Monday, September 1, 2014

Garden share - September 2014

We had some rain in August!  This is very unusual, our long term average rainfall for August is 28.7 mm, although it has varied between 0.8 and 106 mm.  We never know what we are going to get, but usually we don't expect much in August.  This year we got about about 40mm, which was very welcome considering that year to date rainfall is about 100 mm below average for this time of year.  September also ranges 1 to 140 mm, with an average of 40 mm, so maybe it will rain this month too.

The result of all this rain is that the garden has recovered and produced lots of green veges, including various asian greens, silverbeet and celery, as well as plenty of parsley, chervil and coriander.  Also mint, calendula, lavender, borage and nasturtiums are growing well.


As promised last month, I sorted through my seeds and I'll have a list to swap next Monday.  I started planting, even though I'm not very confident about the weather.  I am thinking that if I can get these plants established before it gets too hot and dry, I might get some yield.  Last year I was late getting seeds started and I didn't get much to grow at all through summer.  

I just planted one tray to get started, so I don't overdo it and have more seedlings than I can look after!  For now its just a few tomatoes, rosella, capsicum, eggplant, lots of beans, golden nugget pumpkin, sphaghetti squash, tromboncino and pickling cucumbers.  Plus I'll put some more beetroot and carrost seeds directly in the garden when I get a chance.

If you're interested in seed saving and starting from seeds, I've written a few useful posts in the past, see them all here.

seed collection

seeds planted

garden helper

the bees were enjoying the broccoli flowers (more seeds in production)

an abundance of leafy greens

maybe my carrots will finally grow now!
Jobs for September: pot up the seedlings, replant the ones that don't sprout, put a few more seeds in the garden, practice raindance.


You can join the Garden Share Collective too!  Link back to Lizzie at Strayed from the Table.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Which milk should I drink?

As you know, I only drink raw cow’s milk from our house cows in my daily kefir smoothie, and I drink herbal tea during the day. Recently a friend asked me if it was ok to drink soy milk. My first reaction was “no way”, but I thought I’d better do some research first, so that my friend can make an informed decision.



Of course, if you have access to raw milk from cows or goats, and you don’t have an issue with lactose intolerance, this is the milk you should drink. I’ve written about raw milk before, in summary, raw milk contains nutrients (heat sensitive vitamins), enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are destroyed during pastuerisation. Often people who cannot digest processed milk find that they don’t have a problem with raw milk, and that it even has a healing effect. Read the other post for more details about raw milk.

Unfortunately, raw milk is not available to everyone, so a compromise may be required. Your choice will depend on your circumstances, and how much time and money you have available, don’t feel bad if you can’t get the best milk, but at least be aware of your options and what to look for.

I think that the next best option to raw milk is non-homogenised organic whole milk (unless you are lactose intolerant). Processed milk will not contain the same enzymes and nutrients as raw milk, but you still get the benefits of the protein, calcium and lactose. Even better is to use the processed milk to make fermented foods, such as yoghurt or kefir, as these will effectively replace some of the missing bacteria and enzymes that were removed during pasteurisation. If you’re only drinking a splash of milk in your tea it doesn’t matter so much, but if you’re using milk as part of a meal, try to use fermented milk instead.

One of the main arguments against dairy (and animal products) is that the amount of crops that could be grown using the same amount of land would feed more people than if used to raise cows. This is a ridiculous argument considering that cows graze land that is unsuitable for crops, especially if you can find a dairy that is pasture-fed or mainly pasture-fed (rather than feeding grain), and organic certified dairies should have a land management plan to show how they intend to create a positive environmental impact. They are usually kinder to the calves as well.   If you can, find out more about the dairy and how they manage the cows and the land.

If you can’t tolerate lactose, or you really don’t want to use animal products, there are plant based “milks” available, such as soy, rice, oats and almond. Again, go for high-quality organic products at all times. The cheaper versions will undoubtedly use inferior ingredients. Read the ingredients list. If you have been following the debate about saturated fat vs. unsaturated fats, you will want to avoid sunflower and canola oil (even if its organic). Also added sugar, including “rice syrup” (which is just fructose), is an unwanted ingredient. Even the organic products are not ideal, they all seem to have added oils and sugars. The best option would be to make these milks at home, then you have some control over the ingredients. You could make a big batch and freeze it in small containers, or even ice cubes, to use as you need it.


