Monday, September 26, 2011

Spring eggs

The spring equinox just passed by a few days ago.  In the northern hemisphere this coincides with easter which takes much of its symbolism from spring - eggs, baby birds and bunnies.  For us in the south, now would be the time to celebrate the joy of eggs, as at easter time they are rare! 

Our girls are laying well, and from 12 standard sized hens, 2 bantam and 4 ducks we get about 15 eggs a day.  Its nice to have some to give away and sell, as well as plenty for baking yummy cakes and custardy desserts.  We also get to partake in the daily egg hunt, as our girls like to hide their eggs from us (I wonder where the chocolate egg hunt idea came from????).

We have one clucky hen sitting on 9 eggs, so fingers crossed it all goes well and we get a nice clutch of chicks.  Its important to keep new hens coming in each year, and at about $30 per hen it becomes costly to buy and replace your stock all the time.  We have a new rooster, a Speckled Sussex who is quite nice and should bring in some new qualities to our mixed breed flock.

The garden is really growing now (and the grass) the loganberries and raspberries are just starting to flower, as are the strawberries.  Lots of little seedlings are popping up (such as silverbeet, lettuce, mustards, kale), and my precious tomatoe seedlings and cucurbits (pumpkin, zuchinni, cucumber, melons etc) are just germinating.

I'm planning to grow a ' 3 sisters' style plot for our sweet corn and popcorn.  The 3 sisters are corn, beans and squash.  The native american indians grew gardens like this before white settlement, so its a very early example of companion planting.  The corn provides poles for the climbing beans, the beans provide nitrogen to the soil and the squash provides a living mulch to keep the soil moist (which is really important for the corn).  They planted them in mounds with the plants fairly closely planted.  It will be a bit of an experiment anyhow. 

One of our goats Rosie is 'in kid' and due in November.  This means that after having her for over a year we will finally be able to start milking her!  She is looking enormous, so I'm anticipating twins (hopefully NOT triplets) so there wont be much milk to start with.  We are also investigating buying a house cow, most likely a Jersey, so that we can make bigger quantities of cheese and importantly BUTTER!  We use a bit of butter in cooking and baking so it makes sense to produce our own, and we are all pretty keen on making all our own dairy products.  Excess milk and whey will be fed to the chooks and eventually to some pigs which I'd like to get for garden tillage. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Busy busy

The blog has been quiet this year, but that is because we have been so busy with everything!  It feels like we are getting somewhere occasionally.  Lots of work to reach our goals of self sufficiency.

This week the kids and I planted out our potatoe patch - approximately 80sqm.  I have been spending a bit of time each day turning over the soil, then chopping up the sod with a hoe and hilling up the soil into rows.  Then the fun but back-breaking job of planting out the seed potatoes and backfilling.

planting potatoes with a little help from the kids
Now I just have to mulch with the old bedding from the goat shed and I can take a quick breath before the spring vegies have to be propagated!!!

the hand dug potatoe patch - ready for mulching
Spring is most definately here now.  Hardly a drop of rain this month, which coincides with the arrival of a new water tank!!!  We thought we would add more storage to our fairly modest 22,500L tank that is our domestic, garden and stock water supply!

new tank arrives!
The chooks all think its spring too, as they have been very busy laying eggs for us, so its nice to have plenty to enjoy and use in baking.  This year I'm planning on baking a few rich fruit cakes to put away to enjoy in the winter when eggs are scarce and not available for baking cakes.  Fruit cakes keep for ages if wrapped up and kept in a dark pantry.

our 5 year old with one of the hens we raised this year
I'm about to start all our summer vegies this week, all the tomatoes, pumpkins, zuchinni, cucumbers etc.  And then the REALLY busy time begins!