Monday, October 5, 2015

Farm update - October 2015

This month has brought the start of the storm season.  Its still pleasantly cool at night, but warming up during the day.  Storms are a real lottery here, sometimes a neighbour will get 50 mm of rain while we get nothing.  Often we have wildly different rainfall totals at our two properties.  Its better than no rain at all, but it can be devastating to watch the storm clouds approach and then appear to split, leaving only a few drops of rain!

This month I finally finished my chicken tractor eBook "Design and Use a Chicken Tractor"!  You can buy the pdf file from Etsy for US$5 and I'm still working on the epub version for Amazon (it is PAINFUL!).  More details at the end of this post.

Food and cooking
This month out homekill butcher came out and killed two cattle for us and now our freezer is full of beef!  We also had to eat a lot of beef before butcher day to use up what was left of the last animal.  A favourite is casserole in the slowcooker using Y-bones, we just throw in the steaks without cutting the meat, and pick out the bones later.  Add beef stock, onion, garlic, herbs, tomatoes (fresh or canned), carrot and anything else that needs to be used up..... delicious!  We take this to work for lunch all week with a bit of mashed potato.

Land and farming
Our bee hive is doing very well.  When we checked, they had started to build comb up into the lid, so we added another box (called a super) to give them more space.  We didn't use a queen excluder, as we want them to keep making more brood so we can keep splitting the hive to make more.  We might not harvest honey this first year, just let the bees put their energy into expanding the colony.  They do seem to be finding plenty of nectar around our place, with more gums in flower at the moment.

We also caught two carpet pythons enjoying spring.  We knew there was one in the hayshed, and now maybe there are two (or maybe the second one didn't move in permanently).  There carrying on like this for an hour, blocking our access to hay and we were unable to leave until they finished!  They were oblivious to us watching and taking photos, so we got a good look at them.  These snakes are pythons and not poisonous, but kill be constricting small animals.  They live off the mice in our hay shed.  It did make us worry that they might also be big enough to eat Taz and our future chickens!  I just hope they have plenty of mice to eat.

The chickens are laying so many eggs, I can hardly keep up selling them at work (if anyone in Brisbane wants some at $5/doz, send me an email).  I also caught one naughty hen in my garden and had to trim her wing feathers.  I'll write a post about that soon.

Cows and cattle
The angus cattle on our property are still very tame and they seem to have plenty of grass left to eat.  We can't decide when to sell them, as cattle prices are very high at the moment, but there is a predicted shortages, so prices could increase further.  Even if it rains, many farmers have had to sell their breeding cows, and it will take a long time to build up the numbers again.  I wonder when we still start to see beef prices rise at the butcher too, although they never passed on the DECREASE when there was a glut of cattle with everyone desperate to destock starving animals.

The dairy calves are all growing up fast.  We have stopped milking Bella after she had mastitis again and tried to kick Pete.  Charlotte seems to be allowed to drink from Bella sometimes, so we just left them to it, and Bella is happy with that arrangement.  Pete is milking Molly once a day and giving most of the milk to Rosey.  Molly's calf Chubby gets the rest!  And there's always some in the fridge.  Its nice to not have the pressure to make cheese.  I did enjoy making cheese, but sometimes its just stressful to see the fridge bursting with milk and thinking that you must make yet ANOTHER cheese so as not to waste it.  Its nice knowing that we are using the excess to raise another house cow.

My vege garden is in a transition stage, with so many of the brassicas going to seed at them moment, its full of tall seed heads waiting to mature.  As soon as they are done I will pull out the plants and try to consolidate the garden for summer.  We often have hot dry days and not enough rain or water for the entire garden, so I like to move everything to the centre and have a smaller area to water.  I need to start thinking about summer crops.  I keep forgetting to take a photo of the hydroponics, we set it up again with tomato seedlings, so at least we will be ahead with tomatoes!  I want to get some basil, tromboncino and beans going in the next few weeks.  We have just started harvesting broad beans, they are a great in between crop for this time of year, when we just get the last of the peas, some kale and silverbeet.