Another option is coconut milk.  If you can find a brand that doesn't use BPA lined cans and doesn't include additives, coconut milk is apparently a nourishing option.  Again, you can open a can and freeze what you don't use.

I hope that helps to explain the pros and cons of your milk options.  What do you use?

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Homestead Barn Hop
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Started with Ducks - Megan from Purple Dancing Dahlias

You might remember that last year I ran a few series of "getting started", where I interviewed other bloggers about how to get started with homestead/farm things, like a vege garden, chickens and a dairy animal.  I had so much fun with that series, I decided to organise another round, but this time I'm asking about things that I haven't tried personally, that I want to know more about.  After the turkey and the guinea fowl turned out to be so difficult for us to manage they made chickens look smart, I thought it might be a good idea to do a bit more research before we get any other crazy animals.  Even though I do search through blogs for information, sometimes my questions just don't get answered.  So I went straight to the source and asked the questions myself.  I'm starting with ducks, but if this works out ok, I think I'll be doing a series on bee keeping and one on fruit trees.  If you are keen to join in, just send me an email at eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.  I will send you my "interview" and share your answers with the world!



Megan from Purple Dancing Dahlias very kindly responded to my requests for help with ducks.  Here are her thoughts on getting started with ducks:

Megan: Our farm is Little Boy Blue Farm, Gardens, and Apiary and I blog at Purple Dancing Dahlias. We keep Jersey Cattle, Scottish Highland Cattle, Icelandic Sheep, pasture raise chickens/eggs, and bees. We also have two farm dogs, two cats, and a horse purely for pleasure. We have had geese and goats in the past. I grew up farming but we moved back home almost 6 years ago and started again.

Farmer Liz: Tell me about your ducks, how many do you keep and what breeds? What do you keep them for? (meat, eggs, other?)

M: Right now we have 8 Khaki Campbell. They are great egg ducks but we have found that they are not great meat birds. They will be going in the freezer this winter only because my husband and I have developed an intolerance to duck eggs.

We have also had Rouen Ducks for meat and they were excellent, both in meat quality and quantity. If we were to get more ducks next year they will be of this breed.

FL: What sort of housing do you provide for your ducks? Do they free-range? Do you have to lock them up at night?

M: The ducks have always free ranged with the chickens and have lived in the same space. When they were near the house we shut their door at night but now that they are at the barn they just go in with everyone else.


FL: What sort of water do you provide for your ducks?

M: They have a crab sandbox that is filled with water at the barn. It's big enough for them to swim and play in but not so big that we can't tip it over every day and give them fresh water. In the winter they have enough water to get their heads wet.

FL: What’s the best thing about keeping ducks?

M: They provide hours of entertainment and are really good in the garden. Last year the ducklings were in the potato patch and took care of all of the potato beetles but didn't harm a single plant.


FL: What do you wish you knew about ducks before you got them?

M: They are messy!!

FL: Any last advice to someone wanting to get started with ducks?

M: We have found that they are very easy to care for but again, are really, really messy!

FL: Now you've got me worried, can you explain messy?

M: They like to rinse their food before they eat it, so especially when they are babies, they splatter everything with food if you keep them in a small brooder area. If they are mama hatched and raise its not as bad.

We have to keep all of our water buckets and tanks out of their reach because otherwise they fill them with dirt and manure trying to separate the grain from the rest of the manure. As long as you take measures to keep them out of water you want to stay clean, then you are good to go.



FL: Thanks Megan!  Its great to read that they really do help in the garden, I was worried that was one of those myths.  Also surprised that you don't need to provide more water for them.  Good to know about the messiness in advance.  

Do you have any comments or questions for Megan?  Head over to her blog to leave her a message.  In the meantime, if you have ducks, bees or fruit trees and would like to answer some of my questions, send me an email eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.

