Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

Today is the last day of 2009. I find it a good opportunity to look back on the year that was and the achievements/milestones.

2009 was a pretty big year for us. This time last year we were still working on the old house, we still had a lot of work to do. We not only finished the renovation work, but also built us a tempoary home while we build our strawbale house. Halfway through 2009 we made the move to our land, to begin the 'dream'. It was an interesting time, we had very little in the way of the 'mod cons' we were used to. Makes you realise how little we need, but also how much we take for granted as 'westerners', compared to what so many in the world have.

We have added to the 'family' with the addition of our milking goat and more hens and roosters (which lead to our chicks! Self sufficiency in hen replacement!!). We have learnt how to cook and bake on the wood fired combustion stove, how to set up an off grid power system, and milk a goat. We have managed to somewhat tame our clydesdale horse, and can now put her halter on, and pick up her feet a bit. So much more to learn in 2010.

All that time I spent travelling up to our land every couple of days to check on animals has been spent creating and tending the garden, which is growing nicely. 2010 should see more beds dug and more manure and compost added to the established gardens.

Its been a hard year, I certanly feel tired. But its probably been one of the most rewarding years as far as our own personal achievements go. But 2009 was also an incredibly scary year. We suffered a seriously hot heat wave, temperatures beyond what we have had before, which lead to the worst fires we have had before (with unprecedented deaths). I hope that 2010 is kind to us, but as I write this its hot outside, and the grass is drying off.... Hmm, 2 months to stress and worry, till autumn comes.

So what is the plan for 2010? Hmm, hopefully some rest and relaxation. Hopefully more time spent with the animals, taking care of their needs. Fencing, gardening and weed management. We hope to have the house plans drawn up and maybe to make a start on the house, towards the end of the year.

So goodbye 2009, the new decade begins, hopefully with the 'flavour' of hope, change and compassion on a global scale.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Summer solstice

Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It was warm and sunny, but not too hot. We spent the afternoon with some good friends and soaked up the sun and actually sat down and relaxed (doesn't happen too often around here!!) We used the opportunity to move our 'movable' chook pen while they were here!!!

The chooks are all great. The chicks are growing pretty quickly. I am fairly certain that one is a hen and one is a rooster - the third one I haven't made up my mind yet!

We de-loused one of our hens (not the mum and chicks thank goodness), she is called 'runty' because she is somewhat stunted in growth. We now know why - she was covered in some sort of lice (not the small mites I have seen before, but flea sized 'bugs' and many of her feathers had large clumps of eggs stuck to them). She has really improved since though, and although she is still small she seems to have a spark in her step now. She will need another treatment soon though, as some eggs remain. We will treat her and the whole flock probably in a weeks time. Should be fun!

The garden is growing well, zuchinnis are nearly ready to harvest, and some of the tomatoes and beans are flowering. We have harvested some potatoes, which were delicious. Nothing beats homegrown potatoes! I have many mustards and lettuces and other greens going to seed, which means that by autumn the garden should be nice and full of plants! I am also considering starting a very small and local seed/glut/jam/chutney etc swapping group. It seems like a good way to get diversity in your food and garden without extra money or time. I recently made a large batch of cherry plum jam and chutney (collected from the roadside), and its nice to swap it for something made by someone else (even if its their cherry plum jam - we all do things slightly differently, and subtle differences are nice too!)

Another use for all the plums!!!

All the best for christmas and the last bits of 2009.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The poultry bug!

Well, it seems I (or we) have caught the poultry bug. Since the move we haven't been restricted by the council rules for keeping poultry in towns. So we have bought more hens, aquired roosters, and hatched chicks.

The chicks are well, they are outside enjoying some sunshine and scratching with mum. They are so cute, and I enjoy watching them grow up.

We have also added some Silkies for the kids. I have never been partial to silkies, they seem sort of useless since they don't lay many eggs, but I am learning that they have uses beyond eggs. Such as scratching the soil, pest control and fertilizing the soil. All things that can save us time if we put the birds on the garden beds.

They are also quite cute, friendly and fairly placid. Our daughter loves them, here she is with her silkie 'erratic' (she named it!).

They may be roosters or hens, not sure they are still young and were simply sold as chicks at the sale we went to. But it doesn't really matter, they are simply pets, and garden hands!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I think I mentioned in previous posts, that we had a hen sitting on some eggs. Well this week they hatched!!! Well, only 3 have hatched and surived (out of 8 eggs), one hatched but died, and one egg disappeared! They are all black with just a bit of lighter colour on their belly. They are Faverolles X welsummer and Faverolles X Light Sussex X Leghorn. Will be interesting to see how they turn out. One of the chicks has 5 toes (a Faverolles trait), the others have the normal 4 toes. I suspect the 5 toed chick will be a rooster and the other 2 hens. Brad reckons they will be all roosters. Will be fun to guess and see who is who!!!

Sadly the cross that I had been most interested in was the Faverolles X Auracana (both these breeds have the 'beards'), but none of these eggs hatched... Oh well, there is always next year! I feel quite addicted to this now, and really look forward to more hatchings in the future!!!

The kids are wrapped, and spend a bit of time sitting watching the chicks. It's really great for them, to see the process, see the eggs, and the chicks cracking the eggs open, and now the little fluff balls running around, and then how they change as they mature from chick to chook! You can expect lots of photos in the future to show the progress of these little guys. Its my first time at breeding poultry, so I have a lot to learn, along with mumma chook (it's her first time too), who is doing a great job!

Apart from the new life on the farm, pretty much nothing has changed, we have had some rain (what a weird old spring its been here...), and things are growing. The grass is growing too, which is our biggest 'isssue' at the moment. We are putting the neighbour's cattle into one of our paddocks, to eat it down, but we still have ALOT of grass, above knee height, and its a bit of a concern once it dries up.... The garden is growing well, the kids have been harvesting raspberries every day!! It looks like we will have a pretty big blackberry crop too!

The alpacas will be shorn in the next few weeks, depending on the weather, so that shall be fun!!