We decided to tackle the last of the asbestos in the house and ripped out the old pantry.  This alcove would have originally contained the woodstove, and it was lined with asbestos sheets, walls, ceiling and floor.  Under the floor sheet we found newspapers from 1951, so now we know that's when the kitchen and bathroom were added to the house.  I love finding little bits of history about the house.  We have a tentative floor layout, we think we know which appliance we want and have started sanding the walls.  Its starting to come together...

Permaculture - apply self-regulation and accept feedback
A system without regulation will be out of control.  David Holmgren discusses this concept both in terms of our own homes and personal food production systems, but also our society as a whole.  He says that we need to self-regulate instead of waiting for those in power to impose regulation, as they are often too slow and ineffective.  In particular he referred to consumerism and our economy based on using up natural resources.

On a personal level, we can each self-regulate by considering what we consume, and whether we really need it, and what waste we produce.  As we become more self-sufficient, we naturally evaluate things like water, wastewater, meat, vegetables, wood, anything that we've had to work hard to obtain, that we don't have an endless supply of, we think about how we use it, even sunlight for our solar devices.  We think about regulation far more than when we lived in the city (I walked past a dripped tap outside a house in Brisbane today, wow, there are NO dripping taps when you're on rainwater!).

Here's what I wrote last time about this principle, with more details.

We have been making more tallow soap.  This time we tried to make a shaving soap in a PVC pipe.  It doesn't look very nice, but it foams up nicely!  I'll post the recipe soon, and when I get it to look nicer, we will sell this on Etsy too.  If you want to try my soap its available on Etsy now.

Support me
I finally finished my eBook about chicken tractors.  You can get the pdf file from Etsy, I'm working on the epub file (honestly it looks so much better in pdf, I recommend that format if you don't want the text all jumbled up).

There's more information about the book over at my chicken tractor ebook blog page.  Here's a little bit about it:
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases.

But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens.

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.

How was your September?  What are you planning for October?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beginner beekeepers - building frames

We recently got into beekeeping and have been learning as we go along everything involved in caring for these fascinating creatures.  We decided to use Langstroth hives because more beekeepers in our area use them, and we didn't want to stray into something different like Warre or top-bar hives and have no local assistance or support when something went wrong (more about different hive types here).  We are lucky to have a local beekeeping supplier nearby and have bought all the bits and pieces we needed to build hives and frames.  We also bought a whole lot of gear (a ute and trailer load) from a retired beekeeper, so we had lots of old equipment, most of it unidentified and completely new to us!

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames
Here's our queen bee
Somehow my clever husband has managed to figure out how to build the hives and the frames himself, he can look at a board for threading the wire through the frames and see exactly how it works, while I just see old junk!  This is some photos and explanations of how Pete has been making the frames.  It may not be exactly "right", although it does seem that there are many different ways to make frames and some of it is trial and error to find what will work for us.  If you have any suggestions of better ways to make the frames, please share, but be kind, we are only learning!

Among the old gear was this box, which is used to hold the frames while they are nailed together.  The box holds 10 frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

First, Pete punches the pre-drilled holes in each frame.  These are used to hold the wires, which I'll write about in another post.  Then he loads each of these side pieces into the slots in his box.  Two pieces of wood slide into slots in the box to hold these pieces in place.

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

Then Pete will put a little PVA glue in each notch and push a horozontal piece into place.  Each frame gets one nail on each side (some people put two nails, maybe we will learn that the hard way if these frames fall apart!).

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

When all the frames are nailed, he flips over the box and repeats the process on the other side of the frames.

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

Finally, he takes each completed frame out of the box and puts another nail in each end perpendicular to the first.  We store the frames in empty bee boxes, ready to attach the wire and foundation (I'll save that for another post).