Getting started with homestead dairy
Getting started with homestead dairy - Mark and Kate from Purple Pear Permaculture

Getting started with homestead dairy - Kim from the Little Black Cow

Getting started with homestead dairy - Rose Petal

Getting started with homestead dairy - Marie from Go Milk the Cow

Getting started with homestead dairy - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with homestead dairy - Gavin from the Little Green Cheese

Getting started with homestead dairy - interview with myself

Getting started with chickens
Getting started with chickens - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with chickens - Gavin from the Greening of Gavin

Getting started with chickens - Madeleine from NZ Eco Chick

Getting started with chickens - Tanya of Lovely Greens

Getting started with chickens - Adam and Amy from Sustainaburbia

Getting started with chickens - Linda from Greenhaven

Getting started with chickens - interview with myself

Getting started with growing vegetables
Getting started with vegetable gardening - Linda of Witch's Kitchen

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Gavin of the Greening of Gavin

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Ohio Farmgirl

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Emma from Craving Fresh

Getting started with vegetable gardening - Tanya of Lovely Greens

Getting started with vegetable gardening - interview with myself



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Monday, August 25, 2014

Podcasts are the new radio

I grew up listening to New Zealand's National Radio.  Not always voluntarily, but because my dad has a radio in every room, including the bathroom, and a portable transistor radio for outside work as well, and of course the car was tuned in at all times.  He begins his day with radio and he falls asleep with radio and anyone in the house gets to listen to what he's listening too.  I really only listen to the radio in the car, and I do like to listen to Australia's Radio National.  I like most of the programs, but it seems that whenever I'm in the car for a decent drive its either boring programs, repeats of programs I already listened to, or no reception.


Taz likes to listen to podcasts when she drives too

And then I discovered podcasts.  Its like you get to choose your own radio program schedule!

According to Wikipedia:
A podcast is a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism and portmanteau derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players.
How's this for technology?  I can load podcasts from my favourite blogs onto my phone and play them on my car stereo via bluetooth!  Its like listening to blogs!  This would also be good to listen to while cleaning, cooking, gardening etc.  If you don't have the bluetooth/car stereo thingy, you can get a gadget that lets you tune your ipod or phone into the car radio.  You can also just listen to them on your computer.  To download the MP3 files, right click on the link that says "listen here" or "download" and select "save link".

Here's a list of my current favourite sources of podcasts, I'd love for you to share what you listen to as well!  Mine mostly involve sustainable farming, permaculture, real food and gardening.  I like the ones where bloggers interview interesting people, including other bloggers.  If its a couple of bloggers that you follow, its like listening to your friends having a chat.

Agricultural Innovations

Know your Food with Wardee

The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann

Root Simple - Low Tech Home Tech

Permaculture Voices Podcast

Grow Edible with Erica from Northwest Edible Life

The Greening of Gavin Podcast  and Gavin's Little Green Cheese Podcast

I used to wonder what podcasts were all about and our internet connection was so terrible, there was no way I was going to listen to them.  But now our internet is better, I have discovered that they are a way to enjoy blogs while you do something else, because I don't always have time to sit down and read.  Now I'm hoping that you still have time to read my blog because I hate listening to my voice on a recording so I won't be making any podcasts in the near future!

What do you listen to while you work or drive?  Any podcasts that I need to know about?

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Woodstoves for heating and cooking

Lately its has been relatively cold and we have been lighting the woodstove to heat the house and using it to cook meals, so I wanted to share our woodstove story with you.



When Pete and I wanted to replace the old pot-belly stove in our little Queenslander about eight years ago (because it was unsafe and inefficient), we decided we wanted a woodstove that we could use for cooking as well as heating. There are a lot of modern woodstove cookers on the market now. They have a large firebox like a standard heating woodstove, but also include an oven space that is heated by the hot combustion gases. Unlike the older style cookers, that were suited to cooking and designed to not over-heat the kitchen in a time when there was no alternative option for cooking, these new woodstoves really do a good job of heating the house, but are too hot for summer cooking (we use a BBQ or slow cooker for most things in summer instead). In winter when it is cold enough to light the woodstove regularly to heat the house, we do all our cooking on the woodstove and hardly use our electric oven at all. When we moved to Eight Acres, the first priority was to install another woodstove cooker, and in our new-old house at Cheslyn Rise, we are still deciding which one we want to try next, but we are quite sure that a woodstove cooker is an essential part of any house we live in. This time we would like to try the "wet-back" water heater feature as well.

