Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Passage of time

Five years ago we bought this land.  Its been an amazing privelage to have our own piece of earth to care for, despite the incredible amount of work and responsibility that comes with that.  Most of that five years has been spent sharing our time between probably too many different things.  Most of that time has also been spent feeling overwhelmed with jobs that 'should have been done yesterday'.

Our front paddock and gully (in background) as it was 5 years ago.

Five years younger, and proud of our first efforts at fencing!

Gully as it was 5 years ago

We often feel like we are chasing our tail, dealing with weeds (particularly those that seed and spread on to our neighbours land - such as Ragwort), fencing and animal shelters, keeping the grass down (our current weather hasn't helped that!), improving our infrastructure (such as water collection, storage and troughs), and just caring for the animals that we have.  Lets not even mention building the house!  It makes you tired in a way that just a 'hard day's work' doesn't, that sort of emotional weight that is always there...

With a long list of jobs like this, its often hard to stop and enjoy life for what it is.  But its something we are working on! 

Looking at photos from the first year of owning our land we have realised that we have done SO much already.  Sure the house isn't built and there is always a million things that need doing.  We have a lifetime to enjoy our land, our family and animals, and quite frankly we are only human and can only do SO much.

Lots of regenerating trees in gullies.

The same gully as seen in the first photo, now with LOTs of natural regeneration as well as planted indigenous trees.

A garden that is starting to flourish

A handmade house that is slowly taking shape

So here's to 2011, wishing for a good year filled with
fun,joy and happiness, 
good rain and good sunshine
good company and good friendships
good growth and good harvests
more life and less death (I'll compromise for balance!)
less foxes and less weeds
and shorter to-do lists!

Friday, December 17, 2010

We have bees!

Last weekend we got our first hive of bees.  I've been keen to get bees for a number of years, both for honey and pollination of fruit and vegetables.  For some reason there aren't alot of bees around in our area - certainly not on our place, and I can't really see any reason why that would be the case.

The hive we bought came with bees, and is just the ordinary Langstroth hive, very common in Australia.  My ultimate goal is to have several hives, mostly top-bar hives (so the bees build natural comb attached to bars that you can individually move).  We will build these hives, but with all the work that is needed here on the farm and building the house - building bee hives never became a priority. 

At this stage we don't have plans to sell excess honey, we generally prefer to give away our excess produce, but it will all depend on how productive the bees are.  We plan on leaving them enough honey so that we aren't feeding them white sugar as a (poor) substitute for the food they have worked so hard to produce.  Many commercial beekeepers take most of the honey and feed them on sugar (or worse corn syrup from genetically modified corn), so it will be nice to have our own source of 'real' honey made from flowers!

Plus the bees are facinating to watch, I go and sit and watch them fly in and out, you could just sit there all day (obviously I don't have time to do that!).  The kids like them, and our 4 year old already knows so much about bees and how they live - she loves the queen...

Friday, December 10, 2010


Its been about 2 years since I first started making sourdough bread.  Since that day, I've made pretty much all the bread we eat, I think I may have bought 2 loaves in that time, if that.  For the last 18 months or so, I've also been baking our bread in a wood oven which has added a new degree of challenge and planning!

I'd love to say that I'm a great baker (I suppose I'm not too bad) but I've had many failures and flops in that time.  Between heavy loaves that didn't rise to over proved loaves that crumble up in the middle when cut!  There is something of an art to baking bread, you need to bake it at the RIGHT time, and usually the flops are when I try and bake it to suit me, eg the oven isn't hot enough yet and while its heating the bread over proves, or its late at  night and the bread hasn't risen enough and I give up and bake as is for the sake of getting some sleep!  One day I will be more organised though!

What I love about sourdough is that you don't need to buy yeast.  I have my own little community of yeasts and bacteria that I look after and use to make our bread.  All you need is flour, water and salt, nothing more! 

Lately I have been dabbling in making sourdough pancakes.  I was inspired by this blog post.  We have made them a couple of times, and they were are real hit, even with Brad, who was sceptical about makeing pancakes with sourdough (he makes lovely crepes which are dearly loved by our kids).

I want to experiment more with making sourdough 'stuff'.  I have heard of using the starter to make cakes and muffins.  Something to try, come winter.  Right now the plants are popping out of the ground, and its hard to stay indoors to bake!