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames
finished frames

eight acres: Beginner beekeepers - building frames
bored dog - see if they notice the ball when I put it in here....
So what do you think?  Do you keep bees?  How do you make your frames?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Homekill beef - two small beef cattle for added complexity

Every year for the last seven years we have raised and killed a steer for beef.  I know this because I can count off the names of each of them, Trevor, Murray, Bruce, Bratwurst, Frankfurter, Romeo... and this year it was Monty's turn, but he was a bit small (being a jersey cross dexter), so we also killed a young heifer recently acquired (we named her Fatty, because she had been in the good paddock, she's a mini hereford cross lowline maybe).  Our butcher doesn't like to come out for animals under 200 kg, so we wanted to be sure it was worth his travel.

eight acres: homekill beef gets easier
Little Fatty heifer

eight acres: homekill beef gets easier
Monty the jersey/dexter steer - a bit small maybe

Having two animals killed on the same day was a challenge and took some planning.  First we had to dig an extra large hole for the inedible bits (head, hooves and guts).  And then we had to figure out how to keep the second animal calm while the butcher was working on the first one.  He likes to shoot one, process it, and then do the second one, that way the meat gets into the cold room as quickly as possible.  It takes him about an hour from shot to cold room, with very little help from us, this guy is a hard worker!

We set up a pen made from portable cattle panels, and enticed both animals into the pen.  Then we put a divider of panels to split the pen in half.  We put up a large tarpaulin across the front of the pen, so that neither animal could see what was happening.  When the butcher arrived, we showed him our set up and he told us to let the first animal out.  Monty came out and started calmly eating some grain from a dish, so he was a very easy shot for the butcher.

eight acres: homekill beef gets easier
one large hole

Fatty the heifer couldn't see what was going on, so she was quite happy in her pen with some hay until the butcher was ready for her.  He shot her in the pen and we dismantled it around her body.  We are pretty confident that neither animal was unduly stressed by this arrangement, which is our main aim.  Stress causes adrenaline to be released, and this can ruin the meat (causing dark cutters), so its entirely selfish, but also nice to know that Monty was born on our property, never left apart from some time on neighbour's paddocks, and died here without a care in the world, aged 2 and a bit.

Pete and I are becoming far less squeemish around this process.  I wasn't even upset when Monty was shot, just standing there admiring the butcher's perfect clean shot.  Then we looked in the severed head to count the number of teeth because I always wonder what that means.  The butcher cut open the stomachs so that we could scoop out all the half-digested grass and not fill up our hole too quickly and Pete and I were checking out the inside of the stomach and how it absorbs nutrients.  Our butcher said that some people just go inside and leave him to it, meanwhile here is both me and Pete asking him a million questions, poor guy!

eight acres: homekill beef gets easier
kidney fat for rendering to make more tallow soap

I think the first time you have a homekill done its very stressful and can be upsetting seeing the animal shot and cut up.  After a few experiences, you get used to it, you know what to expect, and how to prepare so that the butcher can just get on with his job.  It definitely gets easier, and you can focus on all that lovely meat!  I recommend having a good talk to your butcher before he comes out to find out how he would like you to prepare the animals.  Usually a pen away from the house and neighbours, but easy to get to by vehicle.  And don't keep the animals in there for too long (we had one in there overnight when we didn't know what we were doing, and he was STRESSED), timing is everything and it really helps to have tame cattle that will follow you for hay or grain.

We are looking forward to comparing the meat.  Our first ever steer, Trevor, was a jersey-cross, and his meat has been the best so far, so we wonder if Monty will be similar.  And Fatty just looked so tasty, and was on good green grass, surely her meat will be nice too.  She's also the first female we've had butchered.

eight acres: homekill beef gets easier
first carcass ready for the cold room

Have you had a home butcher?  Do you butcher your own?  Any tips?  Questions?

Other posts about homekill butchering:

Eight Acres: Home butcher vs meatworks

Eight Acres: Homekill beef - is it worth it?

Eight Acres: Rendering tallow in a slow cooker

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Buy the chicken tractor eBook

After months and months of procrastination, I have finally published "Design and Use a Chicken Tractor"!  It is available on Etsy and I will add it to other platforms soon (ran out of internet!).  Follow my chicken tractor eBook blog for more information....

What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why use natural soaps and salves?

Recently I started offering my handmade soaps and salves for sale on Etsy. I really just wanted to share with others the products that I make and use every day.  Since then I have had a few questions, so I thought I should explain more about the soaps and salves that I make.  It seems that soap has a bad reputation, but I think its all you need to use.  Keep reading to see how you can get my soap at a discount....