Since we started cooking on the woodstove, we have found that it can be used for nearly everything, including baking bread, cakes, roasts and casseroles in the oven, as well as frying and boiling on the top of the woodstove. We even dry herbs and spices with the door ajar. Cooking on a woodstove takes a little while to get used to. The oven doesn't heat up right away, so you have to plan ahead if you want to bake or roast anything, but the stove top heats up pretty quickly. We use trivets to raise pots up to adjust the heat, when you just want a simmer, the pots can be lifted onto the highest trivet, or directly on the stove top for a fast boil. Often I will leave a pot of soup or stock on the high trivet to cook overnight, I also have a metal teapot that sits at the back of the stove, so we always have a handy source of hot water. The stove has a temperature sensor in the door, but the actual heat in the stove is about 50degC higher than the door temperature. We do find that we have to watch the temperature and open the door if it gets too hot, or add more wood if we need more heat. If the fire has been going for a while, the oven temperature will stablise, and then it can be left for longer. Some models have larger ovens than others, we started with a very small oven, and we bought small baking dishes from markets and even a 6-muffin tin, so we were always surprised by how much food would fit in the oven. The model we have now has a larger oven and can fit our large roasting dish. We find that the larger model, having more cast iron holds a more constant heat than the smaller model, but does take a little longer to heat up in the first place. You just have to get to know your stove and make it work for you.

The great thing about the woodstove is that we would burn the wood anyway to heat the house, so we get double the value for the heat by cooking with it as well. Our property is covered in trees, and the previous owner has pushed many of them into piles years ago, so we have plenty of aged firewood to use, and more growing for the future. For us, wood is a sustainable fuel that we can provide from our own property and we are happy to use it instead of gas or electricity. We would love to build a woodstove cooker outside so that we could use sustainable wood heat to cook all year round.

If you are thinking about installing a woodstove, have a look at the woodstoves you can use for cooking, they do cost a little more, but you will be surprised by how much you can use it and save on using our kitchen over during winter. When comparing the models, consider the size of your house and how cold it will be in winter. We found that the small model didn't quite heat our drafty Queenslander, but when we bought the larger model and put it in our relatively new and well-sealed house, it was a little oversized - sometimes we have to open doors and windows in the middle of winter because the woodstove is too hot and I'm trying to bake bread in the oven! Also consider where you want to install the woodstove, it helps to put it close to the kitchen, but also somewhere that will heat the house well, and you need to make sure the flue is long enough to establish an effective draught. Finally, make sure you have a source of wood so you can light the fire all winter and use it to cook everything.

Do you cook on a woodstove?  What brand do you recommend?

More about our woodstove - cooking in the woodstove and installing a woodstove.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Frost - what is it and how to manage it

People are often surprised that we get frost here in Queensland.  Sure, the majority of Queensland is typically frost free, but here in the South East corner we can experience frost, with some inland areas around Charleville having 40-50 frost days on average of the last 30 years.  And certainly if you live in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and southern parts of SA and WA, you can expect a few frost days too.  See the Australia frost map here.

I know our winters aren't really cold by any means, we don't snow, in fact, we are more likely to have a beautiful sunny day after a frost, and can have a temperature increase of over 20 degC in one day!  But this actually makes things trickier because we can ALMOST grow tropical plants, but it only takes one hard frost to knock them back until the weather warms up in spring.  Fortunately there are a few tricks we can use to manage frost when we understand what it is and how it behaves.

frost on broccoli leaves
a pawpaw tree after frost
What is frost?
Frost is not just ambient air temperature below freezing.  Frost occurs when the air temperature close to the ground cools below freezing AND below the dew point so that moisture in the air either condenses and then freezes, or freezes directly out of the air.  The type of frost that we experience in a temperate or sub-tropical climate is typically caused by the land cooling overnight and cooling the air close to the ground.  As cold air is denser than warm air it tends to sink and to flow downhill.  This means that frost occurs lower down in the valley and can be trapped uphill of obstacles such as hedges or walls.  Frost is unlikely on windy nights as the layer of cold air is disturbed.  Dew point depends on temperature and humidity.  More frost info here.

The important point is that we can expect cold temperatures to develop on clear still nights, but that if we understand how cold air moves and how frost forms from moisture in the air, we can take steps to prevent frost damage.

