasonably tame at her old home, rediscovered her 'wild side', when she came here, and a stupid error on my part (ie. letting her go in the paddock), resulted in much running around, and some serious worrying.... We got them back, had another 'minor incident' which left us with Dorka stuck in the swamp.... Now she is chained up in her shed, till she becomes friendly enough with us that she wont run away!!!! That said, she is quite happy to be milked (we have milked her twice now, and she doesn't kick or make a fuss about it), as long as she is confined!!!

We are quite surprised at her temperment, so different to our previous goat experiences, our old goats where TOO friendly!!!! So now begins a new era of our adventure, milk (and hopefully some cheese) self sufficiency. Despite Dorka's wild nature, it still beats going to the shops to buy it. And in case you are curious, her milk is no different to cow's milk, well I couldn't tell the difference... Very different to what you buy in the supermarket as goats milk!