I keep thinking about when one of my uni friends went to a dermatologist to get a prescription for roacutane (for acne). She was on the drug for several months, and at the end her skin was perfect. The dermatologist told her to simply wash her face with soap and water. I was horrified! I had a morning and evening routine involving soap-free cleanser, toner, moisturizer and various other beauty “must dos”. Now I just splash my face with water in the shower once a day, and I really can’t see the difference. The strangest thing is that I often see in women's magazines (as often as I actually read women’s magazines!) that dermatologists recommend soap-free cleansers.  Now that I have tried homemade soap instead, I'm convinced that its better for your skin, and here's why.

eight acres: why use natural soaps and salves

Why use soap?
The question should really be, why avoid detergents?  Because the alternative to soap is a detergent, that's what all "soap-free" cleanser are, and I don’t know how that turns out to be less harsh! Soaps and detergents do the same thing, they make grease and fat soluble (including microbes), however detergents are generally stronger and better at removing fat. This is why they tend to dry out your skin. They actually dissolve the sebum that is supposed to protect your skin. The reason that soaps were thought to be harsh is that they can contain an excess of caustic (which will burn the skin) if the ingredients are not weighed very accurately, and a hundred years ago, prior to digital scales, soap making was a bit hit and miss, so it probably did seem harsh then. Also the cheap commercial soaps today often have the glycerin removed, this is a by-product of the soaping process, and it also moisturizes the skin, so soap with glycerin removed is more harsh than homemade soap.

Why use homemade soap?
 I use soap for everything – washing my body in the shower or bath, washing my hands, washing the dishes, instead of shaving cream, spot stain remover for laundry, washing the dog – but I only use homemade soap. For several years I bought homemade soap until I learnt to make my own. I have several reasons for only using homemade soap:

  • I avoid the artificial fragrances, colours and other ingredients in commercial soap
  • Homemade soap has not had the glycerin removed
  • In the soap I make, I can control the “superfat” to make sure there is no excess caustic, in fact I ensure that there is excess tallow instead.

eight acres: why use natural soaps and salves
100% tallow soap

Why use homemade tallow soap?
I was slow to try soap making because I didn’t want to have to buy lots of ingredients. At the time I thought that I should just buy the homemade soap from someone else, rather than buy all the ingredients to make the soap, such as olive oil, palm oil or coconut oil. When we started to homekill our beef and I had so much beef fat to use up (also known as tallow), I decided to try making tallow soap. Some people are going to think this is gross, but you might be surprised.  It actually doesn't smell bad.  My mum reckons she can smell the difference, but its just what tallow soap smells like, it doesn't smell like tallow.  If you really don't like the smell off the 100% tallow, I also make soaps with essential oils, and they certainly don't smell like tallow.

 Here are the reasons why I use tallow in my soap making:

If you have sore or dry skin, I recommend that you give tallow soap a try. I used to have very dry itchy cracked skin on my hands every winter, and even using the homemade soap that I used to buy didn’t help me. Since I started making and using tallow soap my skin has healed and hasn’t caused any discomfort for several winters now. I know I’m a sample of one and it could have been caused by other things (and I could be making it up to sell you soap), but I am personally convinced that tallow soap has helped me.

I make a range of tallow soaps, some with 100% tallow, and some with coconut oil for extra lather (find them on my etsy shop here or at the end of this post).  I also have all the recipes on the blog if you want to make your own.

eight acres: why use natural soaps and salves

What are salves and balms?
I started experimenting with salves because I had bought so much beeswax. And now that we have bees there will be soon be more beeswax (do you see a pattern here? I get tallow so I make soap… I get beeswax so I make salve…). A salve or a balm is just a seed oil thickened with beeswax. Essential oils and herbal extracts can be added. Generally a salve refers to a herbal extract.

Again, the main reason I like to use my homemade salves is so that I can avoid artificial fragrances, colours and preservatives in commercial cosmetics. I prefer salves to lotions (which contain water) as they last longer without preservatives. I use the salves to administer herbal remedies and essential oils for various purposes.

I make the following salves and balms:
Lip Balm ~ Lavender, Peppermint or Honey
Ingredients ~ macadamia oil, beeswax, essential oils or honey, vitamin E
Uses ~ I also use the honey lip balm as a moisturizer every night (I make it in larger jars!)