What happens to our gardens in a frost?
Some plants are well-adapted to frost, and some even benefit from frost conditions.  Silverbeet, brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale etc), root crops, some lettuce, aliums (onions, garlic, leeks etc), herbs such as parsley, chervil, yarrow, mint, oregano and thyme, all survive frosts.  Summer crops such as tomatoes, curcubits (squash, cucumber), capsicum, chilli, eggplant, beans, and herbs such as basil, ginger and sage, do not survive frost.  Some of these will grow back when the weather warms up again, but many will be too badly damaged.  Tropical plants that I try to grow, like sweet potato, rosella and paw paw also do not survive frost.

silverbeet with frosted leaves
How can we protect the sensitive plants?
First, find out if your area is prone to frosts, when you can expect the first and last frosts of the year and how cold its going to get.  Apart from checking the meteorology data you should look for some local knowledge.  We get frost around our house, but our neighbour who has a house further up the hill from us hardly ever has frost and even then, always has a little frost-free pocket around the house and and water tanks just because their property is higher than ours.  So you need to know if you are below the frost line (and then if you are too high, you can suffer from frosts due to altitude as well!).  Properties in our area are advertised as "frost-free", but I didn't understand the significance when we were looking to buy.

Once you establish that frosts are likely, there are a few things you can do to keep your garden going through winter.  
  • Plant appropriate varieties and understand which vegetables are going to survive and which will need extra protection or if they are just bad choices for your location.
  • Protect sensitive vegetables by planting under under cover of trees, close to water tanks or the house (which holds a little heat overnight and can prevent the temperature falling below freezing) or plant in pots that can be moved to safer ground. 
  • Even though this sounds bizarre, if you water at night before a frost is likely, wet soil will hold more heat and may maintain temperature above freezing (although this can backfire if it does get cold enough to freeze the water on the ground and on leaves).
  • If you can circulate the air above your garden using a fan (or a helicopter or a million butterflies) you can mix the cold air near the ground with warmer air higher up - this is used in commercial orchards.
  • Cover your veges with fabric or straw/old leaves to try to maintain the air temperature around them.  I keep reading to not use plastic, but personally I have had success with using clear plastic all around the plant, and including a bucket of water so the air under the tent is more humid, as this maintains a warmer temperature around the plants.
  • Consider where cold air will flow and make sure if can't get trapped uphill of solid fences or hedges in your garden, and also use this concept to direct air AROUND plants but stacking hay bales etc uphill of a sensitive plant.
frozen sprinkler...
One of the principles of permaculture is "observe and interact", and understanding and adapting to your climate is a key part of this principle.  If you want to know more about sub-tropical climates, I've written a few posts here and more about frost here.

Frost isn't all bad! It does kill off a number of annoying weeds and bugs, and at least I can grow veges that do like some chill time, like carrots, turnips, swedes and broadbeans, and one day soon fruit trees like apples and stonefruit (or at least I hope I can grow them!).

Do you have frost?  How do you manage it?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Dog box update

We only have a single cab ute, so any time it was too hot or too cold for Cheryl to ride on the tray, and we thought she should really be in the cab, she would end up laying on my lap.  And at 25kg, she is not a lap dog!  A few years ago when we agreed to look after a second dog (Chime), Pete decided to build a dog box so they could both sit safely and comfortable on the back of the ute in all weather.

The dog box when it was just finished

I first wrote about this back here, and I didn't go into much detail, so a few people have emailed me to ask more about it.  There are no plans as such, its just shaped to fit the angles of the ute and enough room for two dogs.  To be honest, we kind of made it up as we went along, but here's a few tips to help if you are thinking of making a dog box:
  • We made it nearly the full width of the tray, with just a small gap either side
  • Its the same height as the backboard of the ute, and mimics the angles (a little bit lower so we can still tie on a load and not have it rub on the top of the box)
  • Its about a metre deep
  • We didn't include a divider because the dogs are good friends
  • We wanted a door in the front rather than the side so you don't have to put the tray side down to let the dogs out
  • We used small mesh so it would also double as a cage to secure our luggage, a wider mesh could be used if its just for dogs 
  • It has a roof of sheet metal to offer some shade and protection from rain
  • It ended up quite heavy and we could have reduced some weight be leaving off the roof and using a larger mesh
  • Pete spray-painted it with silver kill-rust when he finished
  • We also had a cover made by a local upholsterer, it has little ties on the inside, so its not ideal, if you really want a good cover, talk to the upholsterer about your design before you start - you will at least need some shade cloth of the cage so it doesn't get too hot for the dogs.
  • Its secured the the tray using two bolts that go through tabs on the bottom of the box and through the tray.  If you don't want to make holes in your tray, you could tie it down instead
  • We put dog beds in the box to make it extra comfy for the dogs
  • We've been using it as Taz' puppy box as well

The box on the back of the ute, modelled by Chime and Cheryl
Taz using the box as a puppy box

she seems quite happy in there fooling around

she even hops in there by herself when she doesn't have to


Is there anything I missed?  Ask your questions here so I can keep it all in one place.  I hope that helps!