~Herbal Salve~
Ingredients ~ Olive oil infused with comfrey, chickweed and calendula, lavender essential oil, vitamin E
Uses ~ Assists with healing and soothing skin conditions such as cuts, rashes and bites

~Muscle Salve~
Ingredients ~ Olive oil, essential oils (lavender, clove, oregano, wintergreen, eucalyptus and peppermint), vitamin E
Uses ~ anti-inflammatory and soothing oils to relax and heal sore muscles and joints

~Insect Repellent~
Ingredients ~ Olive oil, neem oil, essential oils (citronella, lemon grass, peppermint,
eucalyptus, and tea tree), vitamin E
Uses ~ for protection against biting insects (and soothing existing bites)

You can buy these on my Etsy shop or find instructions to make them here.

And just for blog readers, I've set up a coupon code.  Until the end of October, if you spend more than $20 you get a 10% discount on anything in my Etsy shop!  Also note that you only pay $8 postage no matter how much you buy, so if you get a few items that works out pretty cheap.  AND you can get a sample pack of all four soaps for only $10.

The coupon code is 8ABLOG

What do you think?  Do you prefer homemade natural products?  Do you use soap?  Have you tried tallow soap?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guns on farms

I haven’t talked much about guns because when I did the course to get my gun license it was made quite clear that we should keep our guns private. We were actually told not to shoot near a property boundary where a member of the public might see the gun and complain to police, even if its on our own property! Gun laws have been strict in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 when 35 people were killed by a gunman.

 In order to get a gun I first had to do a two-day course and pass a theory and practical test. I then had to wait six months to get the license, which was approved for “rural purposes” because of the area of our property. If you don’t have a large enough property to qualify, you have to belong to a gun club to get a license. After I got the license, I then had to apply to acquire the particular gun I wanted to buy, with a written justification as to why I needed it. My license only allows rifles and shotguns, so there wasn’t much choice anyway.

I think there is a place for guns on farms, and I don't think we should avoid talking about it. I also think that our current gun laws are necessarily restrictive. I don’t think owning a gun is a right, it is a privilege for those who can demonstrate a genuine need and capability.  But we need more education, rather than trying to hide guns away.

Putting down cattle
We originally decided to start the process to get a gun license because we were worried that we would have to put down cattle at the start of the drought. At the time, so many people were sending cattle to the sales, that some cattle were being turned away. We realized that if our cattle got too weak, we might not be able to sell them. Fortunately we were able to sell the cows before it came to that, and cattle numbers are now so low, the market is great if you have anything to sell. The sad fact is that many farmers have had to shoot their animals. 

 We have had to ask our neighbour to shoot a sick cow for us before, and we’ve had another euthanised by the vet. I think the gunshot was better for the cow, because the drug took so long to work and the cow was so scared the whole time, the shot is quick and she doesn’t even know it happened. We were told to use either a .22 magnum or larger rifle, or a solid 410 shotgun bullet. You do need to shoot the animal in the correct spot on their head, see the instructions here.

Controlling predators and feral animals
The other reason we thought we might need a gun is to control the wild dogs and pigs we know live on our property. They live in the bush areas, and while they are not a problem at the moment, they could kill calves, and make it difficult for us to keep our own pigs. 

While it is illegal to shoot native animals, including the dangerous ones, we can get a license to shoot kangeroos and wallabies for our own consumption (50 per year).  We also have plenty of rabbits, but they are a bit quick for me at the moment!

Butchering large animals
So far we have always had a butcher come to our property to kill our cattle for beef, but we butcher the chickens ourselves. Anything larger than poultry is best killed with a gun. You can slit the throat of a lamb or a goat, but it would not be pleasant. As I said above, a gunshot is quick and the animal doesn’t know what happened. Eventually we would like to butcher our own beef, and to do this we need a gun. Some more remote properties would do this regularly just to feed the people living on the property.

Learning about guns and gun safety
I learnt to shoot in highschool when I joined the small-bore rifle shooting club. I never owned a gun then, or had a license, I borrowed a gun from the club and only shot on club days or at competitions.  Over a couple of years I learnt to shoot at small targets about 100 metres away, lying down in “prone” position. I went to the club once a week and saw my aim gradually improve. This was a really good way to learn, on a small rifle, the techniques required to aim and hit a target, and all the safety requirement. I think I learnt more from that experience than the gun license course, which was more of a refresher for me (all the others in the course were from rural backgrounds and already knew how to use a gun).  We need to put more time into target shooting now that we own a gun, so that we maintain that ability.

Taz is scared of the gun...

I’m not saying that every farm needs a gun, but I do think that you should consider if you might need one for the above reasons. You might be able to rely on neighbours, but I don’t like to be in that position all the time. I think that it pays to learn how to shoot and be confident around guns, even if you don’t need to own one, its certainly a skill I didn’t know I was going to use again!

I'm not sure if I should ask this.... do you shoot?  Do you think guns are an important part of farming and self-sufficiency?

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Building of the Queensland House - Book Review

Renovating our second-hand "Queenslander" removal house has been like a cross between repairing a lovely old piece of handmade antique furniture and an archaeological dig!  The house was probably built around 100 years ago, from locally sourced timber, but has been modified many times since then.  Verandahs have been built in, the kitchen, bathroom and laundry were added later.  When we removed the wall cladding in the bathroom we revealed old doorways and could only guess at how the room was previously arranged.

eight acres: building the queensland house review

As with any sort of repair or restoration work, it helps to understand how and why the house was built the way it was, so that we can do our best to return it to either its original condition, or something that will work for us without damaging the structure.  I have just finished reading Andy Jenners "The Building of the Queensland House".  I bought it for Pete about a year ago, expecting a manual or a step-by-step guide to renovating a Queenslander.  A book like that would have been pretty boring, so I glad that Andy chose to write it as a narrative.  He follows at group of builders in the early 1900s building a Queenslander in the Brisbane suburb of Red Hill.  Starting from surveying the property, he details every step of building the house, complete with historical context.  You are virtually transported to the early days of Brisbane, back when Red Hill was the edge of the city!

The last few chapters of the book, after the house is finished, discuss renovation and maintenance of a Queenslander.  Having followed how the builders put the house together, and the reasons for each step, it was much easier to understand how to maintain the house appropriately.  It has made me think twice about using water based paint (referred to by Andy as "plastic paint") on the exterior of the house.  And I'm wondering how to treat our soft pine floors, as lovely as they look, they were never meant to be exposed.

renovation is very boring for Taz

Andy is an experienced builder by trade and share is knowledge of historical and modern-day building techniques.  The house was apparently a real house that he renovated in Red Hill, but has since been demolished.  Disappointed as I was thinking of trying to find it.

I also got a little booklet called Brisbane House Styles by Judy Gale Rechner (info here).  This book explains the different house styles from 1880 through to 1940.  It looks like our house is a simple "colonial" style from 1880 to early 1900s, but it may not be quite so old as country areas can be a bit behind the big cities.

If you want to know more about the Queensland house, try this radio podcast.

And what are we up to with our little Queenslander?

We have council approval to move in (having insulated the roof, rewired the house, installed ceiling fans and hooked up the plumbing), but of course we want to get a few things fixed up first.  We have replaced the roof with a lighter colour.  We have painted two bedrooms and the hallway.  We have ripped up all the lino and masonite in the house, leaving only the ugly red carpet to deal with.  We have stripped the kitchen and the bathroom (and lowered the windows in the kitchen) and have a few ideas about how we want the final rooms to look.  We have removed nearly all the asbestos in the house (more in the pantry, then we are done) and replaced this with "Easy VJ " MDB boards (sorry Andy!).

here's the kitchen ready to rebuild
and the batthroom

There is so much more to do, but every time I walk in the house I see all the progress we have made and how much closer we are to living there.  We are lucky that we have the opportunity to finish this work before we move it, especially with the lead paint on the walls!

If you are working on a Queenslander, or just live in one, I recommend this book, as a manual for how to look after your house.  What is your experience with Queenland houses?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cattle terminology

Sometimes I tell people that we have steers, and they think I said "stairs" and then I have to explain what steers are, and that not all cattle are "cows".  Even worse is the terms used in cattle sale reports, yearling store quality steers sold well, while cows with calves at foot were generally in poor condition.  And it goes on.  If you are still confused, pop over to my house cow ebook blog for some help with cattle terminology....

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

Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows"

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


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