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Keeping a family cow - book review

I was very excited to find Keeping a Family Cow: The Complete Guide for Home-Scale, Holistic Dairy Producers, by Joann S. Grohman in the Brisbane City Library.  Its a great reference and covers everything including raw milk, diary products, milking, feeding and caring for your cow and calf.  Of course, its written for the US market, so if you have an Australian house cow, I still recommend you read MY ebook too!




You can read my full review here.  And there's more details about my eBook on my house cow eBook blog.









Buy my ebook "Our Experience with House Cows" on ScribdLulu and Amazon, or email on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com to arrange delivery.







Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows"





Gavin from Little Green Cheese (and The Greening of Gavin)




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blog Hop Around The World - Creativity

I don't tend to think of myself or what I do as "creative", I would be more inclined to use words like "productive", "practical" and "persistent", but regardless of this, Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm has nominated me to participate in the Creativity Blog Hop Around The World.  This is a huge honour for me because if anyone is creative, its Fiona, with her cooking, and her crafty cards and her clever dog coat solution!  This has made me think about how I define creative and maybe some of what I do is creative, but just not for the sake of creativity....

some of Fiona's cooking creations

The theme for this blog hop is creativity and like most blog hops there are a few basic rules/guidelines to follow....

Within a week of your nomination answer the following questions:
 
Why do I create what I do? 
I usually create to solve a problem, whether is cold hands (knit some arm warmers) or food that needs to be used up (figure out how to cook old chooks).  I very rarely create just for the sake of creating, although, that is something I would like to have time to do.

How does my creative process work? 
I am a very visual person, and I tend to visualise the problem and gradually develop my solution.  I imagine how it will come together, what steps are required, usually the longer I think about it, the better the end result.  I particularly enjoy designing with Pete, although we can have some conflict if we are in a hurry, if we both take the time to describe our visions, we can come up with some awesome (practical) creations.

How does my work differ from others of it's genre? 
Assuming that my genre is "homesteading" (and I'm never really sure that it is), the main difference is that I also work full time and I don't have a chicken coop that is pretty and painted and I don't make fancy little labels to go on salves and soaps and dried herbs that I make for home.  I just don't have time for fussing around, if I make something, it has to be practical first, pretty is optional!  I think that's something that both Pete and I learnt from Joel Salatin's workshop, its doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to work.  Some details, like painting, do make things last longer, but detail with no purpose is just extra work.

this is not my chicken coop, in fact its fancier than the inside of my house
What am I currently working on? 
Well..... I have a half-knitted alpaca shawl on my knitting needles and a crocheted scarf in my head.  I've got a food forest from fruit trees, to bushes, shrubs, herbs and self-seeding annuals in my head, as well as our entire house yard design.  A box of seeds to sort out.  In my kitchen is lacto-fermenting orange juice, just to see how that turns out.  We have a whole house to fix up, so also in my head are house colours, internal and external, bathroom and kitchen plans and furniture arrangements.  Pete is rebuilding the slasher, so we've discussed how to use the metal most frugally, and we've been talking about how to mount the solar panels for our bore pump.  We have to empty the freezer to fit in the next steer, so I have five pig trotters to use up some how.  I want to start writing another ebook about how we design, make and use chicken tractors, but I have too many blog posts that need to come out first.  Plus at some stage I need to finish our farm tax returns and that may require some creativity too! 

Who inspires me to create? 
So many other bloggers, some just in their one special area and some in just the way they think about what they do, even its nothing I would ever need to make for myself.

Finally provide a quote 
I was searching my brain for a quote and then I saw this tribute to Robin Williams and it fits perfectly, what a wonderfully clever and creative man he was too.  "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world".  That's something to inspire you on a bad-blog-day!


And now I just need to nominate two others:

This was definitely the hard part, but after thinking and thinking I came up with two bloggers who I admire for their creativity.....

Gill from Sunnybrook Farm
Not only dose Gill paint and take some lovely photos for his blog about his family farm, he is creative in his use of old farm equipment and methods, which I enjoy reading about.

one of Gill's paintings, he really captured those crazy guineas!

Again, its not just the clever quilting and bags that Jane makes, its also her approach to a frugal lifestyle that is creative and inspiring.

a couple of Froog's Yoostabee